Considered as one of the largest countries in the world, India is now becoming more of an interest to many. And while some are still hesitant to visit, there are plenty of reasons why this country is a treasure one must discover. From their underrated beaches to traditional shopping centers, museums, temples, lakes and many more enthralling sites!
Although, my journey did not focus on the ever-famous Taj Mahal or the Pink City of Jaipure – instead, I went on ahead towards the Eastern side of India, more specifically Odisha. This sector of the country offers a distinctive aspect of the tourism industry that will surely leave you flabbergasted!
Minor Travel Tips
For starters, I would like to give out a couple of minor travel tips that I consider extremely essential for every traveler to know before heading towards the Eastern Gem of India. In fact, heading to the eastern part requires you to take a domestic flight coming from an international flight. While there are several available flights, choose the least layover time.
Prepare some Indian Rupees for your daily expense, it would be easier than using US dollars or Euros because certain establishments only accept local currency.
It was October 2018 when I went to Odisha. The weather was not too hot neither too cold. Given that India is known for its scorching heat, I would suggest that it is best to bring decent clothing to avoid any negative attention from the locals / foreigners.
Now that I was able to express basic travel tips, it is time for me to describe the beauty of Odisha.
Phenomenal Dance Culture
You know how every country has a specific way of greeting their visitors? Well, Odisha offers a new type of way to welcome their guests into their land. How, you may ask? The locals perform one of their spectacular dance forms! The best part is that you can see these performances as you visit the entirety of the state of Odisha.
As for my experience, I was lucky enough to watch at least three of their many unique dance performances. These ranged from theater folk dance to remarkable tribal dance and even martial arts street dance.
As I stood there, my eyes watching their every movement – quick and sleek – I felt the goosebumps of my skin rising. From their facial expressions to the way they move, I can surely tell that there is passion in the way they perform; every aspect of motivation and cultural pride could be seen in their eyes. It is without doubt that I was impressed and astonished seeing the culture of the locals, being able to witness it first handed.
One thing for sure – you will definitely feel the culture of the locals upon being greeted by their unique cultural dances.
The Indian city does not focus solely on their cultural side but also on their historical side. The best way to understand the locals and their culture? Dive into the Tribal Museum to learn more about their ancestors and their overall historical life.
At the Tribal Museum, visitors can gain insights of the life of a tribal individual. Marvel the tribal huts of various tribal communities and artefacts collected from different tribal groups in Odisha. These artefacts consist of household items, ornaments, clothing and even certain weapons!
Upon entering the museum, one specific feature struck me – there was a distinctive smell lingering the air. Although, clean and well maintained, the museum offered a specific scent that I was able to smell all throughout the journey of the Tribal Museum. However, I thought to myself that considering that it is an antique museum featuring many items of the tribes of Odisha, it is perhaps another way for the visitors to take in the actual atmosphere of the tribal life. After all, you can’t simply imagine the life of the tribes of Odisha if you don’t provide the utmost experience, right?
Need a gift as a remembrance? Well, the museum showcases individuals hand painting items within the museum vicinity! Here, guests can easily purchase the handmade items on the spot!
As for me, I definitely couldn’t help myself so I bought an elephant painting and a painted glass!
The Golden Sea Beach
Odisha, India is not all about their culture and history – they also provide enjoyment for those who are looking for a fun outdoor activity!
I will be honest— I was surprised to come across a beautiful, mesmerizing paradise in the city of Puri that I never knew even existed!
I was staying at Mayfair Hotel in Puri and my heart flutters as I catch a glimpse of hotel’s private beach. There was a specific section of the beach that was filled with locals and tourists; but there was also a private section of the beach which provided calm and silence.
Need an escape from the busy city life and noisy streets? Named as the Golden Sea Beach located in Puri Beach, was unlike any other – it was extremely calm and the water was so silent. There were no water activities allowed in that sector of the beach. It was a perfect moment to enjoy some alone time.
I found myself smiling at the silence. All I could hear was the sea water crashing onto the shoreline, the trees moving lightly as the wind blows. It felt like paradise that I have always dreamt of. Opening my eyes, I witnessed a sunset without having any interruption of boats or fumes coming out of cargo ships – simply the horizon of the sea and the colours of a sunset.
I found solace in the middle of a populated country. I will never forget this moment.
Up until I heared a sudden noise – it was a camel walking in the middle of the shore. Quite odd, I know. Although, that was maybe the only noise and odd part of the Golden Sea Beach. But do not let that discourage you from visiting the beach, while it is not yet populated with many individuals, I highly suggest that everyone take a moment of their day to visit the paradise beach of Puri.
Mangalajodi and Chilika Lake are both important flyways destination for migratory birds. It was an interesting experience for me to see both lakes during my travel. Having this opportunity, I highly suggest that every first timer in Odisha should take plan a trip to visiting the lakes.
First off, Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lake in Asia. Queen of natural beauty. During my visit, there were barely any tourists around the area – which, I will be honest, provided me more joy as I was able to fully enjoy the Chilika Lake without having the hassle of bumping into others and having difficulties with taking photos.
I took a speed boat and roamed around the one of a kind lagoon, above I could see a flock of birds flying high up in the sky!
I thought to myself this is the perfect ecosystem that I have ever seen: the open air, scenic flora and fauna – these are important aspects of the ecosystem and most importantly, making the Chilika Lake a perfect eco-tourism site. Surrounded with nothing but immense natural beauty, the atmosphere itself completed the serene feeling of just being there. Visiting Chilika Lake is no doubt to be a memory I will surely remember.
Next stop: Mangalajodi Lake! You will be surprised to know that the experience was quite different from the Chilika Lake.
For starters, getting to the lake itself, you will need to ride a tuktuk. Of course, there was no traffic but the transporation would often halt because wild cows wanted to cross the street! Yes, you will encounter a wild cow on your way to Mangalojodi Lake.
Upon reaching the lake, I was very pleased to realize that I was going to ride a wooden boat. During the boat ride, I realized that this was also another place that brought out the eco-tourism sector of India. Various exotic birds would simply fly around the boat as we rode through the lake.
As for the lake, personally, itself gave me a feeling of being in the movie of “Anaconda” which is a little bit scary because the lake is surrounded with lilies, grass, groves and you can barely see the water. But despite that, I enjoyed every minute I spent in this area.
It was a heartfelt moment to witness such beautiful lakes wherein mother nature is well taken care of and the animals are not harmed in any way.
India, your lakes are a one of a kind eco-tourism sites that are mind-blowing and worthwhile.
Traditional Shopping Centers
A tour is not completed without a stop at a shopping center! However, I must tell you right now that you will not be able to find your branded products such as Gucci, Prada, Chanel and others. Instead, find yourself eyeing locally made products. After all, this is the local way of making income and besides, who wouldn’t want to purchase even a small number of souvenirs after all of the hospitality that the locals of Odisha provided to their guests?
Odisha is very famous when it comes to handicraft products specially the saris – this is what provides Indian women an authentic look. Different souvenirs can also be seen in almost every shop within the state. Most of the shopping areas are traditional. Hence, you will find majority of hand-crafted products, wherein all of the items have their specific uniqueness. These items ranging from scarves, jewels, bags, to medicines (proven safe and effective), clothes, snacks and many more!
I suggest that you find time visiting at least one or two markets to buy yourself a souvenir. It may not be your go-to but I guarantee it is worth the visit!
Overall, I highly recommend that future travelers and enthusiast to visit Odisha in India at least once in their life! An unusual yet incredible experience you won’t easily find in other countries. If I would be given a chance to go back in India, I will definitely choose the itinerary where I get to visit the tribe community for an added adventure!
Last but not least, a big thank you to my tour handler, Profil Holidays, for providing me with this one of a kind unique experience to Odisha! I would have never heard of the beautiful state of Odisha if it were not for the help of Profil Holidays.