Rajahmundry’s abode of reforms
Rajahmundry’s abode of reforms, Rao Bahadur Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu was one of the greatest personalities in the fields of literature, culture and social reforms.
Rao Bahadur Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu was one of the greatest personalities in the fields of literature, culture and social reforms. The scholar and poet was the first person to write biographies of Telugu poets and the first writer to translate science books into Telugu. He strongly advocated widow marriages, for which he had to face ostracism from his own community.
The residence of Veeresalingam Panthulu at Rajahmundry was declared as a protected monument in 1990 by the department of archaeology and museums.The department established a research centre and a museum in his name in 2000.
The museum was a centre of defiance to the ills of the society during Veeresalingam Pantulu’s time. It was the place where a person advocated against widow marriage, which was a taboo in those days. It was the place from where a person stressed on the need for women education. It was the place from where Telugu literature took a new stride. Rajya Lakshmi, wife of Veeresalingam, used to console widows and cook food from the water collected from River Godavari to feed widows and orphans in this house.
This building is significant for several historical events. Veeresalingam Pantulu was born here on April 16, 1848, to Subbarayadu and Purnamma. He married Rajya Lakshmi (Bapamma) in 1861. The first widow’s marriage was performed under his leadership in this house on December 11, 1881. Veeresalingam Pantulu set up his own printing press by name ‘Vivekavardhini’ in 1875 and started his own publication. He established an association called ‘Hithakarini Samajam’ in 1907 to manage properties and institutions developed by him including the present building.
In the premises of the museum, there are two separated buildings in which Veeresalingam Pantulu lived and carried out his activities. In another building, he carried out social activism.
The residence is a two-storeyed building connected by a wooden staircase and tiled roof. The ground floor was used by him as press-cum-library. On the first floor, Veeresalingam Pantulu wrote journals for literary discussions with scholars.
On the first floor, there is a rectangular hall flanked by two square rooms. Some of the articles used by Veeresalingam Pantulu such as a dhoti, a towel, a muffler, a black jacket and a hand stick besides several hand-written letters addressed to scholars and letters he received by him from various circles, are on display.
The room on the left side of hall was used for his reading purpose and it containes a wooden easy chair with cane matting base and a hanging iron lamp from the ceiling. A small hole in one corner of the room facilitated him to drop his handwritten manuscripts and also corrected proofs for his publication, by a basket tied with rope.
In the same precincts, is another two-storied building which was built by him for his wife. This building was probably utilised to house widows also.
By: Samson Raj