Odisha has a long maritime history; it was one of the key ports in ancient India and sailors used to sail to prosperous countries from here to reap rewards of trading opportunities. Bali Yatra is celebrated as a remembrance of Odisha’s ancient maritime legacy, celebrating the journeys of traders to the islands of Bali, Sumatra and Java along the sea trade route.
• Date: November 25-December 5
• Venue: Barabati Fort area and banks of River Mahanadi
The preparations for this festival start well in advance. All through Cuttack small boats (known as Boita), which are made of cork, banana tree bark or colored paper are bought by the enthusiasts. On the eve of Bali Yatra, these well-decorated boats are lit with small lamps and set to sail along the Mahanadi. The sight of thousands of small boats floating across the Mahanadi is a real treat for the eyes.
The Shopping Bonanza
Known for being a cultural event, Bali Yatra is a must visit for all the shopaholics. During this festival, traders from around the country visit the Silver city of Cuttack to attend a large fair organized on the banks of the Mahanadi River. The traders anticipate high sales, as millions of people visit the fair every day. The fair holds stalls of every type from Odisha’s best handloom items to precious pearls, sellers. Artisans and traders from 30 districts of Odisha exhibit at the fair, from big brands to local sellers. Furthermore, there is something in the fair to keep visitors from any age group glued.
• Fair Timings:10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
• Stalls count: 1500-2000
• Must Buy: Precious pearls, traditional Odisha handloom, art & crafts
• Trivia: ATM counters and coin vending machines will be set up at fairgrounds.
Satiate your hunger while going through the stalls of this extensive fair by grabbing some of the regional delicacies of Cuttack. The fairgrounds are filled with many quality eateries. Though you can get food of every type here, but do care to taste Odisha’s specialty items.
• Must Taste: Dahi Vada, Thunkapuri, Barafa Pan
• Trivia: 1-on-1 ice-cream, which means buy 1 and get 1 for free, is one of the major attractions of the fair and will make your appetite crave for more.
How to reach?
Nearest Railhead: Cuttack (6 KM away)
Tip: Reserved auto-rickshaws are easily available from the railway station which may charge you around Rs. 80-100.
With time, the Bali Yatra has changed a lot but the spirit of celebrating this event has remained the same. It brings new hopes for small traders of the region, who get a platform to showcase their talent. The festival also brings back pleasant memories for Odisha’s rich past and casts a magical spell on the minds of the onlookers.