Once upon a time….. in Gopalpur on sea

24.06.2017:

Berhampur – the silk city of Odisha, is just about 30 kms from Icchapuram – the border area of Andhra Pradesh and we looked out for a right turn after crossing Icchapuram as showed by the Google Maps. Gopalpur on Sea is located at a mere distance of 15 kms from Berhampur and is easily accessible.  The road which leads us to Gopalpur on Sea from the NH 16 is a bit narrow, but enough number of sign-boards were placed along this road to show us the way to Gopalpur.

Gopalpur was once buzzing with maritime activities which Odisha is known for ages. It was one of the outlets through which early settlers of South East Asia sailed off. During the days of Kalingas, Gopalpur on Sea was known as the port of Paloura from which traders sailed as far as Java, Bali and Sumatra mainly dealing in silk and pearls. Later it became a prominent trading port mainly a transit point to  export sugar and cheap laborers for the tea gardens of Assam in North Eastern India during the days of the British East India Company. Like Middleton-on-sea, the ‘on-sea’ tag has been conferred on Gopalpur by the Britishers.

Gopalpur-on-sea is a small quiet town which is popular for its beautiful pristine  sandy beach and a perfect beach destination for a tranquil holiday. We reached here around 16.30 hrs when it was drizzling a little. The beach is fairly isolated and there are not many tourists – the continuous rain may be one of the reasons! We parked our car aside and started walking towards the beach. The beach with its golden sand of the blue sea has its own sleepy charm and looked pretty during the drizzle! 🙂 There are no palm trees along the coastline and one get an uninterrupted view of the mammoth Bay of Bengal!

There is a light house which stand witness to the past port and also acts as the landmark of the place. This would be open only for a while in the afternoon and if you are lucky enough to visit this place during that time, you can get a sweeping view of the country side as well as the Bay of Bengal. But we were late that day 😦 We walked along the quite seashore which is undisturbed by the regular tourists or day-trippers. It was so serene that all we could hear is the symphony of the waves and our own heart-beats. And all that we could see is a vast stretch of blue waters with the fishing boats anchored on the sands of the beach by the fisher-folk with the crumbling walls and pillars of an ancient jetty together with some crumbling bungalows in the background!

The sea here is a bit rough and completely idea for sailing and surfing. And importantly, it’s comparatively a clean place to swim, but one has to take precautions as this beach is not that shallow! Once onto the road after a long walk along the beach, we went around the place to explore a bit. Once a favourite of British travellers during the Raj and home to retired British and Anglo-Indian railway employees, Gopalpur-on-sea still has several bungalows and mansions belonging to the Europeans and this gives the place still a colonial look.

Some of these buildings and bungalows were modified into small hotels and offers accommodation to the budget travelers. The promenade along the beach is filled up with small shacks selling a wide range of food products like prawns, fish, crabs, delicacies of mutton and chicken etc. Though we didn’t try any of these delicacies here, we ate few ice-creams and made our way further deep into the town. There is also a local market here which looked deserted at that hour of time and just about 3 kms from the beach, the local creeks in the vicinity of the sea have created a network of backwaters, which is an ideal place for a picnic.

Men were fishing; children were playing and boat-men were patiently waiting for the tourists who would like to go on leisure boat rides and others waiting for passengers who would travel across these backwaters to reach their villages on the other side. This is one of the most picturesque place in the vicinity, but one should be more cautious as these backwaters are quite deeper and the undercurrents more stronger! We returned to our car after clicking enough of photos without knowing what our next destination would be :-p 😉

If you are looking for a perfect weekend gateway away from the busy city life, Gopalpur-on-sea would be a perfect choice, as this beach with her backwaters continue to spread its aquatic magic since times immemorial! 🙂 There is also this 99 year old Mayfair Beach Resorts which offers luxurious accommodation for the tourists!

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Radhe.. Radhe

Day 2:

By the title itself many of you might have guessed what this post is going to be.. No trip to Agra from Delhi would be complete without a visit to the two beautiful places Mathura and Vrindavan. And we decided the other day itself that we will visit these two places also. We started our journey to Vrindavan from Agra and it was still raining.

After an hour’s journey we were onto a roadway leading to Vrindavan. The places along the roadway are beautiful and serene villages, covered with lush green paddy fields and other millet. The cloud covered grey sky, the lush green cover on the earth, and the drizzle made the scene more perfect. We crossed the villages and were out into the Vrindavan. It is a small town with many activities going around.

We asked a few people how to reach the famous Bankey Bihari Temple and the people, mostly the Pundits (who are like the local guides) helped in locating the temple. The road leading to the temple is very narrow and is potholed. We could see a lot of people walking barefoot enchanting the Krishna mantra and not bothered about the drizzle. Our driver stopped the car at a decent distance from the temple as there is no way of us reaching the temple in a car.

We got down and started walking towards the temple. The sideways of the walkway are full of shacks selling the famous Agra Peta, the Mathura Peda and other sweets, a few selling the idols of the deities and toys etc. As it was Saturday and a weekend, the roads were insanely crowded and there was a long queue of people infront the temple. There is no need of us to walk, as we would automatically flow with the crowd 😉

The interesting thing is there were lots of human-pulled rickshaws, bicycles and local people on these streets and no one honks a horn or rings a bell. They simple say “Radhe-Radhe” 🙂 🙂 (now you might understood the reason behind the title of this post) indicating us to move aside 🙂 :). While I was on this road, it was almost as if I were in a trance.  There was something in the place, in the air, in the people which attracts us instantaneously. Might be it is truly the presence of the Almighty 🙂

It started raining heavily while we were still waiting in the queue to enter the temple. The temple is located in an interior part and it was pretty crowded. We entered the main hall which is decorated with fresh flowers and colorful drapes. A mix of fragrance from the flowers and the incense sticks filled the room and the chants of “Hare Krishna” were echoing. Though we tried clicking some photos, we couldn’t as photography was strictly prohibited inside the temple.

There was a barricade separating the idols and the pilgrims and we were allowed till the barricade to have a peek at the deities Radha and Krishna and many of the pilgrims were offered sweets and seek the blessings from the Pundits. The rain turned into a heavy downpour and the roads were filled with water up our knee-level. All of a sudden the roads turned dirty, people struggled to pull out their vehicles in the water. Though we thought of managing with the only umbrella which we carried along, it wasn’t of much use and we started forgot about getting drenched and started enjoying the rain and our walk which almost seemed like a swim 🙂 😀

Soon we were at our car and resumed our journey to Mathura. On the way to Mathura we were able to see the Prem Mandir which was huge and lit by colourful lights. As it was raining heavily and we don’t have much time, we thought of visiting only Krishna Janmabhoomi and started moving towards it. But to our bad luck, there was a jam and the traffic was packed upto kilometers. The time was around 6.30 and we still have a long way to go, to reach Delhi and it was raining badly. So we were left with no other options rather than saying – some other time 🙂 🙂

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We hit the Yamuna Express way after a wait of an hour and half in the traffic and stopped for some food in the mid-way at Pizzahut though we didn’t eat any except a Gulab Jamoon on the Haldiram’s outlet beside it 😉 🙂 It was 11.30 by the time we reached our room and soon retired to our beds.

P.S – I couldn’t take any pictures of this place as it was raining heavily and was too crowded to stand itself 😦