A vintage majesty
A front view of the majestic edifice.
This independent house in Kotha Road in Old Town has been a silent spectator to the growth of the `City of Destiny' for the past 75 years.
When it was built, the house stood silhouetted against the Bay of Bengal, caressed by its breeze and aroma. Since then, the sea has steadily receded, with the upcoming harbour consuming much of the water spread.
The three-storeyed house was purchased in January 1942 and Kota Subbarayudamma inherited it as a gift from her husband, Kota Anantha Sastry, who was a councillor in the then municipality. Soon after it was let out to Maddi Pattabhi Reddy, his friend and an advocate. His son, Maddi Gopalakrishna Reddy, spent his formative years there and later became the Registrar and the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University.
Reminiscing the happy times he had spent there as a student, Dr. Reddy says: "We stayed there from February 1942 to 1959. At that time it was the tallest construction around. Jawaharlal Nehru had passed by Kotha Road on his visit to Vizagapatam in 1948 for the launching of `Jal Usha', the first ship constructed by Hindustan Shipyard Limited. I remember watching Panditji, unobstructed from the terrace of the house, as we could watch the main road from there. We led a peaceful and prosperous life in that house."
The house is a unique example of the architecture of the 1920s and 1930s. It stands on a strong foundation of stone and a high plinth. The lower part of the house is lined with circular stone pillars and supports the upper brick construction, which is comparatively light in weight. The first floor was constructed of load-bearing walls lined internally with iron rods and horizontal supports. Both the external and the internal walls are one-foot thick, providing serenity from the hustle and bustle of the busy street.
The local construction material in those days was a mixture of lime and jaggery pressed hard to form the required adhesive component to build walls. This provided coolness in harsh summers. An open central courtyard provided the required illumination and cross ventilation.
Years after her husband passed away, Subbarayudamma moved into the house with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in 1959, even though the family had several properties in and around Kotha Road. She had always regarded it as `streedhana'. A woman of strength, this little frail looking lady housed and played host to the relatives of her husband and also friends.
In 1962, a cyclone submerged most of the neighbouring areas up to Poorna Market under water. It was the high plinth of the house, which protected it from the lashing rain. For more than three days the cyclone raged and many families whose abodes were then submerged found food and shelter in the house.
There were several occasions when she offered her house to friends and acquaintances as an auspicious venue for conducting weddings. In 1982, as the oldest assessee, her name was given to the street, and it is now known as `Kota Subbarayudamma Veedhi'.
Before Rayudamma passed away she entrusted her son and daughter-in-law with the care of the house. Repeated renovations and maintenance helped the house acquire the status of a vintage home.
The house has retained its original shape and is poised to complete a century.
Send this article to Friends by