Friday, April 12, 2013

Trip to Konark and Puri,Orissa. Day One

The lure of visiting a new state,the mystery surrounding the konark temple and the cool beaches of Puri,these were the reasons I decided to make a trip to Orissa with my friends.After much planning Abhishek,Raviteja,Satya,Ashwin and myself found ourselves on the railway station of Raigarh. We took the Raja Rani Express and reached Bhubaneshwar the next day at 7 in the morning.
         I was impressed with the Bhubaneshwar railway station.It looked swanky and clean and add to that it was not crowded.We proceeded to the 11th century Lingaraja temple through an auto we hired.En route I had a look at the city.It looked quite spacious and open.I don't know if it was the route we took or its really the case but it did not look like other Indian cities,congested and crowded.Our stop at the state museum turned out to be a dissapointment as it was closed that day.Cursing my luck(as others were anyway not interested) we moved on to the temple.Here everyone left for the puja meanwhile I roamed the streets surrounding the temple.I found a very different atmosphere here.There was big pond nearby and I walked on the road sourrounding it.Pandas draped in saffron were walking around here and there.People were taking dips in the pond.All around me I could see everyone was related to the temple.It was getting very hot and sweat began to drip from my forehead and I made my way back and sat in a nearby juice stall and ordered a maosambi juice,my favorite.As I was sipping my juice my friends came back breathlessly praising the temple architecture inside.I saw the photos which they took secretly(yes,its not allowed).I nodded my head in agreement after seeing the pics.It was really good.Meanwhile everyone ordered some juices and after quenching our thirst,we decided on our next course of plan.
           We decided to go to Konark in the afternoon.After asking around we first decided to board a bus to Konark but having reached the place where we could get the bus we changed our mind when we were approached by a guy telling us that he can take us to Konark with Rs800.We bargained hard with him and finally settled on Rs500.We boarded the mini van at around 1pm and off we went.We didn't regret our decision as the sun overhead was beating down on us unbearably and even in that van we were mighty uncomfortable with the heat.Along the way we had a look at the Orissa countryside.Its just like other parts of India,nothing indistinguishable.I noticed that every village en route had a state bank branch and an
ATM.That was good.contrary to what I keep hearing from people in Orissa that there is no development in the state, I found this quite uplifting.There was some development in the touristy sides atleast,I don't know about other parts. We reached Konark at around 2pm.We had some stops in the middle.The van wala dropped us at some distance from the temple saying that automobiles were not allowed any further.We strolled through the road leading to the temple.There were a number of shops selling small souvenirs.We bought none thinking we would buy something while returning.Later I would regret this decision.
At first look the Konark doesn't impress you at least it didn't to me.As I moved slowly towards it and around it I could slowly comprehend the gigantic task the King Narsimhadeva 2 the one who built this, undertook.
The moment I saw the Konark wheel there was this rush of excitement just like that Gol Gumbaz moment i had in Bijapur.Karnataka.I have been reading and seeing pictures about this wheel from my childhood and to now stand in front of it in person was a good feeling.
We slowly walked around the whole structure and had a close look at the walls.Before coming here as part of the research I did on the temple I found a very good description mentioning some unique and unusual sculptures found here.There is a Chinese women,a Tibetian monk and a giraffe(which is an animal unique in Africa and not found in India).We couldn't find any of them.As the writer of that article correctly suggested taking a guide is a must if you want see the above mentioned sculptures and also for more anecdotes and information.We abandoned our search for these after sometime and took some pics.And then we did what I always insist on doing at these kind of monuments.Sit somewhere and watch the whole thing from a distance.Also Konark is a World Heritage Sight.It deserves your respect.Soon it was evening and we still had to go to Puri before night time  We asked around and an auto wala took us to the tiny and open bustand of Konark. From here we boarded a small bus to Puri. This was the worst part of the whole trip.The conductor shoved in so many people that I couldn't breathe properly.Thankfully we all got seats to sit.That was the only relief.It took the guy an hour and 15 minutes to cover a distance of 30km. I was angry and upset by all this but everything changed the moment I saw the Puri beach in front of us.The sound of the water was like music to my ears.There were so many people on the beach and on the roads.This was a welcome change.We soon checked in our hotel and went out on a walk.Everything looked so full of energy.People were buying stuff from the roadside shops,there were mouth watering food stalls,souvenir shops,little kids excitedly running towards the water,frantic parents running after them,couples lost in their own world and guy gangs like ourselves laughing.We strolled along the road along the beach until we found a nice open air restuarant. We went in and having made up my mind to eat only seafood on this trip I ordered chilli prawn curry and rice.The food was finger licking good and the great atmosphere with the sound of waves crashing and the people talking over it soothed my mind and any traces of anger resulting from that bus ride finally gave away and I was in a totally upbeat mood now.After the dinner we walked back to our hotel and tucked in for the night.