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The Eastern side of India has a mix of rich culture and heritage. It is home to many ancient temples. The state is a complete package of incredible places to visit, lip smacking delicacies to taste, serene beaches to unwind and unlimited shopping varieties, to make your holiday a memorable one. Other than the most visited destinations in the state which includes the “Golden Triangle”- Puri-Konark-Bhubaneswar, Odisha has countless places to go to which are yet to be explored by the tourists across the globe. Since the autumn break is soon going to knock on your doors we take the opportunity to introduce these astonishing places to plan your holiday around.
1. Lingaraj Temple
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Bhubaneswar also popularly known as “City of Temples” has approximately 700 finest temples giving a religious importance to the city. Many of them are pretty old temples built between 6th and 20th century representing the quintessence of the Kalinga (now Odisha) Architecture. Other than the world famous Sun temple, the city has an old temple namely Lingaraj temple dedicated to Harihara who is a combined form of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The temple is the largest temples of Bhubaneswar and witnesses an average of 6000 visitors every day.
How to reach: 5 kilometres away from the Bhubaneswar Airport.
2. Jagannath Temple, Puri
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Considered as one of the holy pilgrimage (chaardhaam) of India, Puri is world famous for the annual Rath Yatra festival in which the three deities including Lord Jagganath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subadhra are hauled on huge chariots sanctioning every individual to seek their mystical enchantments. The temple has one of the largest kitchens in the world where every day Mahaprasad (56 bhog) is being cooked in earthen pots and then offered to the Lord and finally gets distributed amongst the worshippers. Other than this sacred Hindu divine place, Puri is quite popular for its Puri beach which is always crowded by tourists. Shopping enthusiasts must stop at Pipli/Pipili which is 36 kilometers from Puri, on the way to Bhuvaneshawar. The place is famous for its beautiful Applique handicrafts and Pattachitra paintings designed by the local artisans.
How to Reach: Nearest railway station is just 3 kilometers away from the temple, however it is around 50-55 kilometers from the capital city and would take an hour’s time to reach the temple.
3. Konark Sun Temple
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This masterpiece is indeed the best of the Indian architecture with exquisite carvings of dancers, musicians, celestial beings and other living bodies depicting the daily aspects of life from the 13th century. Designed in the form of a giant chariot of the Sun God which has 12 pair of beautifully adorned wheels (representing the 12 months) drawn by the 7 horses (representing the seven days of the week. Additionally called as Black pagoda mainly due to the black stones it has been composed of, the temple is just 2 – 3 kilometres away from one of the pristine beaches of Odisha popularly known as Chandrabagha beach. This less crowded beach is one of the favorite beaches amongst its tourist.
Closed on: Fridays
How to Reach: Fly down to Biju Patnaik International Airport (Bhubaneswar Airport) and enjoy a road journey of 1.5 – 2 hours in a car or public bus to reach the Konark Temple.
4. Dhauli Giri
Image credit: www.kalingabudhha.com
Once believed as the battlefield of Kalinga war, Dhauli later turned into a place symbolizing tranquility as a result of the heart change of the emperor Ashoka after experiencing the magnitude of horror of the loss of human life. A major Buddhist centre, this place is truly meant to melt away all your stress in a jiffy. The edicts of Emperor Ashoka as well as the splendid Buddha statues embossed on the giant rocks of Dhauli giri are indeed a pleasing sight for the eyes.
How to Reach: Fly down to Biju Patnaik International Airport (Bhubaneswar Airport) and enjoy a road drive of half an hour.
5. Khandagiri Udaigiri Caves
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Once the residence of Jaina ascetics, it is one the popular destinations of Odisha. Khandagiri and Udaigiri caves are situated on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. The place is a picnic spot for many local tourists and an impeccable hangout place for students due to its comeliness. Comfortable clothes and shoes are recommended to visit this mini trekking site which is a perfect amalgamation of natural and partlya-rtificial caves and have nearly 18 caves in Udaigiri and around 15 caves in Khandagiri with carvings of sculptures, Hindu deities and few inscriptions engraved on these rocks.
Best time to visit: Remains open all days of the week from 8 am to 5 pm
How to reach: 20 minutes car drive from the Bhubaneswar Airport and 20 – 30 minutes from the Bhubaneswar Railway Station.
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One of the oldest cities of Odisha, Cuttack is the former capital and second largest city of the state. Well known for the cricket matches held in the Barabati stadium, it is equally famous for being called as the silver city of Odisha. The city is flooded with local artisans and jewel craftsman creating filigree work with silver pieces. Barabati Fort which is situated right next to the Barabati stadium is surely a place to visit in the twin city. Most of the parts are in ruins now yet worth to visit to experience the historical importance of this place.
How to reach: Nearest Railway Station is Cuttack or 30 -40 minutes road drive from the capital city.
7. Chandipur Beach
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Watching the sea to get vanished (approx 5 kms) far from the sight of your eyes is one of the most infrequent views to experience when you are at Chandipur beach. The low tides can be too tempting for a walk on the sea bed however can be dangerous during high tides. Surrounded by coconut and pine trees, it’s a great place to unwind and relax a bit. The sand dunes can be often seen with lots of red crabs finding their ways to move.
How to Reach: Nearest railway station is Balasore which is 16 kms from the beach and it is around 200 kms away from Bhubaneswar.
8. Talasari Beach
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One of the virgin beaches of Odisha, this place would allure you to its immense beauty in no time. The beach is surrounded by palm and coconut trees and its calm sea waves are simply amazing to glance at. Its literal meaning is Row of Palm trees as Tala means Palm and Sari means Row. Close to Digha, you will find a lot of Bengali tourists at this beach. Not known to many, this place has stunning backwaters, too.
How To Reach: Nearest railway station in Odisha is Jaleshwar, which is 36 km away from the capital city and the nearest airport is Bhubaneswar Airport, which is 300 km away.
9. Chilika Lake
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Offering a spectacular view to its tourists, Chilika Lake is one of the must to visit places in Odisha. Considered as Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, it is the homeland to many migratory birds coming from all over the world. Boat ride to Kalijal Island where the Kalijal temple is situated is never missed by the tourists and often they ride towards Satpada to spot the dolphins.
How to reach: 55 kms away from Puri
10. Bhitar Kanika National Park
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The Kendrapada district of Odisha is well known for its national park which is a domicile to saltwater crocodiles, King Cobras, Phythons and many other species. The park has one of the largest populations of endangered crocodiles (~1671) in India with a length up to 20 feet and weights up to 1000 kg. The land of lush green mangroves and winding curves of water courses, the place works like a soothing therapy due to its calm and tranquil ambience. The 2016 figure verbalizes that this wetland hosted to around 1 lakh migrant water birds this monsoon which is quite a rise in number as compare to 96,437 visiting birds in 2015. Closed between: July and August due to the breeding time of the reptiles
How to reach: 170 kms road distance from Bhubaneswar which would take nearly 8 hours to reach the national park.
Two days stay is recommended due to the long journey involved and prior permission to enter the national park from the forest authority is recommended. The place also has few decent resorts and hotels for a comfortable stay and lip smacking sea food dishes.
Other than these 10 incredible destinations of Odisha, the state has many other places including Gopalpur beach, Koraput for its water falls, Paradip beach, Simlipal national park in Mayurbhanj district, Kapilash temple in Dhenkanal, Ma Tarini temple in Ghatgaon and many other beautiful destinations which are yet to be explored by the tourists. Considering the humid weather and immense rainfall of the state, it is recommended to visit the state during the winter season starting from October to March.
Have you been to this lovely city? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.