Since long I was planning to visit Jagannath Puri for darshan of Bhagwan Jagannath but due to various reasons was not able to visit, finally got a call from Jagannath Jee and maid a last minute plan during long extended weekend between Raksha Bandhan and Independence day.
As it was very last moment so direct flight between Ahmedabad and Bhubaneshwar was expensive so bought via Mumbai.
Our tour starts on 11th August from Ahmedabad ,it was Vistara via Mumbai having 7 hr layover ,used Adani lounge for rest and food. No doubt Mumbai Terminal 2 is most beautiful airport in India ,it is itself a museum/Art gallery where can spend hours viewing the galleries ,also they have audio guides about which can be used with smartphones scanning the bar code placed in front of each artifact.
Also Adani lounge till now my best lounge experience in India, only one found better is 080 lounge at Bengaluru airport.
Reached Bhubaneshwar on time on 12th morning around 9:30 am, at arrival hall there is a prepaid taxi counter from where we took taxi for Puri ,it was 1800 rs ,as breakfast was served on flight so travelled non stop to hotel, it was one and half hour smooth ride, after exiting Bhubaneshwar city it was 4 lane highway.
We booked Hotel Pride Ananya situated on main road, walking from Blue Flag beach ,wanted to book any beach front hotel but all good hotels were already booked.
After taking some rest walked to Chung Wah restaurant which was just 2 min walk from our hotel and considered as best Chinese restaurant in Puri,it is run by a Chinese lady. As it was lunch time so was crowded but got table instantly ,it was the last vacant table. As today our plan was to have Darshan in evening so had vegetarian meal .The restaurant comes as per the expectation ,taste wise good also ,portion size was justifying the price, overall value for money .
After the meal back to hotel for rest and then around 5 ready for Darshan.We was accompanied by one of my friends brother who is from Puri.It was just10 min drive to Temple parking on grand road,from there another 10 min walk. During walk to Temple and even inside we were approached by many Panda Ji but we didn’t required their service. Mobile are not allowed inside the temple ,submitted mobile and shoe at the free baggage counter near the entrance. As it was working weekdays so there wasn’t much crowd for Darshan and have Darshan in 15-20 min, also bought some prasad inside the temple complex.
After completing Darshan it was time to taste some local delicacies specially sweets. Around the temple there are many sweet shop which are running for generations still unknown ,don’t even have a proper name of shop. There are 2 roads which have many such shops, first we visited Loknath road,at the starting of road there is a shop famous for Malai Papodi,one of the delicacy of Puri very few shop now made it.It was around 7 pm and when we reached there come to know that Malai papodi has ended for today ,was very disappointed but tried different sweets and then proceeded towards temple road.
Temple road is heaven for sweets lovers,lots of sweet shop and also Khaja Shops. Nrusingha is considered as best Khaja shop in puri but now a days there are many shop with the name Nrusingha and prefix like Old,Orignal etc so decide yourself, tried Khaja from 2 Nrusingha sweets and found them almost same.
We walked till the end of Temple road where it met Swaargdwar beach .On the way tried sweets and snacks from different shops,First was Malai Papodi, was in impression that its available at only Loknath road and that only at one shop but was easily available at 2-3 shops at temple road,was priced rs 140 but was totally worth ,was pure Malai ,soft and fluffy with sprinkle of suger, totally worth .
Tried many more sweets from different shops,Rossogula.Rasamalai.Chhena Poda,Chhena Jhili,Kheer,Malpua,Rasbali and many more.Price of sweets are very reasonable and taste is fantastic .
Now we reached Swargdwar beach, this beach is full of life but too crowded ,not what we like, there are hundreds of karts at the beach selling street food specially sea food but our tummy were already full trying different sweets and snacks at Temple road .Even if we were hungry what I felt that the karts on beach were not our cup of tea,First the area was too crowded , hygiene was serious issue and also quality of oil and ingredients .We called it for the day and return back to hotel using auto.
Day 2 starts with morning beach visit. Blue flag beach was just walking distance from our hotel so just walked early morning. Its well maintained, a type of private beach with 20 rs entry fee ,there are jogging track, cafes, fitness area,less crowded and cleaner than any other beach in Puri, totally worth visiting specially during morning for walk or evening for sunset.
Our next destination was Konark. We hired a cab for Konark and Chandrabhaga beach,Started from hotel after breakfast. Road from Puri to Konark runs parallel to sea,took around an hour to reach Sun Temple.We took a guide so that can understand the temple better.Spend around an hour at temple and it was totally worth. After temple visited the ASI museum which is good to visit,not much big but have good collection and information related to Konark Sun temple and different sun temples throughout the world.
After Sun Temple we visited Chandrabhaga beach ,as it was drizzling so nothing much to do or spend time at beach ,spend hardly 10 min but no doubt the beach is better than any beach in Puri .Clean, less crowded and no construction on beach, its still raw in nature ,if weather would have been clear we could have easily spend an hour there.
Now it was time to back to puri,we had our lunch at Dalma restaurant near our hotel,it is considered as one of the best place for Odiya food and also serves Bengali food.
We visited with great expectation but was much disappointed ,nothing went well,first have to wait around 20-25 min for table,its ok for a famous restaurant but after that expecting a great meal but we were wrong, waiters were always in hurry but took ages to take order,food was mediocre,nothing special,had fish and chicken thali,both Chicken and Fish were average,nothing special, hygiene was an issue.
After the meal time to get back to hotel for rest and some office work.
Didn’t visited any other place later.For dinner decided to visit Wildgrass which was just 2 min from our hotel and famous for Odiya cuisine.They have both outdoor and indoor sitting area but as it was drizzling so outdoor area was closed.
They have a decent Odiya menu but come to know that majority of Odiya menu including thali is served only during lunch so we have go with the limited option which was available. Ordered mutton curry and fish in mustard gravy and wow, every item were super ,nothing to complain ,also service was good, staff were attentive .This place is totally recommended .
This was end of day 2
This was our last full day before flight back to Ahmedabad so planned to visit little bit of Bhubaneshwar and stay overnight at Bhubaneshwar,booked Empire hotel at Shaheed Nagar.
We called the same taxi guy which used yesterday. It was raining since morning so we got the idea what to expect during sight seeing. Had our berakfast at hotel and started our journey around 10 AM. Our first destination was Dhauli Stup (Pagoda) situated few km before Bhubaneshwar,it was raining throughout the route and also when we were at Stupa.This Stupa is situated on a hill looking Daya river where once fierce war of Kalinga was fought and after winning the war and killing thousands King Ashoka adopted the path of peace and tranquility and resorted to Buddhism.
It was drizzling so didn’t spend much time there. When we visited the stupa was going under repairing were not allowed to go near and also due to scaffolding no good photos can be taken, so do check about repairing status before planning.
Next destination was Lingraj Temple. Lingraj Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the oldest temples and largest temple in Bhubaneshwar.
Lingraj temple is must visit. Mobile not allowed inside, here also you would be stopped by Panda ji for puja, its individual decision ,its not as crowded as puri, easy to go. Other than main temple there are many smaller temple within the complex, spend some time exploring them.
Through out the visit it was drizzling and also umbrella not allowed so we could explore much, if it wouldn’t have been raining or at least we had umbrellas certainly we would have spend more time.
As mobile not allowed inside the temple complex so to take photos there is a platform outside the complex parallel to the wall from where can get good glimpse of majestic temple complex. Don’t miss to visit that, its free ,after coming out of temple complex turn right and walk parallel to the wall and again turn right and will find it after walking 50 feet.
After that our next destination was Odisa State Tribal Museum . On the way to museum we stopped for a typical Bhubaneshwar breakfast,Dahi Bada served with Aloo dum. Most of us had Dahi Bada earlier also Aloo Dum but nowhere we found Dahi Bada seved with aloo dum,it was different at tasty.
Odisa states have many indigenous tribes and this museum is dedicated to them. This museum is good place to know about different tribes ,their culture, food habit and also handicraft. Lots of handicraft were available for sale ,must buy for souvenirs.
After that our next and final destination was Udaigiri and Khandagiri caves. These are partly natural & partly artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance . The caves are situated on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagir. They have a number of finely and ornately carved caves built during the 1st century BC. It is believed that most of these caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jain monks. Udayagiri means “Sunrise Hill” and has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves.
As it was still raining so just made a brief stop here, didn’t engaged any guide,just stroll little bit ourselves and then to our hotel.
We had booked Hotel Empires at Shaheed Nagar for a night ,tomorrow afternoon we had our flight back.Just before reaching hotel we made a brief stop at Lingraj Lassi shop which was just 2-3 minute before our hotel. Heard much about them online ,many suggesting as best Lassi in Bhubaneshwar but our experience was just ok, nothing extra ordinary ,felt it over hyped .
Now it was time to rest little bit at hotel before dinner.We were interested to have a good Odiya non veg meal before departing from Bhubaneshwar and shortlisted Odisa Hotel which was walking from our hotel.As we didn’t had lunch today so reached the restaurant little after 7 and that time to waiting was there, later found there started waiting for the table. Ambience was good and so was food.We found it reasonably priced too,though we were more intrested in Thali but they serve Thali only during lunch .They serve the food in brass utensils which make the food more attractive.Overall good experience and our best food experience of our trip.
This was almost end of our sudden made short trip, tomorrow flight back .
Few Pointers :
There are many more places to visit, things to do in Puri and Bhubaneshwar bus as we had very short time visited whatever maximum was possible as per our interest and comfort.
There are numerous hotel in Puri of every budget and different area. Hotel price in Puri are very dynamic. Price are highly inflated during Festival holidays and long weekends (even normal weekends are inflated) so if wants to save some bucks avoid these days. If planning to visit during festival/holidays then suggested to book hotels in advance.
There are different area where hotels are situated .You can book as per your interest and preference.
Those who wants to stay close to Temple should choose hotels around Grand road, the area is walking to temple ,many budget hotels and eating place.
Those who wants to stay beach side and also not too far from temple should choose Swargdwar beach area. There are hundreds of hotels in the area, both beach view and non view, certainly views hotel and rooms would be expensive than non view. The beach is the most happening beach of Puri but at the same time little bit crowded, lots of place to eat including beach side street food, also Temple is a walk to short e riksaw ride.Its the most preferred area by tourist but not my cup of tea,too crowded and also for street food hygiene is an issue.
My preferred area is around Blue flag beach/VIP road/Mayfair beach ,little away from temple but less crowded and majority of premium hotels are situated here. Blue flag beach is best beach in Puri ,properly maintained, clean.If wants to spend some good leisurely time at beach then this is the beach in Puri. Auto/E Riksaw are easily available so no problem traveling to Temple or any area in Puri.
For traveling within Puri Auto/E Riksaw available every where, in some routes can get share options also, its cheap option to travel .
For traveling surrounding area like Chilka ore Konark taxi are better option. There are many travel agents who can offer cabs, also most hotels have few travel agent contact whom you can contact.
OTDC and few private company also offers conducted tour of Chilka.Konark and even Bhubaneshbar by bus, if searching for budget option then can check them, prefer OTDC than private one.