Sunday, January 20, 2013

Everybody loves Puri

Yes Sir, Everybody loves Puri.
Utopia …. no-no Euphoria word is better … or rather La-La-Land …
When I visited Puri I cursed myself.
Why! Why I didn’t come here before.
If you love Haridwar then Puri is 100 times bigger version of it. There is Ganges and here is Ocean. Not just ocean, colorful bazaars, many temples and lots of variety of food. Food Utopia.

Puri has a sum of all joys.
Holiest Temples, Enchanting beaches, Colorful and endless bazaars, ponds/tanks, huge trees, lush green jungles around the town and what not.
I told you all about Puri.
No; not told you all. Everything must be told.
Do you like Rivers; Puri is sandwiched in between Mahanadi delta. Rivers at three sides and then ocean at the remaining fourth. Scenic road and gentlest people dwell here. People so gentle here, I have no words to describe this phenomenon. You must come here to witness it all.
Let me take you to Puri, you witness it from my eyes.
So we are in Bhuwneshwar now. A tasteless town. Just last noon we arrived here and only waiting to get out of here. OK Sir, it is morning and now we are in Bus and finally it begum moving. Now this route is scenic with green farms crisscrossed with Mananadi tributaries. This whole area is a part of delta. Coconut trees, biggest banyan and pipal trees I ever seen. Ancient ruins penetrated by tree trunks remind me of Angkor Wat in Combodia. Tropical Puri.
So Sirjee, we have arrived in Puri after 2 hours of bus journey; Trains also come here. At first it appears a filthy dusty place but wait a while. It is just noon and in some hours you will admire it and I bet my life on it.
Let’s take a tempo towards Temple because everything happens there. Tempo goes almost everywhere in Puri for just 5 rupee you can hope on.
So now we are at the Temple. We are not in a rush to find a room. Best rooms are a bit far away from the main temple area.
I know, I know. You want to go to Temple first and visit our beloved Thakur (Lord Jaggannath) but Sir it is a big rush at this time so …. Hold your horses. We will visit Thakur at better times because due to many devotees Thakur is also very busy.
Well, it is understood that you want to have a room to park your luggage and take a bath …. again hold your horses.
Let’s take Temple road or Swargadwar road or toss a coin to take which road. Well let’s take Temple road. Both roads go to beach. Why the hell we are using the word road here when these are two crowded bazaars. If you have lots of luggage … then take a tempo but I will walk because my backpack is not heavy but you get down after 1km but not before and wait for me; and from there we will begin looking for rooms.
Now get on the tempo if you wish.
So we met after 1 km from the temple.
Bazaar never dies here. We are in the halfway form Temple to beach. Now you pick a room of your choice. So I found mine after visiting a couple of dharamshalas. Mine room has a veranda in the front and then windows open in the back and a huge pool is visible surrounded by huge trees most probably your room too is about the same.
See me in the lobby after an hour and let’s explore this place.
So it is evening now and let’s walk to the temple. Puri is for people who love to eat. I don’t love to eat but … may be Puri is changing me. Whole area is now full of aroma of pakodas. Vadas, samosas, idlee, dosas, maalpuas and what not. What to eat and what not to eat. My tum tum is saying yum yum. So let’s stop and eat some vadas and … all.
Hey man, behave. Don’t fill yourself up because more and better is coming. Don’t think this is the best … but …. next is best. Always next thing to eat here is best.
Goddamn it … I am felling in love with food here. God forbid.
I mention this to a Panda standing next me eating a huge bowl of rabri. He smiles and says … you are in the home of Thakur and eat and eat. Treat is on him.
It is evening and we walked to the temple. No crowd this time so no waiting at the gate. So it is the time to visit and say hello to Thakur. At this time Pandas too are busy in having their supper so no panda comes to badger you for some special darshan or special pooja. You walk to Thakur. Thakur, bara Thakur and Subhadra are smiling wearing bright colored clothes. Whole place seems happy happy. I am very happy; you can even sit here and have some communication with Thakur if you wish. Thakur got time and you got time so why not. You’d feel lucky today.
I know that you want to stay with Thakur forever but let’s hit the road again because there is so much going on here in Puri; the city of Thakur. While leaving the temple through front gate you will smell more food; wow wow wow. Your nostrils will take you to your left; within the temple perimeter there is one whole food town situated. So much food and so many people are buying it and eating it. Look at their faces; gotcha; food must be yummiest because people are just eating like they never ate before. All food is cooked in earthen pots and sold as well served in earthen pots. There are hundreds of stalls. No sitting arrangement and no utensils are used or provided. You may have to find some broken earthen pot to use as your plate. Look at your face in some mirror (if you have it with you). Your and mine face can be used for the advertisement of some soup etc. because it wants that food. Well why wait, buy food; Afterall it is supper time. Probably you will never eat so tasty and also the simplest dishes.
Ok Sir, now we had our supper. Met Thakur. Now is the time to see the colorful bazaars and walk to the beach. So we will make right at the temple gates and walk on the Swargadwar road. A bazaar. First there are halwai shops all over selling a specific sweets (I forgot its name) but it is very tasty. I am not a fan of sweets but this thing is so tasty that I eat a piece of it each day; you can buy a piece for 5 rupee.
Now we are walking in this street in the bazaars and temples. Whole city is very alive at this time. It is a fun walk. Keep your eyes open; at your right side there comes a shop that makes fresh Malpuras whole days. He will sell a Malpuda for as little as 2 rupee (may be 3 rupee now because of inflation) superb Malpuda; I bet my life that you will come here again and again to this shop but only if you have found the right shop. Keep walking and keep enjoying the gala of bazaars and keep visiting temple after temple. Don’t forget that there is a tank on the way but well hidden in the street.
Swetaganga is a small sacred tank situated to the west of the Jagannath Temple in Puri. According to Mahabharat the Swetaganga is created from the nail of Lord Vishnu. The Swetaganga is situated in between Lions gate and Swargadwar. This Ganga is from the bottom of the earth and the water is sacred. Before visiting Lord Jagannath the pilgrims after bathed in Sea again takes a bath on Swetaganga and visits Lord Jagannath. It is believed that there is an internal connection between Swetaganga and the river Ganga. On the bank of this pond are two small temples, dedicated to Sweta Madhava and Matsya Madhava.
It is a very peaceful place where you can sit for some time by the water. Water is clean.
Now we sat here and relaxed by the tank and the fresh air of Puri and we have not visited famous Golden Beaches of Puri.
So hit the road again, it is night anyway and beaches are active till midnight. Walk and enjoy more bazaars and temples and everything that happens on this street and finally you have arrived at the peak of bazaars, temples and ashrams. A Mela, a gala and lots of lights; and there comes Marine Drive and then sands of beach and then beach itself. An amazing bluewater clean beach. Forget Chowpati; forget juhu. This is an ultimate beach and food, tea, ice-cream, bhel and many things are available here because people are selling everything. But it is clean and organized and very safe and very calm and soothing. You can take a bath or relax forever here.
Golden beaches of Puri
Well now we have spent 2 hours at the beach and it is 10PM and you are tired too so let’s walk to our room that is on the Temple road and is barely 1 km from this beach. This was the end of our typical day in Puri.
You need many many days here to taste the nectar of this Thakur’s own town. You haven’t seen many things yet. There is Chilka Lake, Konark Temple, Chandrabhaga beach, and many other famous temples and ponds (tanks).
Many other splendid streets and walks.
Just one page is not enough to describe Puri so will catch the tread in another post.
I want to write another post about my walk from Konark temple to Chandrabhaga beach and then to Ramchandi temple. It was a memorable walk; want to do it again and again. It is the ultimate beach utopia in and around Puri. Not many people walk or rather use the beach that lies in between Chandrabhaga beach and Ramchandi temple. You may see one or two foreigners; relaxing on this stretch so you own it virtually for the time you’d be there.
Bye now. See you in Puri, Thakur is The Best Host on this earth.


  1. I went to Puri but long back,thanks for bringing back the memories :)

  2. hahaha...wonderful personal narrative on Puri... i went to Puri as part of masters project field trip and stayed for full 15 days and as part of project, visited every nook and cranny of this u rightly said, it gets on you after a while!!!

    best part of the trip, sunrise at puri beach!!!!

  3. Already on the wishlist ! TFS info .... :-)


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