BHUBANESWAR: The Raj-era heritage structure at Hukitola reserve forests of Kendrapara district is all set to get a makeover with the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) taking up preservation of the colonial building, famous for its laterite masonry structure and architectural inventiveness.
A provision of `1 crore has been made under the World Bank-funded project and INTACH has been roped in for the work.
A team of INTACH including conservation experts, archeologists and engineers has already visited the site and inspected the condition of the building and water harvesting structures to begin the renovation work.
Project Director of ICZMP, Odisha Ajit Kumar Pattnaik said INTACH will take up structural renovation, chemical conservation and documentation as part of the Hukitola Development Plan.
Renovation of the iconic heritage structure is aimed at attracting nature lovers and creating visitors amenities including boating facilities for tourists. While funds have been earmarked for creating the amenities, the Forest and Environment Department plans to promote it as an eco-tourist complex after the restoration and development work.
As per plans, post-renovation, Hukitola will be used as a tourist complex and Forest Department will deploy speed and country boats for tourists at the spot. Similarly, local youths will be trained to operate boats and maintain the facilities.
Pattnaik said INTACH has been mandated with documentation of the entire renovation work. Besides, appropriate signages will be designed and installed to disseminate information about the heritage structure.
The historic building, located in Mahakalpada Forest Range, was in a dilapidated condition and crying for attention. Though its location and architectural beauty drew tourists and researchers alike, little was done in the past to salvage the heritage building which was built by the British during the Great Famine of 1886 - also known as the Na'anka Durbhikhya - to store rice imported from Burma and other places through the sea route. Its proximity to Paradip Port also acted in its favour to be developed as a port.
While the original building and port were named after Hooki Walker, it was designed by TE Ravenshaw, the founder of the iconic Ravenshaw College. Raw materials for construction of the port and the building were shipped through the waterways from Barabati Fort. The place was used as a warehouse-cum-port till 1924 before it was abandoned. This ancient building has rain water harvesting structures too.