Along the stretch of coast between Puri and Andhra Pradesh there are a couple of scenic detours that may tempt you to break the long journey south. Three hours south of the capital, at the foot of a barren, sea-facing spur of the Eastern Ghats, is India’s largest saltwater lake. Chilika’s main attractions are the one million or so migratory birds that nest here in winter. Seventy kilometres further on, Gopalpur-on-Sea is a decidedly low-key beach town. Brahmapur (formerly Berhampur), 16km inland, is southern Odisha’s biggest market town, and the main transport hub for the sinuous route west through the hills to the spa station of Taptapani and “tribal districts” beyond.

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