Imagine yourself in an elaborate evening dress, dancing with the who’s who of the city on the wooden floor to a live band. Imagine living in a huge house with high ceilings, imagine walking on clean sands with the blue sea at one end and stretches of green on the other. Imagine friendship with the same people you would later revolt against.
Vizag’s heritage is a treasure chest of wonderful stories with One Town area being the focal point in the late 1800’s. This is where stories from the past can come alive when heard on an evening of walk in what was once known as Soldierpeta.
Relive the experience with Jaya Siva Murty who recently went along with Jayshree Hatangadi, a Heritage Narrator on a walk & rick-ride through those parts of our city you never knew existed.
Spread over 5000 sq yards, the Town hall was a prestigious place to be during the 1900s. With the sea visible at one end and the town on the other, it was a gift from the Maharaja of Bobbili to the public. The ‘Victoria Diamond Jubilee Town Hall’ commemorates the British Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Showcasing Victorian architecture, this two-storied building, is an impressive example of stone masonry, has a grand portico, large stair-cases, a huge tiled-roof, false turrets and circular rooms. Not to be missed are its tiles from Mangalore, beams from Scotland and the grand wooden flooring.
Fact file: Used for formal dance parties when the British and Indians were friends, it was this hall that later became the center for salt satyagraha and other campaigns of the freedom movement as well.
Town Hall lane
Right across the town hall, are the once-broad lanes that used to be the pride of the city. With the elite of the city residing here, it boasted of huge houses, with grand stone exteriors and some with a well within the home! Where a congested housing exists today, lived the Vizag’s rich and famous.
With the high-ceilinged spacious homes having great ventilation systems, they also were examples of amazing stone masonry. Ample space was provided between houses that existed along well planned streets which would run at right angles to each other. The area also had huge drains that were regularly cleaned and maintained.
Fact file: Only a few such kind of homes remain today, as compared to previous years.
Also known as King Edward VII Coronation Market, this was actually the very first market of erstwhile Vizagapatam. Records state that this market was actually a gift to the city by the Rajah of Kurupam, on the occasion of King Edward VII coronation, which took place in 1902. History tells us that this Kurupam market area was home to the weavers’ colony. Suited to the traditional style of local markets, it had a huge central courtyard with shops all around it. With four gateways at the center of each side, the most elaborate of them was the Eastern gateway which had a clock mechanism on its top as well. While the market lost its importance owing to modernization, a few petty traders still operate from here.
Fact file: This beautiful edifice no longer exists it was brought down in November 2013…reasons not truthfully shared by the concerned administration
When: begins in 1699
The dead tell stories, and the European cemetery is living proof of the history our city holds. With tombs in varied architectural styles, each is engraved with a part of history, with the earliest of the buried dating back to 1699. In fact, Patrick Lawson, a wealthy merchant sailor, after whom Lawson’s Bay is named lies here too.
Often mistakenly known as the Dutch cemetery, the region has no Dutch tombs and stands testimony to two major historical events. . The first was the native sepoy mutiny of 1780, where three British officers were killed, and the body of one of them, lies here. The second is the Naval war of 1804, between the British and the French where British were able to defend Vizagapatam successfully, but lost John Dykes, who lies buried here.
Fact file: The grave stones indicate that the dead were buried here from 1699 to 1833.
Queen Victoria’s pavilion
When: May 4, 1904
Story goes that in 1900, Sri Akitam Venkata Jagga Row, a zamindar went to England to pay respects to Queen Victoria and Prince of Wales. He was presented with a bronze statue of the queen, which was then shipped to Visakhapatnam and finally erected at the Queen Victoria’s pavilion in 1904. With her features and finest detail etched with care, it is also said that the queen never portrayed a glamorous version of herself and that each statue was an exact replica of what she was wearing on that particular occasion. The cuboid pavilion that houses the statue showcases fine ashlar stone masonry, and has the queen facing towards the One Town area.
Fact file: The Greek cross over the dome enhances its architectural value.
Stop #6 St. John’s Church
The third oldest church of Visakhapatnam, St. John holds a special place in the city’s history for varied reasons. For one, it was the first church to be built by the East India Company using its own funds. Designed and supervised by Sir Arthur Cotton, it boasts of teak wood from Burma and glass paintings from Europe. Finally, it has the ancient pipe organ that is still functional.While numerous dedications on marble, granite and metal adorn the walls of the church, what takes your breath away is the typical Anglican dome, huge round pillars and cobble-stoned porch.
Fact file: While few alterations have been carried out over the years, the central part of the structure remains the same.
Queen Mary’s School Building
When: About 200 years ago
A school building with canons on either side of its entrance! The Queen Mary School has a rich history dating back to 200 years ago. During 1873 onwards, it served as the Collector’s office and became a school like it appears now, only in 1952. However before it became the collector’s office, it was also used as an arsenal for storing guns, and hence the canons at its entrance. From 1913, the building started functioning as a school uniquely for widows who were dropouts. In fact, in order to encourage them to study, they were paid a stipend of Rs. 15/- per month.
Fact file: While there is no written proof, legend goes that this building also served as a jail and the gallows were used for executing prisoners.