Puri is most recalled for its year round, sun-kissedbeaches, and the 12th century Jagannath Temple, is dubbed one of the Char Dhams in Hindu faith. About 60 kilometers south of Odisha’s capital city, Bhubaneswar, Puri crammed by honeymooners and weekend trippers mostly from eastern India, is a lovely juxtaposition of beaches, lakes, stellar architecture and a vibrant history. It’s colorful bazaars, the shell-based knickknacks they hawk, including some ethnic local fabric, add to Puri’s overall charm. While this little seafront town has its share of beaches and temples, for a more discerning traveler there are quite a few offbeat surprises as well.
First off, make your Puri hotel booking and explore this beach paradise like never before. We help you pick some activities that are lesser-known.
- Konark Beach
A 3 kilometer stroll up the Konark Sun Temple will lead you to this serene beach. It is a great stretch of sand to experience a breathtaking sunset. The sea is always choppy and the few fishing boats lining its shore can immediately transport you back in time. Here you won’t be haunted by the daily hawkers and can enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet. You can club it with a trip to the stunning Sun Temple.
- Dolphin spotting in Chilika
About 55 kilometers from Puri, arrive into the Satpada village on the shores of the Chilika Lake. Here you can hire a small boat for about 4-8 hours to explore the scenery around this water body and spot the Irrawaddy dolphins. Ardent birders have plenty to look forward to on the lake. Further on, your oarsman will take you to a spot where the Chilika meets the Bay of Bengal. Enjoy the blue, green shades of water here. The sea-mouth is home to several seafood restaurants and it is fair to want to drop anchor here.
- Raghurajpur Artist Village
This is one trip the culture vultures shouldn’t miss. About 20 kilometers from Puri town lies the artisan village of Raghurajpur. It is fascinating to see how a little community of 150 homes is so deeply involved in the local crafts and the little things that symbolize Odisha handicraft. Walk about to see artisans in their workshops either busy stone or rock carving, making Pattachitra on silk sarees and paper, carving stone jewelry, among others. Hindu mythology and stories from it continue to be subjects of inspiration for these local artists.
- Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary
For birding enthusiasts this place is a haven. To the south west of Puri, the Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary is home to several indigenous and migratory birds. A morning boat ride on the Chilika lagoon can broaden your chances of spotting white bellied sea eagle, flamingos, heron, egret, spoonbill, seagulls, kingfisher, spotbilled pelicans, and storks of different species. Among wildlife the ones often spotted are blackbucks, hyenas, spotted deer, and golden jackals. You can also embark on a fishing expedition on the Chilika Lake. Don’t miss out the greatly revered Kalijai Temple within the sanctuary. The biodiversity of Chilika will leave you spellbound.
- Handloom shopping on Swargadwar Beach
While this remains one of Puri’s most frequented beaches and also an ideal choice for Puri hotel bookings, there is another side to this beach outside of the rust-colored sunsets and foamy waves. It houses the main market of Puri which should be your hunting ground for traditional handloom, handicraft, silks, shell-works, paintings, stone carvings – everything at bargainable prices. If you have souvenir shopping in mind, Swargadwar Beach should be your calling.
- Day trip to Daya River
On the banks of the Daya River, the battle of Kalinga was fought, and as an aftermath of the war, the river turned a crimson red. Today it is a serene site with patches of vegetation on both sides. After seeing the bodies of soldiers floating in the river and the bloodshed, Emperor Ashoka renounced his kingdom and embraced Buddhism. Hence the name Daya, which means compassion. From the Dhauli Hills, take in views of the serpentine river as you regale yourself with stories on King Ashoka. Daya River is about 56 kilometers from Puri.
- Puri Lighthouse
There isn’t much merit in doing a beach destination if you cannot climb atop one of its lighthouses. Lighthouses are a ubiquitous part of a beach getaway, and Puri is no exception. But what makes this lighthouse trip special is that it is open to public viewing and you can climb to the top of it and enjoy sweeping views of the coastline and an electric blue sea stretching into distance. Besides, it is a great excuse to get away from the madding crowd on the beaches. Located on the Marine Drive road, this is the highest observation deck in Puri. The lighthouse is open for two hours daily, between 4pm and 6 pm and charges a nominal entrance fee. Do carry your zoom lens along when you plan to get to the top.
Make your Puri vacation fun-filled by signing up for one or more of these activities.