Sundays in Bhubaneswar are now more than just the fun and excitement of Patha Utsav. Ekamra Walks takes visitors through the centuries old enchanting history of the Temple City tucked in the pockets of the Old Town area.“Our capital city of Bhubaneswar is beautiful, possesses an incredible history, and has always been on the tourists’ list of must-visit places whenever they come down to Odisha. But the experience has been haphazard and has failed to be fulfilling without knowing the history and legacy of these rich heritages of our culture and the settlements around it. So, we have planned to build a fascinating bond between the visitors and the city’s glorious past,” says Suparna Surabhita Das, Assistant Town Planner, Bhubaneswar Development Authority.
In an initiative to reinvent the way the locals and tourists reconnect with the Temple City and its timeless charm, history and tradition, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation in association with the Department of Tourism and Bhubaneswar Development Authority has outlined a heritage trail of nearly two kilometres of guided walks through the bylanes of the Old Town area, earlier referred to as Ekamra Kshetra. The guided walks are conducted by Detour Odisha, a city based tour start-up that curates experiential tours.
The heritage walks, known as Ekamra Walks, that began in December last year, are meant for connoisseurs of culture, art and heritage and niche tourists to walk along one of the largest clusters of magnificent old temples of Kalinga architecture and the various rituals, festivals and other centuries old observances associated with the temple culture in Bhubaneswar.
The heritage walk is held every Sunday at 6 am from the Mukteswar Temple in the Old Town area. The walk culminates at the Mukteswar Temple again after covering the 2 kilometre trail via Pabaneswar, Parsurameswar, Taleswar, Bindusagar, the kitchen complex of Ananta Basudev and nearby shrines, old Dharmashala, Lingaraj Temple precinct, Chitrakarini, Papanasini, Bharati Math and Baital temple, Ratha Road and its sahis or lanes, medicinal plant garden at Ekamra Van and Uttareswar Temple premises along with a visit to renowned Odissi exponent Ileana Citaristi’s residence where she illustrates different dance postures and their inception and relation to the sculptures on the temple walls.
With as many as 70 visitors in a group assisted by a trained guide, participants enjoy the walk learning about the history of the ancient monuments and the rituals associated with them. “The response has been overwhelming for the Ekamra Walks where tourists know specifically the story of the structure in front of them. Moreover, not just the tourists, we also want the students to be a part of the tours where they learn about their historical roots outside their boring textbooks. So we are promoting the campaign in schools encouraging the schools to take their students out in groups for the tours.”
“Besides heritage walks, we are planning to add cycling tours to the list of activities and extend the trail so that the visitors can cover more monuments like that of Dhauli or Rajarani temple along with including many old food joints in the area with a taste of the local cuisine and delicacies. Puri is also on the charts as the response grows adding more meaning to the historical landmarks. The tours are organised free of cost, at least, for the initial period. Our intention has been to take the tourism in Odisha to another level where visiting the ancient monuments are like curating an experience,” explains Das.