We stayed in Gopalpur for two weeks so we got one Sunday for complete masti. There are so many places to see in such a less time. So we started sorting the list based on the proximity. But client suggested few must sees, two of which are offbeat places, mostly visited by localites. So going with our client's suggestion we decided to cover Taptapani, Jhirang, Khasada and a Deer Park, total around 105 Km one side. There are public buses but you should only avail those if you have enough time to spend here. Since we have to cover 4 locations, we started early around 8:30 am.
Taptapani is around 60 KM from Gopalpur. Some parts of the road were under maintenance, so it took us around 2 hours to reach there.
It is a natural sulphur spring whose water is considered to have medicinal properties and is capable of curing aches, pains and skin ailments like eczema and scabies. There is a temple of lord Shiva near this hot spring. The area which is the source of this hot water is considered to be very sacred. When we reached Taptapani there was a couple doing some rituals standing in the hot water. Our driver told us that couples who are seeking child often do this puja. There are two adjacent hot water chambers; ladies and gents sections, for bath. Though the water is said to contain medicinal properties, seeing the condition of the water there I didn't felt like putting my hands in. It was soapy as people were too eager to bath and shampoo there.
There is a small deer park near Taptapani. The spotted deer,blackbucks, sambars and barking deer might interest you. The Taptapani Mruga Vihar is maintained by Orissa forest department. From here we went to Jirang.
It is a beautiful place in the midst of Eastern Ghats. There is a Buddhist monastery which adds grace to this place. This Padmasambhava Mahavihara was inaugurated by Dalai Lama. Not to mention like other monasteries this monastery is also an example of finest Tiberian paintings. The paintings were too exquisite to explain in words.
In Gopalpur there are very few decent hotels for stay. This time it was a official trip so our client arranged our stay and transport. We had my booking in Swosti but I would suggest you can try in Mayfair, they have a wonderful beach facing passage where you can relax and enjoy the weaves.
One thing I noticed that unlike other Indian sea beaches here the beach is a bit steep, the weaves are forming near the beach. So I felt that the water near the shore is quite deep. Also during my stay I have not seen tourists going inside the sea. So if you love water sports and planning to enjoy your time inside water, Gopalpur may disappoint you in that case. But hey hold on....no need to change your mind....because here you will get plenty of options for sightseen. Based on the trip duration you can plan for Dhabaleshwar, Tara Tarini Temple, Jirang, Taptapani, Khasada, Mahuri Kalua, Patisonapur, Jaugarh, Chilika, Bhairavi Temple, Ghodahada, Tampara Lake etc. Before going there when I googled for the famous tourist's spots I got a light house as an option. Trust me it's nothing such wow thing. Since Gopalpur was an important sea port in British India, there was a light house which is still functioning. This Light House in just a few meters away from the beach.
Gopalpur on Sea; A serene beach in the Eastern India
Gopalpur on Sea; quite a popular beach in the Eastern India, is in Orissa, more specifically in the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border. It is primarily a long weekend destination for people staying in Southern West Bengal or Andhra as it will take you maximum 3-4 days to roam around this place. It is around 160 km from Bhubaneshwar and can be reached by road and train. The nearest railway station is Berhampur which is around 15 km from Gopalpur.
My this trip was not a regular leisure one, it was an official tour with one of my colleague where we had stringent deadline to close our audit. Fortunately our client was very supportive and helped us closing our work well within time. So I was lucky enough to manage some time out for my love.
Tara Tarini Temple
As I mentioned we were on a audit trip so we used to visit the places mostly after office. Though we had very less time to roam around, we managed to cover some places. One day, though after office, around 4 pm we went to Dhabaleswar Mahadev Temple.
The temple complex is just a few meters away from the sea beach. Since it is less famous than the Gopalpur beach the beach here is comparatively clean. We were lucky enough to get the glimpse of sunset here. After a tiring day full of work the comfort of feeling the sea water under the feet was too relaxing. Normally taking pictures is not allowed inside the temple but due to god's grace no one stopped me to take the snaps. It was dark outside with very little light inside the temple so the pictures didn't turn up to be too good.
Next day our destination was the famous Tara Tarini Temple. This important and famous Shakti Pitha is situated on a hill top at a distance of 30 Km towards north of Brahmapur on the south bank of river Rushikulya. There are many interesting stories, myths legends and folklore relating to the origin of the Tara Tarini Shrine at the hill top. One of the legends of the puranic tradition connects the Shrine to the Daksha Yagyan. It is said that the breasts of Sati fell at the Kumari Hills on the bank of river Rushikulya and thus the famous Tara Tarini Shakti Pitha arose at this place. Some other legends also associate Tara Tarini to their human forms as two beautiful girls who used to live some times with their devotees ( who later became their priests ) they caused miracles to make the devotees feel their presence and take steps for their worship.
From the hill top you will get a picturesque view of the river and the nearby area. But the temple complex is full of monkeys so hold your goods tight. Unfortunately that day also we got late. We reached there around 5 pm so it was dusk and the temple was closed. There are many stalls with puja items, and souvenir. As informed by a localite the temple was about to open around 6 pm. We were there till 6:10 pm but it was yet open. So unwillingly we have to leave.
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Gopalpur- A blend of Tibetan and Indian Art
There are few food joints run by some Tibetan families outside the monastery complex. So we though of having our lunch here. But unfortunately they accept orders only for groups of more than 10 people and we were only 3 including our driver. So hard luck...we have to leave for Khasada empty stomach.
The main attraction of Khasada is a waterfall which is quite famous among the localites as a picnic spot. Though the waterfall is not that big, it's beautiful. There was a temple on a hill top on the other bank of the fall, but I couldn't find any way to cross the fall, without getting wet, and reach there.
It was afternoon and we were too hungry to spend more than 10-15 mins there. On our way back our driver took us to a roadside dhaba which was a few km away from Taptapani. The food there was too good and also pocket friendly compared to what we were having in our hotel. If you stop by this hotel for lunch do try fried masala chicken and masala paneer. For desert don't miss chana pora, it's a famous sweet in Orissa.
Gopalpur on Sea
You might have heard about Chilika Lake - Asia's largest brackish water lagoon. It is a famous tourist spot for tourists visiting Puri. But a part of this lake is also spread over the Ganjam district. If you are travelling to Gopalpur by road from Bhubaneshwar, this lake will fall on your way. It is in Rambha, 41 Km from Gopalpur. Since it was on my way to Bhubaneshwar airport, I planned to cover it on the day of my return.
This part of Chilka is famous for birds and dolphins. Among the scenic spots the islands and Kalijai temple are worth mentioning. I had my flight and was running short of time, so I was not able to go for a boat ride there.
Due to time limitation we were not able to cover the remaining places. I wish I could have covered at least the Bhairavi Temple, Tampara Lake.
Before closing, few things that I would like to mention are:
1. Do carry some cash as your plastic money may not work in all places.
2. Before reaching Taptapani inform your close ones, who might call you in next couple of hours, that your mobile may not be reachable.
3. No need to carry alcohol as there are few good outlets. But if you are a wine lover carry your inventory.
4. There is nothing much for shopaholics.