Bhubaneswar: The 102nd Monks, Caves and Kings, heritage trails at the Twin Hills of Khandagiri and Udayagiri saw a unique initiative in which peer leaders, volunteers and boys, and girls coming under the Socially Smart Bhubaneswar project of Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) joined the walk and also carried out “plogging” activities wearing protective gears while learning the stories behind the caves and Emperor Kharavela.
Plogging is an activity that is a combination of walking or jogging and picking up litter. The youths collected the trash throughout the cave trail. Sixty boys and girls from the Socially Smart Project were also joined by 25 students of the School of Architecture of KIIT University, a visitor from Iran, three from Bengaluru and three employees of TCS Bhubaneswar and some more local enthusiasts. There were 90 walkers at the famous Jain site today to participate in the heritage walk under the umbrella of Ekamra Walks, the only guided heritage trail of the city.
Jasmin Nissa, the peer leader (Pragati Sathi) from the Socially Smart Project who hails from the Science Park Basti area said “I have visited the Twin Hills before, but today’s experience was unique as we could get to know the detailed history, architecture, sociology and the rulers of the past who had shaped the ancient kingdom of Kalinga. The cleaning activity also gave great satisfaction.”
Subhalaxmi Prusty from Kalpana area, Priyanka Bhanj Deo from Ganganagar, Archana Giri from Tarini Basti Pandav Nagar and Santosh Jena from Jharana Sahi expressed their happiness over the knowledge they gained through today’s heritage trail as the city has a unique characteristic of having ancient monuments of Jain, Buddhist and Hindu religious belief and many monuments are also having influences of all the three religions as well.
The 60 participants from the Socially Smart Project was led by Youth Specialist Sisir Grahacharya and Gender Specialist Sarojini Brahma of BSCL. Rina Behera of Humara Bachpan Trust (HBT) coordinated the event as the peer leaders and the volunteers are from HBT, which is the implementing a partner NGO of the project.
It can be mentioned here that the initiative is a collaborative effort of BSCL, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, and United Nations Population Fund. The Socially Smart Bhubaneswar project was initiated in Jan 2017 in eight slums under Bhubaneswar Town Centre District (Smart District) and currently covers 100 slums of the city. It aims to bring in a qualitative social change among the youth, women and elderly in the slums across the city.
Twenty-five students of the first-year Bachelor in Architecture (B. Arch) came and joined the Monks, Caves, and Kings heritage trail today along with their faculty Apurwa Agarwal. The visit was part of their curriculum and the students have to study Indian temple architecture as part of their first-year course. The Kalingan temple building style and architecture also hold good for the architecture students as it has an important place in Indian temple building style.
Mansi and Priyam both first year students added that the visit to Khandagiri and Udayagiri today would be very useful for their studies and they would love to explore other structures in Old Town area as well to know more about the local temple building style and forms.
VISITOR FROM IRAN
Sara, a professional translator (interpretor) from Persian to English and vice-versa and from the historic city of Shiraz came and joined the walk today. Though this was her first visit to Odisha, she was very happy to discover the history and the tales behind the famous Jain shrine of Khandagiri and Udayagiri.
While four techies from IT major TCS Sai Krishna, Santosh, Pankaj and Tej joined the walk and enjoyed their time learning the history and archaeology of the caves of the Twin Hills, from Bengaluru visitors Arun, Prarthana and Sujit came along with Shreya from Berhampur.
The Ekamra Walks which started in the Old Town area in 2017 is now having three major events under its fold, i.e. On Saturday Udayagiri-Khandagiri, temple circuit in Old Town on Sunday morning and the Kala Bhoomi on Sunday afternoon. An initiative of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, the tours are managed by De Tour Odisha.