Puri was on cards for a long time. So this December when I was in India , I decided to finally go for it. I started in the evening by Howrah – Puri Supefast express. In spite of booking ticket in 2nd AC 1 month in advance, I only got RAC. Nevertheless , We reached Puri hotel in the morning. I booked the hotel through OYO platform but thr hotel did not honur the booking so ended up paying it again. It took months for me to get my money back.
After settling down in our hotel , we took an auto to explore Silpi gram, Raghurajpur. This place is a heritage village. The artists will escort you to their huts/workshops. Exquisite arts and handicrafts of palm leaf carving, pattachitra available in every hut. They will explain the making procedures and show theirancestors works even. I bought some palm leaf carving, pattachitra . Overall its an amazing experience .
Later in the afternoon I walked to Golden beach. It`s a nice clean beach . I walked along the beach for sometime watched sunset annd then came back to hotel room. This beach is adjoint to Niladri beach where world famous sand artist Sudarshan and his students make open air sand scupluters . This is very close to his institute.
Today I booked Chilka Lake trip through OTDC. The bus leaves from Puri Pantha Nivas at 7 in the morning. Our first stop was Alarnatha Temple. The temple is associated with the visit of the saint Ramanujacharya to Odisha. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu during his stay in Puri used to see the icon of Jagannath daily. During Anavasara when Jagannath and his sibling deities were taken to the secret chamber for 15 days, he was unable to see the god. So as per legend, the god directed him to go to Brahmagiri and visit the Alarnath temple. Still today the Shila over which Chaitanya used to do Samkeertan is there. After having breakfast at some road side restrurant , we are off straight to Chilka . On the way to Satapada island bus crossed Dahikhiaa bridge. There is a famous story about how during the campaign against Kancheepuram, Lord Jagannath left his ring with a local yogurt seller to show the way to the Puri Raja’s army.
After reaching Satapada , we were given some time to freshen up and order lunch and then left for boating Chilka. OTDC boats are from a differnt jetty and larger compared to private ones. The destination was Rajhansa island. A boat ride of one and a half-hours takes tourists to Rajhans Island, where the one can find the most beautiful tents for travelers’ convenience. This untainted heaven is where Chilika Lake and the Bay of Bengal meet, and you can experience the two worlds. On the way and back we saw few Dolphins . Apprently there are about 100 Irawadi Dolphins in Chilka lake. We had our lunch afterwards and then visited Chilka before return journey back to the hotel.
Today I booked another OTDC tour to cover majority of the sightseeing. We covered Konark, Dhauli, Bhubaneswar, Khandagiri, Udayagiri & Nandankanan. We stopped first to visit an exihibition of one famous sand artist . This was an amazing experience and we managed to see him doing one live art work demostration.
We then had a brief stop at Chandrabhaga beach before contineuing to Sun temple of Konark. This is a magnificient temple , UNESCO world heritage and even part of some 7 wonders of the world. At the entrance of the Sun Temple, you can find two lions at either sides of the entrance, that are seen crushing an elephant each. Beneath each elephant is a human being. Here, lion represents power and the elephant portrays wealth. The whole illustration symbolises the major problems faced by man in his life – money and power. 12 pairs of wheels , The 12 stone-carved wheels of the Konark Sun Temple represent the 12 months of a year. These wheels that are found at the base of the temple, also show time. The spokes of the wheel form the shape of a sundial. The exact time of the day can be calculated seeing the shadow cast by the wheels. The Spokes of Each Wheel Each structure built in Konark Sun Temple represents the passage of time. Each wheel here has 8 spokes, each representing a ‘prahar’ which is a 3-hour period, adding up to 24 hours which is a day. Seven Horses The temple is shaped in the form of a huge sun chariot. This chariot is drawn by 7 horses, which represents seven days of a week. After that our next stop was Dhauli , where a shanti stupa was built by Japan. This is next to river Daya and it is siad Kalinga war was faught here. The river water became red with blood of dead soldiers . Here Ashoka became Dharmashoke from Chandashhoke.
Next we visited Khandagiri and Udayagiri cave on the way to Bhubaneshwar. There are nicely ornamental caves built for Jain Monks during the reign of king Kharavela. There are about 18 caves in Udaygiri and 15 caves in Khandagiri. Next we drove to Bhubaneshwar. Bhubaneshwar is called city of temples . It was the ancient capital og Kalinga and there are still 500 temples preserved. We visited the largest temple call Lingaraja temple , dedicated to Lord Shiva. As per some accounts, the temple is believed to have been built by the Somavanshi king Yayati I (1025-1040), during the 11th century CE Jajati Keshari shifted his capital from Jajpur to Bhubaneswar which was referred to as Ekamra Kshetra in the Brahma Purana, an ancient scripture. One of the Somavamsi queens donated a village to the temple and the Brahmins attached to the temple received generous grants. An inscription from the Saka year 1094 (1172 CE) indicates gifts of gold coins to the temple by Rajaraja II. Another inscription of Narasimha I from the 11th century indicates offer of beetel leaves as tambula to the presiding deity. Other stone inscriptions in the temple indicate royal grants from Chodaganga to the nearby village people. Though I am not religious but its a finest example of a hindu temple .
Finally after a long day we had our lunch break . After food we visited Nandan Kanan Zoo. Specility of Nandan Kanan was white tigers . Apprantly the name Nandan Kanan came from a pair of tiger with same name . Post zoo visit , it was a long journey back home . Reached at very late evening .
Today is our final day in Puri . We visited Jaganath temple in the morning . It was very crowded and possibly this was the place where I caught Covid. Nevertheless it was an interesting experience .
Later we visited Swargadwar beach where we did some shopping . After lunch we took a local bus to Bhubneshwar. We checked in to the hotel (booked through OYO platform , luckily no issues this time) early afternoon. After having some food in a nearby place we visited Raja Rani mandir. It has no deity inside sanctrum and consiered as love temple because of some Khajuraho type carving in wall . It is maintained by ASI and quite charming compared to regular hindu temple.
I caught Rajdhani express very early morning and reached home by noon.