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Old 30th March 2022, 18:40   #1
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Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Sun temple at Konark for me is an enigma in my mind for many years. My parents named me after him (Sun God). I grew up in reverence and love for him. Somehow I am hardwired to love his rise in the morning and equally love the spectacle he creates in the sky while departure in the evening. My favourite everyday routine is to sip a tea in the balcony, which is east facing, under his warm light in the morning. My camera is filled with pictures of him in various places and moods, lol.

No wonder the best creation made by mankind in reverence to him is the one that shines the brightest in my bucket list of to-visit in this life

Additionally, its on the east coast so I can indulge on my other favourite activity of spending time on ‘beautiful beaches’ witnessing splendid sunrise and sunset or just losing self on beachside at the scenic environment and gushing waves. That’s exactly how I wanted to end this year 2021.

Hence, Odisha’s ‘Golden triangle' of ‘Konark – Puri - Bhubaneswar’ stayed the top choice for my ‘2021 Christmas – 2022 New year day’ travel plans.

Next thing is to decide on whether to drive all the way, or use flights and rental cars to save time. Heart insisted on the drive and it pushed for semi-coromandel drive kind of itinerary. Unfortunately, distance is too much and it needed atleast 10 days, if I have to do the trip properly and safely without rushing. Additionally, a few personal family commitments kept this whole thing tentative till the last minute, until 24th Dec afternoon. So mind prevailed over heart considering the practicality, and also taking in the additional factor of being a solo trip, and the decision made to go for flights and rental self drive cars. Finally, on 24th afternoon, around 4pm, I booked the flights for 25th afternoon onward to Bhubaneswar and 1st evening return to Bangalore. I also kept the option of returning back a couple of days earlier and instead spending New year eve at home in Bangalore. So selected the return flight which offers reschedule option without extra charge. Once the flights booked, I felt a bit of calmness returning to agitated mind, after tentative thoughts gave way to firmed up plan. Slowly it sunk in the fact that I am going, hurray!

That evening, with the settled mind, its the time to catch up on movies, lol. Watched ‘Atrange re’ and ‘The Suicide Squad’ back to back while dipping into my ready-to-eat food archives. I know I have to leave home on 25th at 11am and I can pack in one hour before that so no rush. Before going to bed, checked for rental car options and found that both zoomcar and revv are fully booked and had no options. Hotels are also showing extremely high-prices almost 75% to 200% more than their usual rates so decided that I will worry about them on my way to airport and also hoped for any last minute price drop/deals.

Day 1 (Bhubaneswar):

On 25th Dec, reached airport on time and reached the boarding gate an hour before scheduled time. Surprisingly Bangalore airport is far less crowded at that time, the Christmas day, compared to last time I flew, during second half of November. Took a coffee and continued to explore accommodation options. Finally, decided for Ginger Hotel Bhubaneswar, a 2-star hotel but unfortunately priced at 4-star level for this peak tourist season. With the hotel booked, checked again the rental car options and found that Zoomcar has one option on 27th and felt that may work for me as i plan to stay in Bhubaneswar for 26th. I never used Zoomcar service before. So took time to read reviews and to create the profile. Also the worry about whether they will over charge me, will it spoil my vacation., etc, kept me not to finalize there itself. I thought to continue to read the reviews and finalize my local transport options once I check in to the hotel.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic1.jpg
Pic: Small but nice airport at Bhubaneswar. Picture taken from baggage claim/arrival area. What we see are the check-in counters and the departure area.

Flight landed on-time per the schedule. I could see that, though its only about 5pm, its a cloudy weather around but thankfully there is no rain is projected. The airport is small but well maintained and looked clean. There is not much rush as mine is the only flight to arrive at that time.

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Pic: Sand sculpture welcoming the visitors in the airport near the baggage claim area. Christmas all around

I could book an Ola from airport to Ginger hotel. There is also a prepaid taxi service right in the front, at the arrivals gates. Ola guy took about 15 mins to reach and that gave me enough time to sip a coffee at the shop near arrivals gate. Taxi took about 25 mins to reach hotel, not that far when you consider it to the Bangalore standards, lol. Ginger hotel is situated on a wide road and is right next to the 5-star hotel Svosti. There is also another 5-star, Trident hotel, nearby on the same road but on the opposite side. There is a mall nearby at 10 minute walking distance, that has KFC and a busy street-food scene right outside on the roadsides.

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Pic: entrance lobby of Ginger hotel.

If we set aside the inflated holiday season price, which is bit painful in one way, Ginger hotel offers exactly what it promises, a 2-star no-frills budget standardized stay experience. On a normal day it should be worth 1800 to 2500 range depending occupancy rate. But now i am paying almost double to those rates, huh! But am happy to have got the room as appetite for experimentation is less for me at that time. Also happy with the location and spacious hotel complex which allows us to take a stroll around, another routine of mine after dinner.

After checking in, I freshened up and relaxed for about half hour and got out to take a stroll in the neighbourhood to familiarize the area. Its a nice walk on the main road as there is a wide enough footpath on either side for the walkers. The nearby mall is very small and most of the shops are closed but a Christmas party going on there with many families and children enjoying. I am back at the hotel by around 8:30pm and had buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant. The food at Ginger hotel is tasty and the price of ~450 for a buffet is economical than the Bangalore hotels. I was hungry with no proper lunch since the morning so opted for the buffet. Post the sumptuous dinner took a stroll around the hotel but inside the compound wall for another 45 mins before calling it a day.

Last pending item was to close the Zoomcar rental and luckily the option that I saw earlier in the day is still available. I went ahead and booked the car from 27th 9am airport pickup to 1st 5pm airport drop. The car I finalized is Swift diesel AT and I felt that is probably the best option among all. I was getting about 600km to drive and fuel costs will be mine. I would need to return the car at the same fuel level as it is delivered to me else there will be fuel charges. I tried to upload the identification proofs using web portal but failed due to some errors on the screen. Their customer service asked me to email them as attachments. However, once I installed the Zoomcar app, the same upload was smooth so no need to send on mail. I guess the world is more of app based now a days and the web interfaces are kind of actively ‘discouraged’. May be apps give them more data to spy around from the phone while also giving real-time tracking convenience. The money was deducted immediately after booking so its kind of a pre-paid.Anyways, I found the Zoomcar app to be good for the kind of the services that i utilized.

Next day plan is to explore Bhubaneswar and upon browsing on google, I had finalized 8 places to visit in the city for the whole day. The travel desk at Ginger hotel also offers day car rental with driver for 8 hours 80km at 2000.
I decided to check the Ola option in the morning and whichever is cheaper would be my ride. With all settled, I got into sleep peacefully closing the day1 of my Odisha trip.

Day 2 (Bhubaneswar):

On day2, I got ready and reached the breakfast buffet by 8:15am. The hotel restaurant spread out a nice buffet of food options including south indian, north indian and continental food choices. I took a light breakfast as the heavy dinner previous night was still lingering around in my stomach. While having the breakfast, booked the Ola rental for 8 hours and 80km. Ola rental was showing over 500 cheaper than the hotel travel desk so its a no brainer. The Ola driver came by 8:55 and by sharp 9am we started our trip. I had explained the itinerary to the driver and fed the same into the google maps.

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Pic: Here is the screen print of my mobile with day’s itinerary in Bhubaneswar

The plan for the day is as follows:
a) Lingaraja Temple built in 11th century AD
b) Muktheswara Temple built in 9th century AD
c) Parasurameswara Temple built in 7th century AD
d) Rajarani Temple built in 11th century AD
e) State Museum
f) Tribal Museum
g) Udayagiri Caves that were carved in 2nd to 1st century BCE
h) Ram mandir

P.S: One could add the 'Vaitala temple' as well due to its unique Khakra architecture or style of sanctum, one of the three styles of Kalinga architecture of temple building. I missed it as I got to know about its uniqueness later at my stop in Konark Museum.

Bhubaneswar is the 'City of the temples' and being the location of the earlier Capital of Kalinga kingdom, there were so much experimentation on temple building that gradually evolved into Kalinga temple architecture. I dont have time to see everything so made the above shortlist by quickly browsing net for other traveller recommendations.

The first stop, ofcourse the magnanimous Lingaraja Temple.

a)Visit to Lingaraja Temple (11th Century AD):

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Pic: Outer view of Lingaraja temple complex with the huge compound wall protecting the same.

Driver dropped me near the temple compound and gave me his number to call once I come out. I could see that a lot of renovation work going on around to upgrade the temple infrastructure with the well-laid approach roads, walking pathways. Its a much needed and very welcome step taken by Odisha government to help improve the tourism. The compound wall is huge and probably 20ft in height and is thick as well by providing a platform on the top to defend it from any aggression. There is a nice temple pond in the front. Of-course, the water is dirty and I could see that it is not well kept but hopefully once the renovation is complete it would be cleaned as well.

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Pic: Temple pond in front of Lingaraja temple

When you look around we could see many older temples. Some are still being worshipped (living) and some have become archaeological remains/ruins. One such structure of vimana/sanctum is left intact in the front of Lingaraja temple. Renovation team is trying to preserve this structure by laying the paths around and leaving it untouched.

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Pic: Archaeological remains of unknown vimana infront of the Lingaraja temple. Also notice the pathway that is being built for the visitors.

However, there is no information put up on what exactly is it and the significance or history of the same. Hopefully ASI, which is also co-managing this complex with the temple trust and state government, will put across information boards and establish a museum with respective information displays/multi-media shows dedicated to all the temples or historical remains in Bhubaneswar.

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Pic: closer view of ruin (vimana) in the front.
- Notice the plantation growing on the top and the weed around but with a sign that it was cleaned once sometime ago but not maintained after that.
- Also, notice the protruding ‘Lion on elephant’ carvings in black stone at height on vimana on all four sides. This kind of ‘Lion or elephant carving protruding out feature’ is found in all the Kalinga temples.
- At the bottom two levels of niche’s around the vimana have many carvings of deity’s and other figures. Rest of the vimana is dominated by wonderful pattern all around which is unique to Kalinga styles.
- This vimana represents the ‘Rekha’ style of the Kalinga temple architecture. I came to know later that even the fallen sanctum of Sun temple at Konark is built in this same Rekha style.

Having been built up a lot of excitement about Nagara and Kalinga style temple building, a knowledge gathered from my earlier visits to Chola temples around Tanjavur, Pallava ruins in Mahabalipuram, Hoyasala marvels at Belur/Halebidu and Chalukya temple building experimentation at Badami/ Aihole and Pattadakkalu, I was super excited to see the first sight of Kalinga style of building in their own lands. This ruined vimana of unknown temple, in ‘Rekha’ style of Kalinga temple architecture, is the first one I saw up-close.

I got to know that only Hindus are allowed inside the Lingaraja temple complex and others can view the temple from the elevated structure build adjacent to the compound wall.

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Pic: Elevated platform, on the left with red brick colour, for viewing the temple complex from outside at the periphery of compound wall. Non Hindu visitors can use this platform to get the birds eye view.

We are not allowed to take any bags or cameras or mobiles inside the complex as a security measure. Its a bit of disappointment for me as I wanted to click some pictures of carvings and finer architectural elements inside. However, we live under the present day threats and so I can understand why such security measures were taken.

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Pic: Lingaraja temple main entrance

I had first shown the vaccine certificate on my mobile to the security guard and requested him to allow me to come back after depositing it in the designated facility. The temple is already crowded and people are allowed only after showing the double dose vaccine certificate along with ID proof. I asked the security guy for a guide and he pointed me to one of the temple priests standing outside at the main gate. I was reluctant and skeptical to take help from temple priests after unpleasant first time experience at Kashi vishwanath temple earlier in Sep this year as part of the my 25-day solo (yet to finish this travelogue, aiming to close it soon). Unfortunately, there is no other ASI approved guide available here and hence forced to give a chance to the priest only. He agreed for 100 rupees (I know he would ask for more later so kept another 100 in mind as buffer) to guide me inside and explain all about the temple, architecture and history. I have no phone or recording device so could not record these explanations like I always do in other visits. So had to depend solely on my memory on what he explained. Also, once inside the complex, he told me that he does not know much about the construction or sculptures (other than on the divine ones currently being worshipped) so it is going to be limited to only divine legends. I was disappointed but felt there is no other choice.

I had a bit of trouble in understanding his accent so missed a few things he said, despite me asking him to speak slowly and made him repeat many things. His constant chewing of some supari/pan-masala kind of thing and the crowds around with a lot of surrounding noise, had complicated the reception of what he is conveying so a majority of it is either lost in translation or I did not remember fully. He had apologized for the chewing habit and said since morning they would be talking or chanting so much so that this supari/pan is a kind of soothing food that they got accustomed to.

Below are the points that i could recollect:

• The temple complex originally constructed in 11th century. However, he said a small temple with the same deity was there long before 11th century and before that the deity was under a tree. A quick googling later confirmed this fact that a smaller temple was constructed sometime in 6th or 7th century and before that the deity was under a mango tree.

• The priest claimed that the height of the temple vimana is about 7 ft taller than the Jagannath temple. A deliberate design by the King who constructed Jagannath temple to give prominence to Lingaraj. However, ASI states that Jagannath temple in Puri is the tallest of all temples in Odisha. I would trust ASI on such facts.

• On the top of the vimana we see representation of Pinaka bow, which is again unique compared typical kalasa that we find in majority of the temples seen, especially in south.

• The shivalinga, the main deity, is not installed but discovered from the earth in the very same spot and hence he is also referred as Bhuvaneswara, meaning the Eswara who came from Bhumi (earth). The city later named after him as Bhuvaneswar.

• The main diety, is considered as the form of both ‘Hari and Hara’, that is both Shiva and Vishnu. Temple Priest explained about some of the features of the Shiva linga like the sesha-nagu around it, and a few others which i could not clearly hear/understand with the noise around.

• There is both Garuda and Nandi in the front showing devotion to their respective lords.

• The ‘Dwajastamba’ in the front is considered to have magical powers and devotees hug the same while conveying their wishes. I also hugged it, lol.

• Temple kitchen cooks a lot of food that gets distributed as ‘Anna-dhana’ for the people who throng for the same and also as ‘Prasadam’ for the devotees.

• The food is cooked in earthern pots and each pot/vessel used for one-time only. After emptying the same pot/vessel is destroyed and recycled into earth.

• The cooked food is first brought through a shaded area, as sun light or moon light should not fall on it, before it is offered to the Lingaraja. Incidentally I was exactly infront of the main sanctum, Lord Lingaraja, at this time and the priest there asked me to wait in the corner while this Bhog (the food) is brought to God with ceremonial chants. That was a lucky sight and experience for me.

• They give dry fruits and fried sweetened food items as the take away ‘prasadam’ for the people travelling farther distances. These items stay unrefrigerated for a min of two weeks. I was given one such pack as part of the Pooja that another priest did for me, ofcourse without informing first. However, I didn’t mind it this time as that priest did not fleece for more money than what I had willingly given.

• There are many small temples with deities inside the complex. As per suggestion from the priest I visited are Bhuvaneswari temple, Narasimha temple, Ganesh temple.

• I liked the Narasimha sculpture as the deity shown in ‘calming form’ with Lakshmi on his lap. Normally we see Narasimha in ‘angry form’ but this is a unique carving. It looked really beautiful and there is a divine grace that I could feel.

I loved the temple complex for its archaeological beauty. Though the priest is rushing me from one God to another, I took little bit of extra time to look at the complex and absorb the beauty of the Kalinga temple architecture, which has come to full maturity at this temple construction in 11th century. The temple has main sanctum or vimana, which is the tallest and then the prayer hall or Jagamohana followed by Natya mandapa and finally the Bhoga mandapa (for prasada or offerings). This is the same 4-unit design followed in the later built Konark Sun temple and the Puri Jagnnath temple.

After coming out, I collected my belongings and then headed to the elevated platform to take pictures of the temple complex.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic11-lingaraja-temple-front.jpg
Pic: Lingaraja temple complex left half (as seen from the platform), which contains the main entrance (coloured white at the front), followed by a six or seven wide and long steps (not that high) to climb, then comes the flagposts and after that Bhoga mandapa (the smallest in height and more squarish) followed by Natya mandapa, Jagamohana and Vimana in that order with each increasing in height.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic12-lingaraja-temple-back.jpg
Pic: Lingaraja temple complex right half (as seen from the platform), which shows many other temples inside this complex and large compound wall is seen as well.

There are many temple structures outside but in the vicinity of the Lingaraj complex. Many of them were ruined and some of them were destroyed. No wonder Bhubaneswar is called as the ‘city of temples’.

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Pic: Sukasari temple opposite the Lingaraja viewing platform across the approach road. This is temple doesn’t seem to be a living one, and excavation and renovation work is in progress there.

A welcome sign that I see is that many excavation, restoration and renovation works are going on all around here. It appears ASI and Odhisha state government working together to restore, preserve and develop for the people to visit and appreciate these historical icons. While ASI is leading the excavation and restoration efforts, State government chipping in with overall surrounding area development in collaboration. A much needed investment for our archaeological icons and very happy to see these efforts.

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Pic: Sukasari temple front view

Sukasari (Lord Shiva) temple was built in 13th century and this also forms the matured style of Kalinga temple architecture.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic15-excavation-work-sukasari.jpg
Pic: Closer pic of the excavation work at Sukasari temple. I was not allowed to enter the Excavation area, understandable as it is a precaution.

A quick google search revealed many important discoveries that ASI team is making at this site. Below are couple of links to news publications talking about these excavations:

‘Amalaka’ of buried temple excavated from Suka-Sari Deula complex- The New Indian Express (

Temple base found on Suka-Sari*complex in*Bhubaneswar- The New Indian Express (

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic16-sukasari-temple-closer-look2.jpg
Pic: A closer look at the Sukasari temple’s jagamohana and its patterns and finer carvings.

There is another living temple, right next to Lingaraja temple compound wall, dedicated to Sakthi form of Goddess Saraswati and it is called ‘Chitrakarini’ temple.

Chitrakarini temple was built by Raja Narasimha Dev, the same King who also built the famous Konark Sun temple. The main temple is flanked by four small temples in all four corners of this squarish compound.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic17-chitrakarini-temple.jpg
Pic: Chitrakarini temple in the center and two corner temples at the front are seen. Two more corner temples are at the back (not seen in this pic). This picture taken from the elevated platform setup for viewing Lingaraja temple at its compound wall.

Its worth visiting this Lingaraja temple and Sukasari temple sites once all the works currently in progress by ASI and state government are completed. May be 2 to 3 years later, and hopefully ASI would put full information displays to help the visitors to understand archaeological and historical significance.

After Chitrakarini temple visit, I called my driver and moved to the next site on my list, 9th century Mukteswara temple followed by 7th century Parasurameswara Temple, both are very close to each other in the same area.

b) Visit to Mukteswara Temple:

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Pic: Location map showing important temples and structures in this area, which is close to Lingaraja-Bindusagar lake.

The area is dotted with many sites of importance and above pic shows all the structures in its vicinity.

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Pic: ASI board at the entrance of Mukteswara temple.

Unfortunately, the other information board from ASI is faded so much that we can’t really understand what is written. I hope ASI takes interest in maintaining these boards which are the only source of authentic information around there.

After seeing the Lingaraja-Sukasari-Chitrakarini temples, from 11th to 13th century period, where in Kalinga architecture had fully matured to standardize the temple construction, I was super excited to visit this 9th century marvel which forms the mid-way of this temple architecture evolution.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic20-muktesswara-temple.jpg
Pic: The intricate 9th Century Mukteswara temple. It has Jagamohana at the front and the Vimana at the back. The deity, Shiva, is called Mukteswara.

Evolution is visible through the Rekha deul for the sanctum and Pidha style Jagamohan in the front. The emphasis on the intricately decorated doors and entrance arch along with decorated compound wall indicates the architectural progress over the two centuries since the 7th Century Parasurameswara Temple. No wonder ASI calls Mukteswara temple as the 'Gem of the Kalinga temple architecture'.

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Pic: Torana of Mukteswara Temple - ASI board in previous pic singles out this Torana (the entrance arch) as a unique master piece of design. There is only one such Torana (entrance arch) exists in Odhisha or across India.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic22-view-back-mukteswara.jpg
Pic: View of the mukteswara temple from the back where we have a small temple pond (I like its reflection in gentle waves). We can also see other smaller temples around. Here in this picture, the bigger vimana at the front is Siddheswara temple. The small vimana on the left and few other smaller ones in the front are also the temples but none of them being worshipped and have no residing deity.

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Pic: Full frontal view of the Mukteswara temple. Its not that big compared to the later built temples, but if compared to its peers in 9th century or earlier, then it is on par in size/dimensions.

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Pic: A shot from the side playing with Sun & shades. Notice the lion sitting on top at the front of Jagamohana.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic25-jagamohana-closer-view.jpg
Pic: As you step past the Torana, we are welcomed by excellent patterns and carvings of the Jagamohana. Its squarish in design and elegantly sculptured.

The entrance door frame is very elegantly designed with 3 layered pattern running around from side to side. At the bottom of either side is beautiful sculptures of what appears to be either Shiva-Parvati and Vishnu-Lakshmi based on my guess (not 100% sure as typically at the entrance frames we see Ganga and Yamuna or Dwarapalaka’s). I felt this kind of depiction at the door is bit unique and not found in temples seen in south (again, I could be wrong). There is no guide available there to explain and faded ASI board din’t help either.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part1-pic26-closer-look-door-frame.jpg
Pic: Closer view of the door frame

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Pic: Patterns on the walls and the windows of Jagamohana

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Pic: A collage of temple carvings

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Pic: Siddheswara temple opposite of Mukteswara along with smaller shrines. This temple was built later than Mukteswara and architecturally it is considered better matured for its Rekha deul and Pidha Jagamohana.

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Pic: Parting shot, the unique and magnificent Torana view (backside) from inside the temple.

Next stop is Parasurameswara temple constructed in 7th Century.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

c) Parsurameswara Temple (7th Century)

ASI says Parsumrameswara temple is the only well preserved and complete specimen of 'early' Kalingan architecture.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-od-trip-part2-pic1-asi-board-parsurameswara.jpg
Pic: ASI board on Parsumarameswara temple.

Somehow, I felt this temple, with the banyan tree next to it, as most serene and emanating radiance in sunlight.

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Pic: Parsurameswara temple with morning sun rays gracing through the banyan tree

There were no guides available at any of these sites so I had to rely only on the information displays around and little bit of googling to understand any salient points/features.

Before 6th century, the Kalingan temples used to have only Vimana holding the diety. The concept of Jagamohana or Prayer hall (Jagamohana) evolved in 6th to 7th century. Parsurameswara Temple is probably is the better evolved version of that duel design (Sanctum/Vimana + Jagamohan/Prayer hall). Even the temple sizes have grown over time. Notice the rectangular (a hint of pyramidal design aspects) design of Jagamohana with two stage roofing that clearly indicating the temple architecture experimentation that is in progress in those days in 7th century.

The Mukteswara temple, built in 9th to 10th century, which I covered in previous page, takes this evolution further with temple entrance arch, compound wall and a temple pond, to make it more ‘complete’. Additionally it also takes the Jagmohana design to Pidha style or pyramidical arch style roofing as opposed to plain rectangular/squarish styling seen above in the Parsurameswara.

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Pic: Faded additional information board by ASI and the vertical view of the Vimana at the back. Some of the sculptures are lost leaving empty niche.

I hope ASI fixes these information boards quickly and also appoint officially approved or certified guides to show around the archaeological sites and temples here as they all located with in 1-2 km squarish area, including the ongoing excavation sites of sukasari-bindusagar area.

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Pic: Temple view from the front. Notice the beautifully carved windows either side of the entrance.

The temple has a Vimana/Sanctum and an attached Jagamohana/prayer hall. Jagamohana is squarish in design and the roof is flat in style with another elevated squarish design allowing ventilation and the light inside.

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Pic: Ganesh and Kartikeya, both sons of Shiva on the outer walls of the temple. Center pic showing the interior view of the raised columned portion of the Jagamohana.

While I was visiting this temple, at the same time, an Odissi classical dancer going through a video shoot of her performance in this idealistic and serene setting. She must be a famous very well known artist but I am not sure who is it. However, the whole sight in that temple background was magical and I was lucky to have witnessed it for a few mins and was even luckier to capture it in a frame. Sincere appreciation and thanks to this talented dancer and had masked the face in picture to respect her privacy while adoring the visual brilliance she brought.

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Pic: An unknown Odissi artist, in traditional attire multiplying the radiance of the temple with her performance, beauty and grace. I was fortunate to visit at that time and catch a few seconds of her performance as part of the video shoot that her team is doing.

The temple has beautiful carvings of ‘Saptmatrika’ Indicating Shakti movement in those times. Thanks to quick google search on various sites, I could understand that Saptamtrikas, or the seven mothers goddesses as Brahmani – Sarasavati form, Maheswari – Parvati form, Vaishnavi – Lakshmi form, Varahi – another Lakshmi form, Chamundi – another Parvati form, Indrani – Sachi devi, wife of Indra, form, Kaumari – Devayanni and Valli form - both wives of Karthikeya.

A few hours later, I found further information about Saptamatrika in the State Museum, where a few more artefacts related to seven divine mothers are in display. I had captured the same in section (page3) that talked about the museum visit.

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Pic: Saptamatrika’s on the outerwall of Jagamohana of Parsurameswara temple. On either side, we also see two more sculptures which i could not clearly identify. Though the right side one appears to be Ganesh and a quick google mentioning vaguely about Vinayaki form, I am not really sure about whom they represent.

The temple has intricate carvings all along the walls and the vimana. Below are are some of the pictures taken.

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Pic: South entrance into the Jagamohana. The main entrance is on the west.
Notice on the right side the beautiful carvings at the bottom row.
- I could recognize Nataraja form as the first one, and
- the second sculpture seems to be Shiva with Parvati in Kailasa, and
- the third one appear to be a form of Vishnu (not really sure).
The unfinished stones seem to be the ones put later by ASI while restoring the temple

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Pic: An interesting and unique way of depicting of Mahishasuramardini (Durga killing the demon Mahishasur)

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Pic: Wonderful miniature photo-frame kind of boxes/blocks with patterns, designs and carvings

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Pic: First sighting on ‘Sun God’ sculpture on this trip. On the left with lotus flowers in both hands is Sun. I am not sure about the other three in the picture.

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Pic: What appears to be shiva linga without its base and standing outside in open infront of the Saptamatrika sculptures. I really missed the guide around! Either side, the pics of carvings and designs on the walls of the temple.

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Pic: Closer view of the top portion of the vimana at its corner angle. It looks really beautiful with clear blue-sky and green shades of trees nearby.

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Pic: A beautiful shot of the entire Parsurameswara temple from south west corner. Notice the Odissi dancer performing at the south-east corner. I was lucky to get this pic, for a split second of time, with no one else other than the dancer and the whole temple in the frame.

I loved my time at both Mukteswara and Parsurameswara temples. They are indeed the archaelogical marvels, as identified by ASI, from our rich history and needs to preserved further and appreciated.

d) Rajarani Temple (11th century AD)

The next stop for me is Rajarani temple, which is also maintained by ASI but unlike for Muketwara and Parsurameswara, it has a ticket for entry.

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Pic: A souvenir, lol. Ticket for entry at Rajarani temple.

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Pic: Rajarani temple. Notice the well curated lawn and the clean compound around it.

ASI considers this temple as the master piece of the Kalinga architecture and it was constructed in 11th century. It was considered to be a Shiva temple earlier but now there is no deity inside and is not a living temple. It is believed that other central Indian temples, including the famous Khajuraho temples, were inspired from Rajarani temple architecture. The word Rajarani, originally comes from the ‘reddish sand stone’ used for construction of this temple. This stone is locally referred as ‘Rajaraniya’ and hence the temple took that name.

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Pic: ASI information board

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Pic: Carvings on the temple. I am not sure about central couple figure but my guess is it is depiction of Shiva and Parvati. Either side is beautifully crafted Nayakas.

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Pic: One of the Ashta-Dikpala’s in the center. It could be Varuna (God of water) but not 100% sure. Another Nayaka pose on the left and Lion-on-Elephant carving on the right.

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Pic: close up view of ‘Agni’, another of the ashta-dikpala’s. ASI highlighted it as one of the standout carvings. He is depicted along with his vehicle Ram/Goat.

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Pic 21: Beautiful sculptures on the vimana. Yama – another of the Ashtadikpalas looking after South direction, is on the left with his vehicle buffalo. Agni, guardian of south-east, with his vehicle Goat/Ram is on the right.

Ashtadikpala’s or guardians of eight directions play very important role in Vastu shastra as well. My father is very particular about Vastu and used to talk about these Ashtadikpalas. He ensured that the key aspects of our home is always organized to follow the Vastu principles.

East – Guarded by Indra, who is also the King of all the devata and the lord of swargaloka. He is often shown with his vehicle Airawata, the white elephant.

South East – Guarded by Agni, Lord of fire. Shown with his vehicle, Ram/Goat.

South – Guarded by Yama, who is the God of Death and also the lord of Narakaloka. His vehicle is Buffalo.

South West – Guarded by Niruthi, who is the God of pain, sorrow and corruption. His vehicle is a prostrated man. Some references describe Niruthi as a Goddess.

West – Guarded by Varuna, God of water. His vehicle is Crocodile.

North West – Guarded by Vayu, the God of wind. Also referred as Pavan. His vehicle is Deer.

North – Guarded by Kubera, Lord of wealth. He is also the overlord of Yaksha and many other semi-devine figures. His wealth is Mangoose.

North East – Guarded by Isana, who is sometimes even referred as Shiva himself. Bull (Nandi) is his vehicle.

This Rajarani temple has all the ‘Ashtadikpala’ figures carved.

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Pic: Another view of the temple with one of the Ashtadikpala, Niruti is carved on bottom left. Niruti is shown with his vehicle ‘a man’. Right next to Niruti is Yama.

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Pic: A collage of of couple of Nayaka’s carvings and Agni at the center.

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Pic: The base level is also beautifully decorated with photo-frame carvings splashed around in its star shaped foundation.
- Again, in the above picture, we see two more of ashta-dikpala’s either side next to the Nayaka figures. On left appears to be Kubera and the right one probably is Vayu

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Pic: Interesting design of small window on the side wall of the Jagamohana. Notice the side pillars of window with three vyala over elephant next to each other on either side

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Pic: Main entrance into the temple’s Jagamohana at the front.

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Pic: Final parting shot of the Rajarani temple.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

e) State Museum

Next stop is the ‘State Museum’ as I wanted to check its famed archaeology section. As soon I reached the museum complex, I was pleasantly surprised by the decent number of visitors and especially the students.

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Pic: State Museum

It has well curated garden with various beautifully crafted animal figures, around the main building but within its compound wall. I could see many families and children are having some fun times while walking and playing in the garden.

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Pic: The curated garden inside the museum complex. There is much more garden area on the left which is not shown in this picture.

One needs to take a ticket to enter the museum and also have to go through the security checks. As you enter into the hall of the main building, we will be welcomed by beautiful and colourful composite installations depicting historical events of significance, Odisha’s traditions and culture, and also famous iconic structures.

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Pic: A composite depicting Kalinga war scene. Notice the depiction of Emperor Ashoka with Buddhist monks in the middle. Kalinga war is one of the most significant event of the Indian History and a pivotal one for the spread of Budhism in India and around the world. Its here that, after seeing the devastating losses, though victorious, Emperor Ashoka relinquished the path of violence and embraced Budhist principles of peaceful living.

Ashoka inscriptions at the Dauli hills on a rock with elephant carving has the message of peace that he conveys to all of his citizens. Unfortunately, though I visited Dauli hills on my return drive from Konark to Puri, I missed to pay a visit to this Asoka inscription site there.

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Pic: Empire of Ashoka, in 3rd to 2nd century BCE, from Mauryan dynasty, after the Kalinga war. He had probably played the most influential and pivotal role in spreading Buddhism across India and beyond. This picture is a shot of the display boards placed in the interpretation center at Konark.

Mauryan dynasty was founded by 'Chandra Gupta Maurya' under the guidance of his guru 'Chanakya' in 323 BCE. Ashoka, grandson of Chandragupta maurya, during his reign from 272 to 231 BCE, took the empire to its peak as depicted in the above map. The empire stretched from Afganistan on west to the borders of Myanmar on east, and Himalayan ranges on the north to the present day Andhra and Karnakata. If Ashoka continued the expansion even after Kalinga, then may be he would have brought rest of the southern India as well, just a speculative guess.

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Pic: A colourful composite depicting the traditional Odisha culture of maritime trading.

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Pic: And another installation proudly highlights the Mukteswara temple and its unique arch. On the left is the installation in museum and the right is the original picture of Mukteswara temple, that I visited before coming to museum.

I first walked around the corridors to familiarize myself on the various displays and sections. It has well curated and stocked sections of
a) Archaeology,
b) Epigraphy,
c) Tribes of Odhisa,
d) Mining,
e) Natural History,
f) Musical instruments.
g) Art – primarily tribal art, pottery in and around odisha
h) Oriya films,
...and a few more.

I felt the information boards in these sections to be good but needed a few more for the people to understand each display piece/group.

I spent about an hour of time moving from one section to another exploring the artefacts in display. It did have a nice collection and felt glad to have visited. Its fairly a simple layout spread across two floors that were constructed like a big square with garden area in the centre that is open to the sky. It was easy to walk around and would probably require about 45 mins to glance through all the display items. One could spend additional time in respective sections of interest, like I did in the archaeology section. I would definitely recommend the folks visiting Bhubaneswar to make a pitstop at this museum.

Some of the highlights of the museum in pictures (dominated by archaeology section pics as that's where my interest is...

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Pic: Information board about the collection in Archaeology section

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Pic: Information on Saptamatrika and unique representation of two of the Saptamatrika’s Chamundi (in fiery form on left, from 8th century ruins) and Varahi (in motherly grace on right, also from 8th century). Especially Chamundi representation here is fierce and I felt its a bit unique.

I had earlier seen the Saptamatrika carving at the 7th century Parsurameswara temple.

In the lines of Saptamatrika workshp, as explained in one of the information plates in museum, later during 10th to 14th century, Shakti’sm also became popular in odisha. In those days, many temples were constructed for Shakti form of the Divine mother and a few ‘shakti pitha’ have also emerged in Odisha.

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Pic: Collage showing
- Ganga (8th century, shown as usual with her vehicle – crocodile) on left,
- Yamuna (9th century, shown with her vehicle – Turtle) on right.
- Both Ganga and Yamuna, are usually depicted on the door ajar of the garbha-gudi or sanctum in many Shiva temples, a phenomenon popularly seen in south temples.
- The carving at the center is ‘Kal bhairava’, a demonic or terrific form of Shiva, who in this form believed to swallow the sins of his devotees.

Bhairava worship is very popular in odisha and many parts of India (Kalbhairav temple in Varanasi is equally revered as that of Vishwanath temple). The Sun temple at Konark has many 'Marhanda Bhairava' sculptures prominently standing on Jagamohana, thereby indicating the prevalence of Bhairava worship.

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Pic: An interesting 7th century carving of Yaksha and Yakshini. Not sure but somehow I liked this carving and its infusion of different sized figures along with expressions.

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Pic: Another display proudly mentions about designs of door ajar (door frame) in Odisha temple architecture.
- On the left is the door ajar carving from one of the ruined temples that is displayed in museum.
- The one in the middle is the door ajar design of Jagmohana of from 9th Century Mukteswara temple’s, which is considered as gem of Odishan architecture.
- On the right is the door ajar design of Jagmohana of iconic Konark temple.
In these three pictures we can see the increase in sophistication and elegance of design.

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Pic: Gaja-Vidala is another unique carving that repeatedly caught my attention.
- We see elephants and Yali carvings in south temples too, sometimes shown as fighting each other, but this kind of Gajavidala, where Vidala/Yali over powering war elephant and stands on top of it, representation is unique to temples that i have seen in Odisha (Yet to see famous archaelogical temples in further north of India so I cannot comment whether these Vidala representation is there too).
- The above picture shows the Gajavidala carving, on the left, in display from one of the 11th century ruins.
- In middle, is the picture of Gajavidala carving on the Rajarani temple (ASI protected monument that I visited before coming to museum).
- On the right is the same Gajavidala carving on one of the niche of Jagamohana of Konark Sun temple.

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Pic: Some of the carvings in display that caught my attention. On the left is Naga form from 1st Century BCE, In the middle is Uma-Maheswara representation from 9th Century, and on the right is Surya carving from 10th Century.

Naga form is something we see in many temples in south as well. Nagas (shown above waist in human form and below waist in snake form) are associated with ‘Patala lok’ or ‘Naga lok’. Museum says that the Naga worship goes a long way back into the BCE and it displays a Naga carving (shown above) dated to 1st century BCE (~2100 years ago).

Uma-Maheswara form where Shiva is shown in calm and serene mood along with Parvathi is very pleasing to soul. Somehow, I felt so peaceful looking at this beautiful relic from 9th century.

Finally the Surya carving is quite beautiful with him shown with his two wives and his ratha-sarathi looking after all the seven divine horses pulling the ratha (charriot). This is my second sight of Surya (planned to drive for Konark the next day) so was excited looking at him in the museum.

Tribal section is also very captivating with good compost installations precisely showcasing their way of life, clothing, tools and art.

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Pic: installation behind the glass chamber depicting one of the primitive sects of ‘Kondh tribe’. There were a few more such installations in the tribal section showing various other tribes.

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Pic: Another section has extensive display of various musical instruments used in India. Some of the instruments displayed are centuries old and some are from the ones used by different tribes. I felt this is very informative section and the collection is really good. This pic shows one such gallery. There are many more such galleries in the musical instruments section.

‘Mining section’ is another interesting one to explore. If anyone interested in Geology or earth sciences or even environment studies or getting some education on mining, then its a must visit. It has a good collection of all the stones, materials that are being mined especially in Odisha. It also has miniature models explaining how coal is mined. Only picture I took there is of the soap stone which is displayed as one of the hundreds of stone/materials on display there as that is the one used in creating Hoyasala marvels at Belur and Halebedu in Karnataka (I covered them as part of my Diwali 8-day Karantaka road trip).

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Pic: Soap stone – This was used to build the marvellous Hoyasala temples at Belur and Halebedu in Karanataka. This is on display in the mining section, where in many types of stones that are available in Odisha and are that are being mined.

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Pic: Finally, I was pleased to see the large size replica of the deity from Jagannath temple at Puri. These images were installed in a gallery in one of the corners of the corridor. This is my first visit to Odisha and so felt a bit of excitement to see Lord Jagannath before going to the temple at puri. So the first sight of Lord Jagannath in physical form (have seen pictures on net before) was quite exciting at that moment and I felt they were looking divinely graceful and colourful too.

f) Tribal Museum

Next stop is Tribal museum. It has been shown on google search as one of the must see attraction in Bhubaneswar and there are good reviews about it on net. So wanted to check that out while I am here, as more like a tick, and also the fact that it is on my way towards Udayagiri & Khandagiri caves, which are in my must visit list.

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Pic: Entrance of Tribal museum, I reached there about 3pm and is very empty except for about 10 to 15 visitors seen around.

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Pic: Layout plan of tribal museum. As you see on the right we have main museum area, which is open. Unfortunately, the key attractions of the tribal huts, which are replica of the typical homes depicting their life at home, are closed due to Covid.
The Auditorium, which has a documentary show giving information about 60+ tribes of Odisha, is also closed.

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Pic: On the right is the main museum building. The path on the left leads to Tribal huts at the end, which is closed due to Covid.

There is no entry ticket to tribal museum. However, security guard took my contact details in the register and checked the ID and Vaccine certificate before allowing me in. Its already well past lunch time and I was feeling bit exhausted. Luckily the cafeteria in the museum is functional but only option available at that time is noodles, so have no choice but to order veg noodles and a coffee. They took about 20 mins to get me the food but I didn’t mind the wait as it kind of helped me to hydrate and relax near the window looking out towards the curated lawns.

I entered the museum after about 40 mins break at the cafeteria. It is neatly maintained and display items are well arranged. There were multi-media kiosks at the corner in some of the halls where one can learn more about the tribes and the artefacts in display. There are also some artists making some of the gift items that visitors could purchase. These items were being made right infront the visitors thereby offering a unique experience, kind of.

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Pic: Life size mannequins of ‘Bonda tribe couple’ with their traditional attire and the snaps of drawings created by tribal artists, that visitors can purchase.

I could finish entire visit within 20 mins as Covid had closed key attractions of the tribal huts and the AV show. My Ola driver, who said had never visited this place before, also walked around while I was having my late lunch. Overall I felt it to be small and not much of a value add to what has been already there in the state museum. Maybe my opinion would have been different if the tribal huts and the auditorium is also open, not really sure.

With only a couple of hours at most left before the Sun sets for the day, I quickly got back into the car and moved to the next key attraction of Bhubaneswar, Udayagiri caves, originally carved out in 2nd to 1st century BCE.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

g) Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves (2nd to 1st century BCE)

Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves were originally scooped out by King Kharavela during 2nd to 1st Century BCE, that is over 2100 years ago. They were created on these small hillocks next to each other to be used as dwellings for the Jain ascetics. Archaeology board says these caves served their purpose till 11th century.

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Pic: Iconic two storied ‘Rani Gumpha’ or ‘Cave1’ at Udayagiri

Udayagiri and khandagiri hills are now on the opposite sides of the approach road that is constructed by cutting through them in between. It is super crowded on that day, being the holiday weekend. There is so much scrambling for the limited parking space available. That limited space further constrained by many roadside small hut kind of eateries, food cart vendors. People are all over the place and there is hardly any space left for the moving vehicles, which are crawling and constantly honking. Being the weekend (sun), the crowd is expected but what I saw there is multiples of my expectations due to the year end holidays and probably long weekend as well. My driver advised me to get off and walk down to the main gate, about a 100 meters before itself due to this traffic. I was lucky to have come by taxi as people with own cars would probably struggle to find a parking space nearby.

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Pic: First view of the Udayagiri hills as soon as you pass the entry gate. We can also see some of the concrete pillars constructed by ASI to preserve some of the scooped out caves.

There is an entry ticket to go into Udayagiri caves and the ticket need to be purchased at the same queue that lets you in. There is no separate ticket counter. There is hardly any place left to form a queue as the gate is bang on that main road / approach road. So, I had to overcome a mad scramble over there to enter. I had already put on double mask with a cap and glasses on. Additionally kept sanitizing my hands frequently and also whenever I made contact with any object.

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Pic: Information board and the layout map

The ASI board is very informative and the layout map given helps one to navigate the Udayagiri hill and cover all the 18 cave dwellings. As you cross the main entrance, we see many caves on the hill at various heights starting from about 50 meters ahead. On the right we have the first of the two double storied caves, Manchapuri and swargapuri Gumpha or cave 9.

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Pic: Manchapuri (lower storey) and Swargapuri (upper storey) gumpha (cave 9) from 1st or 2nd century BCE. The inscriptions found in this caves refers to Royal procession of King Kharavela who got these caves scooped for the Jain ascetics) and also upper level cave has inscription dedicating that cave to the chief queen of King Kharavela.

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Pic: King Kharavela’s empire during 1st Century BCE. This is the shot of the display board at interpretation center in Konark. In addition to Buddhism, King Kharavela had also patronized Jainism in those times.

King Kharavela is considered to be a devout 'Jaina'. A century after emperor Asoka, Kalinga became independent kingdom again under the rule of Chedi kings. King Kharavela of Chedi kings probably the greatest of all, and he expanded Kalinga rule to most of central and northern India as shown in the above picture. Under his patronage the Jain monks and evangelists got the shelter in these Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves.

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Pic: closer view of the caves a few meters past the main entrance. A picture taken on my second visit on day6.

The crowd is so much that it is difficult to take any pictures and explore each of the caves inside properly. Many folks busy in taking various poses of pictures occupying a particular cave or spot for a longer time. So I decided, that if possible I must come back to this spot may be during during the day time in a week day. Luckily I was able to visit Udayagiri caves, Parasurameswara and Mukteswara temples on on day 6 during my return journey. Some of the pictures taken, which one can figure out in bright sun light and with less crowd are from day6. The dusky light, closer to sunset time, pictures are from this visit on day2.

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Pic: Same caves as the previous pic but from a different closer angle.

Each cave has the floor designed for sleeping with scooped up portion like a pillow.

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Pic: Simple Bajaghara gumpha or cave 2. We can clearly see the interior and scooped up (pillow) flooring for comfortable sleeping.

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Pic: People climbing all over the hill exploring every cave and also trying to find interesting photo opportunity.

Tiger cave or Vyaghra Gumpha (cave 12) is a popular photo spot and is naturally extremely busy Its a single cave designed to fit two people for good night sleep but the exterior is carved like a Tiger’s face and the dwelling appear as it is inside Tiger’s mouth.

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Pic: Yours truly at Vyaghra Gumpha or Tiger Cave. Its so crowded that I had to wait over 15 mins to get my turn to take this pic.

A further climb up to the top of hill gets us the Bubaneswar City view and also the view of the Khandagiri hill right opposite with the beautiful Digambar Jain temple on the Top.

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Pic: Bubaneswar city view from Udayagiri hill.

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Pic: Khandagiri hill on the opposite side and the Jain temple on its top. Shot from the top of the Udayagiri hill. I was super excited to see clear sky and the spectacular sunset that's going to happen soon.
- Notice the huge crowd on the Khandagiri hill below the Jain temple.

The Khandagiri hill is offering a spectacular backdrop for the sunset so felt excited for the next few minutes.

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Pic: Ganesh Gumpha (Cave 10). One of the caves that got converted into a temple at a later stage but currently no prayers offered here.
- The deity, Ganesh, is carved on the interior back hall as a daily worship at home but not really like a temple.
- A soldier like carving on its left corner is seen along with some figures carved on the top of each of the three pillars.

Ganesh Gumpha has 3 pillars supporting the varanda and one will step through the varanda, and through one of the four doors leading to, the hall or dwelling where they can sleep. There are two elephants at the front and this cave is barricaded to prevent people from entering inside. Maybe ASI wanted to avoid people making it as a temple, which it is not.

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Pic: Carvings above the door in the varanda.

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Pic: side view of Ganesh gumpha

By the time I reached the Rani Gumpha or Cave 1, which is the largest of all, sun had descended further.

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Pic: One of my favorite shots. Rani Gumpha, corner view. Notice the sun set on the horizon.

Rani gumpha is massive and is two storied appearing like a capital C.

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Pic: Ground floor right corner of Rani Gumpha. Carving of a soldier or may be viewed as dwarapala at the corner.

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Pic: Sloping roof of first floor and the 9-pillared veranda of the second floor. Notice two soldiers carving guarding the entrance right above the same corner in the ground floor where we see third soldier.

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Pic: Pillared symmetric veranda view and the carvings above the door frames, that lead to a connected large hall for sleeping.

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Pic: Inside the door. Notice the scooped up portion like a pillow for sleeping comfort.

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Pic: Beautiful sunset view in the backdrop of the Jain temple on the Khandagiri hill

Its time to return and catch the sunset views and I was elated with the views that I could experience.

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Pic: Another view with the departing sun forming an aura over the sanctum.

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Pic: Some of the simian friends are also enjoy the show (sunset) along with a few of us.

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Pic: Parting shot – a favourite one for its clolors and the unique position of the Sun at the Temple backdrop.

After Udayagiri, I crossed across the road to climb on to Khandagiri hill. There is no ticket for Khandagiri and is fully open for all. There is far more crowd here than Udayagiri, may be either due to the Jain temple on the top of the hill or because there is no entry ticket. Each cave is super crowded with many people taking pictures. There is hardly any space around to even walk properly and it is also getting dark. So I returned back after going up half way as the structures looked similar but smaller, unlike the bigger ones found in Udayagiri. Called up my driver who parked about 300 meters away due to crowd and got on to the car.

The next stop, and also the final one for my Bubaneswar tour, is the Ram mandir.

h) Ram mandir

We realized that google showed some other ram mandir and luckily the cab driver knows the correct one, which is bit farther than I thought. Nevertheless, was able to reach the Ram mandir while still some faint light is around.

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Pic: Ram mandir entrance.

Its a beautiful yet simple temple with pleasant colour scheme.

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Pic: view of the Ram mandir temple complex after crossing the main entrance

I found the Ram mandir to be quite serene and calming. The symmetry of the gopura around and the color scheme is quite pleasing to the eyes. After the darshan, I sat there for a few mins till it became fully dark. Outside the temple, there is a street vendor shop selling Dosa, samosa, aloo bonda...etc. It appeared so popular as people were thronging there. I thought of checking out, so packed a dosa and one aloo bonda for dinner.

Finally driver dropped me back at the Ginger hotel, my final stop of the day. Total time taken is more than 9 hours though i booked the Ola for 8 hours. I must say the experience has been pleasant and I thanked the driver for his service. It was a busy and at the same time quite satisfying day.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Day 3 (Konark):

Next day, the plan is to pick up the rental car from Zoomcar at airport sharp at 9am and then drive to Konark. The nights stay is booked in Puri at Hotel Gandhara, which is also turned out to be expensive than I thought. Marked up holiday season rates are applied every where and also the availability is quite low across the hotels in Puri.

After good breakfast at the Ginger hotel, I reached airport domestic terminal by about 15 mins before 9am. A few mins earlier I got a call from the Zoomcar field ops representative that he started his drive towards airport with the car that I booked and should be there by 9am. As this is my first experience with Zoomcar, I was bit nervous about how it is going to turn out. I opened the Zoomcar app and tried to familiarize the navigation while sipping a coffee at the shop outside the arrivals gate and waiting. Finally, the representative came with the car after 15 mins delay.

While I was waiting, there was a call from customer service confirming the pick up time and informing that someone is on the way to deliver the call. I told them this is my first rental and requested them to explain the steps I need to do before driving away with the car. They told me that the field representative will explain everything and its all going to be done in the app. The field representative showed me the fuel level and asked me to take a picture. Also told me that there is no issue with the car and previous rental folks did not complain anything. He advised me to take a video around. I had pointed a few scratches and loose parts, especially the bumpers. He said it is fine and they are in the video. Per his advise, took the video of interior as well. All the car papers and permits are in the dashboard and he quickly helped me with the steps in app to start the rental. In the app there are many options to note any observations on the condition of the car, which is bit lengthy, but the representative told me to not to worry about them and just skip those steps as we already have the video. He helped me to activate the fastag by linking it to my Paytm. All the process steps were completed in about 10 mins and he said I am good to go. That was much smoother process than I thought. I had loaded the luggage and got into drivers seat.

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Pic: My ride from Zoomcar, Swift Diesel AT.

Fuel level is showing four bars and the field representative told me that I dont need to worry about refuelling till about 100 km at minimum. So that means, I could directly head to Konark and probably refuel there. With the fuel taken care of, I punched in the coordinates for Sun Temple Konark and chose the road without tolls, which is showing about 15mins slower but pacified my other worry about whether fastag work fine as I linked it only a few mins ago. Representative told me that it will work but since there is an option to avoid that tension I thought of going ahead with it for the onward journey and take the toll road during the return.

The car has some slight jerky input for the steering but within a few km drive, I could get used to it. This is the first time driving Swift AT but I was comfortable within minutes. I was told that speed is restricted at 80km per hour so cant really go past even after flooring the accelerator. I never had to test it as the throughout the journey the roads are of two lane with no divider and has many villages on the way. So my speeds are well below the limit and was driving bit relaxed knowing its only about 2 hours drive per google maps. Got plenty of time and hence no rush. As predicted by Google, two hours later, sharp at 11:30am, I saw the board welcoming to Konark sending me to a bit of excitement.

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Pic: first sign that got me excited that I am almost there. Shot from the driver seat so bonnet is visible. Notice the narrow road which a few hundred meters down the line becomes much wider indicating the development works in progress

A km further down, I see that the road became broader, a sign that our government authorities are working to improve the infrastructure there. A quick google brought up the below link describing the master plan created and the development works planned in phases.

Odisha govt finalises draft plan for Konark temple heritage zone - KalingaTV (

Odisha govt releases Rs 50 crore for Konark heritage area development project | Bhubaneswar News - Times of India (

It was long due and am so happy to see the State government taking lead. I do hope these works finished on time as planned and we have the world class infrastructure matching the stature of this world heritage marvel. For now, I must applaud the govt for moving ahead without further delays.

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Pic: ZERO point, lol. The signboard showing Sun Temple 0km. On the right is the pathway leading to sun temple and straight ahead leads us to Konark beach, which is called as Chnadrabhaga beach.

Cars are not allowed to go into the pathway there and is barricaded. There is no designated car parking, which is in the master plan so we will have it in future. In the interim, visitors are allowed to park the car on road side or in any of the by-lanes.

As I walked further towards the temple, I came across another barricade which is blocking all vehicle movements, including two wheelers. However, I could see a few super riders managing to cross it with their two wheelers, lol.

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Pic: Two wheelers are also not allowed beyond this point. Its no match for the super rider behind.

A few meters ahead on the right I see the entrance to Sun temple. Right opposite to this entrance, across the road, on my left, is the a mini museum to help tourists understand the history and significance of the Sun temple. This ‘Konark Interpretation center’ is funded, setup and run by IOC (Indian Oil corporation). Unfortunately I did not take the picture of this building but later, after visiting it, found that its a must visit for everyone. I decided to stop-by at this information center first, so I could understand and appreciate the sun temple better. Before that, I wanted to have a peak at the marvel from a distance.

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Pic: First sight of the marvel from our history. I dont know how to describe what I felt in that first sight but it was a combination of excitement and happiness giving me goosebumps. I am finally here!

Though its almost noon, the sky remained cloudy but there is no rain forecast. One needs to purchase a ticket go further towards the temple. I stood there for a short while and took pictures to frame this moment of ‘first sight’ for the memories. After that I went inside the Interpretation center, which turned out to be a great place with a lot of displays, kiosks, replicas of the key carvings, scaled models and an audio-visual show explaining the legends associated with this temple construction and history. Thanks to IOC for this great initiative and an equal thanks to State govt and ASI for supporting them with sufficient information inputs, infra support and with a super appropriate location (right opposite the temple) so no one can miss it. There is a restaurant inside the complex and also have toilet facilities for the convenience of the visitors.

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Pic: Replicas of wheels of Sun temple, in the entrance area of interpretation center. Notice how beautifully they were carved and displayed with appropriate levels of lighting.

Few highlights from the interpretation center:

• We find beautifully and elegantly carved replicas of each and every significant sculpture on the Konark Sun temple along with some explanation about what they are.

• It also has the replica of pars of wall of the Jagmohana and Natamandapa.

• Additionally, replica of some of the artefacts found from the fallen Sanctum/Vimana are also installed

• There are scaled models of entire Konark Sun temple complex in its original fully built form and also another showing its current state of ruins after restoration.

• There are displays clearly explaining the Sun worship around the world and a few famous Sun temples in the world. Then it goes on to show us information on 8- major sun temples in India.

• It explains about the Temple building in Odisha, which was started sometime in 6th century, and the evolution of Kalinga temple style, which is different from the Nagara, Viscera and Dravida styles. Explanations found on all 3-types of Kalinga styles, Rekha, Pidha, Kakhra.

• There are displays of other major attractions in Odisha, information about the maritime trade culture including once thriving naval activities, and maritime maps (came to know that Bay of Bengal was called ‘Kalinga Sagar’ before the British signifying the dominance of the Kalinga naval activities)

• There is a large scale wooden carving of Boat, behind glass installation of King Narasimha dev paying a visit to Sun temple construction site when it was being built.

• Finally, there is a short film (Audio Visual show) in a large theatre kind of screen with appropriate theatre seating (quite well arranged). The film narrates the story of how the temple was constructed and why the King decides to construct it there and also talks about some of the popular legends about its construction. It also shows some legends about why it was abandoned later, its ruins and forest that has grown around, receding sea...etc.

• I quite liked the show and found it to be very informative. Some of these legends are not acknowledged by ASI.

I must say every one should pay a visit to this interpretation center when come to see the Sun temple. A huge applaud to IOC for funding and maintaining it so well. I had also visited ASI museum after the temple which focuses on the verified facts and research findings along with preserving the original artefacts. I always make a point to visit these ASI museums when I visit to historic places and have huge respects for the commendable work they do. These two centres, ASI museum and IOC Interpretation center shows how a public and private (serious non profit foundation) partnership together, in coordination, help the visitors thereby increasing the awareness and appreciation of our icons and history. Such interpretation centers must be encouraged at all the iconic places across the India.

Here are some of the pics that helps us to form a perspective about the temple, its significance and the rich history.

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Pic: Scaled replica of Sun temple in its fully glory. Notice the Nata-mandata at the front, then Jagamohana followed by, tallest of all, the sanctum.
- Behind the sanctum on left is an independent small temple built for the wife of Sun god, Chaya devi.
- The structure at the bottom of the picture, in the middle, is the kitchen built during the construction of the temple and is left to continue even after.

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Pic 9: A drawing from ASI, originally drawn by British, showing the temple in its full glory along with compound wall and small temples in the complex.
- The complex has three entrances with main one from East and the other two from North and South. I wondered if we can ever build such magnificent structures now.
If only we can find a way to restore this temple to its original look and glory!

• East entrance used to have the Lion faced Vyala over the elephant carvings on either side of the door. If you zoom-in the above picture and look at the east/main entrance at the bottom-right, one can see these figures on either-side. These were now moved to the east stairs of the Nata-mandapa. There is a different view in ASI that these were originally could have been in front of eastern stairs of Jagamohana or Nata mandapa itself. Bit of conflicting views on its original location within the temple complex.

• North entrance used to have the war elephants on either side of the door. They are still kept on a raised platform on the north but placed wrongly facing towards the temple as opposed looking away from it. There is also a different view from ASI itself that these elephants were actually at the stair case of Jagamohana on north.

• South entrance used to have the horses on either side of the door. These are now kept on another raised platform on south side. Same as that of elephants, even these horses are currently installed wrongly facing towards the temple as opposed to facing away from it. Again, ASI also states another view that these horses once possibly at the stairs of Jagamohana on the south.

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Pic: Another scale model showing the current state of temple after restoration. The picture shows the view from the South.
We can see here that, from right to left,
- Nata-mandapa without that pidha style roof,
- Jagamohana is restored but had to be filled inside to keep it stable,
- Sanctum is no more but only remains as the bare lower walls, so is the bare walls of three smaller temples attached to sanctum,
- Similarly Chaya devi temple at the back is gone with only base and some side walls for Jagamohana and sanctum remaining.

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Pic: Replica of the dwaja stamba or Aruna stamba, the original one is moved to the Jagannath Temple at Puri in 18th century during Maratha period.
- Aruna is the name of the charioteer of Surya and this dwaja stamba depicts sculpture of Aruna on the top and hence is called as Aruna-stamba.
- In the background, behind the glass enclosure, is a scene depicting the King’s visit to Temple construction site.

After that super informative visit to Interpretation center, time has come for me to visit the ‘archaeological master piece and the cultural heritage’ that drew me all the way from Bangalore.

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Pic: On the left of this collage is the proud information display proclaiming its world heritage status. In the middle is the ASI’s short description about this temple complex and on the right is the layout plan listing out the names of each of the structures.

There is an entry ticket for this complex that can be purchased from the ASI counter on the left side of the entrance. There are properly maintained toilets as well after this counter. The ticket is nothing but a coin with a printed image of the Sun Temple. We need to drop this coin in the respective slot to pass through the turnstile, just like what we have seen some of the metro stations. I hired a guide, who was standing at the ticketed entry point, for the government fixed price of 400 rupees.

I visited Konark Sun Temple again on day-6, on my return journey back (Puri to Konark to Bhubaneswar to Bangalore). So, I had used pictures taken on day-3 and day-6 in the travelogue depending on whichever I felt is good and appropriate.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic13-simha-gaja-welcoming-nata-mandapa.jpg
Pic: Gaja vidala or Gaja Simha – The Lion faced Yali (vidala) over the war elephant figures on the either side of stairs to Nata-mandapa.

Guide had explained a few archaeological facts and also narrated some mythical stories and legends/local beliefs associated with this temple. A few of these things were also shown in the documentary (audio visual show) played inside the ‘interpretation center’.

Here are few legends/stories that guide had explained (some, not all, are attested by ASI as well as either the references from our purana’s or the deduced facts from their research) :

• In sanskrit, the word ‘kona’ means ‘angle’ and the word ‘arko’ means ‘Sun’. So the name Konark refers to the ‘angle of the Sun’.

• There was an ancient small temple in this place with a deity (Sun God) believed to be installed by Samba, son of Lord Krishna and Jambavathi, one of the eight wives of Krishna. Samba is considered to be very handsome. Due to some circumstances Narada (Ardent devotee of Vishnu but also known, in Puranas, as 'kalaha priya', for his love of creating quarrels wherever he goes) decides to teach a lesson to Samba assuming he is having too much of ego owing to his handsome figure. Hence, Narada played a prank and kind of tricked Samba to the private mahal where only the queens of Krishna are allowed. At the sametime, Narada also led Krishna to the same place thereby ensuring Samba fell into wrong side of Krishna’s (his father) anger. Krishna, out of momentary anger, incensed with Samba’s presence, assuming him of having too much pride over handsome appearance, cursed Samba thereby causing him to contact severe skin decease. Upon learning that Samba is innocent, Krishna suggests that he should obtain prasannata (pleasing or kataksha) of Surya, who is known to cure all skin deceases. So, it is said in ‘Samba purana’ that Samba did 12 years of penance here in Konark and cured of decease. Samba also found the deity (statue of Sun god) in the waters there. Immensely grateful to Surya for being cured, Samba constructed a temple and installed the deity (Surya). The reason why Samba chose this place for his Tapasya (Penance) is also stated in ‘Brahma Purana’, which calls this place as ‘Konaditya’, which means the most sacred place for worshipping Surya.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic15-nata-mandapa.jpg
Pic: View of the Nata-mandapa, which is richly decorated with poses of dancers, musicians and Gaja-vidala figures carved across. Guide says there were many odissi dancing positions carved in the Natamandapa.

• The sea and the river water streams are next to the temple at that time when temple is made. Guide referred to it as the place of Sangam, wherein river and sea merges. The temple is built at this Sangam location. Later the river dried and sea receded by 2-3 kms. The documentary at IOC interpretation center also stated this fact with a visual narration of another sad legend about 12-year old boy, son of one of the sculptors, committing suicide by jumping from the top of the vimana into the waters. The legend says that on the final day when the temple is to be ready, the sculptors were racing against time to complete it so the next day morning when King visits, it is in fully completed status. Somehow, all the works could be logically concluded but not the final installation of kalasa. Some technical unsolved reasons prevented the qualified masons and sculptors to complete that work and people started to worry about to be at the receiving end of King, who earlier threatened them to behead if temple is not completed on time. Hearing this, one boy, Darmapada, who is at the site for his father, climbed up the vimana and installed the kalasa properly thereby solving the problem that others couldn’t. This has made the people joyous but at the same time started worry about Kings reactions when he comes to know that a 12-year old boy solved the final problem that others at the site couldn’t. Hearing this, to save his father and fellow workers at the site from perceived wrath of the King, the boy climbs up the temple at the night and jumps into the sea water to commit suicide. That’s a sad legend which says this boy’s unfortunate death cast a negative curse on the sun temple and from there on it never recovered. This legend is not endorsed by ASI.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic14-view-jagamohan-nata-mandapa.jpg
Pic: View of the Jagamohana from Nata-mandapa. Notice the exquisite carvings on the pillars of Nata-mandapa. Notice the dancing poses carved on the pillars.

• Temple was built by 1200 sculptors working for 12 years costing 12 years of revenue of the province.

• A statue of ‘rising sun’ used to be there on the main sanctum on the top, on east side, receiving the first rays of light in the morning. This statue is now in National museum in New Delhi (P.S.: I have added this picture in the last section, as it was clicked during my visit to Delhi National museum in mid-march, before I could publish this blog so had the leeway to include).

Last edited by TurboOnTarmac : 31st March 2022 at 08:55.
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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic16-carvings-base-nata-mandapa.jpg
Pic: Even the base of the nata mandapa is heavily decorated. The carvings were like as if it is left to the imagination of the sculptures who worked at that time. We can see females in various everyday life poses like,
- sitting near a window,
- putting on bindi,
- enjoying the company of a parrot,
- in sukhasan (relaxed sitting) on chair or bed, waiting or thinking or enjoying the world around
- squeezing water out of her freshly bathed hair,
- and also carvings like going for hunting on horse or on an elephant,
- some interesting imaginative poses of males and yali.
- some carvings of Gods from stories or poses from the Puranas, like Nataraja dancing, Krishna with flute, Radha carrying butter...etc,.
If we count all, there must be millions of figures carved in the entire temple together.

There is so much of miniature ornamental or decorative patterns, animal figures carved across that the guide told me that they are all sari border carvings, lol.

An interesting construction fact that ASI quotes is that the sculptors first smoothened the stones and then fixed them at their respective spot and then sculpted them to their final design/pattern/figure. As you see in the above picture, we hardly see any gaps or signs of joints, indicating great craftsmanship of the sculptors and the architects.

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Pic: Nata-mandapa, full view from South west corner, next to the Kitchen ruins

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Pic: The Sun and his abode. Clouds evaded the clear bright sun on both days that I visited. This Jagamohana represents the ‘Pidha’ style of the Kalinga temple architecture. The height of the Jagamohana is 127ft.

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Pic: Kalinga temple styles, all three (Pidha, Rekha and Khakara), well explained in the IOC interpretation center.
- I have not seen the khakara style (the right most) temple in this visit though the 9th century Vaitala temple built in khakara style is situated in Bhubaneswar, as I wasn’t aware about these styles before and completely forgot about it on my final day though I had time before flying out.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic21-jagamohana-eastern-view-copy.jpg
Pic: View of 127ft tall Jagamohana from Eastern entrance, which is the main entrance. I had labelled the Jagamohana in this pictures per the pattern names of the Pidha design.

Bada’ is the name given to the four side wall structure till the base of the pyramid shape. The pattern of roofing arch starting above the ‘Bada’ or from the ‘Base of the pyramid’ is called ‘Potala’. This potala pattern is repeated three times with a gap in between each pattern. This gap is called ‘Kanti’ and we see two such ‘Kanti’ gaps here. The third or last Potala pattern is followed by a bell shaped circular design called ‘Ghanta’. The gap between Potala and Ghanta is called ‘Beki’. Finally on the top most of gopura, we find the circular ring like stone carving called ‘Amlakasila’, and above that is the ‘Kalasa’. Unfortunately the ‘Kalasa’ of the Jagamohan here is missing.

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Pic: Images of Marthanda-Bhairava on the first Kanti (gap between arch-line patterns). Notice the intricate carvings on each of the arch-lines of the Potala. There is an empty Niche in the center. This is the picture is shot from the eastern face of the temple Jagamohan.

Marthanda’ means Surya (Sun) and ‘Bhairava’ refers to a fierce form of Shiva. This combination form of Shiva and Surya is uniquely worshipped by warriors, farmers and fisherman. ‘Marthanda-Bhairava’ is carved here have four heads and six hands. Most interesting aspect here is the ‘boat’ depicted at the feet, looks as if he is standing on a boat. ASI says its probably the depiction of prevalent seaborne trade at those times and could also due to the fact that this form of Shiva is worshipped by Fisherman.

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Pic: Closer look at the gopura of Jagamohana. Notice the figures of the musicians, all are female, installed in the Kanti area.
- Other than the six Marthanda-Bhairava figures, rest of them are female musicians.
- The circular base of Ghanta (Bell shape) is decorated with Lions (8 of them) in such a way that they appear as if holding the Ghanta in its place with their backs.
- Similarly the Amlakasila on the top is installed as if it looks like dwarf-human figures sitting and supporting it by their backs.

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Pic: The multi-layered door frame design of the Jagamohana (Eastern/main entrance). There used to be an architrave of Navagraha above the door frame that is currently in a makeshift temple in about 100mt from Jagamohana. At the bottom of the door, there is granite slab with words carved on it saying “this temple was reconstructed, filled in year 1903 on the order of Lieutenant Governor of Bengal.”

The eastern door frame is well preserved of the three. The south one is completely gone and the entrance is fully closed with brick and mortar. The northern door frame is partially seen on the top.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic25-closer-look-door-frame.jpg
Pic: Closer look at the door frame pattern on the East. We can also see the iron beam supporting the door frame. The guide says its the original beam that existed as part of the temple construction. He is not clear whether it was visible like this before or hidden behind other stones (most likely).

As you notice in the above picture, this 8-layered door frame has a design where the outermost layer/facet is more geometrically projected out than the next layer, which is bit more projected out then the next one, and so on. It has floral and leaves patterns, Naga couple with their bodies intertwined like a coil, sequence of motifs with couples in amorous poses, miniature patters in sequence...etc. In the top frame, where the layers merge into a vertical sequence of motifs exactly at the centre. Each motif has some scenes depicted. If we zoom into the above the picture, we can recognize that the bottom most motif depicting the Goddess Lakshmi (Gajalakshmi) with two elephants pouring water on her head.

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Pic: Iron beams used in the original temple construction are on display. Guide keeps saying that this is very high quality and rust proof iron that had stayed strong even after 800 years. Original construction involved these Iron rods, and other iron hooks or loops to keep the stones together but did not involve any mortar or stucco. Use of the such large sized iron beams in our older temple construction is the first of this kind of sighting for me.

There is an interesting story (also acknowledged as a ‘legend’ by ASI) that Guide has narrated. He said, the main sanctum, which was about 227ft in height, that is about 100ft taller than Jagamohana, has a huge magnetic stone at the top, as Amlakasila. This magnetic stone is supposed to be giving additional strength to all the Iron beams and hooks or clamps to stay in place. When Portugese traders came around in their ships to this area, they found their compass are getting disturbed and behaving erratic. They finally decided it is this magnetic stone on top of the sanctum that is causing the trouble and they had then removed the same. Soon after removal of this stone, the whole sanctum came down crashing. This story is not attested with facts by ASI but guide says its one of the local beliefs.

However, ASI did confirm that original construction did not use any cement or mortar or stucco. The temple is built by the method of load balancing stones joined through iron clamps, hooks and beams. ASI also confirms that based on the verified texts, the ‘kalasa’ on the top is joined by ‘magnetic rod’ with the ‘Khapuri’, the inverted bell kind of shaped stone below the Kalasa and above the Amlakasila. ASI doesn’t confirm whether Khapuri is made of magnetic stone. However, ASI does say that after the Muslim invaders took away Kalasa and removed the protective copper and plaster above Amlakasila and Khapuri (please look at the picture showing the Rekha style architecture explanation above), the iron clamps and joints got exposed. Additionally, the Khapuri and Amalkasila may have developed cracks either during the removal of Kalasa or over time. The corrosive and exposed iron in those parts may have made the easily weatherable Khondalite stone (a poor choice of stone) crack and break lose thereby falling from there. With that heavy weight of Amlakasila, that joins and keeps the structure together, had gone, the rest of the structure gave in much faster like a domino effect.

After all, every legend has an origin facts that first becomes a story and then later over time becomes a legend, which in entirity may not exactly corresponds to the facts any more.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic27-chariot-design-3-horses-south-4-north.jpg
Pic: The temple (Jagamohana + Sanctum) is designed to look like a chariot of the Sun God and with the seven horses pulling it towards the east.
- These 7 horses represents the 7 days of the week.
- Guide also mentioned about these horses representing the 7 colours of rainbow that gets formed from Sunlight.
- The chariot has 24 wheels (12 on south and 12 on north) in total.
- Guide referred to these 24 wheels as the 24 fortnights of the year (12 sukla-paksha and 12 krishna-paksha).
- These horses are in ruins except only one that still has some shape left.
The above picture is the view from south and we can see there that out of the 3 horses, only one in the middle is comparitively retained its shape though lost the legs. The other four horses are on the north side but now we can only see the traces from its ruins.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic28-horse-pulling-chariot.jpg
Pic: Closer look at the horse pulling the chariot. This is the only one, out of the seven, that retained some shape.

The guide says that the whole temple was built using the Sandstone that was quarried at the Udayagiri, Khandagiri and dhavagiri hills near Bhubaneswar. Sandstone is not as strong as the granite and that is sighted as one of the reason for the fall of the temple. Some of the important sculptures, like the Sun god on Jagamohan and Sanctum, main door on, are carved in Granite stone that is brought from Tamilnadu, near Chennai. Whereas ASI says that chlorite (not granite) used in carving the door frame and the important sculptures. This chlorite stone is kind of dark greenish in colour. Also ASI points to use of Khondalite stone (similar to sandstone in strength) in construction of most of the outer walls of temple and confirms that it is not a strong stone either and easily weathers. Hence it was poor choice of stones for the prevalent weather around the temple. ASI says that these stones are not available in the vicinity and were carried through Chandrabagha river to the construction site, thereby indirectly supporting the legend that I saw in documentary at interpretation center that says this temple is built on river bank and precisely at the point of Sangam where it meets sea.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic29-giant-chariot.jpg
Pic: The view from the North, showing the chariot design at the base along with its wheels.
- At the front, on left, is the Jagamohan (127ft tall) We can also see the rubble of fallen sanctum (227ft tall) on right.
- The Giant wheels are richly decorated with figures and patterns carved all over in various sizes.
- The whole temple base and the foundation walls are dotted with beautiful sculptures with captivating expressions.
- There is also a statue of Sun God on the chariot with a tired expression symbolizing as if Sun god is leaving in the evening after a full day of spreading light. Guide says this statue is supposed to be on the western face of the main sanctum and is incorrectly placed on North face during 1903 restoration.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic30-wheel-sun-temple-konark.jpg
Pic: The iconic chariot wheel that never fails to amaze everyone. This wheel, on the south side, probably one of the better preserved ones among the 24 wheels of the chariot.
- Guide referred this particular wheel as the Jeevanchakra that depicts the daily routine through the images carved in its spokes.
- If we observe in clock-wise direction, following the small-hand of the clock, start from the spoke on top-right position, that is the position of small-hand of dial when time is 1:30pm.
- If we zoom-in to the above picture, we could notice that the first one depicts rise and shine with a female starting the day by stretching in yoga kind of position. The next shows her bathing scene. Then follows the hunting scene a symbolic way to show that we work for earning means of food. The fourth one shows the evening scene with grooming self. The first four represents the day-time and then followed by four more representing the personal and intimate night life.

Each chariot wheel has rich carvings and its a timeless design. Each wheel has 8 spokes representing ashta-prahars. One prahar is equivalent to 3 hours so in total represent the 24 hours of the day. There are 60 dots between two spokes and each dot represents 3 mins.

These wheels are designed in such a way that even now based on the sun’s shadow one can figure out the time of the day from sunrise to sunset. A few of the wheels on south side of the temple would be the ideal ones to show the time as they get the sun rays falling on them throughout the day without any shadows. Guide has done one such demonstration for me and it did show the time by a margin of 6 mins as expected.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic1-south-side-view-temples-chariot-shape-wheels.jpg
Pic: View of the temple from South. Notice the fallen sanctum behind the Jagamohana. We also see the large granite figure of Sun on the fallen sanctum in a niche on the left.

According to ASI, the entrance into Jagamohana on the south was the first one to be fully closed by brick and mortar during the restoration efforts.

This south side of sanctum’s wall was standing to some extent (about 100ft) till into 19th century though the roof and other three sides have fallen. This fact was attested by ASI with the below drawing from British that is dated to the year 1837.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic2-1838-sketch-j-fergusson.jpg
Pic: Sketch by British archaeologist J.Fergusson during his visit in 1837. Source – ASI. Also notice the rubble at the front and also the sands that engulfed the base/foundation of the temple which has beautiful carvings of wheels and the chariot shape. Only after the sand is cleared during serious restoration works in 1901 to 1910 that the people got to know the extent of sophisticated designs of this magnificent temple.

The sketch by British archaeologist James Fergusson in his visit to temple in 1837 clearly shows that the sanctum had already fallen but one side wall on south-west corner still standing and is about 100 ft in height. ASI also notes another account from 1868 visit by archaeologist Rajendralala Mitra who commented of it being a huge pile of rubble.

One of the information boards at IOC interpretation center (also attested by ASI) lists three reasons for the fall the Sun Temple:

Lack of maintenance after being abandoned in early 17th century on the apprehension of desecration of sanctity of the holy sanctum & deity by Muslim invaders after the death of Mukundaraja, who till then defended the province and also looked after the temple. ASI did account a fact that when rubble was removed during restoration work that started in 1901, there was a pedestal but no deity found in the sanctum. That means no worship is happening in the temple where primary deity itself is not there. It also states that there is a possibility that the primary deity inside the sanctum, which is supposed to be small for this gigantic temple, may have been moved to another location in Puri.

Adverse impact of nature over the time. Incorrect choice of stone (majorly Khondalite, which is similar in strength as that of sandstone), which is not strong enough for the harsh & sandy sea winds and the harsh weather in that area.

Stealing and Vandalism by unsocial people for sculptures, stones, iron and clamps. It seems one local Raja from neighbouring province played the most destructive role by breaking, dislodging and relocating (stealing) the relics to a different temple that he is building. His destruction was so appalling that finally, British had passed an order prohibiting him and others from stealing or vandalism. It is said, in order to bring down the relics, he had the felled the stones from the top and if they break that's it just leave them there, but if they don’t then he would take them away.

There was no exact record of when was the main gopura fell down as once it was abandoned, over the time, thick vegetation grew around, like a forest cover. And, by the time (like, 200+ years) it was discovered again in early 19th century, it was already like a huge pile of stone-rubble with whole complex buried in sand mound with vegetation.

ASI talks about many records vindicating that the temple is still in good condition in 16th century.
• One is the visit of saint Chaitanya mahaprabhu (1486 -1533), who chronicled the beauty and grandeur.
• Another one is the accounts of Abul Fazl (1556 – 1605) of Akbar’s court. Abul Fazl chronicled and commented about “how people critical and difficult to please, also stand astonished at its sight.”

ASI says the temple was well looked after and the presiding deity Surya is worshipped till Mukandaraja’s period (1559 – 1568). After his death, with no strong ruler to defend, the Muslim invaders started raiding and looting the wealth. In such raids, the valuables in the temple including the copper items (even the Kalasa on the top of vimana of both sanctum and jagmohana) on some parts of roofing were taken away. Local people believed that the invaders, in their process of destruction and looting, had violated the sanctity of the temple and hence eventually the temple was abandoned. There is no clear record of when the primary deity was removed from the sanctum and no clear account on where is it currently.

Hence, ASI thinks the temple decay started in 17th century, after Mukandaraja’s death, and it had fully reduced to rubble by early 19th century.

So, in about 200 years (early 17th century to early 19th century), this gigantic and richly decorated marvel transformed into a giant pile of stones with a big mound around.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic3-photograh-before-restoration.jpg
Pic: A photograph of the temple taken before the restoration works started in 1901. Source – ASI. Notice the ruined state of its South side and mound around with grass/vegetation that engulfed the foundation, wheels, stairs, horses. Compare this to the same south side view of the first picture on this page.

ASI records that the early European travellers used to call Sun temple as the ‘Black pagoda’ and Jagannath temple as the ‘white pagoda’ (it was covered in thick layer of white lime plaster for conservation till 1990’s). These two structures used to serve as an important navigation landmarks in the sea trade.

Infact, ASI sights some of the communications made by marine board in early 1800’s for preserving and maintaining this important temple, not for culture or history or archaeology but for purely the utilitarian purpose of aiding navigation. It also confirms the dominance of marine trade in Odisha in those times.

If only British province authorities in Calcutta had listened to these Marine board requests, probably we would have seen the much better preserved temple with more relics. Unfortunate in one way but again fortunate in another that they did act almost a 100 years later due to which we have something to cherish now. ASI also acknowledges this fact saying the restoration works done during 1901 to 1910 are the most comprehensive.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic4-war-horses-south-left-one.jpg
Pic: On the south, we also see a beautiful and very artistic carvings of two war horses in a battle scene. They are not in their full shape as soldiers heads and other finer details are ruined but still look fiercely awesome. This is the picture of the horse on the left. The bird on the left just observing the crowds at the temple by maintaining secure distance and height, lol.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic5-war-horses-sounth-right-one.jpg
Pic: The second horse on the right. Identical scene but the soldiers are aligned to the right of the horse.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic6-side-view-horse.jpg
Pic: I was so intrigued by the expressions and the detail of this carving. Here is the picture showing the same horse in above picture but from the left.

These two horse figures are now they are resting on a raised platform but still on south side in straight line with South stairs of the Jagamohana. They are currently installed in a way that they are looking towards the temple as opposed to correct way of looking away from it in the opposite direction.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic7-view-temple-east.jpg
Pic: View from the East. We can see the Natamandapa at the front and Jagamohana behind. Sanctum’s rubble is not visible.
- Notice the Vyali (vidala) carvings with Lion face above the overpowered war elephants.
- On the right we can also see the two elephants, on a raised platform.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic8-simha-vidala-left-east.jpg
Pic: Closer look at the left side carving of lion faced vidala (Vyali) over the war elephant that it pushed down. Notice the soldier, who is held by elephant by wrapping its trunk.

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Pic: View of the temple from North. This north entrance to the Jagamohan was the last one to be closed during the filling and restoration. Notice partial door frame as the rest of it is lost.
-On the right is the rubble of the fallen sanctum along with the granite figure of Sun God in niche constructed during restoration.
-Original construction refers to these figures being placed much higher on the sanctum above the full height of Jagamohana, that is somewhere between 127ft to ~220ft.
-We also see on the bottom right the Lion faced vyali carving, which is placed on higher platform on the north.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic10-lion-figure.jpg
Pic: Closer look at the Lion figures kept on the platform.
- There were two such lion figures placed near the temple. This above picture is showing the one placed on north. - There is another one placed on the west path way.
- These lion figures were supposed to have been placed on the sanctum at a greater height either in form
a) that’s protruding out or
b) as if it is bearing the weight of Amlakasila (the circular ring below the kalasa on top).

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic11-fallen-lion-figure.jpg
Pic: A representation of both the forms (a and b) can be seen in the above collage.
- On the left, one of the two sanctums of sukasari temple in Bhubaneswar. Here, circled in blue is the ‘protruding out form’ (form a).
- The picture on the top-right is the closer view of Amlakasila of Jagamohana of this sun temple. We can see here, circled in red (form b), the lion is installed as if bearing the weight of Amlakasila and holding it in its place on the top.
- Bottom-right is the picture of the fallen lion ruin that is being displayed on a platform on North. However, looking at the position of the front legs of the lion and the depiction of its tail, I believe these lions are the ones installed in protruding out form (like the blue circled ones on sukasari temple on left in the above picture).

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic12-elephants.jpg
Pic: The two elephant figures placed on the north. These two elephants originally used to guard either the North entrance to the temple complex along the compound wall or the north stairs of Jagamohana

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic13-closer-view-elephant.jpg
Pic: Close look at the elephant on the right, depicting the war scene where in it is holding a conquered solider in its trunk and another solder figure beneath.

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Pic: The second elephant on the left. We can see the soldier beneath clearly here along with the soldier wrapped in its trunk.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic15-view-west-2.jpg
Pic: View of the temple from the west, that is from the back. Notice the clear view of the rubble of the sanctum. We can also see the granite figure of Surya installed in niche. As per guide, this figure mistakenly swapped with the one currently on North.

According to ASI, the efforts for conservation began in second half of 19th century after requests from Asiatic society of Bengal. By the time some works began, the Raja of Kudra had done extensive damage to the whatever the fragile structure still standing.

Sincere efforts of restoration were carried out from 1901 upon directions from Lt. Governer of Bengal with sufficient funds allocated. When they started clearing the sand around, the actual base platform of the temple including the wheels, horses emerged. A lot chlorite statues and carvings were found and many of them were relocated to Museums. A few of them are now in National museum in Delhi.

After restoration and repairing the ceiling of Jagamohan, to conserve the same, they had filled it with sand and stones and sealed it from all sides.

Additionally, to minimize the damage from sea winds and blowing sand, large scale plantation carried out from the temple all the way to sea shore. This thick green plantation covers the two plus km of the area between sun temple and the present day sea shore, acting like a very important layer of defence protecting the monument. If we see the satellite image on google maps, we could clearly see the greenary around till the sea. We must appreciate the efforts taken for this plantation.

These major conservation and restoration works, started in 1901, were carried on till 1922. ASI took the baton from 1939, and cleared all the remaining sand in the complex and restored the compound wall around.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic16-granite-carved-sculptures-sun-god.jpg
Pic: Beautifully sculpted Sun God on the three sides of the Sanctum.
- The one on the east (missing in the above collage), depicting rising sun is supposed to have been moved to National museum in New Delhi. Please refer to the last section for the picture of this Sun carving, that I took on my visit Delhi museum later in March.
- Here, according to the guide, the North one supposed to have been actually installed on West as it represents the Sun (sunset) as if he is leaving after full day of work in the evening.

The above Surya carvings on chlorite stone, in the prominent niches of the temple, are marvelled for their artistic mastery in carving. Surya and the figures around are shown calm but firm poses emanating the divine grace all around.

ASI points to an interesting aspect in the about the ‘boots’ worn by the Surya in the above carvings. It says this influence of wearing boots come from Sun worshippers from north of Persia, around the Caspian sea, that is the present day Iran, Kazakhstan area bordering the sea. There is also reference to this fact in our puranas or ancient texts.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic17-boots-west.jpg
Pic: Boots worn by Surya.
- Zoom in to notice small figure, named Usha, with bow and arrow on the extreme left. There is a similar figure, named Pratyusha, on the right most corner as well but is not visible in this picture.
- Usha represents the first ray of the light ending dawn in the morning and Pratyusha represents the last ray of the light beginning dusk in the evening.
- Two figures standing with sword on either side are Surya’s guards Dandi and Pingala.
- King Narasimha Deva (builder of this sun temple at Konark) is carved on the left in standing slightly tilted with folded hands and his raja-guru is carved on the right with small belly.
- There are two more figures carved on knees with folded hands and looking up. They appear to be representation of devotees. One on the left has dress code representing royal or warrior and the one on the right is like a priest or ardent devotee.

These puranas say that, after Samba builds the temple for Surya, the local priests refuse to worship the deity that Samba installed. So, Samba gets Magi people, who are the Sun worshippers, from Shakadvipa, which is one of the seven lands of the earth per our ancient texts. In current day world, Shakdvipa refers to the same area around the Caspian sea into Iran and Kazakhstan. In those texts India is referred as ‘Jambudvipa’, another one of the seven. I have heard this Jambudvipa reference and also about seven seas many times in our puranic stories all my childhood, thanks to my grand mother. It is said that the priests at the Sun temple in those days are the descendants of these Magi people. Hence, one of their dressing style, the boots, made its way into the carving of Surya. A closer look will also reveal that Surya is wearing leather tight clothing, which is again the dressing style of the Sun worshipper or the Magi people from Shakadvipa.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic18-chaya-devi-temple1.jpg
Pic: A temple built for Chaya devi (also referred as Maya devi by Guide), first wife of Surya. This temple is situated in the south west corner of the complex.

This smaller temple was built earlier than the majestic main temple. Looking at the at the way Sun figures are kept on niches on the sanctum, ASI thinks it could be a smaller Sun temple instead, not for his wife (Chayadevi), as opposed to the popular belief.

Guide also pointed to the small ruined brick foundation further to the right of Chaya devi (also called as Mayadevi) temple but in farther south west corner and said that foundation hosted a temple for the second wife, Sandhya devi, of Surya. Currently there is nothing visible there other than a small platform. ASI says this small brick temple shows the Vaishnava temple methods based on the whatever they had excavated from there. Again, not really supporting the popular beliefs of this temple being built of Sandhya devi.

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Pic: Interesting Chlorite stone carvings for water outlets from the sanctum.
- On the left is the Vidala in shape of a crocodile but with different rounded nose. Notice the detailing like sharp teeth and the fish in its mouth.
- On right is a Vidala with elephant face holding a soldier in its trunk.
- In the middle is a beautiful but smaller sculpture of Surya on intricately carved pillared niche.

Mayadevi temple may be smaller but no lesser in decoration. It follows the same Pidha style jagamaohan attached with Rekha style sanctum. Currently only a portion of Bada (or the side walls) remain.

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Pic: Sanctum of the Maya devi temple. What we see now is the small block with Surya in standing position.

The mastery of the sculptors is more visible in the free standing sculptures on Jagamohan of main temple in both the Kanti. The first kanti area has fierce martanda-bhiarava accompanied by celestial female musicians all around with various musical instruments. These artisans were carved with voluptuous beauty but with sublime smile and are captivating yet with dignified expressions.

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Pic: Martanda-bhairva, a fierce form of Shiva, with six hands and four heads. He is standing on a boat and wears a mala of skulls. ASI says the boat depicts the prominence of the sea trade in those times. It could also be due to the fact that the fisherman are one of the prominent worshippers of this form of Shiva. Thanks to my new camera with 60x optical zoom that I purchased before embarking on 25-day north east trip in Sep 2021.

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Pic: Mesmerizing female musician shown in trance with surrounding music while also dancing and playing one of the musical instruments.
These musician stand alone sculptures on the Kanti of Jagamohana considered one of the finest at the temple. I felt that the beautiful and gracefully sensual facial expression, and the finely sculpted body along with that unique pose is something is so captivating.

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Pic: A few more shots of the female musician sculptures on the Kanti.

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Pic: Another shot of busy decoration all over the base of platform of the temple along with the wonderfully carved wheels. This is the same wheel that was printed on 20-rupee currency note earlier.
- The right most panel on the top row (underlined in green) is the motif showing the King (Narasimha Deva) and the queen.
- The next one on left, underlined in blue, depicts a scene wherein the king, who is seated on an elephant, is being gifted a giraffe by traders. The guide says traders from all over the world used to come here and they bring along many gifts for the King and here one such party got a giraffe.
- Also notice the bottom most and top most belts with carvings showing elephants, horses, people depicting royal processions or festivity celebrations or marriage processions or war march or just animal figures. These belts runs across the circumference of the temple. We also see smaller width belts, again either with animal figures or decorative patterns separating blocks of the motifs on the side walls.

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Pic: Pictures showing a few highlights of the miniature decor that engulfs almost entire temple.
- On the left is the motif with Yamaraj on his vehicle, buffalo. Pay attention to the minute detailing around the motif and patterns that run across which the Guide proudly calls as the best saree pattern designs, lol.
- In the middle, lord krishna playing flute.
- On the right another motif, like a photo frame, showing a female warrior fighting a lion.
- Below is a section of the miniature border design, like a belt, that is used generously all over the temple. This belt shows a war march of soldiers with elephants and horses.

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Pic: Close up view of a small (each one may be a feet in height) few motifs/ frames depicting curvaceous female figures in various dancing, everyday grooming and playful poses. Guide specifically pointed to,
- the one on left, wearing a skirt that is not a common dress code in those times,
- and also points to the one in the middle where the females squeezing her freshly bathed hair to remove the water and a domestic duck drinking those drops. Also notice the high-heel sandals that she is wearing.
- The right most panel has another female, standing under a fruit tree and holding one branch, while in a playful mood with her pet parrot, which is sitting on her shoulder.
- The last but one has a pose of a female putting vermilion on her forehead while holding a mirror in other hand.

Note that these carvings withstood the test of time for close to 800 years, in which over 400 years of utter neglect and subjected to being harsh sandy and salty moisture filled sea winds. Despite that the sublime and sensual expressions on their faces are very pleasing to the eye and in one way they are captivating.

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Pic: A collage of miniature carvings in various sized motifs.
- Top left, motif with scenes from queens royal life.
- second on top row, a female riding a horse
- third one on top row, a hunting scene where a female on an elephant releasing an arrow
- last one on top row is wrestling match/practice of two wrestlers
- Bottom row, from left to right, first three represents the female musicians
- the fourth one, is a dancing position. Guide mentions that, especially on the nata mandapa, we have many female figures carved in various odissy dancing positions.
- fifth one is a hunting scene, where the hunter on a horse, which is galloping, using the spear to kill an animal.
- An interesting figure with a beard and a pot belly. Guide says its some figure from those days of life.
- The last three in the bottom row shows female musicians.

One would notice that there are a lot of the carvings of females shown like warriors, hunters, dancers, musicians or just a damsel or artisans. It clearly shows artistic imagination of the sculptures but also shows the free and unrestricted society in those days.

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Pic: Vidala carvings in various forms and sizes are extensively found on the temple. This collage shows four such forms. From left to right:
- Simha-vidala, which is lion faced vidala, over powering an elephant.
- Vidala with human face and lion body overpowering a human soldier.
- Elephant faced, Gaja-vidala, but lion shaped body overpowering a human soldier.
- Human rider on a Simha-vidala that is overpowering an elephant.

I found a display in ASI museum that talked about 16 types of Vidala/Vyala per Samarangana sutradara, a 11th century text on architecture and vastu. The above collage only shows three types carved on this temple.

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Pic: Another wheel and the carvings around. Notice the sculptures depicting erotic scenes. These strong sensual carvings are found all over the temple in various sizes. These carvings were so many in numbers that its like what we see in Khajuraho.

- ASI says these figures neither be considered as illustration of Kamasutra nor they represent any beliefs or practices of those times. It says other explanations like testing ones strong will as they enter the temple or as an education to the newly weds, etc, does not hold either.

- ASI points to the fact that sun temple here depicts all the ‘nava rasas’ and this ‘sringara rasa’ is no way over emphasized than any other. Also it points out that the sculptors treated these figure in the same way as the other divine or people or animal carvings across, nothing less and nothing more.

- It further adds that most of the Hindu temples from early years of temple building culture, have amorous couples and erotic figures carved. The scenes carved in the sun temple here shows monogamy, polygamy and polyandry intimate scenes. The society and the patrons in those days accepted them as they are, as part of normal earthly life, and allowed the artistic talents and imaginations of these erotic and sensual expressions to flourish into beautiful sculptures.

- Guide told me that this temple carvings represents three stages of human life – childhood, adult life and spiritual life. He deducts that the bottom layers of the temple dominated by animal figures, patterns that's symbolizing the childhood. Middle part of the temple has many carvings pertaining to adult life and that includes intimate erotic figures, overall symbolically representing a few aspects of the adult life. The top part of the temple is mostly divine figures, celestials, mostly symbolic of the spiritual life. That’s an interesting deduction that he personally made (this deduction of his is not endorsed by ASI).

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Pic: Each wheel has images carved in the center and in each of the spokes. Apart of the center image, rest of the images convey a story or a uniform theme. Here in this wheel in the picture, at the center is the scene of Narasimhavatara.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

After the memorable visit to Sun temple, the next stop was to the ASI museum. It is located in a large campus about 500 meters away from the temple. A good collection of the relics from the temple complex were placed in the museum. I realized later that I forgot to take the snaps of the museum complex from outside. Photography is not allowed inside the museum. Its not that big and largely focuses on the Sun temple, Odisha temple architecture and related archaeological findings. I purchased a few very informative ASI publications on Sun temple there while leaving.

Post the quick short visit to ASI museum, I headed to the Chandrabhaga beach, which is about 3km away. The road ends with a T-junction with ocean view straight ahead and small narrow stretch on left which more or less being used as parking. On the right is the famed beach road all the way to Puri.

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Pic: First sight of Chandrabagha beach at Konark

The beach is clean and not much commercial activity on the side otherthan a few shops selling beverages or snacks near the T-junction. It was cloudy and there is no chance of having clear sunset views.

I wanted to reach Puri before it becomes too dark. So after spending a few mins on the beach sands, started the drive to Hotel Gandhara in Puri. Its a well laid two-lane road, not super smooth but not potholed either. Though it is going next to the sea, we cant really get the ocean view except for a few points. One such point is Eco retreat beach resort where people can indulge in water sports, like Para-sailing, water bike and fun boat rides.

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Pic: At Eco Retreat resorts, Sun takes a peak through the thick clouds before sunset. We can see some people having fun with parasailing.

As you move past Eco resorts, not too far away, there is another spot, Lotus resorts, offering water sports and also a stay option.

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Pic: Adventure sports at the Lotus resorts, which has some natural elevation and an immediate small depression forming a small beach island leaving a part of sea water till the road, like a salt lake. This spot is used for water sports and boating.

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Pic: View of the beach road connecting Konark and Puri near the Lotus resorts. My zoomcar ride, red swift, is parked on the left. The road is just like this, two lanes, all the way till Puri.

Dusky light also started fading away quickly and dark clouds had already swallowed the Sun.

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Pic: Sun having a final peak through the dark clouds before signing off

It became fully dark by the time I reached the next place of stay, Hotel Gandhara, in Puri. The hotel doesn’t have a designated parking but the attendant at the reception could help squeeze my car on one corner below the tree in the narrow by lane next to the hotel.

The hotel is basic and functional. Rooms have AC and a double bed with attached bathroom. I got the ground floor room. Considering the demand of the peak season, there is not much options for me at that time. I booked for one night first and could see one room available for next day as well. But thought of waiting till late night or early morning to check for other options or atleast a last minute price drop, if i am lucky.

It was around 7:30pm by the time I checked-in and refresh. Google maps showed me that the Blueflag beach is about 2 km away from the hotel. Blueflag beach has car parking space but I dint want to risk the hard earned street parking spot at the hotel. Auto guys at the front are fixated on making money in this short tourist season that came after long covid induced off-season and hence quoted no less than 100 rupees for a 2 km ride. After waiting for a while, I could hop on to an electric rickshaw on share basis for 20 rupees.

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Pic: My coffee and dinner partner for two days

Blueflag beach has an entry ticket of 20 rupees which is valid for 3 hours. There is a good cafe at the entry point and ordered a coffee to take along. Only a coffee lover would understand the feel of the first sip of a coffee after a long period of craving for the whole of afternoon and evening, lol.

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Pic: Wheel of Konark sun temple chariot welcoming visitors to the Blueflag beach.

Its fully dark and I could not see much other than the pleasant sound of waves and the feel of cool sea breeze. This is the second Blueflag beach that I visited so kind of know what to expect there. The first one being the Kasarkod blue flag beach on Karnataka west coast, that first sight had already made me experience the amusement and fall in love with the concept of blue flag beaches. I am yet to pen down that super awesome 8-day Karnataka drive covering a mix of heritage sites, ghats, waterfalls, beaches and a few unique sites during the Diwali time. Hopefully I get time to catchup on the blogs this year. The good part is that my newly developed habit of keeping voice notes, pictures and videos organized by timeline on each day and the rough notes of key observations would help me to pen these blogs in detail even after a few months.

I walked across the beach from one end to another. The walking pathways are well lit along with some portion of the beach sands but the light does not go till sea.

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Pic: Barricade at the northern end of the Blueflag beach.

In a contrast to the northern side, the souther end which leads into the Golden beach of puri is quite crowded.

After that quick survey of the blueflag beach, I ordered some food to go at Cafe Cookies while leaving the beach. From the main beach road, I walked for a few minutes towards the busy Golden beach area which is bustling with people. The beach road beautifully separates the beach sands on east and fully packed hotels and restaurants on the west.

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Pic: Busy night life on beach road at Golden beach.

After spending more than two hours in familiarizing the beach life in night at Puri, I reached the hotel before 10pm.

Before going to bed spent a few minutes exploring options for stay from next day onwards. Availability is continued to be limited and the prices remained extremely high. Nothing was available near Chilka lake as well. So I extended the stay in Hotel Gandhara for one more night. For the day after, luckily OTDC Panthnivas showed up with one night availability for their biggest room due to some cancellations. I know it would be too much for a single person but the price is similar to what I was paying for Gandhara, so I booked the same. With the next two nights of stay confirmed a bit of peace took over my mind and the tired body along with satisfied soul quickly pushed me into sleep.

Day 4 (Puri and Chilka):

Next day morning I got up at 4am as I was told by fellow traveller that I met at the hotel that there is a huge crowd at Puri Jagannath temple and the earlier we go the better chances of quick darshan of Lord Jagannath. So, I reached the Jagannath temple by 5:30am. There is a free locker/holding area for depositing belongings, mobile phone and shoes near the temple entrance. Additionally there are some private shops offering the same services for a fee about 100 meters before at the start of the queue system.

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Pic: First sight of the Jagannath temple in the morning, also this is my first tick of sacred Char-dham temples. The other three still in the bucket list. Notice the empty bamboo barricades put up to regulate the queues. Camera/mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple complex.

We need to show the vaccination certificate and ID proof to enter into the temple. As I was not carrying the printed copy of the certificate, I had first shown the certificate to one of the guards and requested him to allow me to deposit the phone and comeback into the queue.

The temple visit and the sight of Lord Jagannath was magical. Especially, the few minutes from the entry into Jagamohan and till the exit after darshan would transport you into mystical world with sacred chants of people with folded hands inching towards the sanctum. At one corner of the Jagamoan there is a group of women singing bajan in a rhythm. The whole atmosphere inside is as if we are in a different world and the crowd moves like a sea wave that is gently gushing towards the sanctum. As soon as I entered I got goosebumps and within in seconds after taking a few steps in that atmosphere, I felt as if I got into ‘Trans’. The first real sight of Lord Jagannath flanked by Balbadra and Subadra is the moment to behold. I was lucky to be pushed by crowd towards a corner where priests were performing arti and blessing people. In order for me to navigate from that corner to exit took about 5 minutes and that gave me more moments to take in the magical sight of unique wood carved and colourful Lord Jagannath and his two siblings.

If any one has OTT platform account of Disney+Hotstar, then I recommend watching a documentary ‘Legends of Jagannath Puri’. That documentary also shares some of the legends behind unique appearance of the deity and the practice of replacing deity with newly carved ones after a gap of 8 to19 years as per the various practices and guidelines followed from centuries. It also talks about the huge kitchen that serves food to lakhs of devotees and the food cooked in earthern pots which were destroyed once used. It also talks about the tradition of Rath yatra and the preparations that goes behind like making the three chariots using wood and the prep for hosting the huge crowds expected to throng at the time of Rath-yatra.

For me, its the first tick in the sacred char-dham temples. The other three are firmly waiting to be ticked in the bucket list.

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Pic: The closest I could go with mobile phone. This picture taken after I finished Jagannath darshan and exited the temple. I could not take any other pictures inside as mobiles or cameras are not allowed.

Some of the points quoted by ASI:

• Jaganath temple was built in 11th Century.

• It follows the four structure Kalinga architecture, that is having a Rekha deul (the sanctum) and Pidha style Jagamohan, followed by Nata mandapa and Bhoga mandapa both in Pidha style.

• At a height of 227ft, Jagannath temple is the tallest temple in Odisha. It is taller than the Lingaraja temple in Bhubaneswar.

• Jagannath temple acted as one of the main navigational landmarks and it used to be called as ‘white pagoda’ (sun temple used to be referred as the black pagoda). The reason was that whole Jagannath temple was Lime plastered in white as you see in the picture. Only about a decade ago that ASI removed the plaster on sanctum, the Rekha deul. We can see the darker portion on the taller sanctum right upto Amlakasila on the top. There is still an ongoing debate on whether it is the right step to remove the plaster, which was originally intended to preserve the structure.

• The unique wood carved deities were originally worshipped by a local tribe, the Sabaras. Later the same was adapted by all and later the temple was built.

• The dwaja stamba, also called Aruna Stamba is relocated from Sun Temple at Konark.

After that wonderful darshan of Lord Jagannath, as I am walking out of the temple complex, suddenly one priest appeared from the crowds and gave some prasad in my hand, which i extended out of pure instincts first but later realized in a split second that its not hygienic. He was using his bare hands to take out prasadm from a small earthern pot that he is holding in other hand. I also realized that there is no proper process of giving prasad to the devotees exiting the temple so I didn’t feel good. As I expected, the priest started asking my name and gotra, which politely refused and told him he shouldn’t be giving prasad like this in these covid times. He is also chewing some pan masala or something and started asking for Dakshina (money). With great difficulty, I refused and continued walking away despite being chased by him for a few meters. Then came the tough call of whether to eat or throw the prasadam. In that repulsive mind, shaken to the core about the safety and hygiene levels of the food, I took a tiny strand in mouth and threw away the rest at the same time praying the God for forgiveness.

After the darshan, I collected by belongings and took an auto to the beach area. There is a lot of crowd at the Golden beach area which had many morning walkers and tourists all over the beach sands. Dropped the idea of having a breakfast in that vicinity after many futile attempts to find a hygienic restaurant. Due to covid restrictions, many hotels only have room service option for the food so options were very limited. On the way back to my hotel inquired for the options of Chilka group tour. There are many buses offering day tours including a boat ride embedded in the package. I was looking for some option wherein I could only join the boat ride while I travel using my own transport but none such options were available. Receptionist at hotel Gandhara advised me to ignore all the agents or touts and instead directly go to government operated boating tours with fixed charges.

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Pic: Map of Chilka lake on the walls of the OTDC hotel reception at Satapada. The road connecting Puri is depicted in red on the bottom right. Satapada is located closer to the mouth of the sea.

After a good breakfast at my hotel, I started the drive to Satapada, a village near Chilka. My plan is to directly go to OTDC hotel in satapada where the boat rides are organized. Explore one of the boating options wherein I could see dolphins, migratory birds and if possible go all the way up to mouth of the Sea. Its about 1.5 hours drive (~55km) per google maps and its only about 9am so have ample time to explore. The roads are narrow two lanes without a divider but there were no potholes. While I am about single digit km distance to Satapada, suddenly I started seeing some touts on bikes chasing the cars and forcefully trying to stop them. It was a bit scary sight and the moment a couple of guys on bike started chasing my car, I tried to speed up in vain as they were really rowdy. Finally without stopping, with about 1 inch window rolled down, I tried to tell them i am not interested in their boating offers and told them not to chase my car at it is really dangerous. It took about 5 mins of resistance controlling anger as they were really bad and forceful. I felt sad for the people who might have got into trouble with them either by going with them and burning money for nothing or for any other unfortunate events during these dangerous chase. I hope the Odisha state government take steps to save visitors from this chasing, harassment and cheating by the touts.

In that 7 to 9 km stretch before Satapada, I had to face 3 different sets of folks on bikes chasing my car. Luckily, I was able to ward them off without any untoward incidents and reach the OTDC hotel in Satapada where the boating counter is there.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Unfortunately, by the time I reached there, about 11:45am, the counter guy said that no boats available for ride on that day. However, to my rare luck, there is a couple from Kolkata who purchased the last boat ride tickets, kindly agreed to accommodate me and another family of 3 in their boat which has a capacity of 8 people on share basis. Thanks to them, total six of us, we got into boat for 1.5 hour ride to see Dolphins. So my wishes for exploring the small islands, migratory birds and the mouth of the sea had to be dropped.

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Pic: The boat that took us for a scenic ride on Chilka

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Pic 16: Birds flocking behind the boats expecting food thrown by tourists...not sure whether it is a good practice but I could see many people throwing snack items that are not really the staple diet of these birds.

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Pic: chased by birds – our boat is not an exception as one of the members started throwing food.

The ride in Chilka lake was ok and was able to spot the dolphins after 30 mins of search. They were so quick that all of us were trying to spot them around and hoping to click the magical pic of a flying Dolphin, lol. The boatman said the engine sound scares them away and he tried to turn off engine whenever we spot a dolphin around. Its of no use as surrounding boats try to rush in to the same spot thereby making Dolphins to disappear.

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Pic: This is the closest I could get to taking a pic though I had witnessed them peaking out almost 70 percent of their body is out above water but not really jumping into the air for a split second of flying dolphin.

Boat guy returned back within 50 mins as dolphins were sighted though we paid for 1.5 hour trip. It was a futile argument as from his point of view we will stay up to 1.5 hours or till Dolphins were spotted. Well the second part was in the un-official fine print that no way we could know that before. I decided not to tip him after that truncated ride.

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Pic: another view of boat ride on Chilka near Satapada.

After that i thanked the wonderful couple, who accommodated me along with another family of three, and started my drive back to Puri. The return drive is peaceful and I stopped for a late lunch at the ‘Pink house restaurant’, as recommended by the couple at Chilka. This restaurant is on the beach sands and is closer to my stay hotel at Puri.

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Pic: Beautiful beach sands ambience of ‘Pink house restaurant’. The blue sea is not visible due to small sand mound in the front but we could hear loud sound of the waves.

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Pic: And the good late lunch. Not among the best I had but good one and had satisfied my taste buds and filled stomach. No complaints. I also enjoyed the slow and relaxing lunch sitting in one of those small huts on the sands. I would have been nicer if we had the view of the blue sea as well.

By 4pm, reached back to the hotel and slept for an hour. Around 5:30pm, I got out and visited blue flag beach again for a sunset. Took a coffee and sat on the beach sands at one corner where there is less traffic and enjoyed the beautiful dusky weather.

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Pic: Favourite combo - Stretch out at wave front on beach sands with a coffee.

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Pic: And the cherry on the cake – wonderful sunset on beach. The lifeguards deck on the right giving a nice addition to the view of the pinkish sun.

I was there till 8pm catching up with a few friends on phone and the rest of the time just enjoying serene atmosphere around. On the way back packed dinner from ‘cafe cookies’ at the entrance/exit of the blue flag beach. As the stay for next day is confirmed in OTDC panthnivas facing the beach with private door opening into Blueflag beach, I caught up on my standard write-ups and organizing pics before ending the super satisfying day4. At the same evening, I also decided to pre-pone my return travel from 1st Jan flight to 30th Dec flight as I felt it may be better I be back in Bangalore for some personal reason. Schedule change is quickly done as there was availability in flights from Bhubaneswar to Bangalore on 30th.

Day 5 (Puri beach):

One thing to note in Puri is that all hotels have very early checkout and check in times. Hotel Gandhara folks proudly told they allow at times checkout by 9am per request and feasibility. I dint mind it as all I am doing is to checkout here and checking into another, which is also happen to be the place, the blue flag beach, where I wanted to spend whole day just relaxing and rejuvenating.

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Pic: OTDC Panth Nivas overlooking Puri blueflag beach. Excellent location but poor quality infrastructure and construction, a typical government run apathy wasting a huge potential. Notice my zoomcar ride, the red swift parked on the left.

I had breakfast at Hotel Gandhara and checked out around 8:15am. It was just a five mins drive to OTDC panthnivas. The receptionist asked me to wait for 30mins to clean the room and gave me a free pass to get into Blueflag beach. Instead of waiting there, with the mind and body feeling fresh after a good night sleep and nice breakfast at Hotel Gandhara earlier, I took my backpack, picked up a coffee at cafe cookies, and then entered the beach sands looking for a spot to park myself.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic25-my-rejuvenating-spot-day.jpg
Pic: The spot, that stays in my memories for a long time Very comfortable long chair under a shaded umbrella kind of hut with an unobstructed view onto the gushing waves. Spent almost whole day here on beach sands except for bio breaks and lunch break.

Found a great spot which is closer to the northern edge of the blueflag beach. There is hardly any crowd in the morning so the whole area looked divinely peaceful with the sounds of gushing waves and beautifully sunny. As I leaned on the beautiful blule&white stiped wooden bench seat, I felt heavenly. For me, this was the first time such experience that includes this kind of seating on a very clean beach and it is also very secluded giving me the solitude in heaven, lol.

Soon my mind went on overdrive and I could spend a very productive time catching up on my office work, catchup on reading ASI publications and other books that I purchased. Additionally, I could also cover most of the key outlines and parts of this blog. Super productive day and yet supremely rejuvenating. Time just flew there.

Around 1pm, I took the break for lunch and walked across to OTDC hotel for completing the check-in formalities and transfer the luggage.

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Pic: The gigantic room with lot of bedding space for one person, lol. This is the family room and it was the only option available for me at that time. Has two large rooms, kitchen space and a bathroom. Its like a one bedroom accommodation

I couldn’t control the laughter (like an insane lone guy laughing in empty room) as I entered the room looking at the space. So much for one person and for just one night stay. Many rooms in the hotel are closed for guests due to pending repair works and that limited the supply in this peak tourist season. Room and the furnishings are very clean and I was happy with what I got with the same price that I paid at Hotel Gandhara, which gave me a very tiny room.

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Pic: The view from the window.

There are two restaurants attached to OTDC hotel. One is the oldest which is in the same building but on the first floor. This old restaurant serves all types of food – continental, north and south with no specific specialization. The second one is the new Odisha style restaurant constructed even closer to the Blueflag beach. They normally have a limited menu that is decided a day before and listed on a blackboard. Upon discussing with the waiter I zeroed in on a few Odisha specialized dishes along with white rice. Boy, that choices turned out to be heavenly and I filled my stomach by literally cleaning the vessels, lol. One of the best foods I ever had, a highly recommended place to visit if anyone visiting Puri.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic28-one-best-lunches.jpg
Pic: One of the best lunch I had in this life. The very tasty Odisha style food. The mustard gravy and the daal are still comes to my mind when look at this picture. Its an awesome food and one must definitely try it.

And the view is equally great. I had probably spent over two hours at the restaurant.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic29-blueflag-beach-view-restaurant.jpg
Pic: ‘Food with a View’, lol.

After that heavy but very tasty lunch, I had felt very lethargic and slept for an hour. After that good short nap, I was back on the beach resuming my work-relax-vacation. This time the beach started getting traffic and was lucky to find a similar chair by reaching just in time when someone was leaving. Stayed there on the chair for a couple of hours including another round of coffee and then shifted closer to the waves lying on the sand during sunset.

I dont know how the time ran so quickly there but never felt bored not even for a moment. After sunset, it was getting dark but lights were on.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic30-night-blueflag-beach.jpg
Pic: A shot giving a visual perspective on how the beach side looked even after dark and the adequate lighting around. That's 'yourstruly' posing for memory of a time well spent

Could continue staying on the beach till the closure time of 9pm. The lighting helped me to enjoy the cool breeze around while also catching up on my readings even after dark.

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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Day 6 (Puri – Konark – Dhauli – Bhubaneswar - Bangalore):

As planned, I could checkout OTDC panthnivas hotel and start my drive to Konark a few mins before 5am. Its still dark all around but could see many people are already up and on the roads. The drive is relatively fast as there is hardly any traffic. I reached Chandrabhaga beach by 5:45am and waited there for a few mins till the twilight of dawn takes over and reveals the sky. Unfortunately, its all cloudy and there is no chance of seeing a sunrise. Disappointed, headed to the Sun temple for a second visit. Armed with the knowledge gained by reading books and surfing on the net, this time I could explore the temple for the finer details and feel the historical appreciation. After spending a few memorable hours at the temple, on the way out, I stopped at the next door Navagraha ‘temple’.

Navagraha temple is nothing but a small room built around the huge rock-cut Navagraha slab that was once positioned above the door frame like an architrave on the East entrance into the Jagamohana. Imagine it like a rectangular slab, which is probably a meter in height and 5-6 meters in length. This beautifully carved slab with nine planets starting with Sun, and was welcoming people into the Jagamohana by towering above the richly crafted door frame as an architrave.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic1-position-navagraha-architrave.jpg
Pic: Position of the Navagraha panel marked in the above picture of Jagamohan. The red rectangle represents the Navagraha architrave on the eastern door frame.

This panel was originally a very thick slab probably with a width closer to 1.5 feet. An attempt made during the restoration and later to transport the same to a museum in Kolkata. However, due to its weight and combined with the desire to not to break it, they could not move it beyond its current location. They had even cut the slab into half of its width, basically the back uncarved portion is chipped off, still couldn’t move it further. Over the years, people started worshipping the slab which is still in a makeshift structure, a small room, as opposed to being a temple.

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Pic: Sketch made by British officer A.Stirling sometime early 19th century but before 1825 shows that the architrave is still in its position on the eastern door frame. Source – ASI.

All I wanted at the Navagraha temple is to have a glimpse of this panel and probably take a photograph as I was sure I will not be allowed to spend more than a minute there. During my first visit, I skipped this temple/makeshift room, not knowing the significance of navagraha panel there. Unfortunately I again fell pray to the greedy intimidation (bordering cunningness to extract money) by the priests there and ended up losing money along with all the pleasant time spent so far turning into bitterness. In that upset state of mind, mostly on my own self for letting them to get better of me, out of my respect to the priests in general and unwillingness to squabble with them there, I didn’t take the picture of Navagraha panel and rushed out from there.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic3-navagraha-architrave.jpg
Pic: Reference pic (as I couldn’t take navagraha panel pic at Konark) from my later visit to National Museum in New Delhi. This shows how the Navagraha panel typically looks like with Surya carved in left most corner and Rahu and Ketu on the right most corner. The one at Konark Sun Temple is made of Chlorite and looks dark greenish in colour, exactly same stone as that of the door frame.

In that agitated mood, I immediately left Konark, skipping my earlier plans of visiting again the IOC interpretation center and the ASI museum. After an hour of drive, calmed down a bit and took the deviation towards Dhauli as planned earlier.

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Pic: Ashoka pillar with four lions, our national emblem, at Dhauli

There is a narrow two lane road that connects Dhauli hill with the highway. I was stopped at a check post on this narrow road for an entry fee for the car. As I dint have the change the attendant there asked me to go ahead without taking money. As we start to climb the Dhauli hill, like at the foot hills, I came across the replica construction of the Ashoka pillar with four lions, our national emblem. Its beautiful but the area around is not cleaned and so much of weed had grown. There is a lot of litter around as well.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic5-four-lions4.jpg
Pic: Closer view of the national emblem, the four lions.

A little climb on the paved road from here we reach the Shanti Stupa. It has all white painting that is glowing beautifully above the hill surrounded by greenery and in blue sky. Its officially named as ‘Vishwa shanti stupa’ and was built in collaboration by Japanese and Kalinga Buddhist foundations in 1970.

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Pic: Shanti Stupa

There is some space to park the cars in the front of the Shanti Stupa. Some stalls serving snacks and tea in the corner.

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Pic: Lord Budha at Shanti stupa.

There are many tourists at that time and each one jostling to take their pictures with this beautiful backdrop. I also met some tourists whom I had spoken to earlier during breakfast at Hotel Gandhara in Puri. Nice weather cleared the way for many people to explore around.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic8-shanti-stupa-2.jpg
Pic: Another view of Shanti Stupa. For India this place has so much historical significance for the embrace of Budhism by Emperor Ashoka after bloody destructive win at the Kalinga war here.

There is also a temple there right behind the shanti stupa but after that bad experience at Konark, I stayed clear of it. But at the same time, a sight of the people at the entry of the temple made me feel bad again about my foolishness to let others to intimidate me earlier. I quickly walked back to car and started the drive to Bhubaneswar.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic9-view-shanti-stupa.jpg
Pic: The parting shot, I could have taken a better picture with Lion coming fully into the frame but no chance in that state of mind at that time.

After driving for a few mins, realized that I missed another important historical spot, the ‘rock cut elephant sculpture’ with inscriptions from Ashoka period. It is a historically significant monument and inscription carries the message of peace from Emperor Ashoka to all of his people.

Dhauli is only a very short drive from Bhubaneswar so within no time I am back at the beautiful Parasurameswara and Mukteswara temples again. There are hardly any people this time and enjoyed walking around and exploring those beautiful temples one more time. There is also Kedar Gauri temple next door but that one is popularly worshipped even now with many people thronging for the same and I could see priests performing Pooja. I did not feel like to venturing inside though a part of me wanted to see its architectural beauty, and instead drove back to Rajarajani temple for another quick look and then to a cafe for breakfast.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic10-kedar-gauri-temple-sight.jpg
Pic: Kedara Gauri temple visible in white on the top right. This shot is taken from the Siddheswara temple. We can also see the Mukteswara temple with its famous Torana arch at the entrance. I did not visit Kedar Gauri temple though it is said to be beautifully sculpted.

With the help of google, I found a small local cafe called ‘the coffee house’ which also has the space to park the car.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic11-coffee-house-cafe.jpg
Pic: Coffee house cafe that helped me to rest for a while along with nice late breakfast.

Ordered a coffee and a sandwich and sat for over an hour while also charging phone back to full battery. It was already fixed 2pm as the time to return the zoomcar at the airport, exactly at the same spot where I picked it up. As I still got couple more hours to kill, have decided to use this time to visit the Udayagiri caves again for some quick pictures at the Rani Gumpha. This time, being the lunch hour on a week day, the crowd at Udayagiri caves are comparatively less. While I was there clicking pics, got a call from the zoomcar field representative that he would be starting soon and will meet me around 2pm as planned with potential delay of 10 to 15 mins as he is taking a bus to come there. No rush, so I took my own sweet time to walk around, have some coconut water and finally reached the airport by 2pm. The representative came after a wait of around 20mins and the return process was fairly smooth. On the zoomcar app, I could quickly see the status as returned and I must appreciate the overall trouble free experience I had. The representative did ask me if I had faced any issues with the car. I had updated him about the minor problems in pickup and the ‘click’ sounds in steering along with bit hard steering effort. He acknowledged the same and drove away. No extra changes than what was conveyed at the booking. Overall my first ‘zoomcar’ renting service turned out to excellent.

Being a small airport there are not much options to walk around to pass the time, so had consumed two more coffee while waiting and going through the pictures & video clips on my mobile. That’s a too much of coffee that day. My ride back home came in while the sun starting pack up and leave for the day, lol.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic12-my-flight-bangalore.jpg
Pic: My ride (back to Bangalore) in the beautiful sunset backdrop.

As I wait to board, I kept on recollecting the wonderful six days spent and also the first experience of driving around in a rental self drive car, thanks to zoomcar.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic13-konark-zoomcar-drive-map.jpg
Pic: Google map of my drive. In this map, I have not captured the different routes that I took while going from Bhubaneswar to Konark (that avoids tolls) and while returning from Konark to Bhubaneswar (this has tolls). Rest of the route is same for to-and-fro.

While boarding the flight, I could witness for a few seconds the beautiful sunset in the backdrop of the planes parked around.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic14-sunset-airport.jpg
Pic: Sunset at the airport, captured from the air bridge while boarding onto plane.

I was back at home in Bangalore by midnight. Again, 2022 New year eve passed exactly the same way as the year before, for 2021, while watching a movie on TV lazing around on the couch. Some aspects in life are constant, lol.

That’s an end to a memorable year of 2021, which for me is the year of change to the way I look at life and start ticking of things to do in this life.

It started with a trip (Trip1) on 1st Jan of Bangalore - Lepakshi - Gandikota - Belum caves – Bangalore with my classmate. That was an impromptu plan covering over 700 km in two days. That thought came when we were casually talking and me telling him about my desire to travel but not really doing much about it.

With that bumper start, on the very first day of the year 2021, the rest of the year continued to be quite busy excluding devastating wave2 period where everything else was paused.

I warmed up to a solo trip (Trip2) with a 9-day trip to Hyderabad, a familiar place, to meet up with my college friends and while weekdays spent on work.

Travelled to Tamilnadu covering Bangalore – Coimbatore – Tanjavore – Darasuram – Gangaikonda cholapuram – Pondichery – Mammalapuram – Bangalore for 11 days. This was my first real solo travel (Trip3) and every firsts of our life, this will be forever etched in my memory.

Created my very first travelogue, which it self a major step in my life. Pasted below are the links to my earlier travelogues covering above Tamilnadu trip: (Baloo & I: Reset at an Ashram, and drive into the glorious past of the Chola empire) (Baloo & I | Drive into the Pallava Kingdom @ Mamallapuram | Tata Nexon)

Also followed up with a quick 3 day and 2 night drive (Trip4) to Hampi exploring the beautiful Vijayanagara empire ruins. Another great UNESCO marvel and our jewel of history checked. This is much more special due to being one of the beautiful times spent with my little fellow.

After a turbulent and destructive pause created by wave2, when things started coming back in control, I did the biggest trip (Trip5) of my life so far, the 25-day solo: Bangalore - Sikkim – Megalaya – Arunachal pradesh – Varanasi – Bangalore. A big dream of my life was fulfilled in this trip. The cherry here is visiting Kashi Vashwanath temple on my birthday. Its a different story that I had tough experience at temple but nevertheless a great desire that I nourished for years has been accomplished.

Later in October, another impromptu trip (Trip6) to Warangal to visit my classmates on Dasara while I was in Andhra at my parents place. In this visit I squeezed in a day for the iconic Ramappa temple thereby making it a very busy 2000km drive for 4 days covering Bangalore – Ongole – Warangal – Ramappa – Hyderabad – Bangalore.

Exploration of incredible Karnataka over 9 day solo drive (Trip7) during Diwali covering Bangalore – Belur – Halebedu – via western ghats – Udupi – St.Mary’s island – memorable drive on pencil shaped island - Murudeswar – Jog falls – Netrani island (scuba dive) – Kasarkod blueflag beach – Maravante – Gokarna – Badami – Pattadakkalu – Aihole – Tungabadra dam – Bangalore. Highlight is my Diwali night passed at Murudeswar under blissful watch of giant Lord Shiva, lol.

Visit (Trip8) to Jaipur and Udaipur over two weekends and in between five week days spent in my friends sisters wedding including a few days stay in western Rajastan bordering Punjab. Its also my very first exposure to Rajastan and my first participation into a North Indian wedding. Loved the memorable family time spent with my best friends family at his rural Rajasthan home in the middle of Thar desert along with hectic wedding activities. This 10 day trip had many beautiful memories and the icing on cake was that the last two days in Udaipur joined by college friends who flew in for our two day get together.

Finally ended the year 2021 with this visit (Trip9) to Golden triangle of Odisha.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic15-final-frame1.jpg
Pic: Framing the final memory of the year 2021.

The more I travel to discover India, surprisingly, the more I feel that I hardly scratched the surface. India is a land that is full of surprises, wonders and rich history. Each trip has been a great learning and there is so much more to explore in our country.

I don't know if I can repeat the similar amount of travel again in any calendar year in the near future. Hoping for the best.

Parting shot, a cherished time: A memorable 30 second snippet showing the beach environment around in Blueflag beach at Puri that gave me a full day of rejuvenation

Thank you and wishing everyone an awesome rest of the year 2022.

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Old 31st March 2022, 00:49   #12
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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India


I was lucky to be able to visit Delhi during mid march for a meet up with my MBA classmates. It was bit of an unplanned and last minute trip that was triggered by an inivite my friend (also classmate) for an opening of his new office in Gurgaon. Later it got expanded into a trip into his ancestral home in western Rajastan (near Bikaner) and a gala celebration with his family and friends for Holi. For me it was the first time I witnessed Holi in North India. Last time I was part of Holi celbration (more like fighting) was in college days which turned out be unimaginably crazy. I also got to witness a crazy parade in that small town called something like 'Fools parade' wherein everyone try to do some crazy but funny gimmicks. Time spent in middle of Thar desert for the 3 days were really memorable. I also used this opportunity to find a few hours of time on a weekend to visit the National museum on Janpath road in Delhi on my return trip to Bangalore. Thanks to another classmate in Delhi who hosted me the night in his home and also gave me his car move around in Delhi and visit the museum. This blog was still on the assembly line getting some final touches so thought of adding a few snippets of artefacts at Museum that are linked to Konark Sun Temple. These artefacts are retrieved from the rubble during restoration works and a few of them made their way into National museum at Delhi.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic16-national-museum.jpg
Pic: National Museum at New Delhi.

The museum has two floors but a few sections were closed when I visited. The items on display are bit less as one of the attendants pointed, it could be that some of them are being displayed on loan at other museums or prominent exhibitions. However, I could see the some of the good collections related to Konark Sun temple and also see the replica of the Ashoka pillar with single lion.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic17-ashoka-pillar-replica-museum..jpg
Pic: Ashoka pillar replica with the capitol of Single Lion. Ashoka had installed these pillars at many places across India but with different capitol images on the top. Like for example, the four lions – which is adopted as the national emblem, single lion that is shown here, Bull capitol, elephant capitol...etc.

The museum compound has the well curated lawn in a large open space that has replica installations of Ashoka pillar, Kakatiya arch and a few more historic or cultural installations or replicas.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic18-king-narasimha-deva-sculptures-national-museum.jpg
Pic: Chlorite Motifs from Sun temple at Konark depicting King Narasimha Deva, who built this temple, in various scenes of his royal life. From left to right,
- The first motif, shows King Narasimha Deva resting on a swing while being served/looked after by Courtesans.
- Second ones depicts the scene of King doing a discourse in the royal darbar.
- Last one shows King Narasimha deva practising archery

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic19-narasimha-deva-worshipping-jagannath.jpg
Pic: Another interesting motif showing Narasimha Deva worshipping Lord Jagannath at Puri.

The most important one, that actually drew me to this museum, is the large chlorite image of Surya that once stood on eastern face of the rekha style sanctum, the fallen one behind jagamohana, that once received the first rays of light in the morning.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic20-sun-sculpture-eastern-sanctum.jpg
Pic: The majestic and elegant Surya that once stood high up (on a niche atleast at 150 ft high on the 227ft tall rekha sanctum/vimana) on the sanctum of Sun temple on east receiving first rays of light. I had already posted the pictures of similar sculptures of Surya that are currently placed on west, south and north sides of Jagamohana in page-6. The above eastern one, currently national museum, completes the surya images that once stood in all four directions on the fallen sanctum of Sun Temple.

- This sculpture, like the other three, is about 7-8ft in height
- Zoom in to notice the unique mesh like patterned leather vest he is wearing on his upper torso. A dressing sense popular with Magi people (sun worshippers) of Shakadvipa (present day Iran and Kazakhstan bordering Capspian sea)
- Aruna, his charioteer, shown in between his feet, holding the leash and steering the seven galloping horses.
- Chaya devi and Sandhya devi, the two wives of Surya, are shown on either side below the full blown lotus flowers.
- The hands of Surya are broken but they were confirmed to be holding the Lotus flowers
- Comparing with the other Sun sculptures at the Sun temple and the Chayadevi temple, ASI says this sculpture figures and pattern is more closer to the ones on Chayadevi temple but does not firmly confirm.

Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India-pic21-close-up-view-surya.jpg
Pic: A closer look at that mesmerizing and divinely graceful sublime smiling face that greets the first light of the day.

Thank you.

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Old 31st March 2022, 18:03   #13
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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

What an amazing travelogue you have penned @TurboOnTarmac. It felt like i was literally taken to these places by reading your travelogue.

Also appreciate the lengths you have gone to mark the corresponding sections of the relics to explain what they correspond to.

I must admit that you have now prompted me to add these places to my bucket list
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Old 1st April 2022, 09:52   #15
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Re: Zoomcar’ing in ‘Golden Triangle’ of Odisha, the soul of Incredible India

Very well written with adept explanations of importance of places

I am on way to a Cycleogue from Bhub to maybe same places as covered in writeup, should be interesting indeed.
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