It was my parent’s 30th anniversary. Actually it was the 31st anniversary but we will pretend that it was their 30th. Because 30th sounds way cooler than 31st. 😉
We wanted to celebrate with them by taking them out on a holiday. My father was still working at that time, and he was still not as cool as he is these days. It took some convincing but finally he agreed. It was going to be a family trip which meant Shivam, the youngest of Gupta’s was also coming to the trip with us. After much negotiations, the five of us agreed on Odisha for different reasons. Parents – because they wanted a ‘darshan’ in the Jagannath temple. Anupriya – because she wanted to eat the prasad (especially the divine ladoos) of the temple. Shivam – because of the Nandan Kanan zoo (who does not want to meet like minded people/ creatures, after all :D). And me – because Ikat, Sambhalpuri, Bomkai, Tassar & Dongria. You see, I was still trying to shop the entire country and build a ‘cloth’ museum inside my house. After the negotiations and agreement, came the planning part which was gleefully handed over to me.
This turned out to be an amazing trip with surprises at every juncture. Whether I was more attentive in those days or I got plain lucky, I don’t know. But I created an amazing itinerary which I am going to share with you now.
Time of month of vacation- February
Temperature during February- 25 degrees to 31 degrees
Best months to travel to Odisha – October to February
But if you like adventure and don’t have a lot of money to spend on bungee jumping, paragliding or zip lining, try some adventure with weather. Do plan a visit in the off-season, venture during mornings and evenings & save some ‘moolah’.
Day 1: Land in Bhubaneswar & leave for Puri
On Day 1, which was a Saturday, all of us landed in Bhubaneswar. We had already booked a cab for 4 days that would pick us from the airport.
You will find many tour & travel operators in Bhubaneswar who can give you a package deal for 3-4 days including pick & drop from airport. This should cost you INR 30-35K for an SUV AC cab, all inclusive.
Around 1 pm, we were all sitting inside the cab, on our way to Puri. By 4 pm, we were in Puri. We decided to spend our evening in the Golden beach, explore the markets, eat some chaat & have fun at each other’s expense.
My dad, for some weird reason, wanted to visit the Big Bazaar of Puri. Yeah, parents! But we influenced him and took the whole family to state emporiums to buy some beautiful pieces of Ikat. 🙂
With a great dinner, and a bit of family fighting, we called it a day!
End of Day1
Day 2: Jagannath Temple, Raghurajpur & Konark
The next day, we had the most enriching itinerary planned. We began the day with early morning darshan at Jagannath temple. We caught a glimpse of the gods right when the aarti was on. It was magical. I still remember that moment when I bowed my head in devotion & closed my eyes for a moment…after I captured that moment in my memory forever.
We had prasad, bought stuff for our friends & family from Anand Bazaar. On our way back to the hotel, none of us talked to each other. Otherwise so loud, the Gupta’s were quiet because you want nothing more after a darshan at the Jagannath temple, at least for a while.
We left for Konark in the afternoon via Marine Drive. Oh, what a scenic route! You don’t want to miss any part of it. Green canopies of trees, and a promise of something marvellous at the end. You don’t want such routes to end ever.
Today, Raghurajpur, where this art form is widely practiced & sold, has been declared as Odisha’s first heritage village.
Morning at Jagannath & afternoon in Raghurajpur, this day couldn’t have been better. But it did, our evening of Day2 was reserved for Konark temple aka Sun temple. Marvellous architecture, extremely intricate stone carvings & interesting narratives: Konark is a visual delight that indulges your eyes, mind & soul.
It takes at least 2 hours to explore Konark temple. Hire a guide if you like. In fact, I recommend you hire a guide, hear some stories and generate employment for others.
On your way back, you may take a short halt at Chandrabhanga beach, just 3 kms. away from Konark temple. In olden days, it was believed that a dip in the Chandrabhaga could cure you of severe diseases.
We returned to Puri that night & went to bed with a wide smile.
End of Day2
Day 3: Pipli – Dhauli Hills – Nandan Kanan Zoo – Udayangiri & Khandgiri Caves – Shopping at Bhubaneswar
We had a very interesting itinerary planned for the third day too. We started from Puri to reach Bhubaneswar & had a stopover at two place
Pipli – Just like Raghurajpur, this is a village popular for its artwork, majorly applique handicrafts. You can pick a few wall hangings, sarees, dupattas, table covers & bedsheets.
Dhauli Hills – this is the place where the great Kalinga war was fought. This is the place where the emperor Ashoka realised the futility of violence & wars. Thereafter he renounced worldly pleasures & adopted the path of Dhamma
When we reached Bhubaneswar, we visited Nandan Kanan Zoo, Khandgiri & Udayangiri caves before calling it a day. At night, my sister & I went out shopping and visited Utkalika & Priyadarshini Handloom.
End of Day3
Day 4: Lingaraja Temple, Shopping & back home
It was the last day in Odisha. We woke up to the news of Sridevi’s demise. It hurt us and left us shocked. But more than us, it hurt my parents, I think. We had to visit Lingaraja temple in the morning, but we got busy with other things & couldn’t make it in time.
After all, you visit a temple only when the gods call for you. If they won’t, you might enter the temple, visit the sanctum sanctorum & do everything that you can but you won’t be able to have a darshan. You only meet the gods if they call you.
Before leaving for the airport, we shopped a bit more and said goodbye to Odisha. Our luggage bags were heavy & packed with beautiful pieces of Silk, Ikat, Sabhalpuri & Bomkai sarees. Our minds were busy planning another trip to Jagannath, sometime soon & our hearts…were brimming with joy.
Until next time!