Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. Right now, we are in Balangir, in Western Odisha. We spent last night in Ridhhi Sidhhi Hotel. This hotel is located 4kms from the main town, towards the outskirts. On double occupancy basis, as I told you last night, we paid a tariff of Rs. 1800 plus taxes. That included today’s breakfast. The time is 10 o’clock in the morning. We must first go and eat some breakfast because I didn’t eat breakfast at the hotel. I want to explore local breakfast here. For your knowledge, Sambalpur is about 130kms from here. And Raipur, in Chhattisgarh, is approximately 290kms away. So first let us eat breakfast and then we will go to Sambalpur via Sonepur. Right now, we are in Bramerpada, to have breakfast. This is the Sunday market. I asked around and I was told that for breakfast there is samosa, bada, sweets available. Chawal bada (made with rice), which we haven’t had yet, is not available. I tried to find it out but I could not find chawal bada yet. People told me to come back in the evening. But anyways we have to leave for Sonepur. We will leave from here and have breakfast on the way. I saw this shop in the Sudpara area, Balangir. I can see some sweetmeats and some breakfast too. Brother, do you have chawal bada? Okay, give me one plate chawal bada. And two pieces of jalebi too. So this is our breakfast. Chawal bada! Two types of jalebi – crispy and soft! With chawal bada, they have served ghughni (chickpea curry). And this is Gaja (type of sweet). I just remembered that I had eaten Gaja in Assam as well. This is a famous breakfast as well as a snack item locally. The ratio of urad dal (bhiri) is not much in chawal bada. For instance, for a kg of rice, you take 200gms dal. It is soft. Obviously deep fried and can be eaten just like that or with ghughni. It is crispy in taste and with ghughni, it tastes wonderful. Really crispy jalebi! But a little too sweet for me! I think I’ve had a lot of sweet for breakfast. As per taste, I find softer jalebi more delicious. Gaja is made with maida (refined flour). And later on, it is dipped in sugar syrup. Gaja tastes okay! I enjoyed jalebi more. And I enjoyed chawal bada more as well. Well, Sonepur is about an hour away from here. We are on the way to Sonepur. Our next halt is at Bairasar, which is 20kms away. Yesterday, a few locals in Balangir told us that when we would be on our way to Sonepur…. ….we should stop at Bairasar village. They said we must try Chaka Pitha there. We’ve reached Bairasar village. Now let us look for a place where we can eat the Chaka Pitha. We’ve reached the Seema hotel in Bairasar. I have the hotel owner with me. This is Chaka Pitha. Take a good look at its texture. I understood from him…. ….that in Chaka Pitha…. …rice is soaked for 3-4 hours…. ….and ground….. …and then small balls of ground rice is stuffed with boiled potatoes. Also, when the rice is ground, onions, ginger and garlic is also added to it. All these things are added to rice. A little potato is stuffed inside, the ball is flattened and deep fried. And chaka pitha is ready. Chaka Pitha is a famous snack around here. I’ve got potato curry with it. Absolutely crisp! I was talking to you about potato stuffing so this is it! Chaka Pitha is a really lovely snack! As I eat it, I feel that its taste is dominated by… …the level at which the rice has been ground. The rice is neither too fine, nor too coarse, just the right level of grinding. Isn’t it so? Whenever you are on this route, you must try Chaka Pitha. It is a famous snack here. But try to catch it either before 10 am or after 4 pm. But brother, we are going to miss this now. Ahh! Peda! So, can I eat a bit of peda in a bowl. Please give me some! It is very hot! It was removed from fire just a moment ago. Really amazing taste! The khoya in it tastes wonderful. But I also think it is a little too sweet. So, you guys prefer things sweeter around here? No, in fact, I don’t like sugar very much! Ohhh! You don’t like too much sweet! But I think today it is a bit on the sweeter side. But this sweet is delicious! You’ve made amazing peda. We’ve reached Sonepur town. Sonepur is also known as ‘City of Temples.’ We’ve come to a temple, which is about a kilometer from Sonepur. The devotees are singing bhajans here and prasad is also being distributed. One thing I want to share with you specifically, whenever you come to Western Odisha…. ….don’t ever miss eating Ambil (local delicacy). It is known as Khatta (sour), Ambil (local name), and it has many other names as well. Among the main ingredients of this dish are dahi (yogurt), tamatar (tomatoes), haldi (turmeric),… ….baingan (eggplant), mooli (radish) and lot more! This is a very exclusive recipe. It is a 2.30 in the afternoon. After finishing this prasad, we will go to Pancharatha Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is adorned with sculptures depicting various family members of the lord. Since we’ve come in the afternoon, there is no one else here right now. But I’ve heard this temple is a popular destination. There is a huge rush during morning and evening, when devotees come to seek the lord’s blessings. Now we are going to a place a kilometer away, which the confluence point of Mahanadi and Tel rivers. Now see, this is the place we’ve come to. Two rivers meet here. Here we met a local man, Benu Dhar. I tried to understand from him where this water is coming from. So he told me that…. ….the river flowing down from the right hand side is Tel river. This comes from Kalahandi? Yes, Kalahandi! Great! And from behind me, the river coming from the left hand side is Mahanadi. The name Mahanadi comes up whenever we talk about Odisha because it is the lifeline of this state. So both these rivers meet here at this point called ‘Rameswar Sangam.’ The name comes from a temple nearby, Rameswar Temple. To sit here is a pleasant, peaceful experience. I was also discussing with him the low current level of river water here. So, he told me that is because this is not the monsoon season. But at the time of monsoon, how high does the river water rise? It goes really high. You can come here for 30 minutes or so and enjoy a good time. This place has a really peaceful environment! It feels good to sit here. Great! In our discussion, I also got to know that there are a number of sari weavers in Sonepur. So with his assistance, we will go to one such unit and watch how a silk saree is woven. How far is it? Two kms. Two kilometers! Great! So, shall we go? You know how famous is Sambalpuri sari? Its name is enough to introduce this type of sari. Right now we are at the set up of Padmashree Chaturbhuj Meher in Bayan Vihar. This is the set up. Sir, let us go inside. Let us go inside and see how the weavers weave a sari. And also see the various designs available. Once inside the unit, I saw there were a lot of weavers making saris on different units. The whole process is done with bare hands. Quite a labour-intensive job. And see the precision with which the work is going on. If even one wrong thread goes in, the design will become faulty and the sari will be defective. I have with me the manager of this unit, Mr. Augusthy. Tell me one thing, if we take Sonepur and the nearby villages, what will be the total number of weavers? In the Subarnapur district, including Sonepur and rest of the villages,…. ….there are about 50,000 handloom units active. That means there are more than 2 lakh weavers involved in this job day in and day out. Wow! Amazing! Can you show us some sari designs? And their cost too! Yes sir! This is Sambalpuri sari. This sari has a very fine design on it. We prepare this sari in Malwari silk. And its price will be more than Rs. 15,000. Sir, it will take at least 25 days to make a sari like this. So, this whole work is tie ‘n dye! Yes sir, this is tie ‘n dye work. This is another Sambalpuri design. It is woven with help of tissue. This is Malwari silk as well. This sari will take almost two months to complete. Two months! And the cost of this sari is Rs. 20,000. This is the pallu and border of the sari. The cost of this sari is Rs. 15,000. What you see here is weaving being done with the help of gold and silver threads. This sari will take at least a year to complete. What do you call weaving this kind of sari? Sir, this process is called ‘Phira-Phirvi.’ Phira-phirvi! Such minute detailing of work and imagine it takes a year to complete and…. ….when this sari will be sold, its cost will be about Rs. 1 lakh. The actual Sambalpuri sari is woven in Sonepur. So, there must be some weavers there as well, right? Yes Sir,… No Sir, not in Sambalpur. No Sir, there are no weavers in Sambalpur, but this sari is known the world over as ‘Sambalpuri.’ Ohh! Great! It was a pleasure meeting you both! Thank you! Namaste! Thank you so much! And you also spent so much time with us. Thanks for that! We reached Sambalpur at 8.30 pm. We’ve booked ourselves a room on double occupancy basis at Hotel Uphar Palace. The room is quite large in size. We paid a tariff of Rs. 1520. This is because they’ve also given us a 20% discount. Now the programme for tomorrow is that we will do local sightseeing. We will explore the food as well as sightseeing here. We will also try to watch some Sambalpuri dance as well. Now we will meet tomorrow morning. That reminds me we missed visiting the Huma Temple. We will go there when we will start our return journey from here to Cuttack a few days later. Now we will meet tomorrow morning. So far, you saw we began our Odisha journey from Cuttack. After travelling through Bhubaneswar, Puri and Brahmapur, we reached Koraput. Then we went to Sambalpur. In the coming episodes, you will see…. …us going to Hirakud Dam. It is a lovely place. We also saw a Sambalpuri folk dance performance. After visiting Sambalpur, we went to Cuttack. Though we could return via Jharsuguda, Ranchi or Raipur as well. But we went back to Cuttack because I wanted to see the Bali Yatra there. We will meet soon. Till then, goodbye! Thanks for your time!