7 Places to visit in Orissa
A coastal state, Orissa has some religiously significant monuments along with miles of white sand beaches and a well developed infrastructure for the traveller.
The temple cities of Puri, Bhubaneswar, and Konark are topmost in the itinerary of a visitor to Orissa. There are also natural waterfalls, the sculptural art of the rock caves, the Buddhist and Jain relics, hills , forests, wildlife and some lesser-known temples which offer a unique, unspoilt charm which is unparalleled.
There are various industrial belts as well as some mining areas. Orissa offers cotton and silk fabrics, seafood, silverware and wooden handicraft items.
Details of tourist places to visit in Orissa : –
Bhubaneswar, seat of an ancient kingdom and the present capital of the state of Orissa has long been considered as the jewel of eastern India.The present city marks the merger of the cultures of over two millions.
Starting near the site of the ancient capital of the kingdom of Kalinga bhubaneswar has a history that dates back to over 2,200 years. It was here that in 3rd century BC Emperor Ashok of the Mauryas fought his last great battle against the petty kingdom of Kalinga.Unable to bear the guilt of massive destruction of life and property, he forsook war and adopted the path of Lord Buddha, of peace and amity.
Various dynaties have imprinted on bhubaneswar their message of peace and at one time it is said the city could boast of 7000 temples. Of these only about 500 still survive in varying degrees of repair.
It was only in 1950 A D that the capital of the state of Orissa was shifted from Cuttack to bhubaneswar. With the result that the present city is lush and green and a charming departure from the bustle of modern cities. Few buildings exceed two stories, fruit trees line every road, and occasionally lush green paddy fields and rivers add a delightful rural touch.
Orissa is poised on the brink of large-scale industrialization which could result its competing in importance with other major industrial towns of India’s eastern region. Already bhubaneswar and Puri are popular venues for conferences, not only from Calcutta but from multi-national companies based in Bombay.
Quite apart from its business connection, bhubaneswar is an important landmark for sightseers; a convenient base for excursions to other parts of the state; the variety of handicrafts makes it popular with every shopper; an abundance of freshwater fish and prawns is the delight of the seafood lover. Best is one of the least expensive destinations in the entire country. Bhubaneswar is among top tourist places to visit in Orissa.
Places to visit in Bhubaneswar, tourist attractions are Temples such as Parusurameswara, Mukteswar temple, Raja rani temple, Brahmeswara, Kedargauri, Ananthavasudev, Mausima, Lingraj, and destinations like Dhaulgiri, Udaygiri, khandagiri, Nandan Kanan Zoo, Museum.
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Often called Jagannath Puri, it is amongst the best known coastal towns of eastern India. Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th century AD Hindu religious reformer and sage, provided the town sanctity by establishing one of the four Dhams, or the holiest of all places, here. It thus became the home of Lord Vishnu, here called Jagannath, literally Lord of the Earth.
Over the centuries many a fine temple have been added to the city marking its eminence amongst Hindu pilgrimages.Puri throngs with pilgrims from all parts of the country throughout the year, the peak season being during the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath. Then a sea of humanity, of all faiths and religions, descend on the town, some to worship and participate, others to see and marvel.
And though, the Jagannath Temple precincts maybe barred for Non-Hindu the excellent sea coast of Puri is open to all. Miles and miles of golden sands, blue waters of the Bay of Bengal. The silvery surf breaking on the beaches are another facet of the city’s attractions.
Puri is also, a souvenir hunters delight. Miniature stone sculptures, wood carvings, patta-paintings, mementoes and decorative items made of seashells and a host of other articles attract. Puri is among top tourist places to visit in Orissa.
Tourist attractions to visit in Puri are Gopalpur, Chilika lake, Jagannath temple, Gundicha Ghar, Indradyumna Tank and beach.
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Standing alone amongst the sand dunes along the Bay of Bengal, the Sun Temple of Konark, also known as the Black Pagoda, is a splendid example of ancient Orissan temple architecture. Centuries of myth and legend shroud its history.
According to one legend, Samba, the son of Lord Krishna, was afflicted by leprosy because of a curse by his father. He was cured by the sun god after a penance of 12 years, in whose honour he built the temple. Another legend holds that the son of the craftsman who built the temple sacrificed his life in the neighbouring river to keep his father’s reputation.
The sun Temple is, by far, the most important reason for every visitors to Konark, though, the sea shore and the beach is an added attraction. Konark is among top tourist places to visit in Orissa.
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Dhauli hill on the bank of the river Daya is a little away from the main road as one drives to Puri/Konark from Bhubaneswar. This stands as the mute witness to the great Kalinga war which was fought in the third century B.C. The great transformation, unprecedented in whole of the world, took place here.
Asoka, the great seeing the horrors of war changed his mind in favour of spiritual conquests in preference of his war exploits. He donned orange robes and the world saw in Asoka the making of a great patron of Buddhism. Dhauli is famous for the Asokan rock edicts which are inscribed on a rock, with the relief of an emerging elephant at top. These contain eleven of the well known set of fourteen rock edicts found within the limits of the Asokan empire. Here Asoka had got inscribed two seperate rock edicts specially for the people of Kalinga.
The serenity of the place and the legacy of Buddhism motivated the Kalinga Nippon-Buddha Sangha, under the guidance of Guruji Fujii. Founder President of Nipponzan Myohoji of Japan to establish a peace pagoda or shanti stup at Dhauli along with the construction of a monastery called Saddharma Vihar in early seventies. Along with the Asokan Edicts, the peace pagoda and modern Buddhist monastery, Dhauli offers the visitors small rock cut caves. Hindu temples of early medieval period and a renovated Siva temple known as Dhavalesvara on top of the hill as added attractions. Dhauli is among top tourist places to visit in Orissa.
The beautiful rural landscape, the old monuments, the new peace pagoda and the temple on the top of the hill with a winding Daya river flowing by offers a sublime tranquility and meditative serenity.
Lalitagiri, the earliest Buddhist complex of 1st century A.D. nd which forms a part of the mini golden triangle, is well connected to Bhubaneswar by a good road. The recent excavation has brought to light significance archaeological material which upholds Lalitagiri as a great center of Buddhist attraction.
Lalitagiri lies majestically in the ruins singing the glory of a past heritage. The huge brick monastery, the remains of a chaitya hall, a number of votive stupas and a renovated stone stupa at the apex of a small rugged sand stone hill dominates the rural greenery around.
In addition, the museum displays large number of Mahyana sculptures consisting of colossal Buddha figures, huge Boddhisattva statue, Tara, Jambhala etc. Intrestingly, most of these sculptures contain short inscriptions on them. The standing Buddha figures with the knee-length draperies over the shoulders reminds one the influence of the Gandhara amd Mathura school of art. This also brings to mind the fact that Prajna, who had come from Takshasila to ancient Orissa to learn the yoga philosophy, later left for China with the autographed manuscript of Buddhist text Gandavyuha from the then Orissan king Sivakara Deva I to the Chinease Emperor Te-Tsong in eogth century A.D.
The discovery of caskets containing sacred relics, probably of the Tathagata himself, from the stone stupa at the top of the hill further enhances the sacredness of the stupa and the place for the Buddhists of the world. It also brings to mind the description of Hiuen Tsang, the Chinease traveller of the 7th century A.D. about the magnificent stupa on top of a hill at Puspagiri Mahavihara which emitted brilliant light because of its sacredness. The search is on for the identification of Puspagiri with Lalitagiri. Lalitgiri is among top tourist places to visit in Orissa.
All the above make Lalitagiri the first prioroty for the tourists, particularly the special groups from the Far-East as well as South-East Asian countries.
Ratnagiri of the Birupa rivervalley in Cuttack district is a faous Buddhist center. The small hill near the village of the same name has rich Buddhist antiquarian remains. A large scale excavation has unearthed two large monasteries, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and a large number of votive stupas. The excavation revealed the establishment of this Buddhist centre at least from the time of the Gupta king Narasimha Gupta Baladitya (first half of the 6th century A.D.) . Buddhism had developed at this place unhindered up to the 12th century A.D. In the beginning this was an important centre of Mahayana form of Buddhism. During the 8th-9th century A.D. this became a great centre of Tantric-Buddhism or Vajrayana art and philosophy. Pag Sam Jon Zang , a Tibetan source, indicates that the instituations at Ratnagiri playes a significant role in the emergence of the Kalachakratantra during the 10th century A.D. This is quite evident from the numerous votive stupas with reliefs of divinities of the Vajrayana pantheons. Seperate images of these divinitied and inscribed stone slabs and moulded terracotta planques with dharanis found in the excavation at Ratnagiri.
All the above indicates the importance of Ratnagiri as one of the main Buddhist centres of Orissa from very early times. The Mahavihara at Ratnagiri , as revealed from Orissan inscriptions, was a great centre of learning in Buddhist philosphy. Presently this university of Buddhist learning is found in ruins which attracts scores of visitorsevery year. For lovers of art and architecture, lay tourists and special groups, Ratnagiri offers in its magnificent ruins a large brick monastery with beautiful door-ways, cella, sanctum with a colossal Buddha figure and a large number of Buddhist sculptures. There is a smaller monastery at the place along with a stone temple, brick shrines and a large stupa with numerous smaller stupas around. Ratnagiri is among top tourist places to visit in Orissa.
Udaygiri, the largest Buddhist comples in state of Orissa, has assumed further importance after the recent excavation work which revealed the ancient name of the monastery as Madhavapura Mahavihara and brought to light a sprawling complex of bricks monastery with a number of Buddhist sculptures. In fact the entire area is found located at the foot hills of a large hill acting as the backdrop of the area.
Located in the basin of the u-shaped hill this Buddhist centre is still not completely excavated and exposed. Along with the nearby Ratnagiri nd Lalitagiri this comprises the mini golden triangle of Orissa tourism.
The archaeological remains at Udaygiriconsist of brick stupa, two brick monastery (one excavated and the other excavated), a beautiful stone stepped well with inscription on it and rock cut sculptures at the top of the hill behind. Choronologically the Udaygiri Buddhist complex is later than Ratnagiri and Lalitagiri and the monasteries were probably flourishing well between 7th to 12th centuries A.D.
The laege number of exposed sculptures from excavation as well as those found half-buried and in situ belong, obviously to the Buddhist pantheon and consists of Boddhisattva figures and Dhyani Buddha figures. Interestingly, although located close to Ratnagiri (about 5 kms.), Udaygiri does not possess a number of Vajrayana sculptures. Much remains to be known about this site. But at its present state it provides a grand sight to the visitors with its newly excavated sprawling monastery complex which is to be reached through a long stairway. The unexcavated area is inviting and challenging to the archaeologists as well as art lovers for the hidden treasure that lie buried. The ascent to the hilltop to see the rock cut sculptures is very adventurous and difficult.
The newly laid out hilly road, which has a serpentine passage along the fooy hills, on the other side of Udaygiri is an added attraction and ensures all weather approach to the site. Udaygiri is among top tourist places to visit in Orissa.
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