Bhubaneswar: Just 38 editions old, but Ekamra Walks, the only guided heritage tour of the city has crossed a major milestone today with having 2,008 visitors. With two visitors from England and Romania the city heritage walk also registered presence of walkers from 23 different countries from different corners of the world.
Recently students from several universities of US as interns at city based universities like KISS, KIIT and CUTM, IIT and other Indian universities like Benaresh Hindu University have visited the Ekamra Walks and made it a sought after destination for the people visiting the Temple City.
Making it inclusive students from city slums and also from orphanage and special children from different age groups also frequented the walk and enriching its guests’ list besides celebrated authors, artists, journalists, food writers, historians and conservationists.
Today’s 110 walks included 75 students from IIT Bhubaneswar alone, of which Sarthak Patnaik, a first year B. Tech student needs a special mention here as despite being physically challenged, he completed his day’s heritage learning with other students and learnt many things on the unique Kalingan architecture of temple building.
Lucy Farquhar from England and Ancuta Elena from Romania, both interns at the city’s based tribal university Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, a unique institute in the whole world with over 27,000 students, came calling and were very happy to discover the temples and their different and peculiar building techniques.
“We are happy that such beautiful monuments are there in the old city, well preserved and intact. It is a nice experience,’’ said Ancuta.
Dr. A.V. Ranganadham, an orthopaedic surgeon from Silk City Berhampur in South Odisha came to Ekamra Walks with his wife A. Vijayalaxmi and daughter A.V. Priyamvada. “We are so enthusiastic about participating in the Ekamra Walks that we started our journey at 3 am early in the morning and reach here at Mukteswar Temple before time,’’ said the surgeon, who was happy to discover so many medicinal plants at Ekamra Van, the heritage medicinal plant garden towards the last leg of the walk.
Citing the plant Cissu Quadrangularis, which is in Odia called “Hada joda’’ (plant which joins the bones) the senior orthopaedic surgeon said “this is a wonder drug, but I had never seen the plant. I am really happy that there are so many medicinal plants here at Ekamra Van.
Dr. Shilpa Bhakare, a doctor from Jamnagar in Gujarat came to Ekamra Walks with her little daughter Sayee. “I have gone to almost all the heritage walks now in place in major cities in India, but I had never experienced such a beautiful heritage walk before,’’ said Dr. Shilpa.
Senior police official Ashim Panda, ACP of Zone I, Bhubaneswar, came with his wife Chhanda Mishra. Panda, who was the IIC of the heritage Lingaraj police station in Old Town area in the past, was happy to know so many stories behind each temple. His wife, a writer and columnist said “we need to have more campaign and promote such a wonderful initiative with people and especially with the tourists coming to various hotels to popularize Ekamra Walks more.’’
Students of IIT Bhubaneswar also found the medicinal plant garden a wonderful place to discover simple plants with great medicinal properties. “The treasure of medicinal plants inside Ekamra Van was perhaps the best experience I had during the entire heritage walk and I liked the other part, i.e. temples as well as the old engineering techniques were so unique,’’ said Nikhilesh Meedapati, first year B. Tech student from IIT BBS, who is from Andhra Pradesh.
Shruti Pattajoshi, also a student of IIT BBS was happy to find so many beautiful temples, the style of Kalingan architecture and the medicinal plant garden as part of the heritage walk.
Pratik Nath, a techie from software major Infosys, who was part of the heritage walk, said “I am originally from Balasore district in Odisha, but never visited the old monuments before, in such an interesting way. It was a different learning process. I would definitely tell my friends to come in large numbers and explore the charm of Ekamra Walks.’’