Day 3 Puri to Chilka Lagoon
Puri Sea Beach near Hotel
We decided to stroll in the beach in front of our hotel at dawn. We had our morning breakfast in a beach side eatery. Upon return to hotel after quick bath and freshening up we were ready for our waiting transport. We had the infamous “Panda” or clergymen visiting our hotel room for Shri Jagannath Darshan a must for all Hindus. Being a strong atheist I told him we may the day after.
Puri Jagannath Temple or Shri Mandira
We went to the outside of the Puri Jagannath Temple with an intention of seeing the inside architecture in a quick stroll. But the maddening crowd discouraged me. We were also in hurry.
It is the 3km grand avenue connecting Shrimandira and Gundicha temple. It is the route of the Rathajatra every year. We found the sides congested as usual. But the khaja (sweet) shops opposite to the Shrimandir had attracted me since childhood.
Few years ago I was there the day after Tsunami and the female traffic police and their way of persuading the bulls to let the cars pass interested me. Remembering this was once thronged by the royal folk and the debdasis had always taken me back in time.
On way we drove past the well known Mashir Bari of Lord Jagannath. We were beside the Markendeswari Temple.
On way to Chilka
While getting out of Puri we saw an old bridge and irrigation system. Eventually we were on a highway with not much traffic. Our driver stopped at a Petrol pump once and we were travelling not too fast not too slow.
We drove past the roads to 2 temples worth seeing. Nearing satapada we were stopped by a horde of buffalos. Their shepherd had a tough time allowing us passage.
Chilka Lake or Lagoon
Previous to the Tsunami Chilka was a perfect lagoon. But a part of the landmass separating it from the sea was broken off. We appeared at the Satapada end.
After booking a boat from the BhabaKundaleswar Nau Bihar Ecotourism Center we had our lunch from the only restaurant available.
We were finally in the boat. We were taken to a small island near the sea mouth. The trip was costly but despite paying much the boatmen made it short. I felt cheated. But we definitely enjoyed sighting the dolphins where the lagoon meets the sea.
Later we drove to the proper Satapada tourist spot to find it deserted due to some local unrest by the Dolphin Motorboat association. We visited a Chilka Eco Park.
Chinise Budhha Temple
This temple of Lord Buddha was built by the Chinise and is a wonderfull place to visit.
What interested me really was the disciple local craftsmen working with stone with much intricacy.
Shri Gundicha Temple or Garden House of Lord Jagannath
We visited the Gundicha temple at the further end of the Bada Danda (grand avenue) 3kms from Shrimandira (Puri Jagannath Temple) . The actual temple is surrounded by a beautiful garden. Upon entering we were made to walk along tracks demarcated by ropes. Though the stricktness of the path irritated me the ambience of an age old structure enthralled me.
This temple was almost empty as it is throughout the year. Only during the annual Rathajatra Lord Jaggannath along with Balaram & Subhadra resides in the temple for 7 days.
A craft Shop
As I pampered our driver for local crafts he took us to a local shop loaded with mostly stone carvings. I was amazed but alarmed by the cost of the mementos.
Akhandalamini (Shiva) Temple
A temple which seemed rather primitive to me with depictions of sexual postures in pictures on the temple wall. The bull was there. This is a cement and concrete temple built in place of the original wooden temple.
So were various wild animals like porcupine, deer, emu bird, squirrels in the rooms adjacent to the main temple.
Old Temples at Birpratappur
We reached the temple looking in the Google maps.
Raghurajpur Craft Village
My previous visit to Bhubaneswar Puri I had been to Pipli. Pipli is a place famous for Odhishan handloom and weaver. I was searching for a similar place and I found Raghurajpur, SBI ka apna Gaon.
Was enthralled by the foreigners staying there to learn indian art forms. Spoke with the artisans to get a glimpse of their life and struggle to keep their art living even amongst stark poverty at times.
Shakshi Gopal Temple
Been to this notorious temple and met it’s pandas. As we entered we were asked to sign in a record and one panda started to search my family tree. He couldn’t find any but demanded money. I would if it was within 500 but he refused to accept none below 2500.
I decided to take it head on and asked them clearly who are they to prevent me meet the God myself. I used their tone instead to foretell the God won’t spare them for their forcing the devotees. I went out refusing the prashada in protest of their obstructing me to see the idol.
Puri Beach Shopping
I was to buy memory card for my camera.
We soon returned to hotel and we had dinner outside in the still being built hotel lawn.
Day 5 To and around Bhubaneshwar
Passed through Pipli but had no time for buying any of the handicrafts. We just collected mineral water. Had been earlier there with an elder doctor friend buying decorated garden umbrellas.
Its another prize of my this tour. Just approaching Bhubaneswar city we came across the Central Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Found an amazing aquarium collections. Live ones unlike the neglected ones opposite to Kolkata Zoo and at Digha. Though in recent years the Digha one has been taken care off to some extent.
Pandava Gumfa in Bhubaneswar
I was chasing my childhood memoirs of the 1st Standard (Class 1) in search of the caves. I could find them in google maps but couldn’t get any road to reach there. We were going in rounds until I found a neglected site with a approach through a cattle farm amidst a posh urban locality of high rises.
It was a stark example of city engulfing the past. And to my horror I found the caves occupied by shanty dwellers.
A 7th to 11th century lingaraj temple with classic Kalingan architecture with Buddhist influence in the making. It is situated in the North West corner of the temple complex. It is known as the gem of Odhisha and the earliest temple of the Somabangsi dynasty.
It was built after the Parasurameswara and before the Brahmeswara temple. The temple houses a statue of standing Ganesh.
Kedar Gouri Temple
Situated behind the Mukteswar temple it is one of the eight astasambu temples in Bhubaneswar. Actually it’s a complex of 2 temples one for Shiva and other for Parvati. Legend goes king Latatendu built them in memory of 2 ardent lovers Kedar and Gouri. And since then lovers with urge to marry pray here. Another mythology points Lord Shiva and Parvati arraived here from Varanasi being dumbstuck by the erstwhile natuaral beauty of the location. Every Year during Sheetal Sasthi the idol of Shiva is brought from Lingaraj temple to marry Parvati here.
The Kedar temple was built by the Ganga kings in 12th century CE and houses Kedareshwar Shiva. The Gauri temple dedicated to Gauri, Shiva’s consort was built earlier in 10th century by kings of Somavamsi period. The complex has other 3 small temples too and 2 sacred ponds Khirakund ( for relieving men from cycle of birth & death) and Marichikund (for women’s infertility treatment).
A Shiva temple at Northeast of Lingaraj temple and maintained by ASI. It has references in old scriptures as Indresvara Shiva Temple. The name rajarani has its derivative in local sandstone used to built same. Along with the prominent historical importance the ornamentations shoot it to fame. The erotica in women and couples on temple engravings speak a lot of the sexuality of then Indian society. It reminds of the Kedriya Mahadeva Vidyalaya of Khajuraho.
Though devoid of any deity now it points to Shaivite origin. The major attractions being the sculptures of Astadikpalas of eight guards, Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirriti, Vagina, Vayu, Kubera and Ishana.
Puri Light House
I have been attacked to lighthouses always. My first encounter was Dariapur Lighthouse near Petuaghat fishing harbour. I first climbed that lighthouse at 4th standard day after my paternal uncles marriage.
I liked the Puri lighthouse because of the majestic aerial view of the sea beach and the sea.
Sargadar Puri Mahasmashan
The burning ghat at Puri has always been of importance to the devout Hindu. More so because of the auspiciousness of sacrificial service to forefathers and recording of the family tree by the pandas. Me being a head hard nonbeliever I had no reason as such.
But the mysticism created by the fight between the cool sea breeze and the hot air from the burning purses made me dumbstruck.
Puri Beach at evening
Thinking of mementos we were in the beach moving through the makeshift shops. Sea shells I have lots especially considering my numerous visit to several sea shores. Dead corals I have a fascination for collection. I purchased some miniature replicas of the Puri Jagannath Temple.
Was in the beach watching horse and camel riders. After nightfall we lazily returned to our hotel.
Day6 Return Home
Our holidays came to an end as we sluggishly moved to the Puri railway station. We alighted Duranta reluctantly to be rushed to Kolkata soon.
What we missed
Thus our sudden trip to Puri came to an end. Hope be well till the next travel