The waves crashed against my feet as I stood on the sand and wondered about the beach. There were a few crabs which were nestling around and entering their hideouts in the sand. Puri beach was by far one of the most magnificent beaches that I have ever been to in my entire life. Watching the sun set into the endless horizon and the deep wrinkled waters, I reflected on my trip to Orissa so far. I was here with my girl gang from college.
This trip was surely a great alternative to just visiting Goa with friends. The beaches in Orissa are not that crowded and they are also more private and secluded. We took boats and went to an island to explore the beach there. This was in Puri itself and it was one of the best Islands I have ever been to. It was a little risky to be there because of the abundance of red crabs which were taking in the waves just like us at the beach. But we had a few local guides with us and the crabs never came close to us. We found a few empty bottles of alcohol on the beach and we picked them up and cleaned the beach a bit. We also found a child’s shoe on the beach. We felt like we were exploring a hidden place where very few people had been before. It felt like playing clue hunt.
The same day, we had visited Konark temple which is on the way to Puri. The Konark Temple has erotic carvings on it which surely defy the monogamous way in which a lot of Indians perceive sexuality today. It was an interesting place because it was both historic as well as modern. It was like a portal connecting the past to the future. The beautiful and intricate carvings on the temple walls made the entire scenery look very majestic and grand.
Speaking of temples, we had also visited the Jagannath temple. This is one of the char dhams and it is considered to be a place which all Hindus must visit once in their lives. The temple is from the 11th century and covers a vast expanse of area. The carvings here were some of the most wonderful carvings I had seen. The temple was crowded and there was a gold foot in the temple which is said to be Lord Jagannath’s foot. The temple was itself culturally rich because it was the melting point of a lot of cultures and traditions. There were many sages at the temple who were all dressed similarly and were practicing religious rites and traditions. Engaging in this culture and exploring the temple was surely one of the biggest highlights of the trip.
I also went to explore Bhitarkanika National Park on my trip. The park is famous for its mangroves which are located close to the water body. The park can fully be explored on boats. There are many crocodiles inside the park and can be spotted from the boat. You can get some wonderful pictures of crocodiles from the boat itself. My suggestion to you would be to carry a lens which has a good zoom quality so that you can get some great shots on the camera. The best season to visit the park is surely mid-summer and winter since you will not be able to go on the rooftop of the boat during monsoons. This experience felt like a National Geographic expedition because I had never explored something like this in India before.
Orissa is the place where there is an abundance of temples. We spotted multiple temples when we were in the car and we stopped at a few just to explore them. Each temple had its own architecture and was a marvel in itself. We visited the Udaygiri and the Ratnagiri caves as well. These caves are said to be the resting place of monks and meditators. These caves are also filled with ruinous carvings inside which speak volumes about Orissa as a cultural hotspot in India.
Dhauli in Orissa used to be Kalinga in the olden times. Kalinga is the battle which the famous emperor of India, Ashoka had fought and won. There is a light and sound show in dhauli which narrates Ashoka’s history. The experience was fantastic and it was great to see how the designers of the show had used art and colors to create eye catching effect.
For all those who like to explore culture and learn more about India, Orissa is the perfect destination for you. You can not only go here with your family, but you can also visit with your friends. It has everything like beaches, temples, national parks, wildlife, and a lot more that you can explore.