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Permanent gate for Bali Jatra
(From top) The temporary welcome gate that is constructed every year and the sketch of the permanent gate being constructed in Cuttack.
Pictures by Badrika Nath Das

Cuttack, July 26: Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) has decided to set up a permanent welcome arch at the Bali Jatra maidan. Earlier, temporary archways used to be installed at the entrance to the ground.

“Work for the construction of a permanent concrete archway has already begun and we hope the project would be completed by November,” said CMC executive engineer Ashok Kumar Parida, adding that the CMC spent nearly Rs 2.5 lakh every year to set up a temporary archway for Bali Jatra.

Though there was a proposal to construct a permanent gateway, there was delay in executing the project. However, work for the construction of a permanent structure has already begun.

According to CMC officials, the welcome arch would be a “heritage gate” symbolising the rich maritime past of the state. The cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 50 lakh. The welcome gate would display the glorious maritime history that would be a visual treat for the visitors to the Bali Jatra. This would be the second archway touted as the emblem for the Millennium City. A similar gateway has already been built for the Netaji Museum at Dargha bazaar.

The welcome arch at the Bali Jatra maidan would be 40 feet high and a colossal concrete boat with seven sadhabas (replicas of mariners) would be installed on it.

Besides this, concrete and fibre idols reflecting Oriya architecture etched on the pillars would further add up to the beauty of the gateway. Renowned artisan Laxmidhar Rana has already started building the sadhabas that would be installed on the boat to be placed on the top of the pillars.

“Following approved designs, we have started creating moulds for the idols and sadhabas that would be installed on the boat on top and other concrete statues for the pillars,” said Rana.

The district administration is also contemplating to host the historic Bali Jatra at the Mahanadi embankment side instead at Kila Maidan infront of the majestic fort.

Bali Jatra, one of the biggest fairs in the state, draws a crowd between five and six lakh people during the seven-day festival. Bali Jatra is jointly organised by the district administration, the council of culture, CMC and Orissa Rural Development and Marketing Society.

Around 1,200 kiosks selling food, handicrafts and other products including a special silver filigree pavilion are set up during the festival.

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