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Old 5th September 2014, 19:04   #1
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Default A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri

Suddenly the voice of Neelam, RJ of 93.5 Red FM, turned into the ringing of a phone in the speakers of my truck (Safari Storme). It was the morning of 20th Aug, 2014 and I was busy chatting with my wife on the way to her office with one ear lent to the non-stop chattering of Ms Neelam. I pressed the button on the Sony Xplod to receive the call and heard the voice of my brother-in-law with the plan of a Puri trip. This was something we wanted to do together for quite some time. So, I asked him when he wants to go and he told me he already got his train tickets booked to Puri for 23rd Aug and return tickets for 26th Aug. I was like “are you kidding me?!” He said that he got his leaves approved for the 25th and the 26th after trying for a long time. After a moment of pause, I and my wife quipped together “we are in”. Now what?

The Booking Trick

I searched for hotels on TripAdvisor.in and booked Sterling Holidays Golden Sands for Rs 1280 / night + taxes from goibibo.com. Had I booked the same directly through goibibo.com, I would have to pay Rs 2200 / night + taxes. So, the moral of the story is that it saves some extra bucks to book through some review, compare and book kind of sites like TripAdvisor since they get some special discounts.

The Preparations

We did not do much preparation apart from packing cloths, some snacks for the journey and some essential medicines. A 1 liter coolant and a tire repair kit are permanent inmates of my truck. Now that the trip was confirmed, I turned to my Kolkata Team-BHP friends for tips and pointers. All of them provided with very useful information from their experiences. Especially helpful was Samba's travelogue (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...s-kolkata.html). He even added a post to his travelogue just to help me with my trip on the 21st August. It was so nice of him. Anyone planning a trip to Puri MUST READ the 8 tips at the end of post #2 of Samba's travelogue. I found them extremely useful at every step of the trip.

We loaded all of Srishti's favorite nursery rhyme videos on my wife's iPad in addition to the games of her liking. This proved to be a life saver throughout the journey since when she used to turn to the iPad herself whenever she felt bored on the journey. That allowed my wife as well to enjoy the drive.

Day 1 (23rd August, 2014) – Kolkata to Puri

We started at 7:40 AM in the morning from our home in New Town, Kolkata.

Srishti ready to go – P1

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p1startofjourney.jpg

We started feeling hungry within half an hour. We originally planned to stop at Sher-e-Punjab, Kolaghat but could not wait that long. We stopped for breakfast in some xyz dhaba by the NH-6 at 8:30 AM. We resumed our journey at 8:50 AM.

NH-6 had a few flyovers under construction where the traffic was slow. Other than that the morning drive had been smooth. We took AH-5 from Kharagpur. The road surface was good all along but an endless series of diversions started after getting onto AH-5. Vehicles with lower ground clearance need to be really careful on this road. A few hundred trucks are usually parked on the highway near the toll plaza at the Bengal-Odisha border. You really need to work your way through the trucks and no one really minds which side (right or wrong) of the road you are on in this section of the road. You also need to keep good amount of cash within reach for toll since you have to pay tolls ranging from Rs 42 to Rs 90 number of times on this route.

The next stop was the lunch stop at Hotel Orion, Bhadrak, Odisha which came up at 1:30 PM. This place was suggested by my Kolkata Team-BHP friends and had a reasonably clean restroom. The food was good too.

Hotel Orion, Bhadrak – I think the members of the Team-BHP Kolkata Chapter will recognize the t-shirt – P2


A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p2hotelorion.jpg

We hit the road again at 2:40 PM after lunch and filling up the fuel tank of the truck. The rest of the road was pretty good and the changing in the landscape started pushing us into the holiday mood. Srishti took a solid 3 hours nap and woke up fresh to have fun rest of the way. We missed the Cuttack bypass in spite of being warned by Samba and drove through the heavy traffic of Bhubaneshwar. The bypass is very easy to miss therefore if you happen to go to Puri, please keep asking the locals for the bypass to Puri which comes on the left after crossing the city of Cuttack. On the return leg, it is hard to miss. This bypass saves at least half an hour of travel time.

Just like that – P3

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p3beautifulroads.jpg

The mighty river Mahananda – P4

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p4mightymahananda.jpg

Coconut break 12kms before entering Puri - P5

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p5coconuttime.jpg

We entered Puri at 6:00 PM but managed to find the resort finally at 7:30 PM. We could not do much for the rest of the evening. One thing I noticed during this trip is that all the roads entering the town are very narrow. As pointed out by fellow BHPians, the road sense of the bikers and drivers of Odisha is different to say the least [FONT=Wingdings][FONT=Wingdings]J[/FONT][/FONT]. We had an excellent dinner at the resort and then took a stroll along the pool and the beach side fencing of the resort. We went to bed early since I had to wake up at 4:15 AM the next morning and pickup my brother-in-law and his family at 5:35 AM from the station.

Day 2 (24th August, 2014) – The Temple Run

I woke up at 4:15 AM and headed out to Puri station at 5:00 AM as per plan. Since I had 35 mins to cover the 15-20 mins drive, I took this opportunity to click some early morning pictures of the “Virginia Beach of India” (that's what I and my wife named the town of Puri) on my phone. Purushottam Express reached Puri before time at 5:10 AM and my brother-in-law started from the station in an auto. We met midway and headed to Golden Sands together in my truck.

The view of the confluence of the River Dhaudia and the Bay of Bengal from the resort (Sterling Holidays Golden Sands) – P6

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p6seaview.jpg

The road to the Marine Drive from the resort – P7

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p7roadfromgoldensands.jpg

The far end of the Marine Drive – P8

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p8farendofmarinedrive.jpg

Morning at the Marine Drive – P9

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p9morningatmarinedrive.jpg

Day breaking in the ORVM – P10

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p10daybreakinorvm.jpg

We got shifted to a duplex unit after my brother-in-law reached. It was an excellent one with two bedrooms, one living room and two kitchen/dining spaces with Fridges and Microwaves. We freshened up and relaxed all the morning. I played in the pool with the three kids.

We left for the famous Jagannath Temple after lunch at 1:30 PM. It took couple of hours to complete the darshan and everything else. It was a very hot day. The floor of the temple was like a big frying pan on the stove and we were like peanuts jumping on it. Two of the kids were hanging from my neck and one (the eldest one) from my brother-in-law's neck. By the time we came out of the temple, we were very hungry and totally exhausted.

We had lunch in a veg restaurant close to the temple and then headed to Konark. It was a beautiful 45 mins drive to the Sun Temple of Konark. Currently it is not allowed to drive up to the temple. We had to park your vehicle at a distance and hire an auto-rickshaw for Rs 40. When I pulled out my camera for taking some pictures on the way and at the temple, I realized that the batteries were dead. So, due to tiredness and dead batteries, we hardly took any pictures. We took a quick guided tour of the temple and then sat for a while in the garden of the temple. Then we headed back to Puri. On reaching Puri, we spent half an hour on the beach sipping on tea.

The only photograph of the day at Sun Temple of Konark – P11

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p11konark.jpg

We had a great dinner again at the resort before retiring to bed.

Day 3 (25th August, 2014) – A day out with the Dolphins

After having a tiring day, we decided to take this day easy. So, we got up in the morning around 7:30 AM after having a completely satisfying sleep. The only plan we had on our itinerary for the day was to go for dolphin watch from Satapada. We spent the first half of the day at the resort and then started to Satapada.

The kids playing in the garden of the resort – P12

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Lazily starting on the journey of the day - P13

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We reached Satapada driving on the beautiful road along the edge of the Chilika lake which is the second largest lagoon in the world and the largest in India (as per Wikipedia). As mentioned by Samba, we were chased and persuaded by bikers promoting various private operators offering varied packages for dolphin watching. But, we kept turning them down politely and kept pushing ahead to Satapada. The boat tour was an hour and half long. While starting from Puri, I had bought the batteries for my camera so that I can take some shots of the dolphins. But when I reached for the camera in the back of my truck, I found that I had forgotten to take the camera!!! Therefore, I could not take any intelligible picture of the dolphins though we did see quite a lot of the celebrated marine-mammals. Below are couple of pictures of the boat ride.

Boat ride and dolphin watch at the Chilika Lake - P14

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Srishti chilling on the Chilika Lake - P17

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The boating tour included a stop on the Dolphin Island. On reaching close to the island, we found that there were no human beings except a few working on the strange looking structures. That was not a reason good enough to convince us to set our feet on the otherwise desolate island.

The Dolphin Island – P16

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p16dolphinisland.jpg

As we were approaching the jetty, it started raining heavily. The boatman docked the boat as close to the shaded part of the jetty as possible. I along with my brother-in-law and the helpful boatman took the kids to the shade as quickly as possible. The person, who sold us the tickets, walked up to me with a huge umbrella in his hand and asked me to tag along with him in his umbrella so that I can get my truck to the middle of the lagoon to rescue the rest!!!

When I returned to the jetty with the car I found that the ladies were busy buying pearls from a guy selling pearls straight out of the shells!!! - P18

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My Storme in the middle of the world's second largest lagoon on a rescue mission – P19

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p19jettypickup.jpg

On returning to Puri, the ladies went on a quick shopping run and then we had the famous road side fried fish and fried shrimps at Swargdwar.

Fish fiesta at Swargdwar - P20

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p20amazingfishtreat.jpg

We returned to the hotel after spending some time on the beach. The kids went to sleep soon after having dinner around 9:30 PM because they were all exhausted after having fun all day long. The four of us kept chatting till late in the night since that was the last opportunity before we part ways the next day.

Day 4 (26th August, 2014) – Return to Kolkata

My brother-in-law and his family had booked Hotel Suv Palace for the day since they wanted to spend the day on the beach before boarding their train at night. We managed to start on our return journey at 12:10 PM after dropping my brother-in-law & family to their hotel and filling up the tank of the truck. This time we did not miss the Cuttack bypass [FONT=Wingdings][FONT=Wingdings]J[/FONT][/FONT] and saved considerable amount of time. Below are couple of pictures taken during our return journey.

Life sized elephant statues of East West Hotel, Puri – P21

A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri-p21hoteleastwest.jpg

Quick stop for tea before entering Bhadrak – P22

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We took only two very short breaks to have tea and to freshen up – first at a dhaba before entering Bhadrak around 3:30 PM and the second 65 kms before reaching home around 7:45 PM. There was a sea of trucks on the Kona Expressway and it took about couple of hours to cover the last 45 kms. We finally reached our sweet home exactly at 10 PM. It was a very quick trip planned and executed in 7 days flat but we enjoyed a lot!
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Old 5th September 2014, 20:03   #2
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Default Re: A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri

Let me have the privilege to congratulate you first on this beautiful crisp but detailed travelogue.

The place where you have given the pic of your storm parked at Satpada, even i parked the car at the same place and went for the boat ride. I have not parked on the big parking area's from where you need to walk for 300 meters. That's the advantage when you go in off- seasons. Plus great to know you have grabbed good off-season discounts from the hotel too.

Your travelogue made me nostalgic and urging me to visit Puri once again! But sadly due to some other commitments i have to skip it as of now.

Thanks for sharing this.
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Old 5th September 2014, 20:19   #3
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Default Re: A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri

I could dare to plan this trip in such a short time because of you and the other BHPians from Kolkata. Therefore, I am really thankful to you guys.

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That's the advantage when you go in off- seasons. Plus great to know you have grabbed good off-season discounts from the hotel too.
What surprised me is that most of the popular hotels on Swargdwar were full even in this off-season! That made me feel there is nothing like "real" off-season in Puri.
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Old 5th September 2014, 22:11   #4
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Default Re: A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri

Partha da, a travelogue on Puri brings back so many memories. What an excellent writeup. I am planning to see your car soon (in flesh). Btw, 1280 a night at Sterling is really a steal.
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Old 5th September 2014, 22:48   #5
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I am planning to see your car soon (in flesh
You can see the big boy tomorrow @ 9Am in front of Rabindra Tirtha
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Old 6th September 2014, 11:39   #6
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Default Re: A Zip Trip to the Shores – Kolkata to Puri

Partha da, looks like you guys had much fun in Puri! And good that you drove to Satapada. How much did you pay for the boat trip from Satapada? I believe it is run by OTDC and is much cheaper than private operators who are making a kill at other places near to Satapada. And I sincerely hope that the ladies did not actually buy the pearls!

We too had fishes & crabs from the same outlet last month!

Nice travelogue. Keep moving!

Regards,
Saket
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Old 6th September 2014, 17:04   #7
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Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Partha da, looks like you guys had much fun in Puri! And good that you drove to Satapada. How much did you pay for the boat trip from Satapada? I believe it is run by OTDC and is much cheaper than private operators who are making a kill at other places near to Satapada. And I sincerely hope that the ladies did not actually buy the pearls!

We too had fishes & crabs from the same outlet last month!

Nice travelogue. Keep moving!

Regards,
Saket
Thanks saket. The boat ride is operated by OTDC. They charged 1500 including the island halt which we skipped. The ladies did buy the pearls The pearls were real since they were straight out of live shells, but I think they were cultured. They paid Rs 125 / piece I guess.
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Old 6th September 2014, 17:13   #8
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I should have warned you about the pearl business in Puri. I hate to say this but they are not even worth a penny. That is a common old scam thriving in Puri. They put in artificial pearls inside shells and stick them with adhesives. To make look the process natural, the seller will first break some shells which will not have pearls in them. Then they break the one they had prepared for the purpose. And people believe them to be original. Feeling sorry for you if you bought too many of them.
However, you saved quite some money by visiting Satapada and going for OTDC boats rather than private ones. We paid Rs. 2220/- for the worthless boat tour.
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Old 6th September 2014, 18:50   #9
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Wow! That's a lot of work the pearl scamsters do.

My wife is reluctant to believe that she got cheated and planning to go to the jweller to get the pearls checked . She bought two of them.
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Old 6th September 2014, 19:40   #10
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I should have warned you about the pearl business in Puri.
Age old scam. Was quite a nuisance at Satapada at one time, but thought it had come down. Apparently not.

The really bad part is the environmental damage these scamsters do in 'harvesting' these shells of the sea. Wonder if they reuse these!

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Old 6th September 2014, 21:15   #11
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Age old scam. Was quite a nuisance at Satapada at one time, but thought it had come down. Apparently not.

The really bad part is the environmental damage these scamsters do in 'harvesting' these shells of the sea. Wonder if they reuse these!

Regards
Sutripta
I don't think they reuse the shells since they kill them and break the shells into pieces :(
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Old 6th September 2014, 23:07   #12
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Nice crisp writeup

Why did you take Kona on the return journey? Why not Belghoria expressway ?
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Old 6th September 2014, 23:16   #13
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Wow! That's a lot of work the pearl scamsters do.

My wife is reluctant to believe that she got cheated and planning to go to the jweller to get the pearls checked . She bought two of them.
Do share what the jeweler had to say about it, if its okay with you.

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Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Age old scam. Was quite a nuisance at Satapada at one time, but thought it had come down. Apparently not.
Not at all sir. The scam hasn't come down at all and is everywhere to see in Puri. Right from Chilika to the Swargadwar and Golden Beach. In fact, we lost the count of the sellers trying to sell us such pearls during our 3 day trip!

Regards,
Saket
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Old 7th September 2014, 06:07   #14
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Do share what the jeweler had to say about it, if its okay with you.
Sure Saket. I'll honest let you know whatever the outcome is
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Old 7th September 2014, 21:08   #15
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Not at all sir. The scam hasn't come down at all and is everywhere to see in Puri. Right from Chilika to the Swargadwar and Golden Beach.
I'll say it originated in Satapada, and then spread everywhere.

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