Saturday, November 30, 2013

One Day Trip to Chilika Lake

Last weekend few of my colleagues and myself were at Bhubaneswar. We had one of the LDP sessions scheduled on Friday. We decided to go for a trip to Chilika Lake on Saturday. We started our journey at 7AM in the morning from the guest house in Bhubaneswar.

As we were moving away from the concrete buildings and towards the Chilika, the impact that cyclone Phailin has made was becoming more and more clearer. In the sides of the road (NH-5), most of the trees were uprooted and dried.

We reached Balugaon around 9 AM and had our breakfast there. We had almost all type of snacks, like Idli, Bara, Sambar, Chatni, Uttapam and sweets etc. We decided not to waste time and went straight to Chilika (near Rambha). Due to lack of time, we decided to cover only few points in Chilika, which are close by or on the way to Kalijai Temple. We booked a boat, which took Rs. 1400/- for visiting Nalaban Bird Sanctuary and Kalijai temple.

The starting phase of the journey inside Chilika was more interesting. We had the fear of getting drowned in the water of Chilika. While boarding the boat, a little shake in the boat was also frightening. All of us just went to the middle of the boat and sat quiet. As the boat started moving away from the shore, we build up the confidence that we can move a little inside the boat, keeping the balance of the boat proper. After 20 minutes of the journey, the shore was out of our sight and all we could see was the blue water of the lake.

The scenery of fishermen doing fishing was amazing. Prior to that I had never seen fishermen in action in deep sea from such a close angle. The Sun was rising above our head and the water was glittering. We had few Camera shots on the boats. As we were entering into the lake, we had to cross many "Chingdi gheries". We saw different type of birds in these gheries. We went to Nalaban Bird Sanctuary, but unfortunately we did not have the permission from forest department to enter into the water of the sanctuary. The patrol guard refused our entry and we just had a look from the outside. We also could not visit the islands inside the sanctuary.

We asked the boat driver to move towards Kalijai temple. On the way, he pointed us out at one famous island in Chilika, the Parikuda island. We saw the fishermen cooking food in their boats, which was a rare experience. On the way to Kalijai temple, we had few unexpected guests to watch. Though we were not in the area, where Irawaddy Dolphins are generally seen, we got the rare sight of 3 among them, waving on the water. We just stopped our boat to take a better look. Once they disappears from our eye, we continued our journey.
We reached the island, where Kalijai Temple is situated, around 12 O'clock. We went to the temple and visited its surroundings. We came to know that, cyclone Phailin had destroyed all the food stalls, shops and also left its foot prints by damaging the surroundings. We had some sweets and soft drinks there along with some group and individual picture. We spent around 45 minutes in the island and came back to the boat.

The boat almost covered 270 degree around the island from the water. The return journey took us very less time, around 35 minutes, as we came back straight to the starting point. By the time we reach the shore, we were madly hungry. We went the famous dhaba "Chilika Dhaba", which is famous for its quality of food. We had our lunch there and came back to Bhubaneswar.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Kolkata Visit : Kalighat, Alipore Zoo, Victoria Memorial, Birla Planetarium, Science City, Dakshineswar and Belur Math

    This year during Durga Puja, 10th Oct to 14th Oct, I was in Kolkata. Few of my relatives have come to Kolkata for visiting. My role was like a guide for them through-out their stay in Kolkata.

    Kolkata is famous for Durga Puja and Kali Puja. On the very day they reached Kolkata we visited few Durga Puja Mandaps near Shobha-bazar, Ultadanga, Sribhumi and Kestopur. The theme of the puja mandaps and the light decorations were outstanding. The famous puja at Sribhumi has attracted thousand of visitors. We have wait in the queue at least for 1 hour to get a glimpse of goddess Durga. Few other interesting themes were, "mandir in jungle", "volcano on earth", "Belur math model" and "Kedarnath disaster and a view" etc.

    On 11th morning, we visited Kalighat, a Kali Pitha. We went to sobha-bazar by bus, assuming that the metro rail will be running. But during puja, the metro rail had changed and trains were running from 2 PM on-wards. We took a cab to Kalighat from Shibha-bazar, which took around 30 minutes. By the time we reached the temple, the queue has become very long. We saw, if we will go in the queue, we will have to stand in the Sun and spend around 2-3 hours in the queue. To save time for visiting, we contacted a local pundit and with his help we somehow manage to enter into the queue and visit the deity (Kali mata). Do not think the help from pundit was free of cost. As in the case of other shrines in India, here also, the pundits out-side the temple will ask you to perform different puja / rituals and ask for money during sankalp / oath taking in the puja. So, please be careful, other wise face embarrassing situations.

    We took a cab from Kalighat to Alipore Zoo, which took around 20 minutes. We spent a good amount of time there. As I have visited Alipore Zoo earlier, it was easy for us to see most the zoo again and guide others. The guide map for the zoo is also available at the entrance of the zoo. The major portion of the zoo covers different kind of birds, deer and tigers. Other animals are like zebra, chimpanzee, rhino, hippo, giraffe, elephant, leopards, ostrich, emu, black-buck, monkey, beer, crocodiles etc. 

    Around 3 PM we went to Victoria Memorial cum Museum. It is a good place for students and people who wants to know the history of India. The visiting charge for us (Indians) was 10 rupees. Due to lack of time we could not spent good amount of time in the garden and in the museum. 

    Our next target was Birla Planetarium, which was just a walking distance from Victoria Memorial Palace. As we reached at wrong time (5:30 PM), we have to see a show in Bengali language, which most of us could not understand. Somehow, we are able to relate few words with the images shown. The 4:30 PM show was in Hindi and 6:30 PM show was in English. In my opinion and compared to other planetariums, the show time is very less (around 25 minute).

    As the day was totally hectic, we decided to come back home. We went to Rabindra Sadan and took Metro Rail to Shobha-bazar. Due to puja time, the metro was fully crowded. Somehow we managed to get in and get down of the metro rail. For having a good metro experience, people should travel in off season.

    Next day, 12th Oct, was astami puja goddess Durga and women and girls celebrate this with great devotion. We also went for puja. In the evening we visited few puja pandels. In home we enjoyed movie on my laptop.

    On 13th Oct, we went to Science City. The day was a combination of learning experience and enjoyment. We visited the science park and had enjoyed a lot. Then visited evolution park. The major attraction was the dynamotion. For young and adults, it was a source of knowledge related to science and for children a game point. The illusion section and fish aquarium section was really awesome. Then we went to mirror magic room. Though most of us could not understand much, we enjoyed a lot. Visited space center and then earth exploration building. We took an AC bus(Garia to airport bound bus) to come back home.

    On 14th Oct, we visited Dakshineswar and Belur Math. We went to Dakshineswar by cab, which took around 35 minutes from Ultadanga. Visiting Dakshineswar was a pleasant experience. People are going to the main temple in the queue for puja. For only glimpse of goddess, a separate queue was made. Spent a little time near ghat of river Hoogli. There was a temple for Ramakrishna Paramhansha. We had our breakfast in Dakshineswar and to Belur by bus around 11 AM. Spent a little but quality time in side the Matha main building. As puja was celebrated there, they have made arrangements for prasada. Matha got closed at 12 Noon. After visiting the other temples in the matha area, we came back home by bus.In the evening, we saw the bhasani procession of goddess Durga. With this, it completes my 4 day visit of different places in Kolkata.