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Brahmapur - Taratarini - Purushottampur - Toptopani - Hot Springs - Horbhongi Dam - Daringbari, - Kashmir of Orissa - Dhoboleshwar - Moncheshwar

 

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Travelogue - Taratarini, Toptopani, Daringbari & Dhoboleshwar, Orissa

By Mr. Debashis Bose, Contributing Traveller

10-1-2007 to 16-1-2007

I10-1-07 : This time we were 7 heads. We left Howrah by Gurudev Express at 11.25 pm and our destination was Brahmapur.

11-1-07 : We arrived at Brahmapur at 10.10am, and then reached the bus stand by auto in 10 minutes. Our bus for Taratarini started at 11.05 am and reached at 12.20pm, covering 30 kms. We had lunch at a roadside hotel and then went to Panthashala of OTDC by a trekker. It is a small, calm and quite place. The Panthashala is at the top of a small hillock - a nice location, clean and tidy. While at the top of the hill, we could see valleys and ranges of hills around us.

Inside the temple compound of the Taratarini Temple

Gradually the sun went down. We went to the temple of Tara & Tarini. The old temple is smaller while the new one is under construction - located just around the old one. There were a lot of craftsmen giving shape to stone boulders. This may take another two and a half years to be completed. Though there will be a vehicular road, there will also be 777 steps. Around the temple, there are lots of big trees and its serenity can be felt. Going down, we reached Rishikulya river. Here we met two local young men who informed us that a lot of pilgrims arrive at the temple on all Tuesdays of the month of Choitro (15th March to 15th April) every year, to worship the goddess. The other bank of the river is known as Purushottampur.

12-1-07 : We hired a Tata Sumo and left at 07.22am to Purushottampur to visit the temple of Tumbeshwar Shiva and Dokshinakali Devi.

Temple of Lord Shiva near hot spring at Toptopani

Our next target was Toptopani. Though there is a direct road, we went via
Gopalpur since some of our teammates had never been to Gopalpur.

Temple of Dakshinakali at Prushottompur

 

Gopalpur - on-sea, as it was known earlier, is a very small place with a few hotels and shops on the sea beach and around. We went for a stroll along the beach, had tea and visited a few shops of local handicrafts. We also indulged in some shopping. Next, we reached Toptopani at 12.25pm. Here again, we stayed at Panthashala of OTDC. There are a few double storied buildings that offer double bed room accommodations with attached bath, and a two room suite & office in a separate building. There is an eatery in a separate building as well. Toptopani is a calm and quite village with big trees, almost within a jungle. We had our lunch at the eatery.

In the evening, we went for a walk and visited a hot spring from which Toptopani has derived its name. As expected, the water of the hotspring was smelling of sulphur. There are two separate bathing places near the hot spring, for gents & ladies. The hot water has been taken by pipelines to a few taps on the roadside and to the panthashala. Bathing in this hot water makes one feel fresh and energetic. it has been said that this water is good for health. We had our dinner at the same place.

13-1-07 : After our morning's daily routine and breakfast, we left at 10.30am by Tata Sumo and reached Horbhongi Dam, 30 km away, at 11.45am. Here we spent 45 minutes, going around the dam & the inspection bunglow.

Dam at Horbhongi

Our next destination was Daringbari, 240 km away and reached at 02.30 pm, at a height of 4000 ft. This place is also known as the Kashmir of Orissa, and it is said that in the past, there was snowfall here. We had our accommodation booked at the Panthaniwas of OTDC.

Another view of the dam

The Panthaniwas was not very clean and the caretaker was not in a normal state. Anyhow, the rooms were cleaned and we occupied our respective rooms. This is like a small town and the temperatures are low here. Next day was Mokor songkranti, a festival day and hence, the shops and markets remained closed. We decided to purchase some ingredients to prepare our food for the next day. Here, it may be stated that, OTDC has two types of accommodation for tourists - Panthashala & Panthaniwas, the former has arrangements for cooked food, while the latter does not provide food. There are a few utensils available and food may be prepared with the help of the caretaker. We had our dinner at a roadside hotel.

14-1-’07 : All of us jointly prepared our breakfast and lunch too and enjoyed a picnic at the roof-top. Later, we left by the same vehicle to see the watch tower, about 2 km away. This is a decorative place for tourists and has a garden, swings etc. for children. There were 10 steps to go to the top of the watch tower from where a beautiful natural scenery of valleys and hill ranges could be seen. Then we drove to pepper and coffee plantations. Back to the Panthaniwas - after having dinner, the day ends.

15-1-07 : We were ready by 06.00 am and left Daringbari for Dhoboleshwar via Cuttack, 300 kms away. We had our breakfast en route, and had lunch at the ISKON temple at Cuttack - very nice vegetarian food.

Sunset at Mahanadi river at Dhoboleashwar

We reached Moncheshwar at 02.35pm. and had to cross the Mahanodi river on foot, over the concrete bridge, as the Panthaniwas of Dhoboleshwar was on an island. Here there is only one Temple of Dhoboleshwar (Shiva) & the Panthaniwas. We went to the temple for Darshan - this temple was built in 10/11th century by the Utkalraj.

Temple of Lord Krishna (ISKON) at Cuttack

We also had a round on a boat in the Mahanodi. Next, we went to the other side of the river, to visit the temple of Moncheshwar (Shiva). We had our dinner at the Panthaniwas. 16-1-07 : After breakfast, we packed up and went to Moncheshwar. We availed the bus at 08.40 am and reached Cuttack at 10.25 am. Many of us went for shopping. We had our lunch at the Railway station canteen. We left for Howrah by Dhauli Express and reached at 08.40 pm. By local train to Uttarpara. We dispersed for “Home, Sweet Home”.

About
Contributing Traveller : Mr. Debashis Bose is a 72 year old retired Railway employee whose hobbies include travelling & tourism, photography and amateur radio. He is a nature lover and prefers to visit little known places as opposed to big cities with the aim of enjoying nature in abundance. Before going on his regular tours with family and friends, Debashis spends time in studying different places and collecting information about them. On returning from the visit, he prepares a travelogue, with sketch map & photos, so that he can inspire others to visit these places and enjoy nature. vu2dba@gmail.com

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