The picturer

The Himalaya of Odisha

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I had not seen such a dense vegetation in a long time. Coming from urban Bangalore, it was a sight for sore eyes. My husband and I were visiting a friend who was working for an NGO in a remote village in the Gajapati district of Odisha. We were advised to climb the 8.5 km long route to the top of Mahendragiri mountain. It is a biodiversity hotspot but is also a religious hotspot especially during the Shivratri festival as there are three ancient temples on top. Now, of course, there is some or the other legend associating the temples to Ramayana and Mahabharata. But we had gone there to see the nature. So let’s talk about the weather and the view because those are the safest subjects.

 

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This was the way to the top. We didn’t meet a single soul on the way up except for a flock of hummingbirds who just had to stop to say an awkward ‘hi’. Most parts of the climb was very steep. This was one of the few gentle parts of it.

 

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At one point my head was, literally, in the clouds.

 

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This was the view when we were at the top. The view of the mountain range was blocked by the clouds but the view was still awesome. Not a single soul here either.

 

The vegetation was breathtaking. The curry leaf plant, for which we pay good money in the city, grows wild here. I never could resist the smell of curry leaves. I plucked a leaf, crushed it slightly and inhaled deeply. It smelt fruity and delicious. Its flowers smelt good too, almost like jasmine but subtle.

 

The temples. They look very ancient. But there were no informative signboards by Archaeological Survey of India. Probably the remoteness and the 8.5 km trek has something to do with it.

 

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And of course, the panorama shot.

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