Bhubaneshwar – The Temple City

Bhubaneshwar – The Temple City

Bhubaneshwar city from aircraft

This was my first visit to Bhubaneshwar, the Temple City of India and was very apprehensive before landing here since I had heard lot of stories about this place – both good and bad. From the aircraft the city looked flooded due to incessant rainfall since last couple of weeks but looked neat and compact with a small town look. Bhubaneshwar airport is small but well maintained. I was greeted by a board that read

“Infosys welcomes ARBINDH KAMATA”. My name was already translated to Oriya language by the friendly cab driver. The drive to airport to Infosys campus (about 20 kms) took just 25 minutes with no traffic jam. The roads are wide and well maintained with good amount of greenery all around.
Dhaulagiri

Being a travel freak, I made the team miss the Saturday afternoon siesta. We set off for local sight seeing starting with the main temple – Lingaraj temple. We were already warned about the priests or “Pandas” as they are called here, who pester a lot and make you pay “dakshina” or offering forcefully. One Panda even went to the extent of saying “my son will not go hungry if I pay him a hefty offering“. The ancient temple houses the Shiva Linga which is “swayambhoovu” – which means orignated from the Earth naturally. The city gets its name from this temple.

Lord Buddha
We also visited the famous Buddha Stupa at Dhaulagiri just on the outskirts of this temple. This place is related to the famous War of Kalinga fought by King Ashoka. Later we visited the Khandagiri and Udayagiri, famous for rock cut caves built by Jain monks.
Konark Temple

On Sunday we started early morning for Konark. We were lucky to have a localite within the group – Daisy Smita who belongs to Bhubaneshwar. Thanks to her we could ward off local guides and priests. We started with visit to the magnificent Sun Temple at Konark, which is the most stunning monuments of religious architecture in the world. Konark is a combination of 2 Sanskrit words Kona – Angle and Arka – Sun God. The Sun temple was built by king Narasimhadeva after winning a battle with the Muslims in 1255 A.D. Konark temple located 30 kms north of Puri in Odisha, actually symbolises the chariot of Surya Deva which is surrounded by 24 wheels, each measuring 10 feet in diameter, representing 24 hours of the day. These wheels are not ordinary wheels but can tell the time as well since the spokes of the wheels create a sundial. One can calculate the precise time of the day by just looking at the shadow cast by these spokes.There are 7 horses pulling this chariot representing 7 days of the week or represent 7 colors of the sunlight or represent 7 chakras of the human body. The 7 horses of Surya are Gayathri, Bruhathi, Ushnik, Jagathi, Dhrushtup, Anushtup and Bhakthi. Today out of 7 horses only 6 are left after the temple was desecrated during the Mughal rule during early 17th century. During this time, the temple was also called the Black Pagoda by European sailors because its tower appeared black

Puri beach

From Konark, on our way to Puri we visited the Chandrabhaga beach. The route to Puri is extremely picturesque via the Marine drive and in about 30 minutes we reached the abode of Lord Jagannath.

On reaching Puri we visited the temple of Lord Jagannath. None of the temples here allow cameras and entry is restricted only to Hindus. Being the tallest temple in Orissa, it is one of the most magnificent pieces of monuments of India. My personal observation about the Puri temple was the lack of cleanliness all around the temple premises. In Hinduism we say “Cleanliness is next only to Godliness” but here the maxim was thrown to the winds, I felt. How can Lord Jagannath even reside is such an environment, I was left to wonder.  Later I searched for “prasadam” for my family back home and I found plenty of vendors just outside the Temple selling “prasadam” items but was shocked to find these items covered by countless flies. I prayed to Lord Jagannath before I took a small “atomic” piece of the “prasadam” item, that I bought from a vendor finally. After the darshan we had lunch and then spent some time at the vibrant Puri beach.
On our way back from Puri we stopped at Pipli famous for various kinds of handicraft items like lamp shades, wall hangings, umbrellas etc. Thus came to an end my visit of Bhubaneshwar, Puri and Konark carrying back sweet memories of these places. Even the rains could not dampen our spirits but certainly affected quality of our snaps.

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