Nostalgic trip to Appu Ghar on its last day

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New Delhi, Feb 17 (UNI) Nostalgia was the theme on the last day at Appu Ghar as people queued up to enjoy one last ride in the speeding roller coaster, amazing giant wheel, swinging Colombus Ship, Eerie Tunnel and the ghoulish delights on offer at the "Bhoot Bangla".

Inaugurated on November 19, 1984 by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Appu Ghar, named after "Appu", the dancing baby elephant mascot of the 1982 games, was dubbed the first amusement park in the country. At the expiry of its lease, it is now making way for a section 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 extend its metro station at Pragati Maidan as ordered by the apex court.

After Chanakya cinema, Appu Ghar is another landmark in the city closing down to pave way for new infrastructure. Visitors, especially kids and youngsters are heartbroken at the very thought of bidding farewell to their favourite haunt.

''I can't believe they are closing down Appu Ghar. It is really sad because this is my favourite place and I always love to freak out here with my family. Even today, I have come here to celebrate my birthday.'' Puja Gautam, a manager in an export house said.

''First it was the Chanakya cinema and now Appu Ghar. These are the places we associate our childhood with. We have grown up in these places. They are a part of Delhi's charm, its history,'' she added.

Five-year-old Tanvi, who came to the park with her parents was surprised to know that Appu Ghar will be closed forever. ''Why is it closing Papa ? This is such an entertaining place. Ask them not to close it.'' she said innocently holding a pink candyfloss stick in her hand.

Dhruv, a student of Holy Heart School at Vijay Nagar said, ''though I am coming here for the first time I really like the place. It should not be closed. I am enjoying all the rides here especially the Bhoot Bangla and if today is the last day I want to spend whole day here.'' The closure of the park was long in coming, ever since the lease of International Amusement Limited (IAL), under whose aegis Appu Ghar is running, expired in 1999. The company had got 14.74-acre land from India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) way back in 1984 to run the park.

The park, which started with few rides such as "Bhoot Bangla" and bumping cars, gradually gained popularity across the country that it became imperative to have something similar in other cities.

Apart from the 250-odd-employees who will be losing their livelihood with the parks closure there are professionals from outside who will be seriously affected.

Sahil Bhatt of Patel Nagar is not an employee of Appu Ghar but he has been entertaining the crowd here from past one and a half year with his puppet show. '' I earn 1,000 to 1500 Rs daily by my puppet show. Now as the park is closing it will be a loss for me,'' he said ruefully.

K Raj, a magician said,'' I get Rs 400 per day for my magic show but from tomorrow I have to look for some other place.'' ''There are about 300 employees in Appu Ghar - the people at the ticket counter, guards, those manning the rides. But nearly 1,000 people will be affected because the vendors here are dependent on Appu Ghar for their livelihood. What will we all do?'' Ram Kumar, one of the guards at the entrance gate, said.

Nishant Misri, Assistant Manager at the Reebok outlet inside Appu Ghar said closure of this park will be a huge loss for them. ''With this outlet our income on week days is between 30 and 40 thousand and on weekends it is more than one lakh. Now, as we have to close this outlet we are offering a flat 50 per cent sale for clearing our stock.'' From the candyfloss being sold outside to the fearsome dragon rollercoaster to the swings of 'My Fair Lady', Appu Ghar forms part of fond memories for many a child and parent. Farewell, Appu Ghar.

UNI DS NK YA BD1227

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