After a wonderful and memorable at Aradhana’s wedding held at Dolamundai, Cuttack, Odisha, we were planning to visit a few places viz. Sun Temple and Jagannath temple,Puri on December 9,2012. I had made up my mind about buying a Sambalpuri saree for my mom though I was unaware of the specialities of these sarees.
We had booked a A.C cab, an Indica, from the Shree Jagannath Hotel(where we stayed in Dolamundai) itself. It cost us 2100 excluding the driver’s food, parking and toll expenses. The estimated distance was 70(Dolamundai -> Konark) + 35(Konark -> Puri) = 110km(approx.). As advised by Aradhana’s mom-dad, we were to make a stay at the Hotel Paradise near the Puri temple. En route, we were to visit the Pipli Bazaar; also we were told that there were ample shopping options near the Puri temple(which only made me apprehensive:P ). I decided to buy some prasad for distribution at office and home.
We left Dolamundai at around 0730 hours. As per the practice, I reset the odometer and started the track recording. Dilip was the name of the cab driver who spoke nothing at all,probably due to language hindrance; he preferred to chew paan/guthka and focus on driving with incessant honking – a trait I saw in all the cab drivers there. We started to backtrack on the road same as the one we took on Friday night from Bhubaneshwar to Cuttack. I was viewing my GPS sporadically. I guess/recall that it was NH-5. While heading from Bhubaneshwar to Cuttack on Friday, the cab driver pointed at a bifurcation for Puri and I believe we were headed for the same. The road was quite uneventful and all I can recall is one Daya bridge. There weren’t any breakfast options but we were already feeling hungry. Finally, we took a pitstop and gulped on some deep fried Medu Vadas and had some really refreshing tea which had a sharp taste. As we proceeded, I noticed that Konark was farther than Puri, contrary to our assumptions. I conceived that we may come across a ‘V’ bifurcation with Konark on the left and Puri on the right which turned out to be right. We soon reached the Pipli bazaar and flipped through some shops selling appliqué handicrafts shandliers, scarfs and what not – bright, colourful place I must say!
Fortunately, there was little or no rush. Anu exhibited the revered feminine bargaining skills which highly pleased me and Tawde – we had now set high hopes of cutting a fair deal during the saree shopping :D
We left Pipli and were now headed to the Konark temple. During our conversation, Anu told us that Aradhana’s mother had provided some scientific info about the Konark temple. It had some sort of device/structure fitted at its roof which harnessed the earth’s magnetic field to topple and wreck the invading ships. The Portuguese realized this technique, hence, they took another route on the flanks and later, destroyed the device – a sinister activity that the ‘great’empires always did(do?) dutifully !!!
The Konark temple was certainly impressive !
The concept, the depiction and of course, the construction. But the ASI‘s way of functioning is something I have not been able to comprehend, till date ! They simply remove the crumbled structures(God knows what happens to them thereafter!). Here, they have erected stupid iron supports to prevent(?) further dilapidation which destroys the look-and-feel of the monument.
Last but not the least is its unprofessional and pathetic practice of ‘restoring'(???) the monuments – applying today’s cheap cements, adhesives etc. directly on the monument without giving any thought and putting any efforts as to how it can be restored properly so that it can bear its original look !
After wandering about the temple, we left and within a drive of 5 min., I realized that the sea-shore was near – the mangroves had surfaced :) ! We took a brief halt at the Chandrabhaga beach.
Tawde wetted his feet in the sea and then we gulped on some insipid chaat items. One of it was a small medu vada soaked in buttermilk and pepped up by aloo, sev etc. Then we started towards Puri. For few km, the road was along the coast and passed throught one Balmukund wildlife sanctuary. We spotted a few deers too.
We reached reached Puri at around 1400 hours and immediately checked-in the Hotel Paradise. The odometer read a distance of 151km since morning. We got fresh and left on foot for the temple which was around 1km. Though quite manageable and bearable, there was quite a rush of devotees and we had the darshan in a haste. But since I approached the temple, I was fuming and bogged down by desolation – the place had been turned into an exploitative, money-minting business venture by the ‘priests’, by the ‘trust’, by everyone ! While I don’t belong to the clan of neo-idiots who don’t shell out a single rupee for charity but spend 1000s in malls, I was exasperated by the entire system of the temple. ‘Priests’ pursuing for darshan packages, prasad being sold at astronomical prices – barely 400gm of Payasam for 800 ! I preferred giving alms to the beggars and bought a ladoo to donate in case someone appears hungry. What I had been reading and listening about the Kaliyug manifested again. We left the temple quickly and had our lunch. To be frank, I was depressed for quite few hours. Though I’m not a priest, I”m a Brahmin who understands basically what knowledge, service to the society, self-sustenance is about and how these things fit-in together ! But there I was, helplessly watching the core purpose of religion and religious places being defeated !!!
We came back to the Hotel Paradise and left for the Swargadwar beach at around 1645 hours in the cab.
We passed by the V.I.P road where all the banks and government offices were located, hell, even a Domino’s/Pizza Hut :P This area bore a metro look. We left the cab and just strolled on the beach, wetting our feet, taking snaps and sipping on some tea. Then we just relaxed on the chairs for about 2hr which was a calming experience – one I had after quite a long time ! It was dark at 1730 itself !
Then we commenced the most arduous task – SHOPPING ! After visiting a few shops, we entered a bit big and posh shop where the sarees were costlier but there was a hell/heaven lot of variety. Saree selection was a matter of few minutes for me and Anu, too, gave her consent! Here, there was a flat 20% off on the MRP, hence, no room for bargaining. The deal was, thus, sealed quickly :) I got my doubt clarified about the term ‘Sambalpuri saree’ – I asked whether it was about the material, the work on the saree or both or neither ! I was told that these sarees are alike normal cotton/silk sarees but are hand-woven(skeptical!) and bear the name of the place. Anu, too, purchased a saree for her experiments, a kurta for her dad and bro. Meanwhile, Tawde’s patience tank flashed the ‘below-reserve’ threshold sign :P
Now, it was the BIG TIME – street junk food ! Since Tawde was the only non-veg and heavyweight chap in the trio, we decided that he will be the vanguard of the attack :D He savoured some fish.
Then we explored veg. options(meanwhile, Anu had bought a kurtee and a diamond chain for herself!). We realized there aren’t great veg. options, hence, we switched to the eggitarian mode :D – ‘Chinese’ food zindabad ! We gulped two full plates of egg noodles. The taste was far better than the ones I have in Navi Mumbai + damn cheap rate 25/plate !!!
We then marched off to the beach again. I was planning to give a tip of 10 to the vendor for his spectacular performance but I just couldn’t do it ! After some time, Tawde quoted the same feeling and Anu added her voice that we often fail to appreciate openly the good work done by someone :| Tawde purchased a set of bangles for his neice and our Anu madam was struck with an idea of buying a kurta for her special one ! After visiting 2-3 shops, we visited the same shop where I had purchased the saree. There, while Anu was figuring which one to buy, Tawde was hit by a bout of buying a saree for his mother. I and Anu fully supported, help and thrust him :)
It was almost 2145 when we started heading back towards the hotel. It was a long walk but we enjoyed it ! I halted and tracked back my steps to a sweetshop just by the aroma of Rasgullas. We ate 1-2 and proceeded towards the hotel. During this walk and chit-chatting, we summarized :
- We must attend as many weddings in different Indian states as possible
- Before/after these weddings, exploring the nearby places
The triad :) :