Friday, May 29, 2009

In the land of Lord Jagannath

The view of the sea from our hotel room on the first day.
On my first evening on the beach at Puri, with my flying umbrella.

That's one of the sand-built structures, the figure of a woman, which some people make on the beach everyday.

A sign on Swargodwar beach prohibits people from bathing there without a 'noliya's' help. And, Swargodwar is the place where people ignore this sign the most without any sort of hesitation!

A portion of the 'Natmandir' wall of the Sun Temple at Konark, showing the dance postures.

My parents and I in front of one of the wheels of the temple.

Raja Narashingha Deb, who had taken the initiative to build the Sun Temple, can be seen here with his queen.

One of the carvings at Konark shows Shravana carrying his blind old parents.

The slab at Konark showing that to preserve the structure, the interior was filled in by the order of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal in 1903 AD.

The sea at Chandrabhaga

That's supposed to be Lord Jagannath's paternal aunt's house. Anyway, whoever lives there sure has a lovely place to live in. Who doesn't want to have such a nice house?

My parents on 'New Marine Drive', the continuation of the Swargodwar beach.

A camel on the beach at Puri

Last Saturday, I went to Puri with my parents. We had decided that we would visit Puri once my mother’s work would be over and my summer vacation would begin. So, our train berths and hotel room had been reserved a lot earlier because loads of people go to Puri during this time of the year and it would have been very difficult to get places on the train and also in a hotel without advance reservations. Thus, according to our plans, we reached Puri on Sunday morning after catching the Saturday night Puri Express from Howrah Station. I had never been to Puri before and so, was very excited. I had been told that the kind of waves of the sea at Puri cannot be seen anywhere else in India. They are huge and majestic. Well, I first saw those waves this time and I have to admit that they really are more beautiful than those of the water bodies in other places. But, as it was raining when we reached Puri, I first saw the sea of Puri in its tumultuous form. It was only drizzling but that drizzle was enough to raise the waves higher than usual. And, the sea was beautiful!Our hotel was situated on ‘Swargodwar’, the beach road of Puri. So, the location was obviously fantastic and we were very lucky to get a sea-facing room. That helped us because we did not venture out on the first day owing to the rain and yet, we could watch the sea sitting in our room! I just went for a short walk along the beach with my father that evening and we had to hold on to our umbrellas tightly to prevent them from being blown away by the wind!
Next morning, we first paid a visit to the Jagannath Temple, which apart from the deity’s presence, is a pretty horrible place. Yet, my parents said that it had been twice more horrible when they had visited it some twenty years ago. According to them, the pandas at the temple had been more authoritative then. Well, whatever might have been the situation then, the situation now isn’t exactly pleasant. The pandas just wait there to trap you and make money.I thought that the weirdest of all the pandas was this one. Now, he was standing with two sticks in his hand ,beating everyone on the head with those sticks as they were leaving the temple and then, demanding money from them! Later on in the day, we took a bath in the sea. J It was a wonderful experience. The waves came splashing and washed us over and over again. All around us, people were shouting with delight . But, contrary to what I had heard, no one was taking the help of the ‘noliyas’ or guards to take a bath. People were confidently standing or sitting or lying down or performing all sorts of aerobatics as the waves were crashing in and submerging them completely. There are three watch-towers on the beach but it didn’t seem as though the three policemen were watching over anybody .They were simply sitting there all day. Poor fellows, their job must be boring!
During our five-day trip, we also visited the famous Sun Temple at Konark. An hour-and-a-half’s drive from Puri takes you to Konark. The temple boasts of great art and architecture, seeing which one must utter the word, ‘Wow’. The main structure consists of the temple, which is actually a chariot, all carved out of sandstone. The chariot has twenty four big wheels and on the spokes of each wheel, different stages of different activities of those times had been carved . The temple has three idols of the Sun God, representing childhood, youth and old age respectively. Other than the wheels, there are numerous carvings on the walls of the temple, the chariot and a hundred and twenty eight dance postures on the walls of the ‘Natmandir’. The Natmandir and the Conference Hall are separate structures, located just beside the temple. On the way to Konark, the sea disappears but reappears for a short distance at Chandrabhaga. The sea there is just like that at Puri, but the colour might just be a tad bit different and more like a river’s colour.
In the evening, Swargodwar becomes extremely lively with all types of stalls that are set up on the beach. They all use very bright lights and sell everything . Tea, sweets, chat, clothes, pearls, idols, conch shells, bags and what not! People also opt for rides on camels and ponies and there are merry-go-rounds for children. Besides these, there are some very talented people who build beautiful structures out of the sand on the beach. All these activities go on all over the long and sprawling beach.
But, the food at Puri was a huge disappointment. We tried different restaurants and different menus, but the quality of the food is just not upto the mark. The chicken is too spicy, they can’t cook the vegetables properly, they have only one type of curry for all fishes, the ‘puri-bhajji’ is always served cold and its best to not even talk about the idli-vada. Yes, we tried everything but were not satisfied. One can’t expect the food to be like that of ‘Mainland China’ everywhere but there has to be a minimum standard, which is terribly lacking at Puri.
We were lucky that Puri was not affected by Cyclone Aila. The rain of the first two days cleared up on the third day and the weather became quite pleasant, specially in the evening.


Gauri Gharpure said...

we have been thinking of going to puri for quite some time now. this post gives some inspiration.

a very sweet blog. the paintings, especially the black and white deer one (on which i have left a comment) are beautiful..

though i know paintbrush is a great software and some tools are not available elsewhere, you can start using Coreldraw in case you don't use it already.. it's a very versatile tool..

B. O'Hemian said...

Wow... very nice! I have not been to Puri in the last 11 years, and suddenly I miss it (after reading your post). Honestly I have not been to a better beach for bathing than Puri - with it's perfect sand and great waves. It's just a bit too crowded at all times.

Glad you could avoid Aila.

Sujoy Bhattacharjee said...

Beautiful pictures you got there in spite of the gloom around. Been to some beaches down South but never visited Puri. Will hopefully rectify that soon. You do have a flair for writing travelogues, maybe you could become a travel writer :)
Oh! And enjoy the vacations....

Dhrubo said...

You with the umbrella...

Empathies on the Puri food fiasco. Amar-o shobshomoye-i khub kharap laage. They can't even make an egg roll. I don't fancy Mainland China but food always tends to ruin my Puri experience.

Woodsmoke said...

I agree with you. Although it's been 11 years since I went to Puri, I remember the most scarring memories were from its food and the temple priests. And the ocean was picture perfect and supremely wild.
Great pictures. You with the flying umbrella is my absolute favorite.

Anand said...

I would love to visit this place. Looks really good.

Amit said...

you rae doing a great work.
keep sharing

Butterfly said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and your advice about computer paint...:-)

Yeah, most people say that Puri is the best beach they have been to and I agree with them and with you. :-)

A travel writer? Ha ha ! Ok, I'll consider your suggestion! :-D

Yeah, we had chicken rolls at Puri but they were not as good as the ones which we have at Kolkata...:-(

You like my picture? Thanks!:-)

Thanks for visiting my blog and yeah, you should visit this place sometime...:-)

I'm glad you left a comment. Hope you enjoy my future posts also!:-)

Amiya said...

Great pictures, I can see you had such a wonderful time. Love that umbrella one! :) I visited Puri some ten years ago and yes, the pandas were just as keen then to fleece you. But thankfully, the fantastic temples and the architecture and the ocean quite make up for it. :)