Giving a visual shape to written history of Godavari delta

Two brothers contributed a bunch of 22 oil paintings based on a written history as narrated by the Irrigation officials, to Sir Arthur Cotton Museum on Godavari delta system

Displaying an exemplary skill of imagination, two brothers of Dowleswaram village – Ganta Rama Rao and Ganta Raja Gopal- have been credited to give a visual shape to the history of Godavari famine in early 1830s and a complete tale of Dowleswaram Anicut by creating a gallery of 22 oil paintings.

The paintings are now in display at Sir Arthur Cotton Museum on Godavari Delta here in East Godavari district.

In early this year, 62-year-old Mr. Raja Gopal was busy in recreating three oil paintings; The depiction of workers on the barrage work site carrying material on machinery, digging up of wells for water for the barrage works and Lady Cotton teaching children of the workers on the site.

These three works, created by his brother late Mr. Rama Rao in 1980s, were damaged and he was assigned by the Irrigation department to come out with the fresh works.

Serving as Painters of the Irrigation Department, the duo had the opportunity of giving a visual shape to the written history on cyclone (1832), famine (1833), and the journey and construction of Dowleswaram Anicut on river Godavari under the aegis of Sir Arthur Cotton.

In 1987, the Irrigation Department planned to set up a photo gallery on the history of the Dowleswaram Anicut, works and role of Sir Arthur Cotton to be displayed at Sir Arthur Cotton Museum. In May 1987, the Museum was inaugurated at Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage campus here in East Godavari district.

“Beginning in late 1980s, we have created 22 oil paintings based on the written history as narrated to us by the officers. I have assisted my brother in the entire project. Having acquaintance with the project, the officials have recently asked me to come out with three paintings which were damaged . I have completed the three paints that are now in display at the museum”, Mr. Raja Gopal told The Hindu. Pagadala Madana Gopal, a senior official of the Irrigation Department, is the leading officer who initiated the project.

Visual history: The painting gallery with 22 works showcases how the tales of famine, migration of locals, selling babies in the streets, Sir Arthur Cotton’s survey of river Godavari, workers carrying material and machinery and many more works associated with construction of Dowleswaram Anicut.

The construction work of the Dowleswaram Anicut was commenced in April 1847 and completed in and March 1852, according to ‘Delta Silpi- Arthur Cotton’ written by Gummaluru Satyanarayana. Mr. Gopal, studied class X, is now serving as Painter in the Irrigation Department here on a two-year service extension period. His brother, Mr. Rama Rao, studied class VIII, has retired as the Painter and died a few years ago.

“The contribution to create a visual gallery on the written history is memorable for our family as our works are displayed in the museum. I am excited to be asked to create more work on the remaining history of Godavari irrigation system and Sir Arthur Cotton”, said Mr. Raja Gopal, claiming that he was able to explain every bit of history mentioned in the paintings.

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