Odisha, The Land Of Beautiful Beaches And Ancient Temples

The lesser-known and pristine sea beaches near Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, are an ideal escape from monotony. Add to this the temples of Puri and Konark and you have a perfect holiday
Odisha's beaches are beautiful, pristine and sunset-watching worthy
Odisha's beaches are beautiful, pristine and sunset-watching worthy

With foam flecked waves of the Bay of Bengal breaking on its sandy shores, Odisha on the eastern coast of India, is home to some of the best beaches in the country. Except for a few places, where they lie at the edge of touristy towns, the beaches are mostly unspoilt and uncrowded. The best time to soak in these gorgeous beaches are in the winter months, when the weather is pleasant and the sun is not harsh. 

Home to Odisha's guardian deity Jagannath, Puri is not only visited by hundreds of pilgrims round the year but also a much-favoured holiday spot for travellers from neighbouring West Bengal. In season and out of it, the beach at Puri is the most vibrant place along the state's 485km-long shore. Watching the sun rise, bathing in the waves, boat rides in the sea are some of the popular activities.

Go shopping for locally made handicrafts or the unique textiles of Odisha in the kiosks or shops that line the beach. Do not miss tasting the local fish and seafood, cooked in typical Odisha style. Part of the famous Golden Triangle circuit (the other two places being Bhubaneswar and Konark), Puri holds its annual beach festival in November.

The beach in Puri is a favourite among tourists
The beach in Puri is a favourite among tourists

Off the Marine Drive that connects Puri with Konark, the latter famous for its Sun Temple (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), are some of the lesser known beaches like Balighai, Ramachandi and Chandrabhaga. You can stay at any of the resorts on the Marine Drive and explore these near-solitary beaches. Among them, Ramachandi Beach sees some crowd during winter tourist season, mostly over the weekends, as it offers boating and water-sports activities.

The majestic Sun Temple in Konark is a few hours drive from Puri
The majestic Sun Temple in Konark is a few hours drive from Puri

Visit The Ancient Sea Port

About 15 km from Brahmapur (formerly Berhampore) town is Gopalpur on Sea. An ancient sea port, its tranquil, laid-back atmosphere attracted Anglo-Indian employees of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR, now South Eastern Railway), who built their retirement homes here. In the 1950s and 60s, many of them opened their homes and kitchen to visitors. But, all that is history.

Today, Gopalpur on Sea is a popular seaside retreat but relatively less crowded than Puri. Most visitors gather at the beach at the crack of dawn to watch the sun rise. Fishermen set off in their boats to catch fish. You may find them back in the later afternoon to auction off the day's catch on the beach before returning home.

Gopalpur on Sea is a quiet getaway, far from the city's hustle
Gopalpur on Sea is a quiet getaway, far from the city's hustle

The Vanishing Beach

Chandipur on Sea is about 12 km from Baleswar (Balasore) town and is a popular weekend getaway, especially during winter. Known as the vanishing beach, the sea recedes during low tide exposing an almost five-km-long shallow beach every day. The more energetic visitors walk a long distance to reach the water's edge. But when the tide comes in, the sea rushes back. Chasing the red crabs on the beach can be fun. If you are the artistic kind, you may scout for driftwoods.

Chandipur on Sea is a  shallow beach during low tide
Chandipur on Sea is a shallow beach during low tide

Not far from Odisha's border with West Bengal is Talsari beach. Visitors to Digha, a popular beach in West Bengal, often make an excursion trip across the border to visit the Chandaneswar Shiva Temple and the beach further down. Hemmed by casuarina trees, Talsari is generally uncrowded except during winter holiday season when people flock here for a dip in the sea and to picnic. Here too the flow of the waves is influenced by the tides.

Getting There

Bhubaneswar, the state capital, is connected to the rest of the country by air, road and rail. Air Asia operates direct flights between Biju Patnaik International Airport and Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport. There is a Rajdhani train connecting New Delhi and Bhubaneswar. Dhauli Express and Shatabdi between Howrah and Bhubaneswar are two of the most convenient trains.

Bhubaneswar is well connected to Puri (50 km) and Konark (55 km) by road. Gopalpur on Sea is 165 km by road from Bhubaneswar. You can hire a cab from Bhubaneswar to reach these places.

The Odisha Tourism Development Corporation runs tourist lodges in Bhubaneswar, Puri, Gopalpur, and Chandipur. Privately run high-end hotels and resorts are available in and around Puri and Gopalpur. You can also opt for the government-run Eco Resorts. For hotel bookings and holiday packages, visit this site: https://www.bookodisha.com/

A Word Of Caution

Although Odisha's beaches fall among some of the best in the country, the combination of underwater current and the slope of the land may prove treacherous for the unwary swimmers and bathers. Do not drink and get into the water. Do not venture far into the sea even if you are an experienced swimmer. Follow the instructions of the lifeguard. Try to be in crowded areas.

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