The journey to explore Odisha started from our Chennai home. Reached Chennai International airport and arrived at Bhubaneswar airport at 2.30 pm. Took a local cab from Bhubaneswar Airport and travelled to Puri.
On the way to Puri we stopped in the local craft market known as Pipili.
It is a small village which is known for its selling art. People were creating art earlier days but now this village is only a selling point. There are plenty of shops in Pipili selling varied traditional crafted products includes patachitra art, metal works (Dhokra Brass metal and iron works), miniature stone carvings, appliqué works, paper mache etc., Odisha is a land of art and craft and so is the every store in Pipili village. However kindly check the originality and authenticity of the these works. We bought all our stuffs from a whole sale shop.
After witnessing the beautiful and mind blowing patachitra art work, we came to a village which is known as Rahurajpur (near Puri). This is one of the villages approved as 'art village' by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). It has 115 row of houses and every house has its own story to create art works.
Most of the housemates are National Award Winners from Government of India. Every house has a place to exhibit the art products and a studio to create it. The villagers earn their living by creating beautiful art works and selling them too. Note of caution: Many tourists are mis guided to other villages known as Raghurajpur and stop their journey at sellers point which is just before the actual artists village. Our kids throughly enjoyed the art village and in fact they started learning from one of the friendly house-mates.
Kids exploring the palm leaf -Pattachitra art
It's indeed a wonderful experience. We have to leave the village early since it was around 8.30pm and we have to check-in at our reserved hotel at Puri. We as a family we decided to leave however plan to come back during our stay at Puri.
Our day started early as we decided to visit Shri. Jagganath Temple in the early morning at 5 am.
Puri Jagganath Temple
The hotel helped us to get a priests who guided us fully. Visiting the temple at 5am was a blissful experience and even our kids who are 12 and 7 years old were gracefully enjoyed the art and architecture of the 'Kalinga' style. We have experienced many temples in Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andra. However this Kalinga style is built just like blocks. Our kids called this as "ancient Lego". There were many prototyped buildings within the temple premises made us to recall the modern day design practices. The main deities are Lord Balabhadra (Bada Bhai), Lord Jagganath (Chotta Bhai) and Subatra (Bahan). It is considered that they are living gods in earth and one definitely feel the vibration. Kids enjoyed the mystics of the temples such as the top wheel (sudharsana chakra) looks the same irrespective of the view, the flag flows opposite to the direction of the wind, no shadow when the sun raises and of course no birds flew above the temples. We were there around 2 hours in the temple to witness it. Note of caution: Photography is not allowed hence you may need to surrender all the gadgets outside the temple. There were different lockers for mobile phones and iPads/computers. They are safe to use.
After the Dharshan we were hungry to have the breakfast. We went to a near by veg restaurant, Chandan's. The food was freshly made and yummy to our tummy. After the breakfast we checked out from hotel and headed to our pre-reserved nature camp and Rajhans. We drove down till Satpada and took a boat to Rajhans.
Chalk boat ride starts from Satpada and ends at Rajhans. We visited sea mouth. Sea mouth is an small island which is surrounded by Chilika lake one side and the other side has bay of bengal. We saw lots of different types of birds includes and dolphins during the boat ride. The full bird information is also available in the information centre at Satpada. So grab a copy if you are a bird watcher. The dolphins in the Chilika lake is called Irrawadi dolphins. In India, it's found only in Chilika lake. After the ride for around 3 hours we reached at Rajhan's Nature Camp managed is managed by Odisha eco tourism (visit https://www.ecotourodisha.com to book)
At Rajhan's we stayed in a tent like structure which is well designed and maintained. Nature at its best. There is beach in a walkable distance. Food is taken care by the host (lunch/dinner and breakfast) is also included in tariff. We carried indoor games and small outdoor games (frisbee, tennis balls etc., ) and it is fun to play with the kids.
Rajhans -nature camp
Beach is neat and felt like a private beach. It is risky to take bath since there is no life guard. The tent is well furnished with air conditioner and geyser. The food is good enough. Please carry some refreshments and snacks if required since there is no shops to buy anything. The environment is so blissful and stress free.
Rajhans - Beach
The morning at Rajhans is very chill and windy. The temperature was around 16 to 18 C. We enjoyed walking and sitting along the beach side with the cold wind. One of its experience in a life time. After breakfast checked out and reached Satapada through boat ride. It was an hour of a boat ride. From Satapada we took a cab to reach Puri and checked in the hotel.
After lunch, the kids want to explore Ragurajpura - the artists village again, since they are very fond of the 'patachitra' art form. On the way to Ragurajpura, we enjoyed the local sweets in the near by shop. The sweets were yummy and very different. Some of the sweets to try are Chenna Poda, Dry malpuva and dry rasagulla.
We spent around 6 hours at the artist village, exploring different forms of art forms and understanding the concept of creating it. Patachitra art forms are done in palm leaves, tussar silks and on handmade canvas too. This village is also known for its dance masters of Odissi and Godipua. The kids in the village who are learning it as a gurukul method performed for us. It was too inspiring. We reached back to hotel at 10pm.
Godipua Dance Performance at Ragurajpur Artist Village
Godipua Performers and audience
Kids Trying Pattachitra art from the artists
One of the Artists Receiving National Award for Art
Our day started at 6 am and we headed to see Sun Temple at Konark. On the way to Konark we took a stop at Ramchandi Temple. It is locally considered as the goddess of sun Konark temple, Maaya Devi, wife of Sun God. It is small temple with the beach next to it. The tree at the entrance looks so divine. We get good local cashew nuts.
Ramchandi Temple, Konark
Ramchandi Temple, Konark
Konark sun temple looks massive and felt a speechless for a moment. It's massive, beautiful yet damaged. Though the renovation process is under progress, nothing stopped us to enjoy the beauty. We hired a tour guide, English speaking. Our plan to walk along with the guide and listen to him for an hour, then explore on our own. The guide is good enough to touch brief history. The surprise part is the king who built the Sun temple has a link with Chola Kingdom. Chola Rocks!!!
Konark Sun Temple, 'The Wheel of Time and Life'
Sun God's horse - the construction with steel rods
The Sun temple has major attraction of the wheels (with which the time of the day can be calculated), the dance postures and of course the intimate positions. Every sculpture is made it to the detail and I'll write a separate blog about the architecture of Sun Temple. We spent about 5 hours in the premises still need to explore more. We also visited the museum which is around one km from the temple. It's worth visiting since many of the unanswered questions are explained in the museum. We took around an hour to finish the museum visit.
We wish to explore a near by market at Bhubaneswar. The near by market from VITS hotel is at Unit-2 market. One can get almost anything from this local market. Every street is known for its specific products. Odisha handlooms and accessories are worth exploring.
Our exploration at Bhubaneswar starts with visiting one of the oldest zoos in the country. Nandankanan zoo is a typical Indian zoo with few animals especially white tigers. Tiger safari, deer safari and bear safari's are worth mentioning. Our kids throughly enjoyed it. It took around 3 hours to complete the zoo visit.
Close encounter of a bear at NandanKandan Zoo, Bhubaneswar
From the zoo, we went to Udayagiri and Kandagiri fort. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are made during 1st BCE. It has wonderful caves used for meditation. This Jain monument stands out with the unique 18(Udayagiri) and 15 (Khandagiri) caves. The double decor caves, water flow system to keep the caves cool and communication tunnels are worth exploring the physics with the kids.
The 6th day started with visiting temples in and around Bhubaneswar city. We feel, Bhubaneswar is a city of temples. Every street and every two kilometres of ride one will hit a temple. All temples are made with Kalinga type architecture. After visiting the temples, we felt that all these temples may be a prototypes prior to built Lord Jagannath's temple and Sun Konark temple. Some are beautifully decorated where in some are semi finished and some are just blank. The carvings measures to as small as a inch to multiple feet. It is amazing to explore and witness the similarities of design and patterns. I will post about this in detail soon. Lingaraj Temples has beautiful stone carvings and the deity is so unique. It is true representation of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Both of the vaganas are also represented in an unique way. The temple premises has 108 lingas. First time we witnessed Lord Karthikeya (Lord Murugan in South India - brother of Lord Ganapathy). And single leg Kalabirava is also unique at this temple. Mahaprasad is worth trying. It is truly delicious.
Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar
We went to Kedar Gowri Temple which is around 10mins from Lingaraj Temple. There are near by other temples Muktheswara & Siddeswar Temples. Muktheswara temple has beautiful and stone carvings. The entrance arch is one of the best carvings. I feel all these temples are prototypes to build Puri Jagannath temple. I will work on this further to establish sufficient facts. There are from smaller to bigger kalinga type architectures. Some are fully finished wherein some are not completed. I yet to find out the reasons behind it.
Six Inch single face, multiple body, Muktheswara Temple
We went to Rajarani Temple. It is a archaeological monument. Though it was a temple, currently there is no deity. The temple is made of red stone named 'raja rani'. Hence this monument is also known as rajarani temple. Again, wonderful and inspiring stone carvings. Astonished about the work.
The final day has arrived. Our flight was at 2pm. We went to Tribal art museum at Bhubaneswar.
Tribal Museum, Bhubaneswar
Tribal Craftsmen at Tribal Museum
Odisha is place of tribals and this museum beautifully captured the nature filled life style of the tribes. Actually I felt we are the tribes since we don't know much about the nature. They live very closely to the nature and fact is not knowing much about technology and development. The place exhibits tribes of Odisha. Their life style is demonstrated beautifully. The best part is, at reception there is an audio visual equipment that helps us to know more about the exhibits. There are few tribal artisans are creating hand crafted materials. It took around 3 hours to cover all the four halls and the houses. We shopped tribal lamps and tribal miniatures at the souvenir shop. There is a tribal food stall available (mostly non-veg).