The monument commemorating the fate of 30,000 people who were swept away by a giant ocean wave is a picture of neglect

The monument commemorates the melancholy fate of 30,000 people who were all swept away by the giant ocean wave which swept over Masula town on the night of the cyclone of November 1, 1864, at Bandarkota village is one among a few heritage sites that are crying for attention. Many people of the town do not even know where the monument is located and its present state.

Surrounded by bushes the dilapidated monument is the most neglected heritage site in the port town. Following the great tragedy, Manuel Fruvall had constructed the memorial in the memory of his brother’s family and 30,000 people of this tiny town who died in the cyclone. In 1860s, the total population of the town was around 60,000. In remembrance of then Machilipatnam Chief Magistrate G. Thornhill who strived to control post-cyclone deaths due to spread of several diseases, Mr. Fravell also dedicated the memorial to him.

The locals also honoured Mr. Thornhill by erecting a memorial at the Koneru Centre in the heart of the town. “Our repeated appeals to the District Magistrate and Collector and authorities concerned to protect a few heritage sites including the 1864 monument have fell on deaf ears,”, Machilipatnam based historian Mohammed Silar told The Hindu.

Another heritage site, St. John Church’s Cemetery at Bandarkota, which had collapsed during the 1864 cyclone and now a home for many British tombs, is now under the control of locals, who occupied it and running a cattle house, leaving it to ruin. Marking World Heritage Day (April 18), observed with the theme – Heritage of Commemoration – Masula-based historians and INTACH members are going down the memory lane on how the port town is losing its charm with disappearing heritage sites due to lack of protection measures.

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