Summer is not exactly the right time to visit a beach in India. The white sands are blinding white and hot as the sun itself. The humid breeze does not provide any respite. But there is one definite advantage - the blissful serenity in the absence of the milling crowd.
We intended to start very early from Bhubaneswar, targeting to return before the afternoon heat. The sun rises very early in April - as early as 5 in the morning. When we started it was 6:30 in the morning and quite bright outside. The road from Bhubaneswar to Puri was very good, better than what I expected. Not much traffic , no potholes, very few speed breakers. But we needed to drive carefully as there are lot of villages bordering the roads and many people traveling by two wheelers. Refreshing tender coconut are available at many places along the road. With a couple of stops we covered the 60 kms to Puri in an hour and half.
First visit was to the Puri temple. We had to park the vehicle in the parking lot a good 1km away from the temple and walk on the 'Bada Danda' (the road leading to the temple) till the temple. No cameras and mobile phones are allowed inside the temple. If you have any of those you must deposit them for safe keeping at a counter outside the temple. At 8:30 in the morning the temple was not very crowded. We dodged many attempts by the self proclaimed priests found aplenty to swindle some money out of us under some pretext or other. After visiting the deities we sat a while in 'Koili Baikuntha' garden. Not much of trees left in the garden which was once full with mango trees. Nearby was a museum of hand made idols depicting Hindu mythology and the history of the temple. After that we bought some 'Mahaprasad' and came out of the temple at around 10:30.
It was already quite hot and we quickly wore our shoes to give some relief to our feet. There are hundreds of shops lining the 'Bada Danda' selling small trinkets. We bought some while contemplating whether we should visit the beach in the heat. There was no harm in giving it a try and we started for the beach near the Panthanivas hotel.
The beach was secluded, only a couple of bicycles parked nearby and a few locals looking for some solitude were sitting around. An old man renting out tubes (inflated truck tubes used as a floatation device) was desperately looking out for customers.
The roofless shelters provide only psychological protection from the sun. If you are slim enough, you can probably stand on the shadow of the base of the erstwhile sun shelter, but there is nothing to protect you from the warm and humid breeze. After a while however we got used to it and actually enjoyed the sand and the surf.
There were lots of crabs scurrying around in the sand. They would quickly dig into a burrow the moment they hear footsteps. But if you sit quietly beside the hole they would emerge after some time. Crab eyes are sensitive to movement. So as long as you sit still you can watch them from close by. If you want to catch one, dig the sand with your fingers till you reach the crab. But be careful with the bigger crabs, they may pinch you with their legs.
On the way back we stopped for a short while at Pipili. Pipili lies on the way between Puri and Bhubaneswar and is famous for its decorative applique work. We bought some stuff to be gifted, took some photographs before returning back.
The ride back was smooth, the roads were still not very crowded at 12 in the noon. But still, next time if I visit Puri in the summer, I would make sure to start even earlier and visit the beach first to watch the sunrise before visiting the temple.