The Alappuzha lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses on the south-west coast of the country, is preparing to celebrate its 150 year in an impressive way.
Easily one of the most recognized and known landmarks of the coastal tourist town of Alappuzha for the last several decades, the lighthouse will have its 150th birthday on March 28, when the Directorate of Lighthouses and Lightships (L&L), Kochi, is planning to have a slew of programmes that aim at making the grand old structure more popular among the public and tourists.
According to T. Ramdas, Director, L&L, Kochi, proposals had been submitted for re-conditioning and re-dedication of the lighthouse, a postal stamp on the lighthouse, installing guest-rooms and sprucing up of the compound and an exhibition on the occasion. Approval and funds for the same were awaited, he said.
A book on the Alappuzha lighthouse authored by I.C.R. Prasad, who had joined L&L as an assistant lightkeeper in 1980 and has penned books on the other lighthouses as well, is likely to be released on the occasion as well.
The lighthouse, for which the first stone was laid by Ms. Hugh Crawford, wife of the then Port Officer Hugh Crawford, on April 26, 1860, during the reign of Travancore ruler Marthanda Varma, was completed during the reign of his successor Rama Varma. The lamps of the lighthouse were first lighted by Ms. Francis Newcombe Maltby, the wife of the Resident Francis Newcombe Maltby on March 28, 1862.
Constructed using locally available laterite stones and teak, the lighthouse first had a fixed coconut wick lamp with metal reflector, before Mr. Crawford procured from Chance Brothers, Birmingham, a flashing light with nine Cata-dioptric lenses and nine coconut oil wick lamps with polished reflectors, capable of sending three powerful light beams to a distance of 17 nautical miles. This was used for over 90 years and then an acetylene gas flasher light was used for a short period from 1952. A modern electric light, with a 1000W incandescent lamp and fourth order Cata-dioptric lenses, was installed in 1960.
Further modernizations were done in the late 1990s when electrical discharge lamps replaced the incandescent lamps and electronic pulse motors replaced the clockwork mechanism for rotation of the optics in constant speed.
The lighthouse, which was painted plain white, got red and white bands in 2000 and in 2007, the structure was thrown open to the public from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., a practice that is still followed with tariffs of Rs.10 for adults, Rs.3 for children and Rs.25 for foreign nationals.