Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Puri – The Evergreen Tourist Spot
One of the most popular tourist spot Puri, in Orissa has something for everyone. For the devotees, it is on of the four Dhams ( Rest three are Dwarka, Rameshwaram and Badrinath). The Jagannath Dev, another image of Lord Krishna is the main deity worshipped here in the famous Jagannath Dev Temple. The name of Puri has changed several times with time. Neelachal, Neelgiri, Neeladri, Purushottam Khestra, Shankha Khestra, Shree Khsetra, Jagannath Dham and ultimate now it is Puri.
For tourists 7 km long semicircular sea beach, also known as Brighton of India is fabulous.
The sea beach of Puri is one of its kind. It is never quiet and not also as rough that you cannot bath. You have to remain cautious while bathing and should know how to tackle with the waves. The Nulias, with typical triangular caps are always there to help you at nominal charges. If you are not accustomed with the Puri Sea, better take their help. Tourists start playing in the sea since early in the morning and remain there till late afternoon. You will not feel to leave the beach, it is so absorbing! If you walk very early in the morning in the golden beach, you can find variety of sea shells to collect from the beach.
The sunrise, sunset, witnessing the activities of the fishermen, buying fresh sea fish direct from their net all are wonderful experiences. Your hotel will cook these fishes for you at a nominal charge; just manage the hotel manager for that.
The west side of Puri is Swargadwar, the most congested place of Puri is now extended to further west. This part is popular to Bengalee tourists. The eastern part, Chakratirtha road is westernized, little costlier than the eastern counterpart get mixed type of tourists from all parts of India and throughout the world. Those, who visit Puri with the primary purpose of worshipping Lord Jagannath prefer to stay around the temple.
Places of importance in Puri:
This is a sacred place at Puri and now most crowded too with plenty of shops of almost everything you want! “Maha Samsan” the crematorium of Hindus is adjacent. The oldest hotels of Puri are all adjacent to Swargadwar. There are plenty of Ashrams , Temples around Swaragadwar.
Sree Khsetra – Temple of Lord Jagannath Dev:
Everything in Puri seem to be related with Lord Jagannath and the temple is the centre of attraction of Puri. At ancient times this temple was built by the Suryabanshi king of Avanti, Indradumna. The original temple was destroyed and it was rebuilt by the king Jajati Keshari. Finally in 1198 AD the existing model was built by the king Anaga Bhimdev. After that by the patronage of Gajapati kings this temple has flourished.
It is a huge complex and always remain busy with devotees all over the country. Non Hindus are not allowed inside the temple complex. It has four entry points namely Simhadwar ( Lion gate), hastidwar (Elephant gate), Ashwadwar (Horse gate) and Khanjadwar. In front of the simhadwar on the east, there is Arun Stambha, a 34 Ft high pillar with Gaduda at its top.
The main temple has four main parts Biman, Natmandir, Bhogmandir and Jagmohan, the main one, where the images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are placed. Many othe temples of different God and Goddesses are around the main temple complex.
On the wall of the temple there are illustrations of men and women several exotic loving posture. The ornamental designs as well as the pantheon – are the major attraction for the tourists. The paininings of Purana tales on the walls and the engraved works on the pillars are unique example of art works of that time. The illustrations of 10 incarnations (Dashavatar) on the wall of the Garvagriha (The main chamber where lord Jagannath resides) is interesting, where Jagannath is depicted as 9th incarnation in place of Lord Budhha.
On the Rantabedi ( bejeweled altar) in the Garvagriha there are 7 images. White colored Balabhadra or Balaram, black colored Lord Jagannath with a big diamond on his forehead, in between them is their sister yellow colored Subhadra. On one side there is Sudarshan Chakra, On the left side goden colored Laxmi, on the right silver colored Saraswati and Neel madhab is placed behind.
The deities are made of Brahma wood. It is said that Vishwakarma could not comlete the image as the door was opened by the queen before the specified time of 21 days. That is why the images have no hands.
See the other places in and around Puri by hiring a Cycle Rickshaw or Auto Rickshaw. The places you will see are Sidhha Bakul, Gambhira, Markandeshwar temple and the pond, Indradumna, sonar Gouranga at Chakratirtha and Sakshigopal temple. It is said that Puri visit is incomplete if you miss Sakshigopal.
In the month of December, Puri Beach festival is now an added attraction, started in 1993. Raghurajpur is another place, worth visiting. It is about 10 km from Puri in Puri Bubaneshwar highway. Here in Govt aided craft college and in the houses of the artists they make unique sculptures of stone and fabulous paintings on canvasses and on different natural medias. You can purchase the art work from there. Some of them are quite costly in the range of INR 40,000! Though small items are available at INR 100 too. You can visit this place from Puri by hiring an auto rickshaw or, car.
How to reach Puri:
Puri is connected by Railways from Kolkata and New Delhi by direct trains. Khurda Road station is touched by most of the south bound trains. Puri is 1 ½ hours from Khurda Road. Nearest airport and important Railway station is Bhubaneshwar. Bhubaneshwar is connected by air and train from all over the country. Puri is 1 ½ hour drive from Bhubaneshwar by bus or taxi.
Conducted tours from Puri:
There are plenty travel agencies, who are conducting package tour from Puri daily except Monday. @ INR 140 they will show you Chandrabhaga beach, Konark, Dhauli, Bhubaneshwar, Udaigiri, Khandagiri, and Nandan Kanan in a super luxury coach.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays they conduct tour to Chilika @ INR 130
Satpara Dolphin tour is available @ INR 220 inclusive of the boat charge.
Try to book your trip at OTDC conducted tour from Panthabhavan +91 6752 223526.
The next choice is N. N Mukherjee and sons, Chakratirtha Road +91 6752 227068
And Konark Travels, sea beach +91 6752 223435
They have their own cars and good infrastructure.
Staying in Puri:
Though throughout the year Puri is pleasant and enjoyable, From October to January and May and June are considered as season. At other times discounts are available at the hotels.
For staying, the options in Puri are many. All depend on what kind of holiday you are enjoying. You can choose from Dharamshalas, holiday homes of different organizations, and hotels of different categories and budgets. Chose the place where you like to stay and what is your primary requirement. If you want to spend more time in temple chose any hotel there. They are comparatively cheap. If you like to stay within a lively crowd and colorful shops and fair like atmosphere chose any hotel or, holiday home at Swargadwar. If you need privacy and quiet ambience chose hotels in Chakratirtha road. I will mention few important hotels of each of these places; but there are plenty to chose from.
Few important hotels on the sea beach road up to Swargadwar:
STD code of Puri +91 6752
Balananda Tirthasharam : Ph228727 Booking open one month before. @ INR 225 – 400 DB and Family room available. No non vegetarian food allowed inside the hotel.
Puri Hotel: Ph 222114/ 223809 One of the oldest and very popular among tourists @ INR 400 – 1400 depending on the rooms. Even 10 bedded family rooms are also available.
Victoria Club Hotel: Ph: 222005 / 222583 This hotel is a symbol of aristocracy in Puri DB @ INR 450 – 2500
Ocean View Hotel: Ph 223352 DB @ INR 500 – 1200
Pulin Puri Hotel: Ph 223360 DB, FR and suites @ INR 750 – 2400
Hotel Sonali: Ph 223545 right at Swargadwar - DB @ INR 450 – 1050
Few important hotels in new marine drive, more west from Swargadwar
New Sea Hawk Hotel: Ph 231500 Children’s park in the hotel lawn is a great advantage DB and suites @ INR 700 – 2500
Hotel Banga Laxmi: Ph 230711 DB @ INR 250 – 2000
Few important hotels in Chakratirtha Road, 2 Km from Swargadwar and Railway station.
Hotel Repose: Ph 223376 DB @ INR 600 onwards
Mayfair beach resort: Ph 227800 cottage @ INR 6000 Suite @ INR 9000
OTDC Pantha Nivas Ph: 222562 DB, FR, Suite @ INR 500 – 2000
BNR Hotel: Ph 223006 The residence of lady Osworth is converted in to a prestigious hotel of
Puri . DB @ INR 1000 – 1500 inclusive of food.
Youth Hostel Puri: Ph: 222424
Holiday resort Puri: Ph:222440 DB and suite @ INR 1400 – 4000
The mentioned hotels are only the very prominent ones. I may have missed many prominent hotels too in this list. In fact there are uncountable hotels in Puri. Still during Christmas holidays, the dearth of room remains at times. The rates of small hotels changes frequently according to the tourist flow. You can get many hotels or, holiday homes in 2nd or 3rd row behind the sea beach road at much cheaper prices. Many of them allow cooking too. At Puri you can hire every cooking tools like gas cylinder, burner pressure cooker etc at a very nominal price. Beddings are also available on hire.
Food at Puri:
Dominated by Bengalee foods and recipes, you can get food of any provinces at the different restaurants. If you are fond of fish, this place is for you. Relish fresh fish at almost every restaurants. I will specifically recommend Bidesh Ghar, near Swargadwar. Please taste the Bengali cuisine there. Don’t forget to visit Kakatua sweet shop and taste the sweets there. Collect Khaza the special sweet of Puri. Take them to your home for your friends and relatives.
What you should buy from Puri:
There are many thing you can buy as memento of Puri. Artwork of sea shell, Sambalpuri sarees, Pat chitra (A special type of paintings), stone curvings, replica of Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra, special stick.
The last word: Beware of strangers, who may offer you hotels, conducted tour bookings etc. They may dupe you. Go straight forward to proper place for booking and talk to them directly without any middleman. While taking help of Rikshaw pullers and auto drivers but keep in mind that they get commission from the hotels and the travel agents. Tell them directly to which hotel or travel agent you want to go to.
This article is republished at India Study Channel
Photo attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rietje/