Visakhapatnam is just more than beaches, hills, and well-developed areas. Each and every street of this beautiful city is inked with its own history, One such area in Vizag is the Rockdale Layout, where one can find the Rockdale Hotel, Apollo Hospital, and other modern-day structures. This place, which is now a major commercial hub in the city, has got its fair share of history and story to it. Vijjeswarapu Edward Paul reminisces the lesser-known tale of Rockdale.
Rockdale is the name of a small layout in the bustling city of Vizag, on the east side of the road leading from Jagadamba Junction to Waltair Uplands. It is located by the side of Apollo Hospital and opposite Lazarus Hospital and Dasapalla Executive Court. The layout was formed by Canadian Baptist Mission sometime around 1978. The layout got its name from a bungalow by the name “Rockdale”.
This bungalow was owned by Dr Miss. Eva D’Prazer, a medical practitioner. She was the daughter of Mr Benjamin D’Prazer of an Anglo Indian family from Bheemunipatnam. The family were Anglicans and were attending St. Peter’s Church at Bheemunipatnam. She was qualified for a medical practice at Lady Dufferin Institute at Madras. She practised medicine in Visakhapatnam and was also in charge of Victoria Gosha Female Hospital established by Maharajah G.N.Gajapathi Rao. She was popular among the Rajah’s families.
When CBM High School in the city was about to be closed as the Canadian Baptist Mission expressed their inability to fund anymore, she was one of the few who donated liberally to run the school. She was one of the founding members of the CBM High School Society, formed in 1926 to run that school when the CBM missionaries stopped financial support. She founded the Home Missionary Society among Anglo Indians in India and Burma. Acadia University in Canada accorded her an honorary degree of LLD while on a visit to that country. After retirement, she took charge of Mountain Home for Anglo Indian Children at Coonoor, in Nilgiris. When she fell sick, she was taken to Madras where she passed away on 27 January 1928.
Before leaving Visakhapatnam, closing her medical practice, she donated her Rockdale Bungalow and the area surrounding it, which was her property, to Canadian Baptist Mission. She also wanted the rental of that bungalow to be given to CBM High School. That is how the Rockdale property went into the hands of Canadian Baptist Missionaries, who in turn made a layout and sold the plots before they left Vizag.
Opposite to Rockdale, on the other side of the road, was another bungalow named “Sunnyside”. That was the residence of another popular medical practitioner Dr Miss. Hilda Lazarus. In its place, the Lazarus Hospital and Daspalla Executive Court have come up now. The area between Sunnyside and Rockdale was known as Ganjipeta those days. The Ganjipeta was the demarcation point between Visakhapatnam and Waltair. The northern part of Ganjipeta was in the Waltair estate.
Below is the picture of Dr Eva D’Parzer, with two of her young friends. The young lad, B.V.Narayana Rao in this picture grew up and went to England to study Engineering and joined the Vizagapatam Harbour construction. He was the first native Engineer to join the construction in 1922. He worked in the harbour till project construction was completed. The other girl in the picture was his sister, Thayaru.
Written by Edward Paul, a city-based heritage conversationist. A retired Shipping Manager by profession, the septuagenarian, belying his age, has been collecting data on Vizag from British Library, London, Tamil Nadu Govt. archives, Christian Theological College archives at Bangalore and Hyderabad, and other public libraries.
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