My Visit To Puri: By Atlanta Das It was an evening in the month of October,
My Visit To Puri: By Atlanta Das It was an evening in the month of October, 2012. My father told us about the trip to Puri just after our annual examination. I was thrilled in excitement to visit to such a beautiful place with the stunning beauty of ocean and specially the temple of Sri Sri Jagannath. Another reason for my excitement was that we were supposed to reach Puri on 1st January, 2013 in the early morning. Our tickets were booked three months ahead of the trip. My father also booked our seats for accommodation in Assam Yatri Niwas, Puri. On 30th December, 2012 we went to Guwahati as our train to Puri was scheduled on the same day from Paltan Bazar railway station at 7:30 pm. After having dinner in a hotel we got into the coach and took our seats. Our train started at right time. The next morning when I got up, the train was in West Bengal. I started gazing out through the window and saw that the scenery was pretty, much alike to that a route of Assam… all small ponds, coconut trees, ponds full of lotus plants and many more. I saw the steel factory of Durgapur, Farakka bridge, the mango gardens and the paddy fields on the way to Puri. The whole day I enjoyed with my brother Gungun and my parents. In the evening, everybody in the train celebrated the New Year eve wishing each other for prosperity and health. My parents told me to sleep early on that night as we were supposed to reach Puri in the next early morning. Next day, being the first day of the year, I got up early in the morning and saw a 2,250 m long bridge built on the river Mahanadi. My father told us that we were reaching Cuttack and within an hour our train would reach Puri. At 5 am our train reached Puri railway station and immediately we borrowed a taxi to Assam Yatri Niwas adjacent to Jagannath Temple. We reached there within 10 minutes and became fresh after having bath and breakfast. At 8:00 am one paanda Munna Mahapatra came to meet us and he guided us to visit the Temple of Sri Sri Jagannath. He is popularly known as Munna Bhai at Puri and could speak assamese fluently. As per the advice of Munna Bhai we submitted our mobile phones and camera to the temple security guards and washed our feet before entering to the 8000 years old temple consisting of many temples inside, carved out of hillocks. Here and there various types of “prasads” were available. The place was so crowded that our hired paanda Munna Bhai held our wrists and literally dragged and pushed us inside the main temple to see the Lord Jagannath. He took almost 2 and half hours to show the different parts of the temple including the images of Pravu Jagannath, Balavadra and Subhadra. It was a huge gathering there and we had an amazing experience to be a part of such a big crowd. In evening at 4 pm we went to “Swargadwar”, the beautiful sea beach of Puri and enjoyed a lot. I was restless to go to the sea beach. I never have seen a sea. We went on foot to the sea beach. When we reached there I was amazed by the sight. The big-big waves, the roaring sound and the breeze!! I could not stop myself from going to wet my feet in the waves. Even my father went to walk along the waves crashing on the shore. My brother Gungun and my mother also accompanied me. At the beach there were local people selling “pearls” and “stones” collected from sea at prices of Rs 5 to Rs 25. There were camels for giving ride and chairs were available on rent at the rate of Rs 10 per hour to sit and enjoy. We rented camels and took an experience of riding on it. It was a different experience that my words fail to explain. Slowly the sun was setting down in the sea as a reddish ball creating an extremely stunning scene I have ever seen! I took photographs of the setting sun. It was a rare opportunity of witnessing the colourful Sun set. Puri sea beach is the right place to spend and enjoy the evening. Thousands of people from different parts of India and aboard spend their evening at Puri sea beach. Slowly darkness covered the beach and the beach lights started glowing! In the darkness I got the night view of Bay of Bengal….a dark unknown water world. So wild and powerful!! When I was gazing into the dark sea, I suddenly saw some light far away in the water dancing up and down along the waves. “What is that?”- I asked my father. He could not say but a local person told us that a light signal was used at Puri in 1877 for the ships passing along the coast at night. The lamp was changed subsequently in 1882 and 1887. A drum optic electric lamp was put into service from the 1st December, 1956 at the centre of the terrace of the Circuit house with cast-iron pedestal placed on wooden trestle. The light is visible in clear weather up to a distance of fourteen nautical miles (approximately 27 kms) over the sea. Then we had some snacks from the local outlets. After that we went for shopping and I bought some dress material, gift items for my friends and some beautiful idols made of stone and corals available in the beach market. On 2nd January, in the morning, we rented a car to Chilika Lake. Chilika Lake is a brackish water coastal lake. It is the largest coastal lake in India. The driver told us that Chilika is famous for its crabs. The dolphin project is another attraction. After reaching Chilika, we hired a boat and the boat took us to the point where Chilika Lake and the Bay of Bengal are meeting each other. The enjoyable part of Chilika visit was the 4 hours boating and one or two rare sight of dolphins. After having our lunch, we returned to Puri. In the evening, we went to Jagannath temple again to see the famous holy flag hoisting which is done every day in the evening. We saw three boys (Sevayat) took some flags with deep red and yellow in colour and climbed up the temple. They climb the wall of the temple in a very peculiar manner, keeping their backs to the wall and their two outstretched legs on two raised parts of the wall. After climbing the body of the temple they reach the head of the temple. This part is orange-shaped and it is impossible to climb this without any aid. There is a device made of iron rings and a rope attached permanently on the head of the temple. The sevayats reach the top of the temple with the help of this. The entire breath taking exercise of reaching the roof of the temple takes around 20 minutes. After climbing there, they remove the old flags from the pole and tie the new ones. Next day we took a Tata Sumo to go to Bhubanewar. In the early morning we started and reached Dhaulgiri temple. Lord Buddha used to preach here. His preaching's been so strong that King Ashoka renounced war and embraced Buddhism. It is situated on the banks of the river Daya and at about eight kilometres from Bhubaneshwar. Dhauli (dhaulgiri) is the place where the Kalinga war was fought in 261 B.C. From dhaulgiri we started again to the Nandankanan Zoo. The Nandankanan Zoo is a 400 hectare zoo and botanical garden in Bhubaneswar. It was established in 1960 and opened to the public in 1979 and became the first zoo in India to join World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) in 2009. We could see there the Royal Bengal tiger, endangered species such as the Asiatic lion, Indian crocodilians, Sangal lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, Indian pangolin, musk deer and countless birds, reptiles and fishes. The Reptile Park's cave-like entrance is guarded by a life size Tyrannosaurus rex. This reptile house contains numerous species of crocodiles, lizards, turtles, and snakes. We stayed there for about 3 hours and then stated to Lingaraj temple and after visiting the temple our sumo started to Konark. On the way to konark, we had our lunch in a hotel. Konark Sun temple was constructed in 13th century by the king Narashimhadeva-I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty around 1250 AD. It has been built in the shape of a gigantic chariot with elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. The name Konark derives from the combination of the Sanskrit words, Kona (corner) and Arka (sun), in reference to the temple which was dedicated to the Sun God “Surya”. According to the guide the temple was originally built at the mouth of the river Chandrabhaga, but the waterline has receded since then. It has twelve pairs of elaborately carved stone wheels some of which are 3 meters wide and is pulled by seven pairs of horses. The temple follows the traditional style of Kalinga architecture. It is carefully oriented towards the east so that the first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance. The temple is built from Khondalite rocks. We spent almost 2 hours in the Konark Sun temple and then went to Chandrabhaga beach. It is only at a distance of 3 km from the World Heritage Site of the Sun Temple. Considered among the finest beaches along the eastern coast of India, Chandrabhaga beach is popular among solitude seekers and pilgrims. Chandrabhaga beach derived its name from the sacred river Chandrabhaga, which once flowed through the precincts of the Sun Temple of Konark, towards the Bay of Bengal. In mean time, it became dark and our sumo started its back journey to Puri. We reached Puri at 7 pm and after dinner we took rest in our hotel. On 4th January we decided to enjoy the whole day at Puri beach. I was told that the water waves in the Puri beach are not high enough. So, if I wish, I can take bath there. Initially, I did not dare to do so. But when I saw my father and 4 years old brother Gungun taking bath in the waves, I could not resist myself. I joined them with my mom. It was a different type of experience, we were pushed along with waves and when the waves were returning to the sea, we felt that sand below us is also moving and we were sinking in the sand. As the sun was shining over the sky brightly, it made our bathing experience more enjoyable. The water was salty and the sand kept on depositing in the pockets of our dresses. We kept on enjoying and bathing ourselves for hours together. Meanwhile, we took photographs with our digital camera and also shoot a video for our memories. It was an exciting moment in my life. We walked along the beach. We saw thousands of thousand people of different language and religion were enjoying together in the beach. We took another camel ride. It was a great adventure for us to ride a camel along the sea beach with the entire family. We noticed that many families and tourists were also enjoying themselves like us. Some children were naked and dancing on the waves. Some of the adventurous tourists were trying to go inside the sea, as much as possible. Some were throwing water on each others, while some were helping themselves with a game of ball. We returned from the sea beach in the evening. We also purchased various items including dresses in the Swargadwar market. The Long stretch of beach at Puri is one of the largest and loveliest beaches in India. It is about 7 km long. Most of the foreigners like this beach and Indian corporate people, recommended this beach as one of the best resorts in India. The sea beach at Puri has its own golden sandy look and beauties of nature. Like other Sea Beach of the world Puri Sea beach attracts lot of foreign visitors to spend some hours. As the waves of Puri beach, is not high like Indian Ocean, people enjoy long time for bathing. Now a day people are busy with their current schedule of work and they get very little time to enjoy the actual beauty of the nature. Perhaps they forget that life is very short span of time. Amidst of busyness people should visit the place which gives them peace and reduce mental tension. Next day was 5th January and it was our last day in Puri. But our train was at 10:30 pm. So we had another full day to enjoy. We came to Puri for relaxation and sort of pilgrimage. A month from then I would be busy again in my studies. So, there was a bit of thrill, a bit of anxiety and some kind of mixed feelings. At about 9:00 am my father and mom went for a last minute shopping. As the market is near the sea beach we could not stop ourselves from having a last view of the Bay of Bengal, to take in the vastness of the elements of earth before we left for home. We returned to our hotel to have our lunch. In the afternoon, we went to Jagannath temple again. We worshiped the Lord and waited to see the hoisting of the holy flag for the last time. We collected some parts of the old flags as they are always considered as the symbol of luck and prosperity. We collected the “Bhog” from the temple and returned to our hotel. At 8:00 pm we took our dinner and hired an auto to reach Puri railway station. The train left Puri station at right time. On 7th January in the early morning we reached Kamakhya railway station and on the same day we reached home with all sweet memories of Puri.