Thotlakonda in for a makeover

Times of India
Sulogna Mehta | TNN | Jan 28, 2016, 03.19 PM IST

Visakhapatnam: The unkept Buddhist heritage site of Thotlakonda is all set for a makeover with restoration works going on in a war-footing. However, its completion before the International Fleet Review (IFR) is doubtful even though it’s one of the tourist sites identified for visit by delegates.
Several workers are pulling down the damaged or broken bricks and laying fresh bricks replicating the ancient Buddhist stupas, viharas and chaitayas while signages and boards are also being made ready to be installed at various places.

The 2,000-year-old heritage site was spotted by the Indian Navy during an aerial survey in the 1980s following which the AP state archaeology department conducted major excavations during 1988-1993. The excavations led to the establishment of a Buddhist complex. However, bricks were laid on the excavated base structure to give the visitors an impression of what the original might have looked like.
Environmentalist and heritage activist Sohan Hatangadi, who has prepared the signages and is supervising the work, said, “The restoration work is going on as per the archaeological norms. Besides putting up the signages and laying of bricks, an interpretation centre where the history of the site would be provided would also come up 100 metres away from the heritage structures.”

“The elaborate plans for the interpretation room includes a video room, photo gallery, cafeteria, library, souvenir shop and amenities such as parking spaces and washrooms. However, the interpretation room cannot be ready before the IFR. We are hoping to complete the signages, inner pathways and restoration of the stupas and other structures before the IFR,” he added.

The state archaeology department has allotted nearly Rs 3 crore for restoration and renovation works at Thotlakonda and Bavikonda. While works at Thotlakonda have already commenced, the works at Bavikonda would be taken up from the end of February.

“However, we need a maintenance committee to look into the Buddhist heritage structures once they are renovated,” Hatangadi said.

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