Travelling rejuvenates one’s body and soul. I’ve inherited this travel enthusiasm from my parents. For a true traveller, even a less known, rustic small village can be of immense interest; exploring an old, dilapidated temple, or walking through the green rice fields feeling the verdant mellowness beneath, can bring enormous joy. Far from the maddening cacophony and, crowd of the city, small towns or suburbs always attract me. The essence of these places is easy to identify and, often they surprise us with their natural beauty.
My uncle is an engineer and, throughout his service life, has worked with reputed steel industries of the country. Once, when he was posted in Rourkela, we visited the Ispat Nagari or the Steel City of Odisha. It is a beautiful city surrounded by a range of hills and a number of rivers. The word ‘Rourkela’ literally means, ‘Our Village’. the city is divided into two sections: The Steel Township and the Civil Township. As the name suggests, The Steel Township is the residential colony of the employees of the steel plant.
Places to Visit in Rourkela
Biju Patnaik Hockey Stadium: The legendary hockey players Dilip Tirkey and Lazarus Barla have started their career from this stadium. The stadium has all the modern equipment and Rourkela has produced many talented hockey players.
Mandira Dam: This dam was specially built on river Sankh, a tributary of Brahmani river, for supplying water to the Rourkela Steel Plant situated about 24 km downstream. We visited it quite a couple of times and even stayed for a day at the guest house entirely maintained by the Water Supply Department of Rourkela. A picturesque garden has enhanced the beauty of the dam.
Vedavyasa Temple: It is said, three rivers, Sankh, Koel and Saraswati together gave rise to the Brahmani river. The place Vedavyasa is named after the Great Sage Vedavyas, who, according to mythology, used to live in a cave that existed in the riverside hill while writing the epic Mahabharata. The place now has a number of temples dedicated to different Gods and is visited by thousands of pilgrims.
Darjing: Darjing is a beautiful picnic spot and is well connected with Rourkela with regular bus service. We started early in the morning and spent the whole day there. It is situated on the banks of the Brahmani river. There is also a gorge named Deodhar gorge and is only a 10 minutes journey from Darjing.
Hanuman Batika: Hanuman Batika or the Garden of Hanuman has one of the tallest statues of Hanuman. It’s a beautiful place to spend time.Ghanteswari
Besides, there is a couple of other dams like Pitamahal dam and Ghoghor dam.
We enjoyed our stay in the quaint town of Rourkela. Though known as the industrial capital of Odisha, the city is exceptionally clean and well-maintained. The hills and rivers have added flavour to its beauty.
Another similarly beautiful small town I’ve visited, taking advantage of my uncle’s posting, is the town of Sambalpur. It is situated in the north-west part of Odisha, beside the river Mahanadi. The river actually has separated Sambalpur and Hirakud from Burla.
Though a small town, but Sambalpur has a cosmopolitan flavour. It enjoys the co-existence of a variety of temples as well as mosques and churches. The presiding deity of the town, Shree Samaleswari, the mother goddess, is worshipped with great devotion and is regarded as the Mother of the World or Jagatjanani. We visited the Samaleswari temple and also some other temples like Liakhai, Ghanteswari, Madanmohan, and Satyabadi.
The most interesting temple of Sambalpur is situated in a village about 25 km from the town. It is called the Huma, a leaning temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple will remind you of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Sambalpur also boasts of the Hirakud dam, the world’s longest dam across the Mahanadi river. There is minaret called Gandi Minar atop which one can enjoy the vast expanse of Hirakud dam with the calm, serene nature all around. It provides a wonderful view and, you can feel oneness with the nature.
Both the cities, Rourkela and Sambalpur have retained their natural aura in spite of being industrial towns. You can experience a perfect symbiosis of nature and industry here.
Another similarly prosperous town I had a chance visit on the occasion of one of my friends wedding is, Raigarh in the state of Chattisgarh. But, in this case, lack of proper planning and crowd of heterogeneous industries have considerably destroyed the beauty of the town itself. There are narrow winding alleys and not-so-wide roads and, a congested traffic system.
Culturally, Raigarh has a rich heritage and is considered the cultural capital of Chattisgarh. I was quite astonished to see that almost every household considers learning the dance form Kathak as a part of the education. The town also arranges a cultural festival on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh-Chaturthi.
We have an abundance of such small towns and cities in our country. These places are developing fast with a well-knit economy. Large and small scale industries, tourism, handicrafts are the backbone of such towns. As you know, the ING Vysya Bank is now Kotak Mahindra Bank. With this move, Kotak is making its home in such small towns across India, helping them to avail a better banking. It’s quite aptly said, now there is #KonaKonaKotak.
The last but one picture has been taken from the official website of the district.