Last weekend, I had travelled with extended family to Bhubaneswar for a 4-day vacation – my first time to the state of Odisha (Orissa). Unlike, other state capitals in India, Bhubaneswar felt calmer and less crowded – I liked it.
On Day 1, we arrived from Chennai by flight and checked-in to Mayfair Lagoon, Bhubaneswar. The resort was huge, had many water bodies, plenty of tree cover and long walkways – from the beginning the property felt welcoming and serene. Mayfair Lagoon had four restaurants serving different cuisines – Oriya, North Indian, Mexican/Italian and Oriental; apart from two coffee shops and bars. When we stayed we ate in all the four restaurants, the food was nice and good service. There were a lot of activities to do inside the place – a tennis court, table tennis table, basketball court, swimming pool and more. All around the property, the interiors were tastefully done and decorated with beautiful paintings.
In the evening, we went to the famous “Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves” that’s about 15 minutes from the centre of Bhubaneswar city. The caves have finely carved workings, estimated to be built during 2nd century BCE, and served as a monastery for Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela. When we went, hundreds of visitors from around the country and abroad could be seen visiting the place.
On Day 2, in the morning we went to Konark Sun Temple which is about 2 hours from Bhubaneswar – this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple has been built in the form of a giant ornamented chariot of the Sun god, Surya and built by King Narasimhadeva I in 1255 CE.
After Sun temple, we travelled to Jagannath Temple, Puri which is about 1 hour from Konark. The Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu, and is one of the four great ‘Char Dham’ pilgrimage sites. There are three idols dedicated to the Gods – Jagannath, Balabhadra and the Goddess Subhadra. The inner sanctum-santorum was dark and slippery due to plenty of oil on the floor. The idols are made from wood and every twelve years these are ceremoniously replaced by exact replica carved from a sacred tree, that’s identified by head priest.
The temple was heavily crowded and you could get a faster darshan by paying to one of the hundreds of pandas (unofficial priests) circling in the entrance – better to engage a panda referred by the hotel you are staying. Be careful with your belongings. Vehicles are stopped at a distance, you have to engage an autorickshaw and then walk quite a distance.
After having a good darshan at Puri, we returned to Bhubaneswar – a journey of about 90 minutes.
On Day 3, we went to Pipili Heritage village, Odisha where there are a lot of shops selling handicrafts and colourful fabrics made by local artisans. Pipili is about an hour from Bhubaneswar.
Later, in the evening we visited the well known Nandankanan Zoological Park in Bhubaneswar.