Ever washed by the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal. Orissa is the land of Temples and many spleandours. Its capital is Bhubancshwar, area 1,55,707 sq. km. and it is a hot and humid land with temperature touching 49C during summer. Mentioned as Kalinga in the ancient text this has been a land of worship and architectural grandeur. It is also noted for its Classical Dance Odissi and many folk forms like Chhau, Chaiti Ghoda, etc. Famous for traditional handicrafts including glass heads, stone carvings, silver filigree, horn-.work, lacquer and bamboo wares, tussar fabrics, this land has rich cultured heritage. Some of its prominent places of interest have been described below:
Orissa Tourism Information
This modern Capital of Orissa can still boast of being ‘the temple metropolis of India. Of these about a dozen are architecturally very interesting. These temples epitomize a comprehensive history of the Orissan style of temple architecture from its very inception to perfection spreading almost to two thousand years from 3rd century BC to 16th century AD.
The most prominent one is Lingaraj Temple. It dates back to the 11th century and represents the mature and complex ‘Nagara’ style of the temple architecture. Set in a huge walled compound measuring 520 feet by 465 feet, this temple originally consisted only of the sanctum and the mandap or the entrance hall. Around the main shrine there are many smaller votive shrines. The outer walls of the temple are lavishly decorated with beautiful sculpture which marks the climax of Hindu decorative architecture. The inner walls of the shrine, containing the phallus symbol of Lord Shiva, are plain without any embellishment. Just north of this temple is the sacred Lake of Bindu Sagar where once in a year, Lingaraj (the idol) is brought for ritual ablutions.
This unique example of Orissan temple art is full of the erotic mithuna figures, fascinating nayikas, nymphs, and gaja-sinhas all are there in great details. It’s plain but majestic Jagmohan (mandap) presents a great contrast to its lavishly decorated main shrine.
There are three museums: The Orissa State Museum, The Handicrafts Museum and the Tribal Research Museum which have a rich collection of sculptures, coins, copperplates, armory objects, rare palm leaf manuscripts, litchi and Bronze Age implements, paintings, traditional folk and music instruments and similar objects. The art lover would love to visit these museums.
Puri, the abode of Sri Jagannath or the Lord of the Universe is famous all over the world. The Golden Triangle Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar are too popular both with the domestic and foreign tourists. One of the four holiest places (Dhams) of Bharatvarsha, Pun has been a great centre of pilgrimage for centuries. Jagannath Temple is the most sacred shrine here and Car Festival is the most popular religious activity drawing millions of the people. The have been described below.
Standing on a raised platform and soaring to a height of 65 meters this shrine dominates the landscape for miles around. The shrine is surrounded by a 20 feet high enclosure measuring 652 by 630 feet. The shrine was built in the 12th century, AD by Chodaganja Deva. The temple kitchen is said to be the biggest in the world feeding thousands of devotees daily with Mahaprasada. There are over 6,000 priests, and 14,000 other assistants to perform various duties here. In the Garhagriha or sanctum sanctorum there are strange archaic type of wooden images of Sri Jagannath (Lord Krishna), his sister Subhadra and brother Balbhadra. Sister Subhadra is in between the two brothers and smaller in size.
Pun offers a number of colorful fairs but it is the Car Festival, an annual sojourn of the three deities riding their lofty chariots to their respective huge cars—on the fixed day during the rainy season 14 meters high, 10 meters square and supported on 16 giant wheels, each over two meters in diameter that marks the climax. These Chariots or Rathas are pulled along the Grand Road by lakhs of devotees amidst great fanfare. The Rath Yatra is said to symbolize Lord Krishna’s departure to Mathura from Gokula.
35 km. away from Pun, Konark, amidst sand dunes of the Bay and the palm casuarinas plantations, is a sublime monument. Built by the Ganga King Langula Narsimha Dev in the 13th century AD, this temple is a sheer poetry in stones, conceived and executed as a Colossal Sun-Chariot with 12 pairs of exquisitely ornate wheels, and hauled by 7 raring spirited horses this pagoda is an everlasting testimony of the speculative and aesthetic sensibilities of a race that knew how to live, love, fulfill, sublimate and create. The nearby Museum has a rare collection of sculptures from the ruins of this temple. It is open from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. At a distance of 3 km. is one of the finest beaches with extensive sand stretch, cool breeze and rolling waves.
Other places of tourist attraction in Orissa are Chilka Lake (largest breaking water lake of Asia) and excellent spot for fishing, boating and bird-watching, Gopalpur-on-Sea (noted for surf swimming, sailing and sun-bathing facilities), Balasore and Chandipur (noted for traditional handicrafts and beach at Chandipur), and Cuttack (for Chandi Mandir and Quadam-i-Rasool Mosque). Hirakund Dam near Sambalpur has the longest dam in Asia and the largest artificial lake. 48 km. north-east of Sambalpur is the famous wild life sanctuary of Ushakothi. Here elephants, tigers, black panthers etc. roam freely in their natural glory.
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