The Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Culture (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation Dr. Mahesh Sharma today visited the twin hills of Udayagiri and Khandagiri in Odisha, one of the earliest groups of Jain rock-cut architecture in Eastern India. The site is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India under the Union Ministry of Culture.
The hills are also popularly known as Kumari and Kumara parvatas respectively and are located in the vicinity of Bhubaneswar town. There are total 33 rock-cut caves on both the hills. These hills were first brought to notice by A. Stirling in 1825 A.D. These hills are honeycombed with excavated rock-cut caves, essentially meant for the dwelling retreats of the Jain recluses.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma appreciated the architectural magnificence of the caves and said that they form a beautiful part of our historical and cultural heritage. The Minister directed the officials to maintain cleanliness in and around the monuments as a part of the Swachch Bharat Swachch Smarak drive, which is being promoted as a part of the nationwide initiative of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan launched by the Prime Minister.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma discussed the possibilities of e-ticketing at the site and asked the officials to speed up the introduction of e-ticketing at the caves. The government is committed to introduce e-ticketing at all ticketed monuments within this year, he said. Udayagiri and Khandagiri are important ticketed monuments of ASI, the minister added.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that India is known for its cultural heritage the world over and lakhs of tourists come from across the globe to visit these monuments. It must be our endeavour to provide proper facilities to the tourists and strive to make every monument a model or Adarsh Smarak, he said.
Odisha is a rich centre of India’s historical and cultural heritage. The government has launched PRASAD scheme to facilitate spiritual and pilgrimage tourism and Puri is included as one of the twelve cities for development under the scheme, he explained.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that the government will provide full support to Odisha to enable the local people to generate income and employment through the medium of tourism.
The minister also visited the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, Bhubaneswar, under the Union Ministry of Tourism and reviewed its working, with the officials of the Institute.