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Day 12 Puri

Puri, India


I woke up early around 7:00am & sat staring at the crashing waves for a hour in a sleep induced state. Today was rest day & I just did not feel like getting up from my balcony view. I had organised a car for the day & I was looking forward to meeting the local historian who worked as a travel consultant (historian with vast knowledge). Speaking to him was like digesting tons of encyclopaedia volumes in a couple of hours. Not only did he know the local history he also could also draw parallels with historical events across the globe at the same period. History is never definitive, never perfect, its always open to interpretation & a continuous case study (my personal take on history), we had lengthy conversations and I could glean a lot of ancient & current history.

The Rath Yatra has given Puri an international status. Its a must visit places on earth for many tourists of lndian & international origin. 30 kms away is the famous Konark temple that was constructed on the lagoon of Chandrabhaga river. It was commissioned by King Narshimadeva & the chief architect was Bisu Maharana. The temple was made depicting a chariot thus it has 12 wheels on each side of the temple. One of the wheels has been the motif of our 20 Rupee note. The main dome of the temple collapsed in the 1890's nobody is sure why it collapsed. Some say that the dome head had a huge magnet that held the ferrous (Iron) temple stones together. It was removed from the temple as it was interfering with ships navigational system. The other reason for collapse was its construction on soft sand. None is irrefutable nor conclusive. Thus feel free and contribute to conspiracy of collapsed dome. The smaller dome that exists has many carvings in stone that represent various aspects of life that existed in the 12th century. Courtesans, dancers, workers, priests, lovers, animals, wives, family etc have all been carved in stone. Over the years the salt in the atmosphere has made the stone black. Some places its corroded so badly that they are collapsing due to cracks & brittleness. The ASI has been working on restoring it for years, thanks to their inconsistent work schedule (government employees) its a permanent work-in-progress. Nobody can say when the task undertaken will ever be completed.

The drive to Konark is beautiful, the roads are well maintained with shaded trees on either side. One has to also cross Balukhand forest. This forest has leopards & deers that tend to cross the road without any warning. I was lucky to see 20 odd wild pigs race across the road. As we neared the Konark temple we see tree lined Chandrabhaga beach. The huge waves crashing on the shores which is devoid of any other human presence transports one to a surreal space. On my way back I stopped a few times to take photos of the sunset. It truly is a scenic place for one to settle & retire, happiness guaranteed. Only sometimes during cyclone one is evacuated and housed in a school or college premise for safety reasons. One can also come back post cyclone and find the whole topography of the neighbourhood flattened along with their ancestral house. These would be the not so happy moments in the scenic paradise. (The writer recommends strong caution before jumping in this vicinity to retire.)

Before I embarked for Konark, I had asked my driver to take me to Jagganath temple. I had visited Puri in 2004. I remember the priests (Pandas) of the temple were very aggressive in their demands besides being very rude. The temple is always crowded as its one of the 4 dhams. I just did not feel I need to be jostled inside for darshan nor was I in any mood for rudeness. Instead I asked my driver to take me around it. We left the car & picked up his bike to circulate the temple. 4 wheelers are not allowed near the temple vicinity. The one thing that stood out was it was over crowded with devotees. There is a bustling market all around the temple. Business vary from shops that keep your shoes for a small fee, garlands made in a particular way, shops that give you small change so that you can give alms to the poor, shops that sell fabric blessed by the lord etc. While circulating the temple I noticed carvings outside on the walls are just as intricate as its inside. There are 4 gates to the temple east, west, north & south. The front part of the temple (grand avenue) is a very wide road for the 3 raths (chariot) to travel to Gundicha temple. The lord Jagganth and his siblings Balbadhra & Subadhra travel 3 kms on the chariot pulled by thousands of devotees. They stay in the Gundicha temple for 9 days before they return back to main temple. This Yatra is efficiently managed by the govt authorities & do amazing crowd management. If tomorrow I have time I will go inside the temple for darshan.

Tomorrow I plan to go to Bhubaneswar, so till then its sayonara.

Total distance covered today 0 kms Total Distance from Bombay 3245 kms

Puri temple

Puri temple



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