Entertainment

Here’s what difference the past decade made to Visakhpatnam

People doing work out at an open gym on the beach road at sunrise in Visakhapatnam Photo: K.R. Deepak / The Hindu

People doing work out at an open gym on the beach road at sunrise in Visakhapatnam Photo: K.R. Deepak / The Hindu   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

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The past 10 years has seen a shot in the arm for food, entertainment and conservation initiatives some of which have been a great success and others not so much

Parks as the new gym

It was all about the rise of swanky neighbourhood parks in the city that have transformed from being unkempt to being madeover with open air gyms and state-of-the-art exercise equipment. Open air gyms became all the rage be it on beaches or elsewhere in various localities. Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) was instrumental in bringing in a new wave of fitness.

These open-air gyms have aerial stroller, sit-up stations, waist twisters, double parallel bars, surf bars and more. Once these spaces were created, more and more people stepped out of their homes and took control of their fitness routine. “The parks have a big advantage. We get to use it without burning a hole in our pockets, unlike private air-conditioned gyms,” says Pavithra Kiran, who has been a regular at Shivaji Park. VMRDA Health Arena, which extends from Kailasagiri ropeway point to Hanumantavaka Junction, boasts a 3.7 kilometre track for walking and cycling and is visited by nearly 3,000 people every day.

Earlier this year, GVMC provided fitness equipment to the Sujatanagar C-1 Zone Park . GVMC has worked efficiently infour more parks in the zone, which has seen footfall going up from 50 to 300 per day.

People pouring out crafted beer from the taps at Myz-Uno microbrewery in Visakhapatnam Photo : K.R. Deepak

People pouring out crafted beer from the taps at Myz-Uno microbrewery in Visakhapatnam Photo : K.R. Deepak   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Party all night

Visakhapatnam’s glitz and glamour now extends beyond just movie nights and live music sessions. Nightlight has perked up and been welcomed by the people. The closure of the popular lounge Chrome at the start of the decade left the city gasping for a nightlife. “If you speak to the old timers they will tell you what a rage Chrome was. Though the place did not have a DJ or karaoke, people just enjoyed the ambience and loved hanging out at the lounge. After Chrome one or two standalone pubs opened up but none of them could sustain for more than a year,” says Mona Chowdary, who was born and raised here. The recent mushrooming of microbreweries and resto-bars has glamorised the city’s nightlife. Pubs like Myz Uno are drawing crowds with dedicated Ladies Night (Wednesdays) and Bollywood Nights (Sundays).

The live music scene which, according to the old-timers, was booming in the 1980s made a comeback as pubs and resto-bars like Ironhill and Somaa hosted live music sessions. “Though we have options for partying, it is sad that all the places shut down by midnight. For people who work till late and then decide to step out for a drink, there are hardly any options,” says Sudixa Majumdar, a 24-year-old corporate employee who moved to the city five months ago. Laughter has been there in bellyfuls as some of India’s established comedians performed in the city. In the last two years, well-known comics like Zakir Khan, Kunal Kamra, Kenneth Sebastian and Abhishek Upmanyu have brought in the humour.

The interiors of Harbour Vue the newly launched cafe cum lounge at Hotel Novotel in Visakhapatnam Photo : K.R. Deepak / The Hindu

The interiors of Harbour Vue the newly launched cafe cum lounge at Hotel Novotel in Visakhapatnam Photo : K.R. Deepak / The Hindu   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Put that on your plate!

Walk the swanky lanes of Siripuram, MVP Colony or Beach Road and take your pick of food joints that have mushroomed in these areas. Chinese, Indian, Continental or Pan-Asian, jostle for space. “This wasn’t the case at the start of the decade, when there were only a handful of conventional restaurants that mainly served local cuisine or Indo-Chinese,” says city-based food blogger Sonia Vadlamani.

The last five years saw the opening of several small cafés and established food chains like Keventers, Belgian Waffle and Bombay Kulfi making their home here. Experimentation was not limited just to food, as restaurants also played around with their décor. Themed cafés like Sam’s Griddle, Harbour Vue or Athidhi Devo Bhava have been offering much more than just food. “The introduction of food delivery apps in the last two years has put the onus on restaurants to offer more than just tasty food. People are now stepping out for the ambience and for the experience of dining out,” adds Sonia. Restaurants and cafes also made efforts to reduce carbon footprint by switching to eco-friendly cutlery and packaging. Bamboo spoons and paper straws are now the talk of the town.

Renovation work going on at the 100-year-old Town Hall, one of important heritage structures of Visakhapatnam Photo: K.R. Deepak /The Hindu

Renovation work going on at the 100-year-old Town Hall, one of important heritage structures of Visakhapatnam Photo: K.R. Deepak /The Hindu   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Saving the heritage

Heritage finally got its due and calmed down the wrath of activists who have watched in despair as monuments and structures have crumbled. In October this year, at the ancient Thotlakonda Buddhist Site stupa crumbled, reportedly after a spell of heavy rains. Activists claimed that the stupa was rebuilt in 2016, going against the principles of conservation, which eventually led to its fall. There have been heated debates about this. The repair works will soon begin at the Buddhist heritage site. The past two years also saw the iconic Town Hall and old Municipality Building at Old Town getting a helping hand. Restoration is going on without tampering with the integral structure of the buildings. The decade saw heritage walks gaining momentum and lesser known geo-heritage sites getting recognised. For instance, the famous red sand dunes called the ‘Erramatti Dibbalu’, abutting the Beach Road near Bheemunipatnam, was recognised as a national geo-heritage site in 2014, and became a protected site in 2016. Signages were put up at their geo-heritage spots along the coast such as the natural arch at Mangamaripeta beach, a geological phenomenon that is said to have started 20,000 years ago. These helped in drawing the attention of heritage lovers and researchers alike.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 5:24:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/heres-what-difference-the-past-decade-made-to-visakhpatnam/article30410377.ece

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