Bhubaneswar: 81 members including internationally known Odissi Guru Ramli Ibrahim, three senior officials from International Hockey Federation (FIH) and a traveller from Italy on Sunday joined the 51st Ekamra Walk starting from Mancheswar temple despite a chilly early December winter.
Pam Stuper from the US, Maureen Craig from Trinidad and Tobago and Hazel Kennedy from Zambia are the Executive Board Members of FIH and they are part of the delegation in the city for the ongoing Odisha Men’s Hockey World League at the hockey facility at the Kalinga Stadium Complex.
All three FIH officials were all praise for the city’s beautiful monuments, but above all, they mentioned the people, hospitality and the helping nature of the locals.
Pam, who is originally from Pennsylvania, but currently stays in Connecticut, a city near New York, said, “Though this is my first visit to Odisha, I really overwhelmed with its hospitality and the heritage tour is also very educative as we came to know about the ancient heritage and the unique temple building style of Odisha.’’
Maureen and Hazel also came to Odisha for the first time and both also enjoyed the heritage walk and listened to the tour guide patiently.
Prof Mazlan Othman, who teaches Astrophysics at the National University of Malaysia, said, “The old heritage of the city is so beautiful and it reminds me the Indonesian heritage in which there is an impression of ancient Kalingan craftsmanship. As there was an ancient trade link between these two regions in the past, we need to explore more and more facts about that ancient link.’’
Art and cultural expert Kiran Vyas said, “The modern monuments of the US and Europe are a couple of hundred years old, but we have such old structures in Bhubaneswar. We should preserve it well so that more and more visitors come here to explore them and make them popular across the globe.’’
The cultural team from Malaysia, besides dancers, comprises people from various fields to make them understand and experience Indian culture. Nineteen people from the team today visited the 51st Ekamra Walks.
They will see Konark Festival and International Sand Art Festival, apart from other popular tourist destinations during their stay in the city. John Cheah, also a member of the Malaysian group, who came to Odisha for the first time, was delighted experiencing the ancient temples and the stone carvings on their walls.
Stefania Campogianni, who is stationed at Brussels, but originally from Italy, said, “I have visited India on several occasions before, but never been to Odisha. On my first experience, I liked the heritage tour very much. I had travelled to Rajasthan after coming from Pakistan and then on another trip from Dharamsala to Chennai crossing the entire country sans Odisha, but nowhere I had encountered such an interesting heritage tour. I loved Ekamra Walks.’’
Stefania, who works as a communication specialist with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), will stay in Odisha for 15 days and explore the remote tribal pockets.
Walking despite pain
Jennifer Harrison, a young participant at the heritage walk today walked the entire length of nearly 2 km and enjoyed the journey despite having a post-accident pain in her leg.
“I loved the company of my mother and the fellow walkers so much that I forgot my pain, she said. I always hear about this beautiful experience from my mom and today wanted to explore it despite the temporary trouble, which I got from a minor accident in Goa, where I am staying for my media studies presently,’’ she added.
The participants of the 51st Ekamra Walks today visited Mukteswar, Parasurameswar, Kotitirtheswar, Ananta Vasudev, Lingaraj, Chitrakarini, Sari and Mohini temples and monuments and heritage sites like Bindusagar and Dharamsala.
They also enjoyed Odissi recital at Art Vision, the institute run by renowned Odissi dancer Ileana Citaristi, before visiting the medicinal plant garden, Ekamra Van, on the Western bank of the Bindusagar lake.