We are already in those crazy days where the sun’s heat is literally frying us every second when we step outside. As the days were coming closer to pack that backpack of ours to visit the state of Odisha, we were hoping that the weather be kind.
Horribly hot 🙁
This post will help you explore the best of Puri and Bhubaneswar in three days. The best part of travelling to these two places is that you will be immersed in both historical and natural beauty, something India is rather famous for. Temples, caves, beaches, amazing and intricate artwork and a city that has seen so much over centuries, will leave you wanting for more.
Passing Ports Quick Info:
Travel: Chennai – Bhubaneswar (Flight – Air Asia), Puri to Bhubaneswar (Train)
Total Expenses for two: Rs. 30000 (incl flights & shopping)
Places of stay:
Puri: Madhusmruti – Highly recommend it. Ideal location, great host, helpful staff.
Bhubaneswar: Swosti Grand – a good three-star hotel. Was decent.
Things to do in Puri
After landing in Bhubaneswar, we took a taxi from the airport to Puri. This cost us approximately Rs. 1400. Midway, we stopped to have our dinner at Brother’s Dhaba (decent food).
It took us two and half hours to reach our hotel (that’s including our dinner stop-over).
Day One – Chilika Lake (Barkul) and Puri Jagannath Temple:
As suggested by our host Ambassador Malay Mishra (yes, our homestay was owned by the ex-Ambassador to Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina), we rented a car to visit the Chilika Lake. This is a huge lake and to be specific, it is the second largest coastal lagoon in the world. This lake is very famous for many things, one being to spot the migratory birds that come here during the winters and the other is to spot the Irrawaddy Dolphins.
Distance from Puri to Barkul: 110 km
We went all the way to Barkul to visit the Maa Kalijai Temple which is on a small island right in the middle of Chilika Lake and to spot the birds along the way. The drive from Puri to Barkul was easily two and half hours each way. You can also go to Mangalajodi to get lost in the sight of seeing so many birds. When we went here, the level of water was low and we weren’t able to spot many birds as they go back due to the heat. The variety of birds that come here during winters are supposed to be a treat to one’s eyes.
Taxi: Rs. 2500
Boat ride: Rs. 1500 per boat, which can carry up to 10 people.
Boat ride duration: About an hour
Other places of interest along this route: Go to Rambha and visit the Breakfast Island, Honeymoon Island, Bird Island etc.
After coming back to Puri, we freshened up before visiting the Puri Jagannath Temple. If you just want to have a peaceful darshan, as our host suggested, 9 PM is the best time to go. Not much crowd, no pushing, screaming etc – just you, the temple and the ambience it provides.
Please note: Phones are not allowed inside. There are many shops nearby to keep your phone and footwear safely for a fee while you enter the temple.
There are many restaurants on this road and we dined at The Grand vegetarian restaurant (good food).
Day Two – Chandrabaga Beach, Konark, Chilika Lake (Satapada), Raghurajpur, Model Beach:
This was the day I was waiting for. This has been one of my childhood dreams – to visit the Konark Temple!! And I am so glad it did come true.
We started at 4:30 AM from our homestay to reach the Chandrabaga Beach to see the sunrise. It was a cloudy day and so we weren’t lucky to witness the sunrise in all its glory. We had our breakfast at a small shop by the beach and left to explore the Konark at 0630 AM. Again, be the first ones to visit this place before it gets crowded. Imagine an ancient beautiful structure that’s almost for your eyes only, at least for a short while. Candy, right? 🙂
Konark was built in the 13th century and has been greatly damaged over a period of time. One of the major causes of damage was the Super Cyclone in 1999 and the general sea breeze (salinity) over so many resulting in crumbling of the structure. The locals believe that the ASI has not done their best to keep this place preserved.
24 wheels and 7 horses which give the entire temple a chariot look is all about the 7 days and 24 hours depiction with the walls beautifully decorated with dance and musical expressions and erotic postures.
You will be lost in the beauty and my heart sank to see and imagine the damage this beautiful construction has gone through. Did not have the heart to leave, however, we proceeded to our next destination – Satapada in Chilika Lake.
Puri to Satapada distance: 60 km
Duration: 1 hour one way
Bike Rent: Rs. 350 (scooter)
Boat charges: Rs. 1340 for three people for an hour to spot the dolphins.
We rented a two-wheeler to drive around this belt and enjoy the green farms and the breeze at our pace. Once we reached Satapada, we took a boat to go closer to the Bay of Bengal.
This spot is famous as you can find dolphins and yes we did spot a few. Not a great sighting so don’t expect a dolphin that jumps around, but nonetheless a fun experience.
We rode back to Puri for lunch near one of the restaurants near the Puri Jagannath temple. Next stop was a visit to a local craft village – Raghurajpur. This is 10 km from Puri and I love going to such places 🙂 There are about 140 homes in this small heritage village who are all into different kinds of art – the main one being Pattachitra painting.
When you are here, listen to them talk and explain regarding their art and support the community by buying those pieces of art. You will definitely be a happy person walking out of that village.
From there we rode back to the Puri Sea Beach also known as Golden Beach. Between 0400-0500 pm, you can go up the Lighthouse to get a panoramic view of the coastline.
We would recommend that you spend some time in the Model Beach as well – it was cleaner, less crowded and the multitude of colours thanks to the sun setting was pleasing to our eyes. We returned our two-wheelers and proceeded towards the railway station to go to Bhubaneswar at 1845hrs.
Train journey duration: 1 hour 10 min
Price of ticket: Rs. 180 pp
We checked into Swosti Grand and retired for the day.
Day Three: Pipili, Dhauli Santhi Stupa, Lingaraj Temple, Udhayagiri Caves (Sunset)
How can we not visit Pipili when in Bhubaneswar – another village known for its arts and crafts. It’s a small village few kms away from the city where they make the cutest of colourful hanging lights made of cloth, artistically weaved bags of all sizes and many many more beautiful pieces of art.
From there we went to say hello to the four buddhas seated in Dhauli Santhi Stupa. This is a place that was built to celebrate freedom and peace.
After these two, it was about visiting the various temples in the city, starting with the Lingaraj Temple. The oldest and the most famous temples in Bhubaneswar, it’s good to take a guide (Rs. 50 and you can find the priests become some sort of guide as well) to know a bit about the construction, the importance of the temple etc. Cameras are not allowed in here as well.
Other temples we covered were the Mukteshwar Temple, Raja Rani and the Parameshwara Temple. We wanted to visit the famous caves before saying bye to Odisha. Udayagiri and the Khandagiri hills a.k.a the caves. There is no mention anywhere that the best sunset in Bhubaneswar is from Udhayagiri caves and guess what Udhayagiri means – rising sun 🙂
Those days, the Jain monks resided in these caves and is an archaeological and religious site today. Cave No: 1 is the most famous of the caves in Udhayagiri called the Rani Gumpha which is a two-storeyed monastery. There are 18 caves in Udhayagiri and 15 in Khandagiri.
When we visited the Udhayagiri Caves, we felt it was not well maintained like the Ajantha or the Ellora Caves in Aurangabad. In Khandagiri, don’t miss the very famous Khandagiri Jain temple. Nevertheless, it’s a place to visit for sure and enjoy the sunset.
Food in Bhubaneswar
While we really did not have the time to explore the local food, we wouldn’t leave without binging on some local speciality.
Visit the Chat shops – Maa Tarani Chat shop or Maa Durga Rupali Chat to have their Vada chat – a dish we have never had anywhere else. It’s special because of the way they make the dish and it was good. This in on Janpath Road – Rupali Square.
As always, please do let us know if you have queries and we shall be glad to help you. If you have an experience to share, please do so in our comments section below. We would love to read that too 🙂