METRO PLUS

Jatara gets a facelift

Attractions at Jatara. -- Photos : C.V. Subrahmanyam

Attractions at Jatara. -- Photos : C.V. Subrahmanyam  

The expansion of the National Highway No.5 has resulted in the disappearance of landmarks all along the road. But Jatara, near Madhurawada, still retains its identity and will be a prominent landmark.

This Urban Haat project, a facility created to promote folk arts and rural artisans and tourism as well, was developed and named as Kalaagramam during Visakha Utsav of 2000. In the subsequent year also it was one of the venues of the annual tourism promotion exercise. There were temporary structures then. Now it is known as Jatara and since June, the sprawling 28-acre area is in the process of a metamorphosis. All set, it will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, on Monday, Jatara will be a major attraction of the city.An imposing three-storeyed entrance plaza, with more than 2,000 sft. area, with two huge elephants on the either side of it complete with their mahouts and their assistants, it will also have a figure of a tappetagullu artiste under a cement hut with a board with the name Jaatara written on it.

"Our efforts are to see that none passing by NH-5 misses Jatara. The plan has been made in such a way that any troupe or organisation conducting a programme in Jatara, need not spend on decorating the entrance or inside the premises,'' says the Deputy Director of Social Welfare (Guntur) and architect of Jaatara, G. Mallikharjuna Rao (who earlier was holding the same position in Vizag). He has to his credit the construction of a city Social Welfare hostel in the shape of a train, preparing and executing model hostel building the design of which has been accepted for hostels all over the State, and the Ambedkar Centre in Payakaraopeta, which rivals any park or a centre in a metro. Mr. Mallikarjuna Rao has been asked by the Collector, Sunil Sharma, to prepare Jatara in the place of Kalaagramam, and left every aspect of planning and execution to him. The total project will cost Rs.60 lakhs. The work started with eviction of about 25 encroachments and a compound wall running to a length of 2 km. of the 28-acre site was constructed.

Jatara gets a facelift

Earlier, the Department of Tourism had spent Rs.1 crore in preparing Kalaagramam by filling up a huge tank and creating stalls, dais, amphitheatre, etc., by taking the rural and traditional life as background. With the skipping of Visakha Utsav last year due to the National Games, the premises lost its charm. With little chance of greenery coming up on the gravel filled surface, 2,000 lorry loads of earth had been dumped and the surface raised at some places. "There are no trees in the entire premises but they can be grown now on, as sufficient fertile earth has been provided,'' he says.

Every statue or other creation in Jatara has been designed to depict the rural folk and their traditions, particularly those of the north coastal districts. After the visitors enter the premises through the entrance plaza (in which there is a provision to conduct small meetings and house the administrative office), they come across a 30-feet-high cock, behind which is the parking space. Next to the cock is a walking area on which meetings can also be arranged. Laying terracotta tiles is in progress in this area. On either side of this area figures of wrestlers have been erected. Behind the walking area is the old well, which the Tourism Department has in the past retained and constructed an attractive retaining wall, and it has not been disturbed. Mr. Mallikharjuna Rao has laid a concrete slab a few feet above the well and erected figures of women with water pots. A "well" with a fountain will be built on the concrete slab to make it more attractive. From the well the visitors can move into any direction they like. On one side is a dais to stage small shows. The figures of "tolubommalu'' have been etched on the backdrop wall of the dais.

At a distance on the other side, one finds a group of fishermen hauling a boat from the sea. This should be a major attraction since the figures of fishermen are almost life-like. Inside the boat, he has created a rest room.

Jatara gets a facelift

The old amphitheatre was almost a shambles. But it has been renovated and the stage and the steps in front of it have been plastered, and broken ceramic tiles are being fixed in attractive patterns. In the tank that existed in the premises, an island has been created with figures of deer on it. The centre of the island has been filled up with fertile earth so that trees can be grown in future to provide shelter to birds.

There was a wooden bridge across the lake in the past. But Mr. Mallikarjuna Rao has gone for a cement bridge since it lasts long. The cement bridge would be made to look like a wooden bridge. The 10 stalls already existing at different places in the premises have been retained and the row of 50 temporary stalls have been turned into permanent stalls. Artisans can sell their products from these stalls.

Jatara gets a facelift

An adept in etching figures and creating cement concrete statues, he has provided a snake-charmer, whose location under a tree makes one mistake the man and reptile for real. The figures of two soothsayers are getting ready. Four pagodas have been constructed for the visitors to take shelter from rain and sun. There is a provision for a food court and an art gallery in the premises.

The Tourism Officer of the AP Tourism Department, D. Panduranga Rao, says: "A village-based programme will be held at Jatara from Friday up to Vijayadasami. Later on, such programmes will be held every weekend. Four or five event managers have been identified for the purpose."

G. NARASIMHA RAO

Recommended for you