FOUNDED by the famous Oriya King Nrupakesari in 985 AD, Cuttack was once a gem of a city. Situated on a delta shaped piece of land and surrounded by two mighty rivers the Mahanadi and the Kathajodi, Cuttack remained the capital of Orissa for about 1,000 years. Places of archeological importance, exotic temples, forts, rich handicraft traditions, colourful festivals and picturesque river banks bordered with green hills and forest preserve huge employment potential. Though the city has thrived as a commercial centre, the economic potential in other sectors has not been tapped to address the growing unemployment problem in the city.
Tourism can be the money spinner due to the city’s proximity with the golden triangle: Konark, Puri and Bhubaneswar. Tourists will love to see the prehistoric cave paintings in Naraj Hills towards the western part of the city. The historic Baliyatra Maidan which is the mute testimony to Orissa’s maritime trade with Greece can be a tourist attraction if a museum chronicling Orissa’s long maritime history is built here. Every year a fair called Bali Yatra is celebrated here commemorating the sea voyage of Oriya traders to foreign nations from this river port. The remnants of the famous Barabati Fort which was once a nine story palace can be preserved with documentation. The mote around the Barabati fort can be turned into a magnificent venue for water sport activity. There is an 11th century stone embankment protecting the city from flood which is an engineering marvel. The stone embankment constructed by Raja Markata Kesari protected the city from flood for centuries. The city sky line is decorated with exotic ancient temples namely Lakshmi Narayan temple, Raghunathjew temple, Jain temple and Chandi Mandir. Magnificent Dantan Saheb Gurudwar, churches and mosques are also part of the city’s heritage. There was once a magnificent sacred mango groove adjacent to the Raghunathjew Temple which was destroyed due to the poor attitude of the local residents. There is a need to restore the glory of this sacred groove which is originally the property of the famous Raghunathjew temple.
Cuttack is known as silver city for its world famous silver filigree work. Many other handicraft traditions like horn craft, clay work, wood work and gold jewelry work still survive in the lanes and by lanes of the city which can generate employment with the conscious efforts of the State government and other development agencies. Over the years many artisans from the city have migrated to Gujrat, Mumbai and New Delhi for better opportunity. The young generation of artisans have switched over to other professions due to their uncertain future. There is an urgent need to ban the machine made silver filigree products as this has eroded the traditional skill of artisans and is responsible for the untimely death of the silver filigree craft.
An exclusive market place for genuine artisan products can be carved out in the city to attract tourists. Faster train connectivity from Cuttack to India’s financial capital Mumbai will definitely help thousands of Oriya artisans to access the global craft market. Cuttack city has become very much chaotic due to lack of development vision. British Historian William Hunter describes the magnificence of the city which had wide roads with beautiful bunglow type houses resembling pictures on a drawing board. Disappearance of jobs in fishery and in other traditional sectors have forced people to put shops on roads and in residential areas which cause permanent nuisance for residents. There is an urgent need to carve out vendor zones in the city which will improve tourism prospect.