Bhubaneswar: Third edition of Monks, Caves and Kings, the heritage walk at the twin hills of Udayagiri and Khandagiri, today got more than 50 enthusiastic participants including a group of 20 comprising students and teachers from Raghunath Bidyapeeth, Odogaon, in neighbouring Nayagarh district.
Two Odissi dancers, one Virginia Bastida from Spain and her friend Savita Patel from Chhattisgarh, both disciples of Guru Meera Das’ Gunjan Dance Academy in Cuttack, also took part in the walk and enjoyed their interactions with fellow participants.
Virginia, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, has been staying in Odisha for last several months and is planning to be here for two to three years to learn the art of Odissi. After visiting Udayagiri hills she said “I am in love with Odisha and Odissi and would like to explore the rich cultural traditions of the state and know the people, who are really working hard to conserve these things for the future generations to know and appreciate.’’
Savita also echoed the same and said “Odisha and especially the beautiful stone carvings at the heritage sites across the heritage city is an encyclopaedia of different style and mudras, which, essentially, have become the basis of Odissi dance postures.’’
Professor Chitta Baral from Arizona State University came to the 3rd Ekamra Walks (Monks, Caves and Kings) with his wife from JapaMatsumi Baral. Though staying in the faraway nation US Professor Baral is participating in both the Old Town Heritage Circuit and the twin hills at regular basis. Last Sunday, Prof. Baral was with the Old Town circuit, which covers almost all major temples, Bindusagar and Ekamra Van, the medicinal plant gárden.
Dibakar Behera, a student of Class X of Raghunath Bidyapeeth, Odogaon, said “we are really fortunate to hear so many important things on the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves and I did not have any idea of the fact that there could be cave art inside the Hati Gumpha as it shows that the caves might be much older than what we think.
Another student of the same school, Jogendra Bhuyan of Class X was happy to know how the art of making caves for habitation of monks on hills evolved and the description of the tour guide Satya Swaroop Mishra was interesting and walkers’ friendly to let others know the stories and facts through an interactive way.
School Head Master Narayan Baitharu and Tourism Teacher Taraprasad Sarangi said “our students received an on-the-spot knowledge on the importance of the famous Jain monument. This will also help them learn things for their future use and we are having a paper on Tourism in the school curriculum.’’
It can be mentioned here that while on Saturday the heritage walk Monks, Caves and Kings is conducted in Udayagiri and Khandagiri, on Sunday it is done in the Old Town circuit near Lingaraj temple and around the holy Bindusagar lake. Both the heritage walks, however, are under the Ekamra Walks, named after the ancient name of the heritage city, Ekamra Kshetra.