India is aptly called the “Land of Festivals and Fairs”. Though the major festivals are over by the month of November, the celebrations do not stop there especially if you are in Odisha. “Bali Jatra”, one of the top Indian fairs is much awaited in the state of Odisha. The largest open-air fair gathers myriads of tourist from all over the world. It is the largest and the greatest fair in Odisha.
Born and brought up in the millennium city Cuttack, who else can describe the essence of this mammoth fair of Odisha better than me. Every year we would wait eagerly for “Kartik Poornima” for this renowned festival to start. Waking up in the dawn with colourful paper boats ready, we would sail them with a small lamp in rivers, canals or even ponds to celebrate this day.
I have heard numerous stories from my grandmother about this historic fair. In case you don’t know, the festival of “Bali Jatra“ commemorates Odisha’s commercial relationships with Bali and other South Asian countries. It is a special event from history that we, the people of Odisha have preserved carefully. It provides a platform for different cultural and commercial exchange. Every year this fair is awaited with a lot of enthusiasm and zeal not just by me but by everyone.
So, what’s the strong-suit that makes Bali Jatra one of the Top Indian Fairs? Well, to get a glimpse of that watch this amazing short video featuring Bali Jatra (2017) by Digital Sketch Films.
And just how large is the Bali Jatra? More than 2000 stalls, comprising of almost everything under the sky are put up on display on the Bali Jatra grounds. From cattle to safety pins, from high-end cars and electronics to National-level Pallishree Mela for traditional goods and handicrafts, it’s all there. Other attractions being over a hundred amusement rides and swings that are being installed to entertain visitors from across the state. Being one of the top Indian fairs, it receives nearly 3 lakhs of tourists every year.
So, to save you all the time and energy that is needed to explore this Mega-Fair, I have summarized my list of “ Must-dos in the Top Indian Fair – Bali Jatra “ down below. Consider this a digital tour of the Mela before you visit it yourself.
1. GIANT WHEEL RIDES
Who does not love a Giant Wheel ride in a fair? If you ask me, then personally I am too scared of them but I love the happiness and excitement on the face of people who ride them. The Giant Wheel is the ideal centrepiece iconic family attraction. Its impressive size and illumination make it a magnet for visitors at every fairground and amusement park. It is an exciting ride offering guests from grandparents to young children amazing views in all directions. So, you got to ride it to experience the thrill.
2. PALLISHREE MELA – THE NATIONAL HANDICRAFT FAIR
This is my favourite corner in the whole of Bali Jatra. Around 1,000-1,200 kiosks are devoted to ethnic and rural crafts from most states across the country and Odisha at the National Pallishree Mela. It has been an important part of Bali Jatra and my annual to-do list since time memorial. Products like handicrafts, terracotta and traditional foods are displayed at the annual maritime trade fair.
Since I am a big fan of traditional Odia cuisine, I am attracted to this hub like a bee to nectar. The opportunity to relish mouth-watering foods like Rasabali of Kendrapada, Malpua of Puri, Bara and Kakara of Dhenkanal and Mutton-Mudhi of Baripada can’t be missed at any cost. For the seafood lovers, there is a dedicated outlet by the Fisheries Department of Odisha itself. Diet and Detox plans can definitely be cheated for this magnificent indulgence.
Note:- Forgot your carry-bag, you can buy bio-degradable packaging materials at the mela itself. To know more about Plastic-Free Odisha read here.
Falling short of cash, ATM machines and coin vending machines at your disposal there. So, all you have to do is raid and haul for your favourite items.
3. SUKHUA ( SALTED FISH MARKET )
Sukhua ( Fish cured with dry salt, preserved for later eating) is a household item in every Odia family. Being a coastal belt girl, I know how much this food item is relished with the famous Pakhala. And that is why there is a whole section dedicated to all shapes and sizes of Sukhua. You have to see it to believe it. I must warn you though that walking through the Sukhua Lane is not everyone’s cup of tea. Only the brave may attempt going there because it takes immense will-power to walk through that odiferous lane.
4. SAND ART
No one knows when sand art originated. But everyone in the world knows that Odisha is a place where one can witness various sand sculpture any time in the year. So, why should Bali Jatra stay behind? Every year a dedicated corner is offered to the skilful sand artists of Odisha to display their magnificent work. The sand art is free for spectators. Each year there is a new theme leaving the crowd mesmerized. To me personally, it brings back the childhood excitement of creating things with sand on Puri beach.
5. THUNKA POORI
This giant poori is made during Bali Jatra and is an important part of the festivities. This large-sized puri is eaten with traditional accompaniments such as Chhena Tarkari.
As a child, I was always intimidated by the size of the poori which seemed gigantic for my tiny stomach back then. But now, I give my diet a break just to overstuff myself with this dish, which is still a bit too much for me. Again, you just can’t leave the Bali Jatra field without having it. Yes, that’s an unspoken rule.
And to know how to enjoy this kind of festival without gaining weight read my article here.
6. CULTURAL PROGRAMS
Festivals like Bali Jatra generate a significant amount of tourists. So, it gives the perfect stage for various cultural artists from around the country to showcase their talents. The district administration organises a myriad of cultural programmes every day for the entertainment of the crowd. Presented in a splendid way with awe-inspiring performances, they are indeed delightful entertainment. Also, they give a break to your tired feet from the long walking inside the Mega fair.
So, this was my list of Must-Dos for Bali Jatra but I can promise the fair can amaze you in many unexpected ways. As a Bonus, here are some important tips to help you sail through this Mega-Fair with ease.
- Always wear comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes because this fair demands a great deal of physical exertion.
- Carry a backpack with basic utility items like towels, water and a small first-aid kit. You never know when you will get a shoe-bite or a blister. A backpack will also keep your hands free for other things.
- Carry your own foldable shopping bags or a small trolley bag. You will definitely end up buying more than you expected because this fair has a lot to offer.
- If you are going in a group, always wear bright colour clothes or better wear matching colours so that you don’t get lost in the crowd.
- Take special care of the children and the elderly.
- If you have dust allergy or asthma then don’t move around without a mask. The best part is you can get one easily available in the fair itself.
- Be careful of pick-pockets and don’t wear expensive jewellery to the fair.
So, now that you know what to do in Bali Jatra this year and in all the years to come, I would suggest that without any further ado make the most of it. Take your family and friends along and create memories as beautiful as this majestic fair. And if you liked reading this article, then do leave your valuable comments and hit the share button.
Hi! I am Sushree. I am a JILL of many trades. Here I am with my mantras for fashion, fitness, beauty, wellness, tattoos, canine love, positivity, and much more. I have learnt them through hit and trial methods. I’ll be your friend in finding your unique personality and make you shine, smile and sparkle. Show your love and trust. Keep Calm, Be You and Be a Unicorn!