The Fort Town Vizianagaram woke up with the shock on May 23, 2020, of the historic Three Lanterns pillar at the junction missing. The issue kicked up a controversy leading to protests and chaos amid lockdown scenario. Drawing criticism from various quarters, including TDP, the act is seen as a historical blunder committed by civic authorities.
The current municipal authorities demolished the heart of the town as part of a road-widening programme, who are promising to construct a similar pillar at the cost of Rs.5 lakh.
The three lantern pillar is the historical monument that was built by Pusapati dynasty about 200 years ago at a junction of three major roads in Vizianagaram. During those days, the pillar lit up in all three sides, was built to guide the travellers during nights. The structure had on its top an emblem with three lions on each side and Ashoka Chakra.
The lecterns’ tower along with the music college and the clock tower stood witness to the tales of the City’s history and vernacular. The tower was host to daily gatherings of literary legend Gurajada Apparao. The junctions stood a stage for many performances of Harikatha Pitamaha Adibhatla Narayana Dasu. The place has become the abode of culture passed on to several generations of people of Vijayanagaram.
The pillar has marked the contributions of the family of former Union Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju to the region. The TDP leader’s association with the monument and family history has raked up the controversy. Earlier, Sanchaita Gajapati Raju was appointed as the Chairperson of the MANASAS trust. The rushed appointment was a tactical move by the ruling YSRCP to loosen the hold of the TDP veteran in the region.
TDP Chief and Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu tweeted on the issue –
“Shocked to see @ysjagan demolish the historic ‘Three Lanterns Pillar’ in the heart of Vizianagaram. This is one of the many deliberate efforts to erase the contributions of Sri @Ashok_Gajapathi’s family to the region. Petty politics must never take precedence over history!”
Responding to the issue, Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the demolition of the historic statue is unethical. The destruction is much to the chagrin of the local people and hurts their sentiments. No edifice could be a replacement for the historical monument, he commented. He also requested the residents of Vizianagaram to raise voice against the unethical practices of YSR Congress government.
However, Sanchita Gajapati Raju the historic statue will be restored after the renovation work is complete. She also asked Mr Chandrababu Naidu and Mr. Ashok Gajapathi Raju for an explanation behind desecrating the legacy of her grandfather Mr Pusapati Vijaya Rama Gajapathi Raju (father of Mr Ashok Gajapati Raju) by dismantling Moti Mahal, the fort of Vizianagaram built by the Vizianagara kings in 1713.
Midst the claims and rebuttals to continue, once again its a loss for Vijayanaram and its people.