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. Let’s explore the 10 best historical attractions in Bhubaneswar.
1. 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.
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.
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. 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.
5. 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.