A tranquil forest comes to life in heart of Bhubaneswar

The forest division adopted Japanese Miyawaki technique to create forests as natural oxygen factories in civic settlements.
A nature synchronised ampitheatre developed within Ananda Bana
A nature synchronised ampitheatre developed within Ananda Bana (Shiba Sahu | EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: Want to escape the humdrum of the city and head into nature for a few hours? Do not need to look beyond Bhubaneswar. For, the capital’s ecological landscape has a new addition - Ananda Bana, an urban forest that aims to elevate the ‘Panchendriya’ or the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing.

Spread over 89.05 acre of land - divided into two patches of 61.6 acre and 27.3 acre connected with a foot overbridge - it was a barren stretch of revenue forest land till two years back. Aptly named ‘Axis of Happiness’, this now is the biggest open space in the city where one could, walk, cycle, hit the nature trail, meditate, do yoga or just sit in peace and soak in the tranquility, and the oxygen.

The Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has collaborated with the City Forest division to design and create the urban forest. It has been funded by the Odisha Mining Corporation.

Interpretation centre
Interpretation centre(Shiba Sahu | EPS)

Ananda Bana has Miyawaki plantation over 1.5 hectare and close to 12,000 trees of 35 local species. The forest division adopted Japanese Miyawaki technique to create forests as natural oxygen factories in civic settlements.

“The idea of Ananda Bana took roots two years back when the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change sought a proposal of an urban forest from us under its Nagar Van Yojana. Since then, almost eight to 10 departments of Odisha government have come together to set up Ananda Bana,” said Balwant Singh, vice-chairman of BDA.

Besides, regular plantation, seasonal flowers and water lily plants have been planted over 120 spots and on both sides of the trails along with 69 different types of medicinal plants. “All the trees have barcodes fixed on them and visitors can scan them to get all the information about the trees,” DFO of City Forest division Ajit Kumar Satpathy said. Like all natural forests, Ananda Bana has a link with water too. Three water bodies spreading over an area of 32,750 sq ft covered with green grass turfs have been created in the urban forest. While the flower and medicinal plants are attracting butterflies, birds have started arriving.

People talk a walk on the soil trail
People talk a walk on the soil trail(Shiba Sahu | EPS)

“We are seeing black-hooded oriole, red-vented bulbul, magpie robin, jungle babbler, etc. We are expecting more birds to come once the water harvesting structures are completely ready,” added Satpathy.

Ananda Bana has three trails - soil, rock and bicycle. Apart from the bicycle trail of 3.83 km for fitness enthusiasts, the soil and rock trails have been specifically designed to bring people closer to nature. Walking on the 1 km-long soil trail, people can feel earth in its raw form, while the rock (pebble) trail of 550 metre provides an off-road experience. Besides, there are toilets, sitting areas, gazebo, an interpretation centre, open air theatre and other facilities for people.

“The urban forest is aimed at creating green leaders of tomorrow. We are collaborating with the School and Mass Education department to bring students of government schools to Ananda Bana every weekend. They will be provided awareness on different aspects of ecology at the interpretation centre,” BDA vice-chairman said adding, Ananda Bana will be a plastic free, no outside food zone with zero tolerance to loud music or noise, Singh added. BDA is currently framing the SOPs.

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