Cruising is one of my favourite things where I find solace for myself. A soul-filling ride on a picturesque road can mend the routes of my agonies to obscure destinations. My love for travelling and exploring while cruising was drawn to a point where it was high time for me to plan a solo trip to Orissa/Odisha for exploring the cuisine and getting lost in a reverie en route to Konark from Puri, because I have heard a lot about this road.
The hours needle pointed 4 by the time I sat on my seat in the flight. Flying to Bhubaneswar from Hyderabad was just a 2 hour time span which I felt like ages because I was very much looking forward to roam in the streets of Bhubaneswar to taste the best of the city and to talk with the people there and make some interesting conversations. As soon as I touched the ground, I got the call from the hotel shuttle service and the check-in was smooth at the hotel. After taking a shower, I took my camera and went out for some street food. After a good night sleep and a decent fried egg for breakfast, I hurried towards my Uber Cab to go to Bike rental shop because I wanted to get myself on the Cruiser as soon as possible.
As soon as I got my bike from the rental agency in Patia, I asked the agent if I could get some typical Odia meal around and the good man, who was intrigued with the way I was travelling took me to his favourite place. It was Siya Ram near KIIT University which serves quality meals at very reasonable rate. My meal that day was Dahi Pakhala which was a treat from him and I loved it. After a hearty meal, I hit the road to Puri. The Avenger I took on rent was smooth and the road was in a very good condition. In no time, I saw a road sign showing the way to Pipli. Pipli is a small village, which gets it’s major revenue from the handicrafts and appliques that its people make. It is just a small village but there is no harm in taking a detour which would cost you 20 min, to grab a sight of the beautifully hung handicrafts and appliques on the shops that are laid by the road. And I got myself soon on Puri road in the afternoon and within no time, I felt thirsty. As you come towards Puri, you see a fly-over with huge boards on it with pictures of Puri. That was a brilliant sight but it would have been more spectacular in the morning or in the evening. Nonetheless I clicked a picture and I satiated my thirst at a shop nearby and hit the road again. Bhubaneshwar to Puri road is good, clean and surprisingly green. I didn’t expect that I would get to see those many fields on both sides of the road. By the time I felt the ride was becoming a little monotonous, I had reached Puri already.
The next morning’s breakfast was decided to be the famous Poori-Dalma from the no name place near Puri Railway station. After the much needed power meal of the day, I went back to room for taking a dip in the beach. The Swargadwar (meaning door to heaven) is a very felicitous name for this beach as it actually looks like one. But there’s a completely different story behind the name. It is said that it’s a direct door to Heaven for Mukthi. It’s a cremation ground where lots of Hindus from all parts of the country bring the cadavers of their loved ones for final rituals. The legend is that the SmasanKali, the goddess here acts as a guard to the dwar. Although this is a smasan, the place is considered sacred and a bath here is claimed to be divine.
If exploring the cuisine in Odisha was one reason for me to plan tnis trip, the ride between Puri and Konark was an equally weighing reason to go there. The Puri to Konark was a ride through a little forest with nothing but greenery, over little cute bridges offering magnificent landscapes and the best part is the marine drive. Although it’s only 39 K.M.s, it is just phenomenal. The ride has some part of Balukhand wildlife sanctuary contributing to the greenery on the sides of the roads. It has some part of Marine drive which makes it so beautiful to be riding there. I went in the evening and it was an unforgettable ride for me. The Chandrabhaga beach is not to be missed when in Konark.
The Konark Sun temple is open to everyone and you can carry cameras inside after paying some fee. The temple is being supported by lots of iron bars now as it’s in a very bad state. I was told that the temple actually was submerged in the sea initially and the rays of the sun falling on the top of the sanctum used to be focused at a point where usually the deity resides. This temple has no deity at all. The temple is an architectural wonder constructed in the Kalinga architecture. You might want to spend some time capturing the magnificent sculpture here.
Next day was accommodated to visit Sri mandir. Sri Jagannath Mandir in Puri is considered to be one of the most sacred places for Sri Vaishnavas. The temple has the gopuram (deula) rising to massive 214 ft. manifesting the very ancient Kalinga style architecture. There are lots of scholars and historians around the world who are researching on the antiquity of the lord. This is probably the only temple where the deities are changed every 8/12 years. The temple houses the Rosaghara, claimed as the largest kitchen in the world. The legend is that Krishna missed meals for 7 days when he lifted Govardhan hill and so the ChappanBhog (56 meals) came into picture, offering it everyday to compensate for it. It was a true delight for the foodies to see, smell and savour those number of varieties that could make you spoilt for choices in the Anand Bajar where Sarvam Jagannatham is believed.
While I spent the evening with a delicious affair on the notes of the best of the Odisha sweets, I retired for the day after I had a bit of chats and Singadas. The very next day is to rise early and capture Sun rise. I woke up early and rushed to the beach and saw the Sun hiding behind the clouds but to my run-down fate, I found that I forgot to bring the SD card for the Camera in my haphazard senses.
Anyway, after the daily dose of shower, I rode down the road to Satapada. The SataPada is a small village on the bank of the Chilika lake, where one could have a look at the Dolphins that come into lake from the Sea mouth. They have motor boats to take you into the lake and show you around. As I was a lone traveller, it was a bit costly affair for me. Chilika Lake, being the largest wintering migratory ground for lakhs of birds in India, I was not disappointed even when I went in Summer. The gray goose, storks, the pink flamingos and many more were spotted. But definitely, looking at the dolphins and their playful activities from the boat was one of a kind experience!
I was really tired by the time I came back but I was starving too. The Lonely Planet came in handy and I decided to visit the Wild Grass restaurant, which is featured in it, to experience Puri Cuisine in a soothing ambience and I wasn’t wrong with my decision. The next day, I woke up early checked the camera and headed to the beach a bit early and oh my! What a vivacious sight it was! The Puri coast is occupied by many Telugu people whose livelihood is to go against the tide and get the catch from the sea. That was a memorable view for me.
After light breakfast, I was soon on my way to Bhubaneswar but I planned a detour to Dhaulagiri. The Dhaulagiri is a hill on which the Shanti Stupa was founded. The Dhaulagiri hills and the Daya river banks are the areas where the then Kalinga battle happened. Although there is nothing much to see here except for the stupas and the view of the Daya river, it won’t be a problem to visit it as it’s on the way itself.
The day in Bhubaneswar was dedicated to visit the most famous temple of the city, the Lingaraj temple. I was blessed in a way that when I parked my bike, I got to find a point from where I could take the spectacularly beautiful, magnificently built Lingaraj temple. With sculpture breathing life into the stone in this temple, this 12th century built construction has a staggering 180 ft. Deula; could this possibly BE the zenith for Kalinga architecture?
No, I was never stopped from getting amazed.
The Raja Rani temple on the other hand was an equally beautiful yet a smaller temple in size. But the sculpture art work on the walls are to be highly laudable. The temple doesn’t have any deity but it’s just built for the love of architecture. You can take cameras inside and this actually serves as a park to the city residents for the tranquility it offers.
With lots of memories and many sweets from Chappan Bhog, I woke up early the next day to catch my flight to Hyderabad. I was sitting in my Uber suffering from the travel hangover, the type which doesn’t let you leave the place. The trip gave me a lot of knowledge towards the Odia Cuisine, the perspectives of people towards lives and to never trust Uber with the location it shows.