Crowds throng Appu Ghar - one last time

February 17th, 2008 - 8:18 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Thousands thronged the popular rides at Appu Ghar Sunday for one last memorable visit as the curtains came down on India’s first amusement park that has entertained children and adults alike for over two decades. “Ever since I heard that Appu Ghar was closing down, I wanted to come here for a last ride at the roller-coaster and the thrilling tunnel ride through the ‘Bhoot Bangla’,” said eight-year-old Aman Sharma, who came with his family.

Appu Ghar, the first amusement park in India, was for long considered a “happening” place for kids, teenagers and adults.

Many Delhiites have grown up with a visit to the fantasy-land and have later come back with their children for the rides at the park. And some who took their children years ago came to visit the park one last time Sunday - for old times’sake.

“I had first come to the amusement park in 1990 with my friends and my second visit was with my children in 1997. I have very fond memories of the time spent there. With my children settled abroad, I have come to visit the park with my wife,” said septuagenarian Ramesh Khanna, who came to bid farewell to the park he’s visited time and again over the years.

Appu Ghar was inaugurated Nov 19, 1984 by late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, under the aegis of International Amusement Ltd. It was named after ‘Appu’ the mascot of 1982 Asian Games. Beginning with 10 rides, it graduated to 24, the popular ones being ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Striking Cars’ and ‘Columbus’.

It is now making way for a wing of the Supreme Court that will house a library, lawyers’ chambers and offices. A part of it will be used by the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) to build a metro station.

During peak summer season, Appu Ghar usually drew around 8,000 to 10,000 visitors on weekends. And on weekdays the number hovered around 4,000.

The amusement park gained popularity among teenagers and college students when Oysters, the water park, was introduced in 1999.

“Appu Ghar was our favourite hangout during college days to either celebrate a friend’s birthday or New Year. I could not stop myself from visiting this place for a last time,” said 27-year-old Ritika Gupta, a business consultant.

Officials at the park are now hoping that they are provided with alternative land elsewhere in the city. The matter will also come up for final hearing in the Supreme Court Feb 19.

“We are hopeful of some relief from the Supreme Court. We also hope that alternative land is provided to us in and around Delhi. But so far, there are no plans to shift the amusement park to any other part of Delhi,” Prem Vijeshwar, Director of International Amusement Ltd, told IANS.

However, if no land is provided to them the company is mulling a similar entertainment zone in Jaipur, he said.

With Appu Ghar closing down, the fate of its 250 employees also hangs in balance. Vendors who sell cotton candy, films, toys and key chains will also be affected by the park shutting down.

“Not only the employees but their families and vendors outside the park will be adversely affected by the closure. In case nothing happens, the company has given them the option to come to Jaipur when the new park begins,” Vijeshwar said.

Often termed India’s Disney Land, Appu Ghar has also been a landmark on Delhi’s tourist map, with many families making it a point to try one of the rides when they come to the capital.

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