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Best Indian Travel Guide

ABOUT ORISSA

The landscape of Orissa is scattered with a huge number of temples. The temples of Orissa conform to the Indo Aryan Nagara style of structural design, with distinguishing features specific to this region. The best known of these are the Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneshwar, Jagannath Temple at Puri and the Sun Temple at Konark. The temples of Orissa exhibit a royal grandeur. An Odia temple deula usually consists of a workroom, one or several front porches jagamohana usually with pyramidal roofs, a dancing hall nata mandir and a hall of offerings bhog mandir.

The Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneshwar boasts of a high deul while the Jagannath Temple at Puri is about high and it dominates the skyline of the town. Only a segment of the Sun Temple at Konark, the major of the temples of the Golden triangle exists today, and it is still astounding in size. It stands out as a masterpiece in Orissa architecture. Orissa is also well known as a Buddhist and Jain pilgrimage purpose. North-east of Cuttack, about 10 KM from Bhubaneshwar, there are Buddhist relics and ruins at the three hilltop complexes of Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, which still bear witness to Buddhism's fruitful tryst with this region until well into the 13th century.

 

PHYSIOGRAPHY

Orissa Physiography is closely related to the Geography of Orissa. The east Indian state that encompasses a net area of 1,55,707 Sq. Km hugs the capacious shores of the Bay of Bengal with a coastline that stretches for about 450 km. The state is together with this between the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar and stretches across the latitudinal parallels extending between 17°49' North and 22°34' North and the longitudinal meridian that spans between f 81°27' East and 87°29' East. Orissa is drained by the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Subarnarekha, Rusikulya and the Budhabalanga rivers along with their tributaries and distributaries. According to the physiographic conditions, the topography of Orissa is categorized into the following heads namely, the Central plateaus, the eastern Coastal Plains and the Middle Mountainous and Highlands Region. Numerous mountainous springs and hot springs gush down the mountains of Orissa. The Satpasajya, Harisankar, Chandikhole, Barunei, Badaghagara, Sanaghagara, Narayani, Nirmalajhar, Patalaganga and Nursinghanath are some of the noted hilly streams that flow through Orissa. Physiographically the State can be divided in to five distinct units, namely (i) Coastal plains, (ii) Northern uplands, (iii) The erosional plains of Mahanadi and other river valleys (iv) South Western hilly region and (v) Subdued plateau.

 

BEST TIME VISIT

The best time to visit Orissa is from October to March. Orissa is one of the coastal states of India, which is full of natural as well as architectural prettiness. People come here from the diverse corners of India as well as the world to spend their vacations. For this, they need to know when to visit the state. For travelers coming on holiday tours, the best time to visit Orissa is between October and March. Infact, this is the peak season for Orissa travel as during this period, the weather is at its very best and just fitting for traveling and sightseeing purposes.

 

FAIRS & FESTIVALS

Orissa being a land of ancient and sacred temples, and a state where three religions flourished, is throng by pilgrims throughout the year. There are a great number of fairs and festivals celebrated in the state. There are festivals relating to each religion, tribal festivals, festivals relating to Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of the Puri Temple, and many seasonal exhibitions and fairs as well as special festivals such as the Konark Festival, the Rajarani Music Festival, the Puri Beach Festival etc..

  • Jagannath Tampal Festival (Rath Yarta) : Ratha Jatra, the Festival of Chariots of Lord Jagannatha is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Orissa, on the east coast of India. The presiding deities of the main temple, Sri Mandira, Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel Sudarshana are taken out from the temple confines in an elaborate sacrament procession to their respective chariots. The huge, colourfully decorated chariots, are drawn by hundreds and thousands of devotees on the bada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha temple, some two miles away to the North. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode in Srimandira.
  • Chandan Yatra : This festival is most intricate in Puri and attracts thousands of pilgrims from far and near. On all the twenty-one days the entire road from the shrine of Lord Jagannath leading up to the Narendra Sarobar (a sacred tank in Puri town) along with the houses on both sides is decorated. At some places, especially in front of Maths (monasteries) or at cross-roads big toranas (arches) are erected where the idols take casual rest and receive offerings The delegate images of the deities installed in temples such as Madanmohan (representing Lord Jagannath), Laxmi and Saraswati are taken in a richly decorated palanquin by the sevakas accompanied by priests, musicians and dancers to the Narendra Sarobar at night. The tank is copiously lighted with thousands of audience milling and jostling all around in expectation of the arrival of the procession. The principal deities are also followed by different deities from different shrines of the town. After reaching the Narendra Sarobar, the images are then placed on different well decorated boats and they are rowed for a long time by the Sevakas. During the rowing ceremony Devadasis (temple-dancers) dance and sing on the boat.
  • Devasnana Purnima : Devasnana Purnima or Snana Yatra is wholly a festival of Lord Jagannath and is said to be one of the oldest. According to Skanda Purana when Raja Indradyumna installed the wooden deities he arranged this bathing ceremony. This day is considered to be the birth-day of Lord Jagannath. Held in the full-moon day of the month of Jyestha this festival is also at the same time held in all other significant shrines of Orissa. However, the festival being most elaborate and important at Puri, it attracts thousands of visitors and piligrims from all over the country.
  • Makar Sankranti : It is Celebrated in the month of January, Makar Sankranti is a festival devoted to worshipping of the Sun God. It is especially celebrated with passion and eagerness at a few places in Orissa that include Atri, Keonjar and Chilika.
  • Konark Dance : Using Konark Temple (world heritage site) as the backdrop to the classical dance festival attended by leading performers in all the classical dance forms, Konark Dance Festival is as popular as the Khajuraho Dance Festival in Madhya Pradesh, India and is held in the month of December.
  • Baliyatra : Bay of Bengal had been a popular trade route for the ancient travelers and merchants to access the Indonesian Islands. To remember the successful years of commercial sea journeys, a festival called Baliyatra is held annually (around November - December) on the Mahanadi River bank at Cuttack. Unmarried girls also celebrate the same day of Karthik Purniam as a day of worshipping moon for a handsome husband.

 

FLORA & FAUNA

Owing to its healthy climate, the state of Orissa has a 33% of its land covered by forests. Commonly classified into two categories namely tropical moist deciduous and tropical dry deciduous, these forests are the store houses of Bamboo, Teak, Rosewood, Sal, Piasal, Sanghvan and Haldi. The hills, plateaus and inaccessible areas of the northeastern part of the state are covered by the tropical moist deciduous forests whereas the second types of the forests are located in the southwest region of the state. Marvelous growth of the forests naturally accounts for a widespread habitat for various species of wild animals. The Red Data book of IUCN has recorded a total of 473 species of birds and 86 species of mammals, 19 species of amphibians and 110 species of reptiles including three crocodilian species. Out of these around 54 species in total are the scarce ones.

 

HOW TO REACH
  • By Rail : There is a good train network also that connects Calcutta, Puri, Madras, Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Tirupati and Trivandrum to Bhubaneswar by express and super express trains plying to and fro on a daily basis.
  • By Road : Orissa is well connected to its neighbouring states through a good road network.
  • By Air : Regular flights landing at the only major airport of the city namely Biju Patnaik Airport connect it to all the major cities of the country such as Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Raipur.

 

THE MAJOR PLACES IN ORISSA

Orissa is home to a rich culture and heritage. There are a number of monuments and destinations in Orissa that make the state one of the popular tourist destinations in India. Besides the natural beauty, there are a number of religious (sacred) places in Orissa that are closely related with Hindusm, Buddhism and Jainism. The grand structural design and monument of Jagannath temple, Lingraja temple, Mukteshwar temple and the Sun temple leave the visitors spellbound. Events like the holy Jagannath Rath yatra in Puri attract a large number of devotees every year. In addition to the above mentioned tourist attractions there are many other popular spots in Orissa, which are worth visiting!

  • Bhubaneswar : Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa, is situated in its eastern side. The city boasts of majestic temples and shrines, which form a major part of its tourist attractions. It serves as the ideal example of the fusion of age-old civilization and mores and modern aspirations. This is one of the basic reasons why tourism is Bhubaneshwar is gaining drive day by day. People are coming to the city from various parts of India as well as the world to witness it unique magnificence.
  • Konark : It is Located at a distance of nearly 65 km from Bhubaneswar, Konark city is famed throughout the world for its magnificent Sun Temple, which is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. It is one of the three cities that form the Golden Triangle of tourism in Orissa. Konark is a city that is well known for its architectural wonders. Besides the plentiful temples and maths, its other major attraction is the Konark Beach, one of the most charming beaches of India.
  • Puri : Puri, known as the abode place of Lord Jagannath, is one of the most visited tourist destinations of India. It is situated on the eastern side of Orissa and lies about 60 km away from the capital city of Bhubaneswar. The major attractions of the city include its amazing temples and stunning beaches. There are four sacred Hindu Dhams in India and Puri is one of them. The city is also known as 'Jagannath Puri', 'Martya Vaikuntha' or 'Sri Purusottama Dham'.
  • Jagannath Temple : Jagannath Temple is one of the most renowned as well as the biggest temples of Orissa. Established in the 12th century, the temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), Lord of the Universe. The credit for laying the groundwork of the Jagannath temple of Puri goes to Raja Ananta Varman Chodaganga Dev. The temple is located at a distance of 60 km from Bhubaneswar, on the coast of Bay of Bengal, and is greatly respected by the devotees following the Vaishnava traditions.
  • Udaigiri : Udaigiri, along with Ratnagiri and Lalitagiri, forms the Buddhist Triangle in India. The city is positioned in the state of Orissa and holds the division of being its largest Buddhist complex. Excavations are being carried out at the site by the Archaeological Survey of India, since quite a long time. The most recent ones led to the unearthing of a monastery, by the name Madhavapura Mahavihara. This monastery is decorated with a large number of Buddhist sculptures, which are definitely worth having a look at.
  • Ratnagiri : Ratnagiri is a superb Buddhist site that comes under the Jajpur district of Orissa. It is positioned at a distance of approximately 100 km from Bhubaneswar and 70 km from Cuttack. The site, situated on a small hill, stands bounded by rivers from all the sides. As you climb up to Ratnagiri, you will come across glorious views of vast plains, full of lush greenery. Excavations were carried out at the site and they led to the unearthing of two large monasteries, one of them being Sri Ratnagiri Mahavihara Aryabhikshu Sangha.
  • Udaigiri & Khandagiri Caves : Some of the popular caves in Khandagiri include Akshay Ganga, Gupta Ganga, Shyam Kund and Radha Kund. One of the most motivating caves is the 24-Tirthankaras Cave. It contains the carvings of the twenty-four Apostles of Jainism, on the monolithic stones. There is another mesmerizing cave known as the 'Ganesh Cave'. Udaygiri & Khandagiri caves are one of the famous tourist attractions near the Bhubaneshwar city of India today.
  • Dhauli Hill : Dhauli Hill, one of the most visited Buddhist pilgrim destinations in India, is situated in the state of Orissa. It is located in the Khurda district, at a distance of around 8 km from Bhubaneswar. The hill represents the place where, after witnessing the carnage of Kalinga War, Emperor Ashoka relinquished war and adopted Buddhism. Serving as a proof of this repudiation are the edicts of the Emperor, which have been preserved here.
  • Lingaraj Temple : Lingaraj temple is one of the most admired temples of Orissa. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, also known as 'Lingaraj'. It is ornamented with beautiful sculptures, which have been carved on the spire. Lingaraja temple is around 54.8 metres high and enshrines a huge statue of Lord Shiva, made up of granite. The idol is 8 feet in diameter and is placed on a raised area that is about 8 inches above ground. The deity is bathed everyday with water, milk and bhang (marijuana).
  • Chilka Lake : Lying on the eastern coast of Orissa, Chilka Lake is one of the most required after tourist attractions near the holy city of Puri. The source of the lake is the Mahanadi River, which drains into it. Chilika Lake is one of the largest lakes in not only India, but also Asia and stretches over an area of 1,100 sq km. It is a very trendy picnic spot and provides abundant opportunities for boating, fishing and bird watching. If you just want to relax and immerse the sunrays, this is the perfect place for you.

 

BEACHES IN ORISSA

 

WILD LIFE IN ORISSA

One of the most well-known regions for its wildlife sanctuaries, Orissa offers a sheltered yet natural habitat to the state's incredible wildlife. Out of 155,707 sq. kms geographical area of Orissa, 52,472 sq. kms is recorded forest area, but the actual figure is 47,033 sq. kms according to the survey conducted by State of Forest Report (SFR 1999. For providing proper protection to the wildlife and their habitat 18 sanctuaries are notified as Protected Areas such as Gahirmatha Wildlife Sanctuary, one National Park (Bhitarkanika), one proposed National Park have been notified under the provisions of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Tigers, Leopards, Elephant, Bear, Deer, Sambar, Black Buck and Wolves are seen frequently in the dense forests and hilly parts of the state.

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