Students from Australia, writer from Scotland among others at Old Town Ekamra Walks

Bhubaneswar: While the 5th International Biennial Conference on Heritage and Culture deliberated on sustaining traditional communities and livelihood and preserving intangible heritage through community participation on its concluding third day today, 52 people from different corners of the world and across India participated and were once again amazed by the temple architecture and style of the Old City area, once known as Ekamra Kshetra.
While well-known Scottish author and travel editor Aline Dobbie participated in the heritage tour along with her veterinary surgeon hubby Graham Dobbie and remembered her childhood days of 1962, when she visited Sun Temple Konark on a Jeep with her father, six students from Deakin University and University of Melbourne joined the walk at Mukteswar Temple, where the unique temple arch stands as the testimony to the intricate carvings and unique style of the Kalingan temple building tradition, which, as per historians is also seen in far off lands in South East Asian countries due to a rich maritime link of the traders of Kalinga.
Aline, who is a sought-after travel and tourism writer and author and chairs her presence in many noted heritage conservation bodies in India, said how she still remembers with fondness her association with this land as she was born in Bareilly, a city in Uttar Pradesh as her father served as Colonel in the Jat Regiment of Indian Army.
“I had many visits to Odisha and especially I have a lovely association with Puri as we were often visiting the sea-side religious place and the beach was so beautiful,’’ she said.
The students from Deakin University and University of Melbourne will do an internship at city-based Centurion University of Technology and Management. “We are having students from Bio-science and Physics and a professor is also accompanying the students, who are on a three-week programme of internship at Centurion University,’’ said Dr. Ron Harper, Managing Director, Centurion Globe.
Ben Harper, part of the team from Australia, who is doing his undergraduate degree in Physics and Mathematics from University of Melbourne, said “the walk is so unique and we knew so many things about the beautiful temple building style and traditions in this city, which is also known as the Temple City of India.’’
Claire, another student while visiting the Ekamra Van, the medicinal plant garden said “the unique concept of having beneficial plans for men, women and children with a heritage backdrop is in fact, a nice idea and I hope more and more people visit it.’’
Interestingly, while university students from foreign soil are visiting Ekamra Walks Old Town Circuit, many students also joined the walk today morning from leading city-based professional education institutes.
Five students from Institute of Mathematics and Applications (IMA), seven students from Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), Bhubaneswar and two MBA students from leading management institute Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB) participated. Many are regular at the Old Town Heritage Circuit and also regularly joining the other walk in Udayagiri-Khandagiri Hills, called Monks, Caves and Kings. A fourth year student of engineering from IGIT Sarang also joined the walk.
Riddhiman Dutta from IMA said “we had participated in the Khandagiri-Udayagiri walk, but this being a temple hopping exercise and mixed with other monuments and especially Odissi dance, we loved it very much. We appreciated how the famous Odissi dancer Ileana Citaristi explained the dance and the genesis of different “mudras’’ or postures from temple images to the dance floor.
Pratyusha Biswas from IITTM also loved the Odissi recital by the young beautiful disciples of Ileana Citaristi at Art Vision, the dance school on Odissi initiated by the Italy-born danseuse some 30-35 years ago.
Two friends and retired government employees from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala joined the Ekamra Walks Old Town circuit after coming from Visakhapatnam on their car from Kerala to Rishikesh. G Rajagopal and Gopinathan H are on a mission to cover the entire distance from Thiruvananthapuram by within 22 days time.
“We started from our city Thiruvananthapuram on January 25 and so far covered Tirupati, Vijianagaram, Visakhapatnam and arrived in Odisha. We want to cover Puri, Konark, Hirakud, Bodh Gaya, Varanasi, Allahabad, Ayodhya, Lucknow, Agra, Delhi and finally Rishikesh,’’ said Rajagopal.
The two friends are on a 1250 CC Maruti Swift and are very much hopeful to complete the long journey in time and also visit all the important places on the way. They are on a journey finally to meet Gopinathan’s son, who works in Rishikesh.

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