Puri and Around – A Tour Guide
Situated on the eastern coastline of the country, Puri is one of the most well-known important Hindu pilgrimage centers. The Jagannath Temple, one of the four most important Hindu pilgrimage sites (or the ‘Chardham’) is located here. Also, Puri’s beautiful wide white-sand beaches, fishing farms and superb resorts make it an attractive tourist destination. The surf on the beaches of Puri is one of the best on the entire eastern coastline of India, and dawns here give a breathtaking sight.
Visiting the Lord Jagannath temple, walking on the beach and experiencing the beauty of the sunrise and sunset are probably some of the best things to do in Puri. Around Puri, on a day’s trip, there are many places to attract any kind of tourists.
How to reach?
Puri through Rail: Puri is a terminus on the East Coast Railway having direct express and super-fast train links with New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Okha, Ahmedabad, Tirupati etc. Some important trains are Puri-Howrah Express, Jagannath Express, Purushottam Express. Khurda Road Station, 44 km, from Puri is convenient railhead for trains connecting Chennai and Western India.
The station is about one km North of the town. Cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws compete aggressively to get you to a hotel.
Reaching Puri through Road: The bus stand near the Gundicha Temple provides connections to Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, service every 10-15 minutes. Mini-buses to Konark leave every 20-30 minutes and also from Jatiababa Chhak. There are direct buses for Kolkata and Visakhapatnam.
For Getting around Puri: Cycle rickshaws are available all over town. Auto rickshaws are also available but very few in numbers. Bicycle, moped or a motorcycle can be hired easily from several outlets on the Chakratirtha (CT) Road for trips to the coast and to Konark. Most travel agents in the city provide this service.
Where to Stay?
There are a lot of hotels at different price ranges If you love beaches, get a hotel near the sea. That would maximize your time spent at the beach. Few of the hotels you can look for are these:
- Hotel Sapphire International, Near Pink House, Chakratirtha Road (Phone: +91-9776401114)
- Hotel Naren Palace, C. T. Road, Near Sonar Gouranga Temple (Phone: +91 94370 02247)
- The Shubham Beach, Chakra Tirtha Rd, Infront Dalmia Atithi Vihar, Penthakata (Phone: +91 97760 87888)
- Hotel Santana, Chakra Tirtha Rd, Penthakata (Phone: +91 6752 227 191)
- Hotel Gandhara, Address: Chakratirtha Road (Phone: +91 6752 224 117)
What to See?
1) Konark Sun Temple:
Known by some as the Black Pagoda, the Konark temple was built by King Narasimha of the Eastern Ganga dynasty in the thirteenth century. Known for its unique Kalinga architecture, the entire temple is in the form of a chariot for the Sun God with twelve giant wheels depicting the twelve months of a calendar and driven by seven horses resembling the seven days of a week. This landmark appropriately illustrates the brilliance in mathematics and astronomy in the 13th century and holds a deserving spot among the UNESCO world heritage sites.
2) Chilika Lake:
This largest coastal lake in India and Asia’s largest inland saltwater lagoon enriched with a picturesque view that soothes your soul. This huge lake has many islands treasuring many beautiful assets. The migratory birds visit the Nalaban forests around the lake all the way from regions like Siberia for nesting during the winters, the lake also proudly flaunts the ‘bird island’ which is extremely popular amongst the tourists for its rich aquatic life and an impressive population of the native and the migratory birds. The dolphins and gharials are also major attractions at the lake and ensure you have a great experience!
The state capital has several names as per its treasures. From being known as the temple city of Odisha, it now got a new name as Smart city of India, housing many places of tourist attraction. It is the site for many ancient temples, the important ones amongst them being the Lingaraj Temple, which was built in the medieval period, when the architecture was at its zenith in Odisha, the 7th century Parshurameshwar temple – one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, the Rajarani Temple – popularly known as the love temple because of the graceful sculptors of females and couples carved on the temple wall, and the 10th century old Mukteshwar temple, a classic example of ancient Kalinga Architecture. The city also has a state museum showcasing coins and flaunts a huge zoological park for kids and adults alike called the “Nandan Kanan”.
4) Udaygiri and Khandagiri Caves:
Bhubaneswar is fortunate enough to have treasures like ancient Jain monuments which are turned as the most popular tourist destination in the world for tourists. Located at distance of 6 kilometers, this is the site for the caves on the hilltops of Udayagiri earlier known as Kumari Parvata and Khandgiri known as Kumara Parvata. There are thirty-three 2nd century built caves built by King Kharavela of Chedi dynasty. Rani Gumpha, Hathi Gumpha, Bagh Gumpha and Ajanta Gumpha are the most attractive caves, with symbols of Jain religion and paintings depicting the glory of the kings, on their walls.
5) The Jagannath Temple:
The one that needs no tourist agency, neither does it require guides (If you spend some time, you can understand the process). This temple situated within the city can be reached via auto or rickshaw. Though it is advised to have a ‘panda’/local priest with you to avoid further fuss inside the temple premises, the atheists too can pay a visit to the temple without a ‘panda’, and get into the food market- “Anandabazar” which has a series of vegetarian delicacies as well as mouthwatering desserts.
Generally, only Hindus are allowed inside the temple.
Content by: Neeladri Bhattacharjee
Co-edited by: Pristine Routes
The above content is completely the author’s personal views and perspectives.