In 2011, I met with the western part of India, i.e., Mumbai and Goa. So, in January 2012, I decided to explore the eastern side. So, Puri was the most eligible place. Puri is just 8 hrs train journey away from my city Jamshedpur (Tatanagar).
Puri has a lot to be explored. Within the city, the golden beaches are the worth visit. But, apart from beaches, Puri is a famous pilgrimage center, one of the Char Dhaam. The Jagannath Temple is the center of attraction, however, there are a lot of other temples.
The golden triangle Puri-Konark-Bhubaneshwar needs a whole day to complete. You can either catch a regular tourist bus or hire a full day taxi. The full circuit is about 150 km long including Konark, Dhouli Giri, Udaygiri & Khandgiri, Lingaraj Temple and finally the Nandan-Kanan park. The Chilika Lake is another attraction but 55 km far from the city. It’s the largest brackish water lake in India having an area of about 1250 square km.
So let me tell you a brief itinerary about the 3 days Puri trip.
But how to reach Puri?
Puri is well connected via train with all the major cities in India. If you desire to fly, Bhubaneshwar is the nearest airport at just 60 km from Puri.
3 Days Itinerary for Puri-Konark-Bhubaneshwar trip
1st Day- Local Puri Sightseeing :
Best location in Puri- If you are looking for a hotel, you can find a lot just beside the sea beach. Also, there are a lot of other hotels in Puri within two km from the beach, ranging from as low as Rs 500 per night, particularly on the Chakratirtha Road.
So, the first day is the relaxed day, so don’t plan to leave the city. Plan to visit the Jagannath Temple in the morning first. There is a lot of rush at the temple, long queues. You may see the priests or pandas hovering around you, trying to make some money from you, forcing you to purchase some offerings. But if you are not interested, just ignore them firmly, don’t indulge in any arguments, just don’t talk to them and proceed.
The Jagannath Temple visit needs only half an hour to complete unless you minutely observe this ancient architecture. You may purchase some offerings inside the temple.
Afterwards you may also visit other small temples in Puri by hiring an auto rickshaw at around Rs 500 only.
In the 2nd half of the day, it is beach time. Puri sea beach is also known as Golden beach due to its yellowish appearance, few km away from the main temple. Plenty of street hawkers gather on the beach selling a wide variety of jewelleries, toys and items made from the skeletons of conchs or shells.
Puri sea food is also popular, but unless you are a non veg lover, you can’t reveal the full taste of them. Popular sea food are dishes made from prawn, Promfret and Bhetki fishes.
Sand Art: At the beach you can also notice the popular sand art- many artists are found at the beach converting the shapeless sans into many kinds of shapes like Lord Shiva and other idols.
Diving at the beach: Diving into the beach is also a fund which you mustn’t miss. People spend a lot of time playing with the sea water. There is no specific suitable time to do it, as you are in Puri, you can get yourself dived anytime.
The Camel Ride: If your are at the beach, you can also try the camel ride. Yes, it’s not limited to just the desert of Rajasthan, in Odisha too, you can enjoy it.
Shopping: If you wish to buy some souvenirs, you can roam across the streets of local beach market in Puri. You will find a number of options to choose from either traditional clothes, stone art, idols, jewellery items made of conches & shells etc.
2nd Day: The Golden Triangle Tour- Puri-Konark-Bhubaneshwar
This is a popular triangle in Odisha often known as Golden Triangle tour just like another Golden Triangle Delhi-Agra-Jaipur. Puri to Konark distance is just 35 km, Konark to Bhubaneshwar is 65 km and Bhuneshwar to Puri 60 km. That means the total distance is 160 km in this circuit, which needs a whole day tour.
To accomplish this tour, you can start from Puri. There are also two options to choose- the budget friendly tourist bus or hiring an private taxi. The tourist buses starts early in the morning upto 8 am, the tour cost is around Rs 200 per head only while if you book a private taxi, cost may be around Rs 2500. One more advantage of tourist bus is that you get free guide facility or nominal charge of Rs 30 extra.
Let me explain the brief itinerary of this golden triangle tour. First you reach the Sun Temple of Konark. The tourist bus operators let you spend at least one hour here. The entry fee is just Rs 10. You can explore this ancient temple (about 800 years old). This is the only temple where no worshiping takes place.
Also, one more interesting fact is that, the time when this temple was built, it was just at the sea beach, the waves used to strike the base of the temple. But after so many centuries, due to the Earth’s tectonic plates movement, the beach moved away from the temple. Presently, the beach is about 3 km away, that means every year it moved at the rate of 3 inches per year.
Moving on, the tourist bus will take you to the Dhawalgiri or Dhauligiri. On a small hill, there is a Buddhist temple and statue of Buddha. Just beside, you see a river Daya which was once turned red due to the bloodbath of battles caused by the emperor Ashoka.
Afterwards, you stop at Udaigiri and Khandgiri Caves. These are caves made from natural stones. It is also believed that once upon a time a number of saints or munis underwent rigorous austerity in these caves. The both caves are located on opposite sides of a same road. But you will have to walk some upstairs to fully explore the caves. On the way, a number of wild monkeys and baboons may come to you or snatch your bag, camera, phone or belongings, so beware of them!
Moving on, the tourist bus will take you towards the Lingraj Temple near Bhubaneshwar. Since no photography is allowed there, I am unable to show more pictures. This temple is very ancient, even more than the Jagannath Temple, but contains a hundreds of small, medium and large temples.
In the mean while the bus will stop somewhere at Konark or Lingaraj for lunch. The Nandan Kanan Park will be the last stoppage of this tour. But remember, it remains closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly to avoid any disappointment by missing it.
This is a large zoo having a variety of wild animals like white tigers, lions, peacock etc. To fully explore it, you need to visit it separately if you wish, but the tourist bus will allow you only one hour to spend here.
At around 6 pm, the you will depart Nandan kanan, may come back to Puri at around 7 pm. Thus, the one day golden triangle tour will be finished in 12 hrs.
3rd Day: The Chilika Lake Tour
The Chilika Lake is located at a distance of about 55 km from Puri. It is a largest brackish water lake unique in India having an area of about 1250 square km. You can go to Chilika from Puri either by bus or hiring and auto or taxi. Please note that limited no of buses run in this route, so be ready to spend at least Rs 1000 for hiring an round trip auto or taxi.
As you arrive at the lake side, you will find a no of restaurants, boat operators etc. There are various kinds of boat packages for the visitors. If you are not in a group or alone, you must collaborate with other tourists. The minimum charges for a 1 hour boat ride for 8 to 10 people may be at least Rs 2000.
As you proceed inside the lake, you see many small partitions made by bamboos and nets within the lake for fish farming. If you are lucky, you may see Dolphins. If you visit in winters, a flock of migratory birds may be seen on a small island in the lake, who come here after traveling thousands of kilometers from Siberia.
Some local fishermen will come to you and try to sell marine animal products like pearls, conch shell or even live crabs etc. But beware that the pearls are not real because who will sell a pearl as cheaper as Rs 10? At the end you may see the sea mouth too, where the lake meets with the sea.
I hope this post will help you plan your three days Puri-Konark-Bhubaneshwar and Chilika Lake trip.