Every year, we usually pick a new destination for our anniversary trip, so I suggested Odisha for this one. We had not been there before. In less than five minutes, we were into the plan and we decided to visit Jagganath temple for our D-day. In total, hubby had an extended weekend to spare and I excitedly jumped on the opportunity to work on our 4-day itinerary for Odisha. We are immensely glad that we chose Odisha. The visit to the land of Kalinga turned out to be extraordinarily special. The unique ecosystem of the state, the lovely beach, the ardent faith of the locals in Lord Jagannath, age-old artistic-cum-heritage villages, and our first tryst with Odia food gave us enough reasons to cherish the trip and look forward to another one in the future.
First Impressions of Odisha
The state of Odisha has lots to offer to travellers who love to explore. It is blessed with a gorgeous coastline, abundant wildlife, bountiful nature, and culture-rich past. It has historic temples, popular lakes, picturesque gorges, dense forests, majestic palaces, heritage villages, Buddhist sites, and much more. I was spoilt for choices as soon as I set out to plan my days there. However, since it was my first time in Odisha, I wanted to visit the popular places that I heard about. And of course, when you are in Odisha, everything must begin with the darshan of Lord Jagganath. For many years, I had wanted to go to Puri, Konark, and Raghurajpur and I included them in my itinerary without a second thought. Once, we reached Puri, we were totally in love with the beach. Also, the aura of the city is such that it makes you fall in love with Lord Jagannath. We visited the temple and indulged in the maha prasada as well. It was nothing less than divine blessing. Odisha bowled me over with its art and craft too. Konark’s architecture is amazing and the overall trip turned out to be more than we had thought. I would say Odisha is still India’s hidden gem and undiscovered tourist destination. Go for it as soon as you can.
Here is our 4 days Itinerary for Odisha
Our plan turned out to be hectic but this is how we could make the most of it. So no regrets. But I would like to accept the fact that 4 days were too less for the Golden triangle itself. We would have loved to stay in Puri for another day, also we wanted to do more of Bhubaneshwar. And next time, I will also keep Cuttack on my list. If you are a foodie, you must not miss Cuttack in your itinerary.
Day 1 – The first flight from New Delhi took us to Bhubaneshwar and we were already in the capital of Odisha by 9 a.m. We hired a cab from Biju Patnaik International Airport to Puri. It takes around one and a half hours to reach Puri but we planned a stop-over at Pipili, famous for designing beautiful Applique handicrafts. If you are interested in art and craft, you must also include it in your route. By noon, we reached our hotel in Puri. We rested for a while and made our way to the beach and Jagganath temple in the evening. During Kartik Poornima, the temple was super crowded but this is the most auspicious month to be there. That evening we walked around the different temple gates, admired the structure, walked around the temple road, and the marine drive, and visited that part of the beach that has a paid entry. The Golden Beach in Puri has won the Blue Flag Certification for its cleanliness and sustainable approach and to enter the blue flag beach, or the cleanest part, one has to pay a certain fee. We called it a night with Odia dinner at Dalma restaurant.
Note: If you plan to see Raghurajpur village, plan it on your way to Puri. It is only 10 kilometers before Puri. I planned it on the 3rd day.
Day 2 – The second day started on a lazy note followed by a hearty breakfast. At around 11.30 a.m. we started for Satapada, Chilika Lake. At a distance of 44 km from Puri, Chilika Lake is Asia’s biggest inland saltwater lagoon. It is a silent and calming place to enjoy nature. It takes a little more than one hour to reach Chilika lake by taxi. A three and a half hours boat ride costs around Rs. 5500. The boatman took us on a calming ride, showing us the migratory birds, dolphins, and the island where you find pearls. It seemed like an unending ride with only nature around you. We had a whole boat to ourselves. And by the time we returned from the island, it was already 4.15 p.m. Our taxi driver was waiting and he drove us back to Puri just in time to see the sunset from the top of the Puri lighthouse. For the next 2 hours, we strolled around Golden beach, hand in hand, and tried some of the tempting local food- Bhelpuri and pani bataashe. You may also attend the Aarti at Swargadwar Beach at around 6:30 p.m. We learned about it later. We had planned the Jagganath temple darshan for the next morning but it was meant to happen that evening. A friend of mine came down from Bhubaneshwar and he guided us inside the temple. He gave us one of the best tours of the temple. We stayed inside the temple premises for almost 4 hours. He explained to us the importance and significance of every big and small temple, inside the premise. We also ate the prasadam together and it turned out to be an amazing experience. Look for him with the hashtag #VisitmyOdisha
Day 3 – We woke up early and went for a morning walk towards the beach. The beach in Puri is lovely. The morning waves were welcoming and energizing. Even after being there for two days, I had not had enough of it. Golden beach is truly golden and lives up to its name. It was so much fun to play with the crashing waves. I would have loved to have a day more in Puri. But I had more to see. I was looking forward to Raghurajpur art village and Konark Temple before heading to Bhubaneshwar at the night. The day seemed hectic but it turned out as fantastic as planned. Before leaving Puri, we also visited the Arti Sahab Gurudwara and took blessings. The trip to Raghurajpur was worth it to learn about Pattachitra paintings and see the amazing artworks of the master painters. I could be there for hours. The drive to Konark is scenic and beautiful. Many empty and hidden beaches can be explored before reaching Konark Sun Temple. At the Sun temple, you need at least 3 hours to explore it properly. It is best to look around with the help of a guide. If you have time, do stop for the lights and sound show in the evening. We were there when the lights were switched on. But since we had had a long day, we were looking forward to our hotel in Bhubhaneshwar. By 8 p.m. we reached Welcomhotel, Bhubaneshwar. The day had been amazing and even the evening turned out to be great with our anniversary dinner at Peshawari.
Day 4 – It was a light and easy day when we started with Odia breakfast and had Odia thali in mind. I wanted to touch upon a couple of places in Bhubaneshwar, especially the temples but it was not possible in one day. Thus, we chose to go to Lingaraja temple and the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves. The lunch was heavenly. Do scroll below to see the Odia thali.
Post lunch, my friend set up a meeting with Mr. Sudarshan Sahoo, one of the acclaimed sculptors of India, and we went to meet him at Sudarshan Arts and Craft Village. We had booked the last flight to make the most of the day in Bhubhaneshwar and this helped. We were back at the hotel by evening and had enough time to pack, have dinner and reach the airport in time. From morning to night, we utilized the day perfectly. I would love to return to Bhubaneshwar for its lovely temples. Also, recently Odisha tourism has started some weekend heritage walks. Do check for them whenever you are planning your trip there.
In Puri, we stayed for 2 nights at Seven Hills Hotel. It is good place to stay but it is away from the beach. The property is new. The rooms are spic and span. The breakfast is served piping hot. But at the same time, it is a little difficult to return late to the hotel as most of the autos refuse to come here and it is a good 15 minutes walk from the beach.
In Bhubhaneshwar, we stayed at Welcomhotel Bhubhaneshwar. They have great rooms and perfect decor and we enjoyed their food thoroughly. The WelcomSthalika is a must-indulge. The hotel is closer to the airport and a little away from the city center. But it is worth a stay for a great experience.