Along with much of present-day coastal Andhra Pradesh, Bhimavaram was controlled by the Chola dynasty. Under Kulothunga Chola I, Bhimavaram was ruled by his sons who served as viceroys. Various stone inscriptions have been found in the town dating from his reign (c. 1096 C.E.).
The name Bhimavaram literally means "the gift of Bhima". According to a legend, in around 890–918 AD, an Eastern Chalukya king named Chalukya Bheema built a Siva temple and laid the foundation to this town. It was originally called "Bhimapuram", but the name gradually changed to "Bhimavaram"; "puram" refers to a dwelling place while "varam" means an endowment in Telugu.
As of 2011 census of India, the town had a population of 142,184. The total population constitutes 70,066 males and 72,214 females —a sex ratio of 1031 females per 1000 males. 12,157 children are in the age group of 0–6 years, of which 6,149 are boys and 6,008 are girls —a ratio of 977 girls per 1000 boys. The average literacy rate stands at 83.41% with 1,08,535 literates, significantly higher than the state average of 73.00%. While, its urban agglomeration population was 146,961.
Bhimavaram is located in the epicentre of the Godavari delta region. It is one of the principal trade centres of paddy in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Agriculture-based businesses like food processing, aqua culture, rice mills etc., are the chief sources of the town's revenue. The town serves as a distribution centre as well as commercial centre to its hinterland. The town is the regional centre for higher education and is known for its specialized health services.
Bhimavaram Municipality was established in the year April 1948. It was upgraded to Selection Grade municipality in 2011. The municipality is spread over an area of 25.64 km2 (9.90 sq mi). Its urban agglomeration covers Bhimavaram municipality, partly out growths of Rayalam (rural) and Chinamiram. It has an area of 26.14 km2 (10.09 sq mi).
Bhimavaram assembly constituency is a legislative assembly constituency in Andhra Pradesh.
The town has a total road length of 201.60 km (125.27 mi). The town is well connected with different places in the country by national highways. NH 214 passes through the town. The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation operates bus services from Bhimavaram bus station. Bhimavaram town railway station is classified as a A–category station in the Vijayawada railway division of South Central Railway zone. Gudivada–Bhimavaram section connects it with Visakhapatnam–Vijayawada section of Howrah-Chennai main line.
Bhimavaram is famous for the Gunupudi Someswara (Somarama) temple, which is one of the five holy Pancharamas. Built during the 3rd century A.D., the Shiva lingam is known for changing its color according to the lunar month; black during amavasya and white during pournami. There are many notable people from cinema industry such as, Byrraju Ramalinga Raju, Trivikram Srinivas, Sivaji Raja, Penmatsa Subbaraju, Sunil (actor), Prabhas, Raja Ravindra, J V K Narayana Raju, etc. Other notable personalities include Chintalapati Venkata Prasada (Ch.V.P) Murthy Raju, K. V. K. Raju, Yellapragada Subbarao in Science field, Swami Jnanananda in mystics, Sri Dantuluri Narayana Raju (an academician), Sagi Rama Krishnam Raju
The primary and secondary school education is imparted by government, aided and private schools of the School Education Department of the state. The medium of instruction followed by different schools are English, Telugu.
There are numerous educational institutions in and around Bhimavaram. Some of the renowned institutions are S.R.K.R Engineering College, D.N.R Educational Institutions, K.G.R.L Group of Educational Institutions, Sri Vishnu Educational Society, Bhimavaram Institute of Engineering & Technology, Grandhi Varalakshmi Venkatarao Institute of Technology (GVIT).Dr.C.S.N.Degree and P.G college