Saturday, 12 May 2018

Gopalpur on Sea - Picturesque but not Pristine

Gopalpur on Sea - Picturesque but not Pristine
The tourism casket of Odisha cocoons much more than just Puri and Bhitarkanika. In this write up you'll be acquainted with Gopalpur, a humble beach town located in the Ganjam district of Odisha, officially mentioned as Gopalpur-on-Sea. West coast of India is certainly more popular among tourists when it comes to choosing beach retreats. But if you look carefully, the east coast is our unsung hero. There are myriad picturesque beach towns ornamenting the east coast, right from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu, with well developed tourist infrastructures. The irony is, majority of us expect our weekend beach retreats to be secluded, yet capable of pampering us with every possible tourist amenities. Too much to ask for, right? Among thousands of mainstream tourists there are a handful of genuine travellers who lookout for offbeat travel destinations. It is due to their continual wanderlust, a couple of pristine beaches are born on the travel map of coastal India every few years. As soon as the discovery reaches public domain the thoughtless human invasion in the name of tourism becomes inevitable.

Gopalpur on Sea - Picturesque but not Pristine
The Bay of Bengal appears somewhat greenish from the Gopalpur Beach.
Novelty and seclusion appeal to most tourists. They flock, merry and eventually result in the development of tourism infrastructure in that region. It's a pity that our tourism infrastructures are limited to building roads, accommodations and eateries, without a slightest thought on the sustainability of the environment in that region. By the end of the decade, a pristine beach transforms into a crowded tourist hub with meticulously littered sea line. Anyway, ignore my ecological panic and stick to your own moral compass for the time being. Gopalpur-on-Sea can't probably rekindle your long dead romanticism with its pristine beach, but it is undeniably a worthy weekend getaway, especially for vacationers from Bengal, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Question is- are you flexible with the tourist cacophony and eager to experience the mellowed wildness of Bay of Bengal from the southern end of Odisha?

Gopalpur on Sea - Picturesque but not Pristine
Gopalpur-on-Sea happened to be a surprise stopover in my Golden Quadrilateral motorcycle trip.
For me it wasn't strictly a beach holiday. Gopalpur-on-Sea happened to be a surprise stopover in my Golden Quadrilateral motorcycle trip. I was supposed to call it a day right at Barkul, by the bank of Chilika Lake. It had barely passed midday when I touched Bhubaneswar. Despite the shrunken daylight hours of February, sunset was a distant affair. It felt reasonable to cover some more miles and aid to the following day's ride itinerary. Spending a night by the sea was much more agreeable to crashing in some dubious motel room on the highway. Gopalpur-on-Sea is merely 10-15 kilometres off the Kolkata-Chennai highway (NH-16) making the beach easily accessible to road enthusiasts. Train buffs have to depend on the railway connectivity at nearby Berhampur city. A thirty minutes of tolerable tuk-tuk ride connects Berhampur railway station with the Gopalpur Beach.

Gopalpur on Sea - Picturesque but not Pristine
I savoured the spicy Chana-chaat while waiting for the sun to set.  
Despite its huge popularity among local tourists Gopalpur-on-Sea still holds the intoxicating flavor of rural Odisha. As I mentioned in the title itself, be aware that Gopalpur Beach is not pristine anymore. Pardon my mild exaggeration, you'll find one hundred accommodation options to choose from as you reach Gopalpur. I was there on a weekend. Yet, the hotels had enough rooms and the beach had plenty of space for someone who's not too fond of crowds. It means you can drop in anytime with your brigade and mark your own territory. My hotel was a minute walk away from the beach front. I took a quick shower, changed into lighter clothes and headed to the beach. The sloth in me often holds me back from relishing sunrise over the sea. But the setting sun is an easy catch, and missing it is a grievous offence for any traveller. The Bay of Bengal appears somewhat greenish from the Gopalpur beach, unlike most other beaches of Odisha.

Gopalpur on Sea - Picturesque but not Pristine
There is a functional lighthouse to enhance the visual aura of Gopalpur Beach.
Apart from the nodding rows of coconut, palm and casuarina trees, there is a functional lighthouse to enhance the visual aura of Gopalpur beach. But due to security reasons, tourists are not allowed to get too close to the lanky structure. I was missing my flip-flops while sauntering over the coarse sand with sneakers on. It wasn't a careless exclusion. The saddlebags just didn't have anymore space. Your travel bags can hold everything you need but they give up the moment you try to pump in everything you fear you might need. My ambition was to relax on the sand and gaze at the dissolving sun. Somehow, the light dimmed with time, reflections on the wet sand got more intense, strolling people turned into distinct silhouettes, bluish crimson hues engulfed the sky, but sun was nowhere to be found. It was not at all disappointing, rather poetic in its own soothing way.

Gopalpur on Sea - Picturesque but not Pristine
The Chicken-tikka seller on the beach road, busy in preparing my order.  
At Gopalpur beach you can bath, play, exploit beach camels, taste freshly cooked sea-foods, explore few water sports, spend on seashell souvenirs, watch busy fishermen, aim for the sunrise, or simply do nothing like me. If your itinerary allows, make a day trip to few old and beautiful temples. In case you've got a soft corner for irresponsible drinking, be careful not to act drunken and get busted by beach police. Next morning I had to leave the picturesque beach town to resume my rolling on the Golden Quadrilateral. For tranquillity hunters and attention-shy couples, Chandipur Beach might be a better alternative in Odisha. In the upcoming post you'll get to watch daybreak from the renowned Marina Beach, Chennai. Summer is enjoying its full vigour. Try to limit outdoor activities under the scorching sun. Keep yourself calm and hydrated. See you soon.

5 comments:

  1. Awesome... Just revisited the place through your ryes..��

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoyed reading this account of travel to Gopalpur. I went there very recently with my parents and my sister, and it was such an idyllic town- calm and quiet. Even sunrise time didn't have visitors rushing to the sea. That was quite a revelation for me. We enjoyed our stay there. Could relate to most of the things described here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really appreciate your visit! Pratikshya, based on your taste may I recommend you a weekend trip to Chandipur Beach (Odisha)?

      Delete
  3. Heard of it, thought of visiting but never made it till now. Would visit some time sooner hopefully. Great writing and awesome captures.

    ReplyDelete

I really appreciate your efforts in exploring my poetry of roads. Thank You!