Wot no internet?

Gandhara Hotel, Puri – Tuesday March 18th 21:00

Just returned from a pizza supper down the road at the Honey Bee (Rough Guide recommendation). Wasn’t half bad and a change from Asian food. Not Naples quality but hit the spot. On the way called in to internet cafe where I found out the hard way on 3 separate PCs that internet was off. Maybe the proprietor was hoping matters would be rectified before I noticed the problem. Yesterday, Holi, was a public holiday and Sunday most places closed early so no new blog illustrations.

Today took bus to the extraordinary Sun temple at Konark. Exceeded expectations despite scaffolding and crowds.

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Vast amount of carving (of all shapes and sizes) with chariot wheels particularly impressive (temple designed as chariot for sun god Surya)

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In many places not as detailed and well preserved as Mukteswar but the sheer scale compensates. Another roasting day – high 30s at least – so sought shade not infrequently. On road to Konark a large area of Balukhand wildlife sanctuary. Dunes, pines, cashew trees, casuarina creating an overall effect not dissimilar to Studland. Spoilt in areas closer to Konark by the seemingly inevitable picnicers’ detritus. May go back tomorrow to see what birds are about.

Return bus conveniently dropped me at hotel. Quick refreshment from honesty fridge by the pool(!) then a walk over to the #1 todo in Puri itself – the Jagganath temple. Still hot. By arrival at temple change of shirt needed but unavailable. Only Hindus allowed inside temple complex but views from from 3F of an old library across the street.

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When discussing the size of donation for this service the attendant produced a ledger with large numbers recorded for previous visitors. A scam or are people just plain generous? RG says a scam. More interesting are the activities of pilgrims, vendors, hustlers, priests, beggars et al in a large area outside the temple entrance.

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A scene you could watch for hours.

Sunday was a further walking tour of the Bhubaneswar temples. Always something new to see. Around Lingaraj and Vaital priests busy at shrines enhanced for the festival. Made for a wonderful atmosphere.

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Monday an early bus to Puri. Ran the gauntlet of colour fun between bus stand and hotel. Not unscathed but could have been a lot worse. After shower, shirt wash a gentle stroll to the surprisingly pleasant beach across the road. No shelter from the sun but beach itself relatively clean. Many people, principally young males, enjoying the sea and washing off the accumulation from the morning’s activities.

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All good fun but happy that the colour phase didn’t last all day.

Leaving Puri Thursday to start making my way to Calcutta – final port of call.

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