Tagore Park on Light House Hill Road-Mangaluru Attracting More Mosquitoes than Human Beings as VISITORS?
Mangaluru: Gone are those days, when Citizens of Mangaluru used to go to the historic park on Lighthouse Hill Road- Mangaluru, namely the Tagore Park to watch the early morning Sunrise and late in the evening, the Sunset. Presently, there are no such place we can call a PARK in Mangaluru. There are some so-called parks like Kadri Park, Gandhi Park, and some smaller parks. So in the city like Mangaluru, there should have been more parks in each city wards but due to construction activity and land mafia, most of the empty places are filled in with commercial and residential buildings. And one such park in Mangaluru which lost its beauty and charm is Tagore Park, due to a mega apartment complex being constructed right in front of it.
After Mangalorean.com had published an article on 7 July (Ref: St Aloysius College Students Clean the Filthy Water Fountains at LHH Tagore Park) where a group of students from St Aloysius College had done some tank cleaning which were filthy, Yours Truly out of curiosity made a visit to the Park a few days later, and this report is all about my recent experience there. I remember visiting Tagore Park, most of the evenings during the week while doing my studies at St Aloysius College in the late 80’s- and what a fun and relaxing time, me and my classmates used to have at Tagore Park, enjoying the glamorous beauty of the Sunset, and also feeling the fresh air.
But unfortunately now, no such enjoyment, either watching the Sunset nor Sunrise, that’s because our greedy officials from Mangaluru City Corporation, MUDA and other officials of the District Administration gave permission for a mega apartment complex to come up right in front of the Park, thereby fully blocking the scenic view of the Coastal city and also the beautiful morning view of the Sunrise, and the Sunset in the evening. Just like people climb trees, high buildings/walls, electric poles etc to catch a glimpse of the PM or CM when their motorcade pass through the city streets-the same way you’ll have to climb the water tank to have a glimpse of the sunset or sunrise, just like one young couple did on 18 March 2016!
What other choice do we have, when a concrete structure is completely obstructing the scenic view? It’s sad to note that Tagore Park which was once a place for Mangalureans and out of town visitors who used to head for to soak in the panoramic view of the valley and the city, with the sea on the horizon- has now nothing to watch but to stare at a mega apartment structure that is coming up at a fast pace. Years back you could once see coconut orchards, sloping red-tiled roofs, and ships sailing in the distant Arabian Sea right from Tagore Park. But today, one could have only the glimpse of mega malls, mega apartment complexes, and the red bowels of the earth turned inside out dot the valley. At present, the ‘sea view’ has just become the name of an apartment. You visit the park now, sit on a bench or the lawn you could only watch the crane next door moving above your head, hear the loud noises of the construction machines, and labourers. That’s it other than that no scenic view, no view of sunrise or sunset.
Once the historic Tagore Park, that also houses the Light House, was a must-see spot for the public, giving an unhindered view of the Arabian Sea and southern side of the city. But at present that’s a thing of the past — a monstrosity that has come up effectively blocks this scenic view forever. History book reveals that this Park was built by the erstwhile ruler of Mysuru, Hyder Ali. The park also has a deeper significance: It is said that when Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore visited Mangaluru in 1922, he had sat down at this place to rest and also appreciated the view of the sea. But the officials of MUDA/MCC didn’t consider all these facts of Tagore Park, they didn’t even bother about the citizens/visitors, instead out of greed went ahead and gave permission to a builder to go ahead with his mega apartments plan. How could our city officials do that is a question which will never be addressed. Even with protests and representation by various organizations/activists, no one has ever budged to any ones pleas.
Yes, the current state of the park, however, draws concern. Maintenance effort at the park is close to negligible. What you see today is nothing more than broken benches, untrimmed garden, dirty sculptures, creatures and fountains filled with leaves and filth- and stagnant water giving scope for the breeding of mosquitoes. In a bid to make a small change, on 6 July, 13 students along with three staff of St Aloysius College (Autonomous), joining hands with Centre for Social Concern of SAC, who study in the vicinity, took up the task of reviving Tagore Park bit by bit. The cleanliness drive inspired by the Sahaaya (Social Service Initiative) encouraged students to take up social issues that concern society today. The students of St Aloysius college from the Business Administration Department took up their brooms and buckets, got their hands dirty, to spruce up the park back to life. Kudos and great job, Aloysians! I feel proud to an ALOYSIAN about these young Aloysians doing good community service.
Once a park which provided the picturesque scene of the city, also where one could watch the sunrise/sunset has nothing but a concrete building in front of it blocking everything. I think politics and money can do anything over laws and regulations. Too sad, too bad for an upcoming smart city like Mangaluru. Who so ever gave permission for the construction of this building, killing the scenic beauty of nature are simply nuts. Nothing less, nothing more”. A senior citizen from the nearby Lobo Prabhu Court, who spends his evenings at the park said,” This is the oldest park in the city, steeped in culture. Due to the city’s development, everything is lost and the building has ensured it is faster than anticipated. I miss the view.”
Other than a few older folks, the only human beings who patronize Tagore Park regularly now are the “Love Birds” from the nearby Jesuit Institution, who spend their cozy open-air evening time after college hours in the Park, browsing through Whatsapp messages, and clicking selfies- and that’s okay for selfies here, since the Park is located in a safe zone, there are no chances of anyone falling off and breaking their limbs or lives during a selfie spree! Even though the plants look green and healthy, but the earlier greenery of the Park has been lost. Since the water fountains are not working, the water stranded has become stagnant, giving scope for mosquito breeding. At some corners, there are piles of garbage. Good in some way, but bad in other things, presently the Tagore Park is in shambles!
I guess it seems like there is no fun crying over spilled milk- the permission had been given by our city officials, the building is on the last stage of completion, there is nothing much one could do anymore. Maybe our officials are repenting about their mistakes or maybe not! One of the board members of Mahatma Gandhi Peace Foundation has said, “No amount of pleading with the mayor and corporation authorities has helped. It’s akin to talking to a deaf person. We have spoken to various mayors during their terms, but all in vain”.
On a last note, after reading this article, if anyone of you plan on visiting the Tagore Park, make sure you attire yourselves with fully covered clothes, and don’t forget to carry mosquito repellent, like Odomos etc – if not get ready to be sucked by the large gang of “Blood Suckers” aka Mosquitoes?