The month-long celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Srikrishnadevaraya began on Monday with President Pratibha Patil unveiling a bronze statue of the popular ruler of the Vijayanagara empire here. It depicts Krishnadevaraya writing one of his works.

The President described Krishnadevaraya as one of the great monarchs and said his epoch had many lessons for policymakers, including the legacy of working for people's welfare. “Our endeavour is that progress reaches all segments of society, in particular, the marginalised and the disadvantaged.”

Mr. Patil said: “We have huge amounts for social welfare and other schemes for inclusive growth. Our delivery systems must be geared up and made more effective and non-corrupt, so that the benefits of welfare programmes reach them.” She called for undertaking rural development that would make villages progressive economic units and increase agricultural productivity.

Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan said Krishnadevaraya's 21-year reign marked a renaissance of literature and arts. “By honouring his reign and memory, we honour what is best and noblest of our past. It is these remembrances which would inspire us to scale greater heights of excellence”.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah said Krishnadevaraya was a great ruler who endeared himself to people. Though many a monarch had come and gone, only a few were remembered and he was one of them.

Tourism Minister J. Geeta Reddy said a Krishnadevaraya national archaeology museum would be set up at Penukonda in Anantapur, which was considered the second capital of the Vijayanagara empire.

Mr. Rosaiah presented a veena to Ms. Patil.

The event began with playback singer S.P. Balasubramaniam rendering a song written by Jnanpith award winner C. Narayan Reddy, eulogising the king's reign. Yamini Reddy presented a welcome dance.

As part of the month-long programme, a specially decorated chariot will go round various places in the State. Cultural programmes, seminars and an exhibition of coins, inscriptions, artefacts and sculptures of the Krishnadevaraya era would be held at the State Archaeological gallery here.

The valedictory function would be held on August 8 at Penukonda.