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Updated: Nov 28, 2022

By Ishani Paul

I travelled to Daringbadi, Odisha with my family in the month of June this year. But why this may be so important to me…and to you? Well, it was just not a mere travel...or a tour, as we usually say. It was like getting a savour of liberty, a fresh breeze, a drop of first rain…all after a long period of unacceptable, overstressed yet unavoidable confinement. Let me begin at the beginning!

The consequent waves of Covid-19 during the last couple of years have wracked the world. It has been long two years of disease, lockdowns, curfews and graded relaxation. The freedom of movement has almost escaped from our lives. Among other things, these two years of pandemic ceased my chance to travel, something so dear to my heart. I sometimes used to move myself aside from my family and ponder whether I would be lucky enough to step my foot out of the daily routines. However, this year of 2022 brought a bunch of happiness in my life. After a long period of experiencing the same old monotonous life, I was now able to move away from my home, Kolkata, and enjoy a short but lovely trip to the hills!

As I mentioned earlier, we, my parents and myself, travelled to Daringbadi, a hill station in the adjacent State of Odisha. It was such contentment to enjoy a train journey again, where I made new friends including birds, animals, trees and even mountains. It was so amazing to interact with them. Due to the pandemic, I had become lonely, not being able to make new friends. However the start of the trip helped me in enhancing my social skills. As I made my way into the hills, I felt as if I was in some other world. As the saying goes, ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’. The sky was solid blue, completely clear except for the occasional white clouds. Daringbadi, the Kashmir of Odisha- as it is called, is a hidden gem of beauty, with tall grasses, colourful flowers and pine trees. Even the rocks which peaked out of the smooth, hilly slopes were a view to capture.

The light fog added to the beauty of the mountains. As I passed along the fields, I started getting emotional. The tranquillity amidst the mountains touched my heart. The disturbances an urban life offer, which had troubled me these years, was gone. It was such a delight as I entered our hotel, Utopia Resort. I could again enjoy the hotel rooms and the fluffy beds. The view from the balcony was mesmerising. The joy that I felt cannot be expressed in words.

There was no internet available at the resort. The situation grew worse when we were unable to contact our family members for one whole day. Unexpectedly, this made me very excited. Today the internet has taken control of the generation and we physically cannot function without electronic devices. So, a day without internet was very exciting. I spent my time sketching, reading a storybook and chatting with my parents. I realised that the absence of the virtual world gives us more happiness and thus, I utilized that day to the fullest.

During the next two days, we went out for sightseeing. We visited the Mandasaru Valley, the Emu Bird Sanctuary, the Hill View Park and a few more places. The waterfalls at Midubanda and Pangali were spectacular. The splendid beauty touched me gently and I embraced it. The inevitable falling of water gave me immense pleasure. The chirping of the birds, the serene breeze, the marvellous scent of the flowers hit me in a different way as I trolled along the road, with no vehicles, no pollutions and no undesirable noises. I felt like I was on the world’s highest podium, the Paradise. I got to learn a number of facts during the trip. The clouds high up in the sky- formed various amazing shapes, like that of a bear hugging her baby and two men facing the opposite directions. As I was on my way to the resort, I halted at the ‘Sunset Point’.

The sun was high up in the sky spreading its rays everywhere, trying to touch every object around. The sun began to change its colour, from creamy yellow to dark orange. The sky got covered with the red glow of the setting sun. Its golden rays fell on every object, making them look alarming. The ripples of the rivers looked purple within the red glow of the departing sun. The view of the sunset brought me impish glee and my face lit up. Never did I experience such an unremitting, perpetual sunset before. I had thought that the joys of the trip had come to an end that day as I closed my eyelids and went to sleep.

I was, however, astounded and happy enough to know that I was wrong. For on my way to the station, I arrived at a pine forest. I found myself lucky to find a bunch of pines which had fallen on the ground. I was so happy that I started collecting them like a mad child. The pandemic had erased the chance to make new friends in person, which I got back in the trip. On my way, I met a group of old people, with whom I mixed up and made friends.

I longed to escape the freedom and lead an unruly life for sometime. I experienced so in my trip to Daringbadi. It created a special sensation in my heart and refreshed my mind. The bliss I received there will always remain as memories in my mind. Our trip ended as I set foot into my house, all ready to get back into the routines, yet with a mind relaxed, lively and open. Out with the old, and in with the new, I looked onto new beginnings. A pinch of freedom was a punch enough to accept the city, dream simultaneously and wait for the next escapade to happen!

By Ishani Paul

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