Bhubaneswar: After a single heritage site from Odisha was not included in the list of 17 sites to be developed as ‘Iconic Tourist Destinations’ as announced by the Centre in the Union Budget 2019-20, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has stressed on inclusion of Sun Temple and Puri Jagannath temple in the ambitious scheme.
In a letter to Union Minister of State (I/C) Tourism, Prahalad Singh Patel, Pradhan has highlighted that Odisha is home to several wonderful cultural and natural heritage sites. Among the several popular tourist destinations, Puri Jagannath temple and Konark Sun temple are the holiest pilgrimage and attractive tourist destinations in the State.
“Together with Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark form Odisha’s golden triangle attracting millions of tourists and pilgrims from around the world and are breathing incarnations of Odisha’s socio-cultural identity,” wrote Pradhan.
The social fabric of Odisha is held together by seams of rich cultural history and devotion to Lord Jagannath. The Jagannath Temple at Puri is the ceremonial home of Odisha’s most revered deity, Lord Jagannath, and one of the four holiest dhams for Hindus. Host of the iconic Rath Yatra, the Puri Jagannath Temple is unifying beacon of Odisha’s quintessential Jagannath cult.
Pradhan further wrote that the Konark Sun Temple, the 13th century marvel is acknowledged as the zenith of Odishan architecture and recognized globally as UNESCO world heritage site.
“Keeping in mind the paramount historical, cultural and religious importance of Sun Temple in Konark and Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri for the people of Odisha, I request your personal intervention for inclusion of Sun Temple in Konark and Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri in the Iconic Tourist Sites,” Pradhan wrote in his letter.
Earlier, the Union Ministry of Tourism had identified several sites in 11 States under the Iconic Tourist Sites Development Project.
The sites include- Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh, Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar in New Delhi.
Other sites are Colva beach in Goa, Amer Fort in Rajasthan, Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat, Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hampi in Karnataka, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, Kaziranga in Assam, Kumarakom in Kerala and Mahabodhi in Bihar.