Approximately 69 kilometers from Bhubaneshwar, my husband and I traveled by car to Puri on an impromptu vacation. I had heard that this is one such place where the Indian culture is still preserved. And I was not disappointed.
As soon as I reached Puri, I felt lost as if I had suddenly reached a different dimension. It was like I had stepped into the 18th century. The street, the people, and their attire. The whole ambiance was far beyond what I had expected. I pinched myself to make sure that this wasn’t a time travel and that I wasn’t dreaming.
The whole ambiance was so positive and vibrant. People mostly carry their Hindu Brahmin culture there. For them, the place is synonymous with the magnificent Jagannathan temple, where people worship Lord Jagannatha (Lord Krishna) and his siblings, Goddess Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra.
Puri hosts a beautiful seashore, and it is indeed a treat to the eyes.
Another miracle of this place is the ‘sweet water’ – the water around the place near the seashore. You read it right, not salty but sweet. No one knows why. They call it Sweet Water.
In the words of the officials…
“This patch of land can be termed as Mother Nature’s magic lab where she has transformed the salty roars of the Mahodadhi (the sea that distinguishes Orissa coast) into sweet water, a precious deposit of the like of which is not seen elsewhere.
From time immemorial, the people of Puri had preserved this rare wealth and not allowed anybody to tamper with this patch of land.”
Now the government has banned all constructions around this place in order to preserve this rare wealth.
Puri hosts a number of ashrams and sages where people from all over the world, with different religious beliefs, come for spiritual practices, meditation, and yoga. There is just one ideology. We are all one. No religion. No differences.
The Temple-kitchen prepares food in earthen pots of different sizes and feeds thousands of people every day, four times a day. They cook by stacking the pots over one another and steam-cook it. It is indeed a sight to see.
The food is then distributed to everyone in the same earthen pots at the Anand Bazar. The food at Anand Bazar is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The stay at Puri is very much affordable and neat. And being a tourist hub, Puri is dotted with restaurants catering to the taste palettes of every tourist. The by-lanes of the old part of the city have small eateries, which serve the most authentic Odia cuisine.
Puri has indeed been a surreal experience for both of us. It was energizing in every way – spiritual, emotional, physical and it surely satiated the foodie in me as well. Now that is what I call a complete relaxation from the daily hustle of life. Luckily we had taken this trip before the quarantine time of our lives, but the energy we had filled ourselves with from there was enough for us to survive the year on a good note. If you are planning to take a break and escape into the world of Puri, I would suggest that you don’t give any second thoughts and jump right behind the wheel. But be sure to be safe at this point, we want our body and mind to be filled with the goodness of Puri and not any virus. So mask, sanitizer, clothes…all check, now drive!