In my previous article Puri, a land of scenic beauty I have mentioned about how Puri is a soothing and healing place for people. I also gave the pictures of the sea beach showing the captivating beauty of it. I mentioned about three important tourist spots namely- a) Jagannath temple, b) Konarak Sun temple and c) Pipli. Here I am going to mentioned about three more spots. Let me discuss more about them. But first let me tell you how to book a trip for Udaygiri, Khandagiri, etc.
Booking a sightseeing tourYou will have to find travel agent kiosks near the sea beach of Puri. But do not go to any stray kiosk. Find out about the kiosk from the local people and then go to a reliable one. They will book your trip for all the tourist spots in Puri. They can also arrange journey from Puri to Pipli and back etc. The trip of the tourist spots will be for the entire day.
Khandagiri and Udaygiri These are series of caves made in two hills on two sides of the road. The caves have great archaeological values. If you see the caves very closely then you will find it bears the signs of people living there hermitism in centuries ago.
Mostly these were dwellings of Jaina worshippers. They practiced solitude and a life of hardship and tolerance in these caves. Later these caves were excavated into light by King Kharvela. Both Udaygiri and Khandagiri have flat hill tops that allow you to look over a large area. It looks no less than any foreign country. You will see greenery and rockiness meeting together and creating a picturesque beauty.
Udaygiri and Khandagiri has in total around 33-35 caves. This will take time to visit completely. It depends on amount of time that is allotted to you by your tour bus. Otherwise you have to briskly brush up these caves and leave. In such a haste you might miss the beautiful carvings on the inside walls of the caves. You might miss the beauty that is surrounding the hills. So I can suggest that you take a private car from your hotel to these caves. Keep one day allocated for these caves. It would require merely an hour to reach the place. Since both the places are at two sides of the same road, you can finish watching them in 2-2.5 hours maximum. Here is a picture of Udaygiri.
You will definitely feel that this is not a place to come in haste and finish off due to time limit given by the tour guide. In fact after you finish of these hills you can end up your visit in Puri with the next beautiful location, that is, Nandankanan.
You will see a different section for birds, fishes and for snakes. The popularity of this zoo is mostly from its white tiger sections. It has been established for over 40 years now. You have certain automatic cars which are better driven roaming around in Nandankanan. They will take you through the entire zoological park. In that case you do not have to walk through the entire zoo and catch up with the newer sections. The car will drop you at each visiting area. You finish up watching the animals and clicking pictures and then again come back to the car. They will take you to the next spot. These cars project what is called as the safari tour.
Since with time many animals are becoming extinct, including white tigers, you won't find many white tigers in this zoological park. This is the main tragedy. The mighty animals which hold the ecological balance are dying. But still whatever few are left and of whatever breed are left are available in the Nandankanan zoo. After you visit this spot you come back to the private car that you have hired. Now when you return, you might face a problem. The cars when come to this spot cannot stay in the open space in front of the entrance of Nandakanan. So they have a separate parking lot. You need to walk back on the same road that is meeting the entrance of the zoo. Around 300 meters from the main entrance of the zoo you will find a parking space for private cars. You have to take you hired car from there.
Few last wordsAs you can see through the pictures that the two hillocks Udaygiri,Khandagiri and the zoological park is no less than any popular golden triangle of India. I am ending my general discussion tourist spots of Puri right here. In the next session of this discussion I will discuss what my experience was when I visited Puri with my family. Again, like the previous session of my discussion I invite open comments of other members on their views on these tourist spots.