Take a look at the Odisha tourism logo and you can see the sun in all its splendour, shining down upon blue waves. This sums up the two most important aspects of Odisha tourism – sunshine and water. The sun shines brightly in the state with its fields providing a bounty of crops. It is also is an important element in the architecture of Odisha. Water on the other hand is available aplenty. Odisha is a coastal state, dotted with beaches – complete with golden sand and unspoilt locales. Adding to its beauty are temples that are architectural marvels dating back to thousands of years. Come, join us as we take you through a quick journey of the delightful destination that Odisha is.
Odisha is a fascinating state of enchanting beauty. Being a state that is relatively unexplored, Odisha has a lot to offer a traveller on wanderlust. Massive temples, pristine beaches, lush country sides and religious festivities thronged by devotees are the major draws in the state. Here is a look at some of its main attractions.
A major tourist draw, the temple at Puri is known for its architectural grandeur and splendid beaches. If you visit the Jagannath Temple, you would experience the power of faith first hand. The fervour in the atmosphere is palpable, making this a prominent place of worship for the Hindus. The temple town plays host to the annual ‘Rath Yatra’ or the chariot festival where the idols of the temple are taken out on a procession. The congregation that happens amid great fanfare is an experience in itself.
Puri Jagannath Temple
Puri is famous not just for its temple, but also its beach. You can walk along the Bay of Bengal coast to catch the sunrise or marvel at the sand artists who display gorgeous pieces of art along the beach. The beach also hosts the Puri beach festival – an initiative started by the Ministry of tourism.
Sun Temple Konark
The city that put Odisha on the world map is the magnificent 13th century Sun Temple at Konark. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple is situated on the shore, amidst sparkling sand. The temple derives its name from the words Kona and Arka which mean corner and sun respectively. Designed in the shape of a colossal chariot with twenty four wheels, the temple carrying the Sun God appears to be drawn by a fleet of seven horses. While the main tower has collapsed, the carving on its walls, the wheels and the horses are a sight to behold.
The capital city of Orissa is known as the ‘Temple city of India’. The landscape of the city is dotted by numerous temples. According to scriptures, the city once boasted of over 2000 temples, of which only a few hundred remain today. Most temples follow the Kalinga architectural design with a pine spire.
When in Bhubaneshwar, do not forget to visit the Dhauli hill that has major edicts of Emperor Ashoka carved on a rock. It is at this location that he is supposed to have realised the horrors of war and started championing peace and humanity. The Peace Pagoda, popularly known as the ‘Shanti Stupa’ is the major draw at this location. Climb up the hills for a breathtaking view of the city and for a peaceful sojourn in between your travels.
Odisha is a paradise when it comes to its beaches. The eastern coastline is blessed with long stretches of gleaming sand and sparkling blue sea, making the state a heaven for beach lovers.
Olive Ridley Turtles
The Balaramgadi beach near Chandipur is an excellent location to the watch the sun rise and to take a walk on the sand along the beach. Odisha also boasts of the world's largest nesting beach for Olive Ridley Turtles at the Gahirmata Beach. It is recognised as a marine wildlife sanctuary where you can spot hundreds of turtles on the beach beginning november every year.
Another beach that you should visit is the Gopalpur beach with its swaying coconut trees and sand dunes to enjoy the rhythmic waves lapping at your feet.
The number of fairs and festivals in Odisha are not accounted for, but they do draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. The most popular festival is the Rath Yatra at the Puri Jagannath temple that happens during the last week of June. That the festival was attended by over 900,000 devotees and this is a great opportunity to get a taste of the traditions of Odisha.
Rath Yatra, Puri
If June is not a convenient time to visit the state, then we suggest that you try to visit Odisha during the ‘Durga Puja’, which is held in September or October. During the ten day long festival huge tents or ‘Pandals’ are erected all over the state where massive idols of Goddess Durga are installed and worshipped. The idols are brought out on a procession on the tenth day and immersed in water.
A visit to Orissa can transport you into history with its charm of a bygone era. The state also provides ample opportunities to experience breathtaking sights nestled in the lap of nature.
Image credit: Indian Pilgrim Tours, Wikipedia, Orissa Tourism, Flying the Nest, South Updates