B. Madhu Gopal
The submarine museum completes four years on shore
The museum is first of its kind in south AsiaIt is a `must visit' destination on Beach RoadIt arouses the curiosity of children about life under waterVUDA plans to screen short films about submarine's exploits
VISAKHAPATNAM: After rendering yeomen service under water by safeguarding the interests of the nation for over three decades, she is now providing a unique experience on land for many who can only imagine the thrills and spills of life under the sea.
The Kursura Submarine Museum, the first of its kind in south Asia, has completed four years on shore enlightening and entertaining lakhs of visitors, both children and adults alike. Little wonder that it has become a major landmark on the Beach Road and a `must visit' on the itinerary of tourists from other states of the country as also those from other parts of the globe.
The majestic submarine, standing tall against the backdrop of the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, is a sight to behold.
Kursura, a Soviet built I-641 class submarine, was inducted into the Indian Navy on December 18, 1969, and was decommissioned on February 28, 2001, after rendering 31 years of glorious service to the nation. It played a major role in the Indo-Pak war in 1971.
The hauling out of the 91.3-metre-long and eight-metre-wide submarine, weighing 1,945 tonnes, from the sea onto the shore and setting up the museum was a gigantic task. It was done by various Government agencies in technical collaboration with the Naval Ship Design and Research Centre at a cost of some Rs. 6 crores. The museum was handed over to the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority for upkeep and maintenance on April 30, 2002. It was dedicated to the nation by former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on August 9, 2002, and opened to public on August 14 the same year. The number of visitors registered a sharp increase from 1.8 lakhs in 2002-03 to 2.39 lakhs in 2003-04. There was a marginal decrease to 2.38 lakhs during the next year but it again picked up and the number of visitors increased to 2.53 lakhs during the financial year 2005-06.
The number of visitors during the first four months of the current financial year was 93,107. The revenue earned during the corresponding period was Rs. 36 lakhs (2002-03), Rs. 47.98 lakhs (2003-04), Rs. 47.70 lakhs (2004-05), Rs. 50.60 lakhs (2005-06) and Rs. 18.62 lakhs during the first four months of the current financial year.
The submarine, with its weaponry and other paraphernalia intact, arouses the curiosity of children about life under water. Six guides and a curator, all retired Navy men, clarify the doubts of visitors while telling them their own experiences while in service.
"We have plans to screen short films of some 20 minutes duration about Kursura and its exploits to satiate the thirst of information seekers and to make their visit all the more memorable," says VUDA Vice-Chairman G. Venkataram Reddy. "
A coffee shop will also be set up for the benefit of visitors," he adds, but rules out any major development activity in view of the museum's proximity to the coastline and the Coastal Regulation Zone guidelines.
The museum will be kept open from 10 a.m. on Wednesday in view of the 4th anniversary celebrations.