Shri Mattapalli Challameyya passed away today morning and in memoriam, we at Yo! Vizag post our interaction with him in April 2012.
A third-form student read a simple story in a newsletter that impacted perhaps his whole life! The story described how a sage made a rich man realise the value and gratitude felt by ‘anna danam’; feeding the hungry. So taken in was he by that narrative, that a few years later when many states saw a mass influx of 1942 Burmese war refugees, this young lad personally arranged for food to be cooked and served to the hapless refugees. Wholeheartedly supported by his father, the young boy’s initiative inspired many more local families to contribute to the efforts. The young lad was Mattapalli Challameyya, who later became an industrialist in Samalkota, a pioneer in real estate and by the time he settled in Visakhapatnam, a man known for his philanthropy.
Today, the District President of Viswa Hindu Parishad (Mahanagar), Mattapalli Chalamayya was born in an affluent family in Samalkot in 1923. A whiz at maths, he completed his SSLC and forayed into the family business of real estate. He also set up a crucibles industry where high quality graphite crucibles were manufactured. Quality and honesty in all his dealings were the mark of the man. While the crucible industry was flourishing, his novel initiatives in the real estate business were highly appreciable back in those days. He ventured into the hitherto unknown concept in coastal Andhra of developing the real estate instead of just selling vacant plots.
He devoted his time and energies entirely to his industries and ventures, till he was about 60. By then his sons were settled in Visakhapatnam and accordingly, he and his wife shifted here in 1983. But he was restless, retirement and ‘doing nothing the whole day’ did not suit him. It was then that he got involved with the some notable personalities of Vizag. In the process of establishing the Sri Kanyaka Parmeswari Kalyan Mandapam, these stalwarts had approached Chalamayya’s son for a pump-set, requesting it at a subsidised cost as it was for a charitable cause. They got the pump-set free, and along with that the services of senior Challamayya. “Since then I have kept myself busy in these activities.” Most notable was his timely assistance during the 1990 floods. For 15 days he fed over 5,000 people from 15 villages near Anakapalle who were marooned by the floods. He not only air-lifted the food but was present at the spot throughout the relief operation. He personally supervised and ensured that the quality and standard of the food was maintained.
Apart from being the district president of VHP, he is also the member of a number of religious and social organisations. Very often swamijis and holy people, including the top leaders of the VHP have resided in his spacious house. In fact, there is a room that had been specifically built to take care of all their requirements. The Kanchi Seers, Swami Paripoornanda Sarawati from Kakinada, the RSS chief, Togadia and like have enjoyed his hospitability.
He is often called on to inaugurate new business premises in the city. But before going for any opening, “I pray daily in the mornings, and when I have to attend a shop-opening, I earnestly pray for the wellbeing of that shop,” he confesses. He is often approached for donations and assistance, and this benevolent man never says no. But he does not give handouts recklessly either. “When approached, my first preference is to offer food – anna danam. Secondly, I readily help for education, but I do not give cash, I rather sponsor the student’s fees and costs – I pay the fees to the college directly, ensuring that his education is taken care. The third place where I donate is to temples – specifically in the form of anna-danam or I sponsor the cost of the idol if it is for a new temple. More than donating cash, I always try to give in kind, but I never refuse anyone. Furthermore, when it comes to anna-danam, as much as possible I personally arrange for the food and even cooks if necessary. If the place is distant, I arrange for rice to be supplied by the local grocers there, but I avoid doling out cash.”
Coming to Vizag and settling in with his three sons is what he believes is the best thing that his happened in his life. “As long as I was involved in the industries and businesses, I hardly had time to do anything else. After settling here and having officially retired from active business, I found great happiness and satisfaction in what I am doing now”.