Tourism of Orissa presents myriad options to enchant tourists of varied interests and geographies. Orissa is situated on the eastern coast, along the Bay of Bengal. The hills, green forests, golden beaches and ancient temples are the treasures of Orissa, which together endow it with immense tourism potential. Orissa is rich in its art and architecture, customs and traditions, culture and languages.
The temple architecture of Orissa is simply exquisite, and is endowed with a timeless appeal. The most magical expression of the temple architecture of Orissa can be seen in the Lord Jagannath Temple. Built in the twelfth century, it has been dominating the landscape of Puri since then. This 214 m structure has Lord Jagannath as its presiding deity, whose idol resides in the main temple, along with the idols of his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. However, there are many other temples of a plethora of gods and goddesses in the sanctum. All total, there are 120 temples in this sprawling complex. The elaborate sculptures representing a vivid kaleidoscope of the life in ancient India, which adorn the walls of the majestic temple, are truly spellbinding. The temple kitchen produces 'bhog' or offerings to the Lord Jagannath for more than 10,000 devotees in a day.
During Rath Yatra, the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, embark on a week-long-holiday to their maternal aunt's home. The deities start their journey from the Jagannath Temple, and their 2 km long journey ends at Gundicha Ghar. The idols are placed on ornate chariots, which are hand drawn to their destination by throngs of crowd. The entire environment colours with a frenzied euphoria, where a sea of crowd participate. Devotional songs along with beats of cymbals and drums rule the festive environment, which is infused with gaiety and religious fervour. Crowds get frantic to barely touch the ropes of the chariots. This annual festival, which generally takes place in July, is an important tourist attraction of Puri, and Orissa.
Of course, if you visit Puri, you cannot simply miss its beach where you can see the Bay of Bengal at its turbulent best. Here watching sunrises and sunsets can be ethereal experiences; worth cherishing for a lifetime…if not more. Just 32 km from Puri, and 65 km from the state capital Bhubaneshwar, lies Konark with its Chandrabhaga beach and the world renowned Sun Temple, for the world to behold. The sea from the Chandrabaga beach is as beautiful as Puri; but the beach is less crowded. The Sun Temple at Konark, which was built in the thirteenth century, is a sublime erotic poetry engraved in stone for the eternity to get inspired. Even in its ruined state, the clusters of temple in the Sun Temple complex amply reflect the glory of Kalinga architecture, and whispers to us that sex in ancient India was not a dirty word.
The Lingaraj Temple and the Rajarani Temple in Bhubaneshwar also need to be covered to give a holistic feel to your temple sojourn of Orissa. Khandgiri and Udaygiri hills with their caves for the Jain monks, dating to the 1st century BC, can also be wonderful dates with history and heritage, when in Bhubaneshwar. They are located just 7 km from the state capital.
When in Bhubaneshwar, do visit Nandankanan- which is a large zoological park where you can see an astonishingly rich variety of wildlife in their natural habitat. Asiatic lions, white tiger, Nilgiri langur, Sangal lion-tailed macaque, an awesome variety of feathered species and reptiles comprise the vivid fauna of this sanctuary, which is situated just 20 km from Bhubaneshwar. The other famous sanctuaries of Orissa are Khalasuni, Debigarh, Lakhari valley, Karlapet, Ushakothi, Bhitarkanika and Kuldiha sanctuary. They can give enough adventure options for the intrepid travellers to explore upon.
Another highpoint of the tourism of Orissa is the famous Chilka Lake; the largest brackish water lake of the Asian continent. In fact, it is not a lake, but a lagoon, where besides fishing, watching of colourful migratory birds and celebrating nature while on a boating expedition, you may also see dolphins in their playful moods. Shoot them if you can, but only with a camera.
To end your Orissa trip, there is nothing better than to indulge in a shopping spree and acquire some wonderful handicrafts of the state as your prized mementos. Or buy some of its sleek handlooms with their captivating motifs, which your loved one is sure to love. They, along with the splendours of the state's nature and architecture, would induce you to undertake the never-ending journey of Orissa again and again.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/14