Bari: At a time when the state government is taking many a step to get more tourists from South Asian and Southeast Asian countries to the Buddhist triangle, popularly known as diamond triangle of Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udayagiri, the ground reality tells an altogether different tale.
Ratnagiri hill under Bari block’s Ratnagiri panchayat in Jajpur district can be taken as a case in point.
Thursday morning a tourist team comprising six visitors from Baripada arrived at Ratnagiri to explore the site. However, the excitement with which they had started the journey disappeared moments after they got off the vehicle.
It was when they were looking for a parking place that they were told the place is devoid of any. Nor does it have a Yatri Niwas.
“We had heard a lot about the Buddhist site. We thought the government would have developed the site as it has been projected globally. After reaching the site, we found the tall claims of the state government have just fallen flat,” said a visitor.
They chose to return back from the Ratnagiri market square itself without visiting the site, just because there was no parking facility.
Apart from the parking space problem, the site is also not well protected with the boundary wall crumbling; the gaps in the wall allow stray cattle a field day inside the heritage site with faeces strewn all over bearing testimony to the utter negligence.
The plants and shrubs, meant for beautification of the site, are withered due to lack of watering.
With no Yatri Niwas in the vicinity, outstation visitors cannot stay for days together, sources said.
Growing incidents of harassment of foreign visitors by anti-social youths is another reason why they do not pay a second visit to the site.
Buddhist sculptures, museum, Mahakal temple and the sylvan surroundings attract tourists from out of the state and the nation as well all the year round. But safety of the visitors and the sculptures is the need of the hour, locals observed.
When contacted, Jajpur Collector Ranjan Kumar Das admitted many complaints were there concerning Ratnagiri hill. “I have directed the superintendent of police (SP) to take steps to ensure strict adherence to the safety measures at the site,” he said.
On the other hand, repeated efforts to get opinion of ASI officials yielded no result.