Bhubaneswar is one of the most famous destinations in Odisha. Although it is known as the ‘Temple City’, it is much more than that, starting from architectural marvels to natural beauties.
1. Lingaraj Temple
The Lingaraj Temple is a masterpiece and the culmination of the revolution of temple architecture in Odisha. The presiding deity is the Swayambhu Linga, Hari-Hara Linga, which is half Siva and half Vishnu. Dedicated to Trivbhuvaneswar (a form of Shiva) or the Lord of the Three Worlds, this temple is a prime example of Indian architecture, in its mature and fully developed state. Its present form dates back to the 11 th century, although several parts of it are over 1400 years old. The sandstone carvings are the most notable feature of this temple. The granite block representing the Linga is said to be bathed daily with water, milk and bhang (marijuana). Almost all the Hindu gods and goddesses are represented in this temple. More than 50 smaller temples and shrines crowd the enclosure. This temple is closed to non-Hindus, however a viewing platform allows visitors to see over the wall.
2. Nandankanan Zoological Park
The Nandankanan zoological park, established in 1960, nestled amongst the unruffled extension of Chandaka forests in Bhubaneswar, is a major tourist attraction of Odisha. As a zoo it is home to more than 1200 mammals, birds and reptiles. It is also a captive breeding, a rare feat, for Gharials. It has also a collection of ten white tigers which are not linked to Rewa tigers (Madhya Pradesh).
For tourists it has added attractions in the form of Lion Safari, White Tiger Safari and an aquarium. It is host to endangered species like Manipuri deer, Lion-tailed macaque, Himalayan Black bear and Sloth bear.
3. Udayagiri & Khandagiri Caves
Odisha is well known for the ancient caves Udaygiri (meaning the hill of the sunrise) and Khandagiri. Udaygiri caves are approximately 135 ft high and Khandagiri caves are 118 ft high. The caves are reminiscent of influence of Buddhism and Jainism in Odisha. The origin of the rock cut caves of Udaygiri and Khandagiri dates back to the 2nd century B.C.
The caves on the Khandagiri, can be reached either by the walking from the road, or cutting directly across from Hathi Gumpha via steps that drop down from cave 17. The latter route brings you out at caves 1 and 2, known as the “Parrot Caves” for the carvings of birds on their doorway-arches. Cave 2, excavated in the 1st century B.C, islarger and more interesting. One can find some faint lines in Brahmini script in one of the caves, which are supposed to be 2000 years old. The Ananta Gumpha or Snake Cave has a decoration in the shape of a serpent at the entrance. It contains the best of the sculpture on Khandagiri hill. The best place to wind up a visit to Khandagiri is the modern Jain Temple at the top of the hill.
Udaigiri caves occupy a fairly compact area around the south of the hill. Cave 1, the Queen’s Cave, is tucked away around the corner. The best sculpture can be seen on the pillars, arches and to the rear of the courtyard, and across the back wall of the upper storey. A long annulet shows rampaging elephants, panicking monkeys, sword fights and the abduction of a women. These carvings seem to illustrate the life of Kalinga’s King Kharavela.
4. Odisha State Museum
Odisha State Museum is a worthy place to visit for students and history lovers. It was founded by two famous historians named Professor N.C. Banerjee and Professor Ghanshyam Dash of Ravenshaw College in the year 1932. The museum’s amazing collection of coins and plates of copper, stone inscriptions, sculptures, rare manuscripts on palm leaves, age-old bronze tools and traditional musical instruments are must to see.
The Epigraphy Gallery of the museum contains rare epigraphic records. One can find beautiful miniature painting, patta paintings, brassware, stone sculptures and very well known silver filigree work of Odisha in the Handicraft Museum.
5. Pathani Samanta Planetarium
The Pathani Samanta Planetarium was established for creating awareness about astronomy, astrophysics and space science. It carries on some interesting activities like night sky viewing, audio visual programs and poster shows etc. It also displays various astronomical devices.
The Planetarium encourages people who does research in the field of astronomical science and also provide them financial help for carrying out their researches. The planetarium has a well facilitated library containing books on science and technology.
6. Rajarani Temple
Rajarani temple is one of the most renowned temples in Bhubaneswar. It is made from the wonderful red and gold sand stone, which is locally known as Rajarani and this is what gives the temple its name of ‘Raja Rani’. Its unconventional name is perhaps derived from the history of its origins. It is believed that king Udayata Keshari built this temple to honuor the wish of his mother. Rajarani temple of Bhubaneshwar is dedicated to Lord Brahma. The origin of this temple can be dated back to 11 century.
The pillars of the temple are decorated superbly. Although there are images of gods and goddesses but there is no deity in the temple. Rajarani temple is an elegant example of great art and architecture. The sensuous beauty of the female from and the sweetness of flowers and fruits are enhanced by the artist’s dexterous skill.
The highlight of the temple is the fine sculptures of dikpalas or guardians of the eight directions carved around the shrine. The sculptural images adorning its facade and interiors are simply outstanding. Females are portrayed in different postures,like holding the child in their arms, holding mirror in their hand, etc. Rajarani temple has also been ornamented with marvelous artistic sculptural carvings and stands enclosed within a beautiful garden.
7. Mukteswar Temple
Mukteswar temple was built in 10th century. The temple is decorated with very fine and beautiful carvings by Viswakarma Moharana sculptors. The art work done inside the temple is really admirable. There is a tank within the temple premises which is used by devotees. There is a popular belief that tossing coin inside the tank will make wish come true and cure diseases. The red sandstone wall of the temple is craved with figures or lean holy men and women covered with jewels. Another interesting thing about this temple is its curved-top entrance which dates back to 900 AD. The entrance is built in the style of Buddhist architecture. The temple is well maintained and large number of devotees visit to pay homage to the deities on auspicious days. Parsurameswar temple and Kedareswar temple are close to this temple.
8. Dhauli Giri
Situated near the banks of river Daya near Bhubaneswar, Dhauli is known to have been the silent witness of one of the most flaming wars in annals of Indian history. In 261 B.C the famous Kalinga war is said to have taken place here. The war occurred as Asoka, one of the most valiant emperors of ancient India desired to include Kalinga into his empire. But Kalinga dared to defy the mighty emperor. What ensued was a war that left millions dead on the battlefield. Legend has it that the river Daya turned red as blood of countless warriors spilled on it during the war. Ashoka’s rock edicts are still present here and they depict the teachings of the emperor. Also a Buddhist stupa, known as Shanti Stupa, is located here and it has been constructed by monks from Japan.
9. Ekamra Kanan Botanical Garden
Ekamra Kanan is the biggest botanical garden and park in Bhubaneswar established in 1985. It is spread over more than 500 acres of land. The park area is covered with a large green lawn and a three-kilometer long walkway. It is full of large trees everywhere. Inside the park, there are areas developed as flower gardens of different varieties. The park also contains a playground and lawn at its center with several swings, slides, and climbing structures.
10. BDA City Centre (formerly BDA Nicco Park)
11. Ocean World Water Park
12. Regional Museum of Natural History
13. Ekamra Haat
Ekamra Haat is situated in the heart of Bhubaneswar city with a span of 5 acres of land. It is a popular place for sprawling and purchasing handicraft and handloom products. The shops in Ekamra Haat displays various crafts like stone carving work, wood carving work, applique, pattachitra, cane & bamboo work, dhokra, bell metal, terracotta work, palm leaf engraving, and art textiles such as Bandha sarees from Sambalpur & Nuapatana.
Not only a place for arts and crafts but Ekamra Haat is also a popular entertainment spot. Programs like fancy shows, musical shows and talent shows are being organised on the stage of Ekamra Haat.
Sisupalgarh is a historic place with the ruins of a fortified city strewn all over the area. Historians believe that this city dates back to the third or fourth century. Sisupalgarh is a token of the rich civilization of Odisha.
Excavation conducted here by the ASI in 1948 has revealed that the site was in occupation from the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. to the middle of the 4th century A.D. The early Period, 300 to 220 B.C., represents the settlement in its formative stage when the people used plain pottery, from dull-grey to terracotta-red in colour. The culture of the site reached its height in the early phase, 200 B.C, to A.D. 100 when a sophisticated bright-red polished ware appears in a variety of forms, with applied and incised decorative designs. In the late phase of the Period, A.D. 100-200, the glorious of the culture is obvious.
Ratnagiri was once an important centre of Mahayana form of Buddhism, situated in the Brahmani and Birupa river valley in the district of Jajpur. The small hill near the village of the same name has rich Buddhist antiquities.
However, during the 8th and 9th century A.D, it became a great centre of Tantrik Buddhism or Vajrayana art and philosophy. Pag Sam Jon Zang, a Tibetan source, indicates that the institution at Ratnagiri played a significant role in the emergence of Kalachakratantra during the 10th century A.D.
The place is located on a small hill top over-looking the vast plains dotted with green hills in the distance. A large-scale excavation has unearthed two large monasteries, one of them identified as Sri Ratnagiri Mahavihara Aryabhikshu Sangha that holds beautiful doorways, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and a massive idol of lord Buddha.
Apart from this one can also find sculptures based on Hindu mythology. Ratnagiri boasts of a splending Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.
Ratnagiri is also famous for its Archaeological museum.
Udayagiri, one of the three major Buddhist attractions of the State, situated in the district of Jajpur, has assumed importance after recent excavations which revealed that the ancient name of the monastery as ‘Madhavapura Mahavihara’. The archaeological remains at Udayagiri consist of a brick stupa, two brick monasteries (one excavated and the other still unexcavated), a beautiful stepped stone well with inscriptions on it, and rock-cut sculptures at the top of the hill behind. Chronologically, the Udayagiri Buddhist Complex is younger than Ratnagiri and Lalitgiri, and is believed to have probably flourished between the 7th and the 12th century A.D.
The earliest Buddhist Complex dating back to the 1st Century AD, Lalitgiri forms an important node of the Diamond Triangle i.e., Lalitgiri (in present Cuttack district) and Ratnagiri and Udayagiri (in present Jajpur district). The majestic ruins of the huge brick monastery, the remains of the Chaitya hall, a number of votive stupas and a renovated stone stupa at the apex of a small rugged sandstone hill dominate the rural greenery around. In addition, the museum displays a large number of Mahayana sculptures consisting of colossal Buddha figures, huge Boddhisattva statues, statues of Tara, Jambhala and others. Interestingly, most of these sculptures contain short inscriptions on them. The Standing Buddha figures, with knee length draperies over the shoulders reminds the influence of the Gandhara and Mathura school of art.
Chandragiri is situated at about 90 km from Paralakhemundi and 15 km from R. Udayagiri. Chandragiri is famous for the Tibetan settlement and for the Buddhist monastery located by the side of it. There is a Buddhist temple which is very attractive with beautiful paintings on the wall. All around the temple there are well maintained gardens.
19. Deras and Jhumka
Deras and Jhumka are two beautiful picnic spots situated in Khorda district at a distance of about 15 kms from Bhubaneswar. Deras and Jhumka are actually two dams but the exhilarating scenic beauty of the place has made it a good picnic spot. Every year in winter season thousands of picnickers visit this place to enjoy a day out in the lap of nature. Three heavily dense forested hills surrounded the dams on three sides and the remaining side is all covered with water up to the horizon. It is a place worth visiting.
Situated at a distance of 20 km from the capital city, Barunei Hills near Khurda provides a different experience to the visitor with its mixture of serene green surroundings, nice stream that flows to form a beautiful pond and the temple.
The temple on the famous Barunei hills is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Barunei. A beautiful stream flows from the hills which is known as Swarna Ganga, which enhances the beauty of this place. This place is recognised as one of the most significant historic places of Odisha.
The hill is full of medicinal plant species and the pond where the water gets stored has become a favourite spot for the tourists to take bath. The excess water goes down the hill.
For the picnickers, Barunei is a fun-filled experience as it offers everything from the trekking on the hills to religious and historic spots nearby.
Atri is a small village in Begunia police station situated in Khurda district. It is by road about 13 km.from Khurda and 2 km. from Baghamari. Amidst paddy fields a hot spring bubbles up from the ground and a strong odour of sulphur pervades the locality. The temperature of the spring water is about 55 degree celsius. The water of the hot spring is collected in a reservoir which is provided with outlets to prevent stagnation. The circumference of the reservoir is 10 feet and the depth is 15 feet. The water is clear and stones lying at the bottom of the reservoir are visible when the sun’s rays fall on the water. It has been calculated that per hour 375 cubic feet of water is flowing out of the reservoir.
The temple of Hatakeswara (Siva) is situated near-by where Sivaratri and Makar Sankranti festivals are held and are attended by a large number of people. The Makar Sankranti festivals lasts for about a fortnight. On the Sankranti day nearly twenty thousand people congregrate at the mela. There is a belief that the spring has the miraculous power of removing the curse of barrenness from women. People throw into the reservoir coconuts, betel nuts, and other fruits and flowers as offering.