Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh: A peep into Vizagapatam Medical School

The two-storeyed building on the left was the Vizagapatam Medical School and the tiled structure  on the right (in the background) was the old Civil Hospital.

The two-storeyed building on the left was the Vizagapatam Medical School and the tiled structure on the right (in the background) was the old Civil Hospital.

The year-long centenary celebrations of Andhra Medical College (AMC) will begin on July 19.

But, does anyone know that there existed a medical school nearly a decade before the AMC came into being?

It’s unlikely that the doctors who have graduated from the AMC are aware of the fact that there is a precursor to their alma mater. This is because there is hardly any information available in the AMC on it.

Thanks to the District Gazetteers and records of the royal families, the information is available in bits and pieces.

History chronicler and member of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Vijjeswarapu Edward Paul pieced together the information and brought out the events that had led to the setting up of the Vizagapatam Medical School, the history of the building, its demolition, and construction of a new one six decades ago, which now houses the present Anatomy Block of the AMC.

Zamindar’s gesture

Maharajah Gode Narayana Gajapathi Row, the local zamindar, had readily agreed to give the site and bear the cost of construction when the Government of Madras proposed the establishment of the medical school in Vizagapatam in 1900.

The government had opened the medical school in July 1902 in a rented building with 10 students. The Maharajah’s family had even paid the rent till the construction of school building was completed. The Maharajah’s family also provided free accommodation when a hostel for the students was opened, Mr. Paul said.

Maharajah Gajapathi Row had passed away in May 1903 even before the foundation stone was laid, and the responsibility of constructing the building fell on his wife, Maharani Gode Chitti Janakayyamma.

Foundation stone

Finally, the foundation stone for the medical school was laid by the Governor of Madras, Lord Ampthill, on February 20, 1905, and the construction was completed in 1910.

The District Medical & Sanitary Officer and the Executive Engineer had suggested some changes to the building, which were carried out by the Gode family.

As per available records, the medical school was shifted to this building by April 1912.

Some minor discrepancies were noticed with regard to the title of the property, but before the rectification could be done, Maharani Chitti Janakayyamma had passed away, and the task fell on her daughter Rani Seetha Bai.

Finally, the Gift Deed was registered in Madras in October 1912, signed by the Diwan on behalf of Rani Seetha Bai and Surgeon General of Madras Government W.B. Bannerman on behalf of the Secretary of State for India.

With the permanent school building constructed by the Gode family coming into the hands of the government in 1912, the Surgeon General had proposed to convert the ground floor into a hostel and construct residential accommodation for the warden on the west side of the building at an estimated cost of ₹32,700 in May 1914, Mr. Paul said.

While preparations for converting the school building into a school-cum-hostel were on, the old Civil Hospital building adjacent to the school started showing signs of deterioration.

In December 1914, the Surgeon General, along with Major E.M. Illington, Superintendent of the Vizagapatam Medical School, had suggested temporary shifting of the Civil Hospital into the school building.

The medical school was shifted to the upper floor of the old Collector’s Office building in the old town (the present old building of Queen Mary’s School).

The building, which was constructed for the sole purpose of the medical school, was used for the purpose barely for two years from the fag end of 1912 to 1914. The school never shifted to building again before curtains came down on it.

Gosha Hospital

Maharajah Gode Narayana Gajapathi Row’s promise was fulfilled by his family members. It was the same family that had constructed and maintained the Victoria Government Hospital (Gosha Hospital) for many years. “The citizens of Visakhapatnam owe him a lot,” said Mr. Paul.

“We have decided to conduct competitions for our students to come up with information on the history of the college,” says G. Butchi Raju, Principal of AMC.


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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 10:55:59 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/andhra-pradesh-a-peep-into-vizagapatam-medical-school/article65602898.ece