Orissa

Along the long coastline of Orissa are pristine and quiet beaches at Puri, Chandipur and Gopalpur where the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal laps the edges. The state has low mountain ranges, waterfalls, hot sulphur springs and thick forests. Chilka Lake is a birdwatchers delight with migratory birds stopping over for the duration of winter and Bhubaneshwar, Konark and Puri are the three temple towns in the state.
Of all the places to see, Konark is famed for the magnificent stone chariot that is in the temple dedicated to the Sun God.
One can go on a tribal sightseeing tour or explore rock caves or soak away aches and pains in sulphur spring spas at Atri, Taptapani, Deulajhari and Tarabalo. Animal lovers have a wonderful opportunity to see the rare white tiger at Nandankanan Zoo and other wildlife at the Simlipal National Park and Bhitarkanika National Park. November to May is the best time to visit Orissa as the weather is pleasant and also the time when many festival celebrations take place. For those interested in outdoor activities and adventure tourism, Orissa has on offer angling at Chilka Lake, Kayaking and Canoeing at Dhabaleshwar and Barkul, Surfing and Sailing at Gopalpur Beach and Chandipur Beach and exotic treks like the Mahendragiri Trek, Gandhamardan Trek, and Nilagiri Trek in areas endowed with sparkling streams and lush undergrowth.
Bhubaneswar, the capital has a domestic airport and the city along with Behrampore is the railhead connected to major cities in the country. The city is also connected by road to Calcutta and Visakhapatnam in the neighbouring states.

Experiencing the temple town of Puri, Oddisha

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Then panda took us to Anand Bazar area of temple and went away to collect Mahaprasad for us. It was offered to each of us on pattals i.e banana leaves. A huge variety was there but I think children will not like this as it consists of rice, daal and several other items most of which is not liked by children. At last we were offered Rabri, which was very tasty indeed and satisfied our taste buds.

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The Living Stone

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It is a very small temple which has sixty four Yogini figures placed inside the circular wall. Each Yogini has a name and special characteristic such as one with lion face, one with a monkey face, one standing on a human head or one standing in fire and so on. There are a few Yogini temples all over India and all are circular in shape depicting the ‘Yoni’.

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Rambha and Barkul – The flavours of Chilka

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A few were really very nice. Having spent our time at Kalijai we hopped back into the boat and returned to panthanivas. After lunch we took a Tata Iris van and moved on to take a llok at some local places of interest. First we went to Nirmaljhar temple 11 kms away. Inside the small gate there is a small pond in the centre, a small temple on the left and the main temple on the right. A stream flowing from the Easter Ghats has been directed here into a small kund, The sweet sound of flowing water was the only one that could be heard. There was no other living being inside. At the rear, there are small deities of ‘Dashabatara’. Though the temple has immense significance we hardly saw any signs of maintenance. We moved on to Narayani Mata temple 10 kms away. This temple is situated atop Valerry hill. After ascending the loopy road our car came to an abrupt halt. There were several cars and busses ahead of us caught in a fierce jam. Each was having its free run with restless crowd of people don’t know from where created a ruckus. The lone traffic police stood helplessly. After failed attempts by our driver to make a way through, he asked us to make the rest of the journey on foot and parked the car. We started walking past the vehicles and crowd and made our way up the steep road.

I could not understand what we so many people doing here. The area was surrounded by jungle with ‘saal’ and other trees. As we climbed further up the road we saw groups of people cooking food on giant pots. That’s it! These local people are having a picnic, and what a place to choose – a jungle. Never before I had seen so many people (thousands) picnicking in a forest. After walking further we came into a clearing with several steps. There were few shops selling puja items. Manu devotees were buying these for offering to the goddess. After climbing one more flight of stairs we reached the temple sitting amidst the forest with trees and boulders hanging over it. There were lots of monkeys prancing around and I had to be very careful with my cameras. My son was however very amused. The temple complex had a small ‘kund’ and one side there were a few fallen tree trunks (courtesy phailin).

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Konark – The Heritage of Mankind

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On the three sides of Temple three forms of Sun god idols are placed. The southern side GOD called “Mitra” described as the rising Sun. It is 8’3” in height. The western side GOD is called “PUNSAN” and described as mid day Sun, it is 9’6” in height. The northern side GOD is called “ Haritasva” described as setting sun, it 3.58 meters in height which is approximately above 10’.

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Bhubaneswar – Temple city of Odisha

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We first reached at Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. It is a typical tourist destination with numbers of tea and snacks shop and a big parking area for Buses and car parking. The monument remains open from sunrise to sunset. Entry fee for Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) – Rs. 5 per head and for each foreigner is Rs. 100.00 or US $2.00 and free entry for children below 15 years.

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Puri – Lord Jagannath’s land

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In the evening we came out of the Hotel to explore Puri Market and Swargdwar. As regards to Puri Beach I have always seen in television that sand art is generally performed at Puri Beach so I was looking at the beach if I can found any sand art. Unfortunately we did not get to see any sand art on Puri beach. We were walking on the beach and there I saw a board “National Sand Art Festival”. We were so excited and quickly took tickets (Rs 20/- for each person and Rs 15/- for camera).We entered inside and got to see some beautiful art works.

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Travel to Konark Sun Temple and Puri

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We decided to relax for couple of hours before we pay our visit to Puri temple. Finally we went for Darshan at 7 pm and it took us hardly 10 minutes get inside the Garbha Grih. Now here is the word of caution, the religious place is a house notorious panda’s and one has to be careful dealing with them. One of them took us to small room within the temple premise and forced us to pay him huge in order to get the blessings. Since we were well aware, we avoided that well within time and moved ahead. Such panda’s were there every meter, and they kept asking for donation in the name of god. Note: I am not calling them as priest as they don’t behave like.

The temple complex is beautiful from inside, having many small temples, very similar to any other temple in India. The structure is inspired by Kalinga art, and it is the highest temple in Orissa from the sea level. Details of origin and legend can be obtained from shrine’s official website.

In the evening we had an early dinner and went to sleep as the day ahead was packed with action.

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Durga Puja – The biggest festival in our life – Part – II

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Durga Puja is also known as Sarodautsav. It’s also time to buy and read Sarodia Magazines. All the major publication houses in Kolkata publish a special magazine before Durga Puja, which contains novels, stories, fictions, travelogues from all the famous writers. These magazines are also being used as a launchpad for the new writers. Magazines hit the stand before Mahalaya and find a home almost immediately.

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My trip to Odisha – Dhauli, Pipli and Konark

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We passed through an old toll booth. Papa held a competition that who will spot the Konark Temple first? We all eagerly started to look outside. Papa was looking straight with confidence that only he will win. I thought that probably he knew where the Sun Temple would come. I was proved right as after sometime papa was the first person to spot the Sun Temple’s mastaka. It was brightly shining, rising above the tree canopy.

By then it was evening so we decided to go to the Konark beach first and get a glance of the temple in the night. It was a nice warm day and towards the evening it turned a little cool. I wore my swimming costume and had fun on the beach. Nikki Mama and I played with a disk. When Mama went to play with his friends who had also come from Delhi, I strolled on the beach going near to the ocean so that I could get my feet wet. The water was chillingly cold. I wanted to go further deep but papa had cautioned me not to do so as Konark Beaches are unsafe and dangerous. It was a beautiful evening with finally the sun diving and disappearing in the ocean.

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