A Golden sunset over Chikla
A Golden sunset over Chikla

I have always loved the seas, and have been at shores at multiple locations and continents. The Bay of Bengal, The Mediterranean Sea, The Dead Sea, and the North Atlantic Ocean, but the coastal belt of Orissa has always been close to my heart.

Actually, the roots of this trip lie in the first road trip of the year, when we covered Konarak and Rambha on the southern tip of Chilka. Back then, the plan was to cover Konarak and Puri. But unfortunately, it being the 15th August weekend, we could not find a proper accommodation in Puri and had to move to Rambha. Please read that story in the following page: Konarak and Rambha Roadtrip

Panchalingeshwar and Puri Road trip

Thus happened our second road trip of 2015, covering the destinations of Panchalingeshwar, Puri and Satapada in Orissa. It was a total duration of 5 days, and we clocked 1352 kms in total.

This time, we took no chances. Hotels were booked well in advance. The final plan looked like this:

  1. 25th December – Kolkata to Panchalingeshwar (Stay at OTDC Panthanivas)
  2. 26th December – Panchalingeshwar to Puri (Stay in Hotel Samudra, Puri)
  3. 26th to 28th December – stay at Puri.
  4. 29th December – Puri to Satapada Dolphin Point on Chilka
  5. 30th December – Back from Satapada to Kolkata with a quick stopover at Raghurajpur Heritage Village.

Kolkata to Panchalingeshwar

Finally, the D-Day arrived after much anticipation. We left Kolkata around 7.30 AM. It was the morning of Christmas, and there was considerable traffic till the Dhulagarh Toll Point. Post that, traffic eased out. We took the customary breakfast stop at Kolaghat. After Kolaghat, thanks to some heavy right foot, we reached Balasore by 1 PM. From Balasore, we took a right turn and availed the state highway for the next 15 kms and reached OTDC Panthanivas.

Panchalingeshwar has a small hillock where there are 5 shrines of Lord Shiva hidden under the gushing waters of a stream. Hence the name Panchalingeshwar. The place is also a famous picnic stop for the local people, as we soon found out. With about 500m left for the guest house, we were stopped by the local police and were asked to enter the parking lot. When we protested that we had come not for picnic but for the OTDC guest house, they claimed that the road ahead was blocked and we had to wait at the parking lot, thereby justifying the fee they took. However, within 5 minutes, the blockade supposedly got cleared, and we could easily enter the Panthanivas.

The place was nice, with a sprawling lawns and a direct view of the hills. Lunch, consisting of rice, dal and egg curry served almost immediately, and being the hungry souls that we were, finished it in no time. It was already 4 PM by then. We decided to pay a quick visit to the shrine. From the base, one has to climb a flight of 500 steps to reach the temple. However, on reaching the temple, we found it to be too crowded, and had to come back after sometime without getting a glimpse of the shrine.

Next morning, waking up early, we again went to the Panchalingeshwar temple, and this time were able to get a view of the temple. The place was midway on the hill, and covered by think foliage on all sides.

After waiting in a queue, we got the chance to put our hands thru the gushing water of the stream, and feel the 5 stones, which are assumed to be the 5 shrines of Lord Shiva. From the temple, we could also catch a glimpse of the surrounding villages, even though the early morning fog had still not fully lifted.

Panchalingeshwar to Puri

Post breakfast, we checked out of the guest house and headed towards Puri. We had lunch at a BPCL owned family dhaba called Dosti Restaurant – about 50 kms from Cuttack. After devouring some tandoori rotis along with Dal Fry and Chana Masala, we moved on.

From Cuttack, we took a left turn for the Bhubaneshwar-Puri highway. One must admit, that even the state highways of Orissa are very well maintained, as was evident from this 3 lane expressway. A quick break to enjoy a sip of green coconut, while seeing the sun setting over rural Orissa, we were back on the road.

Puri – finally

We reached Hotel Samudra around 7.30 PM, after travelling a distance of about 400 kms. Finally, after a wait of 4 months, we could stay at Puri. Overjoyed by this fact, we somehow dumped our luggage in the room and went out to enjoy the beach. The best part of the hotel was it was situated right on the beach. However, it was about 1 kms from the maddening crowd of main Puri beach and Swargadwar.

Next day was spent in a relaxed mode, lazing on the golden sands of the beach and in the evening walking down to Swargadwar. At first glance, it appeared like some fair or festivity was going on, with the hotels all decked up, hundreds of tourists on the road and beach, and shops and restaurants all packed to the brim.

Jain caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri from Puri

The 3rd day in Puri, we planned to visit Udayagiri and Khandagiri Jain caves. Situated about 90 kms from Puri in the temple town of Bhubaneshwar. It took 1 hour to reach the place. Though initially a bit confused regarding the location of the place, as Google Maps in offline mode was showing multiple locations for the same place, once we reached Udayagiri, we found that Khandagiri was just on the opposite side of the road.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri are partly artificial, and partly natural caves, situated on 2 adjacent hills, also known as Kumari Parvat. It is believed that most of the caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela. “Udayagiri” means Sunrise Hill and has 18 caves, while Khandagiri has 15 caves.

Next, we went to Dhauli Santi Stupa, or Peace Pagoda. Located 8 kms from Bhubaneshwar, on the banks of Daya River, it is a dazzling white peace pagoda build by Japan Buddha Sangh in 1970. The historical significance of the place stems from the fact that the Battle of Kalinga was fought in the plains near the hills. Even though he won the battle, the picture of death and destruction filed Ashoka with grief. It enabled him to realize the magnitude of the horrors of war. As a penance, he converted to Buddhism and started promoting peace. He converted this place into an important centre of Buddhist activities.

The Dhauli Santi stupa or Peace Pagoda
The Dhauli Santi stupa or Peace Pagoda

This was the final day of our stay at Puri. The next day, we woke up early and went to the famous Jagannath templeto show to offer our prayers and devotions.

Chilka at Satpada

After the prayers and darshan was complete, we had our breakfast and quickly checked out of the hotel and headed for Satpada, a small village on the banks of Chikla Lake. We checked into the OTDC Yatrinivas for the night.

Satpada is known for the boating expeditions that can be undertaken to see the famous Irrawaddy Dolphins, and also migratory birds in winter. Luckily for us, we could spot both. We also took the boat cruise all the way up to the sea, and while returning back, could watch the sun setting with all its splendor and grandeur over the lake.

 

Night life at this remote village
Night life at this remote village
Restaurants for the traveller
Restaurants for the traveller

Next day, 30th December was return day for us. And a total of approximately 570 kms of drive was awaiting us. We checked out of the hotel around 9.30 AM. From Satpada to Puri took almost 1 hr, thanks to the narrow road and traffic from opposite side.

The heritage village of Raghurajpur

After crossing Puri, we touched our final destination, the heritage village of Raghurajpur. Among other things, Orissa is famous for its Patachitra – which is fine painting done on paper or on palm leaves. They are mostly used for depicting scenes like the Rash Lila, or for pictures of Lord Jagannath. However, painting also depict rural life and tribal art. Without and reference, and not even knowing what to expect, we headed for the village. The local village road through bushes and shrubs were so narrow at certain points, the tree branches and leaves almost brushed against the car.

As luck would have it, we landed in the house of Dilip Kumar Prusty, whom we later found out to be a national awardee painter. His son, who is also a painter, showed s creations with utmost pride. It is a pity that we could not devote much time ann had to hurry thru all this, as we had another 500 kms of driving still left, and it was already past noon.

We left Raghurajpur around 12.30 PM. I decided to put my foot down and try to gain lost time. After a quick break for lunch at the same Dosti BPCL Dhaba, we were on the road once again. Finally, we reached home around 11.30 PM, thanks to some heavy truck traffic on the Kharagpur Kolaghat section.

We covered a distance of 1352 kms, with a fuel efficiency of 22kms to a litre. The last stretch of 300 kms was covered non-stop in 5 hours. In all this, the Black Panther performed flawlessly, never once overheating, or causing any issues. Thus ended our second Orissa road trip.

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