Odisha Odyssey-IV .... Bhubaneswar

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March 30th 2016
Published: March 30th 2016
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Peace PagodaPeace PagodaPeace Pagoda

@ Dhauli Giri
Oh No..…today we need to start our journey back home from Bhubaneswar. Our Odisha Odyssey was coming to the scheduled but undesirable end. It has been a good familiarization outing with the enriching exposure. To optimize the experience, and utilize the available day, we checked out of the hotel with the rising sun.

Panthanivas Puri, had luxury coaches lined up to take tourists on their sightseeing package tours. The tourists from the neighboring hotels had also gathered there and awaiting the boarding instructions. We were ready with our bags in the boot for our voyage to Bhubaneswar. The February morning chill was very pleasant. The sea breeze was tempting us to stay on. We needed to be practical. The distance between Puri & Bhubaneswar was hardly 60 km and can be covered in an hour’s time but we had earmarked a few locations of tourist importance en route.

Lord Jagannath being served 56 different delicious varieties of food….Chappan Bhog, Odisha has truly been the foodies’ paradise. While passing through the Swargadwar Road, we took a brief halt to get Chhena Poda. Swargadwar, meaning the gate to the paradise … it really was. The words Chenna and Poda meant roasted
Lord Gautam BuddhaLord Gautam BuddhaLord Gautam Buddha

@ Peace Pagoda
cheese in Odia. This sweet delicacy made of well-kneaded homemade fresh cheese chenna, sugar, cashew nuts, and resins and must have been baked for several hours until it browns. Predominantly, its’ flavor was derived from the slow caramelization of sugar. It was truly a heavenly dish to consume after the breakfast of Puri Bhaji. We did carry few packets for friends back home.

Our next halt was at Pipili village, to interact with the creative community of applique craftsmen. Appilique is the process of skillfully cutting colored cloth into various shapes and stitching them on a piece of bright colored cloth. Applique motifs in contrasting colors are cut in the shape of animals, birds, flowers, leaves, celestial bodies and geometric shapes; and stitched onto the base cloth in aesthetic arrangements. The raised motifs are prepared by giving several folds. The actual grace of applique craft lays in the intricate stitches namely bakhia, guntha, turpa, chikan and other very delicate and esoteric embroidery techniques. In modern times, bright metal pieces and small mirrors are also incorporated for enhancing the effect. The applique patches are attached to the base cloth, before the borders are stitched.

The erstwhile nobility of Orissa patronized the applique art, which attained the artistic heights of excellence. The rulers of Puri engaged these applique artists and established an exclusive village for them, on the outskirts of the pilgrimage town. Today, the main Pipili street flaunts rows of shops selling appliqued handbags, bed sheets, wall hangings, purses, pillow covers, canopies, garden umbrellas etc. In fact, today Pipili serves as the major center of selling and exporting of applique artifacts to every corner of the globe. With the construction of New Jagannath Road, which serves as a bye-pass, the village needed a special effort to reach. However, a detour was a must and not-be-missed by any connoisseur of the art.

We had a very informative interaction with the village folks and as a token of appreciation we were recipient of small souvenirs from them, which we would treasure for a long. The lady members did shop few articles for home décor, prior to our departure. The notable among the purchase were small pouches for carrying cellphones during their morning walks.

Our next scheduled halt was at Dhauli Giri, on our way to Bhubaneswar. Dhauli hills are located on the banks of beautifiul river Daya, which has
Bird's Eye ViewBird's Eye ViewBird's Eye View

@ Dhauli Giri
a historical importance. The Kalinga War of 261 B.C. was fought here. The Daya River is said to have turned red with the blood of the many deceased warriors after the enormous heroic battle. Ashoka, the great, realized the magnitude of the horror associated with the war and got transformed himself into sworn devotee of Lord Gautam Buddha. He eventually followed the preaching of Lord Buddha for the remaining part of his life.

The top of the hill has a dazzling white peace pagoda, which has been built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha in the last century. The dome structure of the Shanti Stupa possesses five umbrellas and they symbolize the five essential pillars of Buddhism.

After offering our obeisance to Lord Buddha, we had an aerial view of Daya River, before we commenced out descent. The famous rock edicts of Samrat Ashoka, marks his renunciation of violence and acceptance of Buddhism. The atmosphere, surrounding the Dhauli Hills, was serene and enchanting. The base of the hills had number shops catering to the needs of tourists and offered a source of livelihood to the local population.

Odisha has a glorious past
Stone carvings Stone carvings Stone carvings

@ Roadside studios
and rich cultural heritage. Besides, Pattachitra and Applique, the stone carvings have been iconic and most visible form of art throughout the state. It has been evolved, for centuries, by the descendants of the great builders of the famous temples in Kalinga style of temple architecture. Through their sheer creative imagination, generations of artists have been transforming mute stones into living expressions of multi facets of human life. Their superb craftsmanship, innovative techniques and unmatched skill have carved the unique identity for Odisha.

The artists, in modern times are engaged in making beautiful stone statues and different objects of modern living like ash-trays, bowls, vases, containers with a traditional touch. Various types of stones are used for carving such as sandstone, kochila stone, kendumundi stone, nilagiri stone, granite stone, serpentine stone and pink stone; and with the help of sharp edged chisel, they evolve beautiful carvings. One will find numerous art studios, with artists engaged in chiseling idols and shops selling stone carvings, of various sizes, on the road leading to Bhubaneswar. It was worth taking a few pit stops to interact with the artists and appreciate their work of art.

The scheduled lunchtime was nearing and as per the pre-drawn plan, we proceeded to Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha State. Our search for authentic Oriya meal ended with locating the Dalma Restaurant in the city center. The ambience was inviting and the service was reasonably fast. We ordered Chingudi Dalma; lentils cooked with various vegetables, shrimps, coconut and mild spices, Kankada Jhola; crabmeat gravy and Sada Bhata; plain steamed rice. The accompaniments were Khata; chutney and Saaga; fried and tempered vegetable. We thoroughly enjoyed our last authentic meal on the current tour with Chenna Jhilli as the dessert. It was truly satsifying gastronomical experience, which will be cherished for the long time to come.

After the filling lunch we took a short leisurely walk to Ekmara Haat, which was a few blocks away. Ekamra Haat, spread over 5 acres, was conceived by the Government as direct marketing of artisan products to the consumers. Whole gamut of Orissan Handicraft & Handlooms was available there for seeing, feeling and for purchasing, if desired. It was a well-planned and implemented shopping complex, equipped with adequate parking area and a food court. The food court lacked the local touch and was serving North Indian and “Indian” Chinese delicacies. The amphi-theatre was gearing up for the evening cultural performance, with the technicians trying to tie the loose ends. The shopkeepers were ever anxious to explain the intricacies of the art form and the craftsmanship. We found this complex to be more of an interpretation or a familiarization zone with typical traits of marketing missing. The visit was quite informative and enriching our knowledge. This was our last opportunity of picking few souvenirs on the current tour and we did not desired to miss. Few articles were picked up to conclude the purchasing mission.

We were little tired and decided to spread ourselves in the well-manicured green lawns. The thought of short siesta in the natural surrounding, under the shade of large banyan tree, was quite tempting. Our urban upbringing forbade us from following the natural instinct. A steaming hot cup of tea, served in eco-friendly paper cups, refreshed us to move to our next stop. We still had a lot of time at hand to move to the airport to board our flight back home.

Little distance away was the Ram Mandir. We visited this spacious temple to experience the divinity and lovely environment.A temple city where numerous of ancient temples dot it’s landscape, this modern temple has become a center of attraction for the spiritually inclined tourists. Unlike most other temples in the city, which follow Kalinga Temple architecture, this temple follow the North India traditions, The red spires of the temple on an elevated level draws devotees on a regular basis to spend some time in a relatively peaceful atmosphere.

The main temple has the sanctorum of Lord Ram, who is flanked by Lakshman & Sita on either side; and Lord Hanuman. The idols were decorated in colorful attire, glittering ornaments and garlands adding to the divinity.The only minus point was the temple was surrounded by a horde of beggars appealing to the sentiments of the generous worshipers for alms, amidst the scattered footwear.

The next on the itinerary was to seek blessing from the Lingaraj. The Lingaraj temple is one of the oldest and largest temples in Bhubaneswar. Though this East-facing temple in the present form was built in 11th Century, it is believed that this temple came into an existence much earlier and sometime in the 6th century.

The structure represents the quintessence of the Kalinga temple architecture, culminating the medieval stages of the architectural tradition, which has 55 meters tall central tower. As a common thread in the Kalinga Temple Architecture in Deula style, it has four components namely, Vimana, (structure containing the sanctum), Jagamohana (assembly hall), Natamandira (festival hall) and Bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor, all on the same axis. The sandstone and laterite has been used for the construction. There were numerous other small shrines in the large courtyard, which was fortified by a thick compound wall.

Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra because the deity of Lingaraj was originally under a large mango tree, known as Ekmara. Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Harihara, in an amalgamated form of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Harihara is commonly referred to as Tribhuvaneshwara or Bhubaneswar. He is the master of three worlds, namely, heaven, earth and netherworld. His consort is called Bhubaneswari. The city, which is also the capital of the state of Odisha, derives its name from Bhubaneswar temple.

On the exterior, there were many shops selling incense sticks, flowers and other pooja material. The constant stream of local devotees as well as pilgrims coming from far off places was flowing to seek the divine blessings. The crowd moved in a very orderly manner. The temple, which was closed from the noon had just opened around 03:30 and we were fortunate to be recipient of mahaprasad. After visiting some of the larger important temples in the courtyard, we moved on to our next destination.

A short drive, brought us to the 10th century Mukteswar, "Lord of Freedom", Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, in the southern part of old Bhubaneswar city. This West-facing “Gem of Odisha Architecure” is constructed in a lower basement amidst a group of temples.

The 35 meters tall pyramidal roof to the Jagamohana, is decorated with intricate carvings. The decorated ceiling has a lotus carved with eight petals. The temple's red sandstone is covered with exquisite carvings of sanyasis and bejeweled sensuous women. The diamond shaped latticed windows of the sanctum sanctorum has enchanting scenes of frolicking monkeys. The ornamental carvings of the grinning face of a lion, with beaded tassels emerging from its mouth, flanked by two dwarves, in the pattern resembling a coat of arms that adorn the chaitya windows. The rathas in the corners are relieved with females with expressive faces, with detailed hair dos and jewellery, sculpted in exquisite detail.

The decorated torana archway was a detached portal consisting of two pillars supporting an arch within a semicircular shaped pediment. The decoration of the arch, with languorously reclining females and bands of delicate scrollwork, was the most striking feature.

Mukteswara temple complex also has shrines dedicated to Siddheswara, Gauri and Lord Shiva's two sons; Ganesha and Karttikeya. The greenery all around the temple was soothing the senses. Immediately beyond the enclosure, lies a small well, known as Marichi Kund. The water of this well is believed to cure miraculously the infertility of women. On the door frame of the well is a seated figure of Lakulisa, surrounded by four disciples. The complex is flanked by a large number of slender aromatic Bael tress, which has each leaf with three leaflets. The trees were laden with green fruits all over. To refresh ourselves, we had aromatic juice of Bael Fruit at the nearby fruit juice center.

The sun was setting and our Odisha Odyssey was coming to an end. We needed to check-in for our flight back home. To our pleasant surprise, the newest glittering terminal building of Biju Patnaik International Airport of Bhubaneswar was made operational only on the preceding day. We were amongst the fortunate few to experience the luxurious lounge of the swanky terminal. We arrived in the city from one terminal and leaving from another … with a lot of memories, exposure and experience … to the routine urban stressful daily routine.

Good Bye Odisha … The culturally rich state with heritage in abundance.

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