Puri- The Final Destination of every Oriya

Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri

I have always been fascinated by drive to Puri right from my college days at KITS. Every place on the 60 km drive from Bhubaneswar has some significance. Still remember those days when me, Mota and Asit would ride on one of my fellow roommate, Bikash’s Scooter and would set off to Puri. The drive itself is an experience and of course the final destination Puri is altogether a very different one. Every place on the way has it’s own significance. Be it Uttara, Pipili, Sakhigopal, Chandanpur, Satsankha and Bata Mangala.

On a cool and pleasant morning

This time also, when I took Siddhu, my fellow IMDR Batchmate to Puri, the experience of drive was no different from the previous ones. Same cool breeze tingling your skin, sun rays piercing the coconut tree’s leaves and hitting the road as if creating a natural kaleidoscope, Swans swimming on the roadside ponds and paddy fields overloaded with harvest.

We started early for Puri and Konark(Travelogues on Konark & Balukhand have been covered in other sections).As we were neared Uttara Chowk ,talk on King Ashok and Kalinga war started. I told him stories of bravery shown by Kalinga warriors on the banks of Daya river. Daya river did change to a river of Blood during the Kalinga war. The killings of the war moved Ashok so much that he became “Dharma” Ashok from “Chandal” Ashok.

Then we crossed Pipili, a place famous for “Chanduas(decorative wall hangings made out of colourful clothes and small mirror pieces”).Since, we didn’t have that much time,so didn’t halt at Pipili.

After fueling the Car’s tank near Sakhigopal,we headed straight to the Coconut water sellers sitting near the Railway crossing. This is somewhat like a ritual that I had followed over on each of my previous trips.

Near Sakhigopal Railway Crossing

By that time had increased and what a timing. We were crossing Chandanpur. There is no better place than having “Poori” and “Dalma(traditional Oriya dish made out of boiled vegetables and Pulses)”.And that too served on plates made out of dried leaves(khali patra).As I have told earlier that every place on the way to Puri has it’s own significance and there is some thing new for oustsiders. Chandanpur was also no different. After one eats his/her breakfast, one has to carry the plate and throw in the dustbin. Generally, this breakfast sellers are Brahmins and being at the highest level of Caste system in India, they don’t carry other’s leftovers.

Can you smell the steam of Dalma ??

Another View

As we were driving down, we crossed a group of bi cycle riders overloaded with small baskets made out of palm leaves.These are basically for packing prasad at Jagannath temple,Puri.These artifacts are trademark Puri type.

Famous "Bada Danda"

Cycle loaded with Palm Baskets

Before entering Puri, we took blessings from Bata Mangala. This is the traditional way of entering to Puri.

Finally reached Puri after a drive of one and half hour. As usual temple of Puri brings in new hopes and new enthusiasm . Temple itself is a small township with its own kitchen,small market called Ananda Bazar.After seeing Ananda Bazar ,one gets a feeling of going back to ages when there were small haats (market) . Small shops with narrow passages selling all sort of prasad like Abhada(rice),Saag,Kheer etc with small umbrellas on top. Another speciality is that they are cooked as well as sold in earthen pots. There is so much things to be told about Jagannath Temple that I need a different article all together which I will be covering some other day.
As we came out after darshan, we again saw those bicycle riders with baskets made out of palm leaves. I was correct that they all were heading towards the final destination of Puri.

We headed towards Konark Temple through the Marine Drive. This has been covered in other sections.

Sun Temple of Konark

There are certain things without which Orissa can’t be thought off. One of them is the Konark Wheel or Chaka.

Konark Wheel---Symbol of Orissa

The Sun Temple of Konark or the Black Pagoda was constructed in mid thirteenth century by Raja Narasinghs Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty.Konark was coined as Black Pagoda by European sailors who used it as a landmark. During earlier days Konark Temple used to be nearer the sea shore but as time ticked over the centuries ,Bay of Bengal had receded from the temple premises to almost 2 kms.Just ignite your Grey matter which helps in imagination and view the scene that Sailors must be seeing-A mammoth Black temple or the Konark Temple and at a distance ,the White Pagoda or the Jagganath Temple of Puri.

The Chariot Temple--Complete picture

King Narasimha Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty started the construction of the Konark Temple as a matter of pride and symbol of supremacy.It was conceptualised as a huge chariot of Sun God on twelve pairs of extremely beautiful and artistic wheels drawn by seven horses.

From the Nata Mandapa

Every figure is different from the other...so many ideas

Carvings on the walls of the main temple is worth clicking. Though honestly speaking ,I don't have that much interest in this kind of sculpture but what I saw made me wonder about the creativity of the artisans who worked on these walls. Its there sweat and blood that has gone onto make what it is.

Lions at the entrance roaring about the past glory of Kalinga...

King employed around Twelve Hundred artisans in the work which continued for over a period of 12 years.But still work was not getting completed as per the time schedule set by the king. Frustrated with the progress and expenses ,king gave an ultimatum to the artisans.Either work would get completed in the stipulated time or everyone of the artisans will meet with dire consequences. The whole team under Bisu Maharana ,the chief architect was able to solve every problem but for one. Only unsolved problem was fixing the last stone at the top of the temple. Dharmapada, the young son of the chief architect Bisu Maharana came to know about the problem and made an attempt. With his limited prior experience he was able to solve the final problem. But he had to pay a price and what a costly one.Dead body of Dharmapada was found on the sea beach as he had jumped from the top of the temple. It is said that Dharmapada laid down his life to save his father’s pride.This incident also proves the fact that Konark Temple was actually on the beach.

Wonderful Front View

Magnanimous Konark Wheel

This picture above proves that modern day architects are no where near in terms of skills to that of Bisu Maharana's team.Look at the bottom half of the rim and the top half which has been repaired in recent times.

Depicting the brave Oriya spirit

There is one anecdote that there was a huge Magnetic Load Stone on the top of the temple to keep the walls of the temple in place. But due to its extreme magnetic effects it was drawing shipping vessels passing through the Konark sea as a result of which there were stories of huge ships sinking. No body knows how that load stone did vanish. But legends tell that perhaps Britishers or may be Muslim Voyagers were responsible for sudden vanishing of the stone from the top. This is also one of the reasons being given for the downfall of the temple of walls.

Autumn Flowers of Palash in the nearby garden

With shades of red...

Now with Yellow...which one is better???

But ,still my trip to Konark was incomplete and must be same for others also. No one knows what it must be inside as its filled with sand.There is an inscription which says that British Government did fill the interior with sand to protect the marvelous carvings inside.Can you smell some thing fishy?
It was time for me and Siddhu to end the trip. But ,how can the trip be complete without some sweets ,integral part of the traditional Oriya Culture.So, we had plate full of Chena Jhillis at Nimapara(Nimapada) on the way back to Bhubaneswar.
And ,what a co incidence that Siddhu was returning to Pune by Bhubaneswar-Mumbai Konark Express.