Bhubaneswar, April 29: The state government is considering a plan to promote tourism in rural areas. As a part of it, the tourism department will create a heritage corridor consisting of places of tourism interest between Bhubaneswar and Puri.
The proposed corridor will include nine places linked to Jagannath Dham and the rich tradition of Odia art, craft, architecture and rural lifestyle.
The proposed heritage corridor concept will be discussed with tour operators and travel planners here so that tourists who visit here on a trip to Bhubaneswar-Puri-Konark can be taken through a kaleidoscopic view of rural Odia setting. The heritage corridor will be built in a manner so that a traveller can understand the essence of communal harmony, caste and creed less society, rural lifestyle and practices, making of traditional art forms and traditional dance forms such as Gotipua.
Recently, the Hotel and Restaurant Owners’ Association called for special packages and plans to promote tourism in the state with more emphasis on rural sector.
“We want to touch a part of Odisha’s essence through this heritage corridor. It will start from places in the neighbourhood of the capital, such as Sisupalgarh, Gangotri Nagar, Dhauli, Pipili, Danda Mukundapur, Dasia Bauri Peetha, Sakhigopal, Danda Sahi and Raghurajpur. While the first two places can be tagged together as they are near the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, Danda Mukundapur, Dasia Bauri Peetha, Sakhigopal and Danda Sahi need special emphasis so that the travellers can get to know about them and their historical links,” said a senior official of the state tourism and culture department.
The department’s principal secretary Ashok Tripathy said: “After receiving two distinct awards from Pacific Travel Writers’ Association (Patwa) and International Tourism Conclave and Travel Award (ITCTA), we are going to put an extra emphasis on the rural sector. The heritage corridor will be the first effort towards the initiative. We are going to give the travellers a feel of not only the rural Odisha, but also the essence of our cultural traditions attached to it, in the form of crafts, dance forms, saga of Lord Jagannath and the folklores linked to the holy city and its temples.”
While Sisupalgarh is one of the unique fort settlements in the world and dates back to the Mauryan-era, Gangotri Nagar is fast becoming a small but beautiful settlement of national award winning artists in patta chitra and stone carving.
But after visiting the two places, one can move up to Dhauli where apart from the famous peace pagoda a sculpture garden is already in the pipeline.
While Pipili represents a nice cooperation between Muslims and Hindus with its appliqué work, the state culture and tourism department is also planning a project to attract tourists near the diversion of NH-203 which is under renovation.
The NH-203 will be a new four-lane road by 2015 as the Nabakalebara Utsav will be celebrated in that year when all the deities of Jagannath temple will be made with sacred wood.
Danda Mukundapur is famous for poet Bhakta Salbeg, a Muslim follower in love with Lord Jagannath. There is a place where Bhakta Dasia, a devotee of Lord Jagannath from the weaver community was born and proved that through love and devotion one can conquer the Lord. It is said that the image of the Trinity once appeared in a sacred pond near Dasia’s house when some priests came calling to realise Dasia’s tale. The lush green surroundings, including the paddy fields, coconut and banana plantations recreate another Kerala inside Odisha.
Sakhigopal also has the sacred Sakhigopinath temple which, according to legend, is a shrine describing the Lord’s love for his follower. Sakhigopal is the major work place of the famous five friends or Panchasakha — Gopabandhu, Acharya Harihara, Nilakantha, Krupasindhu and Godabarish.
The last two places — Danda Sahi and Raghurajpur — are famous for patta chitra. However, while the latter became famous with proper patronage and promotion, Danda Sahi is yet to get prominence that it deserves. Raghurajpur has already become a model village with traditional studios of the artists, Gotipua dance recitals, cultural exchanges between the foreign tourists or artists and local talents.
The tourism secretary said his department had taken up many initiatives to promote heritage tourism in the rural areas. “Gradually, we will include many other prominent places along the heritage corridor so that tourists can identify the places easily,” he said.