Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Exploring Odisha - Day five: Dhabaleshwar, Saptasajya, Mahimagadi and Kapilash

Scott Cameron once said "Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world".

Day five was the last leg in my Odisha trip, thus one of the interesting journeys came to an end. Travelling is always interesting; we will come to know more about people and their culture. Saint Augustine rightly said "The world is a book; those who do not travel read only one page". The problem is, the book is very big and each page is so lengthy that we have to struggle very much to reach the next page.

For the last four days I was living as an Oriyan, of course with little knowledge about the language. Language is indeed a barrier; it will reduce our capacity for communication with the people who don’t understand our language or whose language we don’t understand. When you are in some place and want to talk to a commoner, to ask some thing, or to know about his opinion or experience about something it is often difficult to find a mutually understandable language.

But there is an opposite side too - there is always a common universal language for expressions, emotions and feelings. These entities have same pronunciation in every language.

Located on an island in mighty Mahanadi, Dhabaleshwar Shiva temple can be accessed through boat or suspension bridge. We reached the place on a late friday morning and crossed the bridge on foot. Here we can go inside the sanctum sanctorum itself; after removing the shoes we went inside and after a flight of steps reached the idol. As one priest was doing some pooja for another devotee; we took a round around the idol, prayed for some time then came out. The walls of this temple were plain but the structure was similar to other Odisha temples. One the way beck, I looked towards the far end of Mahanadi – She too is a traveller, isn’t it? After saying good bye to Mahanadi we moved towards our next destination - Saptasajya.

Saptasajya – mythologically linked to Pandavas of Mahabharata - is located close to Dhenkanal district of Odisha. We had to travel through a not so dense forest to reach there. Vehicle took us close to the temple, and then on foot we reached the temple. Steps leading to the temple were not so high, in between considerable flat spaces were also there. A small stream was flowing on one side of the steps close to them. After spending some time in this atmosphere we again hit the roads.

Hinduism is one of the religions where it is difficult to find out how many branches it has. Before reaching Mahimagadi I never heared about this branch of the religion. What make Mahima sect different from other sects is its strict adherence to monotheism and opposition to idol worship. Unfortunately by the time we reached there, both ‘Shunya’ and ‘Fire’ temple were closed, only Gadi temple was open. After spending some time in the temple complex and visitng the mammoth bell in front of the Fire Temple, we moved to the nearby hotel for lunch. From Mahimagadi stright to Kapilash.

From a distance Kapilash group of mountains were visible, covered by white clouds even in the afternoon it looked like another world. We reached the foot of the hills by three 'o' clock. From here the road to Kapilash Shiva temple starts; with a good number of hairpins and picturesque scenes outside it was an interesting journey. One by one we covered all the hairpins - and reached the temple.

Slowly we entered the Shiva temple painted in White. After praying there for some time we went to the other side of the temple. A good number of steps in front of the temple led us to another temple on the top. Steps are always tempting; if there was a way, then there is no reason to leave it. And we started climbing it and reached another temple. Steps are not ending, from here another group of steps were stretched towards the forest. Unfortunately it was raining again.

We went further, cemented steps gave their way to the muddy forest paths. We traversed the path in the heavy rain, fully drenched in water we finally reached Sita's cave(Sita entudisala) - according to mythology this is the place where Sita Devi gave birth to Lava and Kusha. We spent some time here imagining about the last part of epic Ramayana. Rain was not in mood to slow down, in fact it was gaining more momentum, which left us in a confused state - to go to Valmiki caves or back. Finally we decided on the forward option and within some minutes reached Valmiki caves - It is believed that Valmiki's ashram was located in this area.

Now we were in a more confused state, whether to go forward to Devsabha in these heavy rains or to go back. Finally we decided to move on, after that there was no confusion in my mind. We should not miss Devsabha after coming so close to it, who knows when I can come back to Orissa again? Till Valmiki caves arrowmarks were there to guide the visitors from the caves we had to follow the forest path. Finally we reached on the top of the hill and after a turn saw  Devsabha.

At this height atmosphere was pure, surrounding hills looked like small kids. Withstanding the heavy rain we finally reached Devsabha - according to the belief Devasabha is conducted here every night. It’s a flat surface, with a Krishna idol on one side and other idols arranged in an open areas as if all the idols are participating in a meeting. By this time rain was almost over. If it was not close to twilight we might have spent some more time there - Top of Kapilash, fully drenched in rainwater, leaves of the trees gleefully reflecting the rays of a departing sun, winds were moving around the top branches of tress and a small cloud was on the other end!!! Sound of the water droplets hitting the ground added another tone to nature’s music.

Finally something about the state. Odisha is indeed blessed both by nature and by time. Rich in Minerals, vast areas of unpopulated and fertile land, close to South East Asian countries, a possible sea outlet for land locked northern neighbour, Orissa has all the options in hand. It has the potential to become the Australia of India if the state uses its natural resources properly along with developing human capital.

I am really thankful to Milon and his family for the love and attention they gave to me; otherwise it would not have been possible for me to cover these much areas of eastern Odisha in such a short span of time. For me it was like a home away from home.

Mark Proust once said "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." The question is whether we are able to get it or not.

Shubha Vidaya Odisha


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