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    M.S.R. Murty showing the VIP robes ahead of the AU convocation, in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

    M.S.R. Murty showing the VIP robes ahead of the AU convocation, in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

    The octogenarian has been supplying the special garment since 1959

    Year after year, M.S.R. Murty has been an integral part of the jubilation of scores of graduates who pass out on the convocation day wearing black ceremonial robes, flinging their black scholars’ hats into the air.

    Since 1959, the 80-year-old has been supplying the black gowns for the convocation of the Andhra University and 50 other colleges in the districts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam.

    Celebrity customers

    From former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to actors like ANR and Bhanumathi to former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, several important personalities have worn the gowns made by Mr. Murty, a known name in the university and college circles of the city.

    Ahead of the 83rd and 84th combined convocation of the University, the octogenarian is filled with nostalgia as he goes down the memory lane to share some priceless moments.

    “In those days, AU convocation used to be a big affair and meticulously held every year on the second Saturday of December. We had a tailoring unit at our book store in the One Town area, where the black gown with golden border used to be stitched,” says Mr. Murty, who took over his father’s business in 1959. Till about a decade ago, the gowns used to be stitched at the tailoring unit in the city. However, a dwindling interest in tailoring business made it difficult for him to get the work done by local tailors.

    He now gets the gowns made from a Chennai-based unit. This year, he is supplying as many as 1,100 gowns for the convocation.

    The first film celebrity to don his gown was ANR when he was conferred the honorary doctorate degree of ‘Kalaprapoorna’ by the AU in the 70s. Later, it was during Indira Gandhi’s visit the tradition of the ceremonial gown was changed to silk scarves.

    “That particular year, I was ready with gowns when hardly 20 days ahead of the convocation I was informed about the change. I had to rush to Mumbai to get the silk cloth for the scarves and managed to make 100 scarves in a span of a week’s time. Ms. Gandhi was very particular about protocol and there were elaborate arrangements and practice done to avoid any chance of even minor goof-ups. I made a special velvet scarf for Ms. Gandhi for the convocation where she was conferred D. Litt. ,” recollects Mr. Murty.

    Age has certainly not withered him as he gets ready for Saturday’s convocation with two separate sets of gowns – the black ones for the graduates and the coloured ones for VIPs.

    “The gowns are given on rent for ₹150 and I charge a caution deposit of ₹1,000 from each student, which is refunded once the gowns are returned,” says Mr. Murty, who also supplies gowns for convocation of other colleges and universities like GITAM University and Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University.

    With his children settled in their respective careers, Mr. Murty continues his family business with diligence in his twilight years.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Andhra Pradesh / by Nivedita Ganguly  / Visakhapatnam – July 27th, 2017

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    Traces of the past: A World War II pill box resurfaces in Visakhapatnam. | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK;K_R_DEEPAK -

    Traces of the past: A World War II pill box resurfaces in Visakhapatnam. | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK;K_R_DEEPAK –

    They should be restored and turned into museums, say historians

    A silent reminder of a significant chapter of Visakhapatnam’s maritime history, the World War – II pill boxes or bunkers dotting the shores of the coast, resurfaces every year during monsoon when the eroded sands uncover these concrete structures hidden beneath for decades.

    Lack of any effort to restore and conserve these historical concrete fortifications, vagaries of nature over the years and public apathy have left these pill boxes in a state of utter neglect, serving as a painful reminder of an earlier time, slowly crumbling back into the sea.

    Maritime history

    At a time when the Tourism Department in association with the district administration is making efforts to create a maritime museum circuit along the beach road, these vintage pill boxes cry for attention. According to historians and retired naval personnel, these pill boxes are a significant link to the maritime history of the region, which should be restored and included in the maritime historical circuit at the Beach Road where the latest addition is the upcoming museum project of the decommissioned TU 142 fighter aircraft.

    Speaking to The Hindu, (Retd.) Cdr B.L.N. Rao, secretary of Navy Foundation – Visakhapatnam Chapter, said: “There are four such pill boxes spotted along the Vizag coast. The one at R.K. Beach is still in good shape and can easily be retrieved. Once it resurfaces from the sand, iron sheets can be kept all around it, the remaining sand can be dug till the base of the structure and with the help of hydraulic jack it can be lifted and shifted.”

    Last year, Cdr. Rao had initiated efforts in the restoration of these critical historical pill boxes by taking the VUDA officials around the locations where they are seen. “Nothing much has been done after that,” he said.

    The pill box at the R.K. Beach is about 20 to 30 feet wide and 10 feet high. “Similar dimensions of pill boxes exist near Kotaveedhi and Lavender Canal. However, the one near the fishing colony of Jalaripeta is nearly four times the size of the others and is beyond repair. That one was used as the command control centre by the British,” he added.

    As conflict in the World War II ramped up, these pill boxes were used to fortify the shores by the British to resist invasion by Japan. According to researchers, most of them were constructed around 1938-1941.

    Old timers recollect the presence of another pill box opposite the Naval Coastal Battery which they say was “mercilessly razed to the ground” in the 1960s when the road was being built. “These defence constructions were considered to be highly confidential during WW-II. Hence, there is no proper documentation of the number of bunkers present along the Vizag coast,” said historian Edward Paul.

    But recently these secret bunkers have piqued the interest of historians, war veterans and enthusiasts alike – and more people are attempting to discover their locations.

    “Proper signage at the locations of the pill boxes can go a long way in showcasing the maritime history of the region,” Mr. Paul added. While efforts to restore a similar British-era bunker discovered inside the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai are being taken, in other parts of the world – the most recent one being in Denmark’s western coast, World War II bunkers have been transformed into museums.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States > Andhra Pradesh / by Nivedita Ganguly / July 24th, 2017

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    Kondiba (Ananthagiri) :

    The tribal village of Kondiba located in Ananthagiri mandal of Visakhapatnam district is distinguished by two features — the village houses a unique banyan tree or rather a one-tree forest and the inhabitants who were tribes of the warrior and landholder class still retains many weapons such as swords and knives given to them in the colonial era by the rajas of Vizianagaram.

    Kondiba Panchayat has around 180 households and a population of approximately 1,200 people, most of whom are engaged in cultivation of rice, ragi, millets and lentils. Adivasi Odia is spoken by these tribes of Bagata caste. In the pre-independence era, the village had landlords and zamindars who were given the authority to collect taxes and were entrusted with administrative works. For safety of the villagers, the Vizianagaram rajas had given them weapons including swords, knives and guns.

    What is interesting is that the villagers have preserved most of these weapons and consider it a matter of pride to get these from the royal family.

    Guru Gujjala, an AP Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) employee at Tyda and resident of this village, said, “These weapons which are around 50 in number and around 100 years old has been with the Gujjala family since generations. Even though the family has split into different households, they still retain the weapons. Once a year, during Dussera, these are exhibited in the village. I have also heard that guns, copper plates and inscriptions were buried in the ground in the village few decades ago so as to prevent outsiders from taking these away.”

    “Despite offers of purchase from outsiders, the villagers never parted with these weapons and keep them as treasures within the village as these were given to us by the maharajas of Vizianagram more than a century ago,” added old Bangari Gujjela, who is a descendant of the erstwhile landowners’ family.

    Though a considerable big panchayat, the place suffers from water problem. Interestingly, Gujjala Ramanaidu, the first MLA from S Kota constituency post India’s independence belonged to Kondiba.

    Besides, weapons, the forest-tree is another interesting feature of this village. Secluded from the village at one end stands this banyan tree and offers a picturesque view of the surroundings. Nobody knows the age of the tree but it’s surmised that the tree is at least 150 years old. The branches and aerial prop roots have spread out on around an acre of land, thus giving the impression of a forest. The temperature of the area surrounding the tree is also cooler by a few notches from outside.

    Guru Gujjala said, “The tree is respected and no picnics or gatherings are encouraged near it to keep the sanctity of the place intact. However, every year, at the end of summer, some pujas are held in the hope of good rainfall in the monsoons. The tree covers nearly an acre of land and looks like a forest. During Cyclone Hudhud, there were some damage to the branches but thankfully, the tree was not uprooted and stood tall.”

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> CityNews> Visakhapatnam News / by Sulogna Mehta / TNN  / December 18th, 2016

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    Sunkarimetta :

    It’s impossible to miss sighting a beautiful hilltop church around 108 kilometres from the city on the Vizag-Araku route. Tourists travelling to Araku usually get down to have a look at the scenic church of Sunkarimetta. Especially during Christmas and New Year, the otherwise tranquil church comes alive with prayer services and hundreds of visitors. But not many know the historic and geographic significance of this building that dates back to the 1930s.

    The Sunkarimetta Baptist Church, located exactly 12 kilometres from Araku and Ananthagiri, is situated at an altitude of 4,236 feet above sea level. It is considered the highest point of the Eastern Ghats in Visakhapatnam District. Associated with the rajas of Jeypore, it was also from this church that Christianity first started spreading in the Agency areas in the first half of the 20th century.

    The three-and-a-half-acre land for the construction of the only church in this area was given by Maharaja Vikramadeo of Jeypore, Odisha, to the Samantha rajas – the Burudi and Karthika families – who were one of the first converts in the region. Built in the backdrop of the Second World War, it was constructed between 1936 and 1939 by the British who were confident of a victory in the world war by defeating the Axis Powers. The chief engineer of Vizag-Araku Road was also instrumental in building the church. The church was designed by Canadian architect Ralph Edward Smith.

    Speaking about its history, executive committee member of the church Karthik Raj Kiran said, “There’s not much recorded history about this church though it is the only church in this area catering to about 5,000 members today. In those days, it was a tax collection point. Built in the Gothic style of architecture, no sand was used for construction of the church but it was built using lime mortar and local rocks powdered by bullocks. Some of the seats in the church existing today dates back to the 1940s. The painted glass decoration inside the church is gift from retired Andhra University professor Ratna Raju. It can accommodate around 100 people at a time inside. On Sunday mornings and during Christian festivals, the church gets crowded.”

    The church has remained intact in its original form for around 80 years. The bell tower is the only addition that was made nearly a decade ago. Since the hilltop church renders a beautiful view of the scenic surroundings of green valleys and cultivated fields, distant grey-blue hills and winding roads of the Eastern Ghats, shootings of Telugu films have also taken place in its premises.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Visakhapatnam News / by Sulogna Mehta / December 18th, 2016

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    Marine archaeologists hint at British era wrecks off AP coast; Some went down with treasure.

    The NIO has salvaged shipwrecks off Goa, Lakshwadeep and Odisha and some places along the west coast.

    The NIO has salvaged shipwrecks off Goa, Lakshwadeep and Odisha and some places along the west coast.

     

    Visakhapatnam:

    Marine archaeologists believe that the sea off the 920-km AP coastline has the wrecks of ships belonging to Britain and other nations.

    Evidence collected from records and archives by marine archaeologist of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) suggest that 12 ships sank near Krishnapatnam, Nellore, Coringa ( Kakinada), Masulipatnam (Machilipatnam), Narasapur, Visakhapatnam, Bhimilipatnam, Kalingapatnam, and Sompeta.
    These records were collected from Delhi, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Panaji, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. The NIO has salvaged shipwrecks off Goa, Lakshwadeep and Odisha and some places along the west coast.

     

    Cause of wreck Infographic

    Cause of wreck Infographic

     

    These ships sank due to cyclones, human error or during wars in the 400 year period from the 16th to the 20th century. Most notable is said to be the Dart Mouth, a British ship carrying treasure that sank off to Masulipatnam (Machilipatnam) in 1719. Marine archaeologist say the coast needs to be explored to unearth the maritime heritage of Andhra Pradesh which once thrived with many ports.

    “Explorations have brought to limelight some remains of maritime activities, which are lying in the hinterland and onshore regions. The underwater remains have not been explored so far, including some important shipwrecks,” said noted marine archaeologist Sila Tripati of NIO’s Marine Archaeology Centre

    The only inscriptional evidence referring to shipwrecks in the country is the Motupalli pillar inscription ‘Abhaya Sasana’ (charter of security) of King Ganapatideva (1244-45 AD) and Annapottu Reddi (1358 AD) of Andhra Pradesh.
    Mr Tripati said that as the cargo of wrecked ships was taken away by local chiefs, the king in the inscription had assured the safety of the lives and cargo of both foreign and inland traders and offered them protection from piracy.

    The inscription states that the lives of both foreign and Indian mariners were to be treated as that of King Ganapatideva himself. It also provides a long list of import and export items which point to the fact that it was a busy port.

    source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> In other news / by SNV Sudhir, Deccan Chronicle / December 16th, 2016

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    Deputy Speaker Mandali Buddha Prasad launched the poster of the book titled – ‘Andhrula Samagra Charitra Sanskriti’, written by Dr. E. Siva Nagareddy, a historian, archaeologist and CEO of The Cultural Centre for Vijayawada and Amaravati, here on Thursday.

    Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Prasad said the book contained original and authentic information of the history and culture of Andhras from the pre-historic times till the division of the State which would be very useful for the students preparing for the competitive exams.

    Department of Language and Culture director Vizai Bhaskar said Mr. Reddy was an authority on the Satavahana and Vijayanagara dynasties.

    Andhra Arts Academy secretary Golla Narayana Rao spoke.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Vijayawada / by Special Correspondent / Vijayawada – October 21st, 2016

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    City MLA Dr. Akula Satyanarayana has said that honouring freedom fighters is nothing but honouring the country and that is the reason they have identified and felicitated some freedom fighters in the city limits as a part of BJP’s “Tiranga Yatra”.

    He spoke at Anam Rotary Hall after participating in the Tiranga Yatra on Saturday.

    Later, he felicitated Krovvidi Satyanarayana couple, son of Krovvidi Lingaraju, Kusuma Sujatha Kumari, daughter of Kusuma Naganna, Keerthi Chakra Pandillapalli Srinivas’s mother, sons of Budhavarapu Suryanarayana and others.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by Special Correspondent / Rajamahendravaram – August 21st, 2016

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    Visakhapatnam:

    Andhra University vice-chancellor Prof G Nageswara Rao paid tributes to Sardar Gouthu Lachanna on his birth anniversary by hailing him as one of the great real life heroes of Andhra Pradesh.

    The vice-chancellor said not only did Gouthu Lachanna play a key role in emancipating the down trodden but was also a front liner during the freedom struggle.

    He hailed him as man who dedicated his life for the betterment of mankind. TNN

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Visakhapatnam / TNN / August 18th, 2016

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    Rajamahendravaram city MLA Akula Satyannarayana felicitated freedom fighter Mullapudi Suryanarayana marking 70th Independence Day and BJP Thiranga Parva at Dowleswaram on Monday.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by Special Correspondent / Rajamahendravaram – August 16th, 2016

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    Built in 1750s, it was used to confine freedom fighters from Krishna and Guntur districts till another jail was built in Vijayawada in 1920s

    The remains of the British Prison at Bandarkota village near Machilipatnam in Krishna district.

    The remains of the British Prison at Bandarkota village near Machilipatnam in Krishna district.

    A British construction here stands as a witness to the bravery and sacrifices of the freedom fighters of Masulipatnam and Krishna district.

    The giant building, known as ‘British Prison’, reminds one of the history of freedom struggle in Andhra Pradesh.

    “It was built after the Anglo-French war in 1750s. The British required a prison in Machilipatnam to incarcerate the local freedom fighters within the area of Krishna and Guntur districts and Nalgonda in Telangana State during the freedom struggle,” local historian Mohammed Silar toldThe Hindu .

    According to available literature on Machilipatnam, it was the only prison to confine the freedom fighters until another prison was built in Vijayawada in early 1920s.

    Jaggery unit

    ‘Masula History’ penned by Chitta Bala Krishna Sastry in 1922 predicts that Machilipatnam would witness rapid industrial activity, by citing the jaggery production unit set up in the British prison by then.

    “After the British left the prison by early 1920s, local entrepreneur Jaldu Rama Rao obtained permission from the British to use the prison premises for production of jaggery and sugar,” said Mr. Silar. However, sugar cane production had to be stopped by mid 1940s, owing to various business reasons.

    Currently, the British prison is owned by the family of Jaldu Rama Rao.

    Now, an old woman resides at the entrance of the site, which is yet to get the heritage status.

    Only if it gets the heritage status, any conservatory initiatives by the Archaeological Survey of India could be expected to take place.

    Another heritage structure

    Ironically, the British prison is located opposite another heritage site which was a hospital during the Nizam’s period.

    The efforts made by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the conservation of the British prison as well as the other sites at Bandarkota have not yielded any results so far.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Andhra Pradesh / Bankarkota(KrishnA) / August 15th, 2016

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