It was January of 2018. Nirvaan was 4 months old then. We wanted to go somewhere which would not be too far and could be done in 3-4 days. Puri was a perfect choice. We took a flight to Bhubaneshwar from Kolkata. It was a 50 minute flight and Nirvaan's first. We were very apprehensive whether he would be scared and cry most of the time. Nirvaan did cry but only during takeoff and landing. It was not that bad for a first. Later we got to know , they experience earaches during takeoff and landing, precautions for which were taken in our later tours. Mainly, you should engage the baby in any kind of suckling activity which maintains the pressure in their ears. Also, you could administer 5 ml of Phenergan orally just before takeoff so that the baby gets a good sleep during the flight.
We hired a self driven car from Bhubaneshwar to Puri. The road was good , though Google suggested us a shorter route just before entering Puri which took us through the narrow alleys around the Jagannath Temple , where driving was not that fun.
However, we reached Marina Guest house on the outskirts of Swargadwar Beach around afternoon 2pm. I read very good reviews about the place on TripAdvisor. The location was amazing but service and standard of rooms did not live up to our expectations. However, the terrace was mindblowing and one gets a 180 degree view of the Bay of Bengal from there. Nirvaan just loved the sea breeze and you could see his joy from his face. We kept the day to ourselves to rest. Nirvaan had a good long sleep.
Next day, my parents went to the Jagannath Temple. I took Nirvaan and Priyasha to a road trip to Konark. The weather was great. The road was even better. This short roadtrip of 1.5 hours from Puri to Konark was definitely one of the best in India with a considerable portion of the road running along the Bay of Bengal. Before that, the road goes through a jungle which is called the Konark Wildlife Sanctuary. I was inspired to take this roadtrip after watching the Malayalam movie Neelakasham Panchakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi; it did not disappoint me. Just before reaching Konark comes the Ramachandi Beach. There is a wonderful resort here called the Lotus Resort which is situated at the confluence of a river and the sea. The restaurant is situated right next to the beach. We spent a relaxing couple of hours there. Priyasha took Nirvaan for a ride around on his stroller. He was pretty comfortable. He did not like the sun though. But he perhaps understood he was out of his regular comfort zone and did not throw any tantrums apart from when he was hungry. We returned to Puri in the afternoon. Nirvaan was more than happy to get a bed and after one full bottle of milk, he fell asleep.
I was searching in google for a quiet place with a bar to chill in the evening when i came across Baron's Bar in Mahodadhi Palace. All five of us were there by 8pm. it was right next to the main Swargadwar Beach. Mahodadhi Palace has a quiet old world British charm to the place, the rooftop Baron's bar (which was almost empty) added to the archaic feeling. The staff were extremely courteous. They took special care of Nirvaan. He happily went from one lap to another though his eyes fixed on his mother. The food was delicious, the malai prawn tikka was just amazing, so were the tandoori mushrooms. The sound and smell of the sea, the breeze, the beer, and everyones's happy faces just added to the bliss.
We shifted to a homestay called the Judge's Court next day as we wanted to experience the local culture a little more. This was not on the beach but within 10 minutes from Swargadwar and 2 minutes from Chakratirtha road. This old bungalow with a huge garden and a lawn belonged to a judge from Orissa whose granddaughter has now renovated the place for a homestay. There was a black Rottweiler called Bruno who looked fierce but just needed two pats on the back to become friends with us. Nirvaan's little eyes glowed with joy on seeing Bruno. Perhaps he reminded him of a similar four legged creature with a tail and her various naughty antics back home ( Hashi ). The bungalow was very serene and it was a perfect place to find some solitude away from the busy streets of Swargadwar and Jagannath Temple. The sunrays falling on the huge balcony by the garden were soothing and my mother had a gala time with Nirvana on her lap. We had a home cooked Odiya style lunch which was delicious, just what we wanted to complement a lazy afternoon.
My parents wanted to go shopping in the evening. They took Nirvaan with them. Me and Priyasha had a lazy stroll in the Chakratirtha Road market, pretty sure of a phone call soon from our parents. But to our surprise, we almost had two hours exclusively for us. We discovered a tiny little shop with interesting curios. It was run by an extremely polite Kashmiri gentleman. We bought a Budhhist Thanka from there. Another place we discovered was a small cafe called the Honey Bee Bakery. The carrot cake here was just awesome. You have to taste it to believe it. The pizzas were good too. The place had a hippie charm to itself with a peculiar seating arrangement on its terrace as well. You'd find books in various languages and of varied interest stacked up here,thanks to the foreigners who frequent this cafe. I highly recommend this place to all those who want to chill for a while in Chakratirtha Road. Our parents were back earlier and Nirvaan had been a good boy without making any tantrums.
We heard about this small artisan village called Raghurajpur about 10kms from Puri. We drove down to Raghurajpur next day morning. We had our flight from Bhubaneshwar that very evening. So we did not have more than a couple of hours to spend there. But if one is an art lover, perhaps it is possible to spend an entire day there. The village is full of artists who are skilled in a local art form called Patachitra. If you have time, they will even show you how to make one. We ended up buying a few though they would not persuade.
We had our lunch in a place called Pink House on our way back. The Chinese food at this place is cheap and delicious. It is located on the Chakratirtha beach and has a very calm vibe around. We packed up soon once we were back to Judge's Court and left for Bhubaneshwar with a heavy heart. Our small yet eventful holiday was going to be over soon. But on our way back home from the Kolkata airport , I had a smile on my face, the smile of content, the smile of happiness. Nirvaan was tickling me with his tiny fingers. I looked at his glittery eyes and could imagine him telling me " Baba, when is the next holiday?"