Paralakhemundi – From Royal Grandeur to Splendours of Folk Art

Maharaja Krushnachandra Gajapati, the erstwhile ruler of Paralakhemundi State near Andhra – Odisha border was among of the greatest luminaries of Odisha throughout her history.   A visionary and passionate soul for art and heritage, Maharaja Krushnachandra Gajapati was one of the first Odias to initiate the movement for separate statehood for the Odia speaking people. The seeds for such a noble initiative were germinated in the Gajapati Palace of Paralakhemundi. Today, the palace though degraded with the ravage of time still stands as an architectural splendour of the colonial past.

IMG_3200

IMG_3201

When we talk about palaces, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu amuse our mind. However, Odisha was no less splendid when compared to its counterparts. Lack of information and not given due importance, Odisha’s palace heritage is hardly divulged.

Also, Read Here:

DATIA PALACE – OF FRIENDSHIP, MYSTERY AND INSPIRATION

IMG_3210

The Gajapati Palace in Paralakhemundi is one such architectural wonder, however, sadly its story has not gone beyond its precincts. Designed by British architect Robert Fellows Chisholm, the palace and the fort are influenced by Indo-Sarcanic style combined with Byzantine and European architectural features. A three-storied structure, the palace includes an underground floor connecting it with the main palace of the Maharaja.

Also, Read Here:

DHENKANAL – WARS, WILDERNESS AND ROYAL HOSPITALITY

IMG_3228

The palace was built in the early part of the 19th century and can be compared with the best of the royal palaces built across India in the colonial setting. Its patron was Maharaja Jagannath Gajapati Narayan Dev III. An amount of 24 lakh and 20 thousand had been spent for its construction. Granite pillars, Burma teak beams, Belgian stained glass windows, artistic grills are the key attractions in the palace.

Travel Tips

Paralakhemundi is located on Odisha – Andhra border at a distance of 280 km from Bhubaneswar. The town is both connected by train and bus from all major cities of Odisha and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. If you are travelling from Bhubaneswar the best option is to travel by Rajyarani Express which leaves Bhubaneswar Station at 6.20 AM in the morning and arrive at 12.15 PM in Paralakhemundi.  Likewise, it leaves Paralakhemundi at 4.30 PM and arrives at Bhubaneswar by 10.30 PM. Paralakhemudi has a few budget hotels for accommodation.

IMG_3209

IMG_3214

IMG_3221

IMG_3219

IMG_3202

The palace was built in a silver background. All the stairs are provided with long and wide verandahs or corridors. Thick walls made of well-polished red bricks with white lime mortar reveal its marvellous construction skill. At the east-facing entrance of the main gate, two sleeping lions are placed on either side over two raised platform.

IMG_3215

IMG_3206

Paralakhemundi was the cultural nerve centre of South Odisha. Being close to Andhra Pradesh here one notices heavy Telugu influence in language, dress-code and food habit. Plentiful festivals are celebrated in the daily life of Paralakhemundi throughout the year.

Patronized by the royal family, the Chitrakara Street in Paralakhemundi is celebrated as South Odisha’s finest folk art corridor. Experts in oil painting and woodcraft the maharana chitrakaras of Chitrakara Street make wooden idols of folk gods and goddesses apart from mainstream deities to be used in various festivals. Made in distinctive styles the woodcraft of Paralakhemundi is known for its vibrant colours and folk elements.

IMG_3249

IMG_3251

IMG_3254

IMG_3256

IMG_3258

IMG_3118

IMG_3120

IMG_3121

IMG_3123

IMG_3125

IMG_3126

IMG_3127

IMG_3128

IMG_3129

The most significant among the paintings are the ganjapa dasavatara sara, the Odia version of round shaped ganjifa playing cards. On the backside of the cards, one finds the depiction of 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

IMG_3145

IMG_3149

 

Chitrakaras also make attractive Janukhanda Parasurama Handi. According to the Purana, in Tretaya Yuga, Ramachandra and Parasurama had once met during the exile years. To test the ability of Ramachandra, Parasurama had asked him to hold and break his bow. Ramachandra could qualify easily the test which Parasurama had not expected. Ramachandra asked him to tie an illustrated pot with paintings of dasavatara in his leg and wander to beg. Parasurama had come wandering to the abode of Mahendragiri Mountain, not far from Paralakhemundi. From then on it has become a part of Paralakhemundi tradition to create such beautiful illustrated pots and sold to those desiring spiritual begging.

IMG_3131

IMG_3142

The hornwork of Paralakhemundi is globally known which are made chiefly out of the horns of cattle and buffalo. The art was originally well-known to the tribal communities of the region. They used to make blowing instruments from the horns. In the later part of the 19th century, this craft was given a big boost by the Gajapati kings of Paralakhemundi. They had engaged skilled maharanas of village Pitala near Aska in Ganjam District. Gradually they started making combs, elephants, horses, prawn, idols of Lord Jagannath and son on.

IMG_3153

IMG_3156

IMG_3160

IMG_3162

IMG_3163

IMG_3167

IMG_3173

IMG_3175

IMG_3176

Paralakhemundi is truly South Odisha’s heritage capital and for me, it has got special attraction as it is my birthplace.

IMG_3230

IMG_3234

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Duba Valley – Ganjam’s Offbeat Sojourn

Ganjam, Odisha’s southern corridor is an exceptionally fabulous land for its enchanting rural life, forests and mountain valleys, exotic beaches and lakeside at Chilika, art and craft, music, fares and colourful festivals and many more.

IMG_3074

IMG_2942

Yet amidst all these charming characters that attract tourists and travellers around the year there sets a hidden gem, the Duba Valley Retreat, a sprawling farm and fish ponds in the north-eastern part of the district. 

IMG_2245

IMG_1913

IMG_2008

Established in a tranquil setting surrounded by a large number of fish ponds, sal forest, mango orchards, lemon garden, herbal estates and many more, the Duba Valley Retreat (previously known as Sherton Ecoresort) is a destination by itself for the soul seeking travellers. 

IMG_2920

IMG_2246

IMG_2063

IMG_2059

The nearby villages of Duba Valley are known for blackbuck, an antelope species, which is popularly known in Odia ‘Krusnasara Mruga’. The male blackbucks are especially attractive for their long ringed horns ranging between 35 and 75 cm and two-tone colouration, while the upper parts and the outsides of the legs are dark brown to black, the underparts and inside of the legs are all white. 

Also, Read Here:

ATHMALLIK – IN THE HEARTLAND OF MAHANADI WILDERNESS

IMG_1771

IMG_1783

Blackbucks graze on low grasses in groups. They are active mostly during the day time. Due to their regular need for water, they prefer areas where water is permanently available. 

IMG_1754

Though once widely distributed in India today there are small pockets where blackbucks are found in small herds. Their population has gone down mainly because of hunting. However, in Duba Valley blackbucks are protected by villagers because of their significance in Hinduism and due to a local belief. 

IMG_1799

A popular legend goes: many years ago due to a perennial drought condition, the farmers of this part of Ganjam were going through farming stress. One day some of the farmers while wandering in a pretty grassland area saw blackbuck herds grazing undisturbed. It was a coincidence, immediately after this sighting the mother earth rejuvenated receiving adequate rainfall. The village folks started believing that the blackbucks are rain messengers. A symbiotic relationship developed between the farmers and the blackbucks and from then on they are not being harmed. 

Also, Read Here:

BLISS IN THE WILDERNESS – LULUNG ARANYA NIVAS

At Duba Valley, it is a delight to watch these innocent creatures under the protection of villagers. Incidentally, they are the second high-speed runners after the cheetah on earth. 

IMG_1803

At Duba Valley, you start your day listening to the musical chirping of countless water and tree birds. A short walk in the valley will lift your soul to nirvana enjoying the innocence of nature and the simplicity of rural life. There are 40 ponds, big and small developed for fishing. The biggest is of 17 acres facing the rowhouse cottages. If you are passionate for angling in a rustic setting, it is Duba Valley for you where you can spend a couple of days detoxifying all your mundane stress of city life. You watch fishermen in actions and part of the fresh catch become key menu for lunch or dinner or both. 

IMG_1910

IMG_1911

IMG_1912

IMG_1920

IMG_2010

IMG_2017

IMG_2028

Another key attraction of Duba Valley is relishing khani paka rice (mined rice), which is unpolished having high nutritional value. In Ganjam, a particular variety of rice is stored in underground pits. The rice matures in the heat of the earth. The rice takes very little time to cook, just as raw rice, but tastes like boiled rice. 

Travel Tips

Duba Valley Retreat is located in Jagannath Prasad Block of Ganjam District at a distance of 180 km from Bhubaneswar via Daspalla. Surrounded by pristine forest and villages, it is strategically located to access the other important travel destinations, such as Daringibadi and Satkosia on Mahanadi River. The retreat has 12 cottages and other recreational facilities.

IMG_9074

IMG_1979

In the forested valleys near Duba lives Sudha Kondh, a branch of Kondh tribe who speak in Kui language. Having deep faith in nature, the Sudha Kondh communities are known for the simple lifestyle and warm hospitality. 

IMG_3062

IMG_3040

IMG_3016

IMG_3015

IMG_3006

IMG_3108

IMG_3064

Once used to be practitioners of animistic religions, the Sudha Kondhs, are now Hindus. However, until now, they have retained some of their traditions, such as tree worship, the performance of dance and music and living in mud houses having wooden posts fences.   

Also, Read Here:

KANDHAMAL – HERITAGE IN WOOD

IMG_2947

IMG_2957

IMG_2975

IMG_2992

The nearby town of Bellaguntha is universally known for its unique flexible brass fish craft. Originated in the 9th century CE under the patronage of Bhanja rulers, the craft of flexible brass fish however received due recognition in the 17th century CE. In the past, it was considered as the symbol of Lord Vishnu’s Matsya (Fish) incarnation and was also considered as the symbol of peace. During marriages, traditionally the girl would be sent with a wooden box, which would include sindoor, kajal, money and a piece of brass fish as it is treated as a symbol of peace. Today, however, it is used as decorative items. The main attraction of this craft is the smooth movement. A flexible fish is split into 3 parts, head, torso and tail. 

IMG_7157

IMG_7160

Today the idea of travel has travelled from the mainstream to offbeat. Hectic city life, detachment from one’s roots, the flow of information and growing sensitivity towards mother nature, sustainability and crave for fresh organic farm food are being most sought after travel experiences among new age travellers. 

IMG_2124

IMG_2198

IMG_2119

IMG_2095

IMG_2105

Truly Duba Valley Retreat spread over hundreds of acres of pristine farmlands and fish ponds in the heartland of rural Ganjam is a travel experience to desire for. 

IMG_1871

IMG_2131

IMG_2147

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Bliss in the Wilderness – Lulung Aranya Nivas

2 million years ago! Our species Homo sapiens did not exist then. The earth’s climate and the terrain looked very different from now what you see. In Odisha, which today is the most populated region, the coastal plain was all under seawater. Around that time, however, in the eastern part of Similipal, close to the present Budhabalanga River and its tributaries, had witnessed a spurt of activities by a band of Homo erectus, a species of ape in human evolution that had evolved in Africa and had spread in parts of Asia and Europe, in search of food. Homo erectus used sharp stone tools and lived on hunting and gathering. Kuliana, a modern village near Baripada was one of their earliest homes in Indian Subcontinent.

IMG_2741

IMG_2745

IMG_2672

IMG_2692

IMG_2664

The periphery of Similipal, Odisha’s Earliest Human Settlement

In the high-tech 21st century it is difficult to imagine how would be the landscape in the remote Stone Age and what other animals coexisted with them. The entire area must be a thick jungle and a major watershed in North Odisha Highland.

Today, one does not get disappointed, thanks to the existence of a large forested region, called Similipal, one of the 11 UNESCO declared biospheres in India and a major tiger reserve.

IMG_2652

IMG_2658

IMG_2657

Lulung forms of Similipal’s eastern border and entrance to its core area. Surrounded by lush green forest, sky touching mountains, sprawling meadows, gushing rivers and streams and tiny hamlets of local Adivasis, Lulung is Similipal’s best-kept secret. Here bliss meets wilderness in perfect harmony.

IMG_2531

Travel Tips

Lulung is the entry point of Eastern Similipal near Pithabata Gate at a distance of 22 km from Baripada Town and 273 km from Bhubaneswar. There are regular buses from Bhubaneswar to Baripada throughout the day and night (6 hours). One can also take a train from Bhubaneswar to Balasore and then a bus for Baripada. From Baripada one can reach Lulung hiring an auto-rickshaw.  For Aranya Nivas, one needs to book through online (https://simlipalforestresort.com/)

IMG_2504

IMG_2500

The pride of Lulung is, however, its star attraction Aranya Nivas, a luxury resort in the lap of nature. Spread over an area of 18 acres, the resort is an ultimate home in luxury for the soul seeking travellers.

IMG_2439

Similipal once used to be the hunting ground for the Maharajas of Mayurbhanj was declared as one of the first tiger reserves in India in 1956 and project tiger in 1973. Spread over an area of 2700 square km, Similipal is one of India’s densest Sal forest. The tribal communities of Ho, Munda, Bhumija, Santhal and Mankadia live in the buffer area. The forest of Similipal falls under Eastern Highlands Moist Deciduous Forests Ecoregion with tropical moist broadleaf forest and tropical moist deciduous forests.

Also, Read Here:

ATHMALLIK – IN THE HEARTLAND OF MAHANADI WILDERNESS

IMG_2514

IMG_2518

IMG_2452

The indigenous people living inside Similipal and its periphery live harmoniously with jungle. They don’t allow anybody to damage the forest resources that they have been depending upon for ages.

IMG_2754

According to their belief, Ban (Forest) Devta (God) guards their forest and protect them from diseases and natural calamities. A bunch of terracotta horses and elephants guard Ban Devta, who has shrines under large Karma trees.

IMG_2431

Karma dance and songs are performed in honour of Karma Devta. Both men and women go to the jungle accompanied by groups of drummers and cut one or more branches of the Karma tree after worshipping it.

Also, Read Here:

MYSTIC NILAGIRI – THE ABORIGINAL HEARTLAND OF BALASORE WITH A ROYAL PAST

IMG_2323

IMG_2256

A legend goes: seven brothers were living together. The six elders would work in the field and the youngest would stay at home. He would entertain in dance and songs around a karma tree in the courtyard with his six sisters-in-law. One day, they were so engaged in dance and song that the brothers’ lunch was not carried to the field by the wives. When the brother arrived at the home they became agitated and threw the karma tree into a river. The youngest brother left home in anger. The evil days fell on the remaining brothers. Their house was damaged, the crops failed and they virtually starved. While wandering the youngest brother found the karma tree floating in the river. Then he invoked the god who returned everything. Thereafter he returned home and called his brothers and told them that because they insulted Karma Devta, they fell on evil days. From then on Karma Devta is worshipped with full devotion.

Also, Read Here:

DHENKANAL – WARS, WILDERNESS AND ROYAL HOSPITALITY

IMG_2591

IMG_2629

IMG_2633

IMG_2650

The worship of Karma Devta shows the deep respect for forest among the local Adivasis. At Aranya Nivas, the tribal faith is truly appreciated. The shrine of Ban Devta which fell inside the resorts before its construction is not only restored but is allowed for regular worship by the locals.

IMG_2433

Everyday evening a special programme karma dance is arranged for resident guests. As the dark shrouds after sunset, the swing of women dancers accompanied by soulful Karma songs with the beating of dhols by their male companions around sacred fire drive everyone liberating themselves into uniquely crafted human stories with worshipping nature forming the centre stage.

IMG_2350

IMG_2374

The luxurious resort of Aranya Nivas is a plant lover’s paradise. From Spider Lilly to Lemongrass and from Fern to Temple Grass and Japan Lilly, the surrounding of walking paths of the resort’s sprawling meadow area is a treat to eyes.

IMG_2551

IMG_2553

IMG_2557

IMG_2565

IMG_2568

IMG_2571

IMG_2577

IMG_2579

IMG_2395

IMG_2404

Similipal is notoriously known for malaria though it is reduced now drastically. However, Lemongrass plants are tastefully planted as screen guards before each suit of the property to ensure protection from mosquito bites.

IMG_2521

IMG_2419

The poolside of the resort is a place to rejuvenate with.

IMG_2536

But what you cherish most is the gushing sound of the river throughout the night and the morning transforming your suit’s neighbourhood into a musical aura.

IMG_2544

IMG_2448

IMG_2453

The gastronomic experience at the resort is the icing on the cake. On regular intervals, you are served the best of herbal tea.

IMG_2522

IMG_2524

IMG_2528

Truly Lulung Aranya Nivas is bliss in the wilderness.

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Kandhamal – Heritage in Wood

They call themselves children of Kui Dina (Kui Country) and for outsiders, it is Kandhamal (named after Kondh Tribe). Thousands of square miles of rolling hills and dense jungle, Kandhamal is a nature lover’s paradise. Her forest is rich in majestic Sal trees followed by Piasal, Kendu, Gambhari, Kusum, Harida, Bahada, Amla, Mango, Tamarind, Mahua, and many more.

IMG_1278

IMG_1249 - Copy

IMG_1187

The forests of Kandhamal can be classified as dry and wet deciduous forests depending upon the season you visit. On its deep valley mountain floors, there are hundreds of villages of Kondh Tribe scattered around the deep jungles. The 19th-century British romanticists referred to this area as ‘Kondhistan’.

IMG_1692

IMG_1602

IMG_1636

The Kondhs speak in a Dravidian language called ‘Kui’ which is spoken in an extreme nasal form.

IMG_1192

The utilisation of forest wood is an integral part of their heritage. Their houses are made of wooden posts plastered with mud. Their settlements are fenced with wooden posts erected in a line, some time for hundreds of meters.

Also, Read Here:

BARBARA FOREST – A BLEND OF NATURE, INDIGENOUS CULTURE AND ARCHAEOLOGY

IMG_1218 - Copy

IMG_1224 - Copy

IMG_6269

IMG_1055

When you get into their huts you will be surprised to discover most of their material objects, such as plough, yoke, spade, pounding posts, and bells for cows and goats, are made of wood.

IMG_6216

IMG_1226

IMG_1223 - Copy

IMG_3973

However, what strikes you most is their Meriah Sacrifice wooden posts. The Kondhs in the interior hills practises Meriah sacrifice (earlier they would sacrifice a human, now a buffalo).

Also, Read Here:

A JOURNEY THROUGH KONDH TERRITORY, A TRIBE THAT ONCE SACRIFICED HUMANS

IMG_1048

IMG_1051

IMG_1053

IMG_1097

The term Meriah is a corrupt form of the Kondh term ‘Mervi’, which refers to the Kondh God Mervi Pennu, a brother of the Earth Goddess Tari Pennu. The Kondhs believe that buffalo sacrifice would give them good crops and protection against all diseases and natural disaster. The buffalo is purchased and brought to the middle of the village. After worshipping earth goddess and the victim, the buffalo is tied to a wooden pole.

IMG_1333

IMG_1335

IMG_1339

IMG_1340

IMG_1346

IMG_1206 - Copy

The victim is decorated with flowers and vermillion. Then the Kondhs bring their knives and tangi (axe) and after getting intoxicated they sing and dance around the victim for a few hours. Then at a particular moment, the priest (Jani) signals and all of them (numbering between 30 and 50) hit the buffalo at the same time. The blood stuck to the instrument is considered auspicious and the instrument would prove ultimately to be very lucky, efficient and productive that year.

Throughout this event, the Kondhs assign the buffalo the supernatural soul carrier. Inside many Kondh traditional houses you will find buffalo horned wooden posts showing nice carved designs (clan marks), which are worshipped as symbols of the household ancestors.

IMG_1264 - Copy

Interestingly, the Hindu God of Death, Yama is also associated with water buffalo acting as a mythic vehicle (vahana) to the ether world. Archaeological interpretations also suggest that sacrifices of buffalos were seemingly performed by the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation for some unknown religious rituals. Today, not only Kandhamal but in many parts of Eastern India, buffalo acts as the chief sacrificial animal in a class of structurally related death and ancestor worship ceremonies.

Travel Tips:

Baliguda is at the heart of Kandhamal strategically located on the highway that connects Bhubaneswar with Rayagada, Kandhamal and Kalahandi. Most of the Kondh villages are around Baliguda, which has also decent staying options. The village of Podpada is before Baliguda (20 km) on the highway from Bhubaneswar. It takes about 7 hours in a private vehicle to reach Baliguda. There are also comfortable night buses. The other option for stay is at Daringibadi, a popular tourist place among Indians located at a distance of 50 km from Baliguda.

The Baliguda region of Kandhamal, which also forms the core of Kui Dina, was under the rule of the Gangas from the 10th century and under the Bhanjas of Ghumsar from 18th century until the time it was annexed by the British in the mid 19th century. During the reign of the Bhanjas (18th-19th centuries), Kandhamal also saw architectural activities, similar to the coastal plains of Odisha.

IMG_0962

IMG_0963

IMG_0964

IMG_0974

IMG_0987

IMG_0967

One major aspect of the architectural tradition is the extensive use of wood carvings in-ceiling and doorjambs, similar to ones found at Biranchi Narayan Temple at Buguda.

The Nrusingha Temple at Podapoda Village on the highway that connects Phulbani with Baliguda is the only remains of rich wooden heritage. Though mostly gone, the temple has been known for its wooden gems featuring Tantric rituals and geometrical motifs on its lintel. Unfortunately, its roof is replaced with tin sheets now. Depiction of peacocks forming a circle at the central part of the lintel is a major draw. Besides, there are representations of garudas and monkeys noticed in the interior of the structure.

Also, Read Here:

ILLUSTRATING RAMAYANA KATHA – BIRANCHI NARAYAN TEMPLE AT BUGUDA

IMG_1008

IMG_0977

IMG_1009

IMG_1012

IMG_1013

IMG_1021

IMG_1030

IMG_1031

IMG_1034

The wooden heritage of Kandhamal is truly unique, but sadly many of its priceless treasures are in a sorry state of preservation due to lack of patronage and loss of interest among Kondhs. To save them we need a strategic plan inviting heritage conservationists, historians, travel professionals and of course involving local stakeholders, such the community members of Kondh Tribe and non-Tribal communities.

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Dhenkanal – Wars, Wilderness and Royal Hospitality

Year 1781! While most of Western Europe was at the forefront of the industrial revolution, a part of Odisha was passing through a political turmoil.  Odisha would witness intense rivalry between princely states and with the Maratha Force.

IMG_0267

Dhenkanal, one of the flourishing princely states in Odisha located amidst the dense jungle of Gadajat Mountains was a key witness to the political unrest happening in the 18th century. An 18-day Maratha seize had been the highlight which is narrated distinctly in ‘Samar Tarang’, a war poem written by the contemporary writer Brajanath Badajena.

Travel Tips

Dhenkanal is a medium-sized city located at a distance of 80 km from Bhubaneswar. Both Dhenkanal (http://www.dhenkanalpalace.com/) and Gajalaxmi Palaces (http://gajlaxmipalace.com/) facilitate as heritage homestays and have become favourite destinations among overseas travellers. While there are 13 rooms available at Dhenkanal Palace, the Gajalaxmi Palace has six rooms for guests. While at Dhenkanal do visit the Dokra village at Sadeiberani and the seat of Mahima Cult at Joranda. Both the properties can arrange your exploration into the enchanting countryside.

IMG_0253

IMG_0251

IMG_0228

IMG_0101

IMG_0092

IMG_0090

Today, the vast sprawl of Dhenkanal Fort is no more, but what attracts you is the splendid Dhenkanal Palace which came up a century after the Maratha seize.

Also, Read Here:

ATHMALLIK – IN THE HEARTLAND OF MAHANADI WILDERNESS

IMG_0293

IMG_0298

IMG_0297

The Maratha army under the leadership of young Chimanji had started an expedition towards Bengal to collect the payment of chauth from the British. The route they followed was through Odisha. Historical records reveal that a large number of princely states in Odisha had supplied the Marathas with men and material with hope to receive help to bring down the power of their political rivalries.

The Raja of Keonjhar was one such opportunistic who could not withstand the progress of Dhenkanal. He had supplied the largest contingent of 20,000 men to the Maratha Force.

Also, Read Here:

DASPALLA – A JOURNEY THROUGH ODISHA’S UNTAMED FRONTIERS

The Marathas had an unsuccessful attempt to seize Dhenkanal before a couple of years. This time well prepared, they started from Cuttack to Dhenkanal. However, it was the peak of summer. The intense heat and the lack of basic provision forced them to return to Cuttack. Soon after the monsoon, Chimanji assisted by Bhavani Pundit marched towards Dhenkanal with a huge army and provisions.

IMG_0095

IMG_0110

IMG_0269

The Raja of Dhenkanal at that time was Sri Trilochan Dev, a respectful self-esteemed man who had denied giving the peskash to the Marathas. The angry Marathas wanted to give a lesson to the raja of Dhenkanal with the monetary help received from Manju Chaudhary, a banker from Cuttack.

Also, Read Here:

MYSTIC NILAGIRI – THE ABORIGINAL HEARTLAND OF BALASORE WITH A ROYAL PAST

The Maratha army came as far as Motari, a place 8 miles before Dhenkanal. This was the gateway to the territory and was well guarded by several soldiers. Sri Trilochan Dev lost no time in preparing to deal with the situation. He had created a strong fort on one side by a hill range and deep moat full of water, the fort could successfully hold at by an invading army.

IMG_0294

IMG_0262

The Marathas marched towards the fort from Motari even though they had received a warning to return from Sri Trilochan Dev. But the Maratha Governor refused to listen unless the pride of the king was crushed.

Thereafter Sri Trilochan Dev ordered his soldiers to chase the Marathas and the Odia Paikas furiously attacked the enemy. The Marathas were put to utter confusion and were forced to retreat to Cuttack with a good number of soldiers either killed or wounded.

But things did not move always in favour of Dhenkanal.

Around that time, again Chimanji had planned an invasion of Bengal for collection of chauths and hence was on his way from Nagpur. When he entered Cuttack, Manju Chaudhary went to remind him about the defeat of Martha army in the hands of the Raja of Dhenkanal. He also provoked that if this trend continues Marathas would not get their peskash even from other feudal states and that would paralyse their Odisha administration. Chimanji was convinced and immediately decided for the second attack against the Raja of Dhenkanal.

IMG_0279

IMG_0251

It was the rainy season and the terrain to Dhenkanal had become inaccessible. As the winter arrived considering that Dhenkanal was situated in the middle of thick jungle and access to it was very difficult, the Marathas procured the services of two local persons, Kistenraja and Chaitan Das.

‘Samar Tarang’ vividly describes – the Raja of Dhenkanal, Sri Trilochan Dev was confident of defending himself and his people inside to the fort against any attack from the enemy. Understanding the march of the Maratha army towards the fort, he at once ordered the garrison to take adequate defence measures to protect the fort from the outside. The fort wall had a good number of hidden holes which were now filled with cannons, guns and even arrows. Some raised platforms close to the fort were erected to serve the purpose of watchtowers to observe the movement of the enemy from the distance.

But the army of Maratha was huge. Upon approaching them, the Odia Paikas were frightened. The Marathas could easily enter the fort and seized it.

But it was not a smooth affair for the Marathas. During the seize of Dhenkanal Fort, there were frequent raids by the hilly tribe called Charas. They plundered or seized the belongings of the Maratha soldiers and put them into trouble.

To overcome this, the Marathas sought help from neighbouring kingdoms. The king of Keonjhar came forward immediately with 20,000 soldiers.

After most heroically defending the fort for 18 days, Sri Trillochan Dev abandoned it to the possession of the Marathas. But Marathas lost interest in Dhenkanal as it was not a priority for them. After the departure of Chimanji, Sri Trilochan Dev raged a war against the king of Keonjhar. In this battle, the chief commander of soldiers was beheaded by the soldiers of Dhenkanal.

A large complex of apartments, courts and gardens nestled against the gradual slope of Gadajat Hills of the Eastern Ghats is today’s Dhenkanal Palace, built in the 19th century and converted into a heritage hotel. A fusion of Odia, Rajput and European architecture, Dhenkanal Palace shines like a pearl in the heart of Dhenkanal City. A legend goes: in the 16th century, there was a Savara Chief called Dhenka who ruled the present Dhenkanal region. However, he was defeated in a war by Sridhar Bhanja, a chieftain from the neighbouring kingdom Gada Besalia. The dying wish of Dhenka was to preserve the name of the clan. The victor king agreed to the wish, and thus he renamed the newly acquired kingdom as Dhenkanal, Nala here means hilly terrain slope.

IMG_0285

IMG_0280

IMG_0273

IMG_0268

Dhenkanal is a major elephant corridor and even today there are reports of human-elephant conflicts from time to time. As you enter the lounge, you are invited by the display of a large stuffed elephant head. It is told that in 1835 the elephant had gone made destroying human settlements and even killing people. The king for the safety of his subjects had killed the elephant whose head now is displayed as a matter of pride.

IMG_0270

Dhenkanal is truly the capital of royal heritage in central-costal Odisha. Gajalaxmi Palace at Borpoda amidst the dense forest and the foothills of Megha is Odisha’s only homestay overlooking a jungle kingdom.

IMG_0237

IMG_0239

Built-in the first half of the 20th century, the view from the palace is incredible. The forest surrounding it is infested with wild beasts of all kinds, such as elephants, leopards, wild boars, and civets.

IMG_0214

IMG_0218

IMG_0221

IMG_0224

IMG_0225

IMG_0230

IMG_0231

IMG_0232

However, the key attraction here is the display of Naryanpatna (in Koraput District), man-eating tiger. Its piercing eyes and sharp rows of teeth was the stare of death to 83 people it had killed and eaten before being put down by Late Kumar Saheb in 1986.

IMG_0248

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Athmallik – In the Heartland of Mahanadi Wilderness

Imagine 19th century Mahanadi, a river that formed the lifeline of Odisha and the only passage to commute between Sambalpur and Cuttack and further Puri for Jagannath darshan. Mahanadi looks pristine but at times could turn hostile for sailors, thanks to its floor filled with large and small rocks that could cause accidents if you are not a skilled and vigilant captain.

IMG_0498

Flat bottomed boats that float even today are well suited for Mahanadi navigation. The boatmen would carry racks and hoes with which they would clear a narrow passage just sufficient to let their craft pass, where there were chances of rocks impeding navigation.

Also, Read Here:

SPLENDOURS OF SONEPUR – IN THE LAND OF RAMAYANA’S LANKA

IMG_0500

IMG_0458

The people living on the banks of Mahanadi subsisted by river trading. They would carry salt, spices, coconut and brass utensils from Cuttack to Sambalpur in exchange of cotton, wheat, oilseeds, clarified butter, oil, molasses, iron, turmeric and ikat cloths.

Everything would go fine till they reach near Athmallik where Mahanadi would become a gorge, now flowing like a snake amidst densely forested hills of the Eastern Ghats in the south and Gadajat in the north. The river here is also infested with gharials, the Indian counterpart of American alligators. To gain courage and for safe passage in the gorge, the boatman would seek the blessing of Maa Binkai and Maa Konkai, two sister goddesses, whose abodes are separated by the river.

Also, Read Here:

BADAMBA – EXPLORING THE MIDDLE MAHANADI KINGDOM

IMG_0485

IMG_0507

IMG_0467

IMG_0479

IMG_0466

IMG_0464

Dramatic Setting at Binkhai

Today this may sound like a fairytale, but when you are at Binkai your soul is simply transported to yet another era of mysteries and courage of river people amidst the breathtaking collage of mountains and river.

Travel Tips

Athmallik is located at a distance of 192 km from Bhubaneswar and it takes about 5 hours of drive on a scenic highway. However, one can also take a train up to Boinda from Bhubaneswar (the best option could be Bhubaneswar – Bolangir Intercity, which leaves Bhubaneswar at 6 AM and arrives at Boinda at 9.30 AM). From Boinda if informed priorly, Anupam Dash can arrange a vehicle for pick up. His phone no is +91 9937412336.

Deep Forest Farmstay is about 40 km from Boinda Station. The drive is scenic, especially on the Ghat Road. On your both sides there are majestic Gadajat Hills and mountain streams in the western periphery of Satkosia Wildlife Park.

 

IMG_0448

IMG_0445

Athmallik located in the geographical centre of Odisha is the closet town from Binkai. Steeped in history, Athmallik was a princely state at the time of British Raj. Nestled on the foothills of Panchdhara Mountains and surrounded by the dense jungle of Hatidhara, the buffer area of Satkosia Tiger Reserve, the origin of Athmallik State is obscure.

IMG_0396

IMG_0324

IMG_0309

IMG_0319

IMG_0314

Glimpses of Panchdhara Mountains and Forest around Athmalik

In the 11th century CE, a jagir was established by King Pratap Deo of the Kadamba Dynasty. Pratap Deo was said to have found a Honda metal vessel which was considered an auspicious sign, after which the territory was named as ‘Hondpa’. Centuries later one of the chiefs divided the state into eight divisions and placed one sub-chief called ‘Malla’ in each division to suppress the unruly tribes. After this event, the kingdom’s name was changed from ‘Hondpa’ to ‘Athmallik’.

IMG_0567

IMG_0326

IMG_0304

IMG_0305

IMG_0313

Folklore goes: Pratap Deo was a royal scion of Amer (Jaipur) who had come to Puri as a pilgrim along with his six brothers and one sister. For some reason, he ran on trouble and lost four of his brothers in a battle against the king of Puri. As there was no chance for survival, he escaped to the jungle of Bonai. Here at Bonai after he settled down without any fear he arranged his sister’s marriage to a scion of Keonjhar royal family. But the marriage did not last long as his brother-in-law was murdered during a conspiracy.

Once again to overcome threats he had to look for a safe place. Fortunes brought him to Boudh on river Mahanadi and then to present Athmallik, further downstream of Mahanadi, which was ruled by 8 mallas or village chiefs during that time.

At the time of British Raj, Athmallik was one among the 26 feudatory states of Odisha. Today what is left of the erstwhile state are the Kishore Bhavan Palace and an older dilapidated palace on the periphery of the town.

IMG_0341

IMG_0516

IMG_0515

IMG_0530

Vestiges of Royal Heritage at Athmallik

The region around Athmallik also has the largest number of hot springs in Asia. There are 84 in Deulajhari, a holy shrine of Lord Shiva, out of which 24 are accessible.

IMG_0373

Deulajhari Shiva Temple

According to local belief before Pratap Deo arrived and when the tribal chiefs still ruled, the Lord Jagannath lived in a cave by a wide-eyed, limbless wooden statue worshipped by the indigenous Sabara people. But one day, Hindu priests arrived along the river by boat and kidnapped Jagannath, installing him at the main temple of Puri, where he has remained ever since.

IMG_0399

IMG_0401

Jagannath Temple Complex in Athmallik

At Athmallik, Jagannath is believed to have once been adorned by what was the largest diamond in the world, before becoming known as the Koh – i – Noor.

The Panchadhara Mountain Range covers a vast area of dense forest and is a prominent elephant corridor. A major watershed, the hills run in parallel to Mahanadi. The mountain range is named after being the source of 5 perennial streams that flow in different directions before forming tributaries of Mahanadi. There are splashing waterfalls deep inside the forest.

IMG_0609

IMG_0333

IMG_0332

IMG_0425

Oriental Scops Owl

IMG_0325

Deep Forest Farmstay

A major attraction of Panchdhara is Deep Forest Farm Stay, a destination itself for nature-loving travellers. Spread over a land of 4 acres the property has been crafted by Anupam Dash, an avid wildlife photographer and a passionate naturalist. The facility is located in the buffer area of Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary in Hatidhara Forest. As you take the winding forest road with the mountain streams in the backdrops, the Deep Forest Farmstay welcomes you to its abode with open arms.

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Leepakshi – Incomplete Grandeur

A two-hour drive from Bengaluru on Hyderabad Highway drops you at a mysterious land surrounded by a cluster of dramatic hills and a vast semi-arid plateau of Andhra’s Anantapur District at the vicinity of the dried up Pennar River. A legend goes: this was where the blind Jatayu fell, wounded after a futile battle against Ravana, who was carrying away Sita. When Sri Ram reached the place, he saw the bird and said compassionately, “Le Pakshi” – “rise, bird”, in Telugu.

IMG_4704

IMG_4706

Keeping aside the legend, the tiny town of Leepakshi is however known for its 16th century Veerabhadra Temple, a grandeur in Vijayanagar art and architecture, and one of the finest monuments in the whole of South India. The temple is built on a tortoise shaped low hill called Kuruma Shaila.

IMG_4700

IMG_4653

Veerabhadra, the fierce god created in his rage after the Daksha Yagna and the immolation of Parvati is the main deity here.

The construction of the temple of Veerabhadra is attributed to the initiative of two contemporary brothers, namely Veeranna and Virupanna at the provincial Vijayanagar Court of Penukonda. It is said that Virupanna was the officer in charge of the state treasury of the provincial government at Penukonda, administered by a governor appointed by Achyuta Deva Raya (1529 – 1547 CE), the Vijayanagar Emperor from Hampi.

Also, Read Here:

KANCHIPURAM MURALS – AN ARTISTIC SOJOURN

IMG_4727

IMG_4730

IMG_4735

IMG_4757

The Ruins of Penukonda – The Provincial Capital of Vijayanagar Empire

Penukonda or the Ghanagiri (as described in Vijayanagar inscriptions) was an important and influential province of the Vijayanagar Empire, and the rulers of Vijayanagar and Penukonda were also related through matrimonial alliances. The cult of Veerabhadra was quite popular during this period throughout the Vijayanagar Empire. He was the mascot, the war-cry and a source of inspiration for the Vijayanagar army. It is believed that both the brothers had a special affinity towards Lord Veerabhadra and had been inspired to build a temple at Leepakshi, which had been strongly linked with Puranic tradition.

Also, Read Here:

KAKATIYA DYNASTY – AN ARCHITECTURAL SOJOURN

The Veerabhadra Temple complex is a wonderful example of Vijayanagar architecture. Filled with gopuras, vimanas and sprawling courtyards the temple’s major architectural features are the ranga mantapa and ardha mantapa. Carved with an exquisite array of images of dancers, musicians and the Puranic deities, like those of Anantha Sayana, Dattatreya, Brahma, Tumburu, Narada and Rambha, the temple is however incomplete. The sprawling Kalyana – Mantapa meant as a sacred space for celebrating the wedding of Shiva with his beloved Girija has splendid and carved massive pillars, but there is no roof over them.

IMG_4223

IMG_4227

IMG_4259

IMG_4262

IMG_4298

IMG_4300

IMG_4591

A major attraction of the temple is the ceiling murals depicting 14 aspects of Shiva, flanked by rishis whose gazes direct a viewer’s eyes to subsequent depictions from the killing of demon Andaka to Ardhanairswara, a figure whose body is composed of Shiva on the right side and Parvati on the left. There are also manifestations of Shiva as Kirata (boar hunter), Shiva’s wedding with Girija, scenes of Krishna’s childhood, and the legend Manu – Neeti – Cholan who disposed justice even to animals. There is also a scene of Viranna and Virupanna worshipping Shiva and Parvati in the company of other courtiers.

Travel Tips

Leepkshi is located at a distance of 120 km from Bengaluru off Hyderabad Highway in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. The nearest town is Hindupur, which is 15 km away. It takes about 2 and half hours to reach Lepakshi from Bengaluru. There are both buses as well as rail connectivity to Hindupur from Lepakshi. If you are travelling by bus or train hire an auto from Hindupur to Lepakshi. Lepakshi can be covered in a day trip. Penukonda is further north about 50 km from Lepakshi.

IMG_4304

IMG_4314_1

IMG_4329

IMG_4341_1

IMG_4371_1

IMG_4405

IMG_4406

IMG_4421

IMG_4419

IMG_4428

IMG_4443

IMG_4401

IMG_4474

The murals of Leepakshi manifest the contemporary life in Vijayanagar Court and society. Full of vitality with protruding eyes, angular postures, grace and delightful movement these provide primary pieces of evidence to appreciate the grandeur of cosmopolitan Vijajayanagar. The costumes of men and women, colour embroidered sarees, jewellery, hairstyle, tall headgears (kulavi) are among the finest in Indian mural tradition. The wealthy traders and officials in the 16th-century court are seen dressed in Persian styles are depicted in Leepakshi murals. According to Brigitte Khan Majlis, an expert on Leepakshi murals, the textiles show a wide spectrum of patterns, some bearing a close similarity to extant cotton textiles of Kalamkari tradition, produced along the east coast for export to Indonesia in 17th and 18th centuries.

Also, Read Here:

KAMAN PANDIGAI

IMG_4606

IMG_4561

IMG_4577

IMG_4492

IMG_4486

IMG_4447

IMG_4410

IMG_4416_1

IMG_4384

IMG_4371_1

IMG_4363

IMG_4647

Veerabhadra Temple’s yet another major attraction is a mammoth Ganesha – hewn in stone and leaning against a rock. Perpendicular to it is a massive Naga with three coils and seven hoods. It forms a sheltering canopy over a black granite Shiva lingam.

IMG_4286

IMG_4269

IMG_4282

IMG_4292

The first sculpture at Leepkashi is, however, you will encounter is a spectacular Nandi of 27 feet length and 15 feet height, reputedly India’s biggest monolithic Nandi.

IMG_4684

IMG_4695

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Bichitrapur – The Other Bhitarkanika

‘If there are no mangroves, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree without roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea.’

Words of a Thai Fisherman from the Andaman Coast

IMG_8440

You have seen Bhitarkanika, widely celebrated as Mini Amazon. But perhaps you may not be aware of North Balasore Coast that has preserved yet another mangrove, though much smaller in size. Bichitrapur, the mangrove coast of Balasore is an ecological utopia.

IMG_8405

IMG_8476

IMG_8364

IMG_8365

A 10-minute boat ride from Khadibili through the meandering mangrove creeks will drop you at a no man’s beach, the mangrove paradise of Bichitrapur. On your way, you come across numerous fishing boats mostly built in clinker technique and locally known as patia on both sides of the creek.

Also, Read Here:

TALASARI BEACH – BEYOND THE RHYTHMIC SEA

IMG_8182

IMG_8190

IMG_8197

IMG_8211

IMG_8228

IMG_8477

IMG_8484

IMG_8457

IMG_8472

Bichitrapur is one of the least explored mangrove coasts in Odisha and therefore retained its character as an ecological hotspot. A sheltering ground for resident and migratory birds and ghost red crabs, the major attraction here is the numerous stumps of water weathering trees strewn across the marshy land and sea waves gently tossing them.

Also, Read Here:

CHANDIPUR – BEYOND THE VANISHING SEA

IMG_8418

IMG_8403

IMG_8356

IMG_8360

IMG_8357

IMG_8295

IMG_8270

IMG_8308

IMG_8323

IMG_8326

IMG_8374

Mangroves are part of the coastal ecosystem in the tropical and sub-tropical world in Asia, Africa, Australia and America. The largest remaining tract of mangrove forest in the world is found in the Sundarbans on the edge of Bay of Bengal in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Moving south from Sundarbans, the tiny tract of Bichitrapur is the first mangrove region in the east coast.

The term ‘mangrove’ is derived from two words ‘mangoe’ (Portuguese), which means a mangrove tree and ‘grove’ (English), which means a community of trees.

Travel Tips

Bichitrapur is located at a distance of 100 km from Balasore and 15 km from Talasari Beach and 20 km from Digha, a popular tourist beach in bordering West Bengal. Surround by lush green paddy fields, swamps, rivers and villages, Bichitrapur can also be covered by bicycle. The nature camp at Bichitrapur is the only staying option, which can be booked online (https://www.ecotourodisha.com/). The boat ride starts from Khadibili during high tides. Your booking at the nature camp also includes a complimentary boat ride in the mangrove creeks.

Growing in the inter-tidal areas and estuary mouths between land and sea, mangroves are composed of salt-tolerant trees and other plant species. They thrive in intertidal zones of sheltered tropical shores, islands and estuaries.

Also, Read Here:

DAGARA – ODISHA’S RED CARPET BEACH

Bichitrapur Mangrove is also a storehouse of experiences for knowledge seeking travellers. One can also do beach trekking from Talasari or even Digha to reach Bichitrapur.

The surrounding of Bichitrapur is the agricultural heartland of rural Balasore. On your drive from Chandaneswar to Bichitrapur, you discover beetle leaf gardens, a major source of local revenue generation. Beetle leaves are delicate plants and utmost care is taken for their growth.

IMG_8151

IMG_8153

IMG_8162

IMG_8170

IMG_8176

Yet another attraction around Bichitrapur is Asia’s tallest Shiva Lingam at Kumbharagadi Village. The 12 feet long and 14 feet width lingam of Baba Bhusandeswara is carved out on black granite stone and only half of it is visible.

IMG_8516

IMG_8519

According to a local legend, during Tretaya Yuga, the demon king Ravana was blessed by Lord Shiva and gifted this Shiva Lingam. But Lord Shiva warned him not to place the lingam anywhere. Ravana was on his way with the lingam on Puspak Viman. The angels of God were disappointed and seized the power of Ravana. In the meantime, Ravana felt desperate and planted the lingam at this place. He tried to lift again but failed because it was heavy. The lingam was buried unnoticed for a long time until when a Marwari businessman of Jaleswara town discovered it in his dream. On the next day, he accompanied by his friends came here and built a shrine over it.

The Nature Camp at Bichitrapur is a destination by itself. Surrounded by dense casuarina forest, the camp has 4 cottages on a dune in a tranquil setting.

IMG_6865

IMG_6873

IMG_6880

A few kilometres south of the camp is the estuary of Subarnarekha River, a major maritime gateway in the past for European expansion in India. Today the tranquil water of the river is extensively used for subsistence and industrial fishing.

IMG_8502

IMG_8512

IMG_8568

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Talasari Beach – Beyond the Rhythmic Sea

As you approach the Bhogamandapa of Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri, and if you are an ardent lover of art, you are drawn to unique art panels depicting royal processions, scenes of royal assemblies and many more. When you move your eyes to extreme right a panel depicting a royal pleasure boat would draw your attention. The boat is carved along with a crew of rowers and the helm man on the high stern section. The royal figure is seated on a swing and holds a cloth tassel to steady him as the boat progresses. The pavilion has caryatid type pillars and figures cling to the royal umbrella at the prow.

The type of boat shown in the panel is built in clinker technology, a method of boat building that was developed in Northern Europe and was successfully used by the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians, Scandinavians and Hanseatic Cog.

IMG_6543

In clinker technique boats the edges of hull planks overlap each other. Clinker built ships were a trademark of Nordic navigation throughout the middle ages.

IMG_6792

IMG_6793

Today sailing of clinker technique boats has become history in most part of the world. However, in Talasari Beach of North Balasore bordering West Bengal, the millennia-old clinker technique boat tradition has survived along with Sweden, Digha in West Bengal and parts of Bangladesh. Locally known as Patia, these are reverse clinker sailing boats made entirely out of Sal (Shorea robusta) and are heavily coated inbound and outbound with tar. Apart from modifications made to accommodate the engine, all sizes of boats are evidently built in the same manner. The strakes of patia boats are fastened together by nails, which are driven through the overlap and clenched by hooking the emergent point back into planking.

Also, Read Here:

CHANDIPUR – BEYOND THE VANISHING SEA

IMG_6496

IMG_6498

IMG_6501

IMG_6510

IMG_6528

IMG_6530

IMG_6531

IMG_6540

IMG_6539

At Talasari, you are drawn to a romantic flat beach with small and playful waves, a few patia boats, scenes of fishermen repairing nets, red ghost crabs crawling on the golden sand and dense tree foliage.

Travel Tips

Talasari is located near West Bengal Border closer to Digha Beach. The distance between Balasore and Talsari is about 90 km via Jaleswar Town. It is a quaint beach surrounded by small rivers, casuarina forest and charming villages. The Odisha Tourism Panthanivas is the best-staying option at Talasari. The property is located near the river with the best view of the river and beach. The seafood preparation here is simply delicious. Though Talasari can be covered in a day trip however we recommend for a night stay to have the best of experience.

IMG_6563

IMG_6606

IMG_6590

IMG_6583

IMG_6578

IMG_6592

IMG_6593

IMG_6619

IMG_6622

IMG_6639

IMG_6655

IMG_6671

IMG_6727

IMG_6730

Also, Read Here:

DAGARA – ODISHA’S RED CARPET BEACH

The patia boats used by the fishermen are operated in estuaries, beach seining and the open sea. The builders of patia boats are simple folk with no formal background in boat designs. Hence, no drawing, models or moulds (templates) are used when building a patia – measurements are used mainly to ensure symmetry. The boats are largely built ‘by eye’ and much depends upon the experience of the builder.

IMG_6517

IMG_6506

Patias are used in specific seasons of the year. The main season begins from September/October to March/April. The sailing of patia works within about 5 km of the shore, while the motorised may go up to 20 km.

There is no historical record of patia boats, when it came into use in Talasari water, who were its first users, and so on. However, the region around Talasari was a maritime hub from the 16th centuries having active trade contact with European countries, ranging from Danish to British nation. Perhaps it was introduced through contact with Europe.

The only evidence was provided by Thomas Bowrey, a British traveller of the 17th century in Odisha coast. Thomas described the boats as patella – flat bottomed, barge-like clinker-built boats with protruding crossbeams, used to transport salt. They had a single mast and were steered by large median radar.

Talasari is a beach that can refresh your five senses like an instant coffee and heal your body, mind and soul at the first go. Talasari gets its name from Tala (rhythm) and Sari (row) – the rhythm formed by the swing of the lush green foliage and the moving golden sands, both uniting with the calm melodious sea. When it is the low tide you can simply walk across the dry river bed to reach the beach and when it is high tide use the ferry to cross the river.

IMG_6569

IMG_6574

IMG_6598

IMG_6601

IMG_6756

IMG_6767

IMG_6779

IMG_6786

IMG_6808

IMG_6815

IMG_6816

At Talasari you relish the best of seafood at your own pace.

IMG_6850

IMG_6857

IMG_6833

The nearby Chandaneswar is an important business hub in rural Balasore. Bordering Digha Beach in Bengal and Udayapur Beach in Odisha, Chandaneswar is famous for a Shiva temple built in the architectural style of Bengal.

IMG_6885

IMG_6841

IMG_6846

Every year, during the Hindu month of Chaitra (April) a 13-day festival called Chadaka Mela takes place in Chandaneswar. Legend has it that Lord Chandaneswar secretly married Kamini in the absence of his wife Parvati during the month of Chaitra. At the time of Chadaka Mela, devotees in large number get their skin, tongue and body pierced with nails and move around in the procession.

IMG_6887

Chandaneswar also has several women self-help groups engaged in the making of plates and bowls using the local resources, leaves of beetle nut palm trees. You can meet them and by as gift items to spread happiness and sustainable living with nature.

IMG_8524

IMG_8527

Author: Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com

Chandipur – Beyond the Vanishing Sea

You are told and retold…Chandipur in Balasore is a unique beach where the sea recedes for 5 km twice a day during ebb tides.

IMG_7712

During when the sea recedes, the beach turns into a biodiversity hotspot.

IMG_7883

IMG_7668

IMG_7661

IMG_7715

IMG_7659

IMG_7733

Hundreds of ghost red crabs crawl on its golden sands.

IMG_7783

IMG_7893

IMG_7882

IMG_7874

There are swamps covered with thin layers of seagrass sheltering hundreds of tiny fish, gastropods and mollusc species attracting egrets and seagulls for grand feasts.

IMG_7680

IMG_7682

IMG_7679

IMG_7775

IMG_7785

IMG_7713

IMG_7639

Fishermen walk for miles to place wooden posts on the edge of the retreading shoreline only to return next day to bring home kilos of tiny fish that get trapped during the movement of tidal waters.

Also, Read Here:

DAGARA – ODISHA’S RED CARPET BEACH

IMG_7823

IMG_7826

IMG_7832

IMG_7816

IMG_7796

Children play cricket on the dry sand and tourists walk for miles enjoying the unique phenomena of nature.

IMG_7843

IMG_7841

When you go on a leisurely walk in this nature’s Shangri La, you discover hundreds of tiny patterns on sand formed by sea crabs, many having holes. When you approach near them the shy red ghost crabs scurry into these holes.

Also, Read Here:

SAHANA BEACH AND DEVI MOUTH – ODISHA’S BEST KEPT SECRET

IMG_7844

IMG_7846

IMG_7849

You are floored. Chandipur is perhaps the only beach in this part of the world where nature’s drama can be experienced at its best. Your day is made.

Travel Tips

Chandipur is located at a distance of 16 km from Balasore city which is a major railhead and transit point for travel into various parts of northern Odisha. Connected by a metalled road Chandipur can be reached both by public transport and private taxies from Balasore. Though Chandipur can be covered in a day visit however we recommend for a night stay to experience the complete tidal stories of nature and the nearby Balaramgadi Muhana and the maritime heritage of Balasore. The beach has a number of staying options for budget travellers including the property of Odisha Tourism, Panthanivas. Relishing seafood is a major attraction in Chandipur.

 

IMG_7936

IMG_7960

IMG_7972

IMG_8921

IMG_8922

IMG_8924

However, beyond nature’s hide and seek games, Chandipur has much more surprises. The Budhabalanga River which flows nearby empties into the Bay of Bengal at Balaramgadi, only 3 km from Chandipur in the further north.

IMG_5918

IMG_6309

IMG_6319

IMG_5992

A major fishing harbour today, Balaramgadi at any moment of the day is full of large-sized fishing trawlers and small fishing boats anchored in the jetty. And if you are in the morning hours you find them unloading tons of fish (hilsa, pomp fret, jumbo-sized prawns and many more) from deep-sea fishing for auctions. You also meet subsistence fishermen engaged in various fishing-related activities.

IMG_8075

The Budhabalanga River was a major maritime passage in the 18th century. The Danish, the Dutch, the French and the British used it as a maritime route to seek business and establish factories. In Balasore there are a few vestiges remained of Chandipur’s maritime past. The region was a centre of shipbuilding and ship repairing. Its natives were most resourceful for their knowledge and skills in navigation. So well-known was Balasore in the nautical circle around the world in 1872, a shipbuilding farm in Glasgow was christened ‘Balasore’. In those days Balasore was also a textile manufacturing hub. The muslin handkerchiefs of Balasore had the brand name ‘Balasore Handkerchiefs’. Because of its high quality and uniqueness, an English Man had established a factory in England to manufacture Balasore Handkerchief.

The French also had a tiny colony at Balasore called Loges. The oldest organised maritime service in India was the Bengal Pilot Service which used to lead foreign ships from Balasore to Calcutta through Balaramgadi near Chandipur and vice versa.

Ref: Some Vignettes of Balasore and its French Loge

Today in Balasore there are settlements like Dinamar Dinga, Farasi Dinga and Oladanj Sahi testifying Balasore’s link with Europe’s maritime nations.

IMG_5914

IMG_5947

IMG_5951

Within Barabati High school there are remains of two large Dutch Tombs from the 16th century.

IMG_5884

IMG_5886

There are also remains of a British Cemetery in Damodar locality consisting of 33 gravestones from the 18th century. The graveyard contains the tombstones of Sir Hennery Rickett, the first collector of Balasore (1827 – 36), and his wife Lady Rickett, who was a doctor and had served people with missionary zeal when Odisha was reeling under ‘Nannka Durvikha’, the worst over famine in Odisha that had killed millions of souls due to hunger and diseases. The graveyard also contains the tombstones of Captain Morgante and Captain Francis Walter, a hero of British Royal Navy who led several battles in Madras, Goa, Harispur, Pipli Port and Balasore.

IMG_5927

IMG_5936

IMG_5939

IMG_5942

Chandipur is fairly a meeting point of nature and history and a true representation of Balasore’s cultural identity.

IMG_7891

Author – Jitu Mishra

He can be contacted at jitumisra@gmail.com