Odisha has been a preferred destination from ancient days for people who have an interest in spirituality, religion, culture, art and natural beauty. Ancient and medieval architecture, pristine sea beaches, the classical dance Odissi and ethnic dance forms like Chhau, Ghumura and Sambalpuri and a variety of festivals. Odisha has kept the religion of Buddhism alive. Research suggests about evidences of Gautama Buddha’s birth in Odisha. Rock-edicts that have challenged time stand huge and over-powering by the banks of the Daya River. The torch of Buddhism is still ablaze in the sublime triangle at Udayagiri, Lalitgiri as well as Ratnagiri, on the banks of river Birupa. Precious fragments of a glorious past come alive in the shape of stupas, rock-cut caves, rock-edicts, excavated monasteries, viharas, chaityas and sacred relics in caskets and the Rock-edicts of Ashoka.
Odisha is famous for the world famous Jagannath Temple (Puri), UNESCO World Heritage Site Konark Sun Temple and The Leaning Temple of Huma. Out of total 4 Chausathi Yogini temples all over India, 2 are in Odisha, in Hirapur and Ranipur Jharial. Famous Oriya Sanskrit Poet Jayadeva, who wrote famous Gita Govinda, a poem of divine love between Lord Krishna and Radha with other Gopis, dedicated to Lord Jagannatha, was born here in Kenduli Sasan village near Khurda.
Rajarani Temple (name derived from the sandstone in which it is made), is an architectural marvel like Khajuraho located in Bhubaneswar (The Temple City of India), containing more than 500 ancient temples. Lord Lingaraja Temple (a 12th-century AD temple), Kedaragauri Temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Brahmeswara Temple are some of the many magnificent Temples in the capital. Bhubaneswar has State Museum, Regional Museum of Natural History (having one of the two eggs of an extict species in the world), Botanical Garden, Jain centres like Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Dhauli White Pagoda where Chandashoka became Dharmashoka.
Odisha is the home for various tribal communities who have contributed uniquely to the multicultural and multilingual character of the state. Their handicrafts, different dance forms, jungle products and their unique life style blended with their healing practices have got world wide attention. The well-known Ratha-Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri and Sitalsasthi Carnival of Lord Shiva in Sambalpur are must see for anyone who want to see a glimpse of the art and culture of Odisha at one place.
The Indian Revolutionary saying “Give me Blood, I will give you Freedom”, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born in Cuttack, whose House (Janakinath Bhavan) is now a museum, well equipped to provide details of his life-history. The medieval capital, Cuttack has a treasure to share with you, the Barabati fort (witnessing Gangas, Marathas and British), the silver filigree works, Katak Chandi Temple, Barabati Stadium, Qadam-I-Rasul and Dhabaleswar temple (having longest rope-bridge in India succeeded by Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh). Eastern Ghats’ highest peak, Mahendragiri, where Lord Parshuram is still in meditation, according to Ramayana and Mahabharata is in Gajapati district.
Sites/Cities/Places of Interest :
1. Bhubaneswar – Lingaraj Temple, Rajarani Temple, Dhauligiri, Khandagiri and Udaygiri, Nandankanan Zoological Park.
2. Cuttack – Barabati Fort, Katak Chandi Temple, Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri, Dhabaleswar Temple.
3. Puri – Jagannath Temple, Chilika Lake, Konark Temple and Beach.
4. Sambalpur – Samaleswari Temple, Hirakud Dam.
5. Berhampur – Gopalpur-on-Sea, Taptapani, Taratarini.
6. Bhitarkanika Sanctuary
7. Similipal Biosphere Reserve
8. Dhenkanal – Kapilas, Saptasajya
9. Balasore – Chandipur-on-sea, Chandbali, Chandaneswar, Panchlingeswar, Aradi (Lord Akhandalamani).