VISAKHAPATNAM: Kailasagiri, which is one of the most popular tourist hotspots in AP and not just Visakhapatnam, was once referred to as Thomas’ Folly.
The place derived its name from a Scottish judge of the Vizagapatam district John Reid Thomas who had made Kailasagiri his abode and residence in the 1830s. Thomas was smitten by the landscape and built a bungalow right on top of the hill which is roughly 360 feet above sea level.
Elaborating on the nomenclature, history buff BS Mahesh said, “The hill was referred to as Kailasagiri and Thomas’ Folly in the 1907 Vizagapatam District Gazetteer. This is because many Englishmen considered the magistrate and the collector of the district an eccentric man who chose to live just far away from the native settlement but also from Waltair, the European settlement.”
According to old timer DN Sinha, the judge used to travel on horseback up to the valley of the hill which is now opposite Tenneti Park. From there, he was carried in a palanquin up the hill. “Such a behaviour was considered eccentric even by Europeans. Many people believed that Thomas missed the British coast so much that he decided to make the Kailasagiri hill his abode.”
Edward Paul, another heritage expert and history buff, said, “For a very long time, the name Thomas’ Folly was remembered. The judge who was also the district collector was remembered for his eccentricity of living far away from the settlement in a dream land of his own. However, he was not remembered for his contribution as an administrator.”
After his term in the late 1840s, the settlement was abandoned and the hill came to be called Thomas’ Folly. Today no traces of old Thomas’ bungalow exists and the hill is now popularly referred to Kailasagiri and has a Telugu Museum and many more attractions including a large statue of Shiva and Parvati. Only a few people in Vizag know that Kailasagiri was once referred to as Thomas’ Folly. The much blighted gentleman and his pet obsession for the hill have long been forgotten.