Te first thing that comes to our mind when we think of Odisha is Puri – famous for Lord Jagannath, and the beach along the Bay of Bengal – which draw countless of tourists from across the country every day. Clear blue sea swarming with heavy tides backed by dazzling silvery sands has also become a sacred venue for pilgrims who take a dip in those tides after paying homage to Lord Jagannath. But there are many other beaches yet to be explored by the tourists. If you are planning a trip to Odisha, don’t forget to miss these beaches …
Chandrabhaga, named after Chandrabhaga river which once flowed through the confines of the Sun Temple of Konark towards the Bay of Bengal, is also called the Konark beach. It is known for its divine tranquility. Apart from its high tides and azure waters, which according to legends has medicinal qualities, Chandrabhaga is all the more exciting because you can witness a river meeting the sea, though the water level of the river has subsided over the years. A boat ride on the river Chandrabhaga is an added advantage for tourists who wish to enjoy the sight seeing, the marvellous Sun Temple and the sea itself from a distance. It is comparatively clean and less crowded than the Puri beach and offers activities like sun bathing, surfing, swimming, etc.
Most importantly, you can savour your taste buds and enjoy some authentic Odia sweets such as Chena jhili (a sweet dish prepared in fried cheese and sugar syrup), Chenapodo (made of well-kneaded homemade cottage cheese or chhena, sugar, cashew nuts and raisins, which is baked for several hours until it browns) and malpua-rabidi, a few metres away from the beach, in the nearby dhabas and restaurants. And don’t miss the coconut waters abundantly found near the beach. Except in January-February(especially in magha saptami, a Hindu festival), when people come to take a holy dip in the confluence of Chandrabhaga river and the Bay of Bengal to offer prayers to Sun God, this beach is usually quieter and calmer than other beaches. Various festivals such as Konark beach festival that attracts artists from various parts of Odisha to showcase the art and culture of the state such as Odishi, Gotipua nacha and sand art and sculpture festivals – from time to time- make this beach even more interesting.
It is one of those rare beaches in the world, where the sea disappears suddenly! Yes, you read it right. Chandipur beach in Balasore district of Odisha is unique – the sea recedes massively (approximately five kilometres) during low tides and comes back with equal vengeance during high tides. Watching the sea vanish in front of your eyes is not only enthralling but also allows you to walk approximately five km on undulating sand into the sea, literally.
So, don’t get scared if you find a horseshoe crab or a red crab, tortoise, small star fish or any other sea creature walk along with you during your stroll into the sea. Well, this is not a monthly or yearly affair, it is a daily phenomenon. According to localites, this hide and seek of the tides occur at least twice a day, depending on the timings of the moon. For all you sea food lovers, Chandipur offers some delicious, mouth-watering fried tiger prawns and varieties of other fishes sold in plenty in nearby places. The wholesale fish market- hoarded with heaps of shrimps, pomprets and prawns, located few metres away from the beach is a huge attraction for local tourists. Besides, visiting Chandipur will also take you closer to witness the site of India’s defence prowess- many missiles including nuclear-capable Akash, Agni, Saurya among others have been launched from Indian Army’s Integrated Test Range (ITR) located at Chandipur-on-sea. If you have time and interest in trekking, you can also visit Panchlingeswar, a hill top, 45km away from Chandipur. Located on a hillock in Nilgiri, known for its natural beauty, Panchlingeswar, as the name suggests, is also popular for five lingams over which runs a perennial stream. Best time to visit Chandipur is winter- between November and March.
Located on the confluence of River Mahanadi and Bay of Bengal, Paradip is an ideal destination for nature lovers who wish to go beyond the regular activities associated with the beaches. Surrounded by mangrove forests and big stones along the beach, it offers you a magnificent glimpse of the sunrise and sunset while enjoying a boat safari along those mangrove forests. A visit to the magnificent light house and the Paradip port, one of the oldest ports in the country is a pleasant change from other beaches in the country. Well, if you are lucky, you can not only watch a sailing ship but also take your family to show ships docked in the port! Animal lovers can make their visit all the more exciting by visiting the Gahirmatha beach, few kilometres away from Paradip. Home to a rare species of white crocodiles, the beach is one of the most important breeding beaches in the world. Thousands of Olive ridley sea turtles migrate to Gahirmatha every year from the Pacific Ocean, during the breeding season in November for mating and nesting. Best time to visit this place during October-February, when you can see these turtles in droves. And that’s not all. Gahirmatha beach has rare white crocodiles. It is also a park for deer and migratory birds. A boat ride is the best possible way to reach the beach. Enjoy your stay at the solar-powered camps managed by the forest department as a day is not enough for experiencing the serenity of Gahirmatha beach.
Satapada Beach: Named after Satapada(seven villages), Satapada beach is situated around 120km away from Puri. The beach is located at the meeting point of the Bay of Bengal and the Chilika Lake, the largest brakish water lake in Asia. Chilka dolphins are the major attractions of this beach. Befriend the dolphins while enjoying the migratory birds at the same time. But then, you have to arrive early in the morning to watch the dolphins.
Balaramgadi Beach: A stone- throw away from Chandipur, two-three kilometres to be precise, Balaramgadi beach is a lonely beach, yet to be unexplored by the tourists. Yet to get a distinction of a tourist spot, this beach offers solace to travellers, who want to spend quiet time away from their hectic schedule. The beach is extremely clean and the water is safe for swimming. If you are interested in fishing, don’t forget to carry your fishing rods as Balaramgadi beach offers a lot of fishing opportunities.
Baliharachandi Beach: Situated about 27 kilometres away from Puri, Baliharachandi beach with its meandering sand dunes are worth experiencing. Apart from surfing and enjoying the high tides, take some time off and pay a visit to the nearby famous Harachandi temple, the abode of goddess Durga.