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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

TTDC Maritime Heritage Museum - ING Vagli - near Mahabalipuram

It is likely that you would have missed out this Government Order No. 102  of Tourism and Culture (T2) Department, dated 11th June 2013 - Thiruvalluvar Aandu, 2043 Vaikasi 29

I had earlier in Jan 2011, posted on our desire of Marine Museum becoming a reality in Chennai.  Tamilnadu has its date with history and marine. In olden Tamilnadu, there existed Thirvai (Customs duty & Excise) – a Unit employed for deducting a fixed % of a commodity for a particular season.  Trade voyages were influenced by ocean currents and hence the rates were variable.  There was Aaivu [Inspection & enforcement) – an  Action arm of the trade law which  inspected ships for contraband, illegal goods, wrong declaring of tonnage, small crimes control and the protection of the Harbours ; Ottru (Intelligence Corps) of the territorial waters which normally tailed vessels and gave period updates for the rulers   - all these related to a great dynasty of the Tamilnadu. The naval or sea force was so well organized  and there are accounts of finest sea-faring traditions. 

An attempt was earlier made to convert the decommissioned naval submarine – “INS VELA” into a museum based in Chennai. Though that move could not fructify, you are now closer to entering a sub-marine and perhaps brag about that in a post on your blog or post on your FB ………. It is to be the submarine INS Vagli and the place is to be Mamallapuram.  The State government’s ambitious plan of setting a maritime heritage museum in Mamallapuram is set to become a reality with the arrival of decommissioned submarine INS Vagli in Chennai yesterday. Said to be the first of its kind in the country, the submarine museum is being set up with twin purpose – to attract tourists and make youth to take a career in maritime. The State government has sanctioned Rs.10 crore for transporting the submarine from Visakhapatnam to Mamallapuram.

INS Vagli was towed from Visakhapatnam Naval base on March 22 with the intention of beaching it at Mamallapuram on a specially erected platform, where it will remain as a centrepiece of maritime heritage museum. Earlier, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) officials were interested to set up the project on the Marina Beach, but it was given up as they found it difficult to obtain Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance. Now it has been decided to house it on 30 acres of land abutting the beach near the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram. Reports state that the submarine reached Chennai Port on Monday at 9 a.m. and  will remain there till it gets CRZ clearance. It will be handed over to the State government during April second week. It was commissioned on August 10, 1974 at Riga and has since operated extensively on both coasts.  INS Vagli was decommissioned in Dec 2010. 

As per the proposal TTDC is to set up a  maritime heritage museum with facilities such as maritime heritage, marine technology, food courts, audio-visual studio, souvenir shops and aquarium on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer model. So after 36 glorious years of service INS Vagli, the oldest operational submarine of the Indian Navy, decommissioned at Visakhapatnam in December 2010, is set to become an added tourist attraction in Mamallapuram. IENS reports that the submarine is likely to be stationed in the harbour for the next six months before being transferred to the land abutting the beach near the Shore Temple.

The Government Order mentioned in the first para of this post is that of Govt of TN conveying willingness to accept the Indian Navy’s offer to transfer decommissioned Submarine INS-Vela to the Government of Tamil Nadu for the establishment of a Maritime Heritage Museum  and the proposal of TTDC’s 30 acres land abutting the beach near the UNESCO declared World Heritage site, “Shore Temple” at Mamallapuram as the site for the Maritime Heritage Museum with the decommissioned Submarine INS Vagli as the centre piece at the site.   

So soon, people will be flocking to Mahabalipuram - have darshan of Sthalasayana Perumal; see with awe the shore temples and other rock architecture of Pallavas – also visit the Maritime museum, boasting of their visit and being on board  INS Vagli.  Ships are extremely attractive and it would be wonderful, to have a submarine resting on the shores of Bay of Bengal

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.
9th April 2013.

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