A well-known locality with several modern-day establishments, The CBM Compound has lost its past glory. The history of this locality may not be known to most. Vijjeswarapu Edward Paul reminisces the untold stories of CBM Compound.
The Missionaries of London Missionary Society arrived at Visakhapatnam in 1805. They were the first protestant Missionaries to the Telugu speaking areas. Initially, they lived in rented quarters and within a year purchased land and constructed a Mission Bungalow in One Town area to serve as residential accommodation and to run a school. That place was known as Mission Gardens then. Those Mission Gardens were located in the present CBM High School compound and a bit beyond consisting of about 9 acres. They ran schools, orphanages, translated Bible into Telugu, and built a Church building known as Mission Chapel. Later, it was renamed Andhra Baptist Church. All their activities were confined to the present Old Town area.
Sometime around 1855, the then Missionaries of London Missionary Society constructed a bungalow on Waltair Upland Road, for the residence of the Missionary. It was named Hill Crest Bungalow. This was situated in Siripuram, facing the T-junction connecting the VIP Road with Waltair Uplands Road. The actual year of its construction is not known from the available records. But from the reports of later Missionaries, it was constructed around 1855. When it was constructed, it had a direct unobstructed view of the coast. It was reported that the sailing ships, that arrived at the scandal point, used to observe the white mission bungalow.
After a few years, they constructed another bungalow in the place where the present Timpany School (CBSE) is situated. Sometime during this time, a large area on the north side of the Uplands Road was purchased by those Missionaries and it was known as Mission Compound.
In the year 1911, the London Missionary Society decided to close their mission at Visakhapatnam and their properties were sold to Canadian Baptist Mission. After that transfer, this compound became known as the CBM Compound. Around the 1960s, the Foreign Mission Boards decided to hand over all their properties to the Indian Christian Mission Boards. In that process, already constructed buildings were handed over to the Convention of Baptist Churches of Northern Circars (CBCNC ) and the vacant land was developed as a layout for house sites and sold. The layout was initially formed in 1959 and the plans were later revised in 1971. In this layout, there were a few bits of sites belonging to some others apart from the Missions.
The stretch of land on the southern side of the Waltair Uplands Road, west of Hill Crest Bungalow, up to the Municipal Commissioner’s Bungalow, was also the property of London Mission. This was also transferred to CBM in 1911. But this part was not included in the CBM Compound layout.
A purely residential area, in 1971, has gradually changed into a very busy commercial area over the years. In the present day, CBM Compound, and its neighbouring areas in Visakhapatnam, are home to several modern-day facilities. Ranging from pomp shopping malls to grand hotels, it has evolved into a major commercial cum residential hub in the city.
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.