Recently I was out on a trip with my college friends to Puri. Puri is considered as one of the most sacred places in the world and Jagannath Temple, which is the epicenter of the place, is considered one of the four divine dhams of India. They say that you can never visit the temple at Puri unless you are called upon by the Almighty. And believe me, this is not some crazy saying. There are lakhs of incidents explaining it. Some peoples pass their entire lifespan not being able to reach near the deities even though they live nearby and also possess full will to do so. Anyway, I believe we had the appointment yesterday and so we obliged.
We set out quite early in the morning. All three of my friends were at the hostel at Cuttack. I was at home. We were to meet at Phulnakhra, a place between my home at Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, from where we planned to begin our trip. And so I reached there by 5:15 in the morning to find that they have already made it. Without much hassle, we set out on our bikes towards our destination. We had planned to reach Puri via the Sun temple at Konark; another shrine… actually an ex-shrine. Now a days, it is more of a tourists’ hotspot.
Before getting anywhere, we had planned to spend some time at Chandrabhaga Sea beach. We were not sure if we would get into the sea or not because two of us (including me) didn’t know how to swim? But on reaching there, my friends could not control their temptations and they rushed into the tides like some small children towards chocolate. Due to a strict lecture at home I controlled my will and confined myself to photographing their enjoyment. Nevertheless, I remained in touch with the tides.
After jumping around in the waters for nearly half an hour, my friends came out and had a quick shower at a public bathroom nearby. Then we relished upon a treat of healthy coconut water before hitting again the road to Konark. After taking few wrong turns here and there, we finally reached Konark. We arrived at the Sun temple which is also popularly known as the Black Pagoda. It recently featured in Times of India’s segment named ‘Seven Wonders of India’.
Long back in history there used to be a temple there with a statue of Sun God. There are stories that the entire temple was magnetized due to its magnetic dome and it was prohibited to go near, wearing iron items. Also it is said that the magnets interfered with the movements of ships nearby. The magnets were later removed during the British rule over India. The structure dates back to 11th century and all that remains there now is a 30m tall structure and ruins of the main 70m tall temple. There also are two other temples in the premises- one dedicated to Chhaya Devi, wife of Sun God and another known as Brick Temple. The Aruna Stambha that stood in front of the temple has also been shifted to Jagannath Temple at Puri.
After enjoying a quality time there watching the beautiful rock arts, we rode on to Puri. On our way to Puri we made a small stop at Ramchandi. This was my second visit to that place. It is quite a peaceful place to be at. Besides the famous temple and the beach, the place is also known for another marvel. Within the temple boundaries are the skeletal remains of a rare species of whale shark. The creature floated dead to the ramchandi beach and has been kept there ever since. Marks of sindoor and flower garlands around the snout of the skull indicated that it was also being worshiped there. The ramchandi beach also had a boating reserve. But to use it, we had to wait for atleast 10 other people and so we decided not to do it and move forward to our next and most important checkpoint i.e. Puri.
On reaching there, we found the place as usually over crowded. We rode to the Jagannath temple. As we were on bikes, we could make it up to the gate of the temple. Four wheelers are cordoned off from about half a kilometer away. From there, they have to take the bus provided by the government. We parked our bikes safely and made our way into the temple. We enjoyed our time there. The only thing that hurt were our bare feet that was getting roasted on the oven like floor of the temple. I won’t bother you with much of the information about the temple. You can find it on other internet sites. You can also use any search engine. All that I can say is that the place is a good place to be in, but beware of all the pandas and brahmanas you would find there. Everyone is after your wallet. So better be careful. After taking the Abhada prasad at the Ananda Bazaar, we came out from the temple. I must also tell you that a proper visit around the temple is more than enough to tire you out. Coming out, I guided my friends to a place serving tasty rabdi, recommended to me by my sister who came there two days earlier with my brother-in-law.
Coming out from there we spend few minutes at the Puri Sea Beach. Completely exhausted from the Prabhu Darshan, we decided to cut short our journey and skip Sakhigopal from our list. But its a nice place to be at. May be some other day you will find a blog of mine about that place.
For those who could not understand certain words from this blog, Google it up. I didn’t want to go into explaining mode and ruin this post. Also you can comment and I shall try to explain.