Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kuldiha - Panchalingeswar



It was quite a long time that we had taken a break from our mundane routine. And we could only manage a 3days leave from our offices. Somebody told “Kuldiha” in Orissa could be a good place to explore. So we researched on it and Bingo, we got a contact of a person who happens to arrange tours there. He is Manoranjan Das, has his own family staying there. An awesome arranger over all.



Our journey started on 29th Sep’12 at 6A via Dhouli Express. It was a nice 4 hours journey to Balasore. Mr. Das was waiting outside the station with his spacious Bolero (15 seaters). We were only a team of 6 people. On our way we stopped at Nilgiri to have breakfast of kachoris, chops and Rasmalai. This sweet shop happened to be a big one selling the famous “Chhaana Pora”/ “milk cake”. We planned to buy some while returning back.


                                               Me With Manaranjan Das

It was a 45mins ride from Balasore station and we reached our cottage “Sun & Moon’s Dale” near Panchalingeswar. Our cottage was bang opposite the Devagiri Range.


                                                    Sun & Moon Dale

After having tea we did freshen up. We were then served with a voluptuous lunch with rice, dal, brinjal, papad and fish fries, a veg curry, fish curry and sweets. We then set out for a walk in the jungle. We walked passed Panchalingeswar Temple (comprising of 360 steps up). There was a water filled pond  where the elephants come to drink water. The pond was surrounded with dense forest. We waited there for sometime if any elephant was seen turning up. However, when there were no sign up of them we decided to get into the forest to get a glimpse.



Manaranjan and his guide was directing us. We tracked them for quite some time (almost 3 km we walked). It was pitch darkness with trees all around and some strange yellow butterflies in flocks. There were other varieties of butterflies and birds which caught our attention. We tip-toed so that we did not make sound. We did hear the trumpet of the elephants in a distance. We also saw some elephants trying to break trees for their food.

                                           We are resting at Panchalingeswar




It was a full moon night and the sun was ready to set. I was ready with my dslr and tripod to get a glimpse of the sunset. After spending some time we decided to come back, it was already dark all over .  

We had chai and some snack ( Brinjal fries and devilled eggs). After resting for some time we again set out to see Khumkut dam.



 

It was 30km from the cottage. The road was muddy. The uneven path lead through the forest. This place is well known for wild bears. We didn’t trace one, but thank god for that…else I wouldn’t have been in such a condition to sit back and write this blog!





We reached the Dam and saw the most beautiful scene . The place was flooded with moon light with small hills all along the valley. On one side of the dam there was a tiny temple and a watch tower which was mostly under water that time. It was heard that the Rajas of Nilgiri used to worship the Vana Devta(God of the forest) and sit on that watch tower to see tigers and leopards coming to drink water there. We had spent some good time there. The place was so enchanting that we planned to come here again and stay an entire night in a tent..of course, on a full moon night.


 
We returned back. Strangely we were not at all exhausted after an eventful day. We had our dinner around 10:30P with Rotis, French fries , chicken curry and sweets.


The cottage had homely atmosphere even if there were no modern amenities like Acs,  geysers and generator. Each room could accommodate 4 people. Only issue was that of a charging point since all of us were trying to recharge our cell phones.(Yes, the cell phone network was not good there). However, we slept well that night.






The next day morning after having breakfast (Rotis, Alu bhaji, boiled egg and sweet) we set out for Deokund via Baripara checkpost (Simlipal forest). 72km.. We heard that this place is one of the various Pithas were Devi Sati’s left foot fingers fell making it a religious spot.











This is also called Ambika Kund. It has a waterfall were tourists bathe and have picnic near the venue. We spent some great time, had lunch (Chicken curry with white rice and salad) on Banana and Saal leaf plates.











We went to Rishiya dam from there. It was almost sunset. We spent some time here. The sunset view from this dam is really unforgettable. We stayed till 6pm then returned to cottage. Chai with chicken pakoras were awesome! We chatted and spent “our time” in the silence of the woods. Dinner was served on time with Rotis, veggies, egg curry with salad. We had to sleep early since the next morning the much awaited Panchalingeswar worship was left.


Next day I was up a little early to take few sunrise snaps. Though the sky was partially covered with the Devagiri range, I managed to get some good pictures. After having chai we set out for Puja in Panchalingeswar around 8:30A.





Climbed up those 360 stairs and found that there was no formalized idol/ murti of Panchalingeswar. Three pundits were sitting in a row worshiping for the tourists one after the another. The Puja was indeed elaborate which every one of us enjoyed. Finally it was time to go near the Panchalingeswar. It is named after the five Shivalinga that are enshrined inside. The temple is on top of a hillock near the Nilagiri hill (not to be confused with that of Western Ghats). We are touched by the whole ambiance.





The Shivalingas are said to have been enshrined by Sita, the wife of Lord Rama during their exile. Another story holds that King Banasura worshiped the Swayambhu Lingas at this place given its beauty. A perennial stream, which is the main attraction of the area, regularly washes the Shivalingas as it flows over them. To reach to the temple one has to lie flat on the rock parallel to the stream to touch and worship the lingas inside the water stream. 






The experience was incredible. We did our breakfast with puri sabji near the mandir. We decided that we want yet another adventure. So here we trekked to a hill top. We spent some time there and finally reached our cottage at 1P. We didn’t have much time since we had to get ready and start off for Balasore at 2:30P. We had our lunch with rice daal, assorted fries, a sabji and Pomfret curry with Salad. 


Finally we bid everyone  good bye and reached the station around 3:20P. We boarded Dhauli Express at 4:20P


Our special thanks obviously goes to our tourist guide Mr. Manaranjan Das. He is a multi-talented guy. He gave us all the freedom to enjoy. Also, the other staffs were equally helpful. You will never get a reply "No" from them. They were always ready with a smile to serve you the best. We were so much impressed with Manaranjan and his team's arrangement and hospitality that we have decided that we are going for another jungle safari at Kuldiha forest soon.

If anyone is interested for a weekend trip to Kuldiha, Bhitor Konika, Simlipal forest or Satkosia, then one can contact Mr. Manaranjan Das at the below contact.


Manaranjan Das.
Shyam Sundarpur,Raj Nilagiri,Balasore,Orissa,756040
Contact No-09937332552,09439300312
09937741030,07735861671,09937945490
EmailID-manaranjankuldiha@gmail.com.
Website: http://www.kuldihaforesttourism.com/



Blog Author: Deepshikha Datta Chakrabarti
Photography: Ritwik Datta (9874428804)

For more photos please click: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ritwik-shark/sets/72157631695948750/