Orissa Travelogue – Day 1

11 Oct

Our day began early as we had an early morning flight to catch. The location this time was Orissa. Quite offbeat and definitely not a place one would expect 2 girls to head for a holiday to! But we decided to try something different this time. Technically, this is the 3rd in our series of ‘Annual All Girls Trip’ as we like to call it :). Our numbers have dwindled – we were 4 when we went to Sri Lanka in 2012, 3 when we went to Krabi, Thailand 2013 and now 2 for Orissa! Nevertheless, our spirits are equally high and we set off to explore Orissa.
We took the very comfortable and affordable Vayu Vajra bus services from our respective houses in different parts of Bangalore to the airport. Our flight was at 6.40 am and so, we had to leave home at 4 am. The serpentine queues in the Bangalore airport these days is quite frustrating. With all major airlines offering cheap and economical ways to fly, the queues are endless and often one has to wait no less than 20-25 minutes, even if you’ve done a web check-in and just want to drop your bags! All airport formalities done, we had a quick idli-vada breakfast at the Malgudi counter and proceeded towards our Indigo flight. Currently, there are no direct flights to Bhubhaneshwar from Bangalore and so, this flight was via Hyderabad. All in all, it was a 3 hour journey to Bhubhaneshwar.

We were received at the Biju Patnaik International airport by the Yatra.com representatives. Ours was essentially a 4 day tour package called ‘Admirable Odisha’. We were taken to Sutrupti Hotel in Bhubhaneshwar. Though we had googled the hotel details in advance, which looked equal a 5 star hotel, when we arrived, our first impression, far from impressive. Looked small, stuffy & dingy and in spite of booking well in advance, our room was not ready when we reached and so, we were asked to wait in another smaller room in the interim. After a good half an hour wait, we were redirected to our new room, which had an AC remote that wouldn’t work, leaky bathroom ceilings, rodents all over the floor and the works. We ignored all of that and headed on our day’s tours.

Our first stop was NandanKanan Zoological Park. It’s a huge expanse and has an area of around 1000 acres.
Its huge and would ideally take a full day to cover it in its entirety and so we hired a guide who promised to show us the most important aspects in about 2 hours. We first went to the tiger sections and saw about 10-12 tigers, all in separate enclosures.DSC01637 Each of them have a name – Revathy, Payal, Shamsher, Nandan, Sara, Ankita, Shubhashree and supposedly the most ‘handsome’ of them all – Manish! They even have their share of love stories and family politics and the guide made us privy to some of them. We then went to the crocodile section and saw a huge lake having more than 20 visible crocodiles of all shapes and sizes. The enterprising guide also took us to some of the lion, Kaziranga rhinos and hippopotamus enclosures. Next, we headed to the safari where they took us through the lion safari, tiger safari, bear safari and deer safari. We just saw a few of each in each of these safaris, in addition to peacocks and monkeys. It was good, but to be honest the safaris in Bannerghatta National Park back home were better. At the end of this, we were starved and saw a vendor selling delicious looking sprouts salad which tasted equally fantastic. We had a stop for lunch and then headed to our next pitstop.
The next place on our itenary was Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. These are ancient caves having historic relics and sculptures and very scenic and beautiful.DSC01708 We tried our hand at some photography and generally had a good time fooling around there for few minutes. We then headed to a group of temples, constructed between the 7th and 11th century. These were the Mukteshwar temple, Siddheshwar temple, Kedar Gowri temple and the Maha Lingraj temple.
The architecture was fabulous and amidst the backdrop of the setting sun, they looked even more magnificent. Considering we went a day before the festival of Dussehra which is widely celebrated in Orissa, we headed back to the hotel anticipating a lot of traffic on account of the festivities.
All in all, it was a good first day. Orissa surprisingly was extremely neat and clean and would put big cities like Bombay and Delhi to shame. But the heat and humidity was a challenge and one would have to imagine how hot it would be in summer if its this hot in October! Nevertheless, looking forward to the rest of our trip in the coming days!



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