A Citizens' Initiative To Create Love For Heritage & Culture. The Millenium City is a rich tapestry of art,handloom,handicrafts and performing arts. The Silver City has been at the centre of human civilsation for centuries and has been the hub of trade , commerce and maritime activities.
Silver Splendour of Milienium City by Raja Parija is the only coffee table book on Silver Filigree of Cuttack. The unique art of silver filigree deserves much more than it has got so far. A promised hub for it remains exactly that: a promise. This book opens up the possibilities for more research and documentation of this intricate art. The book contains wonderful photographs triggering ‘ye dil mange more’ reaction.
On a Sunday morning of 13th December , 27 Heritage Enthusiasts met at the Odisha State Maritime Museum , Jobra. With a very interesting itinerary spread from visiting the famous Bikalananda Kar’s Rasagola factory in Salepur followed by visit to some of the ancient heritage sites and Utkala Gauraba Sri Madhusudan Das’s Birthplace.
The first stop at the quintessential Bikalananda Kar’s Shop at Salepur , and meeting the newest 3rd generation entrepreneurs . CHW members met with Two Young and Bright Odia Entrepreneurs Miss Sibani Kar and Miss Sai Priya Kar, initially before starting the Heritage Trail . They are now managing the the “Bikalananda Kar’s Rasagola ” Business . Both of them conducted the factory tours and were explained in details of the current processing set up.
All the members hosted by Two Sisters for a sumptuous breakfast and treat of Rasagolas . “Salepur Rasagola” Officially became the part of our food heritage trail.
The ancient imperial citadel of Odisha, the fortress of Barabati, also a masterpiece that stands ruined and dilapidated today, is a testimony of what was once a shining example of Odia architecture and craftsmanship, apart from being a symbol of Odia military might. Today it almost lies submerged in deep flora, fauna, dense vegetation and wilderness. It was the seat of political power and civil-military administration through centuries. This ancient fortress has witnessed several rise and falls of kings and their empires, It withstood wars, betrayals, deceit, siege, and invasions and continues to remind the lost glory and pride of Odisha in the modern times.
The fort is located at Barabati, Cuttack, the ancient city, which is known for its world famous silver filigree art. The name Cuttack is an anglicized version of Kataka, meaning military cantonment in Sanskrit. The fort is strategically located near the confluence of the two rivers, such as the mighty Mahanadi and its tributary Kathjodi, not far from where they finally merge into the Bay of Bengal. It was a vibrant hub for trading and commercial activities as well, the history of which can be traced in the annual Bali Jatra , that marked the beginning of a traditional voyage by Odia sailors to south-east Asian countries. Flanked by these two rivers, Fort Barabati , thus stood tall amid the thick and thin of time.
Structural Marvel and Architectural Grandeur of the Fortress: An Archeological Heritage
The Khondalite stone fortress is surrounded by a moat (Gada Khai), which was constructed possibly for strategic defense purpose at a later stage during the reign of Gajapati, King Kapilinedra Deva (1434 – 1466 A.D). He used to be on long military campaigns in northern Odisha and subsequently ventured into southern India. During his military expeditions, many forts were built in the annexed territories like Medinapore , Nellore , Kondavidu to name a few. This expansionist and militaristic agenda of the King required a robust defense and military strategy that included the fortification of his fort at Barabati. As part of that grand strategy, a moat was constructed around the Barabati fort, which deterred the invaders for a long time.
Looking at the present condition of this moat, one finds it to be swampy and full of dense weeds and hyacinth vegetation growing over it. Algal bloom, which increases the BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand), COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) and growth of weeds which prevents sunlight to enter the moat. These factors are detrimental for aquatic and marine life by depleting oxygen levels in the water.
Colonized by various conquerors in the past and now covered by dense green weeds, ferns and moss, Barabati struggles to reclaim her rightful place in history and to attract the attention of the conservationists. Now what remain are the Moat (Gadakhayi), a grand stone structure, the Eastern Gateway and the plinth of the Palace, which makes one relive the memories of the glorious past.
“Netaji was born here” recreates the childhood and adolescence days of Subash Chandra Bose spent in Cuttack. It details developments and happenings which was more or less not known to the public. Netaji did have his entire school education here in Cuttack. A very formative phase of one’s life. Raja Parija has successfully documented a very significant period of Netaji’s life in this book. Through a wise blending of text and photographs, he has managed ably to recreate a lost era. An interesting read for students researchers and the lay public.
Anyone interested to buy the book can contact CHW . INR 899 USD:20$
Cuttack Heritage Walks November edition started off with large gathering of History and Heritage enthusiasts . The history and glory of Barabati fort was shared by Shri Dipak Samantarai and Shri Anil Dhir , the members proceeded to Madhusmriti . Shri Samantarai passionately shared the some of the rare moments and sacrifices of Utkala Gauraba Shri Madhusudan Das , who played the most pivotal role in formation of Odisha. Very interactive sessions the members and speakers , the spirited young generations taking more interest in our rich heritage is a silver lining and a prudent hope.
Cuttack Heritage Walks, an initiative by people of Cuttack to promote heritage sites and monuments in this historical city, is going to restart this month after a gap of seven months. The walk was suspended in March this year following nation-wide lockdown due to Covid-19 spread.
Long time ago, a Qafla (Caravan) came to Cuttack through Chahata Ghat and encamped on the western part of the city. The place is now known as Qafla Bazar. Bhanwar Shah Wali was the Imam of the people who accompanied the caravan. After the death of the Saint his body was buried near the ruined mosque (Bhanwar Shah Masjid) where he used to offer prayers with his followers. His tomb was constructed there. According to the local people, the Shrine is more than (400) four hundred years old. Excepting a mound, there is no trace of the masjid.
In the premises there are other tombs which belong to the brothers of the Saint and his disciples. At that point of time, it used to be a graveyard as well. Right from the beginning for a long time the Shrine was on a raised square platform without a roof. But in the recent past people have built a flat roofed structure having a bulbous dome in the center. The roof is placed on twelve pillars, each of which has a height of twelve feet from the ground level. On every side there are two small archways.
The Shrine of Hazrat Sayed Bhanwar Shah Wali, located at Saidani Bagicha, Kanika Road, is one of the oldest and best known shrines of the Millennium City. It’s premises measure 1.5 acres of prime land. People of all faiths throng the place.
Proving our apprehensions wrong, about thirty participants gathered for restarting the suspended Walk after a forced hiatus of six months. A clean warm Autumn sky welcomed them all. The enthusiasm was truly infectious.
It happened to be the World Tourism Day (27th September 2020). Sri Subash Singh, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, launched the much awaited website of Cuttack Heritage Walks. http://www.cuttackheritage.com Inaugurating the website, Sri Singh said that the cause of heritage and history of the Millennium City is going to get a boost through this site. He observed that Cuttack Heritage Walks is playing a very important role in creating awareness amongst the youngsters towards heritage and should function as a pressure group.
Thanking him for gracing the occasion and doing the honours, Dr Dipak Samantarai presented Sri Singh a beautiful photograph of the iconic gate of Barabati Fort. The photograph has been clicked by a member of Cuttack Heritage Walks, Sri Bikash C Das.