Golden Beach, Puri
There are few other famous temples at Puri namely Gundicha Temple, Mata Matha, Tota Gopinath, and Swarga Dwar but we were done enough with temples and decided to spend first half of day bathing and playing at the beach. Beach is fairly clean, with gentle slope and mild waves which made the experience great. There are no water sports, and you will see locals strolling about. Some photographers may pester you for taking pictures in water (50/- per photo, can bargain) whom you can entertain if you like. You can rent chairs (with umbrella shadows) at the beach for about 50/- per hour.
In afternoon, we took a bus to Bhubaneswar (45/- per person) and flight back to Bangalore in the evening 9 pm. There are few spots on the way from Puri to Bhubaneswar which you can cover if you decide to take the taxi - Raghurajpur (Chandanpur) Art Village, Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa, Pipili art & craft street, and light & sound show at Dhauli (1st show – 6:30 pm to 7:05 pm & 2nd show – 7:15 pm to 7:45 pm). There is train as well at 2:30 pm for travel back.
For Konark and Chilika, we booked SUV but we could've done with a sedan car, and rates for SUV could have been negotiated 200-300/- cheaper since we saw our "agent" pocketing the commission before giving money to driver. There are many tour operators you can bargain with for taxis a day before.
There is a bus also from Bhubaneswar Baramuda bus stand to Balugaon (Satpada) if you plan to spend few days at islands on Chilika Lake which are more popular with migratory birds. Balugaon also has a railway station. Rambha is another town for access to islands for longer stay.
On our 'Hotel' at Puri
Little story behind our hotel. We got recommendation for this dharmshala style simple place to stay which is very close to the Golden beach. After few phone conversations and a Postal Money Order (yes!) for advance payment, we booked a room for four nights. Hotel is very simple with simple rooms (double bed, blankets, towels, table, cupboard) and no other amenities (AC, TV). Room service includes only tea in the morning, and simple restaurant with fixed and same (veg) daily menu, cheaply priced (30/- breakfast with 4 pooris and aloo) and 100/- lunch/dinner. They don't like to be referred to as hotel (will get angry and correct you if you do so) and want to be called aashram, though check-in/out rules are similar to hotel. We had to pay for an extra day since check out is early morning 7 am but we stayed till 9 am!
That said, it was cheap and near Golden beach in Puri. If you want to consider you can call at +91-6752-228727; +91-9439922924 between 08-30 am to 11-00 am exactly 32 days before the check in date. Advance payment for one day's charges needs to done via electronic Money Order (no NEFT, UPI, PayTm, etc.).
Puri doesn't have lot of fancy restaurants and food isn't why you are there, though you can still find Dominos for example. We really liked the taste of Agarwal's Pure Veg restaurant (take left while coming out of Sri Jagannath Temple, walk about a kilometer) but it's popular and wait time can be an hour long for dinner. Service is swift but basic. We even got them to pack for us on ride to Chilika and return to Bhubaneswar. There many other restaurants on that road.
On Government Tours
There are multiple single or multi-day government tours which are reasonably priced and fairly comfortable which you can join instead of planning your own trip. You can pick package from Panthnivas website or kiosk (near our hotel) or Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) website and book in advance. If planning to book before coming to Puri or Bhubaneswar, you will have to call them as there is no online booking option.
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