Bhubaneswar, Jan. 6: Steely resolves for the New Year could include an unusual holiday spent in the steel township of Rourkela. There’s something for everyone there.
Temples for the religiously inclined, legends for those with a penchant for history, natural beauty for worshippers of greenery and, of course, industrial history for those who like all things mechanical.
People who live in the industrial hub of Rourkela have a story to tell. They say that when the Indo-German collaboration was finalised for setting up the first public sector steel plant in India, the place that was surrounded by rivers and rich mineral deposits was named after the Ruhr valley of Germany.
Geographically, it had many similarities with the coal and steel industries of the German industrial valley. Ruhr was regarded as the third largest urban settlement in history after London and Paris in Europe.
But Rourkela today has more to offer than just its huge steel manufacturing units and allied industries. Tourists will not be disappointed with its blend of religious, historical, and natural hot spots. You don’t even have to step out of the steel city more than once to enjoy all its touristy bounty. Once though, do go beyond the city limits to enjoy the Khandadhar falls, which lies more than 40km away.
Older residents of this city say that the steel township was more or less untouched by modern lifestyle until the establishment of the very first public sector steel plant of the country in 1955.
The present Rourkela was part of two former princely states — Gangpur and Bonai — but it was industrialisation that actually opened the gates to an ultramodern outlook for the people of the tribal heartland of Sundargarh district.
Pratap Behera, a travel operator of Fertiliser Township, says: “You can start early in the morning. After a trip to Khandadhar, set off for sites such as Vedvyas, Hanuman Vatika, Sai Temple, Indira Gandhi Park, Mandira Dam, Pitamahal and Champajharan, Rani Sati temple at Birmitrapur and the Vaishno Devi temple. You can even go to the nearby Banki, where the picturesque view of the river Brahmani can be seen.”
Vedvyas lies at the confluence of two rivers — Sankh and Koel. After they unite, the two form the river Brahmani, which then flows right around the city. According to local belief, this was the place where the sage Vedvyas wrote the Mahabharat from inside a rock-cut cave. Several temples on the small hill and a nice ghat are other attractions. While going to Vedvyas, a huge goshala or cow shelter with its decorated gate welcomes visitors.
After coming from Vedvyas, you can go to Sai Temple and then visit the Hanuman Vatika, which has a 22 metre-high Hanuman. People here say that the statue is one of the highest in the country. The garden has many small and big temples on its premises, representing almost all the Hindu gods and goddesses seen in the nation. The place makes for an interesting trip for the entire family.
The Indira Gandhi Park, popularly known as IG Park in Rourkela, has a nice section with beautiful landscaping, a small zoo, a lake with boat riding facilities, an aquarium, a deer park and an industrial museum. But the most sought-after attraction of the park is the musical fountain, which is one of its kind in the state.
Gourav Das, engineer and resident of the city, says: “The state government should make more efforts to promote the tourist destinations in and around the city as the sites are beautiful and have every element to attract tourists not only from the state, but also neighbouring states.”
The railway station in the city is just a 1-km walk from the main Bisra Road. The city is well connected with Puri, Bhubaneswar, Calcutta, Jamshedpur and Mumbai. Road connectivity is good, as it is 514km from Bhubaneswar and 200km from Sambalpur. The road distance is less via Talcher (350km) and now many buses take this route.
However, with the introduction of many trains, especially an intercity express from Bhubaneswar, journey by train is also a good option.