Monsoon in Orissa

We have arrived in Odisha (Orissa) somewhat further South and a lot more monsoon-engulfed than we had originally intended our trip to be but we can only make the best of the opportunities presented. Technically, I suppose this could be described as option four since we had already had two attempts to get to Nepal and one to Sikkim when I was called upon to use my limited knowledge of Indian geography and climate to come up with another alternative at a moment’s notice. The conversation actually went something like this:

“It’s not typhoon season in Orissa at the moment is it?”

“No, I don’t think so”.

“Ok, let’s give it a try!”

I suspect that this blog will have to be a vehicle for brief notes and updates as the internet connections are weak or non-existent and the prevailing hot damp weather conditions are rapidly turning my brain to mush.  Actually it is not raining all the time; in fact it is cooler and much more comfortable when it does rain, meanwhile everything in your suitcase is damp and clammy, the flying insects are the size of bats and the creepy-crawlies the size of your fist. We found a frog just outside our bathroom this morning. Here is an extract from a notice on our the balcony of our latest hotel:

Dear Esteemed Guests !!!

This Ethnic Village Resort is located in a nature-protected area. Therefore, at times some forest animals like ape, monkey, spotted deer etc. cross through our boundary. While wishing you a comfortable stay with us, the management requests you not keep your kitchen, private room & balcony doors / windows open specially when unattended by you or any food stuff displayed in the balcony verandah. Also we sincerely request our clients not to feed or doodle with these animals, as they are not habituated to habitation & environment.

Management

Our driver does not speak any English and there are no English-speaking (that you would notice) local guides here at this time of year so working out what we have seen / are seeing / are going to see is a bit problematic. Explanatory leaflets (if you are lucky enough to find one) rot away to the consistency of an accidentally washed tissue in your pocket and I am seriously regretting having brought along a leather purse. My man is being remarkably sanguine considering this was pretty much all my idea to start with. The only speck of irritation he has displayed so far has been at the hundred and tenth request to put his arm around someone’s shoulder for yet another selfie. Other foreigners are definitely staying away for the season, not that there appear to be many at the best of times. Our last hotel was being built around us as we slept*.

Nonetheless, this is a culture vulture’s paradise and some of the sights promise to be extremely memorable. That said, I’d prefer to be able to enjoy them at the time as much as I will be able to enjoy looking back on them later. If relaxing into the situation and giving up worrying about the website helps me to do that then so be it. It’s not as if I’ve been particularly conscientious over the past few months anyway.

In the three days we have been here so far we have seen:

Bubaneswar (State Capital): Rajarani Temple 11th cent., Japanese Peace Pagoda 1965, Asoka rock edict at Dhauli 3rd cent BC, Hindu & Jain caves (Udayagiri and Khandagiri) 1st – 8th cent.

Cuttack (former state capital): Barabhati Fort 14th cent, Apsupa Lake, Chandi (monkey) temple

Ratnagiri: Buddhist complexes at Ratnagiri, Udayagiri & Lalitgiri 4th – 11th cent.

And we only managed it by stopping for an afternoon rest whenever possible. If all else fails then ten minutes spent in the back of the car with the AC on full blast is a lifesaver. I’m sure that the experiences and stories will replenish our portfolio of travellers’ tales for some time to come.

 * Grahame says I should point out that they started building it in 2002

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