June 29, 2008

Khandagiri trip - 1

A few days ago, Amanda suggested a cycling trip to Khandagiri. If Satchita, Amanda and I had three bicycles to make this trip together, it would have rocked. Anyway, I'm happy I did this...Market Building was getting a little monotonous.

"Idyllic" is how one could describe the weather. By the time we were past Pokhariput, we decided to sing...and we found Ramani ratana most appropriate. But I only kept it up till Gandamunda Chhak; it is difficult to hold a tune and bicycle.

Amanda attracted quite a bit of attention, especially in Jagamara. The fact that she was on a gents cycle didn't help much. Some people passed audible comments, my favourite being - Look at the whitey and negro on bicycles! We were at Khandagiri Chhak in 25 minutes. We crossed the national highway and cycled on. A comical wrong turn brought us to the western boundary of the Khandagiri complex, where I amiably cycled down a slope for 1 km...don't even ask what it was like on the way back.

Amanda had to pay a hefty entrance fee, but she did not give in without a struggle...she insisted she was Oriya. The place wasn't too dirty...I guess that is because it isn't an extremely popular destination...Konark and Puri seem to overshadow practically everything here.

The cave in the picture is Ranigumpha in the Udayagiri complex. It was raining heavily when we finally made it to Hathigumpha. We rested for a while, then outfitted ourselves suitably. Amanda photographed my bangs and I tucked in my kurta the way my sister used to do ghagra-cholis as a kid.

Love was evidently in the air - there were couples in cute poses all over...while some went the whole hog and "anka palanke shayan" ed their spouses, others looked like endorsements for Fevicol.

Anyway, monsoon fury prevented us from venturing any further. We also spent time standing on a rock and locating Lingaraj Temple and Dhauli from a distance. We walked down and reached the entrance of Khandagiri. After some deliberation, we decided to go in. When we reached the first level, near Tentuligumpha, there was an exodus of people from the temple above. We reached the temple eventually and went around, trying to read descriptions in Oriya. There was an awkward moment when I unbuttoned my raincoat and the men huddled at the entrance of the temple stared at my bohemian kurta tuck.

To be continued...

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