PATALI… A hidden trek

Dhana bala hele, Puri
Mana bala hele, Patali
(If you have money power, you would go to Puri; but if you have will power, you would go to Patali!!)

Utkal, in today’s term well known as Odisha. An east Indian state of this beautiful, bountiful, mystical and mythological country.  Any number of adjectives, it never satisfies what this country and its states throws at you. Odisha is no less.. a state that is rich in tradition, culture, minerals, resources and all but largely left unexplored and virgin. I was born in this beautiful state and had spent a significant part of my growing up, but never had stepped out beyond these three cities of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri. It has been that long pending guilt of not having seen much of my own roots that I made my plans to explore. A pull that I could not resist.

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And what better than the western part of this state, Sambalpur. Being oriented towards more of mythology happened to go to a place which is 300 kms from Bhubaneswar called Sonepur or Subarnapur (City made of gold).  In true terms it is a town made of gold, when one goes there during harvest season.. a town that is located on the banks of Tel & Mahanadi river.

My place of interest was some 35 kms off from Sonepur called Patali. It is also known as “Patali Srikethra”. The reason for being so called is that Lord Jagannatha‘s idol was kept in hiding for 144 years. Kala Pahada the Islam converted general was convinced that idol worship was not right and in anger he was behind destroying all Idols in the temples of Odisha (Kalinga then).

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                      Village path to Trikuta hills
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  Roads as we reached the place

That day we had started late around 10 am for the Trikuta Hills where the idol was kept in hiding. We did not have much of idea with regard to the demographics or the reach to the place and to top it up my GPS kept saying that we have arrived but could not figure out where. Finally came my favourite “Human GPS” it works best in these place. At last after having asked people we reached at the foot hills of Trikuta hills. The route is quite scenic with forest and hilly terrain and was quite surprised that the road leading to the foothills was well laid. The government seems to have done well for the access. I was little quick to jump to that conclusion as i reached the base. Our little car came up to a challenge to drive up a rocky bed. After driving having driven for 300 mts, decided it was better to rest the car and put the two legs to better usage.

At the foothill car path
      At the foothill car path

To begin with the walk was fun and was more excited that we were on trekking trip. Well it was not long before I could sense that this is going to be a real long uphill task. To add to the woes of my family members deciding not to move ahead, there were no signs to
say that you are on the right track except for the single pathway. My son and I decided to hike it and we went on. The sun was relentless and determined to test us out. Though the trees provided the shade but it was testing times especially for someone who does not exercise much 🙂

              Up to the summit

After 45 mins of putting my willpower to test, father and son managed to reach onto the hill top where the lord’s idol were kept for prayers and rituals. Tiered almost yelled out asking if there is anyone. Realised how desperate humans can get to hear another human being. It does not matter how strange the other person could be. There was an old lady who literally greeted us and said to come under the thatched structure where “the pandit” was doing his prayers. It was a wonderful feeling. I was still searching for the cave and started my discussion just to be told that it is a small hike further up the hill and the old man will take you there. That is when I met up with Mr Samant, the old man (Husband of the old lady). He did not look so old though.

Rocky path to the cave
Rocky path to the cave

He then took us further up. The trek up for on a rocky bed with grass covering and not much of there. 12 pm was good challenge to move up. He took us on a real bed rock path of 400 mts further up where he asked us to rem
ove our footwear. We both started jumping the moment the naked feet came in touch with the hot rock. That is when he said, babu it is not so hot and we have almost reached. “Almost”.. oh boy!! that word
scared me.. Well let’s do it, I could only say.

After reaching the top of the hill where you could see the Jagannath flag, which stated that we have reached. Then our lovely old guide then took us down the hill on the other side. Oh man, that was a rock climb down and i was remembered of the mountain goats and their walk. It really pushed me to explore this part too. As we meandered through the think rock path, we reached a small rock base and then there was the cave. As we faced the small cave path we had our backs to the cliff fall. 5-6 steps backward and one could make the way to heaves :)…

With Samanth Nana with cave behind us

We sat there for 20 mins and i was trying to absorb the rich energy and free air around. Then started the ascend, Well i was literally on my four to ensure that I reach to safety. Our guide kept me that it is easy and nothing will happen. (A motivation and experience that most leaders do forget to share with their team members). Fin22167289110_102446a328_oally we reached to the top and then descended to the lord’s place. While being there, how come one to miss the simple prasad of Rice, dal and lentils. It was pure bliss. The water that I had there was nectar. No packaged water could have tasted sweet and chill.
After that, we started our way down. I was in a pleading state by then, “Oh my legs, please let me carry myself down quickly”.

What ever pain, but the journey to the place has been enthralling and an everlasting etch in my memory lane… The two lines still keeps ringing in my mind… “Mana bala hele PATALI!!!”

9 thoughts on “PATALI… A hidden trek

  1. It seems as if I was also travelling.Wonderful exciting journey of father n son though little bit painful. Hats off to rishu who had the courage to go n see .


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