Odisha: COVID Unlock 5.0 first road trip with my Mom.

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Odisha I saw was with the sky was like a curtain of grey silk; where the skyline was a line of nickel silver, and the sea song of the waves soothed me. I stood silently in front of the Puri Swargdar Beach Odisha, gently watching the waves rippling away. Well, yes, I could not keep back the wanderer in me and planned a sea trip. With the COVID unlock 5.0, the traveller’s soul too unleashed itself. And walking on the beach stretch, I felt life here is different, as time doesn’t pass hour by hour, but mood to moment. People survive by the currents; they plan by the tides & follow the sun. Hence, I decided to sit for a while & breathe the smell of salt, so I hired a chair at Rs 20 per hour. Interesting! Isn’t it- chairs for hire.

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Puri Swargdar Beach

Though there are a few beaches near Kolkata, I preferred Odisha to relive my faded 29 yrs old childhood memory. Yeah! Nearly two-decade, I was a 6yrs old kid when I first visited Puri in Odisha. Hence, I finalised a road trip to Puri, as the trains were operating until Bhuwaneshwar only. After thorough research, my mamma, a YouTube champ these days, also gave me the go-ahead. But the irony was after I planned, the govt of India started railway service up to Puri from Oct. Well, I ignored the news and added Bhuwaneshwar as part of my trip. The planning was smooth as I spent time with my grandma in Kolkata.

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Road trip to Odisha

Adding up to hotels, then only a few hotels have opened up. I booked the Victoria Club Hotel- a sea-facing hotel & one of the oldest hotels in Puri. Established in 1907, it’s still maintaining a legacy of 110 years. The rooms were airy, with all modern amenities, a bottle of sanitiser, and a lovely balcony where you can sit and relish the sea waves crashing along the shore. 

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Victoria Club Hotel

We booked the Victoria Royal room at the cost of Rs2975 per night. I got a discount of 30%. A sea-facing hotel in Puri starts from Rs 2500; you can also opt for Hotel Deep resort or Puri hotel, a sea-facing resort. Other options are staying in the New Marine drive area Balipanda for sea-facing alternatives. Luxury hotels can opt for Chakratirtha Road, and budget motels near the Jagganath temple start from Rs 500 per night.

Crossing Kola that bridge.

Finally, the day of departure arrived, 30th Sep, I was excited and all geared up for the trip. We took off at 6.30 am since the distance we had to cover was 508 kilometres, a 10hrs 30mins drive. The day’s outset was calm and pleasant with clear blue sky and Tufty clouds of wizard-white drifting past. The movement till Kolaghat was smooth, with minimal traffic on the road. And we crossed a beautiful bridge on an overflowing river before we took our first halt at Shere Punjab restaurant for breakfast. 

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Restaurant -Shere Punjab

As we travelled towards the destination, I could perceive only the green paddy fields along both ends of the streets. I felt the spirit and soul of this late autumn morning, and my eyes could only witness hues of green. As these paddy fields stretch outwards toward the light, the sun’s beams paint them in a thousand shades of yellow, greenish & brown, who keep dancing to the music of the soft whispering wind. After the breakfast break, we made minimum halts to take pictures, sip tea, or for the washroom. As we reached Puri around 4.30 pm, we were greeted warmly at the hotel, following all COVID precautions – mask on & proper use of sanitisation. 

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
The beautiful Paddy fields

Post-check-in, we headed towards the beach- It was a heartwarming experience as my soul was awake again. The beach was clean, with golden sand. Few tourists bathed, and others sat and enjoyed the ocean. And the sea was jewel-blue, where the waves in the distance were like white creases on a vast baling of blue velvet. I was savouring the sea’s indescribable beauty and allowing its vastness to seep into my psyche since I wanted to carry fragments of it home as a memory. 

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Jewel Blue sea

But some other sad part was this COVID had impacted the livelihood of many people in Odisha. It not only halted domestic trade activities but also affected the daily seller. I realised this when I bought four pearls (cultured) necklaces for Rs 300 locals sell on the beach. A sad truth, but tourism has been impacted. We passed the evening at our leisure, watching the waves from the hotel balcony. At last, I had an early dinner & hit the bed.

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Pearl necklaces

My mom told me sunrises are spectacular in Puri, filling the sky with pink and orange fire, but I was not fortunate to witness it as morning clouds. However, the afternoon was partly cloudy, and one could discover the beautiful golden brown with the choppy & wild sea. Due to COVID, most spots have not reopened, but luckily Konark sun temple was opened. Hence post breakfast, we headed towards the Sun temple

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Cloudy Morning at Puri Beach

Talking about Konark draws in significant tourists around the year. The first reason being it’s a part of the Golden travel of Odisha along with Puri & Bhubaneshwar. Another reason is the Annual Konark dance festival- an ancient amphitheatre. Because of COVID, the number of tourists was restricted to 2500 only, where one needs to purchase tickets online & scan them at the entrance to maintain social distance. The drive towards Konark was picturesque, where the trees lifted their branches to the sky as if sun-basking to turn more green. Besides, the sun is playing hide and seek with clouds showcasing varied hues of colours, from bright blue to dull grey. 

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Drive to Konark

Along the way to Konark lies Chandrabhaga beach, which is on a parallel stretch of the remaining 5 Km to Konark. I was amazed at the extended period of sylvan sands and soothing blue rushing in undulating waves.

Chandrabhaga-runs parallel to the road

But the view that took hold of my attention was the meeting point of the quietly flowing river Chandrabhaga & the roaring Bay of Bengal. It was a magical charm, not just the panorama, but the beach itself, which is the first to catch the Blue Flag certification — a tag given to the environment-friendly clean beaches equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.

Meeting point of rive & sea

There is a mythological reference, as this place was considered a natural cure for lepers. It is believed Shamba( Krishna’s son) worshipped the Sun god for treatment on the river mouth of Chandrabhaga, and the river dried up. Hence reduced to a dry bed or a narrow trickle where it meets the sea.

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
The shallow river bed of Candra Bhaga river

Another legend says Chandrabhaga, daughter of a sage, was sited by the Sun god, drawn by her magical charm. He sought her hand in love, but Chandrabhaga refused. Out of anger in denial, Sun god chased frightened Chandrabhaga, who jumped into the river and killed herself, protecting her virtue. A yearly Magha Saptami Mela, a mark of tribute to her sacrifice, a seven-day festival occurs during the 7th full moon day of Magha month. People consider a holy dip in the river reduced to a shallow pool to offer their prayers to the Sun God.

Chandra Bhaga River

Chandrabhaga’s sacrifice has been forgotten, but the place is remembered as a holy shrine. It goes on to inspire various religious and meditative activities. It has also been a significant hunting ground for poets, artists and lovers. A moment’s pause at Chandrabhaga is a great fatigue-healer. 

Odisha Travel I: Chandrabhaga Beach and Konark Sun Temple
Chandra Bhaga Beach

There was a lighthouse close to Chandrabhaga beach, but it was shut down due to COVID, so unable to visit. Apart from this one, Chandrabhaga is rich in marine resources; hence an enormous colony of fishermen resides along the dried river mouth of Chandrabhaga.

Fishermen village

I chose a stroll along the beachside, as strong currents make swimming unsafe. The panoramic sight of the sunrise is another captivating attraction of this beach; maybe I will keep this for my next visit. After spending some quality time, we rode towards our planned destination-The Sun Temple. Splendid Heritage of Odisha.

Blue certification beach


How to Reach:

By Air: 

The nearest airport is the Bhubaneshwar airport- Biju Patnaik. Puri is nearly 56km from the airport. Most metros are well connected with Bhubaneshwar airport. So you can book a cab or take the buses for Puri as the roads are well combined. 

By Rail:

Puri is a junction; hence direct train services are available from many cities in India, including Bhubaneswar, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata.

By Road.

Puri is well connected with neighbouring cities like Kolkata, Vishakapatnam, Ranchi, Jamshedpur etc. Roadways are an appropriate option since the bus stand is close to the Gundicha Temple. And buses ply to Bhubaneswar and Cuttack every 15mins.





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