Friday, June 27, 2008

Orissa trip - Day 2

We roamed about in the city.It was hubby's first relaxed visit here. Bhubaneswar is known as "The city of temples" ... so went and visited some of the important ones. Unfortunately none of the temples allow cameras inside ... so can't show what those old, majestic structures are like. All the temples are hundreds of years old and are built with huge stones and are full of intricate carvings.

The Bindusagar lake is just behind the Lingaraj temple.

The Lingaraj Temple is one of the most revered and oldest temples.No cameras allowed inside and also nothing made of leather ... like belts, wallets, etc. The police at the entrance will check for mobiles too ... so decide beforehand what you should do if you are having these things with you.Leaving them behind in your taxi is not exactly advisable too.

Once we stepped out of the vehicle we were swarmed by pandas (priests) who insist on showing around ... citing they will narrate the histrory and story of the place in detail. It is entirely one's own decision whether to appoint one as a guide or not. Our experience has been to avoid them as any guide .. priest or otherwise ... will always be in a hurry. To get the feel of a place you need to see it leisurely and I just can't tolerate the guides blabbering away what is almost always made up stories .... and herding people around like a bunch of cattle. Well .... if you want to know the history and details of a place ... you can always look up books. Again my knowledge of the local language helped and we were left alone.

After that we visited the Raja Rani temple.
Then we left for the rock cut monastries on the twin hills of Udaigiri and Khandagiri.This place is around 45 mins away from Bhubaneswar...and is famous just as much for the monkeys found here as it is for the Jain monastries. These rock cut caves were used by monks and the carvings on the walls have been protected in some places with built in wire mesh doors.

The sun was too bright and merciless and one gets exhausted easily. So we left after a little over 2 hours there. We saw a daabwala (a man selling green coconut water) and drank up the refreshing drink. Hubby decided to have daab to his heart's content as long as we were in Orissa.
Our next stop was Nandankanan.
This is a beautiful sanctuary park. Once upon a time it was well maintained and beatiful. I still remember my trip to it in my childhood. But after the deathly cyclone that hit Orissa in 1999 the place is limping back to a decent look.Hubby had wanted to see it anyway ... so it was on our agenda.
Our first disappointment was at the ticket stall. Most of the rides were not working. The safari trip was cancelled. All we could do was walk around and then go for trip on the boat. Juvenile!!!
(Another lesson learnt. The website on Nandankanan promises a lot. Nothing when you get there. Even the price of the ticket quoted on the site is wrong. )

Walked around the place ... which is well laid out and very very big. Always have to refer to the map on the roads. Got to see the Royal Bengal tigers, the White tiger, the lions , hippos, a toy train, the back of a zebra, bisons and elephants. There were a few deer and hyenas too.

There were a lot of birds too.

Then there was the reptiles section which had a huge collection of snakes and crocodiles. There was an aquarium too ... with a number of tortoises and turtles.

The boat ride was good. Once in the middle of the lake the calm environment seeps in. A lot of greenery around ... and we got to see elephants having their bath in the lake.

A word of caution. If taking a paddle boat and are going to be all by yourself ... make sure you ask for the time duration while getting the tickets. Most of the time they don't tell you .... and even if you are 2 mins late ... charge Rs.50 extra. So be careful not to be fooled.

There is a ropeway too ... right above the lake and the view from there is beautiful.
The sanctuary closes at 5:30 in the evening and it was almost dark when we stepped out. Very tired we headed back to the city and rested for another long day ahead.

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