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The Orissan Odyssey

A week’s holiday in Orissa confirmed that India is the best tourist country in the whole world, which can boast of natural beauty, superior man made architecture, and untouched simplicity of the folks out there.

 

Our trip began at Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of the state, over the Good Friday weekend. Bhubaneshwar is such a planned city that one began wondering that is Orissa a developed state already, and the media only shows us places of diametrically the opposite type to evoke sympathy. The stay at Ginger hotel was memorable – clean, efficient though a tad overpriced for the meals that are on offer.

We had hired a car earlier, to take us to the sights of Orissa. The OTDC (Orissa Tourism and Development Corporation) is helpful, and reasonable. The prices on offer are the best. We came to this conclusion after having scoured several tourism agencies, and asked acquaintances from that part of the country.

 So off we went first to the Dauli caves, the Lingaraja temple, …I am not going to describe what is there in these places. You will find a dozen other sites explaining this. But what I should mention is the magnificient structures leaves you spell bound for atleast the first 5 minutes. The lack of proper maintenance, and the argument by the local agents that you will be blessed only if you pay what they demand as parking charge for the car was daylight fleecing. It brought out in me the urge to argue with them in an unknown tongue about how the same Gods will curse them for charging dishonestly, but then I am not that adventurous either 🙂 Inspite of all this, if you keep your ears and eyes open, you are not likely to be taken for a ride in this place.

 

Any trip is incomplete without some shopping. And just to annoy my folks, I embarked on one the very first day. The sambalpur prints, and the handicrafts are way too expensive and did not particularly appeal to me. Nevertheless, bought some for fond memories.

 

The next morning was a relaxed morning at Ginger. Then we set out to Satpur, around 10 am to the Chilka lake. The heat roasted us until we melted, but what greeted us on arrival requires a poet’s description. The beautiful lake was nested amidst mountains, and one doesn’t get to see it, until one reaches the far end of the road. The stay at the OTDC resort here was not a pleasant one though, but then this seemed to be the best resort on display. The people here are scrupulously honest, and they believe in earning their living through devoted hard physical labour. Our boat ride towards the mouth of the sea is one I would cherish, amd I would not be doing justice in describing the serene waters, the sunrise, the dolphins ducking away from the boats, the sea gulls, and then vast stretches of sand suddenly out of nowhere, before we could catch sight of the blissfully clean, untouched sea waves. At that moment, God’s magnificence strikes you in all its glory. Thoughts go back to how tsunami would have raged havoc here, and thankfully how nobody was there to talk about it.

 

From there to Puri was a relaxing drive. The abode of Lord Jagannath is the quintessential tourist hub. More than once people tried to con us, and what miffed me more was that even the sacred place(temple) is not free of these conmen. To get a good glimpse of the God, you need to stuff them with money like a Christmas turkey. It left me feeling that God is much more beautiful and sacred in one’s own heart and mind, than at his worldly home. Somebody had remarked before we left on this trip, that we should be prepared to lose all the money on us when we enter the temple. And the naïve me had thought that it would be the pick pocketeers that are ubiquitous in crowded places, and I need to hold on to my valuables. It was only later that I realized this:- inside the shrine, the locals  demanded money and persisted until you parted with it for fear of them ganging up and manhandling you. No wonder the God there needs to die every 12 years and be accorded with a funeral..to relieve himself of the sins people around him commit. If you are not really religious, skip this.

 

The Chandrabagha beach and the Konark temple are different delights…one natural and the other historically engaging.

 

The entire trip lasted only a week, but left me proud on several fronts :- that I managed to plan this trip, that it was a good family holiday, that I belong to this rich, diverse country.

Filed under: Travel & Books - my pastimes,

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