Makeover for obscure shrines - Rs 5 lakh central grant for monuments

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By BIBHUTI BARIK
  • Published 29.05.13
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Bhubaneswar, May 28: In a bid to make Old Town in the city more attractive to tourists, the Odisha tourism department has decided to turn its focus on lesser-known temples and monuments dotting the area.

They will be beautified and developed with a central assistance of Rs 5 lakh under the “destination development” programme. Official sources said that the Union tourism ministry had put the state government’s proposal in this regard on the priority list and funds would be released soon.

The peripheral development of at least 10 temples, four monasteries and two tanks would be undertaken with central money. Temples such as Aisaneswar, Paramaguru Siva temple, Markandeswar, Gandhi Garabadu Vishnu, Amuha, Arjuneswar and Beleswara will get a facelift.

Major temples and ancient monuments in the area, historically referred to as the Ekamra Khetra, are already getting a makeover with central assistance and funds available with the government of Odisha. This time, however, lesser-known monuments are in focus with a proposal to spruce up their surroundings, including approach roads.

Senior project engineer of the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) J.K. Das said: “Temples like Lingaraj, Mukteswar, Rajarani, Parsurameswar, Rameswar and Laxmaneswar are undergoing a major makeover with quality illumination work. A periphery development programme around the Lingaraj temple has already been undertaken with a heritage ‘haat’ and road network. But now we will take up the lesser-known monuments.’’

Historians say that Ekamra Kshetra once had more than a 1,000 temples, but when the new capital was established post Independence, only around 300 temples were left in Bhubaneswar.

Many of these were damaged or encroached upon, as a result of urbanisation while some disappeared completely.

A study by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) has found that apart from the 22 monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and 15 by the state archaeology department, 199 lesser-known monuments are still there to be protected in the Ekamra Kshetra.