Odisha, once known as Orissa, is a place with lots of architectural wonders. Odisha is famous for its heritage sites and enthralling views. From beaches to pilgrimage sites, Odisha offers a lot of sightseeing opportunities to travellers from across the globe.
Moreover, Puri Beach Festival and the Jagannath Rath Yatra attracts tons of tourists to Odisha yearly. This must-visit state in India is filled with museums, beaches, temples, and more.
Puri is a must-visit place for any devout Hindu as the 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. Apart from these religious and historical sights, one should also definitely make time to visit natural attractions such as the Puri Beach (Puri lies along the coastline of the Bay of Bengal) and India’s largest salt-water lake – the Chilika Lake. The best time to visit is during the month of June and July when the Rath Yatra takes place. If religious fervour does not appeal to you then you can go there between the winter months of November to February. Make sure you do not miss out on Puri among the places to see in Odisha.
Bhubaneshwar is famous as the temple city of India because of the presence of more than 700 temples dating back to various times in history. Apart from that, it is also a thriving city for business and one of the tourist attractions of Odisha.
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. The mix of modernity and tradition in this city is worth witnessing first-hand. Apart from the temples, a trip to the 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.
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Cuttack is the second-largest city in Odisha and is also known as the cultural capital of the state. This is in no small measure due to the range of cultural activities that keep happening here. Prime among these is the Bali Yatra. This 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.
Arguably, the most famous seaport of India, Paradip as mentioned earlier has a busy international seaport and the city has amazing beaches that offer spectacular views of the areas around. The Paradip Beach itself is another place where you spend a day doing nothing and just feasting on the delightful seafood available on the beach. The famous Paradip Lassi is also known as Gaveskar Lassi. It is made out of coconut and is a must-try.
This is one of the tourist attractions that you cannot afford to miss. Home to the famous 13-century Sun Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sun Temple is an architectural marvel that is unparalleled. The temple is a representation of the Sun God Surya’s chariot that is drawn by six horses. 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. Other notable attractions here are the Chandrabagha Beach, Archaeological Survey of India Museum, and the Astaranga Beach. The best time to visit Konark is during the winter months of September to March when the weather is pleasant. Summers are humid and sticky and should be avoided.
While the Rath Yatra in Puri might take centre stage, devotees and pilgrims know that the Rath Yatra in Baripada is not something to be overlooked. The biggest and oldest Rath Yatra in Odisha after Puri takes place here. Hence the name Dwitiya Srikhetra (Second Puri) to Baripada.
The Rath Yatra here is one with a difference as a chariot of the Goddess Subhadra is pulled only by women and huge crowds gather here for this event. Another thing unique to this region is an event that is celebrated in April to highlight the Chhau dance, a dance indigenous to this region. Do not miss out on the Bangripori “tusser” fabric while shopping in the local market here. Some of the most notable attractions here are the Simlipal National Park, Jwala Mukhi Temple, Jagganath Temple, Baripada Museum, and the Palace of Mayur Bhanj, a palace belonging to the kings of Mayurbhanj. You can visit here for the best experience between the months of September and February. This is another one of the unique places to see in Odisha.
Once a bustling port city today this is one of the best beaches in Eastern India. This is the tourist place you head to when you want to relax and do nothing. The Gopalpur Beach is a beautiful beach whose beauty increases due to its remoteness, the lack of huge crowds there and the consequent peace and silence. The seafood here is also worth tasting as numerous shacks along the beach provide lip-smacking delights. The best time to visit this place is between the months of September and February. The sights worth visiting here are the Gopalpur Lighthouse and Chilika Lake.
Sambalpur is an entry point to Western Odisha and is home to abundant greenery. 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. As with other places to see in Odisha, temples constitute an important part of Sambalpur 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.
Known as the ‘steel city of Odisha’ and ‘Ispat Nagar’, Rourkela is an industrial city that was one of the first cities in India to become commercial. This was due to steel production by the Government. However, don’t be mistaken. There are many sights to see here that have nothing to do with steel. Some of these sights are Khandadhar Waterfalls, Darjing and Deoghaar and VedVyas, the meeting point of three rivers Sankha, Koel and underground Saraswati. The best time to visit Rourkela is between the months of October and March.
If you got the impression so far that Odisha is only famous for Hindu places of worship, you’re mistaken. The proof of that is Dhauli, which is a town 8kilometres away from Bhubaneshwar. It is located on the banks of the river Daya and is sacred to the followers of Lord Buddha. It is believed that Dhauli was the place where Emperor Ashoka reformed his character to become a peace-loving man after the battle of Kalinga. After seeing the Daya River turn red with the blood of those killed in the battle, Ashoka is said to have a change in heart and adopted Buddhism.
Today visitors can see an edict, a rock with inscriptions, talking about Ashoka’s views on war. Ashoka built many stupas and chaityas here after the war some of the remains of which can be seen even today. The Peace Pagoda here also attracts thousands of tourists every year. Other attractions here include rock-cut caves and Sadharma Vihar Monastery. The best time to visit Dhauli is between the months of October and March.
Not as famous as the other destinations on this list, but definitely no pushover, Bargarh is home to century-old temples and scenic beauty in the form of Gandhamadan, Pampanga Hills, Nrusinghanath Temple, Kedarnath Temple, and Chal Dhar Waterfall. Gandhamadan Parvat or Gandhamadan Mountain, which is mentioned in the Ramayana is located here. The best time to visit Bargarh is between the months of October and March.
Nature lovers will have a delightful time in Jeypore, which offers awe-inspiring views of rocky terrain, picturesque waterfalls, and thickly carpeted Biosphere Reserves. Deomali, the highest peak in Odisha is a popular picnic spot and is near Jeypore. Some of the other tourist attractions here are Gupteshwar Caves, Sunabeda, Deomali, Duduma Falls, Hatipathar and Jagannath Sagar. Jeypore is best experienced between the months of October and March.
So far you might be forgiven for thinking that Odisha is a place that has mostly got temples and beaches. Well, let us surprise you by telling you about Daringbadi, a hill station that lies at a height of 3000-feet. This is one of the most unique places to see in Odisha. Sun-kissed valleys drenched in dew, coffee gardens, and pine trees stand guard here. The best part about this hill-station is that you can go here at any time of the year. Wondering about the peculiar name? The place owes the origins of its names to a British office called Daring who was posted here. Soon, the place came to be known after him. More than 70 percent of this place is full of forests and thus the corresponding sights will also attract you. Some of the stellar attractions around this place are Belghar Sanctuary, Kotagarh Sanctuary, Hill Park View, waterfalls such as Daringbadi Waterfall, Badangia Waterfall, and Putudi Waterfall, the local market and turmeric gardens, coffee, and black pepper plantations.
Known as the “silk city” and also Brahmapur, home of Lord Brahma, this city is a unique mix of religious and commerce. Ikkat silk sarees are the speciality of this city and the different colours and patterns will simply arrest your attention.
The village Bomokei where excellent work of brass and metal is created is an attraction for tourists here. You can’t afford to miss out on the handicrafts. Handlooms and the jewellery that this place has to offer. The city is also famous for its mangoes, pickles, and papads. The Dhabaleshwar Temple and Beach are nearby.
These, in a nutshell, are the best places to visit in Odisha. Odisha has many faces to it besides the temples and the beaches it is famous for. Take the time to explore around and you will discover facets of this place that you didn’t know existed.
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