VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when the government is making tall claims of leaving no stone unturned to promote the heritage sites in the State as the tourist getaways, the Thotlakonda Buddhist Complex appears to have a become a boozers’ paradise.The hilltop heritage site abutting the Rushikonda beach, where the Hinayana Buddhism thrived around 2,000 years ago, now has empty liquor bottles, snacks packet wrappers strewn all over. Visit the site early in the morning on any day, you will find rag pickers roaming around with gunny bags to collect the empty booze bottles.
“On a daily basis, I collect more than 50 liquor bottles from Thotlakonda,” a rag picker told this correspondent on Tuesday morning. “Many youngsters organise booze parties here in the night. They light campfires and displaced rocks in the process. They also break the bottles on the rocks after the party. They come in cars and play loud music,” says a worker at the Thotlakonda heritage site on condition of anonymity.
Already, the Tourism Department has set up a park with the landscape, sitting arrangements and viewpoints on one side of the hill for tourists. One can view the beautiful landscapes and the pristine beach from the vantage points. But, the empty booze bottles, snacks wrappers and leftover food packets have become the eyesore for one and all.
“Though the view is spectacular, these liquor bottles are disappointing many. It has become an embarrassment for the people who visit the site with their family members, especially children,” said Shiva Padhi, a tourist from Odisha who visited Thotlakonda along with his family on Tuesday.With the youngsters creating the nuisance, fingers are being pointed to the lack of adequate security arrangements at the heritage site. During the daytime too, there is no security at the Thotlakonda Hill.
Only at the entrance of the hill, security personnel are there to collect the entry fee, but none is seen atop the hill. The heritage site is also yet to have CCTV surveillance to check the activities of the visitors. Many college students even booze during the afternoons and the place has become a rendezvous for other illegal activities, said another worker at Thotlakonda.