Located amidst the mangroves, the lighthouse at Coringa, one of the oldest in the country, is in a dilapidated condition. The lighthouse has been abandoned for years. Once known as ‘Cape Cori,' Coringa was built by the British way back in 1759 and attained fame internationally for ship building, repairs and maritime trade.
“According to history, during the time of the American civil war in 1770, huge quantities of cotton had been exported to Britain from the Coringa port. Since this port was the central point between the then Calcutta and Madras ports, it was a beehive of activity,” says Vakulabharanam Ramakrishna, retired professor in history from Hyderabad Central University.
According to the East Godavari district gazette, the Coringa port registered a total business of Rs. 8.2 lakh in 1877-78 and Rs. 3.2 lakh in 1880-81. Coir, homeopathy medicines, fibre, pulses, paddy and oils formed part of the exports, while cycles, motorcycles, iron ore, machinery, sugar and kerosene were the major imports at the port.
According to the historians, ships with a capacity of 1,500 tonnes were built at Coringa and the mechanics here were known for their skill in repairing ships of even foreign make. A 50-foot-long bridge with auto-opening facility – considered to be an engineering marvel - was built in 1889 paving the way for ships of a capacity of 600 tonnes directly to the berths.
“The present lighthouse is the second one in the same place. It replaced an old construction in 1805,” says Sadhu Subrahmanya Sharma, a novelist who penned a novel titled ‘Bankola' in Telugu with Coringa as its backdrop. “By 1905, the construction of ships was completely stopped and the port was closed owing to sandcasting,” explains Mr. Sharma.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the treatment being given to the lighthouse now, Prof. Ramakrishna feels there is a strong need to protect the monument for the future generations. “Though it is located amidst mangroves, the monument is historical and there is a need to protect it,” he says.