Bhubaneswar: For any BCACian Sunday Rides are rituals. We use to explore new trails, take cyclists to historic places, visit places of cultural importance and places imbibed with nature and greenery. Every BCACian present in the city never like to miss a Sunday Ride as it’s always full of fun, excitement and moreover a casual ride as we also ride with novice cyclists, who start cycling with us.
This Sunday Ride on 16th of September was a little more exciting as we were to explore the nature trails around Chudanga Garh (a 9th Century AD ruins of a fort) on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. The total ride distance was around 55KMs from the Clubhouse and back. As planned riders started exactly at 6:15AM from the Clubhouse and rode through AG Square, Raj Mahal, Vani Vihar, Rasulgarh to reach the intersection of Nuagaon road with the National Highway near Kuakhai River.
From Nuagaon crossing we took the concrete roads on the banks of river Kuakhai and rode amidst tree-canopy, villages and lush green vegetation. We rode by the side of beautiful Ganesha Pandals decorated with various concepts. Riding through this route was a feeling of bliss as you have the river on one side and wonderful greenery on the other. As it rained yesterday evening, we could smell freshness in the air while riding through this route. On the way to Baranga, we took another turn to explore a new road quite scenic with greenery and fresh Kashatandi flowers. Crossing a bridge, we rode further along the Puri Main Canal leaving behind the Kuakhai River towards Baranga Bazar. After reaching the Baranga Bazar, we took a small pause for breakfast. Our hungry souls savored freshly prepared Vada, Idli, Pakoda and Dum-Aloo followed by hot tea.
After the breakfast we rode on the Baranga-Munduli Road for some distance. We tool the dirt-roads towards Chudanga Garh ruins through Chudanga village. As we have informed every rider about the off-roads and jungle-trails of this ride, all riders were well-prepared with their MTBs and gears along with hydration. We rode through muddy and watery roads, through dense green vegetation and forest lands. Chudanga Garh is situated inside the Chandaka-Dampada Forest and Sanctuary and it was obvious to encounter with muddy trails used by only bikes. The villagers were surprised and are happy to see more than 20 cyclists dressed in Neon-Green with Helmets and waved at us. Some kids from the villages wanted to give us a high-five which we obliged with smiles. As we reached in the middle of the Chudanga Village, we witness another grand Ganapati Pandal in the village. We parked our bicycles near this pandal as we had to visit the ruins of the fort by walk only. The trail is quite slippery and highly muddy in the rains and is not suitable for bicycling. We saw the ruins of 3 layers of fort-walls made with Laterite stones and two main ponds of Chudanga Garh – the Rani Pokhari (Pond) and the Hathi Pokhari (Pond). There are at least 3 other major water bodies we crossed during our travel to Chudanga Garh. As per sources, this area is fortified with almost 10-12 water bodies with small reservoirs and running streams.
As per the available sources, the Madalapanji, the fort was constructed by Lalatendu Kesari of Kesari dynasty (otherwise known as Somavamsis) when it was known as Sarangagarh, because the area had large number of water-bodies filled with lotus and in Sanskrit, Saranga means lotus. Later on, Baraha Kesari renovated the fort, which was captured by Ganga king Chodaganga Deva after defeating Karna Deva, the last ruler of the Somavamsi dynasty in 1110 AD. There after the fort of Sarangagada became known as Chudanga Gada after the name of the victor Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. (Sourced from Wikipedia). The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has taken up the conservation of the site. But, the conservation so far is not convincing enough.
As the time passing and the cloud on the sky was getting darker, we expected rain on the return route. Hence we have to leave two other major areas of the fort (the Granary – Chaula Ghara and the palace – Sola Uasa), which we planned to explore sometime in near future. The return route to the Baranga-Pitapali Highway was through dense forests over walking trails. Usually people here walk to the Highway for different purposes. We have to ride through dense forests with almost non-existent roads and at some places we had to carry our bicycles over the shoulders to cross though the jungle. After riding about 1KM through the forest, we reached an open field (previously a stone mine/ quarry). We rode through the quarry to experience some real fun on the moorum. There was no specific road inside the quarry and we rode through grasslands and muddy patches to reach to the highway near Jungle View Restaurant. We then headed back to Baranga and Nandankanan and back to our homes with a nice memory of a jungle trail ride with full of fun and excitement. We also planned for another ride in near future to explore the ruins of the palace and the granary, which are associated with some folklores and forgotten history.