Odissi dancers, visitors from Mumbai joined heritage walk in Twin Hills

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Bhubaneswar: More than 40 walkers including Odissi dancers from across the globe, tourists from Maharashtra, researcher, banker, ex-Army man  and cave explorer and city dwellers joined the 16th Monks, Caves and Kings at Udayagiri and Khandagiri today.

From the three Odissi dancers while one Dallas Eresman was from Vancouver in Canada, Elena Catalano was from Italy and Yamini Makeshwar was from Mumbai. Four tourists from Maharashtra (Mumbai) came of whom two Jayant Shah and Jashu Shah, husband and wife are practicing Jains, who were delighted to rediscover the stories behind the Jain monks, pre-historic caves and rulers of ancient Kalinga.

Describing the Ganesh Gumpha Jayant explained that the explanation given by the guide of Ganesh being inside is different as per Jainism. In fact, the Ganesh like image is of Lord Parshva Yaksha . He is the divine guardian associated with the 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanath as there are 24 Tirthankaras in Jainism. Parshva Yaksha’s complexion is dark and he has an elephant-like face, and his head is sheltered by the hood of a cobra. He has four arms and his carrier is a tortoise.

Odissi dancer Dallas, while telling about her experience in the city as she has come here for first time, said “with my experience in the city from February 21 I have found Bhubaneswar as perhaps the best city in the country with its cultural and monumental welth.’’

As Dallas herself is a designer and loves the Ikkat saree of Odisha for their unique pattern and weaving style, said that she plans to shop and take a huge collection of Ikkat sarees to her hometown when she plans to go back on April 5. She first came to Rishikesh in 2012 but met Guru Padmacharan Dehury at Puskar and since 2014 is learning the steps and style of the beautiful dance form. Currently Guru Sujata Mohapatra, daughter-in-law of the doyen of Odissi, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra is her guide in Odissi.

Tourist from Mumbai, who came with the Shahs, Mahesh Ved and Varsha Ved, however, were bery disappointed as their yesterday’s trip to Chilika could not materialize as the tourism activities inside the lagoon is stopped temporarily for a group clash. “We wasted a day and were very upset learning that our plan was not possible as we have designed when we started from home in Mumbai,’’ said Mahesh.

Namrata Raul, a banker with Canara Bank came from Cuttack for the heritage walk. “I had been to the city on several occasions and visited many sites, but today’s experience at Monks, Caves and Kings was a different one and would be in my memory forever,’’ she added.

Hemanta Kumar Parida an ex-Army man from Athgarh, who loves to explore caves and currently on a mission to visit all the caves inside Odisha, was delighted to know the stories and mythology regarding Udayagiri and Khandagiri. “The way our caves were built with water conservation techniques, drainage and ventilation point of view, they tell the maturity of the people of that era as they were just fantastic in the scientific way they dealt with every aspect of the cave,’’ he said. Parida had explored five caves of the state and recently stumbled upon a new cave near his hometown Athgarh.

Satyajit Baran Dey, executive engineer with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Bhubaneswar, a regular visitor to Monks Caves and Kings, came today with his wife Nabanita Dey. “We are delighted to be part of the group today,’’ they said in their reaction.

Debashish Sarangi, a researcher, who was part of the group enlightened the participants with many of his analysis and citations of the facts on history, archaeology and mythology relating to the Twin Hills, Ekamra Kshetra and Odisha and especially the old Kalingan empire, which, was perhaps had its capital near Sisupalgarh, on the other end of the city opposite Udayagiri and Khandagiri.

The visitors also visited Khandagiri and saw the relief images of Jain Tirthankars cut from the hill rocks above 30 feet or more with a beautiful view.

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