ENTHR ALLING AND ENCHANTING WONDERS OF ORISSA
Orissa, the ninth largest state of India is located on the southeastern part of our nation, India. It is a place with lots of architectural wonders. It is famous for its heritage sites and enthralling views. From beaches to pilgrimage sites, this place offers a lot of sightseeing opportunities to travellers from every part of the word. There are so many hidden treasures inside this least explored place. "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man”, Those words of honourable Rabindranath Tagore for the Konark has still been managing their way into history books and is a reminder for what 'the temple city for India' has in store for us. There is a huge history of successive rules of different dynasties and assimilation and mixture of the best of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu cultures and also Mahima culture. Did you know that it was also a maritime empire with overseas trading routes stretching up to Indonesia, in that time. Here the stones, architecture and unique history of the nation speaks louder than humans. Odisha speaks eloquently of a living past continuing present and prospective future. You can have carefree beach walks with your loved ones or have a self introspection time to unforgettable strolls, early morning drives through the caves revealing the very historic existence of India. There is so much to explore here, this place should be on your itinerary. You must plan a trip to Orissa to experience and explore the uniqueness of this state. From the wide expanse of arid lateritic soil the hills Udayagiri and Khandagiri separated from each other by a narrow row through which passes modern road between Bhubaneswar and Chandaka to 33 rock cut caves.
This place has so much of history, since Orissa has gone through myriad of phases. From Ashoka to Akbar many mighty rulers have reigned this region. Orissa acquired the status of a province in 1936 after getting separated from Bihar. It got its existing form - area and structure- following the independence of India and acceded the statehood in 1950. This place has Puri, which is highly visited every year by the devotees for religious purposes. And did you know that it is one of the Char Dham’s of India is located at the coast of Bay of Bengal in Orissa. It also houses the largest coastal lake in India Chilka lake. Apart from sighting of the new species, you can witness more number of migratory guests in Chilika Lake. far off places including Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, remote parts of Russia, Central and South East Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come to the Chilika lake in every winter for feeding and roosting. They start their homeward journey with the onset of summer. And after that it’s their time to go back. Isn’t it a great calling for wildlife lovers, photographers and bird watchers too? Did you know this is also one o the historic lake since, Merchant ships used to travel from Chilika to South East Asia.
Best time to explore and experience the ancient city of Orissa:
The best time to explore is during October - February, that is the winter months. You can get indulged in remaining outdoors. The pleasant temperatures of the winter climate and the dry, clear skies and atmosphere make for perfect sightseeing weather. With an average temperature range of 10ᴼC-25ᴼC, it is also the season when the migratory birds visit this part of the country, making it a great place for bird watchers to explore. So winters would be a great time for you to plan the trip with your friends and family. You will witness the two beauties together as in, Eastern Ghats on one side and the Bay of Bengal on the other. Being home to hundreds of temples, Orissa also holds a religious and spiritual significance that is unlike any other in eastern India, so you can plan your trip itinerary accordingly.
March-June is the official summer time. Summers in Orissa are harsh with the temperatures soaring up to 45 degrees. It is highly advisable to stay indoors in the afternoon hours to avoid the sweltering heat, the evenings can be pleasant enough to enjoy some outdoor sightseeing. During evening time you can go for a stroll after sunset and have a good time exploring the city streets. But at the same time, you can witness a whole lot of colour and versatile culture through Festivals like the Chandan Yatra, Maha Vishuva Sakranti, and the most important of them all, the Rath Yatra. And these all are celebrated during summer. So if you can endure enough, and ready to witness the new culture this is a good time too.
July - September is an official monsoon season in India. The rainy monsoon season is not an ideal time to visit Orissa, which comes under the influence of the southwest monsoons and receives heavy rainfall that averages around 150 cm annually, beginning in July and lasting all the way till the month of September. Situated in the coastal region, Orissa also witnesses frequent cyclones and tornadoes during monsoon, and the major rivers in the state occasionally overflow and cause floods as well. Since these are the case, it’s not recommended to travel to this region during these months for your safety.
Places to explore in Orissa:
Puri: Puri awaits you with a whole Bunch of idyllic beach walks and strolls by sipping some tea or coffee. And apart from the natural beauty this place has so much significance for religious aura too. ThIS place is one of the char dhams or four must-visit holy places for Hindus. Puri is famous for scenic sights as well as its religious and historical sights. The Jagannath Temple, which is famous across India is located here. The world-famous rath yatra or chariot festival starts from this temple every year in the month of June-July. History and heritage are inseparable in Puri and this is reflected in its most famous Sun Temple of Konark, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And for witnessing the iconic Rath Yatra you need to plan the trip in the month of June- July. Even though its super hot at that time, lakhs of devotees throng by. Make sure you do not miss out on Puri among the places to see in Odisha.
Key highlights of Puri:
1. Jagannath Temple
2. Puri Beach
3. Gundicha Temple
4. Narendra Pokhari
5. Balghai Beach
6. Sudarshan Craft Museum
7. Alarnatha Temple
8. Sri Jagannath Temple
9. Markandeshwara Temple
10. Chilika Lake
11. Beleswar Beach
Bhubaneshwar: being the capital city, how can you miss this? Also this place is famous as the temple city of India because of the presence of more than 700 temples since the time immemorial. This ancient city whose name translates to ‘Lord of the Universe’ attracts tourists and devotees from across the country. The temples are any history buff’s dream come true as the different temples from different eras represent the architecture of that period. Temples such as the Lingaraj Temple, Rajarani Temple, and the Parasurameshwara Temple are examples of the grandeur and splendour of different ages. The sheer beauty of these temples is enough to mesmerize tourist and devotee alike. So be it a devotee or be it a photographer. This place is a paradise for all. From the temples to Nandankanan Zoological Park, one of India’s largest zoos is a must for any nature lover. The Museum of Tribal Arts and Artefacts and the Odisha State Museum will provide rich insight into the rich tribal culture and history of the state. How versatile!
Key highlights of Bhubaneshwar:
1. Lingaraj Temple
2. Udayagiri And Khandagiri Caves
3. Rajarani Temple
4. Mukteshvara Temple
5. Odisha State Museum
6. Ekamra Kanan Botanical Gardens
7. Dhauli Shanti Stupa
8. Deras Dam
9. Biju Patnaik Park
10. Regional Science Centre
11. Chandaka Reserve Forest
12. Parashurameshvara Temple
13. Ram Mandir
14. Baitala Deula
15. Ananta Vasudev Temple
16. ISKCON Temple
17. Hirakud Dam
18. Parasurameswara Temple
19. Bindu Sarovara
20. Brahmeswara Temple
21. Tikarpada Wildlife Sanctuary
22. Museum of Tribal Arts & Artefacts
23. Nandankanan Zoological Park
24. Chausath Yogini Temple
25. Kedar Gauri Temple
26. Nicco Park
27. Pathani Samanta Planetarium
Cuttack: it is the second-largest city in Odisha and is also known as the cultural capital of the state. This city has also been known as “the millennium city” or the “silver city” of India. The city’s name actually refers to the forts and citadel. the Bali Yatra is one of the well known festival is a reminder of the glorious past of the city and the trade links it had with places such as Bali, Java, and Sumatra. Another notable festival is the Kite Festival held in the month of January every year. The places that should be on every tourist’s list include the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary home to the endangered Olive Ridley turtles, the prominent seaport and the beach of Paradip, the 14-century Fort of Barabati, the Mahanadi Barrage, and the temples of Singanatha and Bhattarika.
Key highlights of Cuttack:
1. Barabati Fort
2. Kataka Chandi temple
3. Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary
4. Kadam Rasul Mosque
5. Netaji birth place
Konark: this temple is one of the most important Brahman sanctuaries, and is a world heritage site. It takes the form of the chariot of Surya, the sun god, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. The temple is now partly in ruins, and a collection of its sculptures is housed in the Sun Temple Museum, which is run by the Archaeological Survey of India. There are 24 wheels of the chariot that have different symbolic designs on them, which are rock-cut. This place is also famous for the Konark Dance Festival, which sees dancers from across India assemble at the Konark Temple and perform there. Similarly, the Sun Festival is another festival here, which attracts lots of people. Devotees offer their homage to the Sun God by taking a dip in the sea. To understand the temple one need to travel inside and that's why the temple is just unique in the world. Very deep knowledge and observation is required.
Key highlights of Konark:
1. Sun Temple
2. Ramachandi Temple
Baripada: known for its glorious history. Although its royal splendor may have faded with time, the erstwhile stronghold of the mighty Bhanj dynasty continues to nurture its age-old cultural legacy. The mystic allure of this picturesque city is further enhanced by the chiming of temple bells from the numerous ancient shrines that adorn the cityscape. It would be a great place to capture some historic privilege. You can make a visit to the magnificent Mayurbhanj Palace. And make sure to shop some ethnic crafts and tribal artifacts, beautiful souvenirs such as tribal Dhokra art and wares made of Sabai grass. And don’t miss the annual festival of Jagannath Ratha Yatra and the 15-day Jagadhatri Fair are the ideal occasions to partake in the age-old rituals and celebrations.
Key highlights of Baripada:
1. Kichakeswari Temple
2. Simlipal National Park
3. Sri Jagannath Temple
4. Jaranda Falls
5. Jwalamukhi Temple
6. Kichaka Garh Fort
Sambalpur: this place is in western Orissa and home to abundant greenery. You will definitely get captivated in the serene Rivers, lush green forests, and majestic hills teeming with wildlife are some of the specialities of Sambalpur. The famous Hirakud Dam is also here in Sambalpur. Also there is a famous Devi Samaleshwari here and lots of devotees visit the different temples here. Devi Samaleshwari is the reigning goddess here, which is also where Sambalpur gets its name from. Sambalpur is also famous for its handlooms and textile industry and the Sambalpuri sarees are renowned across India for their craftsmanship and finesse. The months from September to March is the best time to visit Sambalpur.
Key highlights of Sambalpur:
1. Hirakud Dam.
2. Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary.
3. Samaleswari Temple.
4. Huma Temple.
5. Ghanteswari Temple.
Local food you must experience in Orissa:
Odisha khichdi is one of the most important dishes, being offered as the main bhog to Lord Jagannath at the Puri Temple. The perfect combination of rice and lentils cooked together in ghee.
Chungdi Malai, delicious creamy prawn curry, where the creamy part comes from the coconut milk. The richness and silkiness of this fantastic dish are further enriched by light and mild spices.
Macha Ghanta, must offer to Durga Maa on Dussehra, this tempting curry consists of the fried head of the fish and is served with hot steamed rice and salad. The curry is a rich blend of onions, potatoes, garlic and the regular spices.
Dalma, It is made with roasted moong dal without any onion or garlic. A few regular spices along with a cup of veggies are added to it to give it a lip-smacking flavour.
Pakhala Bhata, cooked rice in water and sour curd. It is served with potatoes, fried fish, papad and Badi choora, which is dried and nut-like urad and black gram.
Dahi vada and Aloo dum, dahi vada and aloo dum are considered to be two separate dishes, Odisha offers a distinctive blend of the both. The relishing taste of dahi vadas carefully neutralises the spiciness of aloo dum, giving the taste that every Odia craves for. So its a must try street food.
Chhena Poda, Chhena Poda, also known to be Lord Jagannath's favourite sweet and is often offered to him at the Puri Temple. The lingering taste of burnt home-made cottage cheese and semolina combined with sugar syrup.
Kanika, was the favourite Indian dish before biriyani, and fried rice took its place. The aromatic basmati rice can be a replacement from the raw rice that's usually prepared to make Kanika. Mostly prepared as offering in temples and it’s the basic staple of Orissa household.
Santula, Oriya dish is a fried or boiled vegetable curry that slurps down your tongue with every spoon. With a blend of raw papaya, potato, tomato and brinjal, the dish is nothing less compared to any other healthy food. Cheers to people who diet.
Chaatu Rai or Chaatu Besara is a nutritious vegetable dish that's very popular in Orissa. The ingredients that enrich the taste of it are turmeric powder and tomato with a bunch of mushrooms cooked in a tangy, delicious mustard paste.
Kadali Manja Rai, banana stem curry seasoned with garlic cloves, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, coriander with two red chillies makes the perfect side dish for a meal.
Besara, This simple aesthetic dish is a mixture of potato, pumpkin, banana and papaya. The mustard seeds, cumin seeds, garlic and dry chilli, make it flavoury to the authentic taste of Odia.
Chakuli Pitha, is a renowned dish from Odisha that is quite like a Dosa. This gluten-free delicacy tastes really well with Aloo Bhuja, Ghugni or jaggery.
Kora Khai, is a sweet dish for Odia people. There are very few ingredients used to prepare Kora Khai. It is basically a mixture of 4 ingredients that are Khai, coconut, jaggery (or sugar) and cardamom. Compared to other sweets, it's a bit more hard and chewy.
Chhena Jhili, is another sweet dish from Odisha's cuisine. It's core ingredient is curd cheese that is moist and crumbled (commonly referred to as Chhena). The other ingredients are sugar, sugar syrup, ghee (clarified butter), wheat flour, cardamom powder, semolina, curd (optional) and a tad bit of salt. A soft dough-like mixture is prepared to make small sized balls, which are then deep-fried in oil. It is a must try especially for those who love sweets.
Accessible routes for Orissa:
By air: You can get direct flights from major metros in India like Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai to Bhubaneswar’s Biju Patnaik International Airport. The airlines operating flights to the airport comprise Air India, IndiGo, GoAir, SpiceJet, Vistara and AirAsia. Flights are available at a decent frequency.
By rail: Odisha’s most prominent railhead lies in its capital city, Bhubaneswar. Some of the popular trains to serve the Bhubaneswar Railway Station include Coromandal Express, Konark Express, Rajdhani Express, the Puri-New Delhi also called Nandankanan Express, connecting you to cities like Kolkata, Puri, Delhi, Guwahati, Chennai, Mumbai, Tirupati, Hyderabad, Trivandrum. There are buses and cabs available outside the railway station as soon as you get out, to take you further to your destination.
By road: The major cities of the country are well connected to this eastern state by way of national and state highways. The NH16 passes along the east coast of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha. The road connects Sambalpur, known for its textiles, with Chhattisgarh, Kolkata and Madhya Pradesh. There are several inter-state bus service available from the neighbouring states. The two-laned and four-laned highways of Odisha are bliss to drive on. You can even hire a taxi or take a private inter-state bus to reach Odisha. For access to Odisha by road, you can use the NH5, 6, 23, 42 as well as 43.