Andhra Pradesh

Where food is served to students free of cost

Students having food at the satram being run by the Simhachalam Devasthanam in Vizianagaram.

Students having food at the satram being run by the Simhachalam Devasthanam in Vizianagaram.   | Photo Credit: Arrangement

Thanks to the Vizianagaram kings, the Vidyarthi Bhojana Vasati Satram is a boon for many

‘Annadanam’ or serving of food free of cost is considered the noblest of all offerings. The Vizianagaram kings, who are known for their philanthropy in promoting the cause of education, have been benevolent in serving the student community in this aspect too.

Their vision and long-term planning has been a boon for the students pursuing their studies in Vizianagaram, an educational hub in the region for the last 150 years.

Many youngsters from Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, and Visakhapatnam are served food free of cost at the Sri Varaha Lakshmi Nrusimha Swamy Vari Vidyarthi Bhojana Vasati Satram in the Fort town.

Food is provided in the choultry three times in a day for more than 270 students, including girls. It is maintained by the Simhachalam Devasthanam. The Vizianagaram kings are trustees of the temple.

After having their fill in the morning, the students can take a lunch box and return to the choultry for dinner. Stay at the ‘satram’ is not mandatory. Those who gain admission in the MR College, Sanskrit College, and the Music College get admission in the choultry too. The management ensures admission of students coming from remote places.

Expansion plans

The authorities are planning to expand the services with the increase in admissions every year.

The choultry has a long history. Great personalities such as Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao and Bhamidipati Ramagoplam had put up in the ‘satram’ for pursuing their studies and research.

Former principal of the Sanskrit College Inti Gopala Rao says the ‘satram’ continues to be maintained perfectly even after 120 years.

“After Independence, P.V.G. Raju, the last crown prince of Vizianagaram, had handed over the ‘satram’ to the Simhachalam temple, which had been allocated 300 acres of land in Niddam village of Srikakulam district for its maintenance. The temple authorities have been protecting its sanctity and purpose since 1958,” Mr. Gopala Rao, who had stayed in the choultry in the 1970s, recalls.

The free food service has to a large extent helped Vizianagaram transform itself into a major educational centre, he says.

“In those days, students were particular about the sanctity in preparation and serving of food. They used to come to the ‘satram’ with a smile as food is served as per Indian traditions,” says P.L.P. Raju, a friend of Union Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju. The Union Minister is the hereditary chairman of the Simhachalam temple.

On the directive of the Union Minister, the temple authorities have modernised the kitchen and dining hall.

The students, expressing their happiness over the new facilities, are seeking the establishment of a library in the choultry.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 6:46:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/where-food-is-served-to-students-free-of-cost/article19884027.ece

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