Gaze up at the night sky from the gentrified city of Visakhapatnam and you’re greeted with a dusty glow of a city metamorphosed into a metropolis. An alluring contrast of the old and new; Visakhapatnam witnessed these ten landmark transformations in the last decade.
The changing cityscape
The development of infrastructure has happened in the city, albeit slowly. So when the once adequate roads of Visakhapatnam soon became a congested bottleneck with monumental increase in traffic, the city introduced changes. The Telugu Talli Flyover, widening of roads, improvement of pavements, and changing the iconic Central Jail into a verdant green pocket added charm and functionality. The cityscape is changing, to become more urbanised and unfortunately, even a bit more concretised
Dining out in the city was once a rarity. With very few options and meagre choices in cuisines, it was easier to experiment in the kitchen for variety (although the availability of exotic ingredients was dicey) than plan a meal in town. Now there are myriad restaurants dishing out a multitude of cuisines. Gastronomic choices, ranging from fine dining establishments to pocket-friendly food joints, from takeaways to happening eatery chains, from traditional Indian cuisines to glamorous international fare, the global foodie in Visakhapatnam is pampered for choice.
From ‘swimming prohibited’ to scuba diving and more, the waters of Vizag now have a new purpose. While swimming is still not advisable as the underwater currents add an element of danger, a number of water sports are now available in the city. Rushikonda beach is now home to several water-based activities for the adrenaline junkie like scuba diving, surfing, kayaking, banana boat rides, zorbing and jet skiing. Additionally, hovercrafts, fly boards, yachting and cruise boats are also in the pipeline.
The IT influx
While a decade ago the IT industry was underdeveloped in the city, today there is a considerable presence of the IT crowd. Initially it was only the swanky HSBC office in the city centre that represented the promised corporate wave. But now, the city boasts of a cool Start-up hub, the smart Fintech Valley at Rushikonda, where Paytm and other leading players have launched their operations and the almost-completed Millennium Tower with a built-up space of three lakh square feet. With traditional IT no longer relevant, the government is focusing on technologies which are expected to drive growth in the future. Fintech Valley in Vizag is hosting several emerging technologies like blockchain, cybersecurity, data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Journeys and destinations
The limited means of transport made travelling from and to Visakhapatnam rather challenging. Journeys would involve heading to the closest big city, which was either Hyderabad or Chennai. However, over the decade, the travel scene has dramatically transformed, with more options in rail, road and even air transport. The start of operations by SriLankan Airlines and AirAsia, make it more convenient to travel to neighbouring countries.
Seducing the shopper
From just a few stores and limited options, the shopping scene of the city has truly transformed. The mall culture has brought with it the best of international and Indian brands as well. Compared to the yesteryears, when the city’s die-hard fashionistas were compelled to embark on shopping sprees to other cities, branded wear is now available right here. From the first multi-brand mall in January 2010 – the dear old CMR Central, to the internationally acclaimed Lulu Mall expected by 2020, a multitude of retail brands like Westside, Shoppers Stop, Vizag Central and even Lifestyle, have set up shop in the city, transforming the shopping scenario in Visakhapatnam.
Schooling the Vizagite
With educational institutions that have stood the test of time, today schools with modern facilities, smarter infrastructure and new-age teaching methodologies have opened up in the city. Giving equal attention to extra-curricular activities, children from the city have better options for pursuing the sports of their choice as well. Schools with internationally accepted concepts, ambience and even curriculum are commonplace.
Cleaner, greener and smarter
From a city that would mindlessly dispose of its trash on the roads, we have emerged much cleaner in the decade. When Cyclone Hudhud literally wiped out our greenery, we understood its value and took to making Vizag greener than before. Motion sensitive cams, Wi-Fi hotspots across the city, LED lighting and underground cabling are taking us on the route of being a smart city as well! Truly, a sleepy city that would see deserted streets in the afternoon, has really woken up to so many activities.
Vizag has been the preferred destination for medical treatments for surrounding districts and states. The decade took that aspect a few notches higher with the addition of more private specialised hospitals and medical institutions. Any kind of illness has a specialised doctor and often, also a whole hospital dedicated to that speciality, including cancer. Healthcare facilities have substantially grown, making Vizag a significant alternative to other major metros and a healthcare destination for the neighbouring states as well.
Meetings, conventions, and grand parades
Considering the wondrous natural topography of the city – the expansive sea with a lovely beach, the breathtakingly beautifully green hills, and more significantly, the Port, have given Vizag a unique advantage. In the last decade, the city has hosted an International Fleet Review, conventions and meetings of national and international significance, sporting events and more. These have been adequately supported by the many hotels, which continue to grow. Vizag has proven itself to be a city that loves to play host and is good at it!