Hockey players from 16 countries are in the city, as were a host of celebrities to kick off the world cup. Fans have transcended nationalities to gather in the capital of Odisha to soak in the tournament fervour. They are also soaking in the culture and heritage the city has to offer, especially with the first edition of a multidisciplinary festival coinciding with the world cup.
This is not the first time that an event of such a scale is being held in the city. Bhubaneswar has hosted the Asian Junior Women’s Rugby tournament, the World Hockey League and the Asian Athletics Championship in the past. Locals claim that Bhubaneswar also hosts food and cultural fests regularly, even though it attracts little attention from the outside world. This year, it seems the authorities took it upon themselves to make sure to tap in on every aspect of tourist influx. “With the launch of the.Fest (Dot Fest), I expect people to be more aware of the city as a whole… we perhaps have the highest density of national monuments in India and people need to be more aware of our heritage,” says Krishan Kumar, vice-chairman, Bhubaneswar Development Authority, adding, “We are slowly going to build the city as a brand… we should be able to become a very prominent state, both in terms of attracting investments and on the country’s cultural calendar.”
The signs are all there. The temple city is decked up for the world cup and the festival. The roads to Kalinga Stadium, venue for the world cup, are well-lit and wide. The walls bear intricate street art and multi-coloured lighting decorates the city. The city authorities and state government have worked tirelessly towards giving Bhubaneswar a facelift it deserved. A thick green cover envelops the city; the roads are wide and an intelligent traffic management system has recently been put in place.
The solar power-run traffic system not only collects real-time traffic data, but also optimises the signal phases to reduce delays, claim authorities. “If one lane is empty, the traffic light won’t turn green; it will be red, indicating how sensitive the traffic lights are to the presence of vehicles,” says Kumar.
The state government also launched mobile application-based services, Mo Buses and Mo Cycles, to be operated by capital region urban transport, with the aim of easing traffic congestion and making commute easier. Initiatives like these might have stemmed from preparation for the world cup, but are certain to bear fruit in the times to come. “Bhubaneswar is a green city with good infrastructure and road network, which is why growth can take place here harmoniously without creating much chaos,” says RV Rajakumar, director, IIT Bhubaneswar.