Evoking pleasant memories and nostalgia, some stores and edifices in Vizag helped shaped the city’s character just because they dared to be different. Trendsetters back then, today they are part of the city’s charisma. Join us as we take a trip down memory lane with a few remarkable and nostalgic facts about Visakhapatnam.
Nostalgic facts about Visakhapatnam:
#1 The architecture of this famed 1087 AD temple is influenced by different dynasties across eras.
The first of our nostalgic facts begins with an interesting one about Simhachalam. Situated on Ratnagiri hill, overlooking the city, the Simhachalam Temple is dedicated to Lord Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha. The temple is so ancient that its origins are lost in history. The idol is perpetually coated with sandalwood, depicting the Varaha and Narsimha incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Interestingly, there is no other temple in India rendering two avatars of Lord Vishnu. The most prominent festival, the Giri Pradakshina involves the circumambulation of the sacred hill. Originally Kailasagiri was a part of the Simhachalam hill but was cut away at Hanumanthavaka while laying the Grand Trunk road towards Srikakulam in the nineteenth century.
#2 This lodging facility, built in the later part of the 19th century provided affordable stay for many visitors.
The Turner’s Choultry was constructed on land that had been donated by philanthropists like Maharaja Gode Narayana Gajapathi Row of “Chemudu” region who gave the 13,000 square yards of area for the purpose. The rectangular structure with a central courtyard, stone columns, Burma teak posts and floral patterns cut in stone, spoke of rich architectural style. Used by many travellers for the affordable stay it offered, rooms were often taken up by visitors who would come to avail healthcare at the KGH hospital in the city.
#3 Once a hostel for personnel of the Russian Navy, the usage of this complex has changed over time.
The nice spacious AS Raja complex, that currently houses the Care Hospitals in Ram Nagar was once a hostel for Russians Navy personnel. As guests of the Indian Navy, the Russians were in town to teach and train Indian Submariners to operate the Russian-origin nuclear submarines. They were housed in the A S Raja Complex, which was selected after an open bid and modified to suit their needs. The Russians were often sighted playing a vigorous game of volleyball in the present parking lot, and bystanders would line up along the fencing to observe the game. Converted into CDR hospital, it became CARE hospital in 1999, and changes were made to the old structure so that it can function as a hospital.
#4 With a great collection of dominantly Telugu literature, this store continues to attract book lovers.
On Republic Day in 1976, the Visalandhra Book House was inaugurated by M R Appa Rao, the then VC at Andhra University. The store, owned by the CPI newspaper Visalandhra Vigyan Samiti, used to largely stock literature adhering to the communist ideology, including communist newspapers and translations of Chinese and Russian communist books. In recent years, the store has been stocking more mainstream literature research material, general knowledge books, and novels for adults and children. On the premises, which is owned by the CPI paper, book exhibitions are often held to attract bibliophiles and encourage the reading habit.
#5 Operational since 1954, this store continues to be oft-visited especially for school uniforms.
Trilokchand Hirawat, a Rajasthani man from Kolkata working as a mining supervisor in Vizianagaram often visited Visakhapatnam Port. Sensing a business opportunity, he set up a clothing store in the Old Town area. Hirawats was one of the first stores to introduce readymade garments in the city way back in 1954. The store served the city’s elite, showcased western wear and a great range of accessories including swimsuits. The store is still as relevant today as it was years ago, and runs busy during the start of academic sessions, as many head here for school uniforms.
#6 The city’s first multiplex, this theatre lent its name to the neighbourhood junction as well.
Vegi Bhadrachalam (Rambabu), inspired by the theatres in Madras, set about building a grand theatre in his hometown, which became the iconic Jagadamba Theatre. The impressive theatre with 70 mm format, stereophonic sound effects and an exotic spiral ramp leading to its balcony, was inaugurated on 27-10-1970 by Sri JV Narasinga Rao, the then Dy. Chief Minister of AP. The first movie to blaze across the screen was “Where Eagles Dare”. Jagadamba also has the honour of being the city’s first multiplex with the consequent additions of Sarada, Ramadevi and spacious video-games hall.
#7 Maintaining that authentic taste since 1977, is this samosa shop in One Town area.
Introduced to Visakhapatnam in 1977 by the Late Ramesh Chandra Gautam, Gautam bhavan started as an expansion into the city from the Madras constituency and Hyderabad. While the other stores are no longer present, this one, located near Vizag Central, continues to dole out delicious freshly made samosas, Rajbhog and jalebis for its customers. While the next generation has taken up operations, the store continues to hold on to its authentic taste and traditional menu.
#8 If it’s not available anywhere else, then chances are you’ll find it here!
A statement that used to be valid for Karachiwala, when it started, still holds true even today. Refugees during the 1948 Indo-Pak partition, Nihalchand Chaturani and his family came and settled in Visakhapatnam. He opened a tiny shop on the main road near Kurupam market to sell house-hold provisions in 1952, and named it ‘Karachiwala Stores’, which, in due course of time, has become the house-hold name for quality provisions in Visakhapatnam. The store was also the first to introduce the ‘self-service’ concept way back in 1985 when it was shifted to its present premises.
#9 Set up 44 years ago, the beginning of this sweet journey started in Pakistan.
The next on our list of nostalgic facts is a piece on Dayaram sweets. Dayaram Daswami, the owner of Dayaram sweets migrated from Pakistan to India and lived in Madhya Pradesh during 1965. Having shifted to Visakhapatnam, to be with family, he soon started Dayaram sweets in Purna Market. Offering sweets like the basic laddoo and Mysore pak, the store slowly grew to add delicacies like Chamcham and Malai roll as well. With a wide array of offerings, Dayaram sweets is still popular and operates through its many branches across the city.
#10 This 162-year-old school has also been recognised as one of the best-preserved heritage buildings.
The last on our list of nostalgic facts about Visakhapatnam is on a popular school in the city. St. Aloysius Anglo Indian High School with its grand north-facing structure, continues to offer education to its students. With its structure inspired by Gothic style architecture, this is perhaps the oldest missionary school along the Coromandel coast. Spread over three storeys, the stone cast building is shaped like the letter U. The first English medium school in the city to have offered boarding facilities as well, the school’s alumni often take the time to visit the school and relive their glorious childhood spent in its portals.