Away from the Beaten Path

Away from the Beaten Path

The Smart City as an Art City: Zeenat Nagree sets off on the first Bhubaneshwar Art Trail.

Away from the beaten path

Niroj Satpathy. Question Machine. Installation. 2018.

The Old Town of Bhubaneshwar has narrow lanes that fork out towards one medieval temple after another. Some rather grand, and other smaller ones out of use, these ornate laterite and sandstone structures narrate complex stories about the developments in Hindu architecture and iconography, and trade and travel over centuries. The math complexes around the temples, some of which have their own ponds and ducks, are interspersed with residential buildings and schools, all crowding into one another. While tourists from the rest of the country stand in line to perform rituals, the biggest draw in the neighbourhood for locals is the Bindu Sagar, a tank maintained by the organisation that runs the impressive 11th century Lingaraja temple dedicated to Shiva. When I visited Bhubaneshwar in November last year, there was a new light show by the water during the evenings, a spectacle that had become part of the mix of images and objects of contemporary art installed for a month along a 1.3 km stretch of the Old Town. Called the Bhubaneshwar Art Trail, the event was organised by Jagannath Panda’s Utsha Foundation, from the 18th of November to the 18th of December, with support from the Orissa state government. Panda, who grew up in Bhubaneshwar, was the Trail’s co-curator along with art historian Premjish Achari, both of whom currently live in Delhi.