Odisha: Foreign guests from France, USA and girl power rock at 46th Ekamra Walks

Bhubaneswar: Ekamra Walks, the only guided heritage walk of the city is continuing its popularity among foreign travelers touching down the city and on its 46th edition today, 10 visitors from France and one from the USA took part in the walk and were part of a strong contingent of 90 heritage lovers on the pursuit to discover old monuments and get the feel of the old traditions, which are seen and practiced in plenty in the Ekamra Kshetra, the ancient name for the Old City.
However, the other highlight of the event today is the Girl Power as evident from the number of participants. Out of the 90 walkers more than 60 were girls and the major chunk was from city-based ICICI Academy of Skills. The students of this institute have majorly contributed to the weekly heritage walks, besides other city-based, national and international institutes.
Sylvie Favarque, part of the French delegation said that she has found the tour extremely educative and the team is happy to note the monumental wealth of the ancient city, which is a major centre of the Shaivaite followers in the Eastern part of India.
Francois Bouqueniaux, also part of the heritage walkers’ team from the European nation, said “we feel very happy to know the ancient temple architecture and also the social and cultural traditions of the Old City of Bhubaneswar.’’
Gloria Sclar, a research scholar from Emory University in the USA, who is working on the sanitation issues in rural Odisha, came to the walk with her friend from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Parimita Routray. Parimita, a native of Bhubaneswar in the past have introduced several of her foreign friends to the Ekamra Walks.
Gloria said “I had been to Odisha in the past four or five times, but never joined the heritage walk. I found Ekamra Walks an extremely engaging platform to let the visitors know and discover about the rich heritage treasure of this State Capital as it is also known as the Temple City of India.’’
Sanjay Rawat, manager (Quality) of the Light Combat Aircraft Division at the Bangalore facility of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited came to the walks with a friend. Originally from Uttarkashi region in Uttarakhand, Sanjay was very happy to be part of the heritage walk. However, he hoped that Odisha Government must do more to popularize the sites as the entire state is dotted with several beautiful sites either in the form of ancient monument, natural site or eco-tourism destinations.
The students of ICICI Academy of Skills, Bhubaneswar came in a large group today and in total the entire girls’ gang was bigger than their boys’ counterpart. In fact while during the 46 heritage walks there have been more than 2,400 walkers so far participating, girls would be more than 50 percent.
It can also be mentioned here that while in tourism safety for women forms a major criteria, the welcoming gesture for the walkers irrespective of their gender by the people of the Old City, has become an USP and more and more girls are joining the weekly heritage celebration, which starts from 10th Century Mukteswar Temple and ends at the medicinal plant garden Ekamra Van.
Last week, while participating in the Ekamra Walks, Mayor of Cupertino City in the USA, Mrs. Savita Vaidhyanathan also appreciated the girls for participating in the heritage walk. While talking to some of the participants, especially from ICICI Academy of Skills, she asked them to be quick learners of soft skills, but to have a dashing personality and abilities to carry oneself well to win over difficulties and challenges in life.

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