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Flavors of Puri

  • Submitted by: Amrita Sarkar, India
  • Submission Date: 20th Jun 2008

A journey through Puri………..

With a song playing in my heart, I packed my bags for the trip to the glorious beaches of Puri. This was one of the trips that we as a family (my parents, brother and I) had taken after a long time. I gladly bid farewell to the “City of Joy” and set off for the “Abode of Jagganath” - Puri.

It was mid of June when we visited the hot tourist locale, Puri. The onset of monsoon had enhanced the scintillating beauty of the barren beaches. It was a sunny noonday when we reached this land of mystic beauty. The beach shimmered with the golden rays of sun falling on it. The reverberating sound of the waves lashing upon the golden sand left us, almost deaf. After a rejuvenating bath we decided to head towards the holy shrines of Jagannath. Photography & leather articles are prohibited at this place. Hence we had to submit our belongings to the person in-charge. Standing behind a long line of devotees we finally had the fortune of catching a glimpse of the deities.

Just when the scorching sun had almost drained off all our energy, the rain came to our rescue. We immediately decided to return to the hotel where we had put up. Since the hotel we were residing in, was close to the beach, we had a panoramic view of the sea and the shore. Thus during the journey back to the hotel from the shrine the sight of dancing blue waves capped with white froth, amidst the deluge of rain was captivating. The distant horizon could hardly be seen amidst the cloudy sky. The intense lightening sizzled across the dark sky with the thunder in absolute harmony with the roaring waves. Nature had indeed reached the zenith of its beauty.

The evening was spent shopping at the local market. We bought local handmade showpieces made of shells and stones. We even remembered to buy fabrics with famous ‘kotki’ prints on them. A sumptuous dinner of seafood –prawns, hilsa, at a local restaurant brought a perfect end to the day. We then took the narrow by lanes to return to our hotel. While we walked through the deserted lane we could hear the faded sounds of the mantras being chanted at the distant Jagannath temple.

The next day a tourist bus carried us to renowned spots like ‘Konarak’ temple dedicated to Sun God. We were fascinated to learn that the famous wheel of Konarak was used to locate time by people much before modern, sophisticated watches were invented. The pictures engraved on the walls showed that people worshipped Mother Nature in times of distress and agony. People also praised art in various forms and painting was used as a medium of expression. The Lingaraj temple, where almighty Shiva is worshipped is one of the most popular destinations among the tourists. The hills of Udayagiri, Khandagiri, had many a tale to tell. Each one had a mythological story attached to it which our guide narrated to us on our way. The shrines and relics of historical importance reflected the great architectural talent of the people who constructed them. Each one clearly portrayed the faith, culture and heritage nurtured by people who inhabited the land years ago.

We were also taken to the spot where the famous battle of Kalinga had taken place. It is at this historical place that the dynamical emperor of Magadha, Ashoka had waged war against the feudal republic state of Kalinga. Ashoka realized the futility of war, when he observed the bloodshed and the loss of lives. This battle eventually proved to be a turning point in his life. He renounced his worldly affairs, devoted himself to Buddhism, and embarked on the path of “ahimsa”.

We were then taken to Nandankanan-zoo that served as home to thousands of wild animals with some of them even on the verge of extinction. I offered nuts and bananas to monkeys, which they accepted without a moment’s delay while the Royal Bengal tiger lay stretched on the lush green grass of its territory with its kingly pride. It was almost dark when we finally returned to the hotel where we had put up. The tour left us all tired at the end of the day, yet the experience was enriching.

The next evening we were destined to leave for our hometown. We spent the entire day quietly at the sea beach, with a tint of sadness in our hearts. As evening dawned outside, a sense of gloom overshadowed our spirits. We finished packing our luggage and left for the railway station. At a distant I could see the roaring white waves lashing against the shores. As we gradually headed towards the station, the roaring echo became a soft murmur, which finally faded into the darkness. It left within us a yearning to revisit the place, if the opportunity presented itself.

This trip was indeed short, if its duration was to be considered, yet it had a long lasting pleasant impact on me. Even today if I sit down to recollect memorable moments of the past, this short journey to puri will definitely find its place among the first few ones.