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Odisha INTACH chapter demands heritage status for Paralakhemundi Railway station

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Bhubaneswar: The Odisha chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has urged Union Railway Minister Aswan Vaishnaw to maintain the heritage status of the Paralakhemundi Railway Station.

INTACH state convenor A B Tripathy in a letter to the Union Railway Minister said the heritage status of Parlakhemundi station should be maintained taking into consideration of heritage and historical relevance of the Railway Station

The new planned station is being constructed on the design of the Paralakhemundi palace.

Tripathy said an expert team from INTACH Bhubaneswar comprising of Anil Dhir, Deepak Kumar Nayak, Conservation Architect Satyam Jyoti and Bishnu Mohan Adhikari had gone to Paralakhemundi and submitted their report on the existing and newly coming up Railway Station.

The recommendations given by INTACH primarily stated that the Old Heritage Railway station should not be demolished.

The present new building coming up is on a raised platform and overshadows the existing heritage structure. It is still in a very good state and does not need much restoration work.

The old station, the INTACH state Convenor said, should be given a Heritage Tag and preserved as it is.

He said it is not only of importance to Odisha, being the first Railway Station of the State, but is an important Railway landmark of the nation.

The Railways, Tripathy said, should consider running a new train from Baripada to Paralakhemundi connecting North and South Odisha.This will be a fitting tribute to two pioneers of the Railways in Odisha, KCIE Maharaja Goura Chandra Gajapati and Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo,he added.

There should also be a heritage train which will traverse the length of Odisha touching historic cities of Balasore, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Brahmapur .

Paralakhemundi Railway Station ,Tripathy said, should be included in the Ramayana Circuit. The Mahendragiri Hills, which are a biodiversity, heritage and pilgrimage site, have the nearest railhead at Paralakhemundi.

The hills have some of the oldest temples of India which find reference in both the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

A train “Mahendragiri Express” should run from Paralakhemundi and Ayodhya which will boost tourism and pilgrimage to the district.

At least two of the original heritage locomotives of the PLR (Paralakimedi Light Railway) should be brought back and properly plinthed at the Heritage Railway station.

Tripathy said about seven of the original locomotives are lying scattered at places which have no relevance with Paralakhemundi.

The 1899 built wooden bodied Royal Carriage used by the Royalties of Paralakhemundi which is kept at the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum at Nagpur too should be brought back for display at the Station, he stated.

There are many other artifacts relating to the PLR which are kept at the Nagpur Museum. These include, signalling equipment, electrical equipment, scales, uniforms, insignias, German silver cutlery, Royal embellishments etc. They should all be back.

The old building of the Station Master, which is in a restorable condition should be converted into a Museum of the PLR and all the items displayed there.

A proper art and photograph gallery should be set up. This will be a major attraction for tourists and railway aficionados worldwide.

Many of the wayside stations of the PLR including the bridges, culverts. should be preserved as heritage structures. The Goods Shed at Paralakhemundi Station is a unique heritage structure which needs preservation, Tripathy said adding a Statue of Maharaja should be put up in front of the new station building.

INTACH has implored that this piece of railway history should be properly preserved and highlighted.

He said the INTACH is bringing out a pictorial book on the history and heritage of the Paralakimedi Light Railway which will be released when the new Railway Station is inaugurated.

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