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THE SOUL OF INCREDIBLE INDIA - ODISHA

Le Mark X Incredible India - A trip to Odisha

An enthralling journey that began with lots of enthusiasm and spirit in our hearts as the fact that we have been selected as one of the teams to enroute the mesmerizing state of Odisha ( IN association with Incredible India) to capture it with a different perspective for the people to see what resides in there. There was a lot of fun as the days were rising and were passing by and the date of journey was approaching. The team was given a thorough brief about the complete tour by the Director of our institute with all the necessary instructions that were to be followed during the trip. And finally after all this the day was here, on the night of 11th February we reached the station with all our bags packed and minds rushing with adrenaline we were all ready to leave for this much awaited photo trek of the beautiful city of Odisha. The scheduled 31 hours of journey lasted for 36, thanks to our train for adding to the extra travel hours of joy and also pushing us back on schedule for the first day. We guess this would be a great brief that would definitely want you to know what the whole trip was all about so, this upcoming part of this blog will tell you about the adventures, activities and also the difficulties that we went through in the duration of our incredible stay and adventure in the mesmerizing city of Odisha.

Day 1 / 13th Feb 20’

Odhisa State Tribal Museum, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
”A Delightful Treasure of Tribal Heritage and History in Odhisa.”

The “Museum of Tribal Arts and Artefacts” popularly known as The Odisha Tribal Museum was established back in the year 1953. Odisha has over 60 tribal communities that add significance to this unique museum which is the reason why it is also known as “Museum of Man”.

The single storey museum building that is surrounded by the walkways bordered with a variety of blooming flowers has five huge air-conditioned halls that exhibit paintings, clothing, jewellery, hunting and fishing equipment, weapons of offence and defense, household objects, agriculture implements, and musical instruments of 62 identified tribes of Odisha. The Museum also displays the elements of the anthropological interests and gives a distinct idea about the different stages of evolution of these tribal cultures. Odisha beholds 23% of tribal population of which 16% are primitive tribes of its total population.

The visit to this museum on the very first day proved to be very helpful in respect with the task of knowing the culture and the lifestyle of people right from the past ages till today. This definitely helped us to get the overview of the people’s evolution in the due course of time.

Day 2 / 14th Feb 20’

Nandankanan Zoological Park, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
“A place to spot wildlife in captivity.”

Started a little late but with excitement and curiosity to go for the jungle safari at NANDANKANAN ZOOLOGICAL PARK means ‘Garden of Pleasure’ which is spread over 1080 acre, situated in Bhubaneshwar, Odhisa, India. It was established in the year 1960 and was made open to public in the year 1979. It also became the first zoo in India to join WORLD ASSOCIATION of ZOOS in 2009. The journey to the park was 1 hour long from the hotel. Excitement kept on increasing as we reached near to the place because everyone was keenly interested in spotting amazing wildlife and get the exposure to wildlife photography. But after we meet the zoo guide and had a interaction with him our hearts were turned down to know that the park doesn’t have proper kind of jungle safari. We were promised to get the right exposure to safari but that did not turn out. We entered the place with no excitement now and in complete disappointment. We entered the zoo and started the journey with bird watching. There were 75 bird spices in the zoo. It was really nice to see that we got learn about so many birds, but are actual motive was to click amazing pictures of them which did not happen. The birds were trapped inside the cage and they were also injured. It did not feel like clicking pictures of them but felt like sharing their pain. Some birds were separated from their family kept alone in the cage. The sadness and bondage was seen on their faces. Then we moved on for the Safari where we could spot some mammals. There were 49 species of mammals in the zoo. NANDANKANAN serves the first captive Gharial breeding center of India. The Safari started in the bus that had grill all around, again difficult for everyone to click pictures. The first mammal that we saw was WHITE TIGER who was at a distance and sleepy. The second was a lion couple spotted but again the same thing happened they were sleeping and the net that was there on the bus restricted us to click pictures. The best mammals to spot were the bears. They were so friendly that no one could imagine that animals living in wild can also be so friendly. The zoo guide called on of the bear near the bus so that we can get images, he fed the bear from the window and the bear climbed up the window to get the food. We also spotted deer and peacocks, but no good images were captured. But still somehow we managed to get some pictures, were disappointed for not getting excellent ones. We also spotted giraffe, animal that can is not found in the Indian climatic conditions. Then we moved on to watch a BLACK AND WHITE Tiger which were born out of mixing breeds. Who were still young and kept away from their mother in different area for the tourists to come and watch them. When we reached the tigers were moving restlessly so out of curiosity we asked our zoo guide that why are they showing this kind of behavior? We got to know a sad part of the zoo that, the person who feeds them has gone inside, so we asked why they are sacred of that person, they should be happy, but he said something that was really disturbing that they are hit by him and tortured. This is the reason they are showing this kind of behaviour. It was also noticed by some of our students that almost all the mammals and reptiles were sleeping and not moving at all which means that there might be a possibility that they were drugged. Don’t exactly know what the reality is. After 3 and half hours of spotting animals we came out of the zoo disappointed and sad watching the condition of the animals kept in there.

Udayagiri & Khandgiri Caves, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
“Holding the mystery from the History”

After the Nandankanan Park we moved on for our second destination for the day that was
Udayagiri & Khandgiri Caves. These caves are situated on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagiri, mentioned as Kumari Parvata in the Hathigumpha inscription. They have a number of finely and ornately carved caves built during the 1st century BC. It is believed that most of these caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jaina monks during the reign of King Kharavela. Udayagiri means “Sunrise Hill” and has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves.The caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri, called lena or leṇa in the inscriptions, were dug out mostly during the reign of Kharavela for the abode of Jaina ascetics. The most important of this group is Ranigumpha in Udayagiri which is a double storeyed monastery. The cave structures were found to be very attractive in contect with the aspects and the best part was that one could enjoy the mesmerizing view of the setting sun down the cityscapes from the hill top.

Day 3 / 15th Feb 20’

Sadeibareni Dhokra Craft Village (Dhenkanal District), Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
“An artistic village with a tribal touch”

The Bell Metal work (Dokra art) of Sadeibareni village has put Dhenkanal district in the world map. The village is located 5 km from Saptasajya in Dhenkanal. The handicraft work is continued here since pre-historic time of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro period of Indus Valley Civilization. Nearest Town/City to this village is Dhenkanal. Further in Dhenkanal, Sadeibareni village was the final destination which is located near the Saptasarjya Hills. Sadeibareni village has 60 thatched houses, inhabited by members of the Situla tribe. Saptasarjya Hills is also a popular tourist spot and people from all around the nearby areas come to hills for picnic and hikes. Each house is a repository of dokra art, and every local is an expert in the craft. Mostly the houses were made of mud and hardly any brick work could be spotted.

Barabati Fort, Cuttack, Odisha.

Barabati Fort, built by the Ganga dynasty on the banks of River Mahanadi, is one of the most sought-after tourist attractions of Cuttack. Located near the Baliyatra Ground, this ruined fort stands on the west side of the Millennium City. According to historians, Barabati Fort once housed a nine-storey palace. While the fort is spread over an area of 102 acres, it has a 20-yard wide moat to protect the structure. What stands at the site today are the ruins of the palace on an earthen mound, the hyacinth-filled moat and the fort. The area is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. 

Historians say the entire site came up over a period of years and construction of the fort was
started in 989 AD by King Marakata Keshari while he was building embankments on the shore of river Mahanadi to protect the city from floods. Later in the 14th century, Mukundadev Harichandan, a Chalukyan King, built the nine-storey palace. Excavations carried out by archaeologists have revealed that the fort was rectangular in structure and it was surrounded on all sides by a wall of laterite and sandstone. In the recent years, stone images of deities and
dancing women have been found from spots around the moat. The gateway of the fort is minimally designed with large laterite stones. 

This place was where we tried to play with lights and try something that we only had heard of. We tried the off camera flash to shoot portraits in the daylight and to our surprise we got brilliant images and results when we came across proper camera settings and techniques guided by Rahul Gupte Sir.

Day 4 / 16th Feb 20’

Mukhteshwar Temple, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
“Gem Of Odisha Architecture”

Located in the capital city Bhubaneswar, the Mukteshwar temple is a brilliant structure, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Well-known as the “Gem Of Odisha Architecture”, the Mukteshwar Temple is a regal monument that dates back to the 10th century BC. It is a prime tourist attraction that comes under the Protected Monuments of India.

The Mukteshwar Temple is the finest example of a perfect blend between sculpting and architecture. Several shrines or lingas of Lord Shiva can be found in the temple. Various sculptures of ascetics forming different meditating poses can be found all around the temple.

Coming to the architectural aspect of this temple, it is speculated that the temple was built by Yayati I, the king of Somavamshi Dynasty. The west-facing structure of this temple reflects a change in the initial and later phase of Kalinga style of architecture, which was the main style used in many temples built in Odisha during the time. The torana or the elaborately decorated  arch is the main feature of this temple. It reflects heavy influences from Buddhist architecture. The archway or torana has exquisite carvings of ornaments, beautiful women and other such intricate designs.

Sand Art on Puri Beach, Puri, Odisha
“Living Legend in the art of Sand Sculpturing”

Mr. Sudarsan Pattnaik, an internationally recognized and renowned Indian Sand Artist
portrayed his work on the Puri beach. He was born to a poor family in the Holy Land of Prabhu Shri Jagannath Puri in the year of 1977. His childhood dream was beyond reach in the shape of education, but destiny has reserved something for him by the serene sea under the soft sun shine striving to leave imprints on the sand of time – that’s what the International Sand Artist is all about.

Sudarsan has represented India in 60 international sand sculpture championships and festivals all around the world and won 27 championship prizes for the country. He was among the 15 top sand artists selected from across the world to participate in the 2019 Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2016 & 2017, he has won Gold Medal in Russia and in 2016, he got People’s Choice Prize in Bulgaria. In 2013, he won 1st prize (Gold Medal) at Saint Petersburg in 12th International Sand Sculpture Competition at Russia, Danish Grand Prizes at International Sand Competition Championship, Denmark and won Moscow Museum Prize at Russia.

It was a moment of pleasure and pride to meet him personally and see him working live on one of his projects which sent a valuable message to the people on most viral topic of CORONA virus in the world. We were taught the art of illuminating the frame using creative lighting techniques in low light conditions to get a perfect picture using flash lights and other equipments by Rahul sir.

Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha
“Chaar Dhaam mein ek Dhaam”

The Shree Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Vishnu, in Puri in the state of Odisha on the eastern coast of India. The temple is an important pilgrimage destination which is one of them among the four aka the “Chaar Dhaam”. The present temple was rebuilt from the 10th century onwards, on the site of an earlier temple, and begun by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, first of the Eastern Ganga dynasty.

The Puri temple is famous for its annual Ratha yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three principal deities are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. These gave their name to the English term Juggernaut. Unlike the stone and metal icons found in most Hindu temples, the image of Jagannath is made of wood and is ceremoniously replaced every twelve or nineteen years by an exact replica.

Day 5 / 17th Feb 20’

Chilika Lagoon, Puri, Odisha
“A lagoon worth many things”

Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1,100 km. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest brackish water lagoon in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef.It has been listed as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site.

The lagoon hosts over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Kazakhstan, Central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here. These birds travel great distances; migratory birds probably follow much longer routes than the straight lines, possibly up to 12,000 km, to reach Chilika Lake. In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. According to a survey, 45 percent of the birds are terrestrial in nature, 32 percent are waterfowl, and 23 percent are waders. The lagoon is also home to 14 types of raptors. Around 152 rare and endangered Irrawaddy dolphins have also been reported. Plus, the lagoon supports about 37 species of reptiles and amphibians.

The art of composing and framing a shot while shooting landscapes and wide-angle shots was something that we learned here at Chilika lake. We managed to take pretty good photographs at this location with trial on various shooting angles and modes that we practiced and learned in due course of time. Use of metering modes and white balance to control the colors in an image was shown in practical to us by Rahul Sir.

Day 6 / 18th Feb 20’

Sun Temple, Konark, Puri, Odisha
“A Poetry on stone”

1200 master craftsmen and 12 long years of dedication built a masterpiece that is has gone down in the annals of time. The Konark Sun Temple is one of the most magnificent architectural wonders built during the middle of the 13th century under the patronage of King Narasimha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. Situated at Odisha, Konark is a quaint town on the east coast of Bay of Bengal. The Sun Temple was built and designed as a gigantic chariot of the Sun God, Surya, with twelve pairs of ornamented wheels pulled by seven horses. Some of the wheels are 3 meters wide. Only six of the seven horses still stand today.The temple fell into disuse after an envoy of Jahangir desecrated the temple in the early 17th century.

According to folklore, there was a diamond in the centre of the idol which reflected the sun rays that passed. In 1627, the then Raja of Khurda took the Sun idol from Konark to the Jagannath temple in Puri. The Sun temple belongs to the Kalingan school of Indian temple architecture. The alignment of the Sun Temple is along the East-West direction. The inner sanctum or vimana used to be surmounted by a tower or shikara but it was razed in the 19th century. The audience hall or jagamohana still stands and comprises majority of the ruins.

Day 7 / 19th Feb 20’

Village Raghurajpur, Puri, Odisha
“Village where paintings talk”

So we always save the best for the last. As we were informed well in advance about this fascinating place that resides within the heart of Odisha, there was no chance of missing it at any cost. So, the day started off a bit late with our breakfast and we were set off trail towards Raghurajpur. It was a 45 mins drive taking it through fascinating canopy, cultivated lands, calm and pleasant climate etc.

So about this village, Raghurajpur is no ordinary village. Here art is an integral part of the life of the villagers. Just as we felt at Konark, that poetry has been inscribed on stones, at Raghurajpur, art and worship are inexorably linked. In the village comprising of around 100 families, each house has a chitrakaar, a painter who breathes life into the soulless canvas. Be it the Pattachitra (traditional cloth painting of Odisha), tusser silk paintings, Tado Patra or Tala Pattachitra (painting on palm leaf), colourful masks, toys or other handicrafts, the villagers work on these relentlessly producing masterpieces. The chitrakaars have been practising the art since childhood.

The Pattachitra of Raghurajpur has its origin in the traditional art and craft of Odisha dating back to the 4th century and has been passed on from generation to generation. The Pattachitra finds its expression in many ways – on canvas, as story paintings and on walls. But they are also the paintings that replace the idols of the Gods and are regarded with the same reverence