This post is dedicated to the nomadic, long awaiting, a pastoral and a thoroughly adventurous bon voyage. Ever wondered how good or bad is it to travel alone. A friends wedding was more than a reason I could have had to plan a journey to a place I had been longing to go to. A two and a half hours flight from Bangalore to Bhubaneshwar and then a stretch of 60km from Bhubaneshwar to one of the 'Char dhams', Jagannath Puri that took about two and half hours. Char Dhams are the four holy abodes that are widely revered by most of the Hindus. The journey from Bhubaneshwar to Puri took such long primarily because of the single lane road. The main deity in Puri is Shri Krishna. The temple is humongous and we just need to be aware of the Sadhus who normally would catch you at the gate and talk about taking you to the shrine directly by passing the crowd. Just do not heed to their talks. I visited the temple and then there was a Maha Prasad being distributed at nominal rates. I had the special Khichadi served at this temple and was off to Puri beach. Puri beach is clean and beautiful but having seen a lot of beaches on the Konkan and Kerala, this did not come as a great enticement to me. I left Puri and reached Bhubaneshwar by 7.30 pm to attend my friend's wedding. Having attended the wedding the next day, I had planned to visit Chilika lake on the next day of the wedding. I was told by the people in hotel that I would get a bus from 'Barmunda' bus stand.
At 4.30 am I took an auto to Barmunda bus stand thinking I would catch the earliest bus. However, the first bus was only at 5.30 am and I had to wait for an hour. I sipped a cup of hot tea and some favorite Parle-G biscuits at one of the tea stall. The buses here are privately operated and they wait for the bus to get full to start off. So by the time the bus left Bhubaneshwar it was almost 6 am and the village I had to reach was called Balugaon which was about 100km form here. However, now the road was a four lane one and it took just about two and a half hours to reach this place. From Balugaon I took a tempo to a place called Barkul which is about 6 km from Balugaon. The auto guy dropped me till the Orissa Tourism office. I went to their service desk and inquired about the various options to visit the bird sanctuary. So there are primarily two attractions in Chilika lake, one is Kalijai temple and Nalaban Island which is the bird sanctuary. They operate individual as well as combined to and fro tours to both these places. Being a weekday, there were hardly any tourist and my motto of the trip was to visit the famour Chilika Bird Sanctuary. Chilika is the biggest salt water lake in Asia and it has these migratory birds start coming in from November and be here till about February. December and January are the best months to visit this place. So I decided to hire a motor boat alone and payed a discounted price of Rs 1350 for a marked price of Rs 1500. However, here is where I thought a bigger group would have helped share such a big amount. But having come all the way and not seeing this sanctuary was a big NO NO. The sanctuary tour is a round about 3.5 hours tour. It was slightly foggy even at 10 am and as I was travelling deeper towards the Nalaban Bird Sanctuary it was only water everywhere. I could hardly see a stretch of land. As we approached the sanctuary, we started getting a glimpse of a few birds who were perching on the trees that grew in the water with their branches protruding out of water. Till ambit of my vision could stretch I could hardly differentiate water and the skies. Such awe-inspiring was the sight. We reached the bird sanctuary. However, you cannot go too close to the birds as they tend to fly away. At this point I realized the importance of having a camera with high zoom, infact a DSLR and now I have decided to buy one before my next big trip. However, I did click a few snaps but to my misfortune they were not that great. I am not a photographer either so all the more bad :). Then we returned to the office. I had the yummy Orissa special prawns curry for lunch and then there were a group of people willing to go to Kalijai Temple. I too decided to go with them. That was like a 2 hour to and fro trip. We left the bank at 3.15 pm and were back by 5.15 pm. I had to catch a train for Howrah from Balugaon at 7 pm. I reached Balugaon and boarded the train. Penning down a verse for this experience
Omnipresence of dampness was an epitome of nirvana
Till the ambit of my vision could stretch
I could hardly differentiate the water and skies
Birds so unwary and unperturbed
Had traversed miles along to reach Nalabans
There were umpteen varieties
Everytime I get closer to nature
I discover new things
And this time it was about coexistence of man and nature
God save the nature from the fury of man
Else it will be in no less time that we will stranded amidst a barren land...
I would recommend one and all to visit this very beautiful place and experience the bliss of solitude. Anywhere I go I only wish I had a day extra or a day had forty eight hours :)....
Till the ambit of my vision could stretch,I could hardly differentiate the water and skies...