Bhubaneswar: The 34th Ekamra Walks brought the energy and enthusiasm level to a new high today for heritage lovers in the Old Town area of Bhubaneswar, with participation of a record number of 160 guests, so far, to explore the monument and age-old traditions in the Ekamra Kashetra, as Bhubaneswar was known, in the ancient literature.
While a 15-member team arrived from University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), US, including their faculty and staff, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bhubaneswar students made the heritage walk another milestone by joining in large numbers. There were 90 people in the IIT-Bhubaneswar contingent. Accordingly, three large groups were formed today with three expert guides to make the walk more participatory and exclusive.
Annapurna Pandey, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at UCSC, who was the team leader of the team, currently on a visit to city-based Centurion University of Technology and Management, said “I belong to Cuttack and living in the US since last three decades, but today’s experience of heritage with my students was excellent and we enjoyed it.’’
The students of UCSC will be staying here till September and will work on a project titled “Globalisation, technology and development.’’ They are from social science and natural science background at UCSC.
Jonika, a student said “she is so happy that she has no words to describe as the heritage tour brings a totally different experience, which would be engraved forever in the hearts of all participants from UCSC.’’
Cloe, who is originally from China and studies at UCSC said “the way the ancient traditions are preserved in the Old City of Bhubaneswar is marvelous and it also reminds me my country where the ancient traditions are well conserved even though technology is changing so fast.’’
Ray, another student from UCSC said “the settlements around the ancient monuments and their social interactions and especially the tendency of the local visitors to help the people coming from outside is a good example of the greatness of the locals and it would definitely help tourism and promotion of culture.’’
Mayank Choudhury, a first year B.Tech student from IIT Bhubaneswar termed his experience at Ekamra Walks as a “great feeling to know our heritage.’’
Amit Kumar, also a first year B. Tech student said “I am happy that in Bhubaneswar we are surrounded by so many monuments and we should preserve them well to enchash on their tourism potential.’’
R. Pratyusha, a student from first year B. Tech class said “we have enjoyed a lot during the Ekamra Walks and would like to come more to explore the heritage sites.’’
S. Chaturya, another student of the first year at IIT Bhubaneswar said “today’s heritage walk for the students of the premier institute has brought a sense of pride as the city has all elements to have a major tourism destination.’’
Interestingly, Arpita Patnaik (18), a special child with cerebral palsy came to the Ekamra Walks with her family, but with sheer determination and love for the monuments, could complete the walk by walking on her own. Her mother Charatjit Patnaik said “my daughter has done something extraordinary today and there should be special heritage walks to include more special kids in future. Even I would request the organizers to organize one special walk on a special day for these kids.’’
Apart from UCSC, California and IIT Bhubaneswar, 10 students from ICICI Academy for Skills, Bhubaneswar also participated in the 34th Ekamra Walks and made it more memorable. In fact, the institute’s students are continuously participating in the heritage walk and this was their fourth participation.
Pritimayee Singh and Pushpanjali Nayak of from ICICI Academy for Skills said “in future Sundays more and more students will definitely participate in Ekamra Walks to make it a happening event.’’
Well-known heritage conservationist from Ahmedabad and co-founder of Virasat-E-Hind Foundation, Jitu Mishra was a guest at the walk today. Terming it as one of the best heritage walk in the country, he said “we all should work towards attaining a World Heritage Site status for Bhubaneswar.’’
The participants visited Mukteswar temple, Parsurameswar temple, Sampurna Jaleswar temple, Kptitirtheswar temple, Bindusagar, Ananta Vasudev temple, Old Dharmasala, Lingaraj temple, Chitrakarini temple, Sari Deula, Mohini temple, Parikrama of Bindusagar, Vaitaal temple and Ekamra Van.
It can be mentioned here that Ekamra Walks is a joint venture of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and Odisha Tourism. De Tour is the tour manager for the event. The heritage tour has a tremendous fan following in the social and on-line media, as well.