Laborers on the island of Bhavani. Officials are making elaborate arrangements for tourists visiting the island, which is located in the Krishna district. | Photo credit: GN Rao
The decks are being cleared to give the long-awaited facelift to Bhavani Island, which sits on the banks of the Krishna River in Vijayawada. The government is working on an ambitious plan to make the island a major tourist destination by integrating six other nearby islands.
Life is gradually returning to the island, which was closed to the public in July this year due to flooding that inundated parts of it. The site was recently opened to the public, but repairs are still being made to the gaming and entertainment equipment that was damaged by the floods.
A short ferry ride from Punnami Ghat, the picturesque river island considered a valuable tourism asset of Andhra Pradesh has remained an ‘underexplored’ lagoon with great potential for development. It is a lush green 270-hectare expanse endowed with rich biodiversity of local flora and a unique riparian ecosystem that is home to many bird species.
After leaving the island in a persistent state of neglect, the Government, through the Bhavani Island Tourism Corporation (BITC), spent £50m to lay CC roads and pathways, install lights and develop landscaping. Selfie points, wall gardens, a flower clock, a maze garden, a multimedia gaming zone, a robotic Jurassic Park, a mirror maze, a golf course simulator and cricket in virtual reality mode, among game zones and other attractions for children, are some of the new ones Features that now define the island.
A master plan designed by Studio POD, a Mumbai-based urban planning, urban planning and architecture firm, envisages the development of several features such as open parks, an exclusive bird park, a botanical garden and cultural facilities including a museum featuring local art and history, venues and amphitheater for regular music concerts and plays.
“Of the island’s total of 650 acres, we now only use 130 acres. The idea is to pepper the entire sprawl with adventure and fun activities.”K Kanna BabuCEO of APTDC
A retail center would also emerge on the island, comprising a mix of shops, cafes and restaurants. “Of the island’s total of 650 acres, we now only use 130 acres. The idea is to dot the entire sprawl with adventure and fun activities,” says K. Kanna Babu, Managing Director of Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) and CEO of Andhra Pradesh Tourism Authority (APTA).
“A solar farm is also planned to meet the energy needs of all facilities to be developed on the island. Boardwalks and nature trails will network along the trails to offer visitors a different experience. A toy train route will give visitors an overview of all the island’s attractions,” says Mr. Kanna Babu.
He underscores the importance of open space, a privilege for people coming here from concrete jungles, and says over 50% of the island will be left as a natural, untouched space.
The closure of the island, which is probably the only place of amusement for people in and around Vijayawada city, denies fun lovers access to the site every year during the rains since the Irrigation Board suspended boating activities on the Krishna River.
“We aim to address this issue by operating a cable car from Indrakeeladri Hill to Berm Park and from there to the island,” says Mr. Kanna Babu, sharing that a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the project has been completed in one would float a few weeks.
“Once that’s done, we’ll be able to open the island from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” he says.
Some of the new features planned for the island will be developed in PPP mode, while others will receive funding from the tourism wing.