Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Martial Heritage On the Wane

Paika Akhada members perform at PMG Square in Bhubaneswar

Paika Nrutya, the traditional battle dance of the State, might have withstood the test of time, but the number of akhadas (training centres) in Odisha is gradually on the decline. Blame it on an apathetic Government, lack of promotional avenues and funding.
The dance revolves around acrobatic movements with swords, lathis (sticks), chakras (wheels) and dhalis (shields) to the accompaniment of 'Chagi', 'Mahuri', 'Nagara' and cymbals. In the ancient times, Paika Nrutya by the warriors was considered a rehearsal for the battle.

Scholars have compared Paika Nrutya to Kalaripayattu of Kerala, considered the oldest fighting system in existence, because of its approach to traditional weapons and techniques, but the former does not enjoy the patronage that the latter does. In fact, Kerala has been successful in converting Kalaripayattu into a tourism product whereas in Odisha, Paika Nrutya is limited to a handful of villagers in rural areas. 
Today, Paikas can only be seen performing during Dussera, Kali Puja, birth anniversary celebration of Harekrushna Mahatab and the Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav. Besides, the Jobra puja committee at Cuttack has been organising Paika Nrutya competitions every year on Vijaya Dashami day from 1921.

History Behind the Form

The martial prowess of Paikas finds mention in Sarala Das' 'Mahabharata', written in the 15th century, poet Balaram Dash' work 'Jagamohan Ramayan' and even in the carvings on the Sun Temple at Konark. Historians said when the British started meddling with the revenue system of the State in 1803, the farming community rose in rebellion. At that juncture, Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar, the military chief of the King of Khurda, revolted on April 2, 1817. As Bidyadhar led his army of Paikas, the British were forced to retreat. The rebellion came to be known as Paika Bidroh. Also, it was due to the Paikas that the Britishers did not find it easy to win over the Barunei Fort at Khurda, which is said to be the last free fort of the country to go to the British.

Successors of the Fighter Tribe

While officially, there is no information on the exact number of akhadas existing in the State today, unofficial sources put the number of Paikas still practicing the martial dance form at around 20,000 in the districts of Khurda, Dhenkanal, Ganjam, Puri, Gajapati, Talcher and Balasore. The maximum number of akhadas exists in Khurda. "If the Nrutya is performed today, it is because of the stage shows that offer money for sustenance. There is no encouragement from the Government's side," says Gyana Ranjan Mohanty, a Puri-based acrobat who performs Paika Nrutya and Malkhamb. He says the existing forms of Malkhamb, Sahi Yatra, Ranapa, Dhemsa, Chhau and Naga Nacha have been born out of Paika Nrutya.

Dance or a Sport?

Ileana Citaristi, who has authored a book 'Traditional Martial Practices of Odisha' and carried out extensive research on the subject, feels Paika Nrutya is currently in a no man's land. Government is yet to classify it as a performing art or a form of sport as a result of which, it does not come under either the Sports Department or Culture Department. “This is why, no one pays attention towards it propagation and whatever little is being done for its promotion is half-hearted," she says, adding that although Paika training exists in rural areas of the State, it is not systematic. Not all the Paikas are adept in every form of the martial dance. "Only a few can play with a sword and shield today. You will not find the entire gamut of the martial art in any of the akhadas; what can be seen is mostly martial exercises like Banati, Lathi Khela, Chakra Ladhei, pyramid formation and somersault," Ileana adds.

No Paika Training Centres

Currently, there are no Government training centres where Paikas can be trained. Even as a training centre for Paikas was opened by the Government at Gurujang near Khurda in 1998, the institution did not function beyond two years. The akhadas do not have a curriculum and all forms of martial exercises in Paika Nrutya are not covered as far as training is concerned.
Founder-Director of Rani Sukadei Regiment of Talcher, the only all-women Paika Akhada in the State, Soubhagini Debi who is also the principal of Silpanchal Women's College in Talcher, says Paika Nrutya, which is an integral part of Odisha's history, should be presented at important State festivals so that today's youth come to know about it. "It is a dying art form and only some Gurus have kept this tradition alive. There is a need for establishing training centres for Paikas with provision of scholarship for youths who wish to learn it. Whatever training is being imparted now is at individual level and we do not know if our students would be interested in carrying forward the tradition," she says.

Commemorating Paika Rebellion

Culture Minister, Ashok Panda, who admitted to the lack of patronage to Paika Nrutya, said in commemoration of 200 years of the Paika rebellion that will be observed in 2017, the Culture Department has planned a series of events with the Paikas. "Also, we will be taking steps for protection and conservation of Khurdagarh fort, and Barunei that was the religious place where Paikas used to worship before setting out for war," he informs.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fish Tales Etched in Brass

Flexible Brass Fish Craft of Odisha 
It may be made of brass, but this fish can still flap a fin and touch its tail. The craft of making the flexible brass fish occupies a significant place in Odisha’s rich handicraft tradition. In the lanes of Belaguntha village in Ganjam district of Odisha, three craftsmen from the Kansari community—Pradeep Maharana, Maheswar Maharana and Sushanta Sahoo—have kept this unique art form alive, which has been fighting obscurity in the face of modernity.
While the craft was started by Pradeep’s ancestors during the rule of the Bhanja kings in the 9th century, Sushanta learnt it from Pradeep’s parents. Maheswar, 85, is the only remaining artist in the village, who can make flexible fishes in wood.
In the 90s, Maheswar made the Matsya (Sanskrit for fish) avatar of Lord Jagannath for which, he got the Odisha State Handicraft Award. His creation comprised of an idol of Lord Jagannath coming out of the mouth of a wooden flexible fish.
Today, these artists and their family members are the only practitioners of the craft in Belaguntha. They do train youngsters in art colleges of the state, and sometimes outside, but none of the youths have taken up the craft as a profession. The three artists participate in training sessions and exhibitions so that people come to know about their craft.
The trio uses brass sheets, wires and wood to make various designs of fish that are in huge demand in the international handicraft market. “Despite the demand, not many are coming forward today to take up the craft as it is labour intensive,” says Pradeep, who is an electrician by profession. He had received the State Handicraft Award in 2000 for his excellence in the art form.
Placing a golden prawn with red eyes and three glinting fishes of varied lengths on a sheet of white paper, Sushanta demonstrates how the fish are made. The fish is divided into three portions—head, stomach and the tail. The head is the most important part and is prepared first and accordingly, the size of the body is decided, he says. The artist cuts brass sheets and dexterously shapes them into round blocks with wavy edges, giving them the shape of fish scales. A 20-inch fish requires at least 50 such blocks that are stitched together with a brass wire in a manner that the fish becomes bendable. Making a fish is easier compared to a prawn. “Since making a prawn involves a lot of workmanship and detailing, it takes a lot of time,” he says, adding that though it is labour intensive, making a flexible fish now is less tedious because of invention of machines that can roll brass sheets. “Earlier, we used to manually beat brass blocks to make sheets and wires,” says Sushanta. The artists have now started making flexible brass snakes that are usually offered by devotees in Shiva temples.
Although there are no records in history on the origin of the craft, Pradeep says his ancestors were hired as sculptors by Bhanja rulers and used to demonstrate the technique of making flexible brass fish at the Bhanja King’s court. During the British rule, his grandparents used to supply the handicraft to Victoria Technical Institute in Madras.

The handicraft has a mythological significance as members of the Kansari community consider the fish auspicious. Since ancient times, the craft has been associated with important rituals and social occasions. “In our village when a girl gets married, she is given a small brass fish, along with other valuables, as a good luck charm,” says Maheshwar. Pointing to the wooden Matsya avatar that fetched him the state award, Maheswar says he decided to work with wood as a medium as it was a cheaper option. “Labour that goes into working on both the mediums is the same. In fact, making the scales either with brass or wood requires a lot of practice and patience,” he says.
The three artisans say the government should come forward to help them with design intervention, which is the need of the hour.
“The handicraft is extremely rich which is why, it has sustained for several decades. However, with the market demand fast changing, we need to bring in new designs,” says Maheswar.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Celebration of A Different Kind

Diwali is a unique celebration in Odisha. Here, the 'Festival of Lights' is not just limited to customary bursting of crackers and exchange of lip-smacking sweets, but also accompanied by Kali Puja and the ritualistic ceremony of 'Badabadua Daka'. The celebrations are special in the Millennium City of Cuttack, Coastal town of Bhadrak and the very-popular Pilgrim Town of Puri.

At Cuttack, festivity is a never-ending affair during this part of the year. Just a fortnight after Durga Puja, the city braces up for Kali Puja that coincides with Diwali, a celebration of victory of good over evil. Keeping up with the saying 'Baara Mase Tera Parba' (13 Festivals in 12 Months of A Year), people of Cuttack celebrate Kali Puja and Diwali with much fervour and gaiety. Although the celebrations are not as grand as Durga Puja, the revelers are no less enthusiastic.
The Kali Puja here is over 500-years-old and it is believed that Bengalis brought this tradition to Cuttack during the 16th century. This year, around 70-odd puja committees are worshipping Kali, another form of Goddess Durga.

A majority of the temporary pandals house a particular iconography of Goddess Kali, who steps on Lord Shiva wearing a garland of human skulls and her tongue piercing out. This form is called 'Tara'; her colour is blue and she is shown naked to the waist, wearing a garland of human heads and then clad in tiger skin. The only puja committee that worships the 'Chhinamasta' form of the deity is the Bakhrabad Kali Puja Committee. Here, the deity holds her own severed head in one hand and a scimitar in another.
Three jets of blood spurt out of her bleeding neck and are drunk by her severed head and two other attendants. Instead of standing on Lord Shiva, the Goddess steps over an embracing man and woman on a lotus.

Like Durga Puja, the idol of Goddess Kali at several pandals is accompanied by a silver backdrop (Chandi Medha). Bhikari Das, general secretary of Cuttack Mahanagar Peace Committee said this year, at least 23 idols of Goddess Kali are being set up with Chandi Medhas. While the same backdrop is used for both Durga Puja and Kali Puja in other pandals, only Bakhrabad has a different tableau for the Tantric Goddess. Designed with traditional silver filigree work, the tableau depicts the scene of a cremation ground with two skeletons standing beneath a large banyan tree besides, jackals, owls, and swans being the dominating motifs. Two years back, the Bakhrabad puja committee prepared a beautiful golden crown to the deity. Some of the other Kali Puja pandals worth seeing are the ones at Ranihaat, College Square, Bajrakabati, Khan Nagar, Tulasipur, Bangali Sahi, Choudhury Bazaar and Sutahaat. Kali Puja begins on November 10 and culminates with Diwali. All the idols will be immersed on November 14.

In Bhadrak, Kali Puja is celebrated in a grand way owing to the presence of Bhadrakali temple. Like Durga Puja in Cuttack, Kali Puja in this coastal town is a week-long affair that is witnessed by lakhs of people. While a large number of devotees throng the Bhadrakali village, on the outskirts of Bhadrak town, several glittering pandals are erected in Charampa area to house the deity.

Likewise, Puri witnesses a grand gathering on the day of Diwali as people observe 'Badabadua Daka' to pay obeisance to their ancestors. In the unique ritual, people gather outside the 12th century Jagannath temple and burn jute sticks (known as Kaunriya Kathi in local parlance) inviting their ancestors to descend from heaven on Diwali and bless them. The burning of jute sticks is accompanied by a prayer 'Badabadua Ho Andhaare Aasa, Aalua Re Jao (Ancestors, come in darkness and go back along the lighted path). With thousands of bundles of jute sticks being lighted on the day, the Grand Road in front of the Jagannath temple offers a beautiful spectacle.

 Trips To Roads Less Travelled Wishes All Its Readers A Very Happy, Safe and Eco-friendly Diwali. Eat. Pray. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cuttack's Golden Durga Puja

The First Golden Durga Puja Idol in Cuttack
In the Silver City of Cuttack, Durga Puja is unique in more ways than one. While the neighbouring State of West Bengal hosts the autumn festival with theme-based pandals and idols, Odisha’s Millennium City of Cuttack decorates the Mother Goddess with gold and silver. The extravagance is reflected in 150-odd Puja Pandals across the city; while the elite puja committees go for gold jewellery and silver backdrops spending several crores of rupees, their smaller cousins opt for just silver.

The Durga idols are usually 20-ft-high and they are accompanied by even taller backdrops (Silver tableaux). The price rise of gold has never been a deterrent for the Durga Puja Committees in Cuttack who make it a point to decorate the majestic tableaux elaborately with silver filigree work, known as Chandi Medha in local parlance, and idols of Goddess Durga, Lord Ganesh, Kartik, Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati with gold jewellery and crowns every year. Cuttack is known worldwide for its silver filigree craft and filigree artisans who have created several masterpieces with impeccable artistry in the past. Durga Puja is also an occasion for these artisans to showcase their craftsmanship.

While initially, puja committees used to decorate the Goddess and the tableau with silver filigree work and jewellery to create that dazzle, the trend of adding gold to the deity’s idol was started by the Choudhury Bazaar Puja Committee in 2002, which coincided with its golden jubilee celebration. Durga Puja in Choudhury Bazaar began way back in 1956. The organisers made a golden crown of 7.6 kg for Goddess Durga and since then, they have added golden crowns and other jewellery items to the accompanying deities. Of late, the silver tableau is also being converted into a gold one. While the total cost of the Chandi Medha and idols exceeds Rs 15 crore, the puja committee keeps adding some more gold to the entire structure every year.

Subsequently, a group of other puja committees gave a golden touch to their pandals. The Sheikh Bazaar Puja Committee made a 3.5 kg gold crown in 2008 for the deity’s idol that is set against the backdrop of a beautifully carved silver tableau. Over the years, it added gold crowns and necklaces to idols of other deities and even the demon Mahisasura.

At Mangalabag Puja Pandal, not just the Durga idol, the other deities too sport golden crowns weighing at least 2 kg and at Chauliagang Puja Pandal, the Goddess is adorned with a 3 kg majestic golden crown fashioned in the shape of a peacock that is decorated with precious stones. In 2004, the Ranihat Puja Committee prepared a 4 kg gold crown for the Goddess at the cost of Rs 1 crore. While the puja at Ranihat was started a century ago, the committee set up a silver backdrop in 2004.
According to the Cuttack Mahanagar Puja Committee, the apex body of community puja organisers in Cuttack, there are at least 21 puja committees in the city who have silver backdrops and six puja pandals where the deities are adorned with gold crowns and jewellery.

Chandi Medha at Chandni Chowk
The Durga Puja history of Cuttack dates back to several centuries. It is believed that it was Saint Chaitanya Dev who started worshipping the deity during his visit between 1512 and 1517 AD. During his stay at Gadagadia Ghat in Cuttack, he started Durga Puja at Balu Bazaar. Even at Balu Bazaar, a 30-ft-high silver tableau adorns the pandal and the idol here is painted with only organic colours.

The Durga Medha at Chauliagang in Cuttack

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The First Durga Medha in Cuttack at Balu Bazaar

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trips to Roads Less Travelled Wishes All Its Readers A Very Happy Durga Puja

Monday, October 19, 2015

Celebrating Tradition

Madhubani painting of 18-armed Devi Durga by Vibhooti Jha

Durga Puja is is the only time of the year when around 2000 Bengalis of Bhubaneswar come together for community bonding. The Kalibari Durga Puja Samiti, on its part, takes care to offer them a taste of authentic Bengali tradition. For the Kalibari Samiti in Bhubaneswar, this is the 52nd year of Durga Puja celebration. While for the Telugus and Gujaratis in the city, puja celebrations begin with 'Navaratri', it is post 'Panchami' that the festivity starts for Bengalis.
"Our forefathers - Ashutosh Rai Choudhury, Bhaumik Ghosh and Satyaranjan Dey - established the Kalibari temple and puja samiti here at Ashok Nagar in 1964. Every year, we also welcome people of other communities to join us," says secretary of the Kalibari Durga Puja Samiti, S Marik. There are around 500 Bengali families in the Capital City who participate in the week-long Durga Puja celebration, which begins with 'Sasthi Puja' on October 19.

An artist paints the Durga idol at kalibari Puja Samiti in Bhubaneswar. Pic by Biswanath Swain
Unlike other parts of the city where Durga Puja is more about massive pandals, light decorations, 'Ravana Podi' and firecrackers, the focus here is just on the rituals and community get-together. Although the samiti members never erect an expensive pandal to welcome devotees, the 'Ekchala' idol of the deity is crafted by Bengali sculptors who are roped in from West Bengal. "The money that is earned through sale of 'bhog' during the puja goes into socially-relevant purposes," says Marik.
This year, a host of cultural activities will also be a part of the festivity. There will be a dance drama 'Mahisasura Mardini' on 'Ashtami' followed a competition on blowing conches and Dhunuchi Naach (traditional Durga Puja dance) in the evening. Interestingly, both the 'Navami', 'Dashami' rituals, 'Sindoor Khela' will be observed on October 22 and the idol will be immersed in the evening. 

Marik says Sandhi Puja on 'Ashtami' is the most important ritual of Durga Puja for the community. "During the Sandhi Puja that marks the transition from Ashtami to Navami, usually a period of 45 to 50 minutes, the Goddess is believed to take the form of Chamunda to kill Mahisasura. Intense prayers are done during this period and the Mother Goddess is offered 108 Lotus flowers and as many ghee lamps are lit," he says, adding that the samiti has never deviated from this tradition so far. 
Yet another attraction of the Kalibari Samiti during the puja is the 'Khicidi Bhog' that is offered to the Goddess and relished by devotees after 'Ashtami' Puja. The puja samiti often ropes in cooks from Kolkata to prepare the 'Khichidi', while the other dishes in the fare like 'Luchi', 'Dal', Chutney' and 'Payas' are prepared by Odia cooks from Bhubaneswar.
Apparently, apart from Bhubaneswar, Odisha has Kalibari Samiti only in Sambalpur besides, a Durgabari in Puri that celebrate the biggest festival of the Bengali community.

The Unique Two-armed Devi of Odisha

The Goddess in Biraja Kshetra has only two hands and the prototype of this image is found nowhere else in the country
Odisha is home to several sculptural representations of Mahisasuramardini Durga. One of the rarest representation, though, is of the two-armed Goddess at Biraja temple, also known as Biraja Kshetra in Jajpur district. Here, Goddess Durga is worshipped by the name of Biraja and historians believe this to be the earliest representation of Shakti Cult in Odisha.  

Located in Jajpur town, the present 70-ft-high temple housing the two-armed Goddess was built in 13th century while the idol dates back to the pre-Gupta or Gupta period. In fact, historian Sunil Patnaik says the idol might date back to 2nd century AD. The Goddess in Biraja Kshetra has two hands, in one hand she pierces the chest of Mahishasura with a spear and in other, she pulls tail of the demon.
The Mahishasura is depicted as a buffalo and the presiding deity's right foot presses the head of the animal. She wears a crown that has the symbolism of Lord Ganesha, a Shiva Linga and a crescent moon and a Shivalinga. The prototype of this image is found nowhere else in the country.
Apparently, the perimeter of the Biraja Kshetra is triangular in form and the extreme points of the triangle in western, south-eastern and north-eastern directions are guarded by Shiva Lingams, who are regarded as guardian deities of the Kshetra. Goddess Biraja is seated in the circumcenter of the triangular region. According to the temple management, the temple was renovated by Pratap Rudra Dev of Suryavanshi Gajapati dynasty.
While the temple complex has many other temples of Lord Shiva, Hanuman, Goddess Bagalamukhi and Markandeswar, the added attraction is a holy  pond 'Brahmakunda', which lies to  the northwest and close to the Biraja temple. The pond is so named as it is believed that Lord Brahma had conducted a yagna here.

 Maheswar Panigrahy, Sub-Collector of Jajpur and also the Chairman of Biraja Temple Managing Committee, says the temple sees a footfall of at least 1000 devotees everyday. On occasions like Durga Puja and Savitri, the footfall rises to 35,000 daily.  One of the most interesting aspects of Devi worship at Biraja Kshetra is Rath Yatra of Goddess Biraja, which is held during Dussehra. Her chariot, Shimhadhwaja, carries the deity in a ceremonial procession around the temple compound once a day for nine days.  There is a greater inflow of devotees to the temple from Southern Indian States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu besides, the neighbouring West Bengal.
Panigrahy further says the State Government is now considering to develop a religious circuit comprising the Biraja temple, Baldevjew temple in Kendrapara, Sarala temple in Jagatsinghpur and Akhandalmani temple in Bhadrak. In fact, the Tourism Secretary LN Gupta had recently urged the Union Tourism Secretary Vinod Zutshi to consider inclusion of Biraja temple-Sarala-Akhandalamani-Baladevjew-Lalitgiri- Ratnagiri-Udayagiri under 'Swadesh Darshan' scheme of the Ministry.

Travellers Info

The temple is located at a distance of 125 km from Bhubaneswar and can be approached by road and rail. It has all amenities for tourists and for accommodation, the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has a Panthasala. Besides, there are the PWD Bunglow and Circuit House in Jajpur town. Best time to visit is between October and January.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Cultural Kaleidoscope That Puri Is

 Puri has always been a fresh canvas to the photographer’s eye. The centuries-old town exudes a raw charm and unforgettable warmth. TRLT brings you glimpses of different colours and tastes of the town, captured during a recent photo walk.

The 12th century Jagannath Temple at Puri

Aruna Stambha Outside the Jagannath Temple. It is said that Aruna is the  charioteer of God Surya. The Pillar is 32-ft-high and is made of high-quality granite. Lord Aruna is sitting atop Pillar with folded hands looking towards the Deities.

The sculpture of a Lion preying on an Elephant beneath the Aruna Stambha
Devotees at the Lion's Gate of Jagannath Temple

Khaja, also known as Pheni, is a very famous Odia sweet and it is one among the Chappan (56) varieties of 'bhog' (Mahaprasad) offered to Lord Jagannath. Legends say Lord Jagannath appeared in the dream of a man from Puri and instructed him how to prepare it.
Hardly two kilometres away from the Temple, begins the Puri Beach, a destination that certainly needs no introduction.  The Puri beach is the most popular beach in Odisha and the largest in the country. It stretches up to seven km and is a round-the-year destination for both domestic and international travellers. Visitors can enjoy both the sunrise and the sunset, sunbathe, sit back on the beach and watch local fishermen pulling their catch or mending their nets and listen to the melodious rendition of the striking waves.

Compared to other beaches in the country, the Puri Beach is considered to be safer as it does not face high tide and undercurrent very often. High tides occur only during full moon, so taking a bath in the sea is an enjoyable experience. The area near the beach is dotted with hotels and lodgings for travellers of all categories. For food lovers, there are several shacks along the beach selling fried and grilled seafood like prawns, crabs and pomfrets, freshly caught from the sea, along with vegetable pakodas. There are also many shops selling Odisha handlooms and seashell handicrafts. There is a lighthouse which remains open from 4 pm to 6 pm. One can get a spectacular view of the sea and the beach from the top of the lighthouse. 

The view outside my window at the OTDC Hotel

A tea shop by the Sea

Fishermen get busy checking their nets after returning with a Catch from the Sea

Their Catch

Shells for Sale
Clouds Approach the Puri Beach

An old building in the vicinity
 Puri offers a lot in terms of places to eat. Being a Beach Town, Puri is a sea-food lover's paradise. There are shacks on the beach that prepare the seafood caught by the local fishermen. Select your fish, get it prepared and savour it watching the sunset.
While Odia and Bengali delicacies are easy to find, one can also check out restaurants offering Italian, Continental and Awadhi cuisine. Even pure vegetarian restaurants are not hard to find. Try Promphet Fry at 'Gaan' restaurant of Fort Mahodadhi, Prawn Sizzlers and Desi Chicken at Wild Grass or a delectable choice of Pastas and Pancakes at Hotel Honey Bee Bakery and Pizzeria.  

Rice Noodles and Chicken at Hotel Lee Garden. Head to this beautiful place if You want to taste authentic Chinese food

Chicken Curry at OTDC

Puri Sabzi for Breakfast

Honey, Banana Pancake with Ice-cream at Hotel Honey Bee Bakery and Pizzeria

Pasta with Tomato sauce, Sausage, pickled Olives and some India Masalas at Honey Bee Bakery and Pizzeria. The place is small but they serve awesome food

OTDC plays a perfect host
It starts raining in the evening
Lush green land on the outskirts of Puri

 Travellers' Info: 
Puri is located at a distance of 59 km from Bhubaneswar by road and 63 km by rail. Visitors can either hire a taxi or take a bus to Puri. There are plenty of options for accommodation near the Beach area. Best time to visit is from July to February.   Places to see nearby are the Sun Temple at Konark, Raghurajpur Crafts Village, Satpada, Chilika Lake and Alarnath.
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