"Ganesh Puja” to be celebrated by Lucknow Oriya Samaj on 13th September 2018

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A trip to Odisha (Part - 1)
[CIRCUIT: Bhubaneswar – Puri – Konark – Chilika – Goplapur – Bhubaneswar]

Odisha, the land of endless beaches, scintillating sea waves, swaying coconut tress, spiritualism, lilting music, mesmerising odissi and tantalising sea food! What wonders lie hidden in its heart will take aeons to unfold. You have to be there, soak in its special flavours, to discover the wonderful land of Lord Jagannath.

From its temples to the beaches, the turtles to dolphins, the exquisite flora and fauna of the state, all evoke images of a land steeped in mysticism. You can lose yourself in these places any number of times, and would still want to come back for more.

Bewitching Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, with its planned architectural landscape, can be the ideal gateway to this beautiful and divine eastern state. The city is quite modern, having the best of the infrastructure and is well approached through rail, road and by air.

Once in Bhubaneswar, the city of temples, it does become a herculean task to prioritise the hotspots to visit, and to decide where to start! The roads, the layout and the professionalism of the city make touring the city fun and a pleasurable experience. There are more than a thousand temples in the city itself, their exquisite sculpture standing testimony to the genius of Odisha's craftsmen and richness of culture. The renowned temple of 'Lord Lingaraj', in the Old Town of the city, was built in 11th century A.D. In its vicinity, a few of the other ancient temples are Rajarani temple, Ananta Vasudeva temple, Kedar Gouri temple, Bharateswar Temple, Brahma Temple, Brahmeswar Temple, Chandana Temple, Laxmaneswar Temple and Mukteswar temple. Besides, there are some modern temples like Ram Mandir, Shirdi Sai Baba Mandir and the ISKCON temple in the city which not only offer a blend of modern and traditional Odisha architecture, but also are famous for their delicious 'bhog'. Moreover, the presence of the temples has made the city, the seat of Tribhubaneswar, an important Hindu pilgrimage centre.

There is no dearth of parks in the city of Bhubaneswar. Indira Gandhi Park, Biju Patnaik Park, IG Park, the Cactus garden (Ekamra Kanan) and the modern Nicco park entice the kids. To add further to the flavour, there is a planetarium called 'Pathani Samanta Planetarium'. The view of the city from the twin hills of Khandagiri and Udaygiri can hardly be avioded, once one is in Bhubaneswar. These twin hills are the Kumargiri and Kumarigiri, containing varieties of rock-cut caves, built mainly for the Jain monks around the first century B.C. Here one can also find the thirteen years lithic record of King Kharavela engraved in Hatigumpha (elephant cave).

Buddhist Peace Pagoda & Sulphur Springs

After a leisurely cruise of the city, it is now time to move to its periphery. Just about 8 kms away, is a hill called 'Dhauligiri'. The hill is surrounded by paddy fields and it brings back the memories of the historic 'Kalinga war', which transformed Ashoka into a compassionate ruler, who later vehemently patronised Buddhism. There are rock edicts in the foot-hill and the skillfully sculpted elephant hewn out of a huge rock on the fore. The hill is well renowned because of the Buddhist Peace Pagoda, popularly known as Shanti Stupa, built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha. Like any hill top, an old temple of Lord Dhavaleswar also enriches the tourist's desire.

About 40 kms from the city towards Khurda, there is a place called 'Atri'. This place is situated amidst greenery and is famous for the hot water spring. The sulphur spring is a holy place with the shrine of Hatakeswar. A bath in the spring water is certainly a pleasant experience and it is famous for curing many skin diseases.

The Nandan Kanan

Nandankanan is 20 km from Bhubaneswar. This Biological Park is carved out of the Chandaka forest and famous for harbouring the animals in a natural habitat. A centrally located lake divides the zoo and safaris from the Botanical garden. The presence of exotic aromatic plants and the white tigers make this place prominent in its class.

Cuttack: The Millennium City

After striding through the park, it is time to visit the thousand year old Millenium city of Cuttack, which remained the capital of Odisha for nine centuries. Cuttack is around 10 km from Nandan Kanan and is surrounded by rivers Mahanadi and Kathajori. The ruins of the 14th century Barabati Fort, built by the Ganga dynasty, can still be seen near the Barabati Stadium. The city is blessed with places of worship like Chandi Mandir, Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir, Kali Mandir and Quadam-i-Rasool. Janakinath Bahawan, the birth place of Netaji Subhash Bose, which has been converted into a museum, is a must see. The stone revetment on the banks of the rivers make the contours of the city all the more beautiful. To add to this, the indigenous brass work, silver filigree work with intricately interwoven wires, dye textiles and the stone work offer ample shopping opportunities to get souvenirs. After appeasing your palette with the chatpatta chaat, dahi bara - aloo dum, rolls, gup chup, etc., in the city, the passage from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar will be a pleasant drive on the smooth national highway NH 5. And yes, on the way don't forget to pick up some yummy sweets (chhena poda and rasgullas) from the scores of make-shift shops lined up on the roadside at Pahal.

Jagannath Puri

After a night halt in Bhubaneswar, it is the time to head towards Puri. Puri, one of the four dhams hardly needs any introduction. The temple of Lord Jagannath, having a height of 65 meters, was built during the 12th century A.D. by Chodaganga Deva and today also, it is one of the most magnificent pieces of monuments of India. In front of the main gate stands a 16 sided monolithic pillar of 11 metres height, called Aruna Stambha which formally stood in front of the Sun Temple and was brought to Puri during the 18th century A.D. The main temple is surrounded by other important temples like Lokanath, Sunaragauranga, Daria Mahabir and Tota Gopinath and a number of holy tanks. The Mahaprasad, as served in the temple identifies with the highest level of sacrament in the sense that it never defiles. It is believed that this place was once a thickly wooded hill inhabited by the Sabaras.

The sunny beach at Puri is one of the finest in the world. The breadth of the beach offers great opportunities for fun and frolic. Watching the sunrise in a symphony of colours is a wonderful experience. There is no dearth of resorts, dharmasalas, hotels, motels, restaurants and eating joints in this place.

Sun Salutation at Konark

The marine drive from Puri to Konark entices everybody. The scenic beauty of the road really creates a feeling of being one with nature. On the way, there is Ramachandi which is situated on the confluence of the river Kushabhadra and the Bay of Bengal. Further, there is Baliharachandi, which is on a sandy hill near the sea and adjacent to the mouth of the river Bhargavi.

About the magnificent Sun Temple at Konark, Rabindranath Tagore once said that 'here the language of stone surpasses the language of man'. The massive structure, now in ruins, is located around two kilometers from the sea. But originally, it was close enough to the shore and was used as a navigational point by European sailors, who referred to it as the 'Black Pagoda'. The huge edifice was built by King Narasimhadeva in the thirteenth century, in which the entire temple was designed in the shape of a colossal chariot, carrying the sun god, Surya, across the heavens. The main tower, which is now collapsed, originally followed the same general form as the towers of the Lingaraja and Jagannath temples. Its height, however, exceeded both of them, soaring to 227 feet. At the base of the collapsed tower were three subsidiary shrines, which had steps leading to the Surya images. One major component of the temple complex was the detached natamandira (hall of dance), which remains in front of the temple. Of the 22 subsidiary temples which once stood within the enclosure, only two are remaining today, those are Vaishnava Temple and the Mayadevi Temple. The construction of wheels, the images and over-all sculpture, even of the dilapidated structure is par excellence.
Time to pick some handicrafts!

Chandrabhaga is the nearest sea beach to this place. The greatness of this sea beach is that its natural purity has yet not been intruded. While returning to Puri, one cannot forget to stop at Pipli, the place famous for applique work, in which the decorative effect is obtained by superposing patches of coloured fabrics on a basic fabric.

A Cruise on Lake Chilika

After a night halt in Puri, it is time to head towards the southern part of Odisha. The greatest attraction is the lake Chilika. Chilika is around 100 km from Bhubaneswar. The queen of natural beauty, Chilika, is the largest brackish water lake in Asia covering an area of over 1,100 sq. km. It is a treat for tourists interested in fishing, bird watching and boating. In winters, Chilika aflutters with thousands of indigenous and migratory birds of many varieties from far and near - even from the distant Siberia. The fabulous beauty of Chilika which has inspired poets, can be best enjoyed from Balugaon, Barkul, Rambha and Satpada. The ambience here is serene and undisturbed, with a blue expanse of water on one side and an evergreen range of hills on the other. Dotted with a host of islands with romantic names, a cruise in Chilika is a life-long memory. Further, one of the greatest attractions is the Kalijai Island.

While on the way to Chilika, the dolphins can be seen frolicking in the lake at Chilika mouth near Satpara. Its location near the confluence of the lake with the Bay of Bengal, makes the place abundant with migratory birds.

The Queen of Beaches - Gopalpur

A night stay at Chilika can be a memorable experience and then one can head towards Berhampur. From this southern city of the state, one can go to Gopalpur-on-sea. The sea shore town of Gopalpur with its blue beach, attracts visitors from across the globe and offers 'Sun-Sand-Surf' to them. The backwaters of the Blue Bay enhances the beauty of the quiet beach.

Every good thing comes to an end and now it is time to pack-up. One can drive through National Highway No. 5 to return to Bhubaneswar. It feels like the trip to Odisha is over. However, coming back home and opening the atlas will leave you aghast! My God, I have seen just one stretch of coastal areas is what will hit you! You need to go back once more to Odisha to cross the turf left untraversed. On the next Odisha Day, we would give you another CIRCUIT.

Trapti Mishra


Damodar Mishra