During our way back, we befriended the Tata Winger driver and inquired about the other places that we could visit to make the most of Puri trip. That’s when we learnt that we could also check out places like Chilika Lake, NandanKanan zoo, Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves. Though tired to the core, we were in no mood to relent. As a result, we woke up early on Day 3 and after finishing a hearty breakfast we headed straight for the Nandankanan Zoological Park.
(To read about Day 1 & 2 trip to Bhubaneswar, click here)
Day 3: Nandankanan Zoological Park
Situated twenty kilometers ahead of Bhubaneswar, we reached Nandankanan at around 10 in the morning. After purchasing tickets at the counter, we entered the zoo and hired a guide who could provide us with detailed information about the zoo and the animals there. We were surprised to see some of the most fascinating and unique wild animals at the zoo. Spread across 4.37 sq km of area, the Nandankanan zoo is an onlooker’s delight. From White Tigers to Gharials (crocodiles), Asiatic Lions, Black Buck, Himalayan Black Bear, Mouse Deer and Indian Pangolin, the zoo houses sixty seven unique species of mammals and as many as eighteen different reptiles. It also features a remarkable reptile park, aquarium and is an ideal destination for tourists who wish to engage in adventurous activities such as lion safaris, boating and aerial ropeway. We spent close to two hours at the zoo and even enjoyed our share of refreshments at the food outlets located within the zoo premises. Soon, we realized it was time for the next tourist spot, Udaygiri and Khandagiri Caves.
Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves
Amongst its many jewels, Bhubaneswar also has the famous ancient monuments – the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. Situated on hills adjacent to each other, the Udayagiri and Khandagiri are essentially two of the beautifully decorated caves that were built around the 2nd century BC. It is widely believed that the caves were built by King Kharavela to provide Jain monks with appropriate residential blocks. While Udayagiri has around eighteen caves, Khandagiri features fifteen caves that depict the art, paintings and culture of the Jain era. After purchasing tickets, we spent the entire day strolling around the caves. The sight and carvings of the intricately designed caves as well as the view of the city from the top of the hill was indeed mesmerizing. We then decided to head back to our resort as we were extremely tired and hungry.
Day 4: Chilika Lake
Chilika Lake was the last destination on our Puri list. We had a train to catch in the evening and hence we decided to spend our last day in Puri by paying a visit to the Chilika Lake. After reaching the spot and before commencing our boat ride at the Lake, we took some hats on rent at a stall located in the vicinity of the lake. Soon we hopped on to our boat and set on a tour to the gorgeous and incredible Chilika Lake. Our first halt was at an island where a local agent showed us some crabs and even extracted pearls after breaking sea shells right in front of our eyes. It was one of a kind experience for us and even the kids in our group enjoyed it thoroughly. Later, we saw dolphins swimming merrily across the lake waters and even enjoyed some bird watching at Chilika.
After an exciting and memorable tour of the lake, we took to the Puri railway station to head back home, taking back with us beautiful memories of our 4 days that we spent in both Bhubaneswar and Puri.
– Puja Bhardwaj