How DID we end up with this plan?! It's still not very clear. I had always wanted to visit Konark. I guess my love for the place began after watching the Malayalam movie "Neelakasham Pachakadal Chevvanabhoomi" (NPCB). But this was happening. This was September 2016. So we had booked the flight tickets. But the package was not confirmed yet. We had been in touch with OTDC- Odisha Tourism Development Corporation. As soon as we received the mail from them- confirming the itinerary- it became real! We were going to Odisha! Our first stop was Bhubaneshwar. But actually it was this very short stop. We had our lunch at "Panthanivas, Bhubaneshwar" and we were off to Dhauli.
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Konark Sun Temple
he major attraction of the town of Konark, this temple is a stunning example of ancient Odisha Temple architecture. The temple was built in the 13th Century during the reign of King Narasimhavarmana I. Samba, the son of Lord Krishna was cursed by him and this made him a victim of leprosy. After this he started practising strict penace and at the end of this he attained the blessings of the Sun God. Lord Surya is the one who is said to have powers of curing all sorts of sking diseases and so did he cure Samba. As a mark of his gratitude and devotion he built the Konark Sun Temple. Next day when he was taking a bath in the waters of Chandrabhaga, a picture of Lord Surya floated to his hands and he took it as an instruction of the Lord. He immediately placed this image in the temple he had built. The temple is huge and is in the form of a chariot which has 12 wheels and being driven by 7 horses. The idol of the Sun God is in a standing posture and the horses are shown carrying him across the heavens. The temple was also called as the 'Black Pagoda' by the British because it was built completely of black granite.
The largest brackish water lagoon of Asia, the Chilika Lake is an awesome place to visit when you are in Odisha. It stretches from Bhusandpur in the Puri District till the Ganjan District and comprises of a beautiful wetland. There are a number of islands here and these are places till where you can enjoy boating and also spend a peaceful and exotic weekend on one of these. The islands include the Nalabana, Kalijal, Honeymoon, Breakfast, Somolo and Rajahansa. The wetland is also a bird- watcher's heaven where thousands of migratory birds, especially flamingoes come here and are a visual treat completely. The Kalijai Temple on the Kalijal island is a popular attraction here where the Goddess Kalijai is worshipped. She is a local deity and Makar Sankranti is celebrated here with great pomp.
Sri Jagannath Temple
Next day we left for the Jagannath Temple hiring a tuk tuk from our hotel. When we reached there, it was sheer madness! The place was crowded like a swarm of bees and making our way into the temple with dadu along with us seemed like an impossible task! We somehow managed to the temple gates making our way through the crowds.
Mainly known as a pilgrim's beach, this is also the place which attracts thousands of tourists from around the world. The ones who come to pay homage to Lord Jagannatha make sure to take a dip in the waters of the Puri Beach. Talking from a traveller's point of view, the views of the sunrise and sunset are awesome here. The relaxed and calm atmosphere of the beach is soothing during a vacation and the sand art displayed especially by internationally acclaimed Sudarshan Pattanaik are a visual treat. There are also a number of shacks here selling fast food and other small items here and there. For a quieter experience you should move towards the eastern end of the beach and just sit there and watch the fishermen at work. High tides are a common trait of this beah so be careful to follow the rules guided to you.
Chandipur Beach is another one of the lesser known beaches of the East Coast in Odisha. The site can be reached by travelling to Baleshwar by road or rail. It is dangerous to visit the beach during the high tide, so plan your visit carefully. Devkund Waterfalls, Panchalinegeswar and Khirachora are some of the other attractions near the Chandipur Beach that together make it a great spot to spend a weekend.
Raghurajpur Artist Village
If you want to explore what the art of Odisha looks like, Raghurajpur is the best place to visit. This is a village hidden amidst palm and betel vines, where artists can make you get lost in the charm of their art. There you find thatched huts with outer platforms where the artists sit and do their work. These are also like their art studios where you can watch them working. Pattachitra or artwork on mud plates is the traditional part and other items of terracotta, papier mache and other stuffs are also made here. The Gotipua is the academy of dance here which polishes the art of Odissi started and nurtured by the Great Guru Shree Kelucharan Mahapatra. Other than this the worship of the loacl deity is also worth a watch here.
Nandankanan Zoological Park
The name of this park means the garden of the heavens. This has been declared as a sanctuary and is spread over the Chandaka Forest. The Kanjia Lake is also a part of this park. This park and sanctuary is mainly known for the variety of tigers here, especially the Royal Bengal Tiger and the white tigers. wildlife safaris are the main attractions here and guides and proper security facilities are also available to take care of all the tourists.
The ancient caves of Khandgiri and Udaygiri are some of the finest examples of ancient India's rock-cut architecture. These caves served as residential blocks for Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela. The Jain temples in Bhubhaneshwar are at an hour's distance from these caves, and are another excellent example to study the ancient architecture of India.
Raja Rani Temple
First place to visit in Bhubaneswar-Puri trip was Rajarani temple situated at old Bhubaneswar near Tankapani Road. Rajarani temple derives its name due to the employment of dull red and turbid yellow sandstone locally called "Rajarani".It is famous for its sculpted figures and the successive tiers of projections rising to form 18 m tower. This temple has no idols as such. Dance, Life and some very personal moments of life similar to Khajuraho mithun shilpas are depicted in the form of carvings around the temple .The best preserved sculpture of the temple are the standing astadikpalas on the central façade of kanika .
The restaurant lives up to its name and it is for sure a place to dine- out for peace loving people. This restaurant is on the CT Road of Puri and serves everything from breakfast to lunch and dinner at pocket friendly rates. The foreigners are very fond of this place mainly because they serve non- spicy yet tasty food. The muesli breakfast is a must try for a fresh start to the day.
Ashokan Rock Edict
By the way- food at Panthanivas, Bhubaneshwar was awesome. After visiting the "Shanti Stupa" at Dhauligiri, we saw the Ashokan rock edicts. Though it was dark (the driver was almost in tears each time we weren't on time!) the caretaker was kind enough to open the place especially for us and show us around. We were pretty tired and wished we had reached the place sooner. But to think that the Kalinga war actually happened on that very ground where we stood- kind of felt surreal. My paatti (grandmother) had told me a story about her elder sister who had once wandered into this jungle when they were young. Turned out the jungle used to be this place where the conquerors executed their enemies. The story went on about the "tantric" rites to revive her elder sister from her "state of trance"! Fact or fiction! I have no idea! With my paatti- it was always this way. All her stories spun around the plausible. The people were real. Themes were usually "Tantric"- "Chozhi", "maandreegam", "bhagavati"- poojas . The way she said them- everything in "first person". What can I say! They are real to me!
This temple is considered to be the oldest existing temple of the city built around 650 AD. Though the Presiding God of this temple is Lord Shiva, this temple is a combination of the Shiva and Shakti. The outer wall of the temple is engraved with the idols of Lord Parsuram (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu), Lord Indra (the king of Gods), Surya and many more Gods. This temlpe adjacent to the Mukteswar temple is one of the most beautiful temples of Bhubaneswar.
The name of the place justifies its beauty. In Hindi, Swargadwar means gate to heaven, though significant because of the cremation ground present just behind to beach, the main attraction is the Beach. Stretched alongside the main road, the beach is a huge part of Puri's main culture. Also, praised for hosting beach festival every year in December. It is not only beautiful because of its nature, it is beautiful because of the art shown by local residents on the sand by making beautiful sand sculptures. ranging from face of goddess Durga to face of Subhash Chandra Bose
This highway is a part of the Golden Quadrilateral project and runs along the boundaries of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The Northern Terminal is in Mayurbhanj, Odisha and the Southern is in Chennai, Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh, it runs through Nellor, kavali, Ongole, Chilakaluripet, Vijayawada, Guntur and Eluru.
Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa
Dhauli Shanthi stupa : Dhauli believed to be the battleground of Kalinga war is a hillside lying on the banks of river Daya just 8km from Bhubhaneshwar. Kalinga war that took place in 261B.C had lot of implications on Emperor Ashoka's mind ,completely transformed his thoughts and soul after which he embraced Buddhism. It is said River Daya had completely turned red due to the blood of dying soldiers from both sides of Magadha and Kalinga kingdom. This is the site of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa built by Japan Buddha Sangha and Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha. After offering our obeisance to Lord Buddha, we had an aerial view of Daya River