The car turned the short bend, climbed the broken speed bump and the last five kilometres were coming in agonizingly slow, as huts, people, houses, and trees came in front as the road was swaying left to right and back. We were impatient to see the sea. The air was salty, the rows of coconut trees were almost touching a drunken sixty degrees with seven gale-force wind hitting them.
The leaves and the greenery were being flattened by the wind which continuously whistled past the half-open glass of the car window.
We cannot go wrong in our assumption that sea is near..it has to be; too many familiar things telling us, that the road from Cuttack to Puri has almost ended..any moment the dark straight line should be visible and then the road went up beside few shelters and almost touched the horizon washed with fluffy white clouds. We moved on and with a gasp, we smile, there she was…that unmistakable dark line which looked like miles into the sky keeping well within its seam the deep, tempting blue-green water of the sea.
How beautiful it looked. We drove along the beach road and parked on the left in an opening to see the magnificent view.
The beach of Puri is famous for its relentless breakers, big and fierce that keep coming on the shore owing to a steep continental shelf. The sand is coarser and with its big grains, get quite heavy on bathers when you get wet and the sand sticks to you.
We were tired after driving 535 kilometres from Calcutta but the salt charged wind that almost lifts you off your feet and the sun burning down beckoned us to touch the sea.
We stopped for a while and headed for our lodge which was to our advantage, was a mere 10 mins walk away, nestled in the rows of hotels that dotted the shoreline at about 2 kilometres from the throbbing sea.
I think it is advisable that a visitor is aware which part of the year, this coastal town is visited. We went in October, and the heat from the sun almost bakes you like an oven. Adding to that is the heated sand which is challenging when you plug through it to touch the sea. The sea remains far cooler than the environment around and somehow with the seawater washing you all over, the heat gets going.
November to February is when you should aim to visit these beaches if you want to relish all the elements that are in play.
The beach road of Puri runs parallel to the seashore and remains very busy. We tried to take a dip at different times of the day – loved the sea and bathed in its fuming water in the early morning before the sun turns the beach into a hot platter.
Visitors, business seekers, shell collectors, fast food chains, innumerable small stalls, selling everything under the sun to attract customers can be seen. They offer on sale mainly shell items from a wall hanging, a humongous variety of statues made of stone, wood, marble, and shell also attract buyers. We came across a great variety of conks around…small, big, slender, thorny which the visitors try to blow and only when successful try to buy. Typical shopping time is right after a short siesta after lunch when the sun has lost its rage. Late afternoon the beach bursts with people who bargain as much as they can before closing the deal.As the day deepened, so did the sun’s fury. Braving the scorching and sweltering heat, we made a beeline for the sea.
The sea rolled us over as each breaker slammed us and hardly gave them time to recover when another series of waves made us fight for air and all that was there were layers of sand. Loved the water power which threw us like a rag-doll. Even then we kept ongoing. We got into a trance perhaps and eagerly soaked ourselves.
As we looked at the green and deep sea, the water changed its pattern from still to uneven and then fumed as it came nearer to the shore and smothered our full length and we cried with utter joy and screamed as the fast undercurrent of the receding water removed the sand beneath and it felt like being drawn into the sea.
We scrambled for a hold in the shifting sand.
Burned to the skin, bare feet turning red, we trudged across the sand, reached our car which provided a temporary refuge from the heat, acting as a shade gave the welcoming coolness. All of us, gulped down bottles of water to quench our thirst. We change swimming gears and got dressed for city life, dirtying the car in the process and head back to our lodge. The area where we checked was Hotel Deepak, quite good, located in “Charkratirtha‘ which is comparatively less crowded and is about 5-6 kilometres from the main Puri beach.Puri beach itself has huge cash of hotels and eating joints which sell cuisines of all kinds – Chinese, Indian Afghani like kebabs, veg and non-veg rolls and few of them provide fried sea fishes, like Prawns, Betki, Pomfret, Papda, and Parshe.
Each dish was very tasty, especially when we garnished it with lemon, capsicum and threw in slices of coriander; attracted both young and old to savor the unique mix.
Longing to stretch our legs, we drive back to the hotel and end the day with a lovely sea fish dinner. Within minutes, we remembered the sound of the rhythmic beat of the waves which acted as a lullaby and we passed into oblivion.