#3 India, Jan. 30, 2015

DSC07743Ah, comfort! I hired a car and driver to take me to four places that I wanted to see. The car was new (!) and the driver was very skillful, which it takes as normal traffic is quite daunting.

We started by going to the Nandankanan Zoo where I took the TigerDSC07615

and Lion Safari. There are huge jungle enclosures (many acres) each for tigers, lions, bears, and deer. No sightings were guaranteed as this is truly jungle. We did see a white tiger—I believe they are the
largest tigers in the world, and it was really big. I’m told they have blue eyes but you’ll forgive me if I didn’t verify that! The only thing DSC07625that can go into these enclosures is the safari bus on a dirt road.  Then into the lion enclosure where a pair of lions accommodated us by resting right by the side of the road.

In other pens, the orangutan looked prettyDSC07659 friendly (but BIG). I saw chimps, monkeys, lots of deer, beautiful birds, giant squirrels, mice deer, jungle cats, and on and on. I was surprised at how DSC07679up-to-date the zoo was for such an out of the way place as Bhubaneswar. It was also fun to watch the visitors watching the animals.

DSC07711Next were the caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri that were carved by Jain ascetics in the 1st C. BCE. These rock cut shelters were quite dramatic. One cave was built by King DSC07724Karavela who ruled from 168 to 153 BCE.

Some young men were posing inside the tiger’s mouth.

On the way to our next destination, we came

DSC07746 across a woman drying rice on the highway.

DSC07748There were also some cow dung patties drying nearby. We were really out in the country. Of course there is no shortage of DSC07751cows and cow dung in the city, either. Cows are everywhere

and casually interact with this horrific traffic, looking pretty blasé.

Next up was the Edict of Ashoka that was carved into a rock in about 260 BCE at Dhauli. I wonder if anybody can read this, and what it says. Maybe a grocery list?

All of these places were within about 15 km of Bhubaneswar. We were constantly driving through small villages on poor roads with zillions of people, motorcycles, pedestrians, rickshaws, bicycles and cars; the driver definitely earned his money.DSC07761

And that brought us to our last destination, the Yogini Jain Temple at Hirapur. A circular structure, open to the sky has 64 niches in it DSC07754honoring the 64 names for Durga. There were small piles of rice in front of each little statue and some had cloth ‘shawls’ around them. There are only four such Jain temples in all of India.DSC07770

As I left the hotel the morning of Sunday, January 25h there was a parade/rally of young men in tee shirts with bull horns making quite a ruckess. Because it was Republic Day, they were holding a ‘Get Out The Vote’ parade.

Moving on to the State Museum, they were there, too, holding a rally in the courtyard. DSC07774The State Museum was more interesting than I anticipated. There were many interesting Buddha statues from the 1st DSC07784century through the 12th. The museum also had displays of Pattachitra painting, an old tradition, coins, writing, local fauna, and more. The musical instruments area was closed, DSC07800which would have been interesting.

In between times, I was tuning into Indian CNN to watch the arrival of President and Michelle Obama. Clearly the Indian government went way out of its way to show honor and respect to President Obama. The honor guard for Obama (with a 21-gun salute) was led by a woman, who called out the signals. Local CNN made much of this.

I had asked the hotel desk person if they served beer in the dining room, and she said that they didn’t. I did walk a bit up and down the street to see if I could find a store to buy some beer to drink in my room before eating my linner. No luck. So I went to eat in the hotel dining room. I asked the waiter if they served beer, expecting a ‘no’ answer. To my surprise, he said, “Just a minute,”—was gone a bit and returned saying that they did! OK. So I ordered a Kingfisher (by the way, it has gotten hotter so the beer really tastes good) and waited a long time. Finally the waiter came with a water glass with a paper napkin wound around it and yes, it had some liquid in it. “Is this my beer?” Yes, it was. “Can I take the paper napkin off?” “No, this is a family restaurant—-Would you like a straw?” OK, I get it. So I drank my glass and when I needed a refill, I brought my glass over to the sideboard, where I could see my beer bottle peeking out of a deep drawer. Shades of prohibition!

The next morning I again ate breakfast with a Canadian couple who I had met in the DSC07824dining room the day before. We had planned to go together to a ‘do’ that evening where tribals were going to perform with song and dance. This was in connection with Republic Day. When it was time to go, Carolyn didn’t feel well so I went by myself. Unfortunately the first 45 minutes were spent with DSC07822politicians making speeches in Hindi so I left, and got an autorickshaw back to the hotel.

Also in connection with Republic day, someone had draw an outline of India on the pavement with flower petals.

The next day I got a bus to Puri, a town on the coast. The Hotel Ghandara where I DSC07827stayed had a lovely respite garden although the noisy traffic outside interfered.

The beach, just a fewDSC07839

steps away, had a camel giving rides. I spent the afternoon arranging a tour and doing other ‘chores.’

The next morning I took a small overloaded bus for an hour’s ride to Konark, the site of the Temple of the Sun, a UNESCO DSC07843World Heritage Site. I had been wanting to see this for ages—in fact it was a factor in choosing this area for my trip this time. This 13th C. temple was built by Orissan King Narashimhadev I. The idea is a stone ‘chariot’ with 24 huge ‘wheels,’ pulled by seven stone horses. The whole temple is carved with tableau representing daily secular tasks as well as religious symbols. Sex figures prominently!

Given that it is over 800 years old, it is in remarkable shape. However, some had tumbled down during times past and has been reconstructed. I hired a guide, which I rarely do, who told me a rather fantastic story about the construction of this temple. According to him, there were small holes drilled in the stones into which was pored molten iron. As it hardened, DSC07862
this held the structure together. A huge magnet was placed at the top of the high tower, which attracted the iron and kept everything upright. (Maybe I got more than my money’s worth from my guide!) DSC07893DSC07857However, there were big iron bars, about 10 inches square, in a pile off to the side. In any case, the beautiful temple with the concept of a chariot with wheels and horses to pull it was very successful.

DSC07864DSC07882As were the sexual scenes, I guess! The guide said that the Kalinga (these people) had had a long war with Askoka, the Mughal, and their population was decimated. Therefore the sexual scenes were meant to convey the desirability for population growth. Given India’s billion+ population, maybe it was too successful!

DSC07961One day I went on a tour to Chilika Lake, a brackish lagoon off the Bay of Bengal. We saw Irrawaddy dolphins, or at least a few fins of them as this species doesn’t ‘jump’ out of the water like bottle-nosed dolphins. Actually these have DSC07963

no ‘nose’ at all—just a round head. It was funny because a gull was swimming near our boat when the dolphin appeared. As the dolphin would swim away under water, the gull would take flight and then set down where the dolphin was. For the tourists??? We saw DSC07944many birds, although we were told there are millions here from December to mid-January.

We also stopped in a rural village for breakfast, but instead of eating, I had a chai at a chai stand and then did some photoing.DSC07925


An Indian family with a 17-
year-old-daughter was very cordial; I ate lunch with them and enjoyed it very much. The daughter spoke quite fluent English, the parents, less so. All of the tourists were Indian; I see almost no Western tourists here. Several people wanted to have their photos taken with me, the American!


The last day I was in Puri I went to visit the Jagannath Mandir, the granddaddy of all the temples in India. Non-Hindus are not admitted so I couldn’t see much of the temple except the 175 foot high tower. It was built in 1198 AD and draws jillions of pilgrims every day. Since the autorickshaw let me off about three blocks before the temple, I had a good chance to see the people, cows, beggars, etc.

Everything is on a huge scale. There must have been 200 beggars, mostly sitting along the street. There also must have been 100 cows sitting or DSC08194standing in the street with motorcycles and bicycles going past them, missing them by inches. There wereDSC08181 hawkers selling everything you could think of, especially DSC08199jewelry and fruit. This was also where the renowned sweets of this area were on display. I did buy one and try it—yes, it was very good. A deep fried frittery-thing covered with honey.


All the religious Hindus were there, looking exotic to my eyes.


And boodles of women looking like butterflies in their beautiful saris.


I was allowed to go upstairs in the ‘library’ (which was a wreck) across the street to view the temple, but I still couldn’t see much. Still, the people were the interesting thing, anyway. These people have tough lives—I hope their religion is a comfort to them.

Tomorrow I shall return to Bhubanesware by bus—only 1-2 hours, depending on the type of bus.

This entry was posted in 2015, India. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to #3 India, Jan. 30, 2015

  1. I’m so grateful for your sharing, to see places where I cannot go, to see sunshine and warmth as I shiver in the snow. Wishing you ever joyous journeys.

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