Orissa is the state in eastern part of India that has been an integral part of many historic upheavals. Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, is a place that brings out many memories of India’s past. The city which has witnessed Kalinga war, the bloodiest war in the history of India, is a must visit tourist destination. Bhubaneswar, along with Puri and Konark, form the golden triangle of Orissa, the most admired of its tourist destinations. Here is a list of some of the amazing places to visit in Bhubaneswar.
Selected Places to Visit in Bhubaneswar
1. Lingaraj Temple
Temples are such a common sight in Bhubaneswar that it is often referred to as the ‘Temple city of India’. Lingaraj Temple is one among the famous temples of Bhubaneswar. This architectural marvel is dedicated to Harihara, a combined form of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The temple is a fine example of Kalinga style of architecture and is the biggest in Bhubaneswar. It has been constructed out of sandstone and laterite. The central tower of the temple is 180 feet tall, majestically adorning skylines of Bhubaneswar. Lingaraj temple is one of the most amazing places to visit in Bhubaneswar, owing to its spiritual and architectural significance.
2. Puri Temple
Jagannath Temple of Puri, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is one of the most revered places of worship for Hindus. It is one of the ‘Char Dhams’ or holy worship places of Hinduism. Puri temple is most famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival, where the three main deities are placed in a decorated chariot and carried along the streets. Though located at around 50 kms from Bhubaneswar, a visit to Puri temple is an essential itinerary of all guests touring Bhubaneswar. Being located along the eastern coast, Puri beach is an added attraction. Fine white sands of the beach are too tantalizing! Puri beach is also known for sand sculptures by internationally famed artist, Sudarshan Patnaik.
3. Nandankanan Zoological Park
Moving away from temples, Bhubaneswar has natural beauty also in abundance. Nandankanan Zoological Park is spread over 400 hectares of land and is one of the most amazing places to visit in Bhubaneswar. As the name suggests, it is a garden of heaven indeed. It houses a botanical garden which has attractions like medicinal garden, butterfly garden and rose garden. A paradise for all lovers of green! The zoo has some endangered and rare species of animals like white tiger and Indian pangolin. A reptile house protects all snakes and crocodiles. Visit this park to behold all forms of animal and plant life, in one go.
4. Mukteswar Temple
Another gem among temples of Bhubaneswar, Mukteswar temple is a feast for eyes. The rare architecture of the temple is what it is most famed for. A blend of traditional methods combined with experimental changes, the style of construction is totally unique. This temple built in 10th century, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Though not very huge in terms of size, it attracts lots of visitors. Arched gateway and octagonal compound wall of the temple are unlike any other. Intricate stone carvings are found everywhere in the temple, on the external walls, interiors and even on ceilings. With a structure that speaks of rich heritage, this temple is a must go place.
5. Chilka Lake
Located around 60 kms from Bhubaneswar, Chilka Lake provides for a wonderful detour from your trip. This is Asia’s largest salt water lagoon and is known for its bio-diversity. The lake is separated from Bay of Bengal by just a narrow strip of land. Unique terrain of the area consisting of wetlands and small islands sprinkled all over, has made it home to several rare birds and animals. During migratory seasons, the lake and its surrounds will be teeming with feathered friends from around the globe. A boat ride in the waters of Chilka Lake with serene waters and amazing landscape engulfing you, something to be tried once in life at least!
6. Dhauli Hill
Dhauli Hill, the place where Kalinga war took place, is one of the most amazing places to visit in Bhubaneswar, just for this reason. Kalinga war was the most iconic war in the history of India, where the great Emperor Asoka had a glorious win. But the bloodshed and aftermath of war had tremendous influence on the king, which led to his renunciation and subsequent embracing of Buddhism. Today, Dhauli Hill is known for its Buddhist shanti stupa built by Japan Buddha Sangha. There is a massive rock on which edicts of Asoka are engraved. A visit to this place will fill your hearts with awe and respect for the great warrior.
7. Konark Temple and beach
A trip to the temple in Konark, dedicated to sun god, is unavoidable when you are anywhere near it. Unique chariot shaped structure of the temple finds place in every guide book on Orissa. Being located close to the shores, Konark temple and beach are mesmerizing for tourists. European sailors had nicknamed the temple as ‘Black Pagoda’ as the tower of temple appeared to be black when viewed from far seas. The stone chariot has 12 pairs of wheels carved out of stone and is driven by seven horses. Konark temple faces the east and is designed in such a way that first rays of sun fall at the feet of main deity. Such superb engineering skills in those days! This temple is definitely a matter of pride for every Indian.
8. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves
The twin caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri are vestiges of Jain influences in Orissa. These rock-cut shelters of Jain monks take you to another era and is highly regarded among the amazing places to visit in Bhubaneswar. The caves are partly natural and partly man-made. The caves dating back to 2nd century have fine carvings on the walls. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are situated on two adjacent hills. In Udayagiri, there are 18 caves while in Khandagiri, there are 15. Most famous of these caves is the Rani Gumpha, a double storied cave with magnificent sculptures in it. There are many ancient inscriptions also on the walls of several caves.
9. Orissa State Museum
Orissa museum is a storehouse of history. From Kalinga kingdom to Jain and Buddhist cultures, Orissa has been privy to lot of cultural exchanges. This museum has exhibits on all those pasts. It is divided into several sections like archaeology, numismatics and arts. It has a collection of palm leaf manuscripts also. A rare privilege to view ancient poems and epics in their original form! A must visit place for tourists with a taste for history.
10. Hirakud Dam
When the longest man-made dam in the world is located 2 to 3 hours’ drive away from Bhubaneswar, wouldn’t you love to explore it? Hirakud dam, built across Mahanadi River, was one of the first river projects of independent India. It is an engineering marvel. The reservoir of the dam is one of the largest artificial lakes in Asia. The dam, reservoir and its surrounding greenery are stunningly beautiful. There is a revolving minaret at one end of the dam, giving panoramic views of the vast expanse of water.
A visit to Bhubaneswar reaches its culmination when you have bagged some indigenous stuff from here. And Pipli is just the place for this. The village Pipli, one of the most amazing places to visit in Bhubaneswar, is noted for its colorful applique work. Step into the village and you are greeted by a riot of colors. Every house and shop along the road will have something beautiful displayed outside. Applique craft, which originated as a temple art, has now gone much beyond. You can buy bags, dresses, covers or even umbrellas with the unique work on it.
Whether it is history, natural beauty or shopping that keeps you going, Bhubaneswar has something to offer for you. One thing is guaranteed, in your trip to Bhubaneswar, there won’t be a single dull moment.