Gopalpur-on-sea: On a bright autumn day, this famous beach in Odisha is a tourists` paradise as the lips feel the salt in the cool breeze from Bay of Bengal and its gentle waves splash at the feet.
But on Saturday, as the sky over this village gets darker, the howling wind stronger and the waves rise higher, the spectre of death and devastation looms large with most inhabitants having fled fearing cyclone Phailin.
Trees have fallen right on the gates of the Gopalpur police station and on the front main road leading to the facility and there is hardly anyone to sort things out as another gust of wind and rains crashes, bringing more sturdy things down to the ground.
A narrow `pucca` road that meanders through this village, with residential buildings flanking it, is dotted with uprooted trees, electric poles, tin sheds and all sundry items used in a household.
The beach area, which has a raised platform for people to frolic in good times, now resembles just a mound of cement with no one wandering near it.
At some distance, near a resort, a few cyclone relief personnel in bright jackets stand watching the murderous rage of the waves which they say are becoming increasingly dangerous and giant bit-by-bit.
"We are just here as a precautionary measure. We will retreat if things go beyond control," Sooraj, a volunteer of the squad, said.
The entire beach areas, including black coloured fishermen`s shacks, have been emptied with some curious onlookers clicking photographs of the weary look they present.
The village is dotted with a number of temples and only a few people are seen taking shelter in them as they claim themselves to be volunteers of the rescue teams.
"We are here to help in case of problem," a terse reply from one in the group said without identifying themselves, arousing suspicion if they are a few locals who escaped eviction by authorities.
The village is divided from Berhampur, on the other flank, by a gated railway track and the two railway gatemen manning it braving the odds with seemingly no hurry to rush out.
"Mausam kharab hai nikal jaeiyey (weather is bad, you should leave)...We are bound by work, hence we are here. No one should be here," the gateman said.
"It is unfathomable to guess what devastation the severe cyclone will bring to this beautiful beach given that the prelude has been heart-breaking," Bikash Panda, a local said.