Kamakhya Das writes in about his experience in Koraput, Orissa along with the Travel Another India team. Read on and get tantalized about this slice of 'another' India...
I am sure most of you who are reading this piece would be hearing about Koraput for the first time. Having grown up in this hilly town and its beautiful greens, there’s something magnetic which brings me back to Koraput again and again. Everytime I visit Koraput it looks more beautiful and fresh. Having lived the fast paced life of Mumbai for almost a decade now, no one can feel the contrast more than me. The pace of life is distinctly different and sometimes it feels like two different worlds.
I visited Koraput early June this year and I deliberately did it like a tourist rather than someone who is very much a part of it. I will try to remain as unbiased in sharing my experience as I can be, however if you wish to validate what I am saying… you need to plan a trip.. and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with what you will see and experience.
As you travel from Vishakhapatnam to Koraput, you can feel a distinct change in temperature. Once you hit Odisha border on your way from Vishakhapatnam to Koraput, you can see Deomali ranges of mountains along your way with beautiful greenery and landscape. The whole approach of looking at Koraput changed this time as I was travelling with Gouthami from Travel Another India, who with her loads of experience as a traveler made me look at things which I have been missing all these years.
Deomali ranges of mountains on my way from Vishakhapatnam to Koraput.
After resting overnight, I along with my brother, sister-in-law and Mr Sujay Pradhan who is a coffee estate owner and a close associate took Gouthami on a trail of a beautiful pine forest just two kilometers from Koraput. Apart from the serene environment with chirruping birds, the peace and tranquility was just overpowering, a real privilege when compared with the mad rush at Mumbai which is a part of my daily routine.
On a morning trail at the pine forest in Koraput.
A beautiful silver eucalyptus tree at with pine trees in the background at the pine forest in Koraput.
When early June is associated with mercury at its peak for most of India and rest of Odisha, the weather at Koraput as usual was a pleasure for me and a pleasant surprise for Gouthami. Without fail, it rained during the afternoon almost all the days we were in Koraput and the unexpected cool just kept all of us on to explore or re-explore as much of Koraput as we could.
It was then time for all of us as hosts to give Gouthami a flair and feel of Tribal Koraput, the real Koraput of which all of us are proud to be associated with. After a thirty minutes drive we reached the tribal village of Kindiriguda around 25 kms away from Koraput. Gouthami was welcomed by the villagers with the tribal dance “Dhemsa”. All of us spent sometime in the village, went to the coffee forest developed by the villagers, had a brief mango eating session and then started on our way to the coffee estate of Mr Pradhan.
Kindriguda tribals welcoming all of us with traditional tribal dance “Dhemsa”
It was then time for all of us to visit Mr Pradhan’s coffee estate and fruit orchard. It was a virtual discovery for all of us seeing the lush green coffee estate with spices grown between coffee plants. After all how often do we get an opportunity to see coffee, black pepper and other spices in their natural state on a plant. We also enjoyed our session of plucking and eating lychee, one of the sweetest lychees I have ever had.
A coffee estate in Koraput under the afternoon rain.
Lychee in the orchard of Mr Pradhan bringing out some smiles
Following a hectic day at a tribal village and Mr Pradhan’s coffee estate we all retired back to Koraput. The following day we went on a journey along the Kolab reservoir with some extraordinary and unforgettable scenery along the way. With the Odisha Government allowing motor boats to take tourists on this trail, this is one journey which will be there in my memory for long and I must say that this lake along with beautiful deomali range and the pleasant weather makes Koraput the perfect hill station to explore.
The Kolab reservoir (Lake) in Koraput.
During the boat trail at Kolab reservoir we also hopped into a stretch of land along the lake where a beautiful Aurobindo ashram is being built. As we walked up one of the hillocks we could see some ancient Jain statues lying in abandon which local tribals have mistaken as gods and goddesses.
Statues of ancient Jain tirthankars mistaken as gods and goddesses by tribals
After returning from Kolab reservoir we went on short trip to the tribal museum at Koarput which beautifully captures the rich tribal culture and tradition of Koraput. It was time for Gouthami to leave Koraput with some beautiful memories and I could only thank her for visiting Koraput and showing me the way to rediscover this place blessed with some extraordinary natural beauty. The next few days were equally interesting for me as I had set on a trail to meet some artisans with rare artistic talent. My first trip was to a village near Kotpad where the entire village is engaged in terracotta work and you need to visit it to see their skill.
Terra cotta work by tribals of Koraput.
I followed it up with a trip to Nabarangpur where there are only few families left who are into a rare lac work with hundreds of years of history which is on the verge of extinction due to financial non viability. These are among some of the most beautiful handicrafts I have come across and it would be shame if we can’t save it.
Kalash made up of lac by artisans of Nabarangpur near Koraput
Lac box made by artisans of Nabargpur near Koraput which can be used as a jewellery box or a sweet box
Koraput is a strong amalgamation of natural beauty, art and culture. You have to visit Koraput to know.
Some information about Koraput: The town of Koraput is around 3000ft above sea level situated in the southern part of Odisha. Nearest airport from Koraput is Vishakhapatnam and it takes roughly 4.5 hours by road from Vishakhapatnam to Koraput connected directly by national highway (NH43). You can reach there by train directly from Bhubaneswar, Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata.
Interested in visiting Koraput? You can reach the writer Kamakhya at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information visit: www.koraput.nic.in