To celebrate King George’s coronation, Visakhapatnam was gifted a marketplace by a local royalty… this quaint little fact was discovered by G V Ramesh as he delves into the history of Kurupam market.
Kurupam market – situated on the right-hand side of the main-road after Hindu reading room, when moving towards old post-office – is a rectangular area, with four entrances on each side. It was a gift to the city, from the then Rajah of Kurupam, Shri Vairicharla Veerabhadra Raju – one of the forward-looking philanthropic zamindars of his time, owing allegiance to the British Crown. He built and donated the market – known since then as Kurupam Market – to Visakhapatnam municipality – as Visakhapatnam Municipality was known during British rule –, as his gift to commemorate the coronation of King Edward-VII, on 1st September, 1914. And thus, the coronation of King Edward VII of Great Britain in 1902 in the far off London benefited the locals of Visakhapatnam!
The market quadrangle measuring about two acres, till very recently, used to have a majestic four centred arch – popularly known as Tudor arch in English Architecture – with a clock above it. The importance given to it when it was built can be gauged from the fact that the clock on this arch was sourced from the world renowned clock manufacturer Messrs. Gillett and Johnston, whose prestigious clocks have been adorning for centuries the towers of Manchester city town-hall, UK; Riverside church in New York city in US, etc.
Unfortunately though, this clock tower was recently demolished as owing to the vagaries of time, it became dilapidated and consequently became precarious and dangerous for the dwellers its precincts. Though the civic administration has reportedly decided to build an exact replica in its place, there is no denying the fact that city’s heritage has taken a beating for good with the disappearance of the original.
Presently, this market houses shops selling vegetables and provisions. There are also many installations, which specialise in small-scale fabrications and welding works for house-hold and small business purposes. But, more than within the actual market itself the area adjacent to the market, on either side of the main road attracts a lot of interest. This area is very popular for shops that sell Ayurvedic medicines, raw material for making Deepavali fireworks & crackers, goldsmiths and jewellers, who have made it their business-centre. Many of the city’s the old timers and connoisseurs still visit the decades-old shops in Kurupam market area – the most prominent being those belonging to the famous Manchukonda family – to get the yellow-metal fashioned into custom-made designs and masterpieces.
Coming to Deepavali fireworks: Many shops in this area were a name to reckon with for what is known in vernacular as ‘Juvvala/Sisindree-mandu/masala, chichchubuddi saamaanu’, etc. (material for making homemade rockets, flower pots, like Salt-petre, Sulfur, Charcoal powder, etc.) for firecrackers for Deepavali festival.
Strolling down those lanes, even though I was perturbed at the disappearance of the iconic Kurupam tower in the market complex, at least the existence of the familiar decades-old Pachchipulusu Venkata Sannayya shop evoked wonderful nostalgic memories of buying Juvvala/Sisindri mandu in 80’s during my teens. After all, as many sages say, happy memories are a very important indication for a life well-spent and eventful.