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Chirala is a town in Prakasam district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is a municipality and also the headquarters of Chirala mandal of Ongole revenue division. As of 2011 the town had a population of 87,200 and an urban agglomeration population of 162,471.
As of 2011 census of India, the town had a population of 87,200 with 23,070 households. It shows 2.04% growth in population, compared to 2001 Census of India which was recorded as 85,455.[11] The total population constitute, 42,927 males and 44,273 females —a sex ratio of 1031 females per 1000 males, higher than the national average of 940 per 1000.[12] 8,389 children are in the age group of 0–6 years, of which 4,253 are boys and 4,136 are girls —a ratio of 973 girls per 1000 boys. The average literacy rate stands at 78.80% with 62,099 literates, higher than the national average of 73.00%.
The town was also known as Kshirapuri, which translates as the sea looks as white as milk. The name of the town has got transformed to Chirala. Chira in the regional language means Sari.
Chirala, which has earned a unique place in the history of the freedom struggle, which completed its 400 years on April 27, 2004, corresponding with the Telugu calendar `Vaishakha Shuddha Saptami. The foundation for present-day Chirala was laid in 1604 AD by two Yadavas, Minchala Papayya and Minchala Perayya. The town was carved out of Sudhaanagaram, original name of Paata Chirala (Old Chirla), that was granted to Chirala Anantaraju by Goparaju Ramanna, Minister of the Kakatiya king, Ganapati Deva, during Saka 1067 (1145 AD) as mentioned in the records obtained from the Madras Oriental Library. His descendant, Chirala Venkata Krishnudu, leased out the present Chirala area to the Yadavas for raising a new township. Thus, present-day Chirala was born on Vaishakha Shuddha Saptami of Vishwavasu Vatsaram or Vishwavasu Samvatsaram (Year name as per Telugu calendar), corresponding to 1604 AD.
In the new township, a Venugopalaswamy temple was constructed in 1619 and that of Malleswaraswamy in 1620, while that of Gangamma was built a little later. As the temples did not have any chariots, Chirala Ramanna Pantulu built two chariots for the two temples towards the middle of the 19th century. Now a lot of temples have come up.
With the advent of a railway station on the Madras-Calcutta-New Delhi main line, Chirala developed commercially with its population reaching a little over two lakhs and fifty thousands, while Paata Chirala, which once traded through the ancient port of Motupalli, shrunk to become an obscure village with a population of just 5,000.
Anuguraju of the Hyheya dynasty, who ruled over Palanadu, visited Paata Chirala along with his entourage that included the famous socio-religious reformer, Brahma Naidu, during the twelfth century and left behind the idol of Chennakeshava Swamy, his family deity with his consorts and weapons, used by Palanadu warriors. The ancient Aadikeshava Swamy temple, originally built by the Cholas during the eleventh century, and now in a dilapidated condition, is being rebuilt by Shri Arulananda Swamy, head of Shri Lalitaananda Ashram of Oodarevu, near here.
Chirala, which was regarded as a health resort by Britishers, got a medical facility as early as in 1906 with the opening of the Edward VII Coronation Memorial Hospital. Dr. Mary Baer, an American, also opened the Dr. Baer Missionary Hospital in 1912 when Chirala and its neighborhood villages did not have medical facilities except at Guntur.
This town was a stage for the well known Chirala – Perala movement, which was led by Andhra Ratna Duggirala Gopalakrishnayya garu. He has fought against British municipalities which levied higher taxation on the people.
The Europeans also started a tobacco curing factory of the ITC Limited in 1923, opening job opportunities to people.