Gopalpur – on – Sea: A Pleasant Extended Weekend Getaway
Travelling – this one word is enough to ignite anyone’s senses of wanderlust. From boredom, from the stagnation of daily life and take you away to a place of pleasant days, making memories and saving it in pictures. Sometimes we can indulge in long holidays and sometimes small weekend escapades come as a blessing. One such short but a pleasant trip which you can experience with friends and family is in Gopalpur – a beach city on the east coast of India. We here share our experience on a pleasant weekend getaway to Gopalpur.
Gopalpur is a small town on the coast of Bay of Bengal in the Ganjam district of Orissa or Odisha, as it is called now. It is quite a well-known tourist destination and even honeymooning couples come to this small, yet beautiful place on the sea. The nearest station is Berhampur and Gopalpur is about 15 km away from there. We are based in Kolkata, so we boarded on the Chennai Mail train from Howrah Station and reached Berhampur. From there onwards we reached Gopalpur in a hired car. Our living quarters were in the Odisha Tourism Hotel under the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation. The town was once an ancient commercial port, which has now turned into ruins. Slowly it became a commercial trading port. Also known as the commercial hub of Southern Odisha, it connects the Andhra Pradesh border.
But not all parts of this old town is noisy or crowded. It has a prominent languorous beach with coconut groves, casuarinas and gentle sand dunes is deserted for miles. The Gopalpur beach is a quiet, relaxed place where you can feel one with nature. Soak in all the salt water and refresh yourself. It is one of the major sought after beaches in India. The first evening that we were there we spent the whole evening idling around the beach and it really does all the sea therapy one looks for. The walk around the beach is calming and will soothe frayed nerves.
On the second day, we set out to explore the whole stretch of Daringbadi. It is a hill station in Odisha at a height of 3000ft. The place is beautiful with enthralling valleys, pine jungles and coffee gardens. The name of this place originates from a ‘British Saheb’ named as Daring Saheb who used to live there. Because of the climatic conditions of this place, it has earned the name of ‘The Kashmir of Odisha’. Our first stop was at Taptapani This place is famous for its hot sulphur springs. It has a natural hot spring and this strange phenomenon is something to watch out for. It also has a picturesque landscape with a deer park nearby and many tribal communities where you can learn about different cultures and heritages.
We also visited the Putudi and Dasingbadi waterfalls, Emu Bird Sanctuary near Kirikiti, coffee plantation gardens, nature walk etc. Finally, we went to the Hill View Park, where there is a Hill Viewpoint. The whole valley of Daringbadi and its neighbourhood is visible from this hill viewpoint and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful.
On day three, we set out to explore Rambha and Chilika Lake and its surroundings. There can be a completely separate article on Chilika. Its mesmerizing and the flora and fauna present there makes the beach all the more appealing. Chilika Lake is considered as a haven for birds and is one the largest migratory zones for birds of Asia. There is a boat/steamer ride from Chilika to the Kalijai Temple via Borkul.
Kalijai Temple is situated on an island on Chilika lake. It is an excellent viewpoint for watching the different flock of birds both migratory and resident. It is the abode Goddess Kalijai, another form of Goddess Kali. Legend has it that a newlywed girl named Jaai was drowned in the Chilika lake while going to her in-law’s home. From then onwards, she is worshipped in this temple as another form of the Goddess.
On the same day, we also visited the Taratarini Hilltop Temple. The temple is situated on the Kumari Hills at the bank of the Rushikulya river. This temple is one of the manifestations of the Shakti Peethas of Adi Shakti of the four major Shakti Peethas. This place is worshipped as the Sthana Peetha (breast shrine). The shrine here is an abode to two sister Goddess – Tara and Tarini. Two stones anthropomorphized by the addition of gold and silver ornaments, represent the goddesses Tara and Tarini. Another amazing thing about the hilltop temple is that you can have an excellent view of the whole Odisha from this place.
On the fourth and final day, we had to leave early as our train was scheduled for the afternoon. But we did not miss the Sunrise on the Gopalpur Beach. It was a wonderful experience altogether. Holiday lovers especially beach lovers should not give this place a miss. It has a mixture of everything. Architecture, ancient history, wildlife, nature trails, a various mix of culture and overall all the pleasures that a beach town can offer. What more you will also get to visit a hill station as an added bonus!. We came back with some pleasant memories and a time which we will cherish for quite a long time. Plan your weekends, pack your bags and get going!.