19 November 2005

Puri and Cuttack

I made my yearly pilgrimage to Puri. The road is the same. The landscape is nearly the same with some conspicous development for kilometres after Bhubaneswar purportedly ends. The new car park on the road to Jagannath temple is atleast a kilometre away from the Lion Gate(Singha Dwar). Which means that I walk bare foot for that distance in the still hot november sun of Puri. The stalls selling the jing-bang stuff have increased in number and so has the price of their wares. hordes of Pandas attack us with the promise of a quick darshan. Its Puri as usual! I find the temple much cleaner than my last jaunt. Now there is also a 'Paid line' (Rs20) for those who have missed the early morning closer darshan of the Lord. The hoi polloi gets to see the Lord only from a distance. This move has caused resentment among the devotees particularly locals. The temple is as magnificent as ever and never falis to impress. ASI is undertaking largescale renovations and prima facie they are doing a good job. We move to the crowded beach after the darshan. It has been nearly a decade since I came to the Puri beach. Iam impressed, now that I have seen a dozen other beaches on the western coast. It is still clean despite the surge in the number of tourists. And the sea is as dangerous as before nevetheless its spectacular.
I make a short journey to Cuttack after nearly fifteen years. Nothing major to write home about except that the cycle rickshaws are surviving in more numbers than in its twin city of Bhubaneswar. I dont know why they are even called Twins. Apart from geographical proximity the two cities have entirely diffeent characters. Cuttack is a down to earth town with street side bazaars, wide open drains and dusty environs which can be associated typically with Indian Moffussil Towns. While Bhubaneswar the 'New Capital' tries very hard to shake off that chaos with planned wide streets, a semblance of congruity (although fast disappearing), shopping stores with neat glass displays and now huge shopping malls. There is almost a desperate effort to hide the poverty. I guess no twins would be this different.
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