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Old 20th August 2018, 02:27   #1
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A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Om Mani Padme Hum - Buddhist Mantra

Prologue

Ever since I brought Shadowfax (Ecosport Trend Plus AT) home, I have been inching to explore different parts of Odisha. I have never enjoyed visiting places like a typical tourist; time-bound and always in a hurry not to miss any important landmarks. I like my vacations slow-paced and leisurely, and what better way to do so than a road-trip in my own new car!

I had heard of this place called Jirang and was very interested to visit it. Its a small town nestled in the hills of Chandragiri, located in the Gajapati district of Odisha about 270 kms from the capital Bhubaneswar. Its one of the settlements of the Tibetan refugees in India. The Tibetans call this place Phuntsokling ("Land of Happiness and Plenty"). South Asia's largest Buddhist monastery is situated here - the Padma Sambhava Maha Vihara monastery. On the same route is the Chilika lake. So I and my wife decided to have an extended weekend getaway in Jirang and Rambha.

This is what I wanted to see!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01543.jpg


Google Maps to the rescue!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-gmap.jpg


There are not much options of accomodation at Jirang. There is a Tibetan guest-house, but we weren't sure of that. So we booked our room at OTDC Panthanivas at Taptapani, which is about 40kms from Jirang. For Chilika lake, bookings were done at OTDC Panthanivas at Rambha.


Chapter 1 - Taptapani

It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to - Bilbo Baggins, Lord of the Rings

We started our journey from Bhubaneswar early morning on Friday. Shadowfax looking at the road ahead near the hills of Khorda, while we were having breakfast.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01417.jpg


Some sceneries on the way.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01431.jpg

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This was supposed to be a monsoon trip, but the skies were clear and beautiful!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01439.jpg

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After many twisties we finally reached Taptapani Panthanivas by noon.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01494.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01478.jpg


Shadowfax parked and resting after the long journey. As often quoted here on Team-BHP, "If you don't look back at your car after parking it, then you bought the wrong one". I clearly haven't!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01475.jpg


Shadowfax had the whole parking lot to itself, save for this elderly gentleman.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01476.jpg


As is often the case with tourism department's guest houses and panthanivas, this one also was quite scenic but in dire need of maintenance.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01454.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01455.jpg


Room was quite disappointing but the view made up for it.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01474.jpg

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Post lunch we went exploring nearby. There was a deer park right next to the panthanivas. The deers are accustomed to be fed by the visitors and so quite a few came near us. But unfortunately we didn't have any food for them.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01480.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01483.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01487.jpg


Taptapani means "hot water" in Odiya. This place has a small hot water spring where tourists bathe, but we didn't.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180817_152054.jpg


Chapter 2 - Jirang

Next morning on Saturday, we left Taptapani panthanivas for Jirang, which was 40 kms away.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01523.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01528.jpg


We knew we were getting closer when we started seeing the Buddhist prayer flags on the road and in private residences.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01531.jpg


Beautiful roads, lush green fields on either side, mountains in the distance and the awesome Ecosport!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01537.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01538.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01539.jpg


Reached the Padma Sambhava Maha Vihara monastery
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_113627.jpg
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Old 20th August 2018, 02:57   #2
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_112230.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_112244.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_112402.jpg


Its some form of Elvish! I cant read it!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_112302.jpg


Prayer wheels.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_112633.jpg


A bigger one! It was very difficult to rotate!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_113143.jpg


Prayer flags fluttering in the wind. These flags are traditionally used to promote peace, wisdom, compassion, and strength. Tibetans believe the wind will blow the prayers and mantras in to the surroundings, spreading goodwill and compassion. The colors on the flags represents the 5 elements - Blue for sky or space, White for air or clouds, Red for fire or sun, Green for water or nature and Yellow for earth.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_110823.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_110929.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_111026.jpg


Shadowfax enjoying the vistas near the monastery.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_105102.jpg

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A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_110449.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_110641.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_111703.jpg


This prayer flag, the largest we had seen so far, fluttering near the administrative offices.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_103837.jpg


Entering the monastery proper we were greeted by...
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_104205.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_103621.jpg


Standing 70ft high, the monastery was designed by architects from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. It was built by the local masons over 6 years, at a cost of Rs. 8 crore.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01547.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01568.jpg


Spread over an area of 10 acres and constructed in Atanpuri style of architecture of Nalanda, the monastery houses around 200 monks.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01557.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01549.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01545.jpg


Beautiful and serene.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01546.jpg


Playground for the monks.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01551.jpg


One panoramic parting shot. Will definitely visit again!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01558.jpg


Bye bye buddy.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01555.jpg
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Old 20th August 2018, 03:15   #3
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Next stop was Khasada waterfall. Khasada means "slippery" in Odiya. Named so probably due to the slippery nature of the rocks at the place.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01575.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01574.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180818_121456.jpg


We had expected more water. This felt less like a waterfall and more like a flood!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01578.jpg


Nice place to wash the auto-rickshaw though!
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc01576.jpg


Chapter 3 - Chilika

Bidding adieu to Chandragiri, we started our journey back towards Chilika lake. Its on the same route we had taken the day before, but we had decided to stay there on the way back. Chilika is a brackish water lagoon, the largest in India. It has 3 major entry points - Barakul, Rambha and Satapada.

We reached Rambha panthanivas in the evening. The panthanivas was much better than Taptapani.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_063106.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_062614.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_061046.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_061014.jpg


Woke up at 4:30am the next day to go to the pier for some dawn photography.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_052329.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_051848.jpg


Start of another day for the fishermen.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_053650.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_052156.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_053306.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_055442.jpg


To conclude, a final shot of Shadowfax gleaming in the early morning sunlight.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_062224.jpg


Epilogue

It was a nice and refreshing two and a half days. There was not much spectacular to see at these places, but we thoroughly enjoyed the roads and the scenic beauty. Most importantly it refreshed our minds! This trip was also about putting some miles into the car before it goes for its first service. The rock solid stability of the Ecosport, the silent and powerful 1.5L petrol engine and the torque converter gearbox makes it a thoroughly enjoyable ride. I am absolutely in love with my car! Tripmeter at the end of the trip read 555 kms and average FE at 17.4 kmpl.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_152750.jpg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_152733.jpg


Looking forward to more trips with Shadowfax and more travelogues too! Thanks a ton for reading!
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Old 20th August 2018, 13:54   #4
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

As a fellow Odiya who has been living outside Odisha for a long time, I am always looking for new places to explore, when I go home.
After going through your travelogue, Jirang is definitely on the top of my list for my next visit.
I small query: How was the food in OTDC taptapani and is there any provision for food in/near the monastery itself?

Thanks for the great travelogue and keep it up 'Mellon'.
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Old 20th August 2018, 14:23   #5
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

A short video cobbled together from dashcam footage -

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Old 20th August 2018, 16:09   #6
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Quote:
Originally Posted by revvenant View Post
How was the food in OTDC taptapani and is there any provision for food in/near the monastery itself?

Thanks for the great travelogue and keep it up 'Mellon'.
Thanks Mellon!

Food at OTDC Taptapani was average. We had opted for vegetarian dishes, so can't comment on the non-veg ones. I remember seeing one small hotel/canteen near the monastery, but it was closed during the morning when we were at the monastery. We ended up having lunch at a roadside dhaba on the way back, about 25kms from Jirang.
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Old 20th August 2018, 17:57   #7
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Nice travelogue. Feels great to see the home stretch in pictures. I have been brought up in Brahmapur and have been to these places many times during school days. Odisha has many unexplored tourist treasures and it's about time, something is done about tourism promotion.
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Old 20th August 2018, 19:12   #8
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suryendu87 View Post
Odisha has many unexplored tourist treasures and it's about time, something is done about tourism promotion.
Absolutely true! Odisha has all the ingredients to be a popular tourist destination but sadly lacks proper development by the government
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Old 20th August 2018, 23:27   #9
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrodoOfTheShire View Post

Ever since I brought Shadowfax (Ecosport Trend Plus AT)
Well Gandalf, that's quite a narration of such a wonderful place packed by some beautiful pictures of your steed and the landscape. We are far off from middle earth but Shadowfax shall always impress you.
Hyderabad - Asansol (WB) or should I say Rohan - Shire is my usual drill over the past few years and Orissa never stops to amaze me whenever i drive through. The vast state has so much left unexplored. Jirang is roughly 50 kms off Kasibugga (AP) from NH16. ( not much of detour needed)

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-jirang.jpg

I will make sure I visit the monastery which falls on the way for me. Once again thanks for sharing this place. Your vaste state has lot to explore, keep driving and sharing such wonderful experiences.

I make sure I stop by Chilka, specially near the 50 kmph speed limit board followed by a tummy full of crabs at Chilka Dhaba.
A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-img_20171202_153219.jpg

Last edited by ARAY : 20th August 2018 at 23:29.
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Old 21st August 2018, 00:01   #10
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Nice TL, @rodoOfTheShire. I've spent the first 20 years of my life in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Berhampur, so your narration evoked nostalgia. I've been to all the places you have mentioned in this TL, except Chandragiri. I'll surely give it a shot if I get to drive that way. I've planned many a time, but so far did not even get to drive to Vizag from Hyderabad!

It is sad to hear that Pantha Nivas at Taptapani is no longer well-maintained. Last time I visited was in October 1997, and we were lucky to get a room in the main bungalow that has a small pool in the bathroom which is filled by water from the hot springs via a funnel-type path. My kids were so thrilled with that, that even today they mention about that trip fondly. In the 60s and 70s, only that building used to exist. Later, many cottages got constructed around it.

Last edited by vnabhi : 21st August 2018 at 00:03.
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Old 21st August 2018, 07:51   #11
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

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Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
It is sad to hear that Pantha Nivas at Taptapani is no longer well-maintained. Last time I visited was in October 1997, and we were lucky to get a room in the main bungalow that has a small pool in the bathroom which is filled by water from the hot springs via a funnel-type path.
Wow! That actually sounds luxurious! Sadly most of that property is in ruins now. Most of the buildings have plaster falling off from the stairs. Many parts of the property seem to have been reclaimed by the forest. It was quite sad to see the place going to ruins. We wondered that it would have been a really good panthanivas once upon a time, which seems so from your recollection.

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc0150101.jpeg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-dsc0145802.jpeg


Quote:
Originally Posted by ARAY View Post
I will make sure I visit the monastery which falls on the way for me. Once again thanks for sharing this place. Your vaste state has lot to explore, keep driving and sharing such wonderful experiences.

I make sure I stop by Chilka, specially near the 50 kmph speed limit board followed by a tummy full of crabs at Chilka Dhaba.
Thanks! Yes, do visit the monastery, its breathtaking!

We too had crabs and prawns at Chilika dhaba. It was delicious!

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_1223320101.jpeg

A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha-photo_20180819_1223380101.jpeg
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Old 21st August 2018, 07:58   #12
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Fantastic travelogue that - great write-up supported by beautiful pictures.

I have been to Odisha many times, but never seen Jirang. Your account of the place has put it right up there on my list of must visit places. It all looks so clean and the monastery is beautiful indeed.

Sad to hear that Taptapani did not have a great room and food, but overall, the scenery and roads look very inviting.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 21st August 2018, 14:07   #13
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Amazing write-up and pictures @Frodo!!

Although am an Odiya myself but kind of an outsider in the sense that I grew up in Chattisgarh. We've frequented Bhubaneswar and nearby places since childhood but never did we knew such a place existed!? I've myself spent about 2.5 years working there, and had the good fortune of exploring places like Satpada, satkosia, Chilika etc. (to name a few); but this is something else!! I know where I am going on my next trip to Bhubaneswar; thanks again!
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Old 22nd August 2018, 04:53   #14
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

A perfect short and crisp travelogue!
The beautiful panoramic view of the monastery was the highlight of the thread for me !
Thankfully this place is calm and serene, and not typically 'touristy', with shops and eateries.
Its sad to see the deteriorating condition of the panthaniwas at Taptapani, most of the rooms remain vacant round the year, which is why its being neglected. Barkul and Rambha, being closer to NH-5, are more viable to travellers, hence they are nicely maintained and marketed.
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Old 22nd August 2018, 09:16   #15
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Re: A Trip to Jirang - The Tibet of Odisha

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonubbsr View Post
Thankfully this place is calm and serene, and not typically 'touristy', with shops and eateries.
Yes, I was discussing this with my wife that the place is so clean, calm and serene because its not a typical tourist destination. We didn't find any garbage near the monastery, temple or the surrounding fields!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonubbsr View Post
Its sad to see the deteriorating condition of the panthaniwas at Taptapani, most of the rooms remain vacant round the year, which is why its being neglected.
The only reason for staying at Tapatapani was because we wanted to visit Jirang. There is a Tibetan guest house nearer to the monastery which I am planning to stay during my next visit, maybe during the winters!
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