For those who live within the city Gunadala is famous for Catholic shrines in Andhra Pradesh. About 10 lakh believers come to offer prayers and fulfil their vows during the Gunadala Mary Matha festival. This locality in Vijayawada has a special place for itself.
The festival, from February 9 to 11, every year is a big occasion for all the residents around the Gunadala hill. Beginning at Padavala Revu, an erstwhile wharf for boats, the primary mode of transport to Machilipatnam, Gunadala, extends right up to the Ramavarapadu Circle along Eluru Road.
All the colonies between Bandar Canal and the Gunadala Hill and on the East of Ring Road right up to the Dr. NTR health University Circle have Gunadala in their postal address. Most of the residential colonies that are on the fringe of Gunadala Hill, except for a part of Christhurajapuram and Moghalrajapuram, fall in the limits of Gunadala, once a village panchayat that was merged into the corporation a couple of decades ago.
The ambience of Gunadala is unique with several wide spaces occupied by a few institutions with large spaces.Tallest hillock
The Gunadala hill is the tallest hillock in the clump of hillocks that punctuate the rather plain terrain of the city. Only a third of the slopes of the hill are occupied by dwellings, which is relatively small compared to other smaller hills (Gandhi Hill and Indrakeeladri).
Gunadala is also the home of a very powerful political personality and former Minister Devineni Rajasekhar. Much of the credit for the development of Gunadala, particularly the Mary Matha Shrine, goes to Catholic priest Huges Pezzoni. Starting with an orphanage founded by Fr. Pezzoni Gunadala has become the location for several Catholic Institutions.
According to the Fr.John Leoncini who chronicled the history of the Vijayawada Catholic Diocese the Gundala institutions were developed on an area of 23 acres partly donated and partly purchased by Fr. Pezonni in 1923. Fr. Leoncini says that Fr. P Arlati, the first manager of Gunadala Catholic Institutions had a real tough time getting the land cleared.
The orphanage was officially open on June 24, 1924. Fr Arlati also installed a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes (Mother Mary) in a natural grotto on the Gunadala Hill slope the same year.