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Friday, 5 January 2018

Kalinga Diaries – Part I: How it all began

Sometime in October 2017, a senior citizen couple in Bangalore were considering the idea of flying to Hyderabad to visit some relatives. A cousin’s son informed them about some low-priced deals coming up on air fares and so, their daughter-in-law, the in-house travel booking agent, got busy researching.

As they say, “Woman proposes, God disposes.” Events took such a turn that the original travelers had to shelve their travel plans. But at the behest of her hubby, the travel facilitator found and booked 3 tickets to a destination that was further northeast of Hyderabad. And so it was that a trip to Kalinga Desha – Odisha in today’s India – materialized, seemingly out of the blue.

Courtesy: Maps of India
(That thick path in red to indicate our rough route is my doing, though)

After trying out several permutations and combinations of dates, flight timings, airfares, stopovers etc etc, we ended up with a travel plan that involved leaving Bangalore 28th December AM and getting back 31st December PM. Two or three days after the booking, we realized that nothing, but nothing, happens out of the blue. It was probably the wish of Lord Jagannath of Puri that we have His divine darshan on that holiest of days - Vaikuntha Ekadashi, which was on 29th December.

The last time I wrote a travelogue series on my blog was in 2015, describing our travel to Delhi, Agra, Mathura, Brindavan, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Kurukshetra. (Click on the words to read that particular post) That piece of writing came as an afterthought – after the visit was over, I got the idea of writing about it.

This time around, the intent to write about our travel to Odisha was one of the uppermost thoughts in my mind as we got going. And I realized that when you decide you’re going to write about something, your mind grows even more alert, noticing and observing things because you want to write about them! I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said this aspect even added to the excitement of the journey….

The first day, whenever I got some free time – on the flight, in the taxi – I jotted down some thoughts on a small letter pad. But from the next day onwards, there was so much “doing” and “seeing” that there was no time or energy to note down things – so, I’m going to have to rely on the imprint they left on my mind to convey the rest of the experiences.

As always, I don’t intend doling out information that is exhaustively available on the Net. As always, I intend presenting what I saw and heard and – in that typical “Anu” style if you will – giving the reader my take on those observations.

As of now, I’m expecting this series to take between 5 to 7 blog posts, excluding this introductory one. And because I’m not sure how long my brain will retain the small details, I intend putting the posts up in quick succession, hopefully, one post each day for the next few days.

Come along with me on this journey, let’s discover a few more things about this land we call home – this land that is our punyabhumi and our karmabhumi…..

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