Sometimes, some plans are made just as randomly as one can imagine and our trip to Odisha was of them. Odisha is a land of spirituality and serenity with places like Jagannath Temple known for its massive religious value, Sea Beach on the shore of Bay of Bengal and Chillka Lake Asia’s largest brackish lagoon welcoming migratory birds in winters annually amongst others.
#Flight to Bhubaneswar
Started off with an early flight to Bhubaneswar(nearest airport) at 07h00 and reaching sharp at 09h10. As, it is a relatively small airport, baggage claim took as long as 30mins & so after collecting our luggage we proceeded towards Puri via a private taxi adding another 1.5hrs to our journey.
*Welcomed by a beautiful painting at Bhubaneswar airport*
Checked in the hotel at 11h30, we unloaded our stuff in the respective rooms. My mum and me decided to take a stroll on the beach, my dad and brother skipped the short outing to the beach(even at just 2 mins walk). I changed in the beach clothes, applied sunscreen and was out to beach around 12h45.
#Puri Sea Beach
A beautiful beach on the shore of Bay of Bengal with majestic Golden Sands and varied hues of the sea.
Unlike other mainstream beaches in India, Sea beach doesn’t have any water activities. This was a let down for me because all we had to do sit around in huge crowds and not able to find solace. I observed another weird thing when I spotted horse/camel giving rides to tourists – like is this a desert or what??
The beach is somewhat clean, but really dirty near the eateries. After clicking some pictures & roamed around for another hour we returned to room for lunch with a will to return soon.
*Puri Sea Beach*
- Local vendors lend chairs/shades to tourists at merely 20₹ per hour(20/30 cents/hour)
- Ask price of everything before purchasing.
- Beware of vendors selling pearls & gemstones claiming as original but are fake.
- Try Bhel Puri – without oil -they use mustard oil – something not everyone can relish – at 15/20 ₹ per plate(~20 cents).
- Try Papdi Chat(SevPuri in Mumbai) at 30₹ per plate (~30 cents).
- Tea is wonderfully refreshing at most of the vendors.
- If you love sea food, do try fish and crab pakodas.
Took a nap post lunch and headed towards the Jagannath Temple around 17h00. The temple dates back to 12th century & is dedicated to Lord Jagannath or otherwise known as Lord Krishna. It is one the char dhams – four divine temples which is suggested for all Hindus to visit once in a lifetime. My mum is really desperate to visit all the four dhams before she’s gets too old to travel. The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra/ Chariot festival where the idols from the temple are brought out on the main streets in Puri and usually occurs in June/July embracing huge amount of crowd from all over India.
*Rath Yatra – reference from Google*
The hotel receptionist arranged a priest for us to provide us an insight about the temple. As it is an Hindu Temple, we had to remove our shoes outside and (to my shock) mobiles/cameras were also not allowed inside the temple premises and had to be deposited at a counter, so no pictures after the entry point.
The temple has four entrances indicating North, South, East & West. We started our tour from the South Gate, the priest told us that the main temple is surrounded with various small temples of other gods. On completing Parikrama and visiting most of the temples, we proceeded towards the main temple. The priest took us directly to the queue towards the main hall, and we offered our prayers there by watching the deities from a distance.
*Jagannath Temple – View from outside*
*Jagannath Temple – Zoomed out view*
*To my disappointment, the temple was not at all managed, priests supervising everything, no crowd control and most/all the priests demanding huge amounts of donations in exchange of blessings of god. I am a spiritual person(not a religious one), but these priests take undue advantage of people’s sentiments by making it as their source of income.
All in all, I was amazed by the architecture of the main temple, how could they have possibly built such a huge structure in 12th century was really mind-blowing. Upon our return, we fetched our belongings and proceeded towards the market surrounding the temple. As Odisha is well known for its handloom, so we bought a few bed sheets for ourselves(& gifts), which we got at pretty reasonable rate( < 10$).
- Enter the temple premises by the East gate(refer pic above).
- If you have entered via East gate, get prasad from outside to be offered to the deities (inside the temple you get prasad at highly overpriced rates).
- Beware of the priests encroaching you once you enter the temple on the pretext of showing you around the temple.
- Leave your mobile phones & cameras in hotel/cloak room as they’re not allowed in the temple.
- Turn deaf ear to the priests calling you out for donations to god in name of blessings.
- Once inside the main temple, take care of your wallets and donate only if you like (don’t do under priests pressure)
Returned to our Hotel around 19h00 and decided to stay in the room for dinner. After enjoying the delicious dinner in our rooms, we crashed in for the day. I will update you more about Puri on and offs in later posts.
Stay tuned for the rest of the updates from the trip.
– The Wanderer