Besides being a mere geographic location at 19.3079° North,84.8189° East, Berhampur is a perfect glimpse of the southern part of this country (Andhra Pradesh, particularly). One finds the demography, the diet, and the language to a certain extent, influenced by Andhra Pradesh. It boasts of a mixed culture which is a perfect curry of Telugu and Odia cultures. It’s more of a ghanta tarkari with a tinge of rasam. An amazing spread of South Indian Cuisine and a sizeable part of the population being Telugus, Berhampur is the perfect window lying in Odisha and opening towards Andhra Pradesh.
Nevertheless, for those patriot Odias out there who have started swearing Odia words by now, Berhampur is still a part, rather a significant part of Odisha. It is the commercial hub, contributing a huge chunk to the total of Odisha’s trade. Being a city with a port, it has an edge over some of the other cities in the state with regards to trade and boy! It has capitalized on it. Some distinct places, which cannot be distinguished from the others if it had not been the crowd factor, do remarkable business and have shot up their bank balances selling basic necessities like ropes, turmeric, pickles, papads or even gold. Yeah, pickles, papads and gold are basic necessities when you are talking of a ‘influenced-by-south India’ population. No kidding, come down to Berhampur once during Pongal and try proving me wrong! You will literally see mobile jewellery store hanging on necks and twirling around many a wrists.
Clothes find a close spot in the hearts of the people of Berhampur. Berhampuri Sarees are a big hit among women and the silk is so good that the people decided to nick-name it as the silk city. No, Don’t tell me you thought it was named after the women at the city who resemble Vidya Balan. You can’t be serious!
Coming to the food in Berhampur, if you are a lover of spicy food, Berhampur is THE place for you. People at Berhampur believe in generously helping themselves with chilies (in all forms)and turning into fire-emitting-dragons after that. The above statement may be restricted only to the local restaurants/stalls. Apart from that, there is a lovely spread of food with various restaurants, good hotels, dhabas and roadside-eateries throughout the city. One can expect to find all sorts of cuisines out there and available for all sizes of the wallet. Being with a ‘pro’ will certainly help you choose the best dish from the best place at the best price. But then, it’s Berhampur for Christ’s sake and the risk involved in exploring it all alone is too small (Hopefully) . Jokes apart, Berhampur offers you a delectable range of food. From delicious junk (you may have to re-define ‘junk’ after a visit) to proper fine dining.
Girija Restaurant (THE KFC OF BERHAMPUR) is a brand in itself and can never suffice for the gluttonous appetite people have for its Chicken pakoda ! It’s the benchmark for any other restaurant in the world who prepares Chicken Pakodas. Hotel Nandan,Samal dokan,Hotel Satya-sai,Hari dokan are the idli-puri-dosa hubs.
Being a foodie, I can go on and on about the food. But then, I have a word limit to stick to.
Among their usual visiting places, elderly people at Berhampur would be seen hitting the temples frequently. They are very devotional, I tell you. A number of temples in and around the city to prove that. The spread here is great too. Temples of all GODS are present offering anyone a chance to visit any temple of his/her choice. True Secularism, I must say. The Maa Taratarini Temple, The Bhairabi temple,The Panchama Temple, Maa MahuriKalua Temple,are some of the famous temples on the outskirts which play host to a number of devotees from all over the state throughout the day. The Maa Bada Thakurani Mandir is arguably the most auspicious mandir in the city which conducts its yearly jatra which is one of the biggest in the state.
Now for the other important aspects of Berhampur: Are you a movie buff? Really? You like watching Bollywood? Tollywood? Ollywood? Hollywood-In Hindi? Berhampur has all of it for you. Everyone in Berhampur stands by the norm of having two mothers. Ek – apni khud ki Maa, Dusri- cine Maa. Six different cinemas for a city this size is not a joke. And almost all of them run houseful during the first week of the release, sometimes more depending upon the movie. Now this speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Besides this, there is no actual hang-out place in Berhampur. The whole city throngs to the one market for their socialization needs. Annapurna Market, it is called. For the people of Berhampur it’s bigger, better and much more special than any other mall/hang-out place in any other city. In the market you’ll find three kinds of humans. Introverts, Extroverts and Perverts. Ha! Stop laughing, and keep moving. We are still to visit a little more of Berhampur before we conclude.
All this and much more in a mere stretch of a few kilometers of land. (It’s expanding now). That is Berhampur for you. Raw and Tangy. Just like kachha aam. Oh wait! Did I forget to tell you, Mangoes (both raw and ripe) are abundant during the season in Berhampur (thanks to the Andhra influence) and a connoisseur’s delight in Berhampur!
Story by: Sourav Panda.
Sourav is an intern with the Broken Scooter. He hails from the silk city. Also, he happens to be a big fan of Vidya Balan!