Structures around the lighthouse have dwarfed this beacon of hope that has led thousands of ships to the safety of harbour
A 59-feet round tower with a lantern and a gallery is too big a structure to be forgotten. But then the other structures around it with the development of the Visakhapatnam Port have dwarfed this beacon of hope that led thousands of ships into the safety of harbour.
The gas-fired lighthouse with white dioptric light of the fourth order that flashed every 20 seconds went dark in the early 1960s after six decades of guiding mariners and their boats into the safety of the one of the best natural harbours in the world.
The lantern of the lighthouse was originally set up in Santapilly (Chintapalli) in 1847 to mark the dangerous rocks there on the recommendation of Captain Biden, Master Attendant of Madras. The rocks in the path of the coasting ships were not visible even on a clear day making it one of the most dreaded routes on the eastern seaboard. In 1902, the authorities decided to set up a more powerful lighthouse there and shifted the lantern to its present location, former mariner and Chief Operating Officer of the Visakha Container Terminal Capt. Sriram Ravi Chander narrates.
The lighthouse is a hope of life for a mariner and no modern gadget can inspire the feeling of joy of sighting the wisp of light on the horizon after days on end at sea, he explains.
The Visakhapatnam Port Trust, to maintain the historic structure, had covered all the windows and doors and had it plastered with cement. Two bases built to house anti-aircraft guns, located next to it, during the Second World War were filled up and cement benches fixed on it.
The slums around it have been using it as a garbage dump and even now they continue to dump their garbage here, says Satti, gardener-caretaker of the structure.
The entire area was filled with weeds and it took some effort to get it cleared and cleaned.
The seafarer in him could not allow the icon to fall into disrepair and collapse. Captain Ravi Chander persuaded Chairman, VPT, Ajeya Kallam, to allow them to take it over and renovate it.
Chairman of J.M. Bakshi Group of Companies Krishna Bhai Kotak, an ardent conservationist, was very supportive and immediately cleared the project to restore the lighthouse. The Visakha Container Terminal roped in the noted conservation architect Vikas Dilawari to undertake the project.
The restoration is a mammoth task as the staircase, the light platform and the glasses are all in disrepair. In the first stage, the external plaster is being removed to bring back the original look and the inside staircase and platform for the light is being repaired.
The lantern of the lighthouse was set up in 1847 to mark the dangerous rocks that were not visible even on a clear day The slums around it have been using it as a garbage dump, says gardener-caretaker of the structure The restoration is a mammoth task as the staircase, the light platform and the glasses are in disrepair
The lantern of the lighthouse was set up in 1847 to mark the dangerous rocks that were not visible even on a clear day
The slums around it have been using it as a garbage dump, says gardener-caretaker of the structure
The restoration is a mammoth task as the staircase, the light platform and the glasses are in disrepair