Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali! So far, you’ve seen that we began our Odisha tour with Cuttack. From there, we travelled to Bhubaneswar, Konark…. …before reaching Puri. After that we visited Berhampore. We journeyed from Berhampore to reach Koraput, where we are right now. The landscape of this place is quite different. If you want to see mountains in Odisha…. …or you want to enjoy some peace….. ….or want to experience the tribal culture of this place,….. ….you must travel through South Odisha. In the previous episode, you saw us travelling locally in Koraput. And we spent the night in Jeypore. Today, we’ve left Jeypore to visit the Gupteswar Temple. We plan to spend half a day there. After that, we will proceed towards Western Odisha region. We will try to spend tonight in Bhawanipatna. After leaving Jeypore, we’ve now reached Boipariguda. Gupteswar Temple is 37kms from here. We will eat our breakfast here and then continue the journey. What will we eat idli with? This chutney goes with idli. Okay. Give me two idlis. Let me tell you something interesting. In Koraput and Jeypore areas…. ….wherever you will eat idli as street food, there will be no sambar with it. Generally, what people eat idli with is this potato curry. This curry has both potatoes and matar (chickpeas). This is because this area has a little influence of the Andhra cuisine as well. Along with a mix of Odisha cuisine. So, that is why this aloo-matar (potatoes-chickpeas) curry is a part of breakfast here. And, as for idli, you already know it is a famous breakfast staple in Andhra Pradesh. Idli is so soft, it is breaking apart with my touch. I feel, as per my personal taste,… ….I don’t like this combination too much because…. ….only the normal coconut chutney tastes the best with idli. So, what I am going to do is I will finish this & then take some pooris with potato curry. Ahh, it is hot! Chutney! Yes, give me some! Leave the chutney! Give me some of this curry! This potato curry is good! Eating this poori is as much a delicious experience as eating the idlis was. Really soft pooris! Really! Very delicious! So far, wherever we have explored street food in Odisha, I feel that…. ….everywhere, breakfast is served in an eco-friendly manner. As you can see here…. ….the way we are eating here. This is really commendable. Very good! We are still 5kms away from Gupteswar Temple. This is Dalukhai Temple, where we are standing right now. As per local belief, devotees offer these tree leaves at the temple, pay obeisance and move on! Doing this is considered an auspicious practice! We’ve reached Gupteswar Temple. We will go up from here! The cave that you see here, it is home to a Shivling. We will go down from here. Panditji , we’ve heard that the Shivling, representing Lord Shiva, is growing bigger in size with time? Yes! It keeps growing in size! And every year, this keeps growing in height as well as girth! During the festival of Shivratri, you see this sculpted Naag (snake) atop the Shivling…. ….it is replaced with a real snake. That tells us about the growth of the Shivling. It is also believed that Lord Rama has also worshipped Lord Shiva here. At the time of King Dasharath’s death…. ….Lord Rama placed a Shivling at Rameswaram and prayed to Lord Shiva. But this place, which is called ‘Dandakaranya’ (Dandak Forest)….. …the first prayer ceremony was conducted by Lord Ram….. ….for Lord Shiva, in Gupt (hidden) form, thus, this temple is known as Gupteswar. Gupteswar Bhagwan ki Jai! Panditji told us about another cave, next to the Shivling, as you can see… ….the entrance to this cave was open till four years ago. But it is closed now. We’ve come to the Sabari riverbank, about 100 meters from the temple. It feels good standing here. The river is inundated with huge boulders. So beautiful! During Shivratri, the Shivling at the temple is bathed with the water of Sabari river. After spending 15 more minutes here, we will leave for Kolab Dam. This area has a total of seven hills and seven caves. Only two out of the seven caves are open to tourists. Whenever you come here, you must keep at least half a day at your disposal. So that you can visit the caves, pray at the temple and also spend some time by the riverbank. We are a little short on time. We are leaving from here for Jeypore. On the way, we will decide how we will continue our journey via Kolab Dam. Can you see that crossing behind us, where that yellow bus has stopped? That is where we’ve come. Earlier, we assumed we would have to pass through Jeypore to go to Upper Kolab Dam. But we just realised that would be a longer route. Via Jeypore, the route would be 30kms long but from this road, it will be just 18kms. This geography is widespread! Therefore, it is very important to keep an eye on the directions, otherwise,…. …it would become an unnecessarily long route to reach anywhere. Right now, we’ve taken a 5-minute break by the roadside to straighten our backs. Now let us move on! We will reach there in another 30 minutes. By the way…. ….the time is already 11 o’clock before noon. Our target is that by 1.30 pm maximum, we must leave for Western Odisha from Koraput. We will try to do our nightstay today in Bhawanipatna. For the past 4-5 minutes, I had been watching such beautiful scenery that I just had to stop somewhere. Finally we just had to stop here, otherwise, we would not be doing justice to this journey. Just look at the range of mountains, one after another. The mountains form a full circle around us. Full circle! Though the road is not in the best condition, but you can go at a comfortable speed of 30 to 40 kms per hour. And there is no one else here. There is no traffic coming or going on this road. Just us and our car. Greenery everywhere! I think it would be wrong to say that Koraput or Jeypore is a destination. The actual destination would be the Koraput Bus Stand. But this is a journey in itself. You will get to see such beautiful scenery and environment here that…. …you can stop wherever you feel at home. Enjoy for 15 or 30 minutes and then move on. This place is so beautiful! Koraput is spread in every direction. As I’ve told you already, come here with enough time in hand. Not like us, with just a day or so at disposal. You will need at least 4-5 days’ time to thoroughly enjoy this region. Let us enjoy this view and then move on. I’ve purchased entry ticket for Rs. 10 per person and a Rs. 10 ticket for the car. Now, we will go in from this gate. We’ve reached Upper Kolab. It feels so good to stand here. We have mountains in front of us, lots of water in between. We cannot go further than this gate. But you can stand here and enjoy the view. Just like this Upper Kolab, there is a Lower Kolab Dam as well but someone told us…. ….that we would get a better view from Upper Kolab. So,…. …we are enjoying the beauty of this place. Beautiful! A little further down from this side, there is a park as well, where will go a little later. We will also spend some time there. So, here is the garden. Very well-maintained! Feels good to stand here. This is one level of park. That is another level. There is another level of park down there. But you cannot go any closer to the dam. You can enjoy the view and the park till there only. One thing I want to tell you in particular. Though, no doubt, visiting the dam felt good. But the approach road to this dam, specially the last 3-4kms of it, is really awesome. Well, when you start seeing the water in the dam, you start getting the feel of the place. So, you can stop anywhere in between and enjoy this view. We should make a move now. Now, our next destination will be Jagannath Temple, Koraput. It will take us about 30 minutes to reach there. We just reached Shree Jagannath Temple! I paid obeisance inside the temple. Kartik Poornima is a few days away. For the 5 days before Kartik Poornima day, devotees sing devotional songs in the temple continuously. People from all the nearby villages come here and sing bhajans as per their time limit. For 24 hours in a day! Bhajans are sung for the whole day, all five days, and… …..one thing is there, the way we’ve come here, if you come like this too,… ….you will be lost in this ceremony! It is so mesmerizing. Jai Jagannath! This is Sabar Shrikhetra. Shrikhetra is another name for Puri. This Shrikhetra is that of Sabar people, a tribal community. The special feature of this temple is that this temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, who belongs to everyone… ….and not just the Hindu community. Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christians, Buddhists, everyone is allowed in. Also, there is no distinction between male and female devotees. Anyone can come in and visit the lord. The temple is open by 5 am. At 5 am, the Mangal Aarti (prayer ceremony) is performed. At 6 am, the general aarti (public prayer ceremony) is performed. The temple remains open till 9.30 pm. At 9 pm, the lord prepares to retire for night and the devotees sing Geet Govind (special prayer). The lord goes to sleep after listening to that. After that the temple is closed till 5 am the next day. Another specialty of this temple is that it also houses mini temples representing all the major….. ….religious destinations of the country. If you make a round of these temples, you will have visited all the major religious destinations of India. Whether it is Kedarnath, Badrinath, Vaishno Devi temples….. ….or Rameswaram or Balaji Tirupati temples…. ….like this, there is a third part of this temple complex, known as ‘Utkal Khand.’ This part contains temples dedicated to all the Gods and Goddesses worshipped within Odisha. One round of this part will take you across Odisha With that, you can visit the religious destinations of the whole India. Along with the Lord Jagannath Swami. That is the significance of this Khetra (area). Jai Jagannath! We’ve come to Anand Bazar within the temple complex, to eat prasad! It felt so good! If I have to express in limited words, I would call it a ‘satisfying feeling.’ Coming here was a peaceful experience. This place emanates positive vibrations. If you come to South Odisha, you must visit this temple on the Day 1. After finishing our prasad, we will leave here for our next destination, which is Bhawanipatna. It will take us a minimum of 5 hours to reach there. The road to Bhawanipatna passes through Jeypore. So, now we will go back to Jeypore and then on to Bhawanipatna. Right now, we’ve travelled about 60 kms from Jeypore, we are at Papadahandi. Now, you can see so many of our friends are standing here with us. They all are subscribers of my channel. I got in touch with them through the Community tab. They said they all lived in Papadahandi and since we were going to pass through this highway….. ….to go to Bhawanipatna….I keep forgetting the name,… ….they wanted me to stop here for some time, so I stopped here. Now we stopped near this memorial here, you can see it. This happened during the year 1942. There was a battle between the local tribal people and the British occupational forces. It was a war in fact. That war left a number of people gravely injured and 19 of those died eventually. This memorial was erected in the memory of those 19 martyrs. Now, my friends have told me that I am here at a time when they cannot show me much of the area. So, for now, this is the only place we can visit and, thus, they brought me here. A memorial function is organized here on 24th August every year. Alright! It is only because of the sacrifices of such martyrs that our country is free today. And we are roaming freely on this earth. We will spend 15-20 minutes more with them and then go to Bhawanipatna. We still have to cover 110kms till that place. Yes! What else is worth visiting here? There is one Deer park and there is a Neelkantheswar Temple. It predates history. Nobody knows who built it and when. These are two famous locations of Papadahandi. Seems very old temple! Yes, quite old! No one knows its history. What the options for night stay here? There is no such facility in Papadahandi but 12kms away, in Navrangpur, you will get a good hotel to stay.’ There are good hotels 12kms away from here. Okay then, great! As we are travelling through South Odisha, as you can see, it is a journey of discovery for us. Especially because we had no prior knowledge of this area and…. …look at all this information. It was a pleasure meeting you all. So, let us walk towards the main road and we will leave from there. Great! Well, it was great pleasure to meet you all here…. …really great! Ohhoo! So Beautiful! So nice! Really magnificent! Really good! You’ve given me such nice gift! I am going to put it up in my living room back home. Really nice! Okay guys! Bye bye! Okay! Okay brother! Bye-bye! Okay then, bye-bye to all of you! We reached Bhawanipatna finally at 9 pm. Here, we booked a room on double occupancy basis at Hotel Bhagirathi Inn. Room tariff was Rs. 1440 plus taxes. This includes tomorrow’s breakfast. Today was very tiring! My alarm went off at 3.30 am this morning. Since then, it is now 9 pm and we will be able to sleep only by 12 or 12.30 am. Now, we will meet tomorrow morning. We will do some local sightseeing tomorrow and then continue our journey towards Sonepur. We will meet in the morning now. It is good night for now! It is 10.45 o’clock in the morning. For your information, Bhawanipatna is in West Odisha, though you can call it South-west as well but…. ….officially it comes in West Odisha. We are standing outside our hotel, which I had told you last night, is Bhagirathi Inn. Our stay here was comfortable. After some local sightseeing, we will leave for Sonepur. Our first stop will be at Manikeswari Temple, just 300 meters from here. I’ve come back after paying obeisance inside the temple. The principal goddess/deity of this temple is Ma Manikeswari. While venerating inside the temple, I noticed that… ….the devotees had to pray from a distance. You are not able to see the statue of the goddess inside the temple because it is very dark inside. The priest told me if one wants to see the face, the statue of the goddess…. ….one has to visit the temple at the time of evening aarti (evening prayer ceremony). At the time of aarti, you can see the statue of the goddess clearly. This temple is highly popular among the local devotees. Odisha is home to temples dedicated to seven sister goddess and one brother god. This is one of those. In the rest of temples of seven sisters and one brother, you can pay obeisance quite close to the deity. Right next to the temple, this is an old king’s palace. Though we cannot go inside because we don’t have necessary permissions but…. ….we can take a closer look at the palace from outside. We are in the Kalahandi district right now. During 1849, the Kalahandi princely estate was shifted from Junagarh to Bhawanipatna. Here, I am showing you the king’s palace from outside. This is a little closer view. But we cannot go inside because we don’t have the necessary permission. This is a private property now. Since the temple is within this compound, it is also a part of this private property. From where I am standing right now, I can see the garden which used to be the king’s court. The present generation of the royal family still live inside this palace. After some more sightseeing around here, we will go to a waterfall, which is nearby. Did you know that Kalahandi district is known for its wooden work? Right now, we are at a handicrafts shop, which is at a walking distance from our hotel. I have with me the shop owner. Let us understand from him what all he is selling as handicrafts. Sir, what are all these statues made of? All these idols are made from teak wood, which is a famous product of Kalahandi. This district has the highest quality teakwood available. Come, let me show you the idols made out of teak wood. It takes a craftsman about 10-12 days to complete this idol of Lord Ganesha. 10-12 days! Yes, that is how much it takes and the final product is sold for at least Rs. 15,000. Show me something else. Sir this elephant sculpture is the most famous thing about Kalahandi. Both Ganpati (Lord Ganesha) and elephant are famous subjects for sculpturing. This carved elephant that you see is known as “King’s Elephant.’ A craftsman takes 10-12 days to finish this as well. Its price is approximately Rs. 20,000. People living in metro cities are keen to use such decorative items to showcase in their homes. And such sculptures have become an antique category with a high demand among customers. Its price is about Rs. 7000. Sir, it felt good to check out all these handicrafts. Thank you! We have to go to Phullijharan Waterfalls. How much time it will take to reach there? Half an hour! The road is good. Yes, the road is very good! Nice meeting you! Welcome Sir! Thank you! Right now we are standing outside the Karlapat Sanctuary. Looking at the statues of elephant and tiger, you can guess the kind of wildlife available in there. The gate that you see, we have to go there and record our entry. There is no fees, just to record entry, because this is a protected wildlife area. The Phurlijharan Waterfall is 3kms from here and that is written here on the board. So, this whole area is protected. Come, let us record our entry and move on. We are passing through a dense forest. It feels so good travelling on this beautiful road. Wow! Welcome to Phurlijharan Waterfalls! Here we will purchase entry tickets for Rs .20 per person and then walk towards the waterfalls. Such a dashing entry into this, it feels like we are passing through deep forest. We have to walk for about 100-150 meters further from here to reach the waterfall. This is the starting point of the waterfall. Alright! Let us look downwards from that point. It feels good standing here. I have mountains in front of me, dense forest spread around. And water flowing down there. The only thing is that the water is flowing a little too far from us. Let us do one thing. Let us go down there and see the waterfall from there. Standing here is such a fun experience. Wow! Standing here makes me want to get down into the water, taking a dip and having fun. But this is a protected area so one cannot take a dip in the water. You can just enjoy the waterfall standing at a distance. Amazing! We had our lunch at the Somnath Hotel in the Godaghat area. There were total eight dishes for lunch with rice. Pure vegetarian hotel! The food was made without the use of onion and garlic. I liked the food very much. This unlimited meal is for Rs. 80. We did not shoot a video because of paucity of time. Now we are leaving for the waterfall. So we are close to the waterfall. Waterfall is visible to us from here. Really lovely waterfall! Wow! I had absolutely no idea that we would get to see so many waterfalls in Odisha. And each watefall is unique in its own way. Like this waterfall, it looks beautiful too though the water is not falling down from much height. I have just one regret, I cannot call it anything else, which is that I want to take a dip in the water. However, I cannot judge the depth of the water standing from this distance. So, I have cancelled the programme of taking a dip, especially since there is no one else around to ask. But we are enjoying the waterfall, nevertheless. I went into the water and kept my feet dipped in it for about 15-20 minutes. It was so much fun! We were just leaving here when we came across these two gentlemen. They are locals. Tell me something about the Kalahandi district. There is a lot of scope for tourism in Kalahandi but it needs a lot of marketing. Marketing, yes! Like, you can see, there are many waterfalls in the district. Even here, you have mountains, dense forest. You feel close to nature here. You are absolutely righ! We are here since this morning. Alright! So, even I feel that tourism sector can be developed much more here. It was nice meeting you both! Okay Sir! Nice to meet you Sir! Nice to meet you too! Thank you! We didn’t even realise it was evening already. The time is 5 pm. We have to go to Balangir, which will take us at least 3 hours from here. Let us put on shoes and leave for Balangir. That is where we are going to stay for tonight. Finally we reached Balangir at 9 pm. Here, we’ve booked ourselves a room in the Ridhi Sidhi Hotel. This hotel is 5kms from Balangir town, towards the outskirts. For a double occupancy room, we paid a tariff of Rs,. 1800 plus tax, including tomorrow’s breakfast. Now I am going to talk about tomorrow’s plan. Tomorrow, we will go to Sambalpur. Sambalpur is apprximately 125 kms from here. The folk dance and sari of Sambalpur is very famous. I hope you are enjoying the Odisha series. Especially the South Odisha, Koraput, I still have a hangover of that place. Scenic views were really awesome! We have also started enjoying the journey into Western Odisha. If you have any experiences related to this region, do share with us. That is it for now. We will meet again now in the next episode. We will meet soon. Thanks for now. Bye!