Odisha: Heritage walkers in Ekamra visit monuments, learn issues of water bodies and rivers

Bhubaneswar: Ekamra Walks is not only monuments hopping in the Old City of Bhubaneswar, it is also discovering the rich traditions of the ancient Temple City and many interesting rituals of Lord Lingaraj, the presiding deity of the Ekamra Kshetra, the age-old name of the Eastern abode of Lord Shiva.
A regular at Ekamra Walks, the only guided heritage tour of the State Capital, Sanjay Mohapatra, who belongs to the servitor’s family with a traditional citation of “Panchuati’’ by the temple administration since generations, today said “we also have a festive occasion just like Nuakhai, which is famous in the Western belt of Odisha. It falls on Kanya Sankranti and it would be celebrated the next Sunday. On this auspicious day new grains would be taken from our house to the Lord’s temple and the preparation of the “Prasad’’ would commence after that.’’
Mohapatra, who comes to Ekamra Walks on every Sunday with son Rudra Prasad, said “on the day the temple sends a team with the traditional procession to invite a member from our family and the person brings the new grains with the procession to the Lingaraj Temple and then begins the cooking for the Lord.’’
Saying that the traditional practices are so created to have a timeless bonding between the deity and the servitors’ families so that the common man’s belief in the temple system would be more stronger and deep, Mohapatra explained that there are several families attached to Lord Lingaraj for different services.
Among the 45 participants of the 39th Ekamra Walks today, was Ravi , a tour professional from Lucknow. He was in the city to take part in the ITOA conference and his company Tornos Destinations India (Pvt) Ltd is a leading tour operator from Uttar Pradesh’s most sought after city with palaces and quality cuisines. Ravi has been associated in promoting various types of heritage tours and packages in the historic Lucknow city.
Ravi was very happy to discover the concentration of so many temples inside Old Bhubaneswar and also termed the Ekamra Walks as one of the finest in the country in reference to heritage tours in terms of management and the way it is being conducted by a young team.
Today, apart from visiting the monuments to know the unique Kalingan temple architecture the walkers also took part in two awareness generation moments to show their solidarity for the betterment, cleanliness and better ecological balance of the Holy Bindusagar lake and also knowing about the rivers under the “Rally for Rivers.’’
Seven Ekamra Walks participants, who are also members of a group Kalam Chintan, working for betterment of Bindusagar spoke about their work and how they are creating awareness on the welfare of the lake, which is also part of the heritage walk as a monument. It can be mentioned here that the laterite-stone made “Parikrama’’ around the holy waterbody with beautiful lighting arrangement is also attracting visitors in the evening to spend a quality time on the banks of the water body.
Similarly, while visiting the Ekamra Van, the medicinal plant garden on the western coast of Bindusagar, assistant conservator of forests (ACF) Ashok Mishra made the walkers aware on the state of the Indian rivers as more than 40 percent are not meeting the sea during four sunny months in a year. Speaking about the Isha Foundation-launched pan-Indian programme called “Rally for Rivers’’, he requested the walkers to be part of plantation drives so that with more tree covers we can revive our dying rivers.
The walkers today visited Mukteswar, Parsurameswar, Swarnajaleswar, Kotitirtheswar, Bindusagar, old Dharmashala, Lingaraj, Chitrakarini, Sari Deula, Mohini and Vaitaal Temple.

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