One of India’s finest beach destination Gopalpur-on-Sea is not just , serene, blue and breathtaking but it will give you very European destination like feels. 15 kms from the city of Behrampur, Gopalpur was once an important East India Company port. The British put the suffix ‘on sea’, similar to the names of little English fishing villages like Middleton-on-sea, Frankton-on-sea, Southend-on-sea among others.
Gopalpur reminds me a lot of Whitby (another coastal town in the United Kingdom). Probably because Gopalpur has a lot of British influence in the form of various EIC warehouses which are now lying in ruins. The dilapidated architectures are splashed with art as a result of PAGo or Public Art in Gopalpur which was initiated in 2017 to present the beach town not just as a holiday destination but also an eco-retreat spot.
The Kalinga Dynasty shipped exotic pearls and valuable silk to Java and Sumatra regions from the Gopalpur port. The East India Company used the port to trade rice with Burma and store them in the large godowns that they built in the port. The British also sent the people of the region to work in the tea estates in Assam. The beach derives its name from the Krishna temple that was built in the 18th century in Gopalpur. However, post the second World War when trade with Burma stopped, Gopalpur’s importance was lost for the British.
Any beach town is best explored on foot and Gopalpur is no different. Very close to where I was staying that is Mayfair hotel, is the lighthouse. I kept walking further East and came across many Dutch houses. No wonder Gopalpur finds a place in Satyajit Ray’s story of Prof. Hiji-bij-bij. It indeed is a fascinating place.
Also, I got really really lucky to spot some Olive Ridley Turtles on the beachside towards further East. Just so you know – Odisha’s coast has the world’s largest known rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtle and this is the peak time for their mass nesting.
You know what’s the best thing you could do when you spot them? Leave them alone! Like honestly. So I quickly took Mrs. Ridley’s permission to capture a picture and went my way towards the west in search of food.
The roadside shops offer variety of beads, bracelets, earrings and home decor stuff made from sea shell. And a variety of sea-food to satisfy your palet. For me, Fish fry does the trick. If Whitby is Fish and Chips, then Gopalpur for me is Fish Fry and Prawn Rice.
But hold on, there is more. There is a very European style cafe called the ‘Cornerstone Cafe’ which is situated inside Motel Mermaid, serves the best French Vanilla Latte in the entire Odisha. I say it with full confidence and experience. And Maya’s (owner of the cafe) Banana and chocolate cake is to die for. After my walks on the beach, this is my place to go to. I love her four dogs as well.
By Taruka Srivastav
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