Trip Code: AITORI
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Orissa is India in her most raw form – wild natural beauty, remarkable temples and flourishing tribal cultures.
An epic adventure through a timeless region of India, this 14-day journey starts in Kolkata, before heading south into the heart of Orissa. Over the course of the trip you’ll take in the full range of unique experiences that Orissa has to offer, including boat rides through mangrove forests and wetlands, day walks, tribal village and market visits and one of India’s greatest temples – the Sun Temple of Konark. The trip finishes in Visakhatapatnam, where you might like to extend your stay to explore some of the lovely beaches in the area.
Your visit will be made richer thanks to the assistance of an accompanying local guide, who will translate and explain what you are seeing.
With several long drives over bumpy country roads, patient travellers with a healthy spirit of adventure will be amply rewarded.
Day 1 Kolkata
On arrival at Kolkata airport, transfer to you hotel in the city.
Day 2 Kolkata
This morning take a walk through the ‘European’ areas of what was once the capital of the British Empire in India.
In the afternoon, visit Kumartulli, known for its internationally renowned artisans who craft beautiful idols from straw and clay.
Day 3 Bhitarkanika
Board the morning train to Bhadrak and transfer to Bhitarkanika Forest rest house – a two and a half hour trip.
In the afternoon, take a guided walk through nearby rural villages. Begin to get a feel for the jungle and the people that depend on it for their survival.
Day 4 Bhitarkanika
Take a morning boat cruise through mangroves and watch migratory birds from a watchtower. Bhitarkanika is a tangled web of mangrove forest bisected by a vast and complex network of estuarine waterways. The park is home to more than 215 species of birds and a diverse range of wildlife.
Afterwards, enjoy a nature trek through the sanctuary with a packed lunch.
Day 5 Puri
Drive to Puri (four hours) through Buddhist ruins at Udaygiri, Ratnagiri and Lalitagiri. It was here that Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism, spreading it as far as Iran and South East Asia. Scramble among ancient stupas, monasteries and relics of a bygone era.
Day 6 Puri
This morning visit Raghurajpur, a heritage painting village, and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Sun Temple at Konark.
The painters of Raghurajpur comprise a long lineage of artists originally specialising in a unique painting style known as ‘patachitra’.
The Sun Temple is a monumental representation of Surya (the Hindu Sun God); conceived as a giant solar chariot, this is one of India’s most sublime monuments.
Day 7 Puri
Puri is one of the holiest cities in India. Take a tour of the old city of Puri by cycle rickshaw. Explore medieval by-lanes, behold the awesome Jagannath Temple, drop into Hindu monasteries and rub shoulders with pilgrims.
The afternoon is at your leisure.
Day 8 Gopalpur
Make an early start to Chilika Lake where you will enjoy a pole boat cruise through the wetlands spotting local and migratory birds.
Continue to Gopalpur (four hours). Spend the afternoon strolling through the fishing village.
Day 9 Muniguda
As the landscape begins to undulate you enter into the heart of tribal territory. En route to Muniguda (seven hours) visit the villages of the Desia Kondh and the local weekly market.
On arrival in Muniguda you will be welcomed by staff at the New Hope Charitable Trust, a local NGO helping to uplift the poor and disadvantaged. A visit here provides you with a unique perspective of the area.
Day 10 Chandoori Sai
Visit the lively Chatikona Market, a weekly highlight for the Dongria Kondh tribe.
Afterwards begin the four-hour drive to Chandoori Sai, calling in to friendly Kondh villages along the way.
Day 11 Chandoori Sai
After an early breakfast, set out on a day excursion (a seven-hour return drive). Stop in at the colourful Onukadelli Market where you’ll meet the ancient Bonda and Gaddava tribe. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the foot of a local waterfall. Walk among Gaddava and Paroja villages.
Day 12 Chandoori Sai
Have a leisurely morning. Later drive to Kunduli ( a one and a half hour drive each way). Kunduli has the largest tribal weekly market of the Paroja, Kondh, Mali and other semi tribal people.
Your indigenous hosts will walk you through Paroja village where beautiful earthen pottery is skilfully produced. You may like to try your hand at the spinning wheel.
Day 13 Visakhapatnam
This morning drive through the Eastern Ghats to Visakhatapatnam (five hours). Visit the hilltop 11th century Simachalam temple, explore the city and, finally, chill out at the beach.
Day 14 Visakhapatnam
Enjoy more time at the beach or fly to one of the gateway cities for departure from India. [Image: Nathaniel Ayer].
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