Puri, the name itself opens the floodgate of nostalgia in a bong’s mind. Probably, the first tour with parents, the first sea, the first crush with the girl in the conducted tour- khaja, anything….. and everything. I frankly, do not want to elaborate anything on the sight-seeing and visuals in Puri- much better writers have written about it a lot of times. But, what I want to write about here is the Puri beyond the usual puri. Probably, all the bengalis have been to puri- at least once. But, till date, this other side is very less explored. This piece is a modest attempt on my trip to Sterling Resorts Puri.
First things first, we went to Sterling Holiday Resorts to visit their Puri property for a vacation on a FAM trip invited by the management. So, it was an early morning flight and the serenity of the early morning Kolkata airport getting disturbed by the nonstop nonsense of 10 crazy people from Kolkata. We were travelling to Bhubaneswar Airport and from there, via car, to Sterling Resorts Puri.
Breakfast stop at pipli …
One thing I’ve always noticed. The travel arrangements of these large organizations are mostly seamless and our cars were waiting just outside the airport with the pickup. It was 1.5 hours journey from Bhbubaneswar airport to Sterling Resort Puri. We had just left Bhubaneswar and somewhere near Pipli, I actually managed to stop the car at a roadside dhaba.
Now, let me be honest. I am biased towards food and moreover, these roadside dhabas. So, this was no exception. And as long the Vadas and Idlis are hot and there is a variety of Sweets (including the Pahala Rasogolla), who cares ?
Odisha roads are beautiful and in this season, it was a great ride. But then again, with friends with you , which trip isn’t ?
And we reached …
Once you reach Puri and move towards Mohana from Swargadwar, Sterling Resorts comes as the last resort and is appr 7-8 min drive from Swargadwar. Frankly, this area was new to me. And suddenly out of nowhere, this majestic resort came out. The foyer is huge and there was a team of ladies, dressed in traditional Odisha attire, waiting to greet us. And suddenly it crossed my mind that instead of writing about the experience, I should shoot a video. and here it goes.
Raghurajpur- the artisan’s village …
was planning to enjoy my lyadh in the swimming pool, but there was something interesting waiting for us. There is this village called Raghurajpur (20 min drive from resort), which is an artisan’s village. Potochitra, stone sculptures and handmade typical Odisha handicraft making is the main livelihood there. It’s a sloppy quaint village and mostly in all the households, primary income is selling these handicrafts and the lost Odisha dance-form called Gotipua.
But this was not all and being a food blogger and seasoned glutton, I was looking for food. so Day 1 lunch was arranged at this village. Locals cooked the traditional Odisha lunch for us and served it the local way. We had to sit cross-legged on ground and the whole traditional meal was served on banana leaves. Here, I would like to mention few interesting stories on Odisha temple food. The food here is inspired by the Jagannath temple Mahaprasad. And the royal feast consists of 56 recipes and thus called as Chhappanbhog. Its said that while saving his village, Lord Krishna held up Govardhan Parvat for 7 days and missed his 8 meals each day. Hence, 56 recipes are dedicated to him- hence the name.
Honestly, I won’t say the whole food suited my palate. Especially, the Chura Kadma (a halwa made from dry fried chura and served with chhena or cottage cheese) combination was just okay-ish. But the hospitality was unmatched. And, I would definitely suggest everyone to go for this experience at least once. BTW, this whole experience is priced at 650/- per head for a minimum of 4 person trip.
A full fledged Odisha dance performance
And after that heavy meal and early morning flight, we all simply crashed, once back in hotel. The swimming pool was almost calling us- LOL. But itinerary for Day 2 was interesting. We were supposed to go to Chilka Lake. Chilka Lake is probably the largest lagoon in India and one of the largest in Asia. A huge variety of migratory birds travel there during winter and it’s a sight to enjoy. There are three spots, namely Barkul- Rambha and Satpada. Satpada being the nearest from Sterling Resorts Puri, we were supposed to go there and leave by 8 in the morning. But management organized a proper Odisha dance performance for us in the evening. And, here is a glimpse of what we experienced.
Day 2- drive to Chilka:
The drive to Satpada is just above 1 hours and road was fantastic. From Sterling Resorts Puri, We reached OTDC Satpada and after getting freshened up, the jetty. There is this Dolphin trail conducted from the jetty, where tourists are taken on a 1 hour boat journey to the confluence of sea and lake- Sea-Mouth. It’s kind of a small island and some make-shift shops. The shops specialize in serving the fresh catch of the day and that included prawn/ crabs and Parse fish. Thankfully, chilled beer was also available. The actual sea beach was 15 min walk from the place where the boats were waiting and being the lazy bum, I enjoyed beer with fried fish while the majority went ahead.
We spent around 1 hour at Sea- Mouth and started our journey back to the resort. Lunch was ready for us and the sundowner party was waiting for us in the evening. I’d like to mention that this package can be booked from Sterling Resorts Puri at appr 5000/- for a minimum of 4 persons including the Innova transport and OTDC boat ride.
The final adieu …
It was the final day and we were tired, but at the same time refreshed with this short vacation. We were introduced to the entire hotel team during the evening party. And, with the smoky aroma from the live bar-be-que counter and sea-breeze, I will remember that evening for a long long time.
most of us have been to Puri multiple times. But those visits mostly comprised of bath in the sea, evening shopping at Swargadwar and Jagannath temple. But what Sterling Resort showed us, was another side of Puri- the different experiences that one can have during the visit. And that’s what is its all about probably- #HolidayDifferently .
My flight was scheduled at the next day evening from Bhubaneswar and being myself, I planned a special foodie journey for myself in Bhubaneswar. But then that is another story.
Bon apetit !!!
Comments and critics welcome.
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