Friday, 30 December 2011

My Holiday in Vizag

This month, I've missed out on the many happenings in Blogosphere. My blogging hiatus was because of my three-week long holiday to Vizag, where my parents live. Three weeks is a long time and Vizag is a beautiful place. And so there's plenty I'd like to share in this post.
Picturesque Vizag
Vizag is a scenic city on the east coast of India. Bounded by the Bay of Bengal on the east  and dotted with many hills, this once fishing hamlet is now a major industrial hub. Although I've spent most of my growing-up years in Vizag, every year when I return, the city still throws surprises at me. And so it was this year too. This time, I happened to pay my first visit to INS Kurusura, India's only submarine museum. It was also the first time we visited Tenneti Park. This is a delightful park located high above sea level, but from where a couple of paths will lead you all the way to a quiet little beach. The spruced-up Jatara with its newly installed life-like statues had me dropping my jaw.
At Tenneti Park: My son had fun going down three long slides all the way to the sea.
(Only the steps are visible in this picture.)
These Bullocks Ain't Real
Here are more snapshots of our time in Vizag at the different parks and beaches.
Indian Christmas Tree at VUDA Park (The park I frequented as a child).

Father and Son at the Quiet Rishikonda Beach

Early Morning at the Ramakrishna Beach: My Mother with My Son
Vizagites take ample advantage of the city's many scenic spots, especially during Karthik Masam, which is after Diwali. Karthik Masam is the traditional picnic season, when hordes of families and groups can be seen to descend on every possible picnic spot.

One such picnic spot recently developed is Jatara, which attempts to showcase rural Andhra and promote folk arts.
Sculpture at Jatara: Village Belles at the Well
Sculpture at Jatara: Girls Playing Traditional Games on a Charpoy
Located amidst a reserve forest and flanked by tall green hills is the 625 acre Indira Gandhi Zoological Park. It is home to many exotic animals including lions, hippos and Himalayan bears.
Sirish, the White Tiger
Some Interesting Pictures of Vizag's Flora and Fauna

Custard Apple-shaped Dustbin at a Park
Jumbo Lemon Sourced from the Farmers' Market. One of these = 6 limes.
Birds and Beasts
Rooster at Jatara
Emus at the Zoo
Sambar Deer Against the Backdrop of a Banyan Tree
Terracotta Pony
Giant Grasshoppers

A trip to Vizag is incomplete without visiting the Kailash Giri hill. As the name indicates, Kailash Giri is a hill-top park that has a massive Siva-Parvati statue. What sets it apart from other hills are its gardens, a rope-way, a circular train, a non-conventional energy park and plenty of kid attractions. Overlooking the Bay of Bengal, it offers several panoramic views of the city. 
View from Kailash Giri
The Cable Car at Kailash Giri is Extremely Popular
The hills, the beaches and its affable inhabitants make Vizag an endearing place. Yet, behind the apparent beauty, the city harbours some ugly secrets. The air and water pollution in Vizag has been going from bad to worse over the years. During my visit this time, there were local newspaper reports of hundreds of fish dying near the Shipyard. To be precise, two tons of mackerel fish had died, presumably due to the unchecked release of industrial effluents into the sea.
Fog or Smog?
Most of the city's pollution can be attributed to the steel plant, the oil refinery, the port trust, and several other factories that border the city. People are finally waking up to the industrial damage and questioning unbridled growth. On the penultimate day of our holiday, the whole family had packed up for a trip to the Anantagiri hills, a two-hour drive from Vizag. Midway, we found ourselves stranded when a huge group of tribal farmers had blocked the road (the only one to the hills) as a mark of protest. They were protesting against the destructive mining activities in the region and were determined to send back a government delegation (and everyone else) who were visiting that day. While we were rather disappointed to turn back, I believe those farmers may in fact have been doing us a favour. Our trees, hills and beaches need to be protected and unfortunately road blocks and hartals seem to be an effective way.

My green wishlist for 2012: a greener rooftop garden and more importantly, a greener, cleaner planet.