Vishakapatnam is a city in Andra Pradesh currently termed as the port city of India. Before this, the city has witnessed a gamut of change in power since the 5th and 6th centuries. Set along the river Godavari, the city of Vishakhapatnam is ruled by the seven dynasties. The Kalingas during the 7th century, the Chalukyas during the 8th century, the Cholas, the Qutb Shahis of Golconda, the Mughal Empire, and the Nizams of Hyderabad. Evolving since the city has also been influenced by the French and British invaders thereby becoming a prime district of the Madras Presidency. Before that, the city invested in establishing significant industries such as Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Vizag Street, etc. Set along a prime water body, with a golden history of power and settlement, Visakhapatnam has witnessed a significant spike as an industrial hub for India’s economic liberalization in the early 1990s. 

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City of Vishakapatnam ( Source: ©http://www.vizaginformation.com

The article follows specific examples from the list of Intach – Visakhapatnam Chapter, representing the exclusive features of built forms erected in the city over centuries. 

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Stepwells of Bavikonda ©https://www.trawell.in
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Stepwells of Bavikonda ©https://www.nativeplanet.com

Bavikonda

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Located 16kms from the city, Bavionda is a reminder of the Buddhist influence in Vishakhapatnam. Sitting on a height of 130m from the mean sea level Bacikonda is a complex with numerous step-wells harvesting rainwater. Due to the location of Vishakapatnam, the port city hosts rainfall for the better part of a year. To preserve the rainwater, the Buddhist monks during the 6th century constructed these step wells. A gold mine for the archaeologists, the site reveals several artifacts and remains of the Buddhist times when the step-wells when excavated. The prime remnants included coins, tiles, pottery, and a bone which is believed to be that of Lord Buddha. The complex is home to several buddhis monasteries, stupas, and ancient wells that play the main attractions for the history admirers.

Siva (Dharmalinga) Temple

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Dharmalinga temple was built on the foothills at Panchadaria in Dharapalem Village. The temple follows the standard plan of the Dravidian temples in the south. The inviting entrance with a mandapa, followed by the central maha mandapa, kitchen, yagamandapa, kalyanamandpa followed by the exit. As a representation of the Dravidian style, the columns of this temple represent the grandeur of the eastern Chalukyas of the 15th Century with detailed inscriptions. 

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St Aloysius Church ©https://m.sworld.co.uk

St. Aloysius Church

The church is a structure built on the Aloysius school with a rectangular plan. Following the Christian church traits, the church has a double-height nave flanked with linear aisles on either side. The structure is done in stone masonry crowned with an elaborate buttress. The alter in a semi-octagonal bay is created at the end of the nave with gothic arches in the background functioning as natural ventilators for the structure. The stone arches set at the top of circular stone columns support the jack arch roof of the church marking the significant character of the historic style of architecture in Vishakhapatnam. 

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St. John’s Church ©https://chaibisket.com

St. John’s Church

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Emitting an English residential and institutional influence, the church consists of several architectural elements. The Anglican dome, big round pillars, the entrance flanked by a corbelled stone arch represents the contemporary era. Keeping the typical Madras roofing intact, the preservers have restored the built form in the best way possible. Using the teak wood from Burma intricately carved Alter from Britain and glass paintings from Europe, the architects have managed to keep the Anglian construction alive in Vishakapatnam.

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Mrs. A.V.N College ©www.deccanchronicle.com

Mrs. A. V. N. College

The start of Modern teaching in India began at the Mrs. A.V.N college of Vishakapatnam in 1860. This Anglo – Vernacular institution promoted the Hindu education system and was nurtured by the Zamindars of that period. Set on undulating terrain, the stone ashlar masonry structure is planned around open courtyards, continuous verandahs with a central entrance leading to an arched portico dividing the form into two wings. The porch decorated with octagonal minerals with floral capitals represents the Islamic style during the Mughal rule in Vishakapatnam. 

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Aligning with the style of Visakhapatnam, the corridors are decorated with semi-circular arches supported on square stone piers. Consistent with the Madras roof and wooden rafters the parapet of the roof consists of lancet stone arches as railings. Stone Corbelling introduces harmony in the structure complementing the style of Vishakapatnam architecture. 

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Collector’s Office ©https://visakhapatnam.ap.gov.in

District Collector’s Office

The E-shaped castle is an ashlar stone masonry structure with asymmetrical elevation. The church represents gothic architecture with an entrance lead by a series of steps. The Office is divided into four main parts with doglegged wooden staircase provided at the middle of each wing extending towards the courtyard. The halls and the corridors are flanked by the typical Madras terrace resting on steel joists and stone columns lined by semi-circular arches. Concurrently, the first-floor roof framed by timber truss roofs is supported with wooden rafters. A sufficient amount of doors and windows are provided in the structure for ample natural ventilation to beat the hot and humid weather of Vishakhapatnam. An ample number of doors and windows were provided on the two floors in addition to the sufficient number of clear-story ventilators on the first floor. Square-based Pavillions with square turrets created at the corners of the form along with pavilion roofs were supported on pyramidal roofs.  

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King’s George Hospital ©https://www.thehindu.com

King George Hospital

The three-story stone masonry structure is built on a symmetrical plan with a central corridor and entrance towards the north. The entire construction was made of dressed stone masonry. To the extreme north of the entrance, the corridor is constructed as a four-story avenue where the fourth floor houses a clock. The adjoining three floors are enhanced with semi-circular arches supported by stone piers on the first floor leaving the remaining structure to be constructed in RCC. The classical expression of the building is emitted by RCC Lintels, projected square rooms, stone voussoirs, and projected slab lines on the top floor supported by I beam structures. 

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Railway Bunglows © https://www.thehindu.com

Railway Bungalows

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A reminder of the 19th century, the railway Bungalows line the yards of the railway tracks between Kolkata and Chennai. Built-in ‘+’ shaped plan, the railway bungalows were constructed as double-height structures in stone to house the generals and officers of the time. The structure also includes the typical single height lean-to roof verandahs supported by square stone columns. 

As a result, the city of Vishakhapatnam presents a Hetrogenity of architecture styles as a symbol of its diverse history. Built typologies showcasing the city’s historic significance under different governments include domestic habitats, educational institutions, gardens, military architecture, palaces, public buildings, public-cum-recreational buildings, recreational, religious-cum-commemorative architecture, residences, trade, and transport systems. Though the present-day architecture of Vishakhapatnam showcase a standard style of modern construction, the climate, geography, and history of the city have resulted in a strong character of Vishakhapatnam.

Author

Tina is an Architect and a Curator. She believes in balance and an admirer of the Prarie Style. She likes to brainstorms while ideating and curating. The ability to look beyond a defined use of material and molding and upcycling them is her USP.

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