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Old 24th August 2012, 17:15   #1
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Default Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast

Prologue

Quote:
We don't have a lot of time on this earth. We weren't meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements.
Obviously, those words are not mine but those words are something that I relate to the T. However I will let you the reader try to guess whose words are they. If you can and more importantly relate to those words, you and I have similar tor-mentors.

Rote work @ office was slowly eating up my brains like a zombie. How can people at work be so boring. I probably am in the wrong job. Dang. And its six months since I took a proper break, dang squared. Criminal on my part I say. So I open up the declared holiday list in my office and check the calendar. End goal was to manage a fairly longish break for a road trip without sacrificing too many leaves from my kitty. The declared holidays of 15th August for Independence Day and 22nd August for Eid and clubbing them with the weekend with 2 days of leave gave that perfect opportunity. Yeaa. All I wanted to do was go somewhere and just laze around. No big plans to see this, do that, just sit around and relax as long as I can or drive at a leisurely place to some place not too far and enjoy nature at its best.

Now where to?
Being from Kolkata limits one's options as most of us have already done the standard circuit of Santiniketan, beaches at Digha, Mandarmani & Bakkhali many times over. Additionally I wanted to be at a place with as little crowds as possible. Given there is a long weekend involved I was sure the more popular places will be overflowing with tourists. North Bengal had to be ruled out because of the road conditions and the law and order situation at that time with strikes every other day. It is then I decided to look at the coast of Odisha. There were multiple options even if one ruled out Puri & Konark because of the excessive crowds, a longish road trip by Chilika Lake and in and around started looking like an attractive option. Odisha is very well connected, easily accessible using the GQ and roads were known to be good apart from some known hiccups. Also I had never visited Odisha for a long time. There was this only one trip to Puri (quite unlike us Bongs) when I was a little kid and a short trip to Gopalpur in 2004 which was a disaster that I will describe later. That last trip to Gopalpur had left an awfully bad taste however I resolved myself to give the coast of Odisha another shot. Having read some travelogues here and in some other sites I decided Odisha it will be.

Where exactly?
After a lot of deliberation, I decided it would be best to base somewhere around Chilika Lake. The plan was to be at a point which would allow one to drive without much effort to Puri & Konark, visit the dolphins at Satapada and also check out the beach of Gopalpur once more which I had found fabulous during my last strip even though the overall experience was a nasty one. Help was sought from some friends in Odisha, Hrusikesh and Anupam about the stay options and the route (many thanks to them). Given that I had 2 week days factored in, my plan was to visit Puri & Konark on these week days (Thursday & Friday) thereby dodging the onslaught of tourists from in and around specially from Kolkata. This would allow me to use the long weekend to visit Chilika Lake, Satapada and Gopalpur at leisure. Sounded like a good plan. First a little bit about Chilika Lake from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilika_Lake

Quote:
Chilka Lake (Chilika Lake) is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Orissa state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the [Bay of Bengal], covering an area of over 1,100 sq. km. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the World.
It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals. The lake is an ecosystem with large fishery resources. It sustains more than 150,000 fisher–folk living in 132 villages on the shore and islands.
The lagoon hosts over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here. These birds travel great distances; migratory birds probably follow much longer routes than the straight lines, possibly up to 12,000 km, to reach Chilika Lake.
As is evident Chilika Lake is a birder's paradise during winter, this season was hardly a time to find any however the Irrawady dolphins do make their appearance on which I was counting on. Given the vastness of the area of Chilika Lake there are three major locations where tourists can stay. Satapada is around the northern tip of the lake and is easier to reach from Puri. The famous Irrawady dolphins and the sea mouth are the major attractions of staying at Satapada. The next location is Barkul which is off NH5 and is located somewhat midway on the lake. The major attractions at Barkul are access to Nalban island where the migratory birds are found in their largest numbers in the winter months and some other scenic islands. Rambha is another location a little south of Barkul which also allows one to go to Nalban island as well as Gopalpur and Taptapani is nearer from this location. All three locations have OTDC hotels with varying rates for rooms which can be booked online from here http://visitorissa.org/portal/page/p...rchPanthanivas. The locations look somewhat like this (sorry this is from the Odisha Tourism site).



Only Satapada is not served by a railway line. Both Barkul and Rambha can be accessed by trains but one has to figure out which trains make stops at these stations as many trains run on this important east coast corridor. I finally decided on making Barkul as the base as it was bang on NH5 and allowed me to drive north or south as I wanted being somewhat midway. Bookings completed for a/c cottages a little study of the route is done. An immense amount of appreciation goes to both Hrusikesh & Anupam who gave vital inputs and of course the logs written by the King of Highways Chief HVK were more than enough to do this trip. Besides I was not planning to do too many unknown roads in this circuit so the chances of getting lost was remote.

Spanner in the works?
Wifey bailed out. She has taken so many vacations this year me thinks she has to work non stop for the next five years. All right, all right, I'm exaggerating a bit but I am not that far from the truth . Plus she had a sudden increase in to-dos at office which ensured that she cannot make it. Dang. I was so looking forward to this trip and given this kind of a sequence of holidays will never happen again anytime soon, bookings are in place, what can one do. The inevitable.

With wifey's permission it becomes, yup a solo road trip. I was anyway planning to laze around and not do much touristy stuff, time away from office, sit around and relax, drive at my own pace to places nearby so trip was on. So far so good. Besides it was a golden opportunity to lay my hands on the camera that my wifey commands most of the time (she is a photography enthusiast) and I desperately needed a break from work (I have lost count of how many times I said that). Plus I get to see how good or bad I am at photography since I am a complete noob at taking photos. Had I not done this trip, I don't think I would have seen these places or things.

Did Puri look like this in the sixties?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5581.jpg

Who created this fabulous sculpture at Konark?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5665.jpg

Normally I don't like watermarking my images (primarily because I am lazy) but recent incidents here forced my hand.

For example I don't want somebody later to make a fantastic claim that he was testing out a working prototype of the flying machine that the Wright brothers used and as he was flying over Chilika Lake he saw this eagle looking for lunch. With one hand on the controls, he flipped out his camera and took this photograph .
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5809.jpg

A typical beach scene at Gopalpur
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5851.jpg

Or this eagle at Gopalpur mistaking me for lunch?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-copyeagle.jpg

No, no, this is not taken from the International Space Station during my monthly visit there, these are just my GPS tracks. I sincerely hope that the incidents of photo piracy coupled with incredible explanations have truly become a thing of the past on TBHP.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-gpstracks.jpg

The above pictures show the places I went to with Kolaghat getting special mention spiced with expletives because of the situation out there to be covered in the next post. I will be posting videos from my drive captured from my in-dash car camera as well as the the GPS tracks logged using the MMI. Most of the routes that I took were pretty straightforward except for the one which took me to a place on Chilika Lake from where me and Bagheera boarded a ferry and crossed over to Satapada. Hope you like the story and the photographs.

Last edited by samarjitdhar : 11th September 2012 at 17:31.
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Old 10th September 2012, 18:48   #2
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Day 1: The Importance of TBHP Stickers

Yeah quite an unlikely headline to start with isn't it. Starting on a national holiday I expected a lazy drive as I expected to reach Barkul my destination sometime by late afternoon in the worst case, in 8 to 9 hour tops. So by 7:30 AM I set out after a tank refill and I am quickly on NH6 without facing the usual traffic hiccups on NH117. I was dreading the jam at Kolaghat on NH6 where the bridge past expiry date (sounds like a nice movie title) but being a national holiday it seems the usually horrendous traffic on this bridge was missing. The traffic on this bridge can easily delay one by 1-2 hours. Construction on the replacement bridge seemed to have progressed a wee bit though it still seems like another 10 years before one can see any light of hope for the new bridge. Here is a short video of the drive through the bridge at Kolaghat on NH6. By normal standards it was a cake-drive.



After crossing the bridge comes up the famous Shere Punjab Dhaba where I swoop in for a quick breakfast. Thankfully the holiday crowd had still not thronged the place and I was out in 30 minutes. Continuing on NH6 I call up a friend in IIT Kharagpur who I had not met since I left college. So I decide to do a quick detour through Kharagpur to grab a coffee and catch up on old times. I wanted to avoid entering through the heart of Kharagpur to avoid the Independence Day celebration on roads so I turn on NH60 hoping to take a local route into IIT. Little did I know what MMI would do to me. It took me through some fields and finally ended up in a lane where barely one person can pass through. Querying the locals helped me quickly get back on track without losing much time. How often I repeat this mistake of not plotting the best route upfront in MMI rather than relying on it . Well anyway after a nice coffee and chat with my friend at the Cafe Coffee Day in IIT Kharagpur from where I also packed a small lunch I am back on my way on NH60 going towards the West Bengal-Odisha border towards that famous place called Jaleswar. Most of NH60 is concrete but driveable apart from stretches where there is an underpass or a bridge where there is some broken tarmac. One has to carefully negotiate these patches unless you want to feel some nasty jolts. Here is a short drive video on NH60. I like driving at a steady speed and generally if I find a vehicle going at the speed I prefer I like tailing it (at a safe distance) to help me forewarn me about sudden undulations/patches/obstructions etc.



What happened at Jaleswar?
Brisk driving at speeds of 90-100 brought up Jaleswar in no time. This is where the craziness begins. It is a point where the transport departments of both West Bengal & Odisha along with other agents extort money from the truckers. Hence the vehicle pile up can be huge sometimes going up to 5-8 kms. This actually happens on the Jaleswar bypass while the main NH60 goes through Jaleswar town. Once the southbound flank on NH60 is blocked by the truckers (which I was on), everybody moves to the northbound flank which is the wrong way but there is no option. And when I say everybody I mean everybody, cyclists, auto rickshaws, private cars, buses, trucks, you name it. They hope to find a passage through the wrong way. Many days everybody will succeed. Today was not the day. Here is how it transpired.



Finally stuck even on the wrong way I quickly decide to take a U-turn and find the next exit off the highway into Jaleswar town to join NH60. Rains had broken about 1-2 kms of this stretch however it was not bad and I quickly crossed Jaleswar town after which I was on my way quickly to get back on the main highway where the bypass merges. This is the first time I had gotten stuck due to the Jaleswar jam and was feeling happy that I had been able to negotiate it through the town without any hassles.

What about the TBHP Stickers?
Ah yes. What about them. You see this was the day I learnt the importance of putting on the TBHP stickers on your car. After crossing Jaleswar town as I was crossing the outskirts I suddenly spot this red VW Polo parked on the side of the road next to a roadside car mechanic's garrage. I was more intrigued to see TBHP stickers on it. What? A TBHP member from Jaleswar or was somebody from TBHP stranded? I park the car a little ahead and step out. Lo and behold it is Anirban Das and his Polo 1.6. He was traveling with his family (wife and kid) to Puri a couple of hours ahead of me with a similar plan like me and had gotten stuck at the same truck jam on the Jaleswar bypass. While he was negotiating his move to the wrong side of the highway and because of the undulations and water logging shown in the video before, he missed a bad pothole the front side of the Polo simply dipped in. The connection to the radiator got damaged and the coolant drained immediately. He somehow managed to drive till Jaleswar town after pouring some water after which the car gave up. The roadside mechanic was at best scratching his head, quite understandably. Calls were made to VW roadside assistance who finally told us that they could only tow the car to Bhubaneswar and not Kolkata because of road tax issues as we had already crossed into Odisha. Along with this they would send a cab to take Anirban and family to Bhubaneswar. It was already about 1 PM and being a holiday it would take some additional time. The pickup and the flatbed would only arrive in about 6 hours from Bhubaneswar though it normally takes 4 hours from that point. Anirban and his family locked up the car having confirmed the pickup from VW and checked into a small hotel in Jaleswar town while I continue with my journey as I too had a destination to reach hopefully in daylight and hopefully without finding any need of a flatbed . NH60 is mostly great through Jaleswar town as is evident from this video which was surprising given the recent rains in this part of India. Oh yes, lesson of the day, put on your TBHP stickers, they can come in handy anytime.



The rest of the drive through NH60-NH5 was pretty much straightforward and without incident. Mostly because this is part of the GQ and is mostly well maintained. I stopped somewhere near Bhadrak at around 3 PM to eat my packed lunch and was on my way again. I reached Bhubaneswar at around 5 PM and was happy to dodge the evening rush hour traffic. Meanwhile I was calling Anirban in between when I could to catch his latest status and it seemed the latest they could start was around 7 PM.

After Bhubaneswar, NH5 is one smooth piece of tarmac, with very little traffic thanks to a national holiday and I quickly made progress towards Barkul. My plans of reaching in daylight was not going to happen anyway however I didn't want to miss dinner. Besides I wanted to get some rest before I start for the next day. Very soon I was on to Balugaon bypass which is a stretch of about 15 kms to avoid the main Balugaon town. I was advised to take this bypass by my friend Hrusikesh since it was just thrown open for use. The flip side was that only one part of the 4 lane bypass was open, it was made of concrete throughout and had construction material lying intermittently hence night driving had to be done carefully. Thankfully I was able to negotiate it without issues and was able to get to the Barkul OTDC hotel around 7:30 PM. Here is a video of going through the Balugaon bypass on NH5.



Here is the GPS track for folks who are interested. Its in two parts because the GPS got accidentally switched off in Bhubaneswar.

Kolkata-BBSR.kml
BBSR-Barkul.kml

As is evident I didn't take any photography breaks and relied mostly on my in-dash car camera to record the videos. The drive through NH5 in most parts is very scenic as the videos from my return trip will show though that story is coming up much later. I was simply happy that I made it driving solo covering 540 kms with a little adventure thrown in. Bagheera behaved admirably well throughout giving me not one moment of concern or scare. It just feels like some sort of a solid shell keeping you cocooned from the outside world and the road. The comfort levels on long drives is something to be experienced. Meanwhile by 7:30 PM Anirban and his family got picked up by a cab, the flatbed picked up his Polo and were on their way to Bhubaneswar. It would take around 5 hours for them to reach but at least they were safe. We would only know about the actual damage to the Polo the next day when the service center at Bhubaneswar would have a look. Since I was planning to be at Puri or Konark the next day I would be picking them up from their hotel in Bhubaneswar and go to the service center together. It was time to call it a day.

Last edited by samarjitdhar : 11th September 2012 at 17:23.
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Old 11th September 2012, 18:10   #3
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Default Re: Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast

Day 2: Polo's Hospital Visit Followed By A Short & Sweet Visit to Puri

The next day being Thursday was generally a working day but not for me. A perfect day to go visit the Puri & the Konark area which on weekends usually looks like a stock market floor at 9 AM on a typical Monday. The Chandrabhaga beach is another attraction I had always planned to visit. This beach is a couple of kilometers from the Konark Sun Temple and has a beautifully laid out road running right next to the beach and the sea going towards Puri. It also runs through the Balukhand Reserve Forest which makes the drive absolutely scenic and top it all the tarmac is in pristine condition throughout. In fact in my opinion instead of taking the average traffic laden route from Bhubaneswar to Puri it would be better to drive through Konark and use this road to reach Puri. The drive videos would show that most of this route is excellent even though slightly longer by about 30 kms.

Name:  chandrabhagamap.bmp
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But we had more important business to take care before that. Anirban & family were put up in a hotel in Bhubaneswar who I would be picking up en route and go to the service center. Anupam Kumar, from Bhubaneswar who I know from a different forum and a fan of TBHP decided to check on us (he too was in constant touch with us regarding Anirban's issues with the Polo). After a brisk drive from Barkul back to Bhubaneswar through NH5 I meet up first with Anupam Kumar who skillfully guides me through the lanes and by-lanes of Bhubaneswar and we reach the hotel where Anirban & family had put up. We then proceed to the VW Bharat Motors service center which lies on NH5 somewhere between Bhubaneswar & Cuttack to check on the Polo. Here is a short drive video on NH5 in daylight between Barkul and Bhubaneswar.



The short & sweet story at the VW Bharat Motors service center was that the damage to Anirban's Polo was not massive even though the service center claimed they would need 3 days at least to fix it given it involved insurance claims. However Anirban knew folks who could pull weight and finally the service center agreed to hand over the vehicle in 2 days. Happy with that knowledge we decided that we can now go towards Konark & Puri where I would be dropping Anirban & his family at their hotel where they were originally booked and in the evening we can go check out Puri beach.

We started from Bhubaneswar at around 12:30/1 PM to get to Puri through Konark. The route is pretty much straightforward and one has to take NH203 starting from Bhubaneswar and turn left on SH13 at a point called Pipili which takes one to first Konark, then Chandrabhaga Beach and finally to Puri using the Konark-Puri marine drive. I will let the videos do the talking. This point is where we take the Pipili bypass to get on SH13 from NH203.



Yeah, I confess. I am a huge fan of R D Burman's music as you will notice mostly playing in my ICE or as the background music to these videos. Here is another video of the drive through SH13 towards Konark.



Traffic is very light on this route though there are some villages on the way where there are small sized speed breakers which can be negotiated with ease. Very soon we cross Konark and the world famous Sun Temple and are on our way to Chandrabhaga beach. The drive through the road next to Chandrabhaga beach is an experience in itself. With the forest on one side and the beach sand right up to the road makes it very scenic. The weather too was behaving itself with the clouds keeping out the harsh sun and that ever slight rain made the experience very pleasant.



Very soon we reach the hotel where Anirban & family had their bookings where they check in meanwhile we also confirm that repairs on Anirban's car have already started. After they check in to the hotel we grab a quick lunch at the hotel and start towards Puri which was another 12/13 kms from the hotel. Given it was a working day the lesser crowds allow us to reach the Puri beach quickly where we spend some time on the Puri lighthouse and the beach. I will let the pictures do the talking.

The first view of the beach @ Puri
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5574.jpg

The Puri Lighthouse
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5573.jpg

It started drizzling and we took shelter in the lighthouse quickly to continue with our photographic exploits. All the remaining photos of Puri have been taken from the lighthouse. Actually if I am ever forced to stay in Puri and I find huge crowds which is inevitable in Puri, I would be perhaps spending most of time on this lighthouse.

The beach and Puri skyline
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5577.jpg

The road kind of ends here but the beach continues for a bit
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5579.jpg

A place to relax on the beach on a lazy evening
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5582.jpg

Even these .. (I found the beach pretty polluted and dirty. Very sad)
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5583.jpg

Bagheera was enjoying the cool sea breeze too.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5585.jpg

Suddenly Bagheera's German neighbor came to say Hi !!! Guess who?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5592.jpg

That is the Puri Jagannath temple (we didn't go there).
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5588.jpg

This supposedly is the 1st or 2nd most expensive hotel in Puri. The Coco Palms Resort. I didn't find anything that justified it. Maybe some imported palm trees who knows. They shouldn't have the lighthouse next to it lest potential customers do an aerial survey first.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5593.jpg

Another shot of the beach and the road
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5594.jpg

Indian Baywatch? No PA.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5595.jpg

Even he was in a mood to relax and take it easy.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5599.jpg

One last shot of the waves at the beach.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5602.jpg

Light was fading fast and it had been a long action packed day. We decided to get back. I dropped Anirban & family back at their hotel as I was taking the same route to return to my hotel. I got to drive through the Chandrabhaga beach road once more. That is the added bonus of this route.



The only hurdle was hitting peak hour traffic in Bhubaneswar en route as I had to get on NH5. It can be really a pain though its much better than places like Varanasi or Agra. They are constructing a lot of flyovers now on NH5 to help get through Bhubaneswar quickly which adds to the traffic woes. Hopefully these will be completed soon. After getting through Bhubaneswar I was soon on NH5 going back to my hotel at Barkul. Traffic was very sparse, the car extremely capable, so I stepped on the gas a bit hoping to make it for dinner on time. However suddenly somewhere in between I see sparks on the road right ahead of me. It was dark on the highway and with little light from the few vehicles I just couldn't make out what was causing those sparks. These sparks were following some sort of a mini goods carrier is what I could make out. I began wondering whether auto accessories have reached some sort of invention pinnacle out here in Odisha where mods can now emit electric sparks at night. Very soon I caught up with this Tata Estate pickup which is carrying a load of rusted TMT bars and guess what, the ends of these bars are scratching the road all the way through emitting these sparks. How to damage our highways 101 . My in-dash car cam was not attached at that point so there is no video unfortunately. But here is another video of the drive through NH5 at night.



I was now pretty much conversant with the route now and got back to the hotel just before they closed for dinner. Called it a day on a happy note as came to know from Anirban that the service center has worked in a jiffy on the Polo in a priority basis (Lord knows what powers that be, pulled what weight and where) and the car would be ready the next day by noon (yeah that fast). So the plan for the next day was to pick up the car from the service center and go to Konark with Anirban & family where Anupam Kumar and his family would join us too. It was time to take a well deserved rest.

By the way here is the GPS track for the route from Bhubaneswar till Puri through Konark if anybody is interested.
BBSR-KonarkPuri.kml

Last edited by samarjitdhar : 12th September 2012 at 17:34.
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Old 12th September 2012, 16:07   #4
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Day 3: Polo Is Back & Konark Sun Temple Visit

The next day being a Friday marked the start of the weekend which means that all and sundry specially from Kolkata will be visiting Puri for the gazillionth time. As a result of this rush our current CM and ex railway minister in the past was forced to announce trains from Howrah to Puri running at frequencies almost similar to the suburban locals in Mumbai . As if that's not enough I also saw lots of West Bengal registered buses plying around meaning all those who couldn't manage by trains had hired buses. Add to that the hordes that would descend from the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack I very much expected the water levels at the Puri beach to recede by a few kilometers under the onslaught of their collective leap into the sea. Dang I don't want to be mean but I had no intention of viewing this spectacle so this day would be only limited to a visit to the Sun Temple at Konark which I had visited only once when I was a kid. I wanted to see the Sun Temple once more before the apathy and neglect of the Archaeological Survey of India as well as tourists who like to wrap themselves around the sculptures while posing for photographs reduces the temple to dust.

Also we were supposed to collect Anirban's Polo from the VW Bharat Motors Hospital for which Anirban & family planned to hire a cab and come down from Puri to Bhubaneswar. So by 10:30 all of us were assembled at the service center to take the car. Alas it took around 2 hours to complete all the formalities and checking though the service center really did a commendable job on a priority basis. Anupam Kumar & family who had briefly visited us at the service center went to Konark ahead of us while we waited for the car to be ready. By the time we started for Konark it was already 1 PM. This is again the same route we took the previous day and the Polo seemed to be back in its elements giving Bagheera constant chase on the fantastic roads. So no more boring videos here of the route.

We decided to have lunch first after we met up with Anupam Kumar & family at the Chandrabhaga Restaurant next to surprise surprise the Chandrabhaga Beach at Konark. Since Anupam & family had already visited the Sun temple, after lunch we (myself, Anirban & family) went to the Sun temple. The sun though was missing in action since morning this being another cloudy day like yesterday with a little rain intermittently. Anupam & family went ahead towards Puri to see if they could manage a stay at the hotel where Anirban & family were put up. Not before a short customary TBHP posing of our rides.

Anupam Kumar's Chevy Spark on extreme left, my Bagheera (VW Vento TDI) and Anirban's VW Polo 1.6 looking as good as new
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5603.jpg

Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5604.jpg

Some trivia about Konark first

Quote:
Konark Sun Temple is a 13th century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), at Konark, in Orissa. It was constructed from oxidized and weathered ferruginous sandstone by King Narasimhadeva I (1238-1250 CE) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is an example of Orissan architecture of Ganga dynasty . The temple is one of the most renowned temples in India and is a World Heritage Site. It is one of the Seven Wonders of India (as per the poll collected by NDTV). Legend has it that the temple was constructed by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna. It is said that Samba was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father’s curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built the magnificent Konark Sun Temple.
More here at Konark Sun Temple

Now lets look at my humble photography attempts at Sun Temple @ Konark.

The first look at Sun Temple @ Konark
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5613.jpg

Exquisite sculptures at the gate. Breaking apart due to neglect.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5616.jpg

Full view of the temple. I remember it looked much grander when I had visited last. It looks so desolate and broken now.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5620.jpg

There are sculptures of a musicians at different levels of the spire
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5623.jpg

How would she know when to stop playing !!!!
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5626.jpg

Here is the shehnai player
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5627.jpg

And the daphli player
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5629.jpg

Is this an incarnation of Shiva?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5630.jpg

And this one Vishnu?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5631.jpg

One of the horses of the chariot. Actually the temple is designed as a chariot with I think 24 wheels all around the temple.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5632.jpg

And the sculptures on the main temple sanctum is very much like that of Khajuraho.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5636.jpg

Which is evident even here.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5639.jpg

Breaking apart due to neglect. Lack of funds at ASI?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5642.jpg

Another headless statue !!! I suspect art theft to be the reason.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5645.jpg

However this beautiful artwork is just breaking apart due to neglect
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5648.jpg

The famous chariot wheel of the Sun Temple.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5649.jpg

Thankfully the ASI has now added a fencing around the temple to stop tourists from getting touchy feely with the sculptures. Still parents were encouraging their kids to go through the fence and pose for photographs touching the chariot wheel.

A farmer and his wife
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5651.jpg

A beautiful maiden in stone
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5656.jpg

Notice the Khajuraho style of the body pointing in 3 directions
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5658.jpg

The Aquarian
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5661.jpg

The King's Court
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5662.jpg

Brave guy. Still continues to fight even after losing his head !!!
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5663.jpg

Is that Bhakt Prahlada?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5664.jpg

Another view of the main temple spire
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5669.jpg

Emotions conveyed in stone
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5674.jpg

Sun God?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5676.jpg

One thing I must mention is that all these famous temples like Khajuraho & Konark have government recognized guides who can narrate unbelievable stories about the temples and their history. I was sorely missing the audio guide here like the one I had in Khajuraho. In fact the stories these guides tell specially when describing the sculptures can put a Bollywood C grade film maker to shame. Mahesh Bhatt should come and hire some of them. Having said that I humbly bow in respect to the umm "fertile" imagination of these guides . Meanwhile the crowds had started to swell as the tourists from Puri after their day long frolicking at the beach were coming over for their customary visit to the Sun Temple in the evening since it is open till 8 PM. Naturally it was time for me to say goodbye as I had to get back through Bhubaneswar again but this time Anupam Kumar had given me some valuable tips about some internal roads to beat the peak traffic. I bid goodbye to Anirban & family who went back to their hotel thrilled to have gotten back their car repaired so quickly.

As I drove back the same route, a small picture of why Bagheera is a perfect highway cruiser
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-08172012731.jpg

The next day was going to be interesting. Thanks to Hrusikesh Patra I came to know that one could actually take a ferry to Satapada along with the car after getting to a place called Nuapada on Chilika Lake through Krishnaprasad Island. Chief HVK had already done this from the other way that is from Satapada way back in 2005. With him it is like been there done that all the time. I heard that the road was good but one had to be aware of the ferry timings. The ride itself on the ferry is refreshing going through Chilika Lake passing small islands in between and if you are lucky you could probably see the famous Irrawady dolphins too. So it didn't take me any deliberation to decide that this is what was on for me the next day. Anupam and Anirban with their families would come to Satapada from their hotel in Puri which is a straightforward but very scenic road (no ferries) while I would go around the interior banks of Chilika Lake and board a ferry with Bhageera to reach Satapada. The next day was certainly going to be fun.

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Old 13th September 2012, 08:33   #5
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th September 2012, 09:06   #6
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great travelogue. do check out bhitarkanika when you have time - It's a great place to chill out. I hope you enjoyed the puri - konark drive
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Old 13th September 2012, 09:32   #7
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Thanks for the travelogue and showing us the beauty of Konark Sun temple and Puri. Wish one day to see the place in real.

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Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Rote work @ office was slowly eating up my brains like a zombie. How can people at work be so boring.
Seems the same phenomenon everywhere


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Normally I don't like watermarking my images (primarily because I am lazy) but recent incidents here forced my hand.

For example I don't want somebody later to make a fantastic claim that he was testing out a working prototype of the flying machine that the Wright brothers used and as he was flying over Chilika Lake he saw this eagle looking for lunch. With one hand on the controls, he flipped out his camera and took this photograph .
Hilarious

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Old 13th September 2012, 10:04   #8
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great travelogue. do check out bhitarkanika when you have time - It's a great place to chill out. I hope you enjoyed the puri - konark drive
Thank you. I had inquired about Bhitarkanika and was told that if taking one's own vehicle one has to park a good 20/30 kms away from the actual resort as the road ends much before and one has to take a ferry to the resort. That kind of discouraged me. Yes the Puri-Konark drive is awesome going through so much greenery.
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Old 13th September 2012, 11:31   #9
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Thanks for the travelogue and showing us the beauty of Konark Sun temple and Puri. Wish one day to see the place in real.
You must Lalu sahab. Though do include Chilika and Gopalpur in your plans as both places are equally beautiful. I will be posting the rest of the travelogue soon covering these places.

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Seems the same phenomenon everywhere
Tell me about it. I fiercely demand that all boring folks at the workplace be segregated in separate enclosures .

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Old 13th September 2012, 11:44   #10
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Ah! Another awesome TL to hog! Subscribing immediately for later weekend reading!

P.s. Was that Puri picture taken by you? Lovely picture! Apparently a few decades back Madras (Marina beach) looked like that only!
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Old 13th September 2012, 12:15   #11
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Thank you. I had inquired about Bhitarkanika and was told that if taking one's own vehicle one has to park a good 20/30 kms away from the actual resort as the road ends much before and one has to take a ferry to the resort.
the resort is much in the interior, and most of the time you'll be riding around on one of the govt resort's boats. I had gone there in a convoy, and since there was not enough cars, we had hired a bolero also, and we asked them to keep an eye on the car. plus the car was kept in a fenced area belonging to the booking office of the resort, and the resort staff assured us that it would be safe. I Had a lot of reservations too, and thankfully, nothing happened. You'll need to make reservations in advance at the resort though

The last mile of roads towards bhitarkanika is all curves, smooth, and empty. Especially after the bad, straight and crowded highways in bhubaneswar, I loved it
http://www.bhitarkanika.org/ecotour.htm
It's worth visiting!

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Old 13th September 2012, 15:22   #12
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Day 4: An Awesome Drive to Chilika Lake

It was Saturday and the sun started peeking a little through the clouds. The last two days were mostly cloudy with intermittent rain which made the overall trip to Puri & Konark very pleasant. The plan for the day was to drive to a place called Nuapada through Krishnaprasad on Chilika. This place is reachable through a district road which comes up a little after Rambha on NH5. The road is a fantastic two laned black top which runs almost half the way and then becomes a single lane road maintaining its same smooth character throughout. Only about a few hundred meters is a little broken where repairs are being done. Also it passes through some nice villages where it becomes a concrete one with speed breakers to ensure the safety of villagers and their livestock. While I will be doing this

Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-barkulsatapada.jpg

Anirban & Anupam Kumar would travel from Puri to Satapada. The meeting point would be the OTDC Hotel at Satapada.

Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-purisatapada.jpg

To take the ferry from/to Satapada one has to be aware of the timings. The first one starts from Satapada at 7 AM and runs every 2.5/3 hours from Satapada as it returns back from Nuapada (my boarding point). The last start from Satapada is at 4 PM after which one will be out of luck. The ferry returns from Nuapada at around 5 PM which would be the last trip from here. Be aware that the first and the last trips tend to be crowded a bit as there are more vehicles than usual for these trips. In fact while I was returning from Satapada a bus packed with passengers boarded behind me. So my plans were to catch the 11ish AM ferry from Nuapada as I was starting from Barkul. This drive should take about 2/2.5 hours tops and is about 80 kms. I started a little bit before 9 AM in the morning and soon was zipping through NH5. The only challenge in this section of NH5 is there are camel sized speed breakers near villages. Whoever had that idea of such speed breakers on the GQ .

Here are the GPS tracks for this drive.
Towards Nuapada (I only turned on the GPS tracks just before the turn into the district road from NH5)
Barkul-Krishnaprasad.kml

Return from Nuapada
Krishnaprasad-Barkul.kml

Once I was on this district road it was pure bliss . Greenery all around and parts of the Chilika Lake right next to the road. The sun also started shining through and this drive was an experience of a lifetime. The road was mostly empty barring the occasional person tending to their farm produce or taking care of their livestock. I could maintain good speeds however one needs to be careful about not running over any livestock which can cause high monetary damage as compensation. Do not rely on MMI or any other maps for this road if you are coming for the first time. MMI was showing that I was driving through the middle of Chilika Lake. Bagheera is in no way an amphibious. Also there would be animal crossings in between as you would encounter through these drive videos. That's when the powerful growl (horn) of Bagheera does its job.



Though the GPS tracks make it clear the route that should be taken but it would be a good idea to confirm from the local folks at the junctions as you are driving. Cattle crossings were the only sore point of this drive. A funny incident happened as I was reaching the point to the ferry. There is this small village as I was passing through and 3 sweet village belles waylaid me by pulling up a string across the road making me come to a halt. Check out the funny conversation I had with them at the end of the video. Sometimes not knowing the local language helps a lot.



I make it to the jetty a good 30 minutes ahead of schedule. As I wait for the ferry there is a smaller one going to Satapada which is used mostly by the bikers. Note how they have tied the bikes.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5677.jpg

And off they go
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5680.jpg

As soon as they leave my ferry arrives from Satapada. This one had started from Satapada at around 10:30 AM.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5681.jpg

Dang. I was expecting a bigger one but this should do as my car was the only vehicle that would board from here. The boarding process needs to be done with a bit of care as its not like the car can go over smoothly. There is a ramp made of wood and iron which doesn't align very well so one has to go over a hump. Even an Indica that had come by the ferry was getting off with a lot of care. I had already studied this semi broken ramp well before boarding and was fairly confident. To my shock the ferry guy pushes the difficulty level a few notches higher by asking me to board in reverse. Reason? I would not have to get off in reverse in that case. However with a little guidance from the very friendly ferry guy I was able to take Bagheera on the ferry. Since mine was the only vehicle on board the rest of it was easy. The local travelers though were curious to see a strange looking car on their ferry. They were more used to Altos, Indicas, Sumos and Boleros. Once on board it was really an awesome experience. Water on all sides with the ferry chugging along while Bagheera enjoyed the cool Chilika air. Here is a short video from the car camera.

Trivia quiz. Identify this instrumental title music.


Some pictures taken from the ferry.

Bagheera enjoying the ferry ride on Chilika Lake
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5682.jpg

Reflecting on life
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5695.jpg

Fishing understandably is the main occupation but there is a small amount of farming done on the islands
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5698.jpg

Here is another island
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5702.jpg

This guy suddenly appeared from nowhere and was about to board the running ferry !!!
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5703.jpg

Passenger transferred, the feeder service is on its way. Probably from one of the islands on Chilika.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5704.jpg

It was still cloudy but the vistas were awesome !!
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5707.jpg

After about 35 minutes we reach Satapada. Ferry charges each way is Rs 300 only. Quite a nice deal for this experience.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5713.jpg

Once at Satapada, I meet up with Anirban and Anupam with their families and have an early lunch at the OTDC hotel. The boats that can be hired to watch the famous Irrawady dolphins start from here. One can also go to the sea mouth but doing both of these outings can take easily 3.5 hours. Since I had to take the 4 PM ferry, we skipped going to the sea mouth and decided to only go see the dolphins. A boat can be hired from the OTDC hotel itself which costs around Rs 1400 for a 2.5 hour ride. It can carry a max of 12 persons I guess and the condition of these government approved boats are good. Private boats are also available probably for a bit less (after haggling) but you would need to choose the right boat as some of them might be past their expiry dates. So off we went for our dolphin watch as I plonked myself on the bow to get a bird's eye view and also test out my noob photography skills.

View from the front of the boat.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5734.jpg

Fishing huts probably temporary on a mini island
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5738.jpg

This island had this nice tree and even a small temple
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5741.jpg

There are lots of islands like these
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5742.jpg

Chilika is one vast expanse of water.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5753.jpg

With mountains at the other end
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5767.jpg

This guy just caught lunch. Notice the fish?
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5768.jpg

After about 40 minutes we were in the area where dolphins are generally seen. We were lucky enough to see quite a few. Mind you these are shy creatures and stay as far as they can from humans. Besides, these are wild dolphins so don't expect them to perform somersaults in the air for your entertainment.

There were quite a few of them but capturing them on camera was a challenge as they only rose very briefly to breathe. That along with my noob skills and equipment this is the best I could do.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5773.jpg

Out of focus
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5790.jpg

Another attempt
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5802.jpg

Finally having whetted our dolphin viewing appetite we started our return journey back to Satapada. Thankfully the sun remained hidden in the clouds and the weather remained very pleasant. Soon we were back at the OTDC hotel where we decided to have tea.

Meanwhile I tried to click these beauties in the hotel garden.
Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5819.jpg

Lazing Around With Bagheera On The Odisha Coast-dscn5829.jpg

It was almost 4 PM and time for me to catch the last ferry from Satapada back to my hotel. Anupam Kumar & his family decided to go back home in Bhubaneswar. Anirban & family would go back to their hotel in Puri. They would be leaving for Kolkata the next day. I was sticking around for another day for my day trip to Gopalpur.

The friendly ferry guy was waiting for me and helped me on board.


This time around there were a lot more vehicles and it was packed chock a block including a bus coming from Puri going somewhere through Satapada. I had to sit in the car for the entire 35 minutes as there was no way I could get out as there was no space to open the doors. Getting down from the ferry became another complex affair as I had to do it in reverse under the friendly ferry guy's guidance.


Soon I was back on that fantastic road though I did come across this nasty cattle crossing. Probably there were 200 of them in the herd doing all sorts of things including even attempts to procreate but not much intention of moving forward. Thanks to the powerful horn of Bagheera I somehow got through. As soon as I crossed over I see this white Vento coming through. Surprised to see that Bagheera was not the first Vento in these parts.


Very soon I was on the 2 laned section of the road and driving in the setting sun with greenery all around me. Pure bliss.


And then again another cattle crossing. These cows even seemed to not give a damn to Bagheera's horn.


Since these are local routes, it is advisable to drive on these roads during daylight. Though there are no safety issues but night driving will surely involve hazards like harm to villagers or their livestock and the risks of getting lost. Thankfully I soon made it to NH5 and was on my way back to Barkul.


A day well spent I would say given that beautiful drive and a ferry crossing. Tomorrow would be my last day in Odisha for now which I planned to spend at the beach of Gopalpur.
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Old 13th September 2012, 15:26   #13
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Was that Puri picture taken by you? Lovely picture! Apparently a few decades back Madras (Marina beach) looked like that only!
Yeah that picture was taken by me. Did some post processing to that. I am sure a few decades back Puri too looked like that as claimed by me albeit with lesser hotels.

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Old 13th September 2012, 18:02   #14
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Its a beautiful travelogue. Me & Goutam with his Polo was planning this trip since last 1 year but still its on paper only. After reading this we are getting new blood.

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Prologue
It started drizzling and we took shelter in the lighthouse quickly to continue with our photographic exploits. All the remaining photos of Puri have been taken from the lighthouse. Actually if I am ever forced to stay in Puri and I find huge crowds which is inevitable in Puri, I would be perhaps spending most of time on this lighthouse.
Small curiosity, Light House is open to all or you had the permission already.

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Prologue
The drive through the road next to Chandrabhaga beach is an experience in itself. With the forest on one side and the beach sand right up to the road makes it very scenic. The weather too was behaving itself with the clouds keeping out the harsh sun and that ever slight rain made the experience very pleasant.
After viewing the photos I was amazed how Orissa is maintaining there roads.

When we will learn that putting TRIFOLA lights will not add any beautification on our streets unless we are making the surface like "Hemaji's cheek
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Old 13th September 2012, 20:32   #15
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Its a beautiful travelogue. Me & Goutam with his Polo was planning this trip since last 1 year but still its on paper only. After reading this we are getting new blood.
Thank you. You should try to visit during winters when the migratory birds are present in Chilika.

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Small curiosity, Light House is open to all or you had the permission already.
It is open to all by purchasing a ticket. Entry fee is Rs 10 per person with some extra charges for cameras.

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After viewing the photos I was amazed how Orissa is maintaining there roads.

When we will learn that putting TRIFOLA lights will not add any beautification on our streets unless we are making the surface like "Hemaji's cheek
Most of Odisha roads are pretty well maintained except for the one between Bhubaneswar to Puri which is being expanded to 4 lanes. Also the road to Gopalpur from NH5 is a bit broken as they are working to widen it. Otherwise on the highways it was a pleasure driving the car.
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