BHAWANIPATNA: From cascading waterfalls, picturesque hills, ancient forts to temples, Kalahandi has something for every discerning traveller. However, the Western Odisha district has been overlooked by the Tourism Department. Kalahandi does not even find a mention in any of the tourism packages of the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC).
There is not a single Pantha Nivas or Panthika in Kalahandi and the existing tourist complexes are lying unused and dilapidated. During the tourism season from November to March, Kalahandi gets a number of tourists but there are no adequate accommodation facilities either in Bhawanipatna town or other areas and no amenities at the tourist spots.
The district has Dokaridara and Bhanyaraghumara waterfalls, both within the Dokarichanchara limits in Koksara village; Phurlijharan waterfalls which is 15 km away from Bhawanipatna town; and nine more at Rabandhara, Sospadar, Khandualdhara, Ghusrigudi and Domnijhola near Karlapat, Sinderjhar, Kidian near Thuamul Rampur, Gudahandi besides, Kharak waterfall inside Ampani.
None of these spots have any tourism amenities or transportation facilities for visitors. Considering its proximity to Bhawanipatna town, Phurlijharan received a large number of tourists till July last year when all the amenities were destroyed in heavy rain and landslide, making the spot unsafe.
Recently, Forest Department has given a proposal to the district administration for restoration and renovation of the spot.
The Hello Point near Thuamul Rampur is considered Odisha’s Lonavala but the site does not even have an all-weather approach road. Some other beautiful sites include ghats of Dandakaranya range in hilltop village Mardiguda of Thuamula Rampur block, which is the origin of Indravati river; Karlapat wildlife sanctuary; Amathguda fort, situated on the right bank of the river Tel; 4th century Asurgarh fort; Junagarh fort which has sculptural evidence of the Sati rite that was prevalent in medieval India and Khairpadar where every family practices wood carving. Unfortunately, all these sites do not find place in the State’s tourism map and hence, no initiative has been taken either by the local administration or State Government to develop them from tourism perspective.
In the past, government had set up a tourist complex and initiated work on another in Kalahandi. In 1992, foundation stone for a complex at Beheraguda was laid by the then Chief Minister Biju Patnaik and the project was estimated at `35 lakh. But, the contractor abandoned the project after laying its plinth. Neither did the State Government take any action against the contractor, as he was the relative of a politician, nor was an alternative arrangement made to complete the construction. Last year, the incomplete structure was handed over to the CRPF for construction of its camp.
In 1995, the then Tourism minister Bhupinder Singh laid foundation for a tourist complex at Thuamul Rampur with the block having the maximum number tourist spots. Although the complex was constructed, it was never put into use and now lying dilapidated.
District Tourist Officer, Subodh Chatria said he has written to higher authorities of the Tourism Department for finding out another site in Beheraguda for setting up another tourist complex and renovating the one at Thuamul Rampur.