For years, we heard people tell us pathetic stories about Bhubaneswar, how though a place the tourist importance, Bhubaneswar was badly maintained and an unpleasant city to visit. When we told family and friends about our trip to the city, we were asked to be prepared for inconveniences, poor facilities and the like. As we boarded the train to Bhubaneswar, our expectations were rock bottom.
We slept through most part of the 4 hour journey to Bhubaneswar from Palasa. Before that, we ordered for a meal just for the fun of it and it turned out to be a disaster ! It took all our unconditional love for food to finish the half cooked rice and uncooked, bland vegetables ! Heavy rain lashed outside and once the windows were closed, the darkness of the compartment and the memories of that meal forced our eyes shut.
The train route goes very close to the Chilika Lake and though we had no plans of visiting the lake, we hoped to catch a glimpse of it from the train but by the time we woke up from our sleep, we had less than hour to go before we reached Bhubaneswar !
Bhubaneswar – First impressions
It was 4 PM when we reached Bhubaneswar. We took an auto to Ginger Hotel, where we booked our stay. The moment the auto hit the main road leading to Ginger Hotel, we were taken aback to see a plush, modern city with broad, clean roads, disciplined traffic, flyovers, greenery – nothing like what people had warned us about or what we had imagined. We fell in love with Bhubaneswar !
Halfway to our hotel, the clouds burst open and it poured, drenching us even as we sat in the auto. The auto driver told us it was unusual to rain at that time, well, who just set foot in the city?
Ginger Hotels – Simple, economical, no-fuss stay
Ginger Hotels, are basically business, budget hotels for a quick stopover. The rooms have all the state of art facilities but there is no room service, you got to go and fill your own water bottles. The food is simple, the stay is comfortable and economical. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves here and would recommend it to anybody who just wants to the basic comforts while visiting a new city.
Charmed by Bhubaneswar
The rain finally stopped around 6.30 PM and we decided to go for a walk around the Nayapalli area where Ginger Hotel is located. The city was fresh after the rain and we had a pleasant walk in the cool breeze. The more we walked, the more impressed we were with Bhubaneswar, when we saw that the pavements had separate tracks for pedestrians and cyclists, we were flat ! We haven’t come across an Indian city with this idea !
We had dinner at a road side chinese food joint, we wanted a taste of something authentic but couldn’t find anything around. The food was great and we loved the hospitality of the people.
Early next morning, we hired a cab from the hotel and set off to explore Bhubaneswar, Konark and Puri. We first visited the temples in Bhubaneswar, there are so many temples in the city that it has earned it the name “City of temples”. The temples are located in the old part of the city. Old area of most Indian cities, usually referred to as “old city” are chaotic but Bhubaneswar surprised us here too, the roads were clean, people followed traffic rules and there was order. We almost wanted to move to this city !
One notable point was that the city did not have public transport, there were no buses or local trains. Our cab driver told us there were plans to introduce them in the coming years. When we shared with him all the feedback people had given us about Bhubaneswar and how our experience was totally different, he told us that the city had developed and changed for the better in the last 7 years, he told us the current administration was doing a good job. At a time when we only hear stories about how the cities are doing down the dumps and administration lapses, it was a welcome change to hear citizens appreciating their administrative authorities.
In between all this discussion, we arrived at our first destination.