History meets nature at Khiching

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By BIBHUTI BARIK
  • Published 6.01.14
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Bhubaneswar, Jan. 5: The quaint town of Khiching in Mayurbhanj district is mainly an abode of Maa Kichakeswari devi for tourists. However, many do not know that different religious sects resided in this region centuries ago. The antiquities unearthed from the sites around the Kichakeswari temple and other places adjoining the area show that in the past the local residents might have professed Buddhism, Jainism and Brahmanism.

The small town is situated within 25km from the sub-divisional headquarters town of Karanjia of Panchpir and is well connected through roads. The NH-6 is also within 10km from Khiching.

The Sal forests along the meandering roads and paddy fields full of harvests of December make for a picturesque view in the Mayurbhanj landscape. Like Khiching, the district is dotted with many other beautiful locales.

The Khiching Museum yet another attraction as it is the second oldest museum in the state of Odisha.

As the erstwhile rulers of the districts were fond of archaeology and documenting the rich historical tradition of the region, the Khiching Museum was established under the Mayurbhanj State Archaeology in 1922 after the establishment of the Baripada Museum in 1903.

These two museums, in fact, laid the foundation stone for the archaeological documentation for the first time in Odisha, which was then under the British rule.

While Viraat Garh within 15km of the Kichakeswari temple complex is yet to be excavated properly by the state archaeology, the only one bus service by the state road transport corporation, which was continuing for decades, is not in service. The road to Viraat Garh starts opposite the Kala temple near the entrance to the town.

“There should be a regular bus service so that the travellers wanting to visit the temple and the nearby sites don’t find difficulty in commuting and visiting this place comes easy on their pocket. As the bus service from Balasore to Khiching is no longer there, it has minimised the footfall of the travellers to a great extent,’’ said Sudhanshu Sekhar, a tourist from Balasore.

Khiching is also famous for the stone carving works. “Many travellers even today come here to buy the beautiful local stone products from a village called Keshna. No one knows when the stone workers come here, but many say that they came here during the renovation of the broken Kichakeswari temple in the past during the Garjat rulers,’’ said Hementa Kumar Mohanta, a local resident from Karanjia.

Khiching is also linked to Ramtirtha near Jashipur, famous for the crocodile-rearing project. Jashipur is also a major entry point to the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR), one of the best well-preserved wildlife habitats of Odisha.

A local resident from Baripada Kamal Lochan Jena feels the Jashipur-Khiching circuit can be linked to Similipal from the Jashipur-end gate so that if anybody wishes to visit the wildlife sanctuary after visiting the circuit, can enter the STR later. On the other hand, after visiting STR one can also visit the circuit.

Kichakeswari

Most of the artefacts were collected on the premises of the temple. The museum is also located within the temple compound. A small but beautiful Chandrasekhar temple, the upper portion of a middle-sized temple and many broken parts of historical monuments are seen scattered inside the compound. The museum has some beautiful collections of artefacts and especially Buddha statues collected from the nearby localities.

Buddha images in Bhumisparsa and Yogi mudra are also found in the museum. The lower half of a colossal image of Lokeswar (Bodhisatva Avlokiteswar), which was recovered from a mound near the temple compound way back in 1974, is also found. Jain statues are also found in the museum.

Construction of a Panthanivas by the tourism department, regular service of buses either by the state government or private operators can attract more tourists. Though the local administration has constructed a children’s park near the temple compound and boating facility in a water body near the entry point to the town, the lack of excavation of the Viraat Garh has become a major hurdle in tourism promotion.

“The state archaeology should focus on the Viraat Garh and the tourism department should come up with more publicity package for the Jashipur-Khiching-Similipal circuit or Keonjhar-Khiching circuit to attract more people,’’ said Swapan Sadual, a tourism faculty from a leading institution in Bhubaneswar.