Heading to the City of Temples #28States28Plates
After a good night’s sleep at the incredible Presidential Suite and the Lemon Tree Premier hotel in Kolkata, we were all charged up for today’s drive from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar. The 450-odd kilometre drive was to take us just under 10 hours, but dense traffic while heading out of the city, a jam on the highway and torrential rains kept us from staying true to that time.
We headed out of Kolkata early and as we left behind the city traffic, we headed onto NH16 which carries on all the way to Bhubaneswar. The highway itself is fairly nice, switching between four and six lanes, though there are some potholes. NH16 also has quite a few diversions due to a bridge being constructed, which does break up the momentum and there are some really sharp speed breakers lurking, so we really had to keep our eyes peeled. We stopped for a late lunch at a roadside dhaba where we tried a local fish curry, which was quite tasty.
But pretty much as soon as we left our lunch stop, near the town of Piripur, a brokedown truck had caused a massive traffic jam but the police had done a good job of clearing it. And if all of this wasn’t enough to push our ETA past our afternoon siesta, the heavens opened. And opened how. It was pouring rain to a point where visibility was next to nil and poor drainage on the highway meant almost dangerously deep puddles of water. We took a pill of caution, slowed down and steadily carried on till the rain subsided.
But by the time the rain subsided, we’d almost reached the city of Bhubaneswar and it was a pleasant surprise. Being a planned city, the roads are well laid out and the traffic is well mannered, more so than Kolkata actually. For dinner, we went to Odisha Hotel — a small restaurant known for its authentic dishes from around Odisha. We tried out the Murgh Khasi and the Besar Aloo Rohu. The former is a mutton curry that is actually thick, mildly flavoured and not spicy and tastes pairs well with some hot tandoori rotis. The Besar Aloo Rohu is a local way to prepare fish, with lots of mustard and an overall very tangy flavour. We topped it all off with more than a few helpings of Kheeri — a rice-based sweet dish similar to Kheer found in other parts of India. Tomorrow, we head further south to Visakhapatnam!