In a state where temples are celebrated for their antiquity, grandeur, and size, the Kichakeswari temple of Khiching is located 128 km from Baripada and 205 km from Balasore may not be a surprise but what surprises is the brilliance and elegance with which this 100 feet tall, black chloride temple holds different religious sects together centuries ago. Originally built in the 7th or 8th century, this temple was in bad shape as it had fallen in the hands of the vandals. But the last ruler of the Princely State of Mayurbhanj, Maharaja Pratap Chandra Bhanjadeo appalled by its condition, reconstructed the temple in the year 1034, spending approximately rupees 85,000, taking good care not to disturb the original sculptures of Parasvadevatas, the chaitya arches, the amorphous couples and the scroll works which can still be seen in the original portions of the temple.
The Khiching museum, which is housed within the temple premises is another attraction for the tourists. It is the second oldest museum in the state, the Odisha govt. is taking good care to protect not just the museum but also the temple. Most of the artifacts of this museum, including some statues of Buddha, were found at the time of excavations by the Archeological Survey of India, in the year 1908. The museum has exhibits like copper and iron implements, terracotta figurines, potteries, ancient coins, etc. it also has life-size excavated idols of Durga, Ganesha, and Nandi.
The temple attracts a wide range of tourists from different parts of the state and sometimes people from other states and foreigners too come to visit. Khiching also being famous for its stone carvings, sees a lot of hustle-bustle during Shivratri which is also its peak season. “ Many visitors come here just to buy these beautiful local stone carvings and we earn a good profit”- says Raghunath Sahoo, a stone worker from the Kesana village, home to all stone workers. “ Sometimes we even get orders from foreign countries “, he beams.
“It was long since I visited my maternal village plus I also wanted to get a small shivling for the puja Ghar in my house, so there wasn’t a better reason to visit Khiching “ – says Tula Mahanta, a gynecologist from Jhalda, WB.
With Similipal Forest Reserve being in the vicinity, khiching is saved from the extreme weather conditions. The weather there is always a bit cooler as compared to other cities in the state. There is also a children’s park located on the premises of the temple which makes visiting the temple exciting for children. “ I come to the temple very often with my grandparents, but don’t like to join them in long queues, so I keep playing in the park till their turn comes”,- beams Anshu, an std II student. With NH 49 passing through Jashipur, which is 30 km from khiching, the commute is not an issue. There are busses running from morning 5 to evening 7. Autos and cars can also be booked. The temple closes just for 3 hrs in the afternoon – from 12 to 3 pm. Fooding and lodging facilities are also available for visitors. Though there are many restaurants, locals recommend visitors to try the food of the dhabas located just outside the temple. And no visitor had to return unsatisfied. “ Low price, delicious and instant service, what more can one wish for?” – says Pratima Mohanta, a visitor from Jashipur.
Though the locals are satisfied with the efforts of the state govt. in developing the temple and the small town Khiching, they still feel that the tourism department should come up with more publicity and advertisement packages for Jashipur, Khiching, and Keonjhar so that it would give a boost to the state’s Northern tourism and would attract more tourists.
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