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    Ramachandraiah is probably the last such singer left in A.P. and Telangana

    Sakine Ramachandraiah could easily have been awarded honorary doctorate by any university. An unlettered man from Koonavaram village of Manuguru mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district, Ramachandraiah has oral histories of the Koya tribe on the tip of his tongue.

    One only has to mention the story to have it cascade effortlessly from his vocal chambers, in Telugu as well as Koya language.

    Belonging to the ‘Doli’ sub-division of the Koya tribe, which has been traditionally ordained with the duty of reciting the tribe’s clan histories, Ramachandraiah is probably the last such singer left in the two states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

    “Some times, I cross the State border to perform in Chhattisgarh, where people want the songs in Koya language,” Ramachandraiah says.

    He sings at marriages, at funerals, and he always sings at the biennial Medaram Jathara also known as the ‘Sammakka Saralamma Jathara’, which is touted as the world’s largest repeat congregation of tribal communities. The Medaram Jathara is to be held from January 31 to February 3 this year, at Eturunagaram of Jayashankar Bhupalpally district.


    The Doli community is described as ‘professional beggars’ among Koyas by the Godavari District Gazette of 1896. Though their duties are priest-like and along with ‘Oddis’— the superior priest class — they can be classified as the ‘literate’ in the tribe, their status is still considered ‘inferior’.

    Doli men sing oral histories based on the ‘Padige’s or pictorial scrolls inherited by various communities over centuries.

    “Earlier, Doli families used to live in a hamlet called ‘Soppala’.

    Now, nobody lives there. Few are left who can recite oral histories as accurately as Ramachandraiah,” says Jayadhir Tirumala Rao, academic and researcher of tribal communities.

    Prof. Tirumala Rao is spearheading a project to document the oral history of ‘Sammakka-Saralamma’ as told by Ramachandraiah, and he vouches that the story, if fleshed out from the myth it is enmeshed in, could substantially aid historical research.

    “Sammakka-Saralamma story is about the war waged against the Kakatiya dynasty by tribal women who challenged king Prataparudra when he had levied tax on them for the tanks he had got constructed in their forests. The Koya tribe had then lived on hunting-gathering, and never cultivated any land.

    So, the king sought to send outsiders into the forest for cultivation, which was the last straw on the camel’s back. This story comes out very clearly from the song recited by Ramachandraiah,” Prof. Tirumala Rao says.

    Apart from ‘Sammakka-Saralamma’, the balladeer sings the stories of tribal warriors such as Gari Kamaraju, Pagididda Raju, Irama Raju, Gaadi Raju, Bapanamma, Musalamma, Nagulamma, Sadalamma and others. He also knows and recites the stories behind the endogamous tribal sub-divisions and their surnames. “Now, nobody wants to sing the stories. Even my own son refuses to follow the tradition,” Ramachandraiah laments.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Telangana / by Swathi Vadlamudi / January 10th, 2018

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    Once upon a time there was a huge steam ship filled with passengers leaving a quaint town. But, the ill-fated ship sank with all of its 400 passengers on board. Ever since, the location where the ship sank in the sea has been haunted, with the souls of the gloomy, dead passengers haunting whoever passes by at night. They moan and take out their anger on the living, begging for attention and some relief from their after-life.

    Thus goes the legend of a mysterious wreck in the Bay of Bengal popular among the fishing community of  Visakhapatnam.  And till recently, the wreck was nothing more than an apparition; a bed-time tale told to scare toddlers. Or so it was believed. But Vizag-based scuba diver, Balaram Naidu claims he’s discovered the remnants of that doomed ship lying in the Bay of Bengal.

    “I don’t want to reveal where the wreck is yet, but the fishing community here has always had many interesting tales to tell about it,” says Balaram Naidu, owner of an adventure sports firm in the city.

    From the pictures of the remnants of the said wreck that Balaram shared with Vizag Times, one can see various parts of the ship scattered around. “The shaft, motor, furnace and the rest of the main body are intact. The keel, decks and other parts of the ship have spread all over the place. The furnace even holds beautiful aqua life in it and is filled with fishes, eels and turtles,” explains Balaram.

    But how did the adventure enthusiast even find the wreck in the first place? “We have been struggling to find wrecks in the sea for three years now and been taking the help of the fishing community to find them. But they can’t dive deep into the water, so they point out possible wreck sites to us and we dive to see if they’re actually there. We learnt about this site from the fishermen’s tales. We found the debris during our first few dives and it took us a while to find the wreck too,” he says, elated.

    While the mention of the eerie wreck brings out excitement in Balaram, it incites fear in the fishing community. The fishermen are dead sure that this is the sunken ship that their forefathers warned them about. “I don’t know how old the ship is and when it sunk there. But generations of our children have grown up listening to tales of how 400 passengers on board died when this ship sank. I heard the story from my father, who heard the story from my grandfather and so on. My father is 85-years-old now, I think the ship sunk 300 years ago maybe. But this is the first time I’ve heard of someone actually finding it,” says Satti, a fisherman.

    But why does the ship-wreck incite fear in these fishermen? “It’s not just me, anyone who has fished around that area will tell you that they feel scared to venture there. Because a lot of us who fished in that area at night, have felt someone hitting us on our backs. That’s why we avoid venturing there at night. Even when we do go that side, we go in large numbers and prefer not to catch fish there.”

    Balaram however wants to find the ship’s origins and believes it sunk while it was leaving Vizag harbour. “The shaft is towards Vizag, this could mean that it sunk while it was leaving the harbour. I want to find out more details about the ship and I’m hoping its records can be found at the court. They will hopefully have the navigation records.”

    For Balaram the finding of a coral in the sea few weeks back and now, the wreck just reinstates the fact that Vizag has the potential to be an attractive dive site. “In fact, it could be the best dive site in India,” he says. “Scuba divers love reef diving and wreck diving, and the latter is something a lot of divers opt for because it’s exciting.”

    Previously too, Balaram Naidu had told Vizag Times that he is planning to present a proposal to the tourism department to develop Vizag as a wreck diving destination. If the proposal does indeed materialise, then civilians would be able to access the wreck of PNS Ghazi, that only divers of Indian Navy are privy to so far.

    “I know for a fact that the remains of Ghazi lie 30 meters deep in the ocean and that the debris is entangled in fishing nets,” he says. Apart from the wreck of PNS Ghazi, and now this steam ship, the debris of a goods ship lies at the continental beach near Dolphin Hill.

    “I will soon submit a proposal imploring the Tourism Department to turn the ship wreck we discovered now and PNS Ghazi into wreck diving sites. It can transform the tourism scenario not just in Vizag but all of India,” he sums it up.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Visakhapatnam News / by Neeshita Nyayapati / TNN / January 06th, 2018

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    With the help of her girl students, whom she used to teach music, Mrs. Cousins worked on the tunes for ‘Janaganamana.’

    He sang something like a piece of geography… and in the second verse a list of the religions in India…

    Author of the anthem: Rabindranath Tagore.

    Author of the anthem: Rabindranath Tagore.

    The National Anthem was written by Rabindranath Tagore as early as in 1911 and was sung at the annual session of the Indian National Congress at Calcutta on December 27 that year. But it was in Besant Theosophical College, Madanapalle, where Tagore stayed for a few days in February 1919 that the now familiar tune was set. It was Margaret Cousins, wife of educationist, James H. Cousins, who composed the tune for ‘Janaganamana.’ Dr. James Henry Cousins was then the Principal of the Madanapalle College that was established by Dr. Annie Besant.

    Tagore was on a tour of South India and was much tired when he reached Bangalore in the last week of February 1919. On the advice of C.F. Andrews, he decided to rest at the Theosophical College in Madanapalle, about 120 km, south-east of Bangalore.

    Besides several firsts of national importance, Madanapalle also had a first grade college started by Annie Besant in 1915. Besant’s involvement in the freedom movement prompted the Government to cancel its affiliation to Madras University. Undaunted, Dr. Besant named the college “Wood National College,” after Prof. Ernest Wood, educationist and a close follower of Dr. Besant. She got it affiliated to the National University at Madras, which was newly organised by the Society for the Promotion of National Education, (SPNE) for which Rabindranath Tagore was the Chancellor. When it was suggested that the quiet atmosphere at Madanapalle College as the right place to rest, Tagore was only happy for he felt that he would be with the staff and students of the college affiliated to the National University. Tagore also felt happy to be in the company of Dr. Cousins whose poetry in English he always admired.

    Song set to tune

    Rabindranath Tagore’s stay in Madanapalle College became momentous because the song ‘Janaganamana’ was given the melody of the musical tunes with which it is now sung all over the country. Till then the song never had a uniform tune. People were signing it as they liked in varied ways with great regional variations.

    It was the practice with Dr. and Mrs. Cousins to hold informal meetings with the college community on every Wednesday night after dinner called “sing song fun session”. It was usually a programme of healthy hilarity and fun. Tagore, who joined the gathering asked if he might sing one of his poems.

    Writing about how the song was first heard by them as sung by Tagore himself, Dr. Cousins recounted thus: “In a voice surprisingly light for so large a man, he sang something like a piece of geography giving a list of countries, mountains and rivers; and in the second verse a list of the religions in India. The refrain to the first verse made us pick up our ears. The refrain to the second verse made us clear our throats. We asked for it again and again, and before long we were singing it with gusto: Jaya hai, Jaya hai, Jaya hai, Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya hai (Victory, victory, victory to thee).”

    The large assembly gathered that night was overjoyed at listening to the song ‘Janaganamana’ from Gurudev himself who penned it. Mrs. Cousins, who was highly gratified at the rich thought content of the poem, decided to give suitable tunes to it. She was herself a musician having taken a degree in music from the University of London. The next day, she discussed with Tagore on the notations and the general theme of the song. Tagore explained the nuances of the poem and indicated broadly the “swara” for the song.

    With the help of the girl students of the college, whom she used to teach music, Mrs. Cousins worked on the tunes for ‘Janaganamana.’ She carefully studied the meaning of each line of the song and composed the musical notes. When she was ready with the final version of her composition, she spoke to Gurudev and briefed him on the swara she composed. With the staff and students assembled in the same classrooms, where Tagore sang it the previous day, Mrs. Cousins with the help of her students, to the accompaniment of a few simple musical instruments and in the presence of Tagore, rendered the entire song to the tune she composed.

    The assembled audience was thrilled when Tagore spoke a few words appreciating the melody of the tune and the efforts of Mrs. Cousins in composing it. Thus the poet had approved the tune making it as the final form of his popular Bengali song, ‘Janaganamana.’

    About this event, Dr. Cousins in his autobiography states: “It made literary history and carried the name and thought of Tagore into the minds and hearts of millions of young in schools and colleges and outside them and ultimately gave humanity the nearest approach to an ideal national anthem. It happened, as so many great events of the spirit do, without anticipation and without collusion.”

    English translation

    It was during his stay in the college, that Tagore also translated ‘Janaganamana’ into English. For a few days, early in the mornings, basking in the winter sun, Tagore sat on a stone-slab under the Gulmohar tree in front of his cottage and went over his Bengali song. ‘Janaganamana,’ line by line finding the equivalent words in English. He wrote in his own beautiful handwriting and named it as the “Morning Song of India.” At the bottom of the translated version, he signed his name, dated it as February 28, 1919 and presented it to Dr. James Cousins.

    Later when the College was in financial crisis due to the withdrawal of grants by the government of Madras consequent to the participation of the faculty and students of the college in the Home-Rule agitation started by Dr. Anne Besant, the “Morning Song of India” document in Tagore’s handwriting was sold to an American art collector for a fabulous but undisclosed price. The money thus collected was added to the college fund. However, a photocopy of it was made before the original left the country forever. This copy is preserved in the Madanapalle Theosophical College now.

    Tagore, having fully refreshed and recouped, left Madanapalle on March 2, 1919, to continue his South Indian tour. It is said that before leaving, he called the Madanapalle College ‘Santinikethan of South.’ In 1937, when a fierce controversy raged over the selection of the National Anthem, it was James Cousins who fervently pleaded that ‘Janaganamana’ should be confirmed officially as the National Anthem of India. He wrote, “The poem would become one of the world’s precious documents… From Madanapalle, ‘Janaganamana’ spread all over India and is admired in Europe and America.”

    Tagore’s ‘Janaganamana’ was declared the National Anthem, as Dr. Cousins assiduously pleaded during his lifetime, when India became a Republic on January 26, 1950.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Friday Review / May 15th, 2009

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    Rare collection: A file photo of a staff member showing the palm leaf manuscripts in the library. | Photo Credit: C.V.SUBRAHMANYAM

    Rare collection: A file photo of a staff member showing the palm leaf manuscripts in the library. | Photo Credit: C.V.SUBRAHMANYAM

    Digitalisation drive launched at iconic Gowthami library

    As part of protecting and safeguarding old books and manuscripts, the digitalisation of Sri Gowthami Regional Library has just taken off. Foundation was laid for new buildings for renovation and restoration was also done recently.

    At present the library has 1.03 lakh books — 71,130 Telugu, 21,974 English, 7,967 Hindi, 372 Urdu , 667 others, 411 palm leaf manuscripts, six copper plates, and 40 unpublished manuscripts.

    Of the 40,000 books that have been partially or completely damaged, digitalisation of 30,000 is being taken up with the support of a team of computer operators monitored by the project in charge Aripirala Narayana Rao, former reader in Sri YN College, Narsapur.

    Prof. Narayana Rao said that about 30 lakh pages have to be digitalised. Five computers and two high-end scanners brought from Bengaluru each are being used for the purpose.

    Akula’s initiative

    The project was initiated by city MLA Dr. Akula Satyanarayana and the total cost of the project is ₹10 lakh for the first year. “It will take at least two years to accomplish the task,” said Prof. Narayana Rao. The State Bank of India has sponsored computers, printer and air- conditioners worth ₹4.5 lakh. The books that are being digitalised include Sanskrit Bible, the first published copy of the Britannica Encyclopedia, silver-coated stylus for writing on palm leaves, copper plates and palm leaf manuscripts, and 15,000 rare books.

    “Viveka Vardhini magazines which were edited by Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu, Hitha Suchini published in the year 1845 and popular Swami Seva penned by Muddu Narasimha Naidu in 1862 are also being digitalised,” Prof. Narayana Rao said. The Manasu Foundation of Bangalore has acceded to their request to digitalise some valuable books.

    Gowthami library is the biggest one in the region after the Thanjavur library in Tamil Nadu. It was set up by Nalam Krishna Rao in 1898 and christened Sri Veeresalingam Panthulu Library. Addanki Satyanarayana Sarma, a noted scholar, started another one — Vasuraya Library.

    Following the advice of the elite in the city, the two libraries were merged and named as Gowthami Grandhalayam and registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1920. Vavilala Gopalakrishnaiah and AB Nageswara Rao were instrumental in getting regional status to the library. In 1979, the government took over the library.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Andhra Pradesh / by B.V.S. Bhaskar /  Rajamahendravarman – December 09th, 2017

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    Boost to tourism: President Ram Nath Kovind and other dignitaries after the inauguration of TU-142 Aircraft Museum in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

    Boost to tourism: President Ram Nath Kovind and other dignitaries after the inauguration of TU-142 Aircraft Museum in Visakhapatnam on Thursday. | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

    The attraction in Vizag is the first of its kind with a walk-through for visitors

    President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday inaugurated the TU 142 Aircraft Museum, the first such museum in the country, on the Beach Road here in the presence of Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. He later went through the cockpit, machinery, bombs and gunner compartments of the aircraft.

    Mr. Naidu presented TU 142 souvenirs and Pedana “kalamkari kanduva” to the President.

    Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, Civil Aviation Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of ENC Karambir Singh, Lok Sabha members K. Haribabu and Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao, Ministers Ch. Ayyanna Patrudu and N. Chinarajappa, ZP chairperson Lalam Bhavani, Port Trust Chairman M.T. Krishna Babu, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Mukesh Kumar Meena and VUDA Vice-Chairman P. Basanth Kumar, MLAs and MLCs participated.

    The museum is the first of its kind with a walk-through for visitors. The Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) oversaw the execution of the ₹14-crore project comprising the museum complex, TU flight simulator, an audio-visual room and souvenir shop. The project, seen as a major tourist attraction with the Submarine Museum across the road, is funded by the AP Tourism. The VUDA will run the museum, set up on one acre of the Andhra University, in coordination with the Navy and the A.P. Tourism. The decommissioned TU 142 was flown in from the Arakkonam base of the Navy, dismantled, transported and reassembled into the museum.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Andhra Pradesh / by Special Correspondent / Visakhapatnam – December 08th, 2017

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    Archaeologist Kadiyala Venkateswara Rao at the labyrinth in Kolimeru village, East Godavari district.

    Archaeologist Kadiyala Venkateswara Rao at the labyrinth in Kolimeru village, East Godavari district.

    It throws light on ancient cult practices, says freelance archaeologist

    A prehistoric painting of a mystic labyrinth has been discovered at a cave on top of a hill near Kolimeru village near Tuni in East Godavari district. The labyrinth, dating back to the Neolithic period, consists of seven circles in red ochre on white pigment painted on a rectangular rock in front of the cave facing the Sun.

    “The discovery of the labyrinth throws light not only on the ancient religious practices of prehistoric civilisations, but also on their knowledge about astronomical signs. Ancient civilisations had worshipped Sun and were able to predict seasons and even natural calamities,’’ freelance archaeologist and former deputy director, Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, Kadiyala Venkateswara Rao told The Hindu on Friday.

    Mr. Rao had earlier unearthed a unique Menhir at Karempudi in Guntur district that threw light on the existence of prehistoric civilisations in Guntur district.

    The word labyrinth is an ancient Greek word with Minoan cultural influence and means extremely complicated and therefore difficult to understand.

    The hills, known locally as ‘Bangaruloya,’ and the rock shelter ‘Pandavulavari Gani,’ have mystic folklore. Locals believe that Pandavas lived in this rock shelter during “aranyavasa,’’ and also thought mystic drawings could indicate that huge gold and precious things were hidden in the caves.

    Line drawings

    Mr. Rao, now aged 75 years, located the rock shelter after an arduous trek. The natural rock found at the entrance of the shelter has sacred Neolithic labyrinth motifs painted in red ochre on a white pigment. He also found line drawings of a bull and a deer on either side of the labryinth, though the colour has faded away. It is believed that the rock shelter might be a worshipping place of Neolithic hunter-gatherers.

    “Ancient literature has thrown light on the ways in which priests studied the equinoxes, solstices and movements of Sun and Moon hoping to gain mastery over the elements. Cult priests might have also performed rituals and other ancestral worshipping practices in front of the labyrinth symbol,’’ Mr. Rao added.

    Mr. Rao also discovered a prehistoric cup mark which are also found on other prehistoric sites such as dolmen and menhirs, sacred ritual symbols.

    It is interesting to note that similar labyrinths have been found in Europe and other countries and are common in aboriginal art and usually associated with creative energy. In India, labyrinths have been found at Halibedu in Hoyasleshwara Swamy Temple in Karnataka, and in Goa and Rajastan, where they are worshipped as Manas Chakra, a religious emblem.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Vijayawada / by P. Samuel Jonathan / Guntur – October 21st, 2017

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    railway station

    railway station

    Visakhapatnam Railway Station surely knows how to enrich the experience of passengers on their journey and there has been no stone unturned in this regard.

    Visakhapatnam Railway Station surely knows how to enrich the experience of passengers on their journey and there has been no stone unturned in this regard. In one of the first such projects across any railway station in India, Vizag will have an Art Gallery with rare pictures for viewing by passengers. Situated near the main exit gate, the Art Gallery has already been inaugurated by Waltair Division railway manager yesterday.

    One can now see pictures in the art gallery of facts and events from the 1960s and 1970s which have artistic, factual and historic significance. These have been sourced from the National Rail Museum in New Delhi. Further in a statement, the authorities have encouraged local artists to come forward with their individual works to be displayed at the art gallery. Local talent is invited and it will serve as a platform for newbie artists to grab attention. The display will be free of cost to the artist and one can approach the Station Master for further details.

    Highlights –

    • Mahatma Gandhi standing at the door of an old compartment during the times of Salt Satyagraha.
    • Steam engines that used to draw trains earlier.
    • Vintage pictures of Howrah Station.
    • Pictures of train carrying refugees from Pakistan into then India.

    Definitely worth a peek for all of us next time we are making a rail journey, don’t you thinks so?

    source: / Yo!Vizag / Home> News-City Updates

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    Visakhapatnam :

    Four cast iron cannons, believed to hark back to the British Raj, were unearthed at the Queen Mary’s Girls High School here while excavating the ground to build foundation trenches for a new building on Thursday.

    Recently , the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan had allocated a two-room building to the school at an estimated cost of `17.6 lakh, keeping in view the increasing number of girl students. An excavator operator, while digging the trenches at about 6.30am, found the cannons and alerted the officials.

    According to Vijjeswarapu Edward Paul, an Intach member and heritage conservationist, the British entered Vizagapatam (present Vizag city) as early as 1682. “Vizagapatam was the Northern Division headquarters of the Madras Army of the English East India Company . A Major General-rank officer headed the Vizag unit. The premises of the school and the surroundings housed an arsenal during the British era. However, in about 1860, the arms were shifted to Madras and Singapore. Some of the arms, which were not worthy enough to be shifted, were left here,” said Edward Paul.

    APSSA district project officer T Siva Rama Prasad said more studies will be taken up to explore what is hidden underground on the premises by leveraging advanced methods such as imaging technologies. “These cannons can also be placed along the RK Beach road to create awareness among students and general public about our history ,” said Rama Prasad.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Visakhapatnam News / Umamaheshwara Rao / TNN / October 27th, 2017

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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: / 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: / The Hindu / Home> News> States > Andhra Pradesh / by Nivedita Ganguly / July 24th, 2017

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