Old World Charm in Orissa, India

We disembarked in the eastern state of Odisha as the light of the trippy sun embellished the ancient city of Bhubaneswar that morning. Our 4-day escapade was joyful in every sense more so because, after years, this time, our family travelled with us.

The Temples & Caves

(Disclaimer: All religious views are our own!)

Puri Jagannath – Believed to be one of the most sacred, this 12th century temple dedicated to the deity of Lord Krishna or Jagannath and also a part of the holy Char Dam, amidst the fervor, bright hues of vermillions and yellows and bold scents of incense, strangely brought a feeling of repose. Although disallowed from taking photographs, the intricate stone shrine and sanctum created an ineffaceable memory in our minds.

Sun Temple of Konark – As the rising sun washed away the pastels of dawn, we found ourselves entering a property that stretched into the distance only to come upon a remarkable chariot-shaped structure, a temple dedicated to the sun god, Surya. Seeing elaborate carvings on the pillars, spires and walls and the 12 iconic adorning “wheels” acting as sundials that accurately measured time, it took us centuries into the past. Sophisticated and yet so un-complex.

Khandagiri & Udayagiri – We ambled delightfully in this labyrinth of architectural wonder, the 2nd century caves, Gumphas in Bhubaneswar that bear importance in history by way of its inscriptions and sculptures.

Rajarani Temple – Constructed from red sandstone, this small Hindu temple for Lord Shiva appeared as a delicate yet grand monument in front of our eyes, beautifully festooned featuring male and female idols symbolizing love and worship. We dwelled in its exoticity.

The Birds & Aqualife

“The answer will always be found in nature, no matter the question. If we only listen..”

Mangalajodi. The wetlands, a fragile ecosystem hosting a multitude species of fish and birds, both resident and migratory, allured us into its very heart, one fine winter day.

As our boat ride across the verdant waterscape began, we encountered the feathered creatures. Our hearts exploded at the sight of an adorable pair of Ruddy shelducks, the carefree northern pintails and delicately perched grey herons. Even a shy purple moorhen cavorted in the brackish swamps. We went on to spot godwits, cormorants and little egrets too.

The boatman-conservationist pair elaborated on Mangalajodi’s low-impact tourism status, which was when we truly understood why its avifauna was incomparably radiant.
Chilika Lake. A thousand square kilometre waterbody surrounded us. The shining lagoon, not only home to the seagull, coot and geese, and crabs and prawn, but also the reputed, endangered, Irrawaddy dolphin. We got a glance at a couple before they headed off toward the unending horizon. Their demure bodies serenaded the waters with such ease, it felt like the universe put on a show for us!

Amidst this serenity, we’re not kidding, there lay a temple, Kalijai, highly revered among the locals. Two luxurious hours spent waddling in the lake sure was a panacea for all problems.

The Beaches

Puri Beach: The wonderfully vast Bay of Bengal was created as a result from indentations of land, and not vice versa! The shores at Puri is one such contributor. At the beach, we watched as the rhythmic waves approached and receded, and the ochre dusk faded into the darkness.

 Chandrabhaga Beach: There was a story in the panorama seen on the shores of the beach located a few km away from Konark. The sky was brushed in watercolors as a touch of sun surfaced while we stood completely in awe and in gratitude of Nature. The beach is also believed to be symbolic in religion, and a place for natural healing.

We said our goodbyes soon, and spent the way back home thinking of the experience – the sights witnessed and the emotions felt on this Odiyan journey.

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