Straddling the western reaches of the beatific Bay of Bengal, Odisha is home to both pristine natural beauty, rich cultural diversity and a thriving urban sector. There are quaint fishing villages, rolling hills and miles and miles of beautiful beaches. There are vibrant cities, fertile flood plains, fresh water lagoons, beautiful forests and endless things to do. There is an abundance of seafood and the local food is simple yet delicious. The state is home to some of the most noted places of religious importance in India including the Jagannath Temple in Puri, the Sun Temple in Konark and the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves near Bhubaneswar. Other places to visit and tourist attractions include wildlife sanctuaries, historic monuments, picturesque beaches and bird watching spots that can all be included in your Odisha tour.
History of Odisha – an Overview
Its history is more than 5000 years old that became famous during Kalinga Rule – ruled by the Great Ashoka – the greatest Mauryan Emperor who overcome almost the entire country and even neighboring countries as well. After Kalinga rule, Guptas ruled the state in the 4th century. 10th Century witnessed the Bhaumakara dynasty followed by the Soma Dynasty. When Mughal and British ruled the entire country, Odisha also became the witness of their ruling time. it became a constituent state of India in the year of 1950.
History of Odisha has treasured a lot that you can explore in awe inspiring monuments, ancient temples, numerous wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, stunning natural landscapes, and different UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Put simply, culturally rich land of Odisha (Orissa) is dotted with thousands of temples from the ancient time that confirm to the Indo Aryan Nagara Style of architecture with distinctive features specific to the region.
Main Cities of Odisha
- Bhubaneswar – the capital city of the state, is one of the largest cities in Eastern India and even entire country. It is the commercial, industrial, educational, political and tourists hub of the state. Apart from the capital city, other main cities include Cuttack, Bhadrak, Puri, Rourkela, Ganjam, Konark, Jajpur, Paradip, Jagatsinghpur, Khordha, Balasore, Gajapati, Mayurbhanj and the list goes on.
Temple in Odisha – the Pride of the State and Architecture Wonders in India
- Bhubaneswar – the capital of Odisha, is known as the Temple City of India known for hundreds of temples of ancient time. However, Shri Jagananth Puri Temple (One of the Char Dhams or Four Most sacred places in India), the Sun Temple Konark (Konark Sun Temple) built by the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar are must see temples in the state.
Locally called as Deula, temples in Odisha consists of a sanctum along with front porches (called as Jagamohana) with pyramidal roofs, danving hall and hall of offerings or Bhog Mandir. Shri Jagannath Temple – the 200 feet (61 mt) high temple is one of the most beautiful temples in India that draw the attention of devotees to the sacred city of Puri.
Not forget to mention Konark Sun Temple – the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also wonderful temple that forms the Golden Triangle tour in Odisha. It is around 65 km from Bhubaneswar. During your tour to Puri, visiting Konark is certainly a good way of exploring the rich heritage of Odisha.
Some other temples in Bhubaneswar are also worthwhile to see that include Rajarani Temple, Mukteswar Temple, Brahma Temple, Parsurameswar Temple and the list goes on.
Apart from the aforementioned temples, Odisha has also a significance presence in the map of Buddhist and Jain Pilgrimages in India. Caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri that still witness the Buddhism, persuade Buddhist and Jain followers towards the beautiful state in Eastern part of India.
Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks
- Odisha is known for wildlife sanctuaries and national parks that are natural habitat and breeding centers of different endangered species of animals, birds and reptiles. According to records, out of 155,707 sq. kms geographical area of Orissa, 52,472 sq. kms is recorded forest area. Bhitarkanika is the most popular national park in Odisha known for providing a natural habitat to different species of animals, birds and reptiles like Leopards, elephants, bear, deer, Sambhar, Blac Buck, wolves and the list goes on. Apart from this, there are numerous other national parks and bird sanctuaries like Balasore, Similipal Park, Kuldiha, Chandbali, Dangamal, Ekkakula, Garhimata, Nandankanan and the list goes on.
Beaches in Odisha – Offering a Bland of Greenery and Golden Sand
- Apart from temples, wildlife sanctuaries and different prehistoric to contemporary monuments, Odisha is also known for wonderful beaches. Some of the popular beaches of Odisha include Baleshwar Beach, Balighai Beach, Chandipur Beach, Gopalpur On Sea, Konark Beach, Paradeep Beach, Puri Beach in Odisha.
Chilka Lake – a Must See Destination in Odisha
- Chilka Lake is one of the biggest salt water lakes in India and Asia as well. Chilika Lake is an ideal place for bird watching, fishing, boating and different water sports.
Dhauli Hill – A Famous Buddhist Pilgrimage in Odisha
- It is one of the popular and most visited Buddhist pilgrimage in Khordha District of Odisha. The beautiful and holy place is around 8 km from Bhubaneswar.
Fairs and Festivals in Odisha
- Culturally rich state of Odisha is known for celebrating fairs and festivals in a grand way. different festivals and fairs are organized and celebrated throughout the year. some of the popular names are:
- » Puri Rath Yatra (Car Festival, Chariot Festival or Jagannath Temple Festival)
- » Chandan Yatra
- » Devasnana Purnima
- » Makar Sankranti
- » Konark Dance Festival
- » Baliyatra
- » Mahaashtami
- » Dussehara
- » Apart from the aforementioned fairs and festivals, Diwali, Holi, Raskhabandhan, Eid, etc are also celebrated in a grand way.
Flora and Fauna in Odisha
- Full of greenery and beautiful beaches, the state of Odisha owns a healthy climate. 33% of its land is covered by the forest ranges classified into two categories that include tropical moist deciduous and tropical dry deciduous. Forest ranges include bamboo, teak, rosewood, sal, Piasal, Sanghvan, Haldi and the list goes on. The hills, highlands and remote areas of the north-eastern part of the state are covered by the tropical moist deciduous forests whereas. On the other hand, dry areas are located in the southwest region of the state. Spectacular growth of the forests naturally accounts for a widespread habitat for various species of wild animals.