Bhubaneswar: The crystal clear morning sun kissed the lawn of Mukteswar-Siddheswar Temple Complex with a mood of celebration welcoming 80 odd guests of the 100th Edition of Ekamra Walks as all arrived with greeting smiles on their faces and old and new walkers began the memorable centennial journey.
Years have passed and there are several changes to the Capital city and especially in the Old Town area, but the visitors of the heritage walk, who are arriving from various parts of the world have always put their preferences first, i.e. rediscovering the tales behind the beautiful monuments, the traditional narrow lanes, in the crafts of the local craftsmen and last but not the least, just being inside the Old City and assimilating its olden charm.
Meanwhile, the Ekamra Walks have unfolded into different territories i.e. Jain Trail in Khandagiri and Udayagiri and Museum Walk in Kala Bhoomi and is readying with another one with the Streets of Ekamra unveiling the aroma and food specialties of the Ekamra Kshetra and its other living traditions, but with a strong footfall of more than 5,000 visitors from 33 nations including India, the experience have gathered enough stories of itself in this short time.
From Gyanpitha award winning author to the Mayor of Cupertino city or the topnotch Editor of a National Hindi Television channel, Journalists from International media houses, Dutch Royals and celebrated artists and dancers from across the globe and noted travel writer from Europe, the heritage platform has attracted all and also received reviews to be proud of and carry on for the future days.
Today’s experience, however, was overwhelming as the visitors got to know the traditional food cooked in Ananta Vasudev Temple, the old women observing “Ananta Vrat” for the month of Kartik and one worshipper explaining the greater philosophy and how and why the things are celebrated.
“We never have this observation only for the well-being of our families or kin, but the traditional observations during the month of Kartik was to pray for the well-being of our entire society and the entire world. We believe in the great philosophy of Hinduism i.e. “Vasudheiba Kutumbakam” or the world is one family,” explained an old lady to the visiting tourists inside the 12th Century Ananta Vasudeva Temple on the Eastern banks of holy Bindusagar lake.
The visitors also got a nice experience of Odissi recital by the disciples of noted Guru Ileana Citaristi at her dance institute Art Vision on the Western bank of Bindusagar near the medicinal plant garden Ekamra Van.
The students of Art Vision performed “Srita Kamala Kucha Mandala” from the famous Sanskrit work Gitagovinda by poet Jayadev and an Odia poem “Sajani budigali mu lajare”, both displaying the various “leelas” of Lord Krishna. The second one depicted beautifully how the protagonist (Radha) blushes and tells her friend regarding the “Leela”of Lord Krishna.
Amy, an audiologist from Britain, who is currently working as a guest faculty at city-based Institute of Health Sciences, said “the experience was great and especially the 100th Edition of Ekamra Walks was fabulous.’’
Roshni Khurana, a law student from Mumbai based SNDT University, who came here for the first time along with her parents said “I liked the Ekamra Walks as the tales I heard were out of the usual textbook. The unusual things attract the visitors and in Ekamra Walks you have them in plenty.”
Manisha Manaswini, a trained Odissi dancer and also an Assistant Professor with KIIT Law School under KIIT University, said “I had come once to the Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves, but today’s experience was unique and memorable. Though I belong to the city and have visited the Old Town temples earlier, the crocodile monkey story on the walls of Mukteswar or the Sahasra Lingam in Parasurameswar was never known to me.”
Chung-min-Shu, originally from South Korea but a German national married to Odia Priscilla said, “the entire culture of the city especially Old Town is unique and I love it.”