Trip Report - Bhubaneswar, Puri & Konark During Rath Yatra

#1 Jul 25th, 2013, 17:38
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It was in 2008, first time i thought of attending Puri Rath Yatra festival. At that time i was living in Gurgaon, posted few questions on Indiamike and booked flight tickets too. But in the last few days i chickened out and cancelled the trip. And then again in 2013, few months back i saw an advertisement of Orissa Tourism with Rath Yatra. At the same time i came across Vaibhav's Orissa trip log. That's it, i made up my mind to cover Bhubaneswar, Puri & Konark coinciding with the Rath Yatra. As i stay now in Bangalore, the travel is also easy. I can go to my home town Vijayawada and then travel to Bhubaneswar by train. I contacted few hotels in Puri which are on the Grand Road (Bada Danda) through which the procession goes. The logic was it will be easy to see the Rath Yatra Procession from these hotel terraces. But all of these hotels are selling only 2/3 day kind of pacakges and none of them are interested in just giving the rooms on rent. Meanwhile i saw good deals on ClearTrip for Hotel bookings. I ditched the plan to stay on Bada Danda and it turned out to be a good decision in the end for me. Now coming to the trip log:

Day 0 - Train from Vijayawada to Bhubaneswar.

Day 1 - Reached BBS (Bhubaneswar) on time by morning 7:30 AM. I have booked for 3 nights in Hotel Venus Inn through Cleartrip. I called them for an early check-in and it was not available. As i don't want to waste time i took a Dormitory in the Railway Station so that i can freshen up. It was not easy to make the lazy railway staff issue me a Dormitory ticket. Dormitory was fine and i finished by ablutions and reached Hotel Venus Inn by 9:30 AM. By now the room is available, so i dumped my luggage, finished break fast at hotel and was out to explore Nandankanan. We can get government/privates buses to Nandankanan from junction outside the railway station. The private bus fare was Rs.20/- It takes around 1 hour to reach the place on bus.

Nandankanan is huge. To cover it properly we need a minimum of 3 hours. The bird aviary is amazing. I saw Brahminy kite, Sarus crane, Painted stork etc.







It was sad to read the description like IUCN red list, Endangered etc against some of the bird species.

The reptile section is also amazing. There are long snouted crocodiles (called Gharial) and other types of crocodiles also (Siamese etc). The crocodile in the below picture was stationary like this for a long time and many were thinking it's a toy/model placed by the zoo. Even a few small stones thrown by visitors that landed near to it had no affect. I asked one of the guides and he told that the crocodile is 'basking' and it need to do this to control it's body temperature as they don't have sweat glands. And then after some time, the crocodile closed its mouth and moved on. Later i read that doing this is essential for their survival.



Nandankanan has lots of tigers, a few white tigers, lions, elephants, zebra, giraffe, hippo, rhino etc.

Got to see this rhino from close quarters. One of the workers at zoo dropped its food (leaves/twigs ) in the enclosure. It's amazing to see this huge animal and its diet. I also observed the fact that they have poor eye sight. It couldn't go directly to the food, it moved towards it through sense of smell.



There's a restaurant within Nandankanan and i had my lunch - Veg Thali for Rs. 90/- by around 3 PM. Coming from Bangalore's beautiful weather, it was tough for me to adjust to coastal heat and humidity on the first day of the trip. I returned back to hotel, took a shower and slept for some time.
In the evening i asked the hotel reception if they can help me in hiring an auto for temple tour. I wanted to visit Hirapur (64 yogini tantric temple) and other temples on the way. They provided me a contact number and the cost is Rs.350/-.The auto will be in front of hotel next day by around 8 AM.

Had dinner at Venus Inn's restaurant only and dozed off.
#2 Jul 27th, 2013, 03:48
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nice start......
A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
Garhwal | Dooars | Dhabaleswar | Dabu | PURI | Gujarat | Kamarpukur-Jairambati
#3 Jul 27th, 2013, 22:13
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Day 2 - Bhubaneswar

Day 2

On this day i wanted to visit the 64 Yogini temple (Chausath Yogini Temple) in Hirapur. Also planned to visit the temples that are along this route. Finished my breakfast by 8 AM and the auto person was on time. He is a very reliable and nice person. First he took me to Rajarani Temple. There's an entrance fee of Rs.5/- and ASI is maintaining this place well. Below are some pictures of Rajarani temple:







Next i went to Brahmeshwar temple. This is a functioning temple. Below are some pictures:





Next on the list is Bhaskareswar temple. Below is a picture of this temple. It has a huge shiva lingam.



Next is Megheswar temple. This is also a functioning temple. Below is Karthikeya on a Raha paga:


Few more pictures from Megheswar temple:



#4 Jul 27th, 2013, 22:58
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Day 2 - Bhubaneswar Contd - 64 Yogini Temple & Musuem

After a whirlwind tour of the above temples, it's time to move on to 64 Yogini temple, the one i am very excited to visit. This was supposed to be a Tantric temple. A significant feature of this temple is that it is hypaethral (no roof). There are only 4 temples like this in India. Two are in Orissa and two are in Madhya Pradesh. The shrine is circular in shape, having a frontal projection resembling a Gauri-patta (Yoni Patta) in appearance.



Inside the temple there are 64 niches containing 64 Yoginis. Each of them are in a different posture, standing on different mounts with different coiffure. The niches of the exterior are studded with Nava Katyayanis. Below is an image of Katyayani. Most of them are raising something like a sword to behead something and also holding a cup/bowl (to collect blood & drink ?)



Inside the temple, the yoginis are in their niches in a circular wall. All yogini statues are made of Chlorite and beautiful.



Yogini number 31 is Mahamaya, the main deity. This temple is also called Mahamaya temple. Some of the Yoginis that catch more attention are:

Yogini 38 - Vinayaki on Donkey



Yogini 56 - Chamunda. See the emaciated body. I found similar statues of Chamunda in the museum.



Yogini 50 -Brahmani



Also inside the temple there's a square structure in the middle of the circle. It has the statues of Ajaika Pada Bhairava and Swacchanda Bhairava. They are ithyphallic (Urdhva linga). Below is an image of Ajaika Pada Bhairava:

#5 Jul 29th, 2013, 18:47
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Day 2 - Contd

Visiting 64 Yogini temple was a great experience for me, because i never saw something like this till now. Hopefully i will get a chance to visit at least one more (2 more are in MP and one in Ranipur, Jharial in Orissa). After visiting these temples it was around 11:30 AM and i requested the auto person to drop me off at Orissa State Museum. I paid the agreed amount of Rs.350/- and took his mobile number. I told him i might give him a call next day to visit few more temples.

At the entrance of the museum, i had some refreshments. I paid the entrance fee and also got a ticket for amateur photography. At the entrance itself there's fragmentary Ashoka pillar, Bell capital. Inside the museum, archaeology is the first section and probably the best. It is divided into Buddhist, Jain & Hinduism sections. The Hinduism section is further divided into Shaktism, Ganesha, Kartikeya etc.

In Shaktism section, there are Sapta Matrikas. The sculptures of Varahi, Chamunda, Vaishnavi etc are amazing. It was a coincidence that i visited the museum just after visiting 64 Yogini temple. Below are two sculptures of Chamunda from the museum and you can compare with the Chamunda Yogini present at 64 Yogini temple with an emaciated body. (previous post).





Below is a sculpture of Vaishnavi (with Chakra and Conch)



Below is the sculpture of Varahi. She is with a pot belly, 3 eyes and holding a fish and a bowl in 2 hands. I read that the Varahi temple at Chaurasi, 30 Kms of Konark has deity exactly like this. I couldn't visit that temple, but glad i got to see her in the museum. I read that the Varahi temple at Chaurasi is also a Tantric temple and is one of the temples in the rare Khakra style.



Below are 2 interesting exhibits i found in Karthikeya section. The first one depicts the scene of Agni collecting the vital fluid (semen) from Shiva which is related to the birth of Karthikeya (Kumara Sambhavam - one of Kalidasa's finest works).



The second one is a 6-headed Karthikeya. This is one of the rare exhibits of this museum. Only after researching a bit after the visit, i realized that the 6 heads had significance. After birth, Karthikeya was nurtured by 6 women, known as Kritika (in Sanskrit) and he had 6 heads to suckle milk from 6 of them. This is the reason he is also known as Shanmukha (one with 6 heads).



In addition to archaeology there are some other sections like armory, epigraphy, numismatics and Pattachitras. By the time i reached hotel it was 2 in the noon. I had my lunch and dozed off.
#6 Jul 30th, 2013, 13:10
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Glued to this thread. One of the best TR's I have read so far on BBSR.
#7 Jul 30th, 2013, 17:16
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Day 2 - Bhubaneswar

Quote:
Originally Posted by kanishka_27 View Post Glued to this thread. One of the best TR's I have read so far on BBSR.
Thanks kanishka for the kind words.

Day 2 contd.
After lunch and the not-so-small nap i got ready. Initially i thought of visiting the Tribal museum but changed the plan to go to Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. Due to this change, i missed visiting Tribal museum, as the next day, Monday - is a holiday for Museum. (Tribal Museum & Orissa State Museum are closed on Mondays and all government holidays; closing time is sharp 5:00 PM).

I took an auto from hotel to Udayagiri caves. I read some reviews on TripAdvisor where people said there's nothing there and it's a waste of time/effort/money to visit this place. If you are not a history buff and don't care much about inscriptions etc, i agree that you might not like this place. The caves are visited these days mostly by young/teen couples. Lack of directions and no signs to important caves doesn't help either. Add to this the monkey menace and the so-called baba's giving 'holy' teertha (milk/water) and demanding money.

But i am a bit interested in history and the point that they are from around 2ndCentury BC made me visit the place. First thing i realized after seeing Udayagiri caves is, we cannot and should not be comparing these with other cave temples like Badami etc. Not just they are separated in time frame but even by religion. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves were dug out during King Kharavela's times for Jain monks. Not sure if it's because of Jainism's ascetic beliefs or because of the difficult rock structure these caves are not grand in scale. But still, some of them are beautiful -Tiger Cave (Bagh Gumpha), Ganesh gumpha and Queen's Cave. Below are some of the pictures:

Tiger Cave


Ganesh gumpha


Door Freize, Ganesh gumpha


Queen's cave


Dwarapalaka, Queen's cave:


After Udayagiri caves, i moved to Khandagiri caves. They are just on opposite sides of the road. Khandagiri caves was in a mess with monkeys and hawkers selling peanuts. Combined with both fatigue and the state of maintenance i didn't explore Khandagiri at all. I returned back to hotel and in the evening i had a very good Veg roll at a nearby stall. I also tried few yummy sweets at the Venus sweet shop. I called the auto person in the night and asked him to come next day also to visit few more temples & Dhauli.
#8 Jul 30th, 2013, 18:07
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Hi pkr1

It is great to see you made it and are writing such a delightful report. BBSR remains an underrated gem for archaeology buffs in India. I cant help but add my 2 cents to what you saw:

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkr1 View Post Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves were dug out during King Kharavela's times for Jain monks. Not sure if it's because of Jainism's ascetic beliefs or because of the difficult rock structure these caves are not grand in scale.
<snip>
Khandagiri caves was in a mess with monkeys and hawkers selling peanuts. Combined with both fatigue and the state of maintenance i didn't explore Khandagiri at all.
The caves were dwellings for monks. Jainism, requires that monks stay away from dwellings of layfolk (it’s an unwritten rule for the monks) and are expected to be itinerants, never staying in the same place for more than three nights. This rule is followed till this day by monks of the digamber order. During the four months of monsoon called ‘chaturmas’, they are required to not move around in order to minimize any unintended loss of life for the insects and small animals. These caves were used as dwelling in the time they were constructed.

If you had gone up exploring Khandagiri, one of the caves has a depiction of multiple jain tirthankars on a wall. It is a historical proof that Jainism existed in the second century and was flourishing in the region.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkr1 View Post Orissa State Museum.
I missed this gem as well as the 64 yogini temple. Few thoughts come to my mind after looking at the photos you’ve shared. The ‘urdhva-linga’ bhairav is most likely a lakulish (a rare sect of Shaivism of which few sculptures exist today). I think so based on account of the ‘urdhva-linga’ being tied by a cummerbund (which is different representation from a natesa / nataraja in the Odisha form wherein the phallus is left untied) as well as the right rear arm holding a large, baseball bat like staff.

Loved the varahi sculpture – very rare. Had the opportunity to see only a broken head in Madhya Pradesh earlier.

Keep these posts flowing, absolutely delighted.
Last edited by vaibhav_arora; Jul 30th, 2013 at 18:09.. Reason: language
#9 Jul 31st, 2013, 14:37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Loved the varahi sculpture – very rare. Had the opportunity to see only a broken head in Madhya Pradesh earlier.
Keep these posts flowing, absolutely delighted.
Thanks a lot. Your trip report was the inspiration and guide for my BBSR leg of the trip. I also loved the Varahi sculpture, never saw anything like this. From now on wards, i will pay close attention and see how she is depicted at all Saptamatrikas. Next time if you get a chance, may be you can try to visit the Varahi temple at Chaurasi, ~30 kms from Konark. I couldn't make it too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post The ‘urdhva-linga’ bhairav is most likely a lakulish
It seems that this is Ajaika Pada Bhairava only, also called Ekapada Bhairava. The same sculpture of 64 yogini temple, hirapur was used in the Wikipedia reference for Ekapada Bhairava. And i remember seeing one sculpture of Ekapada Bhairava like this in museum too.

Regarding Hirapur Yogini temple i found this blog amazing.

Regarding Jainism - What a Coincidence - Yesterday night only i saw the movie 'Ship of Theseus'. William Darlymple also covered Jainism and Sallekhana in one of his stories in the book 'Nine Lives'.
#10 Jul 31st, 2013, 14:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkr1 View Post It seems that this is Ajaika Pada Bhairava only, also called Ekapada Bhairava.
Lakulish is a sect of Saivism and Bhairava is a 'roop' of Siva.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkr1 View Post Regarding Jainism - What a Coincidence - Yesterday night only i saw the movie 'Ship of Theseus'. William Darlymple also covered Jainism and Sallekhana in one of his stories in the book 'Nine Lives'.
Sallekhana or santhar is very rare now and not practiced by laity - Dalrymple did write well in that book but the occurrence is not commonplace. Half my family is Jain. I will try to watch Ship of Theseus.

Thanks for your kind words about my report.
#11 Jul 31st, 2013, 15:43
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Day 3 - Bhubaneswar - Parasuramesvara Temple.

Auto was on time and i left by around 7:30 AM. The plan for this day is to start with Parasuramesvara, Muktesvara and Siddhesvara temples. And then Vaital temple and Dhauli.

First i went to Parasuramesvara temple. This is considered the oldest temple in BBSR, dated to around 7th Century. The jagamohana here is not like a pidha deul, instead its a rectangular structure with terraced roof sloping in two stages like below. (From this structure only pidha deul might have evolved)



On one side of this jagamohana, there's a Sahasra linga and sculptures of Saptamatrikas:



On the other side of Jagamohana, there's below sculpture of Siva-Parvati. The way Parvati has one hand on Shiva looked so graceful to me.



I saw a similar sculpture of Siva-Parvati in the museum (below).




We can see sculptures of ten-hand Natesa, mahisasura mardini and Lakulisa on the rekha deul





#12 Jul 31st, 2013, 17:25
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Day 3 - Bhubaneswar Contd

From Parasuramesvara temple, we can just walk to the Kedar Gauri Tank complex. In this complex we can see Muktesvara and Siddhesvara temples. Next to them is Kedar Gauri temple which is an active temple visited by Oriya people daily.

Muktesvara temple is considered as the 'gem of Orissa architecture'.



The Makara-Torana in front of the temple is exquisite. I cannot but salute the innovative imagination of people of those days in using Crocodiles and creating a Torana out of them.



I saw an equally exquisite 2-sided Makara Torana at Badami Museum. Don't miss it if you like them.

Below is an exquisite window carving on Muktesvara temple.



Below sculptures of 10-handed Natesa and a goddess are present within the Muktesvara temple complex. You will miss them if you are not inquisitive and doesn't look into the smaller enclosures.





Next i moved to Vaital temple. This is a Tantric temple and a Shakti shrine of Goddess Chamunda. It is one of the rare temples in Khakra style. I read that inside of this temple is always dark and it gives a gory feeling. But when i visited, the inside of the temple is well lit. I read that Goddess Chamunda is with 8 hands and an emaciated body with garland of skulls etc. But i couldn't see any of this properly as the deity is fully covered and we can see only the face.

Actually within this temple complex, there's another temple - Sisireswar temple. Forget photographing, it's even tough to enter into this 2nd temple itself. After coming back now i am reading that at Vaital temple also there's a Torana, which i missed completely. The temple has been surrounded by all sides with regular houses. They should have created an enclosure for this temple too.

When i was taking pictures outside, the Priest came and told me no photos of the deity inside. I told him, i am aware of it and i didn't click any inside. For a change, unlike other priests in Orissa, he was so calm. He explained that all the sculptures on the deul outside are 'urdhva linga'.

The khakra style deul of Vaital temple:



Zoomed view of above picture showing the natesa:



Zoomed view of above showing Sun god. He is accompanied by his 2 sisters - Usha and Pratyusha and his charioteer Aruna. For a change i could see Sun god with 2 hands in tact holding the full bloom lotuses at a temple. In Konark at all the places, his hands are vandalized.



Below is Lakulisa on the South side. The sculpture looks like Buddha, but the priest told me it's Lakulisa (there is Lakulisa's staff/mace/club also). This sculpture is also ithyphallic.



On the North side on the deul, there is Harihara. Again it is also ithyphallic.



This completed my tour of temples in Bhubaneswar. From here i moved to Dhauli.
#13 Jul 31st, 2013, 18:09
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#13
Beautiful thread! Orissa is a dream for lovers of architecture and archaeology and the photos show why! Great piece.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid Albert Einstein


Trip reports:

Syalsaur/ Deoria taal/ Chopta trip report, West and South Sikkim trip report , Puri/ Konark trip report
#14 Aug 2nd, 2013, 21:12
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Day 3 Bhubaneswar Contd.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sagarneel View Post Beautiful thread! Orissa is a dream for lovers of architecture and archaeology and the photos show why! Great piece.
Thanks Sagarneel. Orissa is indeed the soul of incredible India.

After visiting the above temples (Parasuramesvara, Muktesvara, Siddhesvara & Vaital), i proceeded towards Dhauli. But on the way my Auto person stopped near Lingaraj temple and showed me the platform from where we can take photographs. Below are few photographs of Lingaraj temple.





In the above picture, notice the sculptures below the Amalaka that are supporting it. I felt that these are different from the normally seen 'Mandir Charanis' at other temples. Below is an image of Amalaka of Rajarani temple. Just one of my observations



In Dhauli, i visited the Shanti stupa (Peace pagoda). This is the place where Asoka fought the Kalinga war and to reach Dhauli we have to cross the bridge on Daya River. They say that this river turned red with blood in that war. And this is the war that turned 'Chandasoka' to 'Dharmasoka'.



Near to the Peace Pagoda, there is a Shiva temple. Honestly i cant understand why they built this temple here. And just in the name of something the priests are fleecing money. I saw two Japanese tourists trying their best to get out politely.

Seeing Japanese tourists, i was wondering when can India attract Japanese Buddhists tourists like Thailand. Just a day before (July 7th, 2013) there were blasts at Mahabodhi temple and its a shame that terrorists can settle outside scores also now in India. I read somewhere the woes of Myanmar Buddhists who wanted to take some sand from the Mahabodhi temple back home as they consider it sacred. But to their horror they found the locals peeing near to the temple. Hmm, i guess enough of my ranting. Along with a Japanese tourist i had Sugarcane juice near the Pagoda.

On the return journey to Bhubaneswar, i stopped at the famous Ashoka's rock edict. On top of this rock edict, the below elephant was sculpted. (Probably as a marker)



Back in BBS, i had lunch and rested for a while in hotel. Then in the evening i went to Ekamra haat. I wanted to see and check the prices of Pattachitras, just in case if i go to Raghurajpur (near Puri) later in the trip so that i can have an idea to bargain. The Pattachitras i saw at Ekamra haat are mostly small and not that great. Actually one guy showed me some Pattachitras at his home/shop in Hirapur. They were definitely better than the ones i saw at Ekamra haat. Also i felt that Ekamra haat is not being maintained properly. Just near the Ekamra haat there is huge Ram Mandir.

Back in hotel, had dinner and slept. The next day is 9th of July and i will be going to Puri for the Rath Yatra festival.
Last edited by pkr1; Aug 3rd, 2013 at 00:53.. Reason: grammar
#15 Aug 2nd, 2013, 21:58
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Day 4 - Puri

On Day 4, i.e 9th of July i checked out of Venus Inn, BBS. Took an auto to a nearby place from where i can get bus to Puri. The buses are coming one after another and are being stuffed with people going to Puri. A small peek (of the rush and crowds) for me of the things that are going to be for the next 2 days. My bag was kept in the bus's boot space and i got a space to stand inside. The ticket fare was Rs.50/- After crossing Pipli i got a seat. Reached Puri in around 1 hour, took a cycle rickshaw to my hotel.

I booked 2 nights at Hotel Pushpa Berries, near to the beach in Puri through Cleartrip. I booked a double room as this hotel doesn't have any single rooms. At the check-in, the guy told me that they had instructions from the police not to give rooms to single travelers. He said that Police found some grenades etc in some hotel in Puri last day. I showed him '1 Person' on my ClearTrip booking confirmation and asked him to check my luggage if needed. He told it's not necessary and since i booked it before he had no choice, but to honour the booking.

Contrary to the reviews on TripAdvisor, the hotel was not great. Not worth the money they charge. For the money they were charging, they didn't even kept a towel in the room and i had to ask them towel, soap etc one after another. I dumped my luggage and went to the beach. The beach is just 50 metres from the hotel. Below is the first view of beach i got.



From beach i took an auto and went to Gundicha temple first. There's a huge rush (obvious right ) and people are cleaning this temple with lots of excitement. For a moment i thought that many people who never touched a broom are so vigorously and religiously cleaning the temple premises. The temple is being cleaned as Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra will be brought to this temple next day (i.e Rath yatra day) and will be kept here for 9 days. I went to the spot where the deities will be kept in the temple also.
After coming out of Gundicha temple, i took a shared auto to the Jagannath temple (also called as ShriMandir - Shri meaning Goddess Lakshmi - Jagannath's wife/consort).

Here at ShriMandir, the Rathas are being moved closer to the temple. The Rathas are first tied with these huge ropes.



After tying ropes, some people get on to the Ratha and from top of Ratha instructions are given to pull the Ratha in a certain direction.



Ratha being pulled:



Paintings on Rathas:





Touching the Ratha or even the rope used to pull it is also considered sacred. I saw many including the old lady in the below picture touching and praying to the rope.





Finally all the 3 Rathas are moved near to the temple and i was completely tired being out in the sun all this time. It was very very hot. I found something to eat for lunch and took an auto back to hotel. In the hotel the first thing i did was to take a bath. And i noticed that my hands got tanned like anything with a visible difference. I made up mind to buy some cotton full-sleeve Kurta as i was not carrying any full-sleeve shirt or t-shirt. This decision changed my Rath Yatra plan significantly. Not just in covering my hands, but it helped me to get a close-up view of Gods the next day. I will cover it in the next post
Last edited by pkr1; Aug 3rd, 2013 at 00:58.. Reason: sentence modification
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