The light drizzle this morning couldn’t put a damper on the year’s first Twin Hill Trails. This edition of Cave Trails was host to 20 Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) officers from various districts and a Swedish family as a part of the walk.
The first walk of this year was met with great enthusiasm by the walkers and was telling of the fact that just like the rains, age could not put a damper on curiosity and the need to know more about the past of one’s own home.
The participants, although old in age, proved that they still had that childhood sense of wonder and excitement of knowing their own city. As they climbed the slippery caves with eagerness and a sense of adventure, a keen inclination to know about the origins of the name of each cave was shared among the participants, which soon turned to a mutual acknowledgement of society in ancient times and nature playing a muse’s part in an artist or a sculptor’s art.
Questions turned to trivia turned to conversations turned to stories.
Walkers took shelter in the caves, as periodic showers kept interrupting the trails where history came alive for a moment. Stories were lived as participants took place of the Jain monks that took shelter in those same caves for four months during the rains back in time.
Coming from different districts of Odisha, the importance of walks like the Cave Trails was also recognized by the OAS officers and how any public space, from wildlife parks to heritage caves to monuments, needs to have their story told in similar ways.
As stories about the history of the cave were told, experiences were also shared as participants chanted “Om” and found themselves astonished as it reverberated in the open space of the Rani Gumpha cave.
Being the first Cave Trail of the New Year, the importance of such walks was not lost among everyone present today at Khandagiri and Udayagiri. For many, who had last visited the city years ago, coming across things like the stone quarry, usually obscured from view in Khandagiri, was nothing short of astounding.
Having seen the city transform into a “Smart City”, the caves were the only constant throughout and having its history retold and finding hidden gems in forms of trivia and structures was nothing short of a treasure hunt for them.