Orissa is probably one of the most under-rated tourist destinations in India. It is vibrant and colorful and has beaches, wildlife reserves, ancient architecture, art festivals, and everything that a traveler needs to have a memorable time.
In February 2020, I was on a work-related trip to Kolkata and had three days to spare before heading back home to my busy life in Mumbai. I decided to go on a short trip to make the best use of my time there. Kolkata is strategically located in the Eastern part of India offering quick access to the North-Eastern states, Central Indian States, and the Eastern Coastline. After going through my options, I decided to visit Orissa – the Land of Lord Jagannath.
February is a good time to travel to most parts of India (barring the snow-clad Himalayas … bbrrrrrr). I had some woolen clothes to keep me warm and a backpack to stuff them in. I also created a rough itinerary to structure my trip since I only had three days and the state had a lot to offer. Based on the itinerary, I chose a hotel that was centrally located making it easier to commute. Next, I started looking at cabs to reach Bhubaneswar – my starting point.
While you can fly or take a train to Orissa, I prefer traveling by road since it allows me to sync with the changing landscape as I approach my destination. I also tend to take a lot of breaks and visit small villages or other places that catch my attention along the way.
The taxi fare in Kolkata to travel to Bhubaneswar was reasonable and I opted for Savaari Car Rentals service since I had used their cabs before and had positive reviews about them. The distance between Kolkata and Bhubaneswar is around 500-550km, depending on the route you take. The travel time is between 8.5-9.5 hours. I decided to start my journey early in the morning (by early I mean 4 am) so that I could reach Bhubaneshwar by noon.
With no roadblocks (literal or otherwise), I reached as scheduled and checked in to the hotel. My itinerary was broadly as follows:
- Visit some temples in Bhubaneswar city like Parsurameswar Temple, Lingaraj Temple, Rajrani Temple, etc.
- Visit the Mukteshwar Temple – one of the most prominent temples in Orissa (around 10km from the city). This temple is also known as the epitome of Orissan Architecture.
- If time permits, then visit the Ramchandi Temple (around 85km from Bhubaneswar)
- Spend an evening at the Chandrabhaga Sea Beach
- Visit the Chilika Lake at Satpada. This is Asia’s largest salted water lake. Also, visit Rajhans Island for Dolphin spotting.
- Visit the famous Raghurajpur village in Puri (around 50-60km from the city). This village is famous for its artists. In fact, every villager in Raghurajpur is an artist.
- Go for a white tiger safari at the Nandankanan Zoological Park.
I also had a wish-list of local food items that I wanted to try while there like Dalma, Khechadi, Chungdi Malai, Pakhala, etc.
So, what really happened in Orissa?
I had an awesome time. I ticked off all that I had planned for and more. By the time I headed back to Kolkata, I had memories that would last me a lifetime. I also made some friends in Raghurajpur and still stay in touch with them helping my friends in the city buy paintings from them.
If you have been contemplating a trip to Orissa, then I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. Ensure that you base yourself in Bhubaneswar and opt for a reliable Bhubaneswar Car Rental service with a local driver to visit as many places as you can. Once you do, please share your experiences with me. Safe travels!
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