Sprawling expansively, the historical Andhra University is a true testament to the city’s rich heritage with every turn on the campus hosting vintage structures that have withstood the test of time. The educational institution’s history holds more than what meets the eye with every building having a story of its own. Tucked away silently in a corner of Andhra University is one such edifice, the official residence of the Visakhapatnam District magistrate, popularly known as the Collector Bungalow. Edward Paul, a Visakhapatnam heritage enthusiast, deciphers the mystery of how the collector bungalow ended up amidst the educational institution
The Andhra University area is divided into two campuses, the north and south. The north campus comprises the engineering college and hostels and also the newly-added Dr YVS Murthy Auditorium and North Campus Health Centre built by the alumni. The south campus comprises the arts, science and law colleges and their hostels. The library, registrar’s office, Vice Chancellor’s lodge and many teaching staff quarters are also located on the same south campus.
On the south campus, amidst the university buildings, stands a bungalow with a large compound unconnected with the university or its activities. That is the Visakhapatnam District Collector bungalow. Those who visit the south campus may get surprised and wonder how such a significant bungalow got located within the university campus without being a part of it.
The writer of this article, with similar surprise and wonder, tried to find out whether the university got located around the collector’s bungalow or the collector’s bungalow got itself located within the university campus.
From the old city map of 1907, the Collector’s bungalow was located at the site of the present Government Officers Club or very close to it in Pandurangapuram. It is not known when that was constructed. From the markings shown on the map, the building appears to be a huge and extensive one. From the same map, in the present location of the university’s south campus, the Conservator of Forests Bungalow was located.
When Andhra University was shifted to Visakhapatnam in 1930, the old Cecil Hotel was purchased to house it. The land towards its south side (towards the present VMRDA office) was forest land under the forest department. It was allocated by the government to the University around 1939-40. While giving away the land to the University, the forest department retained the Conservator’s bungalow with them and allocated the land around it.
In 1939, the government issued an order allocating the Conservator’s Bungalow as the official residence of the Collector. Consequently, the bungalow and its compound were transferred to the revenue department. Since then, the bungalow continues to be the official residence of the Visakhapatnam District Collector. The building is more than 100 years old. Many alterations might have taken place for the building during these many years. As a heritage building, it needs to be documented with respect to its history and architectural features.