Friday, 7 April 2017

My Favourite Experiences In Odisha

ODISHA is definitely an unsung gem of India. I’m glad that I made it there. When I started planning my trip to Odisha, I knew zilch about it. People usually mentioned the Puri beaches, Konark temples and the like. But, I was curious for more. I was eager to get introduced to the Odisha that not many knew. So, planning and researching for Odisha was tough. I wanted to visit places where I could admire some hilly beauty, taste some traditional Odiya food, and exchange smiles with the tribal folk.

A special note of thanks to my Facebook fans who recommended some lesser-known places in Odisha.

At Khandadhar waterfalls

I began my Odisha voyage with Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state. But, I didn’t really spend much time there. It was more of a transit destination for me. I travelled to Raghurajpur, Kendujhar, Kantabonia Village, and Konark. I wanted to visit Koraput, the heart of tribal culture, but things didn’t work out for me and I had to cancel my trip.

Well, I’m pretty complacent with what I could explore and experience in Odisha. It was one of my smoothest travels. Also, I’d say Odisha is a great ‘solo travel’ destination. So, all those who are wondering where to go solo, Odisha is your destination! It’s absolutely safe (even the interiors, as long as you take care of yourself). People are chilled out and respectful.


So, here’s what I experienced in Odisha –

My amble through Raghurajpur
Raghurajpur is a unique village near Bhubaneswar (60km). The village is too commercialised on the surface – the art and craft retailers begin to invite you to their shops the moment you enter their premises. But, as you breathe and walk a little bit farther, a world of untainted art and traditions rests in the age-old village homes. The most peculiarly fascinating part of Raghurajpur is the array of (reportedly 12) temples in the middle lane of the village with houses on either side.

Each house in Raghurajpur has some sort of artwork on its walls. The white temples blend beautifully with the art-embossed houses of the village. The tribal folks just add to the beauty of it all. The fact that they are far from the ‘urbane’ life makes the experience of visiting their village so much more enriching.

At Raghurajpur art and craft village
Stone carving, Pattachitra painting and Palmleaf engraving
These age-old wall paintings have the real soul of Raghurajpur - a rare gem of India.
White temples, colourful walls and the tribal folks give Raghurajpur a certain atmosphere.

My rickshaw ride from Kendujhar to Khandadhar waterfalls
I don’t know whether it was good or bad, wise or foolish to take a 65 km rickshaw ride from Kendujhar to Khandadhar waterfalls. The Khandadhar waterfall is a picturesque sight, but the landscapes and settlements along the way are far more interesting. It had got dark on my return, and the rickshaw guy was scared and worried about taking a woman in his rickshaw. It was absolutely pitch dark with a little flame or two seen in the huts. What comforted me was seeing the tribal women walk alone as they wound up their day and headed to their homes. Although I enjoyed the adventure, I'd like to use the best led flashlight on such trips. 

Although the waterfall was the main sight of the day, the adventure of being alone in a remote place is what I remember more.

It's a settlement around 10 km from Khandadhar waterfalls.
The tribal homes in Kendujhar, Odisha

My train journeys in Odisha
I enjoyed my short train journeys through Odisha. I travelled from Bhubaneswar to Kendujhar, and then Bhubaneswar to Balasore. It was thrilling to sit by the window and sip coffee, while a myriad of landscapes whizzed by. I think ‘train travel’ is an excellent way to get a tinge of a place. So, here’s a travel tip – always choose trains over buses. The latter can get absolutely exasperating and tiring in case of delays or breakdowns.
      

The views from the train: Kendujhar to Bhubaneswar

My ‘solitary’ village walk
Although I travel alone most of the time, I’m accompanied by my host or a guide for village and nature walks. But at Kantabonia village (near Panchalingeswar, Balasore), I walked the entire village alone. My guide Navin took me to a dam, where we could sit and gaze the mountains. It was about 5:30 in the evening when we headed back. My solo village walk was not planned. It was when Navin stopped to have a small chat with a village acquaintance that I began walking alone. I was too impatient to wait for Navin, so I just walked and walked, stopped only to take pictures. It felt great to find my way back where I stayed without my guide. However, a few village kids did help towards the end of my trail.

I believe that’s the thrill of travel – when you walk alone, get lost and a local helps you find your way.

My nature and village walk in Kantabonia - the village kids are shy. :-)
Kantabonia village
A pond in Kantabonia village
The fervent ritual that goes on the entire night under a banyan tree and then the procession settles at a village home in the morning.

My sojourn at Roopark village
Beginning with my grand welcome to an aromatic beauty therapy at night, Roopark village resort really made me feel like a queen. My intent of sojourning at Roopark was to rendezvous with the rustic nuances of Odisha’s tribal life. I loved my two-day slow travel at the resort. I did nothing. I simply soaked in the tribal culture and living. I attended the fervent night puja (ritual) performed by Kantabonia’s tribal folks. I also had a chance to taste their local cuisine; the most interesting was the red ant chutney. And, not to forget, I sipped their local beverage, Mahua.       

My grand welcome at Roopark village resort.
Savoring the slow travel...
Glimpses of Roopark
The moment you enter the premises of Roopark, you are greeted by such sublime mountains.

Roopark village is an ethnic resort near Balasore. The resort is beautifully built with lots of flowers and trees, and the rooms have attached porticos with rustic elements embossed everywhere. But, my favourite part was to step out of my room to lounge in the garden with a cup of tea and enjoy the fabulous mountain views.

So, did I inspire you to visit Odisha?
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31 comments:

  1. Glad you decided to go to Odisha and liked travelling through the state. It indeed is a undiscovered gem. In case you decide to go again anytime, try visiting Damanjodi hill station, or explore Western Odisha around Sambalpur. :)

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Antarik! :-) Odisha was beautiful, and I'd definitely like to visit it again.

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  2. Very nicely put across your tryst with Odisha. Thanks for the coverage on tourism on the state which is not so widely covered. Needless to say my state has an amazingly plethora of destinations to offer to a hungry tourist or Explorer... Glad u liked the Voyage n must continue with subsequent part... Thanks Deepankar

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    1. Thanks Deepankar :-) Yes, Odisha has so much to offer. I could only explore a bit of it. There's so much more of natural beauty, tribal culture and heritage that I'm yet to explore.

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  3. Namaskar Renuka.
    Mera nam he Bikash. Mujhe ae batein me khusi ho raha he ki aap wo dusra insaan he jisne ae boola ki mujhe ek aisa dost chahiye jo mere jaisa curious ho ghumne ke liye..pehla inssan me khud hoon.me hamesha bike lekar ghumta hoon .abhi abhi 20 din pehle me bike se bhubaneswar se vishakapatnam gaya tha.apne upar likha he ki aap odisha dubara jaroor ana chahoge...mera ek suggestion he ki agar aaoge to PUTUDI WATERFALL jaroor jaana..aur bhi bahat sara aisa place he jo me apko batana chahunga...jo itna famous nahi he lekin itna sundar aur adventurious hoga ki aap mujhe dhanyabaad jaroor bolenge.
    Agar sach me aap ek aisi dost ke talas me he to apke paas ek behterin insaan he .jo me khud hoon.
    Mera HINDI bolna aur likhna thoda kamjor he aur english to pura bekar.isliye kuch bhul likha ho to chala lena.
    Mera email id -bikashpolai@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks Bikash! Yes, I'll try to visit the places that you mentioned.

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  4. I have visited many places in India..but Odisha has its own charm with beautiful nature, places and amazing hospitality of the people residing here... thanks for sharing your experience

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    1. Odisha is underrated. It deserves more attention and promotion. But, I hope it doesn't lose its virgin charm.

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  5. Thank you Renu madam, for your visit to Odisha and admiring her beauty in this blog. You will be very very enthralled when you will visit hilly tracts and hill stations in and around Khandamal, Phulbani, Koraput, Gajapati districts in winter and will start to compare it's some of the tracts with the beauty of mother nature of shimla and north east of India and also to that of Switzerland. Last and not the least plz plz try every milk and chenna based deserts of Odisha, they are my darlings. Atithi deva bhava ��.

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    1. Thanks Santosh, for your suggestions. Yes, I did try Chena Poda, and I liked it a lot!

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    2. Write something about your Dalma (Dal Ki Maa) experience..

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    3. I had Dalma, but to be honest, I didn't quite relish it. I hope to try it at better eating places on my next visit.

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  6. Wow, very well written & amazing clicks. Happy travelling

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  7. Closer to nature ,too good post just enjoy reading .

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  8. What a lovely destination, Renuka. I really enjoy seeing your photos as they give me a better idea of what we'll encounter when we finally make it to India. What did the red ant chutney taste like?

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    1. Thanks Linda! So nice to hear from you after a long time. :-) The red ant chutney was nice. I was a little hesitant eating it, though.

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  9. This was an incredible experience and you did it solo. Did you feel safe? I am asking because I have not attempted solo travelling and would be worried in remote parts of India but on the other hand would love to experience something like this.

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    1. Yes, I felt absolutely safe in Odisha, even in the interiors. As I mentioned, the locals are respectful and chilled out. But yes, it is better to mingle with the tribal folks in guidance of your host.

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    2. Yes... Odisha is a place where anybody can feel safe.. Odias are very immotional and generous by nature, and Odias alway respect women like goddess Laxmi, its culture of Odisha, mother goddess Laxmi is the prime goddess of Jagannath Puri Dham... that's why it is know as Sri Kshetra (Sri stands for Laxmi)

      But time changed a lot now.. we have to be very careful everywhere...

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    3. Right, Odisha is pretty safe. But, as a rule of thumb, we need to be careful everywhere.

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  10. Glad to know about these lesser known treasures.

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    1. Yeah...I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Niranjan!

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  11. Wow Renuka it a great article ..... you covered many un explored destinations of Odisha.... great article.... It shows rich cultural heritage Odisha... Nice Please write few more articles....

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  12. Wowwww.... this is impressive - to me, this is the essence of travel - a real adventure and discovery! Fantastic photos - and now I want to go to Odisha myself!

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    1. Glad to know you found it inspiring, Tim :-) Yes, you must visit Odisha. It's a part of India where you can spend days...perfect for slow travel.

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  13. it looks like a wonderful peaceful place away from the hustle and bustle of India's big cities

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    1. Right! Odisha is certainly a peaceful part of India with lots of heritage.

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  14. Welcome

    Please be mine guide.
    Thanks & Regards

    Jitendra Kumar Gupta

    gupta5jitu@gmail.com

    gupta5jitu@yahoo.com

    skype: jitugupta2

    +91 9116733779,

    +91 9079452254, 9784716621 WHATSUP

    ReplyDelete

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