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Sambalpur's heritage lovers unite against Odisha Tourism's restaurant plan in Rani Bakhri

Agitators said that the monument can be utilised to house a museum, a photography or art gallery or a library which will help people connect with the culture and heritage of the land.

Published: 16th September 2021 09:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2021 09:47 AM   |  A+A-

Work being undertaken at Rani Bakhri Palace.

Work being undertaken at Rani Bakhri Palace. (Photo | Express)

By Express News Service

SAMBALPUR: Heritage enthusiasts of Sambalpur staged a silent protest outside the ancient Rani Bakhri on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, protesting distortions being made by Odisha Tourism Development Corporation to open Nimantran restaurant in the palace. They also submitted a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, to the Collector Shubham Saxena.

After the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) restored the three centuries-old building last year, the OTDC announced plans to open a Nimantran restaurant by modifying the ground and first floor of the heritage monument. A report on the distortions being made in the palace by the tourism corporation appeared in The New Indian Express on Wednesday.

Agitators protested the Tourism department’s decision to open the restaurant inside Rani Bakhri and demanded declaration of the palace as a protected monument. Social activist and member of Vaisakhi, a local outfit, Pragnya Patnaik said Rani Bakhri is one of the few monuments of Sambalpur that exist today in all its entirety. 

While restoring the old monument is a noteworthy move by the State government, its decision to open a restaurant inside is inappropriate, she said. “We are not against the opening of Nimantran restaurant in Sambalpur but we believe it should not be housed inside a heritage building. We request the government to shift the restaurant somewhere else and declare Rani Bakhri a protected monument”, she said.

Agitators said that the monument can be utilised to house a museum, a photography or art gallery or a library which will help people connect with the culture and heritage of the land. “For maintaining the monument, it can be made a ticketed one. But a restaurant will obstruct the public from accessing the palace. Also, we are apprehensive that in due course of time more alterations to the monument might happen,” she added.​ 



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