A Photo-Ethnographic Study, Odisha
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When I Wrote My First Poem After Seeing the Sea in Odisha: A Visual Diary from Shri Jagannath Puri- The East Indian Coast

I am a north Indian Man. And seeing the sea myself was once like coming out of the shadow towards the the sunny side. Like etching a line on wood. Films were arriving as a means of profession and friends.

My earliest memory of train, freedom and words. With myself even, when few of us friends decided to attend a Film Festival in Odisha. Far away on the eastern Coast of India, in the temple town of Puri; that i had only heard in sanskrit verses then. But what those verses didn’t mention was the laid back beach and evening onwards to late night film screenings with winds coming from the Bay of Bengal and the unending background music that arrived from one wave and after.

It was a journey of a lifetime as the train took close to 3 days to reach Puri. Trains used to look and sound different. They looked shabby, sounded noisy and felt god forsaken as we can only feel now.

My friend on the journey reading through the endless wait.

Co-travellers I felt for many had mastered the art of looking into distance.

As I visit this folder from my archives, i experience a strange vibration passing through me. It happened just yesterday. I see an image of myself with others and press myself to feel I look the same, nothing really has changed. But of-course what has changed are the days, possibilities, hope and admission to reality from then and now.

The filmmakers meet, I think the second day after reaching Puri. And today, none amongst them is there in my phone contact list. I hope you recognise your Traveller host from the lot!

And strangely I don’t have many images of that time, I had thought otherwise of how well I remember my days in details. Rather It could be that others were making images of me and group; singing, dancing, swimming in the sea all day and sat by the beach as evening dawned and screens were lit with a timeline of films till late night. As numerous villagers and local families used to come with toddy, local liquor and even sat for some films that they connected to.

India, and a state like Odisha was amongst the poorest, even today it is but modest and soft drugs like afeem and bhaang were provided on state ration shops. That may still be happening. But it was a news and completely overwhelming.

Amongst all that buzz, i remember my first walk on the Puri beach, on any beach as it was here my soul experienced the vastness of the sea against the minuscule self. The salt and sand, newer smells, language unlike any north Indian, food, clothes yet us being

Every time,
I find crabs a a little ahead of me
Crawling, hiding like playing
In their beach houses beneath the sand
Sometimes under water
But I sense they know by the pace of my walk
is not to be feared from
Rather it was me
freaking from their presence

But they seem negating,
while doing their usual chore
On the beach of the burghal
where the Juggernaut temple resides

Behind the pink house, where I lay
I see boats
Placed like a set in a cinema scene
Just for service or just to be photographed, beside.
I see a huge turtle,
Deformed, dead.
Dead fishes, drying.
And a black dog, dead too.

Sound of the sea overpowering any human one
Froth full waves, shells and Salt.
When in between the already calmed wave
and the upcoming one,
The silence of that one second
keeps swelling somewhere deep within.

When us of north are waiting for Holi
On the Eastern Ghats 
Winters are almost bye-ing
In hand their sandals
And in other your probable spouse
I imagine in here we come
Not to talk
But just to compose the past
To pillar the now
And to walk just right here
Where your wet feet satiates your lonely soul
Moments we live for

This Puri beach is also the longest golden beach known in India. I enjoyed walking for hours sitting, lying at times, walking for hours making Images sometimes asking people to pose in a certain way, many a times candid and those times when friends turned happy.

But another life goes on just a few kilometres away from the noisy sea; this continuous brewing of life happening in the city of Puri which is known for Shri Jagannath Temple; one of the holiest of the Holy places in India to visit out of four dhamas is Puri. I was certainly less aware of the magnanimity of the temple and and this beautiful Holy city that I gravitated towards pilgrims seeking the lords sight. On the streets outside as they passed by the temple, almost no one I saw went not bowing. Probably elderly knew how to be simply humble.

There is one secret that I remember a priest told me when I asked him even though I didn’t experience it myself but could be reasonable with anyone finding any information about this ancient place, that in the case of Jagannath Temple, the sound of sea waves seem to go soundless as soon as one steps inside the premises from the Singha Dwara entrance. There is no sound of the waves at all. As soon as one comes out of the temple, the waves can be heard. Again, there is no scientific explanation for this, but its a pretty mysterious fact.

And so is life, Enigmatic, Mystical, Inexplicable.

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Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste

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I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

As a co-traveller, will take you through the Ten Lessons I learnt from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.

Also read: Top 9 Most Read Posts of 2022

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You might also like to know about My Little School Project. If you wish to come over for a visit someday, that you must, you will be heartily welcome here

If you would like to contribute to my travels, you can please do so here

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If you have anything to share, or feel like saying a hello, please feel free to write to me at nara@road-to-nara.com

To visit other long-term photographic works, please visit here.

To follow my walks through the rural Indian Subcontinent, find me at 
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This entry was posted in: A Photo-Ethnographic Study, Odisha


Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.


  1. Making that first discovery of the ocean must be an amazing experience because unless you see it, I think it would be impossible to describe the vastness or the power of the sea. In the same way perhaps an ocean-dweller might be astounded at the majesty of tall mountains, though I think this experience may be not quite as stunning as the other. Being beside a vast body of water has a particular feel to it. Your poem captures the beach perfectly. I can see it and smell it. It is long since I have seen the sea. Most of my life I was very close to large bodies of water. I love the sea and equally the mountains but where I live now there are just lakes and hills, yet I am content. Perhaps it is enough having the memories? Your photographs of the train journey remind me of when I travelled long ago. Indian people seemed very stoic. They were able to make the best of whatever space they were allocated and stay that way for however long, while the rest of us squirmed and fretted! I admired those people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I live near the Himalayas Caro, and it has been only a handful of times that I am called near the sea. Like I will be in a fortnight after six years. May be that was why this post found me thinking. I remember it well as you could see.

      Thank you dear Caro, for your lovable comment.


      • First time I was in India was 1958. I was 10, travelling back to Cambodia with my parents. We stopped in Delhi so we could go to the Taj Mahal. Much later I went back in 1984. That time it was a journey through Pakistan/India and Bangladesh. Delhi and Kolkata. Last time was in 1986 which was when we were enroute to Nepal and Tibet. There was never enough time! I treasure all those memories.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow. I can just put my eyes to sky and wonder about all those years, Caro.

          Yes, so much so today one feels like not enough time. Its a treasure 🙂


  2. This continuation of Narayan’s travels through India is exceptionally interesting because it will resonate with many readers. The philosophical
    view of his essay he highlights in his thought-provoking last sentence:
    “And so is life, Enigmatic, Mystical, Inexplicable.”
    Narayan’s memories start with the 3 days train journey to the temple town of Puri for the film festival. What he gained there enriched his understanding of the meaning of life, in that any little thing in the world – even a grain of sand as he walked on the longest beach in the country, contains some greater cosmic truth if you can look at it with interest and imagination. His beautiful poem is clearly a conclusion to his perception that every part of the natural world is important and that we humans are connected to all of it. As always,
    Narayan’s writing is memorable and resonates with all of us, like in this sentence:
    ” I remember my first walk on the Puri beach, on any beach as it was here my soul experienced the vastness of the sea against the minuscule self.”
    All the pictures show a slice of Indian life; the traveling, the town of Puri, and the devout crowds bowing towards the Shri Jagannath Temple, one of the holier of holy places in India among many others.
    I think this wonderful Narayan essay could be summed up by the famous quote from William Blake:
    “To see a world in a Grain of Sand, and a Heaven in a Wild Flower.
    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand. And Eternity in an hour.”



    • Dearest, morning to you. As you know I will travelling down south, my first memories started occupying my mind and more thwy are so less that i remember most days spent there and how.

      You are a shining light with such words that should not put extra weight on me if ever I start writing full time. Thank you dearest, Joanna. Will write to you.


  3. A three-day train journey. What an experience! I can appreciate the way your “soul experienced the vastness of the sea against the minuscule self.” I was born and grew up in a coastal city. Except for one year in my life, I’ve lived all of my life close to the sea.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: ReBlogging ‘When I Wrote My First Poem After Seeing the Sea in Odisha: A Visual Diary from Shri Jagannath Puri- The East Indian Coast’ – Link Below | Relationship Insights by Yernasia Quorelios

  5. Thank you, Narayan, for this wonderful post. As always with your writing, it creates ripples (or sometimes waves) of thoughts in me, washing up my own memories! 🙏🙋‍♂️


    • Aah Ashley, thought I missed for many a posts. Wishing you a lovely year of what is left and going on now. Thanks for the warmest Comment.


  6. I grew up on the coast, but the first sight of the sea even now thrills me to the core. Lovely to read about your impressions – some of it is like poetry! Love this line – Where your wet feet satiates your lonely soul.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. KK says

    A nice trip, and a beautiful poem, Narayan ji. I love the way you have given the details, but what fascinates me more is Puri beach, it’s different from other branches that I have seen. As regards Temple, I have also experienced it. There are so many other mysterious facts which you must have observed there. Enjoyed reading this post.


    • A decade Anita, seems long ago as much as yesterday. I can say its time to visit again for sure. Things have changed in these years.


  8. Your words and your photos express so much. I have yet to go to Odisha. I studied in Wilson College, Bombay and I could see the sea from the classrooms. And after marriage we live in Udupi, not far from the sea. It is fascinating in all its moods.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sea loves you Lakshmi, it seems. Udupi is a great place to be living in. Beaches and above all, Sringeri and Agumbe are only hours away, its a blessing.

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I will remember 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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