ORISSA

I went to Orissa with my friends several years back. While going through some damaged photos I relived the Orissa trip once more. It brought back great memories of the wonderful places that we visited.
The photos are digitally scanned and uploaded hence the quality is not so good. Some restoration work has to be done.
Trip Details in Short
- Kolkata to Puri by overnight Puri Express. Puri has hundreds of Budget Hotels and premium hotels near the sea beach.

DAY 1
- Wonderful Puri beach. Its crowded but its good.
- Afternoon and Evening -> Visited the Puri Jagannath Temple. We fixed a 'Panda' , a local brahmin boy who arranged for everything. He showed us the different parts of the temple , we did a puja and darshan. Entry to Puri temple is slightly crowded at normal times and hugely crowded during the "Rathyatra" or Car Festival. There were some restrictions to the entry of non-hindus.
- After the temple darshan , our Panda collected the prashad for us and we returned to Hotel. The Prashad or the offering to God has a specialty here. Its said that whatever is the amount of prashad it will satisfy all the persons who offered the Puja.

DAY 2 & DAY 3 -> Combining two days there are a lot of things to see around Puri. All of these are unique and must see places for a traveler to get the essence of the great history of Orissa.

Puri -> Konark
The nearest is the Sun Temple at Konark. En route one can also view a lighthouse.
This is one of the greatest architectural marvels. Much part of it was destroyed by the sea , but whatever is present is being restored.

The other great places are near to Bhubaneswar
Nandan Kanan ( a wonderful Zoo) - This takes a long time, its a big zoo
Khandagiri
Udaygiri
Lingaraja Temple

We decided to skip the Day 3 which was originally planned for Chilka Lake, one of world's largest saltwater lake.

Hogenakkal

Hogenakkal is a few hours drive from Bangalore.
There are two different routes that can take you to Hogenakkal.

Route 1 : Bangalore ->Hosur -> (NH 7) Krishnagiri -> Dharmapuri -> Pennagram -> Hogenakkal ( 150 kms) but takes less time. Road is excellent.

Route 2 : Bangalore -> Hosur -> (SH 17)-> Dharmapuri -> Pennagram -> Hogenakkal (125 kms but takes more time). Road is not bad.

There is a huge parking lot for buses and cars. There are lots of small shops selling all types of grocery , bakery items,chips ,cool drinks etc,coconut water etc. A short walk towards a garden took us into a small market. There are lots of restaurants at this place, selling fried fish and rice and parathas etc. But it looks very unhygenic and fishy.
After crossing the market there is a short stretch where the waters of the Cauvery breaks into small streams and there are hundreds of creeks and diversions. Oil massage is very popular here. A lot of guys with oil bottles hover around this area and we could see people taking the massage.
There are two main parts of the Hogenakkal waterfalls. The first part we could see from the Hanging bridge. We had to buy tickets to get to this part. From the hanging bridge we took a short walk towards the main waterfalls. Another set of tickets and we entered a small area from where one can see a series of waterfalls. There is a watch tower which charges a small fee to get a bird's eye view. From here we could see all the falls. Its a nice place to be on a cloudy day. I would say rainy season or autumn is the best. We could feel the mist rising out of the falls and the sound of a series of falls drowned our voices.
Just beside the tower there are a series of steps that leads to the coracle quay. The coracle ride was Rs 100/person and that was the best part of the Hogenakkal trip. The coracle took us near to the waterfalls. After a cool ride the boatman took us to a small island where there were a few shacks selling rice and fish meals. The fish was very fresh but the shacks were very dirty. The best of this part were the mobile coracles selling everything from Lays chips to colas. To top that, there were divers diving into the cauvery waters and enjoying the dip. Kids to elderly men , everyone seemed to enjoy the dives. There was a man posing like a statue and making movements like Michael Jackson. We enjoyed his antics.
That was all. We were pretty tired and hungry by this time. We took another small coracle ride back to the main gate from where we entered. That saved us the trouble of returning the whole way via Hanging Bridge.
Fortunately we found a TTDC hotel right outside . They served very decent meals. Although their fish fry was not very tasty ,the rest of the meal was. Being a bong, I was a bit disappointed that there was so much fish around , but I couldn't enjoy the fish fry. the TTDC hotel area was nice. They also have lodging arrangements. There were a few other lodges around that area but this seemed to be the best. A small children's play area was excelent. Our small day trip ended here ,after a very late lunch. We had a pleasant ride back to Bangalore.
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