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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: / 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: / 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.



    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: / 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: / 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: / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by Special Correspondent / Rajamahendravaram – August 21st, 2016

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    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: / 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: / 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: / The Hindu / Home> Andhra Pradesh / Bankarkota(KrishnA) / August 15th, 2016

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    Visakhapatnam :

    Heritage lovers want the two World War II bunkers to be placed in Visakha Museum or along Beach Road for tourists and public to learn about their history and importance associated with Vizag. Currently, one of the bunkers lies partially submerged in the sea sand near RK Beach, while the other is in the One Town Area near the port conveyer belt. There’s also a huge concrete bunker on the beach in Jalaripeta region near Kailasagiri, which is practically not feasible to be shifted given its size and mass.

    During low tides or beach erosion, the bunkers at times get exposed though most people are unaware of its significance. As per historians, there might be more such historical bunkers between Old Town and Jalaripeta along the beach but not all of them are visible and might be under water. Changes in the coastal landscape may cause some of them to surface in future. The bunkers were constructed for attacking or firing at enemy ships that try to enter the shores.

    S Ravi Kanth Reddy, founder-president of Meecons, said, “Recently, I wrote to GVMC commissioner Pravin Kumar requesting him to salvage those two bunkers and make them part of a local museum or at least put them for public display somewhere on Beach oad with some description about their historical significance.”

    Elaborating on the bunkers and Vizag’s tryst with the World War II, Captain Dorai Babu of the Indian Navy, who has done research and contributed to certain publications related to the East Coast Naval History during the International Fleet Review (IFR), said, “Not many people are aware that during World War II, a Japanese submarine was sunk around 20 miles off Vizag by an Australian ship. A Japanese aircraft tried to bomb Vizag Port area. The British were anticipating an attack on Vizag and therefore bunkers were built along the coast in the late 1930s and ’40s as a protective and attacking measure.”

    “The bunkers are usually 4-5 feet under the ground and 3-4 feet above the ground. They are fortified with stone and can prevent 20 mm bullet attacks to protect guns and crew housed in them,” added Captain Babu.

    Historian Edward Paul averred, “These bunkers or pill boxes were used to attack enemy ships trying to enter Vizag shores. The crew would be hidden in the bunkers from where they would shoot. Holes were made on the bunkers for bullets to be fired from them. The bunkers were made of thick solid concrete, which could resist firing attacks. However, these are so heavy and huge that extracting them from the seashores and bringing them to museums or Beach Road would be practically a herculean task requiring modern technology. May be some boards about their utility and historical significance can be placed along the Beach Road. But with increased erosion and the sea encroaching the shores, slowly the bunkers are becoming invisible. In the 1960s, when the sea hadn’t advanced so much, the bunkers would be clearly visible.”

    Curator of Visakha Heritage Museum MNA Patrudu said, “It would be definitely a wonderful idea to place the bunkers along with information boards for tourists. May be the museum too can find some space for it if it can be lifted from the seashore. These are very heavy and half of them are submerged in the waters. Lifting and placing them somewhere else would be an extremely difficult task.”

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Visakhapatnam / Sulogna Mehta / TNN / July 23rd, 2016

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    Crores of rupees have been earmarked by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation for revamp and conservation of the Port City's heritage structure

    Crores of rupees have been earmarked by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation for revamp and conservation of the Port City’s heritage structure


    Time and again, there had been elaborate talks on giving the heritage buildings of Old Town a makeover.

    Sources had earlier said crores of rupees have been earmarked by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) for revamp and conservation of the Port City’s heritage structures that are badly in need of renovation, conservation, and maintenance. But except some ray of light for the Town Hall, the condition of other derelict structures have worsened.
    Sometimes, funds from JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) or from the World Bank was expected to come to the rescue of the heritage structures and include them in the tourism map but nothing materialised. The only positive development so far has been cleaning up of the Town Hall and putting up a notice by GVMC banning all functions at the venue.

    There are almost a dozen heritage and colonial era buildings and sites in Old Town such as the Town Hall, European cemetery, Queen Victoria’s pavilion, Queen Mary’s Schools, St John Church and School, St Aloysius School, Lighthouse, Ishaq Medina Dargah, Abu Sarang Street, Lavender Canal and some other heritage buildings. Some of these like the hilltop dargah and mosque dates back to the mid 13th century while most others belong to the 19th and early 20th century.

    The 16th century European cemetery, which is covered with garbage and weeds, was cleaned about a couple of years ago by GVMC at the initiative of Intach (Indian National Trust for Culture and Heritage) but is now back to its former state. M Janaki, the then additional commissioner of GVMC, had taken a lot of initiative in clearing the cemetery and had even allocated Rs 12 lakh for its renovation. The three century old burial ground has around 50 graves.

    Intach member Jayshree Hatangadi said, “When I visited the cemetery this week, I found the wall broken towards its left and has been encroached upon by surrounding houses. Garbage has been thrown inside and the weeds and bushes have regrown to such an extent that stepping inside is almost impossible. Only the Town Hall has been cleaned and ‘No functions to be held here’ notice pasted on the door, which is a good move by the GVMC in protecting the building from all the damage and litter, which happens every time some function is held there.”

    GVMC’s chief city planner Venkata Rathnam said, “Both the European cemetery in Old Town and the Dutch cemetery at Jagadamba Junction are in a bad shape, with broken compound walls and our municipal commissioner has personally inspected the sites. Hopefully, some renovation and cleaning works would be taken up for the cemeteries.”

    Not only the cemetery, but the Victoria Pavilion and the Queen Victoria statue, which got a makeover around two months ago, is in a mess. “The statue is again covered with coal dust, which can’t be helped because of the pollution is the area. But worse, the workers have left the cleaning job incomplete. They have left brushes, brooms and clothes, but removed the signage. Even if there’s some renovation, the maintenance aspect is totally ignored,” added Hatangadi.

    The century-old Queen Mary’s Girls High School (QMGHS) is also in a rickety state, especially the tiled roofs and wooden staircases are all creaking and crumbling and in urgent need for renovation. But it seems the government is waiting for it to crumble further and then pull it down altogether so that it meets the same fate as the Kurupam Market structure, which was surreptitiously demolished in November 2013 by GVMC officials. According to government sources, Rs 32 lakh was sanctioned by the state education department for construction of a new school building in the existing premises but the money was diverted to other “needy” schools. The building, which now houses the school, was earlier a medical school and even before that the old collectorate, dating back to the early 19th century.

    When asked about the plans and funds for renovation of Old Town heritage structures, GVMC Commissioner Pravin Kumar replied, “Except Town Hall, all other structures belong to different management and trusts. GVMC will work together with the respective management to give a facelift to them as has been done for the Queen Victoria Pavilion.”

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Visakhapatnam / by Sulogna Mehta / TNN / July 08th, 2016

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