Print edition : December 16, 2005

The expanded Beach Road from Visakhapatnam to Bhimunipatnam offers a pleasant drive. - K.R. DEEPAK

Visakhapatnam is all set for the four-day Visakha Utsav, the annual event held in December, to showcase the tourism and investment potential of the city.

THE four-day Visakha Utsav-2005, which is scheduled to open on December 22, promises to be an action-packed event. It has been packaged to focus on the rich cultural heritage of the "City of Destiny" and to highlight the tourism and investment potential of the region.

The Utsav Organising Committee has chalked out various programmes, improving on the previous years' agenda. A dozen committees have been formed to ensure that the Utsav is made exciting for each and everyone - not only for the 1.5 million residents of Visakhapatnam, or Vizag, but for tourists coming from far-flung places during the year-end holiday season - and provide the ambience of a real festival.

Visakhapatnam District Collector Praveen Prakash, who is the chairman of the Visakha Utsav Committee.-C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

The festival organising committee has Commercial Taxes Minister Konathala Ramakrishna, Roads and Buildings Minister Jakkampudi Rammohana Rao, Tourism and Industries Minister J. Geetha Reddy and the local Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly as its members. District Collector Praveen Prakash is its chairman.

The officials have drawn up an elaborate fare and drafted a battery of volunteers for the smooth conduct of the mega event.

Coinciding with the Visakha Utsav, the officials have planned to organise an Araku Utsav in order to highlight the tourism potential of the lush green Araku Valley, located some 114 km from Visakhapatnam, in the Eastern Ghats, and the million-year-old Borra caves in the Borra Agency village, 90 km from the city; and a Bheemili Utsav to showcase the 17th century Dutch township and the first municipality of southern India.

As a prelude to the Visakha Utsav, road shows were held in Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore and other metropolitan cities to create interest among potential tourists and investors. The timing of the Utsav is also considered ideal as Visakhapatnam enjoys pleasant climatic conditions in December. The Eastern Ghats with its bracing climate, which dominate the area surrounding the city, is a major attraction.

VUDA Vice-Chairman G. Venkatram Reddy, who is the co-chairman of the committee.-C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

The main venue of the Utsav will be the famed Ramakrishna beach, a favourite resort among tourists visiting the city, with extension venues at Kailasagiri, the charming hill on the seafront, and the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority's (VUDA) Children's Theatre, among other places.

"We are going to ask all the residents of high-rise buildings and apartment/group housing/multi-storeyed buildings, and commercial and shopping complexes to illuminate their entire premises during the Utsav in order to ensure a festive ambience all over the city," organising committee co-chairman G. Venkatram Reddy told Frontline.

Venkatram Reddy, who is VUDA Vice-Chairman, said that for the first time, it was decided to encourage upcoming artists to perform at the main venue. Cultural troupes selected from the State for participation in the youth festival were also being invited along with a select band of professional artists.

Other events that have been planned include Yaatra, a package tour of heritage spots that will provide tourists a real experience of the various products offered by the Tourism Department; Pradarshana, exhibitions highlighting the developmental activities taking place in and around Visakhapatnam, the heritage of the region and photographs taken by mediapersons; Kreeda, a sports and games event involving children, youth and adults and senior citizens; Jaatara, showcasing the traditional and folk art forms, including a live demonstration of the skills of rural artisans at the various stalls at the venue; food festivals with an emphasis on special cuisine and delicacies from various regions and star hotels; a flower show, which has become the hallmark of the annual Utsav, with local Bonsai providing the added attraction; Manoranjani, cultural programmes at all the venues; treasure hunt; and a sculpture camp to which renowned sculptors will be invited. The pieces of sculpture made by the artists will be retained by VUDA, which will use them in its beautification programme for the city.

"We are going to make the flower show a really big event this time by exhibiting exotic and local varieties," Venkatram Reddy said.

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