Best Places To Visit in Bhubaneswar
Modern-day Bhubaneshwar was born in 1948, after India's independence from the British. It was designed by German architect Otto Königsberger and was one of India's first planned cities. Nowadays, it's a fast-growing commercial center and emerging sporting center. However, Bhubaneshwar is best known for being a city of ancient temples. It has a very long history that can be traced back to the 3rd century BC. The old part of the city is fascinating, and is where most of the major temples are located. Undoubtedly, they're the highlight. Yet, there are many other interesting places to visit in Bhubaneshwar that shouldn't be overlooked. As the attractions are spread out over the city, it's best to take a tour or hire a car (or auto rickshaw) for the day to visit them. Here's the pick of things to do.
The Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha, is one of the holy char dham abodes of God that are considered to be extremely auspicious for Hindus to visit (the others are Badrinath, Dwarka, and Rameshwaram). If you don't let money-hungry Hindu priests (locally known as pandas) mar your experience, you'll find that this massive temple complex is a remarkable place. However, only Hindus are allowed inside. The Jagannath temple is open from 5 a.m. to midnight. To avoid the crowds, the best time to go is early in the morning around 7 a.m. after the first aarti ritual, or after 9 p.m. The ambiance is evocative at night, when lamps are lit and the temple is illuminated.
Vehicles, with the exception of cycle rickshaws, are not permitted near the temple complex. You'll need to take one or walk from the car park. The temple's main Lion Gate is located on Grand Road. Entry to the temple compound is free. You'll find guides at the entrance, who will take you around the temple complex for a negotiable fee (about 200 rupees).
Temple construction flourished in Bhubaneshwar from the 8th-12th centuries, when Lord Shiva was widely worshiped. Hindu scriptures say that Bhubaneshwar was one of Lord Shiva's favorite places where he meditated under a mango tree. The city gets its name from Lord Shiva's Sanskrit name, Tribhubaneshwar, meaning "Lord of Three Worlds". It's estimated that about 700 temples remain there. Their distinctive architecture features towering heavily sculptured spires (deula). Don't miss seeing these top temples in Bhubaneshwar. Ekamra Walks conducts comprehensive free guided heritage walks of the Old Town every Sunday morning at 6.30 a.m., starting from Mukteshwar Temple.
Bindu Sagar and Shoshi Ghat
Divine Bindu Sagar (Ocean Drop Lake) is situated in the heart of the Old Town, just north of the iconic Lingraj Temple. It's believed to have been formed by Lord Shiva, who collected water from holy places all over India, for his wife Goddess Parvati. Pilgrims take a dip in the lake to cleanse themselves of sins. Take a stroll around it, and sit for a while and soak up the atmosphere at picturesque Shoshi Ghat.
Learn About Medicinal Plants
Bhubaneshwar's most underrated attraction, the inspiring Ekamravan Medicinal Plant Garden is not just a serene place to spend some time by the lake. It's hard to believe, given how lush and well manicured it is, that it used to be derelict land where people openly defecated. Thanks to the remarkable restoration effort of the Odisha Forest Department, it's now home to more than 200 medicinal plants. The garden opens at 8 a.m. and there's a nominal entry charge. Ekamra Walks' heritage tour ends at Ekamravan Medicinal Plant Garden.
Head 15 minutes southwest of the city on National Highway 5, and you'll reach the rock-cut Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. These caves are spread over two adjacent hills -- Udayagiri (Sunrise Hill) has 18 caves, and Khandagiri has 15. Apparently, most of them were carved for Jain monks to live in during the reign of Emperor Kharavela in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. Cave number 14 (Hathi Gumpha, the elephant cave) has an inscription that he wrote. In addition to the caves, there's a Jain temple atop Khandagiri. If you climb up the hill, you'll be rewarded with a great view over Bhubaneshwar. The caves are open from sunrise until sunset. The entrance fee is 25 rupees for Indians and 300 rupees for foreigners. Ekamra Walks conducts free guided walking tours of the Khandagiri hills every Saturday morning at 6.30 a.m.
Site of the Kalinga War
About 30 minutes south of Bhubaneshwar, the open area adjoining the Dhauli Hills by the Daya River is where Emperor Ashoka (who ruled much of India during the 3rd century BC) is thought to have waged a particularly bloody and destructive battle in his thirst for conquest. It ultimately led to his remorse and transformation into a peaceful Buddhist. Ashoka installed several monuments, pillars, and stone edicts there. Another attraction is the white peace pagoda, built in the 1970s by Japanese monks and the Odisha government. It contains four huge statues of Lord Buddha along with various stone carvings. Odisha's first sound and light show was launched at Dhauli in August 2015. It tells the tells the tale of the Kalinga Empire and takes place daily except Mondays. The English version starts at 7.35 p.m.
Travel Agents of Bhubaneswar
ALTERNATIVE TOURS PVT. LTD.
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INDIAN INSTITUTE OF TOURISM & TRAVEL MANAGEMENT, BHUBANESWAR
INNER INDIA TOURS
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