Travel: Dhenkanal – What Makes this Place Special?
When sunrays caress the face of Paniohala hills, the chiming of temple bells fill the air,monkeys chatter away busily on treetops and the fragrance of ripened plums from the plum groves float into your room through the window, you know you have woken up in the remote hamlet of Dhenkanal.
On the eastern coast of Odisha, about 1600 km from the country’s capital, Dhenkanal is a pretty hill station where the locals love to cool their heels off in the torrid summer months.
Dhenkanal is home to a variety of temples dedicated to Hindu deities with Lord Shiva reigning supreme in worship rituals. At 2239 feet from sea-level, situated at the north east corner of Dhenkanal, the Kapilash temple with its Kalinga style of architecture leaves you spellbound. Believed to be the second ‘Kailash’, you need to climb a fleet of 1352 stairs to get to the temple. During monsoon, the place is truly a visual treat as the surrounding jungles turn a shade of sapling green with peacocks dancing in them with gay abandon.
About 11 km from Dhenkanal, Saptasajya, is one of the prominent mythological destinations in a city known as the ‘capital’ of temples. Mythology has it that the Pandavas of the Mahabharata during their 12-year exile spent days in disguise exploring the hills of Saptasajya. As a derivative of ‘Saptasajya’, this land of seven hills was also shelter to Sri Ram during his period of exile or ‘vanavasa.’
Sanctuaries and parks
If you wish to be welcomed by the cooing of birds, ticking of woodpeckers, silent yawns of alligators, grunts of elephants and occasional roars of tigers, then Satkosia Gorge is the place to be in.
A boat ride in the turbulent Mahanadi River with a cluster of ghariyals on the periphery will bring about a sense of adventure to your otherwise quiet holiday in Dhenkanal.
Patta chitra, stone carving, puppets and masks, silver filigree, metal work and sand art are some of the signature art forms that mark Odiya’s art scene.
Pipli village and Raghurajpur, both of which are a few hours drive from Dhenkanal, are culturally steeped and a great place to pick up knickknacks for home decoration. Skilled artisans make paintings engraved with images of Lord Krishna in fine folk texture in shades of red ochre, lamp black, indigo, yellow and white. Life-size lampshades, embroidered garments, handbags, wall hangings, canopies constitute the elaborate flee market of Pipli village.
Fairs and festivals
When it’s the festive time of the year, people get together to dance, sing and make merry. The Gaja Laxmi Puja is one of the longest-running festivals of cultural Odisha that goes on for good 11 days.
The ‘Pallishree Mela’ is the highpoint of the puja. The wide expanse of the fair that houses innumerable stalls ranging from food, joy rides and handiwork leave you wanting more. Add to it the decorative lights that come on at night turning Dhenkanal into an illuminated wonderland.
Bali Jatra: Commemorating Orissa trade and maritime history, the magnitude of this weeklong held annual fair is something to experience. Bali Jatra gives a platform to traders, businessmen and marketers to exchange in financial enterprise for the welfare of the rural populace. People from across the country participate in this event making it a memorable recreational affair. It is believed that nearly 1,000 stalls are dedicated only to golgappas, locally called ‘gupchup’, apart from other food counters. Celebrated in December, Bali Jatra is a befitting culmination to the agricultural year with a promise of a favourable harvest to the farmers in the following years.
Weather: The overall climate is hot, with humidity reaching a peak in April and May. Winters are short and hit the town between December and early January. Sporadic breakout of monsoon keeps the weather breezy and comfortably cool through the year.
- Typical sweetmeats include Chhenapoda, Chhenajhilli, Rasabali, Rasagola (all made from milk) and Pitha(cakes)
- Mahaprasad’, the food of the Gods cooked by unique steaming process is available in the Datatreya Sai Ashram premises & Sri Balram Temple at Dhenkanal.
- Dhenkanal is very famous for its “BARA” which is a traditional tiffin prepared from blackgram & Rice.
If you take to exploring new getaways and appreciate absolute seclusion amid pristine scenery, Dhenkanal could be your calling.
How to reach there from Chennai
The nearest airport for approaching the places of interest in the district of Dhenkanal is at Bhubaneswar (99 km.) which is connected with Bew Deklgum Culcutta, Chennai, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Nagpur by boeing flights.
Dhenkanal Railway Station on Cuttack Sambalpur S.E.Railway line.
99 km. from Bhubaneswar on N.H. No. 42 Regular bus services connect Dhenkanal with Bhubaneswar, Cuttack Puri, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Raipur, etc.
Dhenkanal has every category of accommodation facilities ranging from hotel standard to Budget Hotels and Lodges providing clean and comfortable accommodation at reasonable price. Deptt. of Toursim Dhenkanal operates tourism bungalows known as Panthasala at Kapilash, Panthika at Banarpal & Tourist Reception Centre at Dhenkanal Town.