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    Thread: Trip to Puri and Konark !

    1. #1
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      Trip to Puri and Konark !

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      This was not a driving trip. I took a Volvo.

      My work requires me to visit Kolkata every other month and I typically spend a week or two there. I came again on 3rd Jan and was going to spend the weekend here.

      For this weekend, I thought of making a quick trip to Puri. At 500km it is an overnight journey and there are number of buses, trains between Kolkata and Puri. Trains get full first and you must make an early reservation for it – buses can be booked on same day and typically cost 700 to 900 rupees per person for a Volvo multi-axle seat.

      On 4th Jan, Friday, I took a Shyamoli Paribahan bus from Esplanade Bus stand at 8:45pm. They gave a water bottle and a cookie packet for every passenger – good gesture. Bus left on time and made an exit from city via the new Hooghly bridge, called Vidyasagar setu. It wasn’t that crowded by the time yet.

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      The bus made a stop at around 10:30 somewhere before Kharagpur for dinner and another stop in the night somewhere near Bhadrak for bio-needs. It was a smooth drive thanks to wonderful road conditions and we reached Puri bus stand at morning 5:50am.

      Took an auto for 150 INR (after a negotiation that started from 350) and went to New Shankar International Hotel. I had booked it via Goibibo for 2000 INR including early check-in for the day. I needed some place to freshen up and relax. Hotel room for a day made sense. This hotel is right on the beach and has a beautiful lawn in front. Spacious rooms, courteous staff and acceptable breakfast. Since I was going to check-out in the evening, I requested them to give me my complimentary breakfast the same day – they agreed.

      We stayed in the hotel till 9am and then went down for breakfast. Spoke to hotel for renting a car to visit Konark temple – got a brand-new Ford freestyle for 1500 INR. Konark temple (locals pronounce it as Konarak temple, wonder why), is around 36km and takes about 45 mins. Our driver was to take us there, and then to Chandrabhaga beach on the way before dropping us to Jagannath temple. We started somewhere around 10:30am for Konark Sun Temple.
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      It is a beautiful drive to the temple. Second part of the drive is through forest and sea-side. You cross couple of rivers on the way too. There are few photo spots for you to stop and take snaps, should you be interested in it.
      Unlike other temples, Konark has a wonderful history to go by it. If you don’t want to make an effort to go to Wiki page, here is a quick summary:

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      (This is how the temple is right now)
      Konark
      Made in 12-13 century CE, Konark temple was one of the largest Sun temple ever built (First one was in Multan, Pakistan which was destroyed in war in 10th Century). The priests for Sun god puja were brought from Shakya kingdom (present day Iran) as Sakaldwip pandits are known for their Sun god worship. The temple was in use for 200 years and after that it was abandoned. Real reasons for people stopped using it is unknown. But it is known for a fact that even in 1300-1400 CE timeframe, it wasn’t a popular temple and people preferred Jagannath temple over Konark Sun temple. Then by 1600CE people completely stopped using it and temple was surrounded by forest, totally lost and forgotten. There are few stories behind this temple not being so popular, though nothing is substantiated with any proof.

      Theory # 1:
      The last part of the temple (Kalash at the top of temple) was set by a young kid as 1200 architects couldn’t finish it. The young kid committed suicide fearing that King will not be happy if he gets to know that his 1200 architects were in-capable and it needed a kid to fix it. Since there was a suicide at the temple, locals felt that the temple wasn’t pure and didn’t have godly energy in it. People say that it was never used. This temple is also called black pagoda (Jagannath temple is called white pagoda)

      Theory # 2
      In 16 century, it was invaded and destroyed by Muslim ruler named Kala Pahad from Bengal. People stopped using as it was destroyed.

      Theory # 3
      It was in use by 1600CE, but people slowly started preferring Jagannath temple of Puri and Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneshwar and this was left to dust.

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      (This is how the temple was when designed initially, look at the rear part of the temple which is totally missing now)


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      No one knows what exactly happened, but the temple was left in ruins till 1800 century when it was discovered. In 1803, East India company requested for conservation efforts for the temple, but governor only stopped stealing of temple rocks by locals and no conservation effort was put in. The temple’s main building collapsed in 1848. From 1909 onwards, when the main temple was excavated, the site has been conserved and given under government control. It was given a UNESCO World Heritage status in 1984.

      It is a huge temple – currently it is at 100 feet or so, it is said that main building was over 200 feet. Seeing it in person makes you drool over it’s architecture and size. I am not a historic-site type of a person, but this was an exception for me. The architecture and craftsmanship is marvelous. Apparently, this was one of the few temples that was planned and designed over a piece of paper (or a piece of leaf at that time). The scriptures of its design were found in villages nearby. Like I mentioned, main building is in ruins and most of the part you see now is restoration. You can easily differentiate the restored part from the old heritage.

      The presence of Graphical stone carvings:

      There are quite a few temples in India that have explicit graphical images of physical intimacy. Khajuraho, Jagdish Mandir in Udaipur, Markandeshwar in Maharashtra, Padawali in Madhya Pradesh, Sun Temple at Modhera-Gujarat, Virupaksha at Hampi are some of the examples of those temples which carry explicit images on sex and intercourse. There are many explanations for it in Hindu scripture. For one, it is considered a sacred and essential part of life – it is very natural for temples to have such an important part of human life depicted. The images also are only on outer walls of the temple, indicating for devotees to leave such thoughts outside while entering the temple. Temple carvings also depict various other part of human life – like education, old age, childhood, god worshipping, farming etc. In Hinduism, the temples and idols are tools for human growth. There are 4 different things that every human is supposed to achieve to live a complete life. These are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Humans are not supposed to ignore any of these 4 conditions to live a balanced life. Kama, i.e, sex is an integral part of it.

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      We finished the tour in 2-3hrs and came back to our car. It is a 10 mis drive from Sun temple to Chandrabhaga beach. Honestly, I couldn’t find what’s so exciting about this beach. It is a white sand beach with long coast line. It wasn’t crowded on a Saturday afternoon and one can do an ATV ride for about 50 meters for 100 rupee. No other activity I saw other than this. We spent like 15-20 mins from it and started our drive back to Puri town – we were to be dropped at Jagannath temple. By 2pm, we were dropped near the temple and we ventured into our spiritual side.

      We were told to get a panda – apparently it is must. So, we did – got a panda for 51 rupees. He seemed little cheaper to us than our expectation. Anyway, he showed us where we can leave our shoes and phones – there are
      free as well as paid counters for it near the temple entrance. Ask anyone if you’re not able to spot it. Then we queued up to enter in the temple – at the left after the queue, there is a place for you to wash your feet and hand. You enter in – our panda took us to the kitchen where 5000 people work to make bhog (god-food) every day. Couldn’t see much, but then, it is an experience. We went around, and our panda took us to a bhog office where we could do our offering for bhog. There, we had offering from 132k to 551 INR. All of a sudden, the 51 rupees panda cost became clear to us. Panda clearly had a cut from this donation. We politely denied anything, gave him 100 bucks and entered the main temple compound. There was no queue and in 5 mins, we came out after the darshan. Unlike Tirupaty or Shirdi, it is highly unorganized temple and everything you do has a cost associated with it. You want to go and see kitchen, there is 10-rupee charge, you want to take blessing, there is a charge, the priest giving you prasad after the darshan expects you to pay him something. There is no entry or darshan fee. Many things are decentralized and controlled by pandas.

      If you’re going for the first-time, please engage a panda and be clear on your darshan requirement. Second time onwards (if you chose to go), you may totally avoid the panda. We exited the temple and went around to collect our shoe and phone at the entrance. Then took an autorickshaw, paid 100 bucks and went to our hotel – we had a late lunch and took some rest in the room.

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      At around 5pm, I went out for a walk towards the beach. It was a lovely sunset view at the beach. Rented a chair to sit at the beach for 30 rupees. Was slightly cold, not crowded and wonderful beach. After the sunset, I walked back to the hotel, changed, refreshed, packed and left at 6:15 for our bus which was going to depart from Puri bus stand. Bus was apparently waiting for us – it started the moment we boarded it. Stopped for over an hour at Bhubaneshwar and then started its journey for Kolkata at night 9:30. Reached Babughat bus stand at morning 5:30am.

      Let me end it with a quote from Rabindranath Tagore on Konark: "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of human"
      Last edited by rksingh1; 9th Jan 2019 at 13:37.

    2. #2
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      Nice crisp travelogue. rksingh1, i see that you are beginning to enjoy business compulsions with some pleasure activities thrown in between. it was good that you took volvo for this trip instead of driving. it was very efficient as i can see from the description you wrote. Sunset pics made me wonder how come on East coast you could have seen Sunset across the sea, then found out from the map that it could be a possibility from some locations north-east of Deviseema in AP all the way till Sundarbans.
      Last edited by Nomad; 9th Jan 2019 at 15:50.

    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by Nomad View Post
      enjoy business compulsions with some pleasure activities thrown in between


      Thank you Nomad. This was good weekend getaway. Overnight Volvo buses are great cost and time savior - they save the cost of overnight hotel stay and save one day off your schedule that you normally would have wasted on travel.

      Puri is such a small town - the day that I spent seemed enough for me there. I never felt rushed and other sight seeing places are closure to Bhubaneshwar or Chilka. So ideally, they aren't the places that you can called missed from Puri trip. It is not crowded and a super cost effective place to spend a weekend. Definitely a welcome change compared to spending weekend in a Hotel.

      I felt so awwed seeing the Sun temple - wonderful place. Just that alone was worth the trip time.

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      Brings back lovely memories of my orissa days. We used to be near cuttack and holidays meant konark temple. Very efficient journey indeed with the Volvo.

      Sent from my Moto G (5) using Tapatalk

    5. #5
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      Quote Originally Posted by megazoid View Post
      holidays meant konark temple
      I can understand it. It is 2hrs of drive from Cuttack / Bhuvaneshwar and once in Konark, you have a beautiful temple plus a lovely beach to keep you engaged. Liked the place and I was surprised it was not as crowded as I hoped a prominent Hindu pilgrimage site to be.

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      Quote Originally Posted by rksingh1 View Post
      Trip to Puri and Konark !
      THis is one trip which I have planned from long time. Now with cheetah coming in, have to do it. Drive from Blr to Puri
      Try walking into YOUR car rather than crawling. For me walking is always best ---GURU SHISHIR

    7. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by shishirbn View Post
      Drive from Blr to Puri
      You can add in Bhuvanehwar, Chilka, Vizag enroute as well. Puri in itself doesn't have lot of places to engage and keep you occupied for 3-4 days. And it'll be a driving for 30hrs or so from BLR to reach this place.

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      yes sir. PLanning on the same. ON the way At Rajamumndry stop and then Baga caves etc places and then PUri plus Vizag
      Try walking into YOUR car rather than crawling. For me walking is always best ---GURU SHISHIR

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