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Friday, December 2, 2011


Remote tribal houses on way to "Taptapani"
tribals in Orissa have pre-historic background
tribals in Orissa have pre-historic background
I remembered the early morning cool breeze of Gopalpur On Sea beach. We were heading towards "Raptapani"form Gopalpur, Odisha. I looked at the passing picturesque landscape, my thoughts still at what I heard from Kate, my friend from New Jersey. She told me why she is going to "Taptapani". She was infertile! Married for the last 10 years she had tried everything but did not conceive. Then she heard about "Taptapani" and the mysterious ways of ancient tribes of Orissa
who continue to dwell in remote areas of deep forests and hilly interiors. She heard how these tribes especially the "Saoras" who live near "Taptapani" treat infertility by eating pods dropped from a tree into a muddy pond of hot stream which had a high sulfur content.

Kate believed and wanted to try. She had developed a deep faith. Science and logic doesn't come into picture when faced with believe and faith, she said philosophically. I agreed with her and thought about various religious faiths of different religions. We don't think of science and logic.

We covered 67 Kms in about 2 hours stopping in between to see tribal dwellings at the base of scenic hills(see photo at top). We didn't try to talk to them. When we reached "Taptapani," I was pleasantly surprized! The place was encircled by deep forest surrounded by hills at the height of about 1800 feet.
(video showing sulfur hot spring of Taptapani)
"Taptapani" is specially popular among pilgrims who consider the hot sulfur water spring bubbling into a pool as a sacred place and are believed that bathing in the spring can cure infertility. "Taptapani" is attributed with religious virtues and therefore a temple has also been built near the spring. A huge boulder projecting in the spring is worshiped by the tribal people as Goddess Kandhuni. Lord Shiva is worshiped in the middle of the pool surrounded by an iron barricade.

On insistance of Kate, we went straight to the mysterious pool form where you could pick up pods from the tree and eat. Well, the water was too hot to step in. However, our guide managed to pick few pods with the help of local tribal women and surprisingly, Kate just ate it! As we were told that the hotel had arrangements to get hot spring water directly into bath tubs at your rooms, we didn't take a dip into pool.

Hot spring water cannelized directly into your room in a bath tub? Wow! Think about being in it with your love mate! That was incredible in such a remote forested area!
Entrance of Panthanivas
Entrance of Panthanivas
We checked into sprawling "Hotel Panthanivas", the only shelter for tourists at "Taptapani". A tourism department joint. we had two AC suits which had a common balcony and each had a huge bedroom, a dressing room and a bathroom containing a small swimming pool fed by the warm water from the hot springs. The cozy lukewarm water I felt soothed my body and soul. I smiled as I recollected, “Bathing is believing”, the manager had asserted.

After my bath, I came out and looked around. They had cottages as well, at a very attractive location. They overlooked a pristine valley replete with various shades of green. Anyone can leisurely spend hours sitting here. The Dining Hall had mysteriously placed in between two crests of mountain fold. How will it look in the night, I wondered, feeling a bit apprehensive! Lets wait for the night to fall, I shrugged and walked away.
Tree house at Panthanivas
Tree house at Panthanivas
The setting of the evening was quite mysterious! It came down so suddenly and so silently. We went to see the tree house. The evening was quite enjoyable from the balcony of the tree house. The calm and quietness of the forest, the glowing fires amid the darkness on the slope of the hill (for jhum cultivation) added an extra flavor to our drinks and Potato Pakoras (deep fried potato dumplings). As the night darkened we felt a bit creepy and left towards dinning hall for our dinner.

The morning next day was very pleasant. We decided to hike in the nearby forest and a river through the reeds with high vim. Saw some more tribals and their mud houses beautifully painted and decorated with carved
whose customs decree that their women must marry
only younger men!
There was another tribe "Kondhas" who used to perform human sacrifice to ensure fertility of their land. This was stopped by Britishers. doors and lintels. Then we were told by our guide about another tribe "Koyas" who live further west, whose customs decree that their women must marry only younger men! There was another tribe "Kondhas" who used to perform human sacrifice to ensure fertility of their land. This was stopped by Britishers.

Kate'sfriends decided to visit ChandragiriLittle Tibet (which I had visited earlier), 30 Kms from "Taptapani", a Tibetan village inside the heart of Orissa. During the Chinese Aggression of Tibet in 1959, these Tibetan refugees crossed over to India along with the Dalai Lama and were allotted this spot. They had built cottages and camps and a monastery resembling what they had left in Tibet. It was sheer zeal and hard work that had transformed this jungle into crop growing fields. Maize and corn was everywhere to be seen. The beautiful houses and well maintained gardens reflected the economic independence of the residents. Colorful flags decorated with dragons and inscribed with prayers welcome anyone under the clean blue sky. There, between the mountain cliffs you can almost breathe Tibet! Young lamas jostle around while the elders rotate the“chakra” drum humming prayers, like gentle apostles of nonviolence. A white mountain dog follows you all through, giving you company in this solitude. Only a whistling bike breaks this Tibetan trance.

To book PANTHANIVAS, Taptapani, and to know incredible tourist places, tours and packages(especially in tribal area, awesome beaches and temples) visit Odisha Tourism Development Corporation's website:

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