Magnificent Odisha (Orissa)
Orissa boasts of a long and rich cultural heritage and the finest pieces of Architecture. It has the third largest concentration of tribes, forming about one fourth of its total population, mostly inhabiting the jungles and hilly regions. Most of the tribal communities have a fairly high degree of performing and primitive arts, rich music and dance which punctuate their individual and community lives. The tribes here are named after the Cobra and the Tiger. Their culture is characterized by worship of stone deities, rice cultivation on terraced and shifting fields, domestication of cattle for slaughter and sacrifice, the art of weaving and the erection of megaliths. Tribes here are endogamous, they treat everyone from their entire area as one big family. They decorate their bodies with tattoo marks, they profusely use ornaments like bangles, anklets, earrings and huge necklaces. Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneswar, the Jagannath Temple of Puri above all the world renowned world heritage Sun Temple at Konark is the epitome of temple architecture and sculpture. Organized every year in an open air auditorium with Sun Temple, the World Heritage Monument, as the backdrop, the Konark Dance festival showcases India’s classical and traditional dance forms.
Day 1: Arrival in Kolkata (Calcutta) evening.
Met on arrival and transfer to Oberoi Grand.
Day 2: Kolkata (Calcutta) / Oberoi Grand.
The name Calcutta is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. Kolkatta was then subsequently anglicized into Calcutta. Today the city has reverted to its original name.
Morning visit Flower Market and onward to Dakhineshwar Temple, Kumartuli (potters village) south of the temple & Sishu Bhavan, one of Mother Theresa’s many homes for the underprivileged.
Dakhineshwar Temple was built in 1855 by Rani Rashmoni (1793-1861). This temple is associated with one of India’s greatest religious philosophers, Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (Gadadhar Chattopadhyay – 1836-1886). The main temple is located 25 km outside the town and is dedicated to the Goddess Kali. It has 12 smaller temples in the courtyard dedicated to Shiva, Radha and Krishna.
The village Kumartuli is the home of the kumars or potters who make the life size deities that are worshipped throughout the year at festivals and pujas. Kali, the patron goddess of Calcutta, is usually seen in her bloodthirsty form, garlanded with skulls.
Afternoon visit Victoria Memorial another landmark in the city that marks the British reign in India. A combination of Italian renaissance and Mughal architecture, the white marble architecture was the British attempt to replicate the Taj Mahal and is a monument to Queen Victoria and a museum dedicated to the Raj.
Afterwards we go to Kalighat temple, the main Kali temple (Durga) in Calcutta, for evening ceremony. Kali temple is located on the banks of the river Hooghly (Bhagirathi). The temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, built in 1809 on the site of a much older temple, although it has been referred in Mansar Bhasan in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century.
Kali is regarded as one of the principal deities of Bengal. There are other temples to Kali -Sahasrabhuja Kali, Sarvamangala, Tarasundari and Simhavaahini. Kali is alternately regarded as the destroyer or liberator and is depicted in a fearful form. Despite the terrifying visage, she is considered to deliver bliss to worshippers. The Kalighat temple is considered one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where the various parts of Sati’s body are said to have fallen, in the course of Shiva’s Rudra Tandava. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Shakti or Sati fell. The temple attracts thousands of devotees throughout the year.
Legend has it that a devotee discovered a luminescent ray of light coming from the Bhagirathi riverbed, and upon investigating its source came upon a piece of stone carved in the form of a human toe. He also found a Syayambhu Lingam of Nakuleshwar Bhairav nearby, and started worshipping Kali in the midst of a thick jungle. This shrine grew to its present form over a period of time, thanks in particular to the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Bengal. This family is also said to have built the Chitreswari Kali temple at Chitpur. It is believed that there was a pathway through the jungle between Chitpur and Kalighat, and this pathway is said to have become the Chitpur road of Calcutta.
Kalighat is also associated with the worship offered to Kali by a Dasanami Monk named Chowranga Giri, and the Chowringee area of Calcutta is said to have been named after him.
Day 3: Kolkata – Bhubaneswar / Hotel Mayfair Lagoon
Transfer to airport for flight 9W2864 dep. 1250 / 1405 to Bhubneswar, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Orissa, and is famous as the Temple City of India. Traveling through the state of Orissa is a blend of art, architecture and ancient cultures. Bhubaneswar has some stunning temples clustered around the Bindusagar Tank. Of the original 7000 only 500 remain dating from the 7th century to the 11th century. Of these the most outstanding is the 11th century Lingaraja Temple which represents the peak of Orissa art and the late 10th century beautifully decorated Muktesvara temple which belongs to the end of the phase of temple building.
Close to the Mukteswara Temple is the Parsurameswara Temple, a small but richly decorated shrine of Shiva that was built in the 7th century. It is one of the best preserved. It has sculptures featuring amorous couples, animals and floral motifs.
Afternoon visit of Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves and Tribal Museum. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 4: Bhubaneswar
Full Day city tour of temples covering Parasurameswar temple, Mukteswar Temple, Rajarani temple Lingaraj temple (from outside),Bindusagar Lake, Local market around the lingaraj temple., Museum and Dhauli rock edict’s of Ashoka of 3rd century B C. caves nd shanti stupa built by Indo Nippon Buddha sangh. Overnight at Bhubaneswar.
Recommended Lunch at the Odisha Hotel. Actually this is a restaurant, the only one serving authentic Orissa cuisine. Local cuisine of any section should form an important part of that tour. In addition to finger licking vegetarian delicacies. You must add to it shrimps, lobsters, special fish, chicken or meat (goat) all cooked in traditional Orissan style.
During the temple tour we will show the Market and Baia Korakhai shop. Kora khai is a traditional food of Odisha, it’s also one of the Chapana Bhoga (56 sweet delicacies) of Lord Jagannath. Bhubaneswar is famous for this preparation. (They are not making each and every day). Even if for some reason the few shops that prepare and sell this offering are not preparing it. It is quite interesting to visit these shops in the Bazaar (market) while walking through the age old allies around the main temple. These alleys house the Pandas (priests) of the various temples. We will probably be the only ones who incorporate this very interesting aspect that is till now being ignored. This section surrounds the main Temple. A short walk is indeed very interesting.
Day 5: Bhubaneswar – Kila Dalijoda Palace (250kms/ 6 Hours)
Drive to Kila Dalijorda Palace (Near Mangarajpur) visiting Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri ruin Buddhist monastery developed up to 12th century A D, Chatia temple Vishnu Temple (it is believed that when Puri will be submerged in water, Lord Jagannath will be worshiped here), Potter village Champapur and bell metal work village Bhatimunda. Overnight at Palace. (Please note at present it has only 3 double rooms).
Day 6: Kila Dalijoda
Morning after breakfast walk to visit Bhanjiama village of sara tribe depending on forest product around 15 families live here. (4 kms walk one side) back to Palace for Lunch. Evening time visit of Munda tribal village. (Munda Tribal Dance can be arranged in their village or in Palace) Overnight at Palace.
Day 7: Kila Dalijoda – Dhenkanal / Dhenkanal Palace
Drive to Dhenkanal. After check in visit the palace. After lunch drive to Karmul ( 40kms/1.5 Hrs). Visit of tribal jewellery work. Visit of a few villages. Evening visit of Mahima Sadhu doing their evening prayer. Overnight at Dhenkanal Palace.
Day 8: Dhenkanal – Nuapatana – Dhenkanal (100kms/ 3 Hours) / Dhenkanal Palace.
Morning drive to Sadaibarini visit of village and Dokra metal work. Then drive to Nuapatana sari weaving village. (IKET tie and Dye system) Ancient loom, Sari co operative society. Drive to Bhatarika a place in the bank of River Mahanadi. Visit of Bhatarika temple(This is a small temple in the bank of river Mahanadi. Scenic Place). Packed lunch will be provided. Then drive to Maniabandh another textile village. (This is another textile village like Nuapatana. Evening activities are interesting to watch here? The village is also known for its excellent religious harmony between the Buddhists and the Hindus. Both the communities love to involve themselves in the socio-religious celebrations in such a manner that it becomes difficult to distinguish a Buddhist from a Hindu here) See the evening activities of the village. Drive to Palace. Overnight at Dhenkanal Palace.
MANIABANDHA HANDLOOM CLUSTER
Manibandh is in Baramba Block in Athagarh sub-division of Cuttack district of Orissa in India is just 25 kms from Athagarh and about 110 km from the state Capital,Bhubaneswar. Maniabandh is about 50kms from Dhenkanal
Since time immemorial handloom products are being made by members of Buddhist community who are said to have migrated from Bardhaman district of West Bengal in seventh century A.D. They were rehabilitated in Maniabandha by the then king of Barambagarh who allowed them to earn their livelihood through weaving. With passing of time they excelled in weaving with active patronage of the king. The people have been weaving varieties of cloth items for centuries to cater to local needs.While practice of Buddhism has waned over the years from India, in Maniabandha one can come across it as a way of life. This has started attracting Buddhist pilgrims and tourists to visit the village to experience. Legend has it that when the famous Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang visited the village in 7th century AD, he was moved to receive a gift of saree that could be cased in a thin bamboo stick. The excellent designs and texture of the Maniabandha silk sarees that has got a global market today speaks volumes of the centuries old textiles legacy of the place. The village is also known for its excellent religious harmony between the Buddhists and the Hindus. Both the communities love to involve themselves in the socio-religious celebrations in such a manner that it becomes difficult to distinguish a Buddhist from a Hindu here. Maniabandha has housed five Buddhist temples which are built in the Kalinga style of temple architecture. Interestingly, Hindu deities also find a place in these shrines symbolising the religious tolerance of both the communities.
A visit to the Dalai Lama Weavers’ Cooperative Society and Maniabandha Weavers’ Cooperative Society would familiarise a visitor with the wonderful weaving wizardry of the villagers here, says Beena Keum, a Korean traveller.Main handloom products of the cluster include both cotton and sil varieties.While the cotton varieties are made from 2/80s to 2/120s count yarn the silk varieties are of 20/22 denie, the main products of the cluster are sarees,lungis,dess materials,naplins,stoles and dupattas. Recently designers have been engaged for catering to the needs of a classical mixture of traditional and modern designs.
Day 09: Dhenkanal Palace – Ramchandi (150 kms / 5 Hours) / Lotus Eco Village Resort.
Drive to Ramchandi Eco village enroute visiting Pipli appilique village. Overnight at Eco village Ramchandi. Lotus Resorts is a very fine place to stay. Built as a local thatched village. Right on the beach. No disturbance, actually at the mouth of the Kushabhadra River and the Bay of Bengal.
Day 10,: Ramchandi – Konark (15kms/ 0.5 Hours) / Lotus Eco Village Resort Konark Festival
After breakfast drive to Konark. Visit of Sun Temple , Chandrabhaga beach, fisherman’s village. The day culminates with a visit the artisan village of Raghurajpur. The village residents specialize in pattrachitrs – the art of painting vivid colors on palm leaves. You will also see the ancient art of palm leaf etching used to illustrate manuscripts in the 16th century. It was this technique that helped shape the Oriya script to its present rounded form.
In the evening visit the largest fishing village in Orissa Ramchandi. Worth a visit in the evening. Ramchandi is also closest to Konark. It’s a much better place to stay compared with Puri.
Day 11: Ramchandi – Puri (60 Kms). Mayfair Beach Resort.
Morning visit of Puri temple, Gundicha mandir, Narender Tank and Swargdwar. Afternoon visit of Sea shore market.
Day 12: Puri – Chilika – Goplapur (200kms / 5 Hours) / Mayfair Gopalpur on Sea Resort
Morning visit the community at Belakati whose people specialize in work with bell metal. The drive to Chilka Lake takes us through scenic countryside and attractive villages. Chilka lies in the heart of coastal Orissa. The pear-shaped lake spreads over 1,100 sq km and is Asia’s largest inland salt-water lagoon. It is dotted with small islands and has an impressive array of bird life, both native and migrant. White Bellied Sea Eagles, Greyleg Geese, Purple Moorhen, Jacana, herons and flamingos are among the many species that make the lake a bird watcher’s delight. Chilka, in fact, is home to one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of flamingos. Other than the birds, Chilka’s shores are home to blackbuck, spotted deer, golden jackals and hyenas, and the lake is rich in aquatic life – its waters harbor approximately 160 species of fish, crustaceans and other marine creatures including the famous Chilka dolphin. Prawn, crab and mackerel fishing are an important source of livelihood for the local people, and hundreds of small fishing boats set sail each morning to bring in the day’s catch from the lake. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is home to India’s second largest pachyderm population, so the chances of seeing herds of elephants are quite good, especially during the dry season. Sunset and sunrise are memorable experiences here.A private boat ride on the lake to view the avian life and Kalijai Temple, abode of the presiding deity of the lake, located on the tiny island.After lunch, drive to Gopalpur on Sea, an ancient seaport not often visited by tourists. Sand dunes, groves of coconut palm and casuarinas separate the small town from the beach. Tonight marks our last night of comfort before embarking on the rugged journey through the tribal areas.
Day 13: Gopalpur – Jiraang – Gopalpur (200kms / 6 Hours)
Full Day visit of Tibetan Monastery Jirang and Chandragiri Tibetan settlement, Taptapani Hot Sulpher spring and a few local villages. Overnight at Gopalpur.
Day 14: Gopalpur – Bhubaneswar (200kms/4-5 Hours) – Calcutta
Drive to Bhubaneswar for the flight 9W2865 dep. 1435 arr. 1550 to Calcutta. On arrival transfer to hotel near airport for wash and change; late night transfer to International airport.
Cultural programs that can be incorporated
Shadow Puppetry in Dhenlkanal.
Gotipua Dance in Rghurajpur on Day 6.
Visit to Panda Akhara in Puri. Pandas are local Priests in Puri. They have their club houses called Akharas. These priests go to their respective clubs to unwind. They are famous for their wrestling skills, though they indulge is dances, music and merry making. An exclusive but engrossing experience.