One Diwali Vacation, I decided to go on a trip to see the ocean with my parents. Destination Puri was selected and a four day trip was chalked out. The scenery was pretty much alike to that en route Kolkata (my homeland)….All small ponds, coconut trees, ponds full of lotus plants……Unlike the barren and dusty route when one goes towards Pune/Nagpur….
As the train sped towards Cuttack, we crossed the 2,250 m long bridge built on the river Mahanadi. It was awesome. After dealing with agents and browsing through pamphlets we decided on a cottage type hotel “Hotel Shankar International”. It was a good bargain with very tasty food and located right on the beach with the ocean 30 metres away.
In the late afternoon of the day we arrived, my parents went to see the ocean while i kept sleeping. Then we again went for a stroll after dark and the beach light being out of order, it was quite scary to walk across beach in darkness..And then I got the night view of Bay of Bengal…..Looking so ominous in night..A dark unknown water world…So wild and powerful. Then later we went for a quick ride around the city.
Next day, the plan was to visit Lord Jagannath Temple. We made a deal with a “paanda” (aka agent of God…the god depending on the place..in this case Lord Jagannath) beforehand to escort and guide us in the temple. It is advisable to do so to prevent getting “robbed” inside the temple.
So after submitting our mobiles and camera, we washed our feet and entered the 8000 yrs old temple consisting of many temples inside, carved out of hillocks. Here and there various types of prasads were available and once you take it innocently, the pandas ask for money….It is a whole business going on there. The place was so crowded that our hired paanda held our wrists and literally dragged and pushed us inside the main temple to see the Lord.
Then we came back to our hotel and had breakfast. A rented car came to take us to Konark to see the famous Sun temple. The 13th-century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), built in Orissa red sandstone and black granite by King Narasimhadeva I (AD 1236-1264) of the Ganga dynasty. The temple is one of the most well renowned temples in India and is a World Heritage Site. [This information has been provided by the courtesy of wikipedia]. While driving to Konark, we crossed a place called Chandrabagha. The view of the sea from there was awesome , but due to afternoon time we couldn’t enjoy much. The snaps didn’t come well too due to so much of sunlight. We also crossed some forest area but didn’t get to see even one deer. The Sun temple was really grand…such a huge structure made of stone…so much creativity and hard work. Its surrounding gardens were extremely beautiful. Huge elephants and other creatures made of stone were there. There were many “guides” who pestered to hire them to show around and tell stories of the various sculptures. I took many snaps and bought a lot of souvenirs from outside stalls.
The food shops outside the site don’t serve tasty food. But we drank very tasty coconut juice and ate pulp. Then we returned to our hotel and had our lunch. After our afternoon nap, we went to the main beach of Puri; “Sworgodwar” meaning gateway to heaven. Here the beach was very crowded and all the prominent hotels were on the road next to the beach. It was already sunset when we went, so couldn’t enjoy much. There was a large market too but as we were tired from our day trip, we just did window shopping. We planned to come back the next day in early evening. From there we went around a trip around the town. Visited a Buddha temple where stone sculptures were kept for sale. Exquisite work but very costly.
The next day the same rented car came to take us to Chilka Lake. Chilka Lake is a brackish water coastal lake . It is the largest coastal lake in India. The driver told us Chilka is famous for its crabs. We were tempted to eat crabs and had decided to buy from there. The fun part of Chilka visit consisted of boating ; the activity of which both my Dad and I were afraid. So we just roamed a little , took snaps and sat in the adjoining park while eating chips and feeding crumbs to crows. Also Dad bought 3 crabs weighing one kilo and gave them to the hotel chef to prepare for us. I was looking forward to my dinner that night more than I usually did. 😀
In evening we went to Sworgodwar and enjoyed a lot. Even Dad went to wet his feet in the waves crashing on the shore. At the beach there were local people selling “pearls” and “stones” collected from sea at prices of Rs 5-25!!!! There were camels for giving ride and chairs were available on rent at the rate of Rs 10 per hour to sit and enjoy. We “rented” chairs as the beach was quite dirty.
Then we bought some snacks from the Mongini’s outlet and sat by the “Marine drive” to enjoy. After that we went shopping and I bought knick knacks, dress material and gift items for colleagues back home. Beautiful idols made of stone and coral were available. Came back to hotel. After dinner we went for a night walk on the beach.
Next day was our last day in Puri. All of us went for early morning walk on beach. The ocean at each time of day has different sights and different effects. The morning chill, the fog, the boats going out to earn livelihood…..whereas in night the darkness, the sound of waves crashing in the silence of night, boats returning home, a feeling as if we’re standing at the edge of the world. Dad and Mom went for some last minute shopping. In late afternoon, Dad and I went for our last view of the Bay of Bengal, to take in the vastness of the elements of earth before we left for station.
Next day we reached our home with the memories of a wonderful trip.