Bhubaneswar: Henriette Ahrens, Deputy Representative (Programmes) India Country Office of Unicef, her husband Herald and Unicef State Representative Yumi Bae joined the Ekamra Walks Old Town Circuit on Sunday, along with 40 students from Piloo Mody College of Architecture, Cuttack.
Henriette, on her second visit to the State, found the temples of Kalingan era interesting with their unique architecture and style.
“I am really happy to see so many temples around the Old City and the way many are conserved so nicely. I also liked the heritage tour and especially the medicinal plant garden on the Western bank of Bindusagar, which is designed with the old style and having plants useful for men, women and children,” she said.
Herald, who came to Odisha for the first time, liked the heritage tour including the visit to the medicinal plant garden and also the Odissi recital at Art Vision, the dance institute established by well-known dancer Ileana Citaristi.
Students of Piloo Mody College of Architecture, Cuttack came on a tour to experience the Kalingan temple architecture as the study of traditional architecture comes under their curriculum.
They were overwhelmed to see the carvings, style, techniques and the overall aesthetics to make the structures look smart and ageless though many are still standing against all odds since the Seventh Century AD.
In fact, the Ekamra Kshetra, as it was called in older times used to have more than 7,000 temples since the Sixth Century AD while the ancient caves in Khandagiri and Udayagiri could date back to Second Century BC.
Samikshya Pattnaik, a second-year student of B.Arch from the Cuttack-based college, said, “Though I am from the Chandrasekharpur area in Bhubaneswar and currently studying in Cuttack, I had never been to the temples to analysis their structures as per our academics point of views. Today among the fellow students, faculty members and other walkers the experience was a different one.”
Asha, also a friend of Samikshya, said, “Today’s experience would be very special as we came here in a different mission and also could learn how the old masters not only developed three distinct temple building techniques in Kalinga, but could influence such structures overseas as in the past the ancient Kalingan empire was also spread across the Indian Ocean.”
Three travel professionals from New Delhi and Bhubaneswar joined the heritage walk among others and also enjoyed their time with the Odissi and the medicinal plant garden at Ekamra Van. Meenu Choudhary from Balmer and Lawrie Company Ltd’s travel division in Bhubaneswar termed her experience as “educative and interesting.”
Two of Meenu’s friends Sarita Rani of Eastbound Journeyz and Mokshada Bajpai from Gets Holidays were also happy at the end of the walk and enjoyed their time.
“We could find everything right from the classical music at the starting point, the legends regarding temples and water bodies, temple kitchen, experience at Dharamshala, excavation site at Sari Deula, Odissi at Art Vision and the medicinal plant garden, they all have a complete package and its other attraction was it is free,” they explained.
With more than 60 participants the heritage tour in the Old Town covered monuments like Mukteswar, Parasurameswar, Swarnajaleswar, Kotitirtheswar, Bindusagar, Ananta Vasudev, Doodhwala Dharamsala, Lingaraj, Sari Deula, Mohini.