Orissa forts to get facelift

Berhampur: Potagarh fort, which stands as a mute witness to the vicissitudes of history in Orissa, is all set to get a facelift following the state government`s decision to make it a major tourist destination.

About 350-year-old historic forts would be restored, conserved and made a heritage tourism destination under the World Bank funded Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP), a senior official of the ICZMP said.

A special team of World Bank and support joint mission led by Tapas Paul along with the project officials from West Bengal and Gujarat visited the heritage site recently.

The team also visited Tampara, a wetland near Chhatrapur which would be developed as an eco-tourism centre through the project and Sana Nolianuagaon, a fishermen village in the district.

"Besides restoration and conservation, the site would be developed as a major tourist destination as part of the ICZMP," according to project director A K Pattanaik.

Besides Potagarh and the British Cemetery near Ganjam town, seven other heritage sites are to be developed. The other sites are Baba Kundaleswar temple of Manikapatna, Baliharichandi temple near Puri, Hariharadeva temple, Nairi, Bateswara temple, Kantiagada (Ganjam), Jagannath temple, Pentha and Jamboo Colonial Building, Kendrapara.

About Rs 7.41 rore would be spent in five years to develop the sites for heritage tourism, sources said. The team members appreciated steps taken by ICZMP-Orissa to conserve the monuments and to develop them as tourist spots by involving cultural and tourism departments as executing agencies.

Potagada, built in 1768 as a star-shaped fort, is surrounded by a wide and deep moat. It?s strongly built earthen rampart is about 15 feet high, 92 meter long and 19 meter wide. The fort was built underground and one could not see it from a distance. ?The fort was built in this shape to protect it form invaders,? noted historian Shishir Kumar Panda of Berhampur University said.

The main gate of the fort was ruined. However, the gate on the other side was found almost intact.

Within the fort, there are office buildings, magazine, artillery, armoury, store, custom houses etc. The destructive flood of river Rushikulya in 1990 caused considerable damage to the fort.

The ICZM project is being implemented in Orissa with a financial outlay of Rs 227.60 crore on a pilot basis to protect the coastal belt and to improve the socio-economic development of coastal people.