Panchalingeswar -- place for trekking/jungle hiking

Shankhadeep Chakrabortty and Sudipta Mukherji

Right Months to go: November - June

Distance: 176 km from Institute gate

Route: From Achariya Vihar, turn left. You are on NH5. Follow it past Cuttack. Once you cross Mahanadi river, you pay toll tax of Rs 55 (one way). Keep driving for about two hours. You reach another toll gate at Bhadrak. You pay Rs. 40 (one way). 35 kilometers from there, at Soro, you leave NH5 and take a road perpendicular to it. If you are confused, ask some local people. Once you follow the road for about 3 km, you will reach a small (white) temple where you need to take right turn. This road is a bit bumpy for the first half; with a car of low ground level clearance (like ours), one needs to be careful. After you have driven about 13 kilometer, on your left is a road that takes you to Panchalingeswar and also to the Panthanivas (OTDC). A big board with "way to Panthanivas" written on it is clearly visible here. This stretch is about 1.5 km.
Another possibility is to take a train from Bhubaneswar station. Jana Shatabdi express, leaving for Kolkata at 6:00 am, might be a good option. After 2:30 hrs, it reaches Soro. Hire a vehicle from Soro station. For a distance of about 18 kilometers, it costs about Rs. 400.

NH5; Repairing work on NH5; Popular dhaba at Soro (where we had lunch); A truck on NH5; Last 13 Kilometer stretch with a view of the hill which is next to Panthanivas.

Staying: Best place to stay is the Panthanivas. It has 30 rooms. Half are air-conditioned (Rs 1850 a day for two beds). Rooms including the Non-AC (Rs 750 for two) ones are clean and well maintained. In particular, all have clean beds, toilets, and are furnished with mosquito repellents. The check out time is 12 noon. You may call Mr. Bijay Jena (Ph: 088955 78776, 06782 211959) - very welcoming and friendly manager of the hotel - for reservation. The breakfast is complementary. The cook (Mr. Birinchi Panda) is good and, with a bit of pampering, he brings excellent stuff on your table. The hotel does not have a bar however.

Panthanivas and view of Nilagiri hills from there.

Trekking/Jungle Hiking: Trekking is fun here and it is not too difficult either. There are well defined trails. You may decide not to follow the trails. This may allow you to see some small beautiful creatures (see images), but you run the risk of being repeatedly attacked by the thorny bush. You will also find places where the climb is pretty steep. We took a local person (Sankar) along with us. Besides helping us while trekking, he also told us the story of a group of elephants climbing up every year on the top just before the arrival of monsoon.
If you have spiritual inclination (like our friend L M Advani), you should rather climb up well defined 260 steps to visit the temple. This does not take you to the top though!
Hills, trails and beautiful agamas/lizerds on the way

A Suggestion: If you are a non-vegetarian (unlike our friend L M Advani), request the manager Jena-babu to arrange some local mutton and deshi chicken for your lunch/dinner. Surely the taste is going to linger for a while.

Acknowledgement Thanks to Samrat Bhowmick for an image.
14 July, 2012