ROURKELA: In spite of being endowed with attractive tourist places, historical sites and scenic spots, tourism potential of Sundargarh district remains untapped. The district occupies a negligible place in the map of State tourism mostly due to lack of infrastructure development and effective marketing initiatives.
The Tourism Department has identified 13 places across the district as tourist spots which include a few places of Rourkela city and district headquarters town Sundargarh. As a result, visitors to the district ultimately opt for the scenic spots and historical sites in far flung areas. Last year, around 5.82 lakh tourists including 540 from foreign countries visited Rourkela and around 4.47 lakhs of them went to nearby Vedvyas temple.
While picturesque Khandadhar waterfall is the most sought after tourist destination which in the process of improving infrastructure, the picnic spots of Darjing and Deodhar along river Brahmani remain neglected. Though Pitamahal dam of Irrigation Department has been declared an eco-tourism spot, water sports is yet to be introduced in the place along with Kansbahal dam to attract tourists.
The Tourism Department has no jurisdiction over Mandira dam of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) and its tourism growth remains at the mercy of RSP.
The tourism officials said a host of tourist sites in Junagarh, Ushakothi and Chhatri hill have archaeological interest and a waterfall at Mrigkhoj needs to be explored. Rourkela-based Tourism Officer Jayshree Dasmohapatra said the Junagarh site has an ancient fort in Lefripara block and last year, it received around 45,700 footfalls. The Ushakothi site in Lefripara block has pictorial writings on rocks which attract visitors but, its historical importance remains unknown.
Similarly, Chhatri hill site in Bargaon block, the rocks containing palaeographic engravings remain a major attraction for tourists, she added. Last year, the Ushakothi site and Chhatri hill received around 23,300 and 22,300 visitors respectively. Sources said since no archaeological survey has been made on the historical importance of Juangarh, Ushakothi and Chhatrihill sites, it is hard to popularise the sites among the tourists. Dasmohapatra said the department is also keen on developing the Amco-Simco site in Kuanrmunda block where 49 tribals attained martyrdom in 1939 while opposing British police.