The mandatory monthly trip is back, and this month we bring you yet another list of places from the memory lane of Vizag. Here are areas that some of you may have visited or passed by. And if you’ve done so without knowing about the stories each holds, then catch up on them right now.
Trip down memory lane:
#1 This place of worship, which has been present since 1972 lends its name to the adjacent junction as well.
We start off our list down memory lane with a sacred summit. Present in Visakhapatnam since 1972, the Gurudwara Sadh Sangat situated on the NH5 has emerged as a landmark in itself. Having given the region its name as Gurudwara Junction, this space offers a serene atmosphere for people to worship. At the entrance to the Gurudwara is an impressive tall flag pole, the Nishan Sahib. The main complex has two halls; the divan hall which is the main hall and the langar hall. It also has Sachkandh Sahib, where holy items are placed. The langar, an integral part of the Gurdwara, serves food to all the visitors, without distinction of background, for free. The Gurudwara also has a huge kitchen, and a cooking area where a meal for more than 500 people can be cooked.
#2 Spread over 600 acres, the heart of the city is home to many animals and a rich ecosystem.
Declared open in May 1977, the Vizag zoo is located amidst the scenic Eastern Ghats. Part of the Kambalakonda Reserve Forest Area, the zoo is home to over 80 species of mammals, and focuses on endemic ones. Most of the animals here live in open spaces surrounded by a moat. While the rich ecosystem of the forest area offers an ideal environment for the animals, the zoo also has a biosphere learning center, a library and a canteen. Bicycles and eco-friendly battery operated rickshaws make for pollution-free transport here. An animal rescue center, a hospital and conservation of the species of animals are other aspects of this space.
#3 Constructed between 1917 and 1921, this was once the transit hall and summer house for royalty.
Adding to our list of things down memory lane is the grand structure of the Hawa Mahal, which is reminiscent of the rich past our city once enjoyed. Facing the beach, the Hawa Mahal is true to its name, as it is built to get the maximum amount of sea breeze. A famed heritage building, it has segmented arches, Burma teak and iron grilled staircases to name a few attractions. Well maintained by Mayank Kumari Deo, this structure has played host to many high ranking dignitaries, including Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961.
#4 Bringing a glimpse of Kashmir to the city, this little store packs an old world charm into its walls.
Located in Poorna market, Curio Crafts is also known by the name of Kashmir Art Palace. With an exotic collection of products which range from camel bone jewellery to paper mache products, the items on display are vivid and diverse. Hailing from Kashmir, the store was set up by Mohammad Afzal, whose family owns similar stores in other cities. With most of his customers being foreigners, the products are mostly handpicked and curated by him. While he feels that the market for handicrafts is going down further, it doesn’t stop him from continuing to operate this shop.
#5 Dating back to the 3rd Century BCE, this hill of wells, is considered as one of the oldest and most sacred Buddhist centers in Asia.
With its name translating to mean ‘hill of wells’, Bavikonda, is located 16km away from the city. One of the early Buddhist centres of Theravada style with influences of Sailya Sect during 1st/2nd Century AD, it acquired its name due to its wells created to collect rainwater for drinking. Findings like a stone stupa, circular Chaityagruha, Ayyaka platforms, a congregation hall, viharas, kitchen-cum-store complex. Roman and Satavahana coins and pottery dating back to 3rd century BC and 2nd Century A.D were recovered here. Buddha padas, Chattra pieces, Bhrami letters engraved on pottery, stucco figurines were found here as well. With a series of hills carved into stupas, this site is similar to Borobudur, Indonesia.
#6 Located on the NH5, this theatre complex was started by the owner of a prominent seller of gold, to express his love for cinema.
Having been in the city since 2005, the Kameswari and Kinnera Theatres were the brainchild of Sri Perla Samba Murthy, who started them as an extension of his love for cinema. With the first movie played here being Aparichitudu, the complex has been visited by many stars, directors and producers over the years. Noted personalities like Rajamouli, Rama Naidu, Anushka, Ravi Teja, Nani etc. have all come here too. Conveniently located on the highway, it continues to give high quality of the cinema experience and focuses on good food and hygiene. A convenient parking space is also a definite plus.
#7 When asked about Vizag’s past, the name of this hotel often comes up.
From the lawn where a song sequence of a Kamal Hassan film was shot to being the preferred stay for stalwarts like Director K Viswanath, the history of the city is incomplete without the mention of Hotel Apsara. While its name, and much of the interiors have now changed, Hotel GreenPark, as it is called today, continues to be a favoured hotel for many. Known for its delectable food since the time it started, it has also been the place of stay for cricket teams and many dignitaries; yet another possession on our trip down memory lane.
#8 Inaugurated by none other than Abid Hussain, this school located in a verdant valley, is a well-known seat of education.
The Visakha Valley School was set up in 1968 by Abid Hussain, IAS, who was the District Collector at the time. Spread across 33 acres, and nestled in a serene valley, it is said that when constructed, the region was considered to be the extreme outskirts of Visakhapatnam. However, over the years, the city has grown, and the school has built upon its strengths as well.
#9 Established at a time when electricity was unheard of in the city, this store provided one of the most important commodities to people.
When there was no electricity, the Bombay Gaslight Store sold gaslights and kerosene lamps to its customers. Having migrated to the city in 1935, Saleh Bhai understood the scope of this market, and a decade later set up the store. First established in One Town Area and in the size of a paan-shop, the store would source all its products from Bombay, giving it the name. It soon diversified into gadgets and cutlery and shifted to its current location at the Asilmetta Road. To date, the store continues to be known for its range of products and high quality.
#10 Set up in Poorna Market, this shop has been selling handloom for over 40 years now.
It was in 1974 that Sri Narsimha Rao, from the Padmashali community of weavers, started the shop called Handloom House in Poorna Market. Hailing from Chirala, and looking for a market to sell handloom saris, he would come to Vizag with his uncle. His customers were mainly from the Brahmin community, and the two would go from door to door making sales. Having started door to door selling since 1965, his uncle and him soon set up shop. Business was good, and in the early days, it also saw customization of products such as the silver Venkatagiri. The precious metals weren’t very expensive, and people would get saris with silver zari, which were high on demand. However, over time, this little store and other similar stores are seeing a downward trend in business.