The original Sanskrit name (ancient Vedic culture/tradition) for Guntur was Garthapuri. The "Agasthyeswara Sivalayam" in the old city of Guntur is an ancient temple for Siva . It is said that Agastya built the temple in the last Treta-Yuga around the Swayambhu Linga and hence the name. The 'Nagas' were said to have ruled the region. The place of Sitanagaram and the Guthikonda Caves can be traced (through Vedic Puranas) back to the last Treta-Yuga and Dwapara-Yuga (Traditional Time scale: 1.7 to 0.5 million years ago, Ref). However these are not scientifically verifiable facts like most of the vedic folklores.
Old Temple at Garthapuri
Guntur District is home to the second oldest evidence of humans in India, in the form of Palaeolithic (old stone age) implements. Ancient history can be traced from the time of Sala kings who ruled during the 5th century BCE. The earliest reference to Guntur, a variant of Guntur, comes from the Idern plates of Ammaraja I (922-929 CE), the Vengi Chalukyan King. Guntur also appears in another two inscriptions dated 1147 and 1158.
Since the beginning of Buddhis epoch, Guntur stood foremost in matters of culture, education and civilization. Gautama Buddha preached at Dharanikota/Dhanyakatakam near Guntur and conducted Kalachakra ceremony, which takes its antiquity to 500 BCE. Taranatha, a Buddhist monk writes: "On the full moon of the month Caitra in the year following his enlightenment, at the great stupa of Dhanyakataka, the Buddha emanated the mandala of "The Glorious Lunar Mansions" (Kalachakra).
Buddhists established universities in ancient times at Dhanyakataka and Amaravathi. Acharya Nagarjuna, an influential Buddhist philosopher taught at Nagarjunakonda and is said to have discovered Mica in 200 BCE. Guntur district roughly straddles the Kammanadu / Kammakaratham, the region in the Krishna river valley, where Buddhism prevailed, got the name from Theravada Buddhist concept of Kamma (Pali) or Karma (Sanskrit). Chinese traveller and Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang (Xuanzang) visited Amaravati in 640 C.E., stayed for sometime and studied 'Abhidhammapitakam'. He observed that there were many Viharas and some of them were deserted, which points out that Hinduism was gaining ground at that time. Xuanzang wrote a glorious account of the place, Viharas and monasteries that existed.
Guntur was successively ruled by famous dynasties such as the Satavahanas, Andhra Ikshvakus, Pallavas, Ananda Gotrikas, Vishnukundina, Kota Vamsa, Chalukyas, Cholas, Kakatiyas, Vijayanagara and Qutb Shahis during ancient and medieval times. The famous battle of Palnadu which is enshrined in legend and literature as Palnati Yuddham was fought in Guntur district in 1180.
Guntur became part of the Mughal empire in 1687 when the emperor Aurangzeb conquered the Qutb Shahi sultanate of Golconda, of which Guntur was then a part. In 1724, Asaf Jah, viceroy of the empire's southern provinces, declared his independence as the Nizam of Hyderabad. The coastal districts of Hyderabad, known as the Northern Circars, were occupied by the French in 1750. Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu (1783-1816) shifted his capital from Chintapalli in Krishna district to Amaravati across the river Krishna. He ruled with munificence and built many temples in Guntur region. Guntur was brought under the control of the British East India Company by 1788, and became a district of Madras Presidency.
The Guntur region played a significant role in the struggle for independence and the formation of Andhra Pradesh. The northern, Telugu- speaking districts of Madras state, including Guntur, advocated for a separate state after independence and the new state of Andhra Pradesh was created in 1953 from the eleven northern districts of Madras.