National Heritage Station: The State Convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, A.B.Tripathy (IPS Retd.), has written to the Railway Minister with a request to maintain the heritage status of the Paralakhemundi Railway Station. In the letter, INTACH has asked to take into consideration the heritage and historical relevance of the Railway Station and given some recommendation that should be implemented. The new planned station is being constructed on the design of the Paralakhemundi palace.
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 say 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. This old station should be given a Heritage Tag and preserved as it is. 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 should consider running of 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. This can be a heritage train which will traverse the length of Odisha touching historic cities of Balasore, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Brahmapur etc.
Paralakhemundi Railway Station 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 both 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 locomotive of the PLR (Paralakimedi Light Railway) should be brought back and properly plinthed at the Heritage Railway station. 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. 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 got 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 station of the PLR including the bridges, culverts etc. should be preserved as heritage structures. The Goods Shed at Paralakhemundi Station is a unique heritage structure which needs preservation. 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. 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.