Orissa Temples and Tribes Tour
Trip Highlights :-: Trip Highlights – Kolkata | Bhubaneshwar | Dhauli | Konark | Puri | Chilika Lake | Gopalpur | Taptapani | Rayagada | Jeypore | Onukudelli | Gupteswar Jeypore | Vishakhapatnam | Delhi |
Tour duration : 13 Nights / 14 Days
Kolkata : The bustling capital city of West Bengal state, it is the hub of Bengali culture in India. It is seen as the land of the intellectuals. Communist in ideology and very politically aware and was the capital of British India before Delhi assumed this position. It was earlier known as Calcutta as it was pronounced since the British rule and has changed to Kolkata officially in 2001, it has derived the name from Kalikata, which is a village name in the area before the British arrival, means the land of Goddess "Kali". Kolkata boasts of a rich cultural heritage, evident in its distinct cuisine, clothing, lifestyle, its literature and even architecture. It is a cosmopolitan city where people, technology and ideas have blended together with the socio-political culture to give the city a new shape. The city is full of historical monuments and palaces. Its glorious history dates back to 1690 when it was selected by the British for their trade settlements and you definitely won't forget the city on the Hooghly river bank. It is also the city where Mother Teresa worked tirelessly for the poor and homeless and the city where Rabindra Nath Tagore wrote his famous books.
Bhubaneswar : A thriving centre of art and culture, once the heart land of erstwhile Kalinga Kingdom, Bhubaneswar is presently renowned as the capital city of State of Orissa. Bhubaneswar, literally means the Lord (Eswar) of the Universe (Bhuban), is a hub of historic temples and the city is webbed with many concrete lanes. The present modern city of Bhubaneswar was established in 1946 which is designed by the world renowned German architect Otto Königsberger. Once known for its architecture and grand temples, is presently a thriving centre for commerce and business. Having blended very nicely its formidable past with its modern aspirations and facilities, it forms a part of the Golden Triangle of holy temple cities Puri and Konark. The grand city is renowned for its temples as well as appliqué work of Pipli, Ikat sarees, Cane furniture and Bidri-ware. Art is an integral part of the city life from time immemorial, the world renowned Odissi dance form has originated in this city. The city is endowed with many tourist attractions and religious spots. It houses more than 500 temples, including the world famous temples like Lingaraj Temple, Mukteswar Temple, Bindu Sagar, Shatrughaneswar Temple, Vaital Temple, Parashurameswar Temple and Raj Rani Temple. Thousands of devotee throng to these temples in Bhubaneswar on a regular basis.
Puri : Among all the things that could be said about Puri, the most important one is that it is the abode of Lord Jagannath (The Lord of Universe). Considered to be one of the four cardinal institutions or 'Dhams', it is visited by huge number of ardent devotees almost throughout the year. Along with Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra are also revered at this famed pilgrimage spot for the Hindus. Being positioned on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, the town of Puri is blessed with some of the most gorgeous sun-kissed beaches in India. Apart from Indians, a large number of foreigners also visit this holy city of Puri quite frequently. It is approximately 60 kilometers away from Bhubaneshwar. Apart from the Temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, the Sun Temple at Konark also draw huge crowds. It is constructed in the form of a colossal chariot that is drawn by seven horses. This temple was built in the 13th century. It was referred to as the 'Black Pagoda' by the ancient European mariners. The sea beach at Puri is approximately 150.4 kilometers long. This town is positioned at such a unique place that both the sunset and the sunrise can be viewed from the sea beach itself. One of the most important festivals known as 'Ratha Yatra' is held at Puri with great pomp and gaiety. Particularly, during this time of the year, this town in Orissa is practically flooded by pilgrims.
Chilika Lake : Asia's largest & biggest inland Brackish water lake, situated in the heart of coastal district Puri, streching across the length of the 03 districts of Puri, Khurdha and Ganjam, it joins up with the Bay of Bengal through a narrow mouth, forming an enormous lagoon of brackish water. Spread over an area of 1,100 sq. km it was declared a sanctuary in 1987. Dotted with many emerald green islands with colourful names such as honeymoon islands and breakfast island, Chilika is home to a rich variety of aquatic fauna. Winter is the loveliest time at Chilika, with thousands of migratory birds flying in from central Asia and Siberia to make their winter sojourn in strange waters. While the lake's Nalabana island has been declared a sanctuary for its varied flora and fauna, Kalijai Island is home to Goddess Kalijai and the venue for annual Makar Mela. Boating and fishing facilities are available in this lake. The lake provides a livelihood to local fishermen. Chital and Black buck roam freely on the scrubby shores while Dolphins gambol playfully in the foam of the churning waters at Chilika mouth near Satapara. Encircled by Hills all along its arched shape, Chilika Lake's colour changes with passing clouds overhead and the shifting Sun. The water ripples languidly, occasionally rippling with a gentle breeze across from the Bay of Bengal.
Gopalpur : One of the most pristine beaches of Orissa, Gopalpur is a splendid retreat for sea lovers. Located at about 16-km from Berhampur, this place was once a humming port and hub of commercial activity, Gopalpur offers its visitors a slice of serenity. Tourists can visit the ruins of the port, the lighthouse and the European styled mansions and bungalows. One can still see the crumbling walls and pillars of the jetty, witness to its past glory of commercial activity. Gopalpur-on-Sea is a surfer's delight and excellent for sailing. Over the years efforts of the Orissa government has resulted in making Gopalpur one of the most sought after destination. Originally, a small fishing village on the coast of Orissa, Gopalpur was so named when a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna was constructed here in 18th century. The East India Company built huge warehouses here and it used to be an important trading point. Gradually the Britishers fell in love with the place and preferred this venue as a winter resort. The place saw resurgence as a tourist destination in the late seventies once again with the inauguration of luxury hotels. Today Gopalpur-On-Sea is one of the foremost beach resorts in India. The beach still retains its natural charm. A golden beach fringed by sand dunes, the sautéed sand, the casuarinas and palm fringed coastline, the deep turquoise blue water make a stay at Gopalpur really unforgettable. It is a paradise for peace loving tourists; fairly isolated and undisturbed by the day-trippers. A tour to Gopalpur is a rewarding experience of sun and sea, fun and frolic.
Taptapani : Taptapani is a perfect place for those who prefer nature vacations. It is known for its many hot springs and these are the main attractions of the place. There are a few tribes that live in the region as well and some of them are Kutia Kondh, Mali and Dingaria Kondh. Experiencing the culture and traditions of the tribal people can be an exhilarating experience. One can interact with the local people through trips that are arranged by the government. The forest of Taptapani is unexplored and this is a good place to experience nature in its rawest form. Many activities such as trekking, hiking and nature walking are possible and you can also explore the forests that surround the region. There are several trekking paths that are located near Taptapani. There are a few places to stay here and these offer hot spring treatments that are a relaxing experience. This is something that you must experience while travelling to the region. One can also visit the Nilakantheshwar Temple, other Tibetan settlements and the deer park in the town. There is a huge boulder that that is located here and this is worshipped by the local populace.
Rayagada : Rayagada may be one of the newest districts of Orissa but the region shares a glorious past. The area was under the prosperous Kalinga empire ruled by great Ashoka. The tribal dominated Rayagada district of Orissa covers an area of 7,585 square kilometers with a population of 8,23,000. The population figure is in accordance to last census of 2001. The sex ratio of the district is 1029 females per 1000 males. The literacy rate of the district of Rayagada is very low at 35.61%. The Kondhos and the Saoras are the two major tribes of the district. The Rayagada Town is the district headquarters and it is very well connected with cities like Berhampur and Bhubaneswar. The district has excellent road and rail network. Agriculture is the main occupation in the Rayagada district. The district has several place of tourist attractions. The historical remains and the hilly topography attract the tourists and travelers. Some of the popular tourism sites in Rayagada are: a) Hatipahar - the place has earned its name from the huge boulders that look like elephants. The place is adorned with a couple of exciting waterfalls. b) Minajhola - a place where three rivers meet is equally popular with the tourists and the pilgrims. c) Padampur - famous for the shrine of Manikeshwar Shiva. The place has historical attachments with the legendary Buddhist philosopher - Dharmakirti.
Onukudelli : Onukudelli is another paradise with exquisite picturesque landscape, located on the Eastern Ghats. It is an isolated village with an enormous hydroelectric power plant. Apart from the tribal communities, people categorized as 'lower caste or scheduled caste' also live here since their last few generations. The place takes pride in its natural panoramic view - lush green woods, cluster of hills, tranquil surroundings with a rich endowment of flora and fauna and above all, the tribal societies dwelling in this area. They continue to lead a rustic lifestyle in the lap of nature. These tribal societies embrace the faction of people who understand the meaning of living together and join hands to work together to achieve any shared interest to cater to the benefits of their society. Every society has its own set of rules with respect to business and trade. These enhance and strengthen their unity to live and toil collectively as one. The tribal groups although have undertaken various forms of odd jobs at present, yet their basic livelihood depend on hunting and cultivation. The rituals and festivals practiced by the tribal groups are still being followed, respected and nurtured since the distant past to the present day. Although the art of performing the songs and dances differ from one clan to another, yet certain features are generally familiar to all. Their social life revolves around their deep-seated religious practices and viewpoints. They also celebrate a number of festivals. Another very important aspect of their religious side is the practice of various forms of rituals and sacrifices. As they consider every step taken by them is according to the whims and fancies of Gods, even for the simplest activity they first try to mollify the supreme authority. Sacrifices are carried out in the form of cattle forfeiting accompanied by the rites and ceremonies. These religious functions are generally presided over and guided by the religious priests. They hardly ignore a prophecy before undertaking any project. The adhivasis or the aborigines dwelling in this area adorn themselves with heavy metal ornaments which beautify their wrists and necks, especially the women folk.
Arrival at Kolkata International Airport, meeting assistance by our representative who will welcome you and will provide transfer to the hotel. Upon reaching your hotel, you will be handed over the travel documents with a complete briefing of tour by the representative. Check-in and proceed to your room. Overnight stay at Hotel.
After breakfast proceed for a full day city tour visiting Dalhousie Square (Covering Raj Bhavan, St. John's Church, High Court, GPO, Town Hall, Writer's Building and other important colonial buildings), Flower Market, Howrah Bridge, Kumhartoli (The Potter's Village), Marble Palace, Indian Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral Church & Victoria Memorial.
The Heritage tour will give insight in to the historical aspect of old Calcutta. This square has many old historic buildings, to name a few - Silver Mint (1824-31) built in Greek style is presently in a dilapidated condition, The Writers Building - designed by Thomas Lyon as a trading house for East India Company in 1780 has 57 sets of identical windows on 3 storeys built like a barrack inside. The Old Mission Church, built by Swedish missionary Johann Kiernander was consecrated in 1770, General Post Office designed by Walter Granville in 1868 has a white dome and Corinthian pillars, The Raj Bhawan, once a residence of British Governors-General and Viceroys, it is now the home of Governor of West Bengal, next to it is the most important Gothic building of Kolkata - the Calcutta High Court, built in 1872.
The Pareshnath Jain Temple is an ornate Digambar Jain temple built in central Indian Style in 1867 by a jeweller. The interior is richly decorated in European baroque and Italianate styles with mirrors and Venetian glass mosaics. The gardens have formal geometric flower beds.
Belur Math was founded in 1899 by Swami Vivekanand, a disciple of Saint Ramakrishna. It is presently the international headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission and preaches the unity of all religions. Symbolizing the belief of "Math" (monastery) it has Hindu, Christian and Islamic style of architecture.
Visit to the Ninth oldest regular Museum of the world, Indian Museum, Kolkata. It was established in the year 1814 at the Asiatic Society and was transferred to the present site in 1878. It has over sixty galleries of Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Botany sections, spreading over 10000 sq. feet area. Many rare specimens both Indian and Trans - Indian origin relating to Humanities and Natural Science are preserved and displayed in the galleries of these sections. It has a collection of more than 50,000 coins of Gold, Silver and other metals. It also has a mummy in its Egyptian section.
In the afternoon visit the Victoria Memorial - a gift by Lord Curzon to Queen Victoria in honor of her commemoration and as a symbol of her Indian Empire. It has been designed in Italian Renaissance-Mughal style and built in White Marble in 1921 and has many galleries with over 3000 exhibits. At the entrance it has an impressive 'weather vane' in form of a 5mt tall bronze figure of Victory, weighing over 3 tons. Overnight stay at hotel.
Arrive Bhubaneshwar, assistance and transfer to Hotel. Bhubaneshwar is the capital of the ancient kingdom of Odisha (Orissa), and is famous as the temple city of India. Travel through Odisha (Orissa) is a mélange of art, architecture and long-established customs. City tour of Bhubaneswar, which 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 AD. Of these the most outstanding is the 11th century Lingaraja Temple, which celebrates the zenith of Odisha (Orissa) art; and the late 10th century beautifully decorated Muktesvara Temple, which marks the end of the phase of temple building in Odisha (Orissa).
The 55-mt-high Lingaraja Temple is a rare masterpiece depicting the high point of Orissan architecture of the 10th-11th century. Described as /"the truest fusion of dream and reality,/" every inch of its surface is covered with elaborate carvings of gods, goddesses, dryads, nymphs and fairies. The temple can be seen from miles away and the sculpture and architecture here fuse elegantly to create a perfect harmony. It is believed that all pilgrims, who wish to go to the Jagannath temple at Puri, must first offer worship at the Lingaraja temple. The temple has two added structures—the Natya Mandir (dance hall) and the Bhoga Mandap (offering platform). It is important to note that non-Hindus are not allowed inside the Lingaraja Temple.
Rajarani Temple - The Rajarani Temple (AD 1100), set amongst picturesque paddy fields, derives its name from the stone known as the Rajarani. It was built earlier in comparison to the impressive Lingaraja, but what sets apart this relatively small temple is its celebration of the feminine form. Here women are portrayed in a stunning variety of amorous poses and moods reminding one of the temples of Khajuraho.
Mukteshwar Temple - Perhaps the most ornate temple in Bhubaneswar, the Mukteshwar Temple (7th–8th century AD) has intricate carvings of deities that show the amalgamation of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain styles of architecture. The carvings on the roof, especially the bho motifs of the grinning lion and the monkey, are quite striking. There is a well to the south of the temple in which childless women toss a coin to wish for a child.
Brahmeshwara Temple - The Brahmeshwara Temple (AD 1050) is situated around a kilometre east of the main road of the city. It stands in a courtyard flanked by four smaller temples and a Shivling. Besides, there are other minor shrines in every corner of the courtyard. Two interesting images are found inside this temple: a well-oiled image of Lakshmi, covered in cloth, and a miniature image of Nataraja sitting on a bull and playing a veena.
Outside the city limits are the Udayagiri and Khandgiri caves, harking back to the time of Jain and Buddhist occupation of this region in the 2nd century BC. The Jain caves are among the earliest in India and all the caves were built or excavated during the 150 years before Christ. In contrast to the stark decor of the Jain caves, the Buddhist caves are decorated with excellent friezes and sculptures.
Overnight stay at hotel.
On the drive to Konark (75km), we will stop at Dhauli where the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka renounced violence and embraced the teachings of Buddha. We visit the Peace Pagoda known as Shanti Stupa built in early 1970s by the Japanese. We also stop at two ancient rock edicts, today eclipsed by the presence of the Pagoda. Dating from 260BC they outline Ashoka's detailed instructions to his administrators to rule with gentleness and fairness. Our next stop is the colourful village of Pipili where we can see Orissan handicrafts, the speciality being the famous applique work.
Visit to the Chariot of the Sun God temple, built by King Langula Narasimha Deva in the 13th century AD during the golden era of Orissan art. This temple, among the crowning works of Orissan architecture and sculpture, is sheer poetry in stone. Every day the Sun God rises from the horizon, across the shimmering blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, and casts the warmth and luminosity of his revitalizing rays on the sanctum sanctorum, circling the temple during the course of the day, illuminating the three brilliant images of the sun - in the morning, at mid-day and in the evening, as day makes way for the night. As you approach the water, you will see rising from the golden sandy beach, one of the country's most vivid archaeological treasures - the Surya Mandir (Sun Temple). For a millennium, this temple served as a beacon to the ancient and medieval mariners. Despite the fact that the Black Pagoda, as it was referred to by European soldiers who wanted to distinguish Konark from the whitewashed Jagannath Temple in Puri, lies in ruins, the structure is magnificent. Afternoon drive to Puri takes about 2hrs. Overnight stay at hotel.
Puri is one of the four principal holy abodes in India, as well as a popular beach resort. It offers the rare experience of watching both the sunset and sunrise from the same beach. Pre-Dravidian and pre-Aryan history relates that a tooth of Buddha was temporarily enshrined in Puri before being moved to Sri Lanka. Supporting the theory that Buddhism prevailed in this area, the Jagannath Temple, dedicated to the Lord of the Universe, and the main attraction in Puri, was believed to have originally been a stupa (pagoda). The extraordinary form, Jagannath takes in this temple, is said to be the unfinished work of the craftsman god, Vishvakarma. Angry at Vishnu, he left his interpretation of the 'Lord of the Universe' incomplete. Overnight stay at hotel.
The drive to Chilika Lake takes us through picturesque countryside and charming villages. Chilika lies in the heart of coastal Odisha (Orissa). Spread over 1,100 sq km, this is the country's largest lake. Dotted with islands, Chilika has a rich variety of aquatic life and is a bird watcher's paradise, particularly when migratory birds arrive in winter. Sunset and sunrise are memorable experiences here. Overnight stay at Guest House.
Rising early we visit the lake to view the avian life and the Kalijai Temple, abode of the presiding deity of the lake, located on a tiny island. In winter the lake attracts migratory bird from Iran, Central Asia, and as far as Siberia. We will also be able to watch the fishermen at work, who come here in search of prawns, mackerel and crabs. After breakfast we 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. Overnight stay at hotel.
Morning, relax at the hotel; afternoon drive to Taptapani (150km). Luxuriate in the small hot springs in this peaceful village: water from the hot sulphur springs, discovered here in a forest setting, is channeled to a pool for bathing. There is a shrine of goddess Kandhi inside the original pool, which is believed to cure infertility. You may also like to visit Chandragiri, 36 kms away, where a community of Tibetan refugees resides, and supports itself by weaving carpets. Overnight stay at Inspection Bungalow.
Odisha (Orissa) has the third highest concentration of tribes in India, and because of the remoteness of the area where they live these tribes are untouched by modern ways of life. Each has a distinct language and pattern of social and religious customs. Though economically challenged and a very low rate of literacy, the tribal groups have highly developed artistic skills as seen in their body paintings, ornaments, weaving and wall paintings. Music and dance also are an integral part of their ceremonies and seasonal festivals. During the next few days we will be visiting some of these tribal settlements. On the 220km drive today we will stop at the villages of the Saoras, a major tribe who live in hilly areas. In contrast to other tribes who live in clans, the Saoras live in extended families descended from a common ancestor. The village is administered by a headman assisted by a religious leader and village shamans (medicine men), who are able to communicate with deceased ancestors. The walls of the mud houses are decorated with remarkable paintings and traditional designs. Monday is the market day for this tribe so we will have time to wander through the tribal market. Overnight stay at hotel.
The excursion today takes us to the Kothgarh tribal area (180km). The inhabitants speak Kuvi - a language derived from the Dravidian strain of Southern India. Human sacrifice has now been replaced with animal sacrifice, offering sacrificial blood to their supreme goddess, represented by a piece of wood or stone, to ensure fertility of the soil. The members of this tribe still use bows and arrows to protect themselves from wild animals. Tuesday is the market day. Return to Rayagada. Overnight stay at hotel.
Drive to Jeypore (250km/7hrs) through Chatikona, visiting a few Dongariya Kondh villages en route. Overnight stay at hotel.
The area we visit today is the home of the approximately 6000 members of fierce Bondas (naked people) of Tibetan-Burmese origin. They live in remote hills and keep themselves isolated. Bondas grow rice by shifting cultivation and domesticate cows and goats and can only be seen when they come to trade at the local market. Therefore, we must time our visit to coincide with the weekly market-day on Thursday. The Bonda women are conspicuous with their bead necklaces, striking brass and silver necklets, and their shaved heads decorated with plaits of Palmyra leaves. We will also visit the colourful Gadabas, a Munda tribe who speak in an Austro-Asiatic dialect. Overnight stay at Inspection Bungalow in Machkund near Onukudelli.
A day excursion to Gupteswar (140km) to visit the caves, which are believed to have been the refuge of Lord Rama during his fourteen years of exile, and the place where he worshiped Shiva. On the way we will visit a few Dhuruba villages. Return to Jeypore. Overnight stay at hotel.
Today we leave hotel early in the morning at 0600hr and drive to Vishakhapatnam (210km/4hrs.) and straightaway transfer to airport for flight to Delhi. Late night transfer to the International airport.
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