I never get bored of traveling. So when Air hostess announced that finally, we have reached Bhubaneswar after covering 1320KM distance, I was really ecstatic. It is our first long holiday (comprised of 5 days) with family. Not only kids but everyone was excited about this.
We unboarded the flight to Bhubaneswar at 9:00 PM on Thursday, collecting baggage and checking out took one hour. It was really late for getting any local transportation to the Puri which is 62KMs away from Biju Pattaink Airport. On confirming, the taxis on rent at the airport were charging Rs. 2500 for a seven seater car.
Nine people getting accommodated in a seven-seater car with huge luggage was not at all possible. Moreover, it was expensive too. Somehow we got contact of one of our relative who came to our rescue at right time. Thankfully, he (@dinesh goyal) arranged an Innova car on hire for us which would be our mode of transportation for next three days.
Thus we started our journey to Puri, land of ancient temples, in full excitement. We already booked our stay for next three days in Nilachal Dharamshala at Puri, therefore getting late was no problem with us. After an hour drive, we finally reached our destination, Nilachal Bhakt Yatri Niwas. Though it was 12:15 and another day but excited to explore Puri, we started for night expedition. Our accommodation was just 500m away from the main Jagganath temple.
NILACHAL BHAKTA & YATRI NIWAS (GUEST HOUSE) is an economical stay, we have booked AC room for three days but hardly used AC. They provide lift facility to the AC rooms only. Its an affordable accommodation with good cleanliness. Even the staff is cooperative if you give them few extra bucks.
Even at midnight, Puri road near temple was busy, full of people from around India. We confirmed the watchman about the timings of the Temple opening and come back to sleep for tomorrow’s early morning darshan. Tired, we hardly knew when we were in deep sleep and finally noticed when it was 8:30 AM.
Day 1: Jagganath temple
The pilgrimage vacations are actually fun with family. Some awake, some don’t want to, some want tea, some get ready early, so finally, after two hours we were ready to head to the Jagannath Temple.
Before getting into the temple you have to submit your shoes as well as mobile phones. At first, we were scared to submit our i-phones but there was no other option and believe me, they kept it with utmost security and responsibility. The temple was crowded as its a festival day and people from around India coming to play Holi with their lord.
As soon as we entered the Temple premises, a Pundit cum followed us to get hired. He himself starting the negotiations, though we were reluctant to hire and finally came down to Rs.51. And we hired him. There are certain benefits of hiring a Pundit ass they give you easy access and darshan to the Lord Jagganth. They tell you about each step and help you in escaping the large crowd.
It took us more than 2 hours to have Lord Jagannath Darshan followed with Mahalakshmi Darshan. We were super tired and hungry. So we directly headed to the “Anand Bazaar” to relish the prasad. In Anand Bazaar you can purchase the variety of Prasad at different prices.
After having the stomach full, I seriously want to have a good sleep. Not only elders even kids were very tired. We boarded the rickshaw to our accommodation @Rs.10/per person. The kids were complimentary. We hardly left with any energy to walk, so this rickshaw ride was a savior for us.
Finally, after three hours sleep, I was refreshed and ready to explore Puri. We decided to go to Golden Marine beach. It is said to be India’s Largest beach. Unlike other beaches. It was clean and less crowdy. With Jhaal Muri, samosa, rasgulle we enjoyed the tides and camel ride.
We hardly had hinted, how fast 3 hours run, and it was sunset and time for high tide as it was a full moon night. With stomach half filled and clothes full filled with sand, we moved towards our accommodation. After reaching Nilachal, the first thing was to get rid of the sand.
Even after rinsing the clothes multiple times, the sand was there in the clothes. I have decided not to wear many clothes while going to any of the beaches. Our Day 1 end with beautiful memories and enjoyment we had with family.
Day 2: Konark sun Temple
With the onset of day2, we were more refreshed. As it was the festival day, so we decided to have Lord Jagganath Darshan first. Though a travel freak, after a day or two I start missing the home cooked food, but In Bhubneshwar, I hardly faced any such problem. Here you can have the variety of food items especially the quality of sweets is outstanding. For all the days we stayed at Puri, we had our food from Shree Bishnu Bhog, which provides thali with unlimited food at Rs.80 only.
Hence after having Darshan and stomach filled, we started for Konark Sun temple, which was only half an hour from Puri. Though we enjoyed alot the biggest hurdle was Sun. The hotness of Sun was at the peak when we entered the Konark sun Temple, after giving Rs.50 to the Policeman to let our car move on.
Thus, we waiting in the shed for about Half an hour and then started to explore it. At first, searching google and finding out The Sun Temple but soon as our curiosity grown, we hired a guide to complete our tour and finding the answers to our questions. The carved wheels, erotic sculptures, and the huge building was our point of intrigue.
We spent, more than 4 hours there, tired and hungry, rushed to find the Chai wala and further treated ourselves with Golgappas. The golgappas are most cheap in Orissa, 7 for Rs.10. We ate for Rs. 100 and ate till stomach full.
Day 3: Chilika Lake
Initially, we have booked our stay for 3 nights and 2 days and further to go to Daringbari for two days. But after discussing with localities, we preferred Chilika over Daringbari. Here are the few reasons for this decision. Firstly, for Daringbari, we had to travel another 500KMs, which may be tiring with kids. Secondly, the day temperature of Daringabri was around 38 degree Celsius and its beauty of flora and fauna is almost nil due to summers.
But this time, we were sure not to give ourselb=ves a sunburn, so started a little late. It took us 45 minutes to reach there. For Chilika Lake, there is an entry fee of Rs.20, car parking fees- Rs.30 and further Rs800-5000 depending on which boat and how much hours you want to spend in.
Chilika lake is the largest backwater lagoon in India and second in World. We hired a boat which will take aprrox 3 hours to complete one trip and was really worth it. We have kept a bag full of food for the kids so that they don’t become cranky while on the boat. During 3 hours we saw many migratory birds, dolphins, and islands(don’t expect them to be like the one you saw in “Kaho Na Pyaar Hai”).
It was dark when we came out from the boat trip and already feeling like sleeping. So, straight away went for our accommodation and had dinner in our rooms only.
Day 4: Lingraj temple
Lingaraja Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the East Indian state of Odisha. The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (the structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor. The temple complex has 50 other shrines and is enclosed by a large compound wall.
Bhubneshwar, The Capital of Orissa has derived its name from this temple only. We reached Bhubaneswar around 2:00 PM. The final darshan of Lord Jagganth, breakfast, 62KMs drive back to Bhubaneswar and check into the hotel consume most of our day. After having rest for 3 hours we hired an auto to the Lingraj Temple. The auto charged us Rs.50 as it was about 7KMs from our hotel, “The Park Resort”.
When we reached the temple was open but offerings of milk or water were not allowed on Lord Shiva. In Lingraj temple also a pundit followed us to be hired but when we clearly told him not to guide us, he got angry. the Pundits in Lingraj Temple were the most about money only. Even for one glass of water to the God, they asked for money.
The Lingraj Temple epitomize the great architecture and technology of Golden Indian history. This temple has also been destructed by Muslims. From Panchkedar to 12 jyotirlingas, there are the shrines of many Gods, surrounding the main Lingraj Temple. The Temple timings are 6:00-9:30 AM and 1:00-4:00 PM when you can close darshan of Lord Lingraj and also can offer milk or water on it.
Day 5: Udaygiri & Khandagiri Caves
There are altogether 18 caves in Udaygiri and 15 caves in Khandagiri hills. These caves were excavated by Kharavela and his successors in 1st century B.C. Most of the caves consist of a row of cells open either directly to the verandah or to the open spaces in front.
These caves in the later period of time were converted into Shrines with minor alteration. The doorway of many cells has been decorated with flowers, creepers, and animals. Khandagiri and Udaygiri are just on the opposite side of a road. There is an entry fee of RS.15 for the Udaygiri Caves, while entry to the Khandagiri caves is free. The caves are open till 5:30 in the evening for the visitors.
It took us 3 hours to complete the tour of the caves. Felt hungry we ate many food items from the small roadside shops. For the caves to the hotel, we booked a cab which was more economical than auto who were not only overcharging but also showing tantrums.
The 5 days spent in Bhubaneswar are the most enjoyable for us. Puri is a destination with a quality of food and archaeological sites to visit, one of the good destinations to go with family.