- Travel and Places
What Makes Odisha A Different Travel Destination in India
Some fine beaches, an exotic wildlife, a soul rejuvenating pilgrimage, visiting historic monuments plus enjoying a few arts and festivals. You are seeking for a destination meeting the above set of demands in mind. Confused on finding a right travel joint in India with the above mission? Where could you try and feel all these on a single trip? The mission is possible if you reach an exclusive travel circuit named "Golden Triangle". It is the Bhubaneswar-Konark-Puri route in the state of Orissa now known as Odisha.
The 'Golden Triangle' of Odisha is a popular tourist spot for both national and international travelers. Odisha is a state on the eastern part of India. It is a land blessed with pristine beaches and a melting point of art, tradition, and religion.
The notable image of Odisha is the Golden Triangle, formed by Jagannatha Temple, Puri, the Sun Temple, Konark and the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar. Both temples and beaches combine to make Odisha an exceptional destination.
Odisha has the attractions for all. The nature lover, the spiritual follower, the connoisseur of arts, the writer, the photographer, whoever you may be, the land provides ample scope and landscape to please you all.
I cover below four fabulous features of Odisha, which is a rare blend in any travel circuits.
1. Home of Spirituality
If spirituality is your line of going, Odisha is the apt spot. It houses some of the finest Hindu and Buddhist temples in India. People generally believe there is nothing beyond Puri, Bhubaneswar, and Konark in Odisha. It is a wrong thought. In fact, some of the important Buddhist sites in the world are here.
Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri, and Udaigiri make for the 'Diamond Triangle' in the Buddhist circuit and a great destination of Buddhists. The twin caves of Khandagiri and Udaigiri are also believed to be the residence place of Jain monks once a time. The Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves are 7 km out of Bhubaneswar. The Diamond Triangle had been the seat of Buddhist learning for centuries. The ruins of brick pagodas and stone portals here are a constant reminder of the rich cultural past. The Diamond Triangle flourished in 7th century AD and remained an important center of Buddhism for a very long time.
Odisha is home to some of the most popular Hindu temples in India. The Lingaraja, the Jagannatha Temple and the Sun Temple of Konark collectively known as 'The Golden Triangle' is a major draw for those spiritually inclined.
- Jagannatha Temple, Puri
Puri is one of the four holiest places (or Char Dhams) in the country. As such it is a sacred land for the Hindus. When you enter Puri, you can spot the 65-meter high spires of the world famous Jagannath Temple. It is an impressive view. The temple was built in the 12th century by the Ganga King Chodagangadeva. It is home to Lord Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra. Thousands of devotees reach here every day. The 'Ratha Yatra' or Car Festival in Puri is the world famous and a must watch event.
- The Sun Temple, Konark
The Sun Temple of Konark is dedicated to the Sun God or Surya. It is the masterpiece of Odisha's medieval architecture and the greatest attraction of the state. The entire temple has been conceived as a Chariot of the Sun God with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants.
The temple is also covered with erotic sculptures. If you love sculptures, please do reach here. You can create poetry with your camera on reaching here. It is 65 km from Bhubaneswar and 35 km from Puri. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.
- Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar is known as "The City of 1000 Temples". There are temples in each nook and corner of the city. The Lingaraja temple is the largest and most famous temple in the city. Though many of the temples are ruined with the passage of time, the Lingaraj temple still stands tall with a rich history of a prosperous past. The third in the triangle, the temple was built in the 11th century. It is the only Shiva temple where the lord is given both 'bilva' and Tulsi leaves, thus making it a combination of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara).
Please observe the photos below, which showcase the amazing charm of Odisha. Click on any of your choices for a larger view.
2. Natural Beauty
Nature is at its best in Odisha. Some pristine beaches, placid lagoons and thick green forest and wildlife, Odisha has a rich stock of natural splendors.
- Puri Beach
The holy city of Puri is a hot choice of sea lovers as it has some fine beaches. Many honeymooners wish to spend time by the sea. Evenings are funny time here as full of activities give you some sort of engagements. Balighai, 9 km from Puri is another fine beach.
- Konark Beach
Out of the many beaches, I visited in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra, the Konark is something special. The solitude, powdery sand, bluish waters, Konark beach is a different experience. Please check the photos appended above to feel it. What attracts a visitor here is, it is less crowded and unpolluted.
About 50 km from Puri, at Satpada you can watch playful dolphins. The Dolphin Island is a grand experience, which you will never forget.
- Chandipur Beach
A delight for any beach lover, Chandipur is just 16 km from Balasore in north Odisha. The sea turns to golden as the Sun sets. Here you can literally walk miles out to Sea and remain alive. Twice every day, when the tide ebbs, it takes the sea away with it. The interesting scene is that the waters recede about five km from the beach. You can collect shells, red starfish, etc., from the sand.
3. Village Life
Village life is always calm and quiet. It provides total relaxation from the mad urban life. If a village is what you long for, Odisha is the best choice. The illiterate villagers are lovable and approachable.
If you like to witness a living heritage preserved in its original form, please visit Odisha's tribal villages. The state has the largest concentration of tribal. The world of these tribals is so different. It is still pristine and syncs with nature. These villagers still retain their traditional way of life. During your Odisha travel, you can see the tribals walking past you wearing their typical dress and decorations. You can observe the modernization still has not attacked these tribal folks.
How to reach
Odisha is well connected by rail, road, and air. There are trains from Chennai and other parts of South India and rest of India. All trains heading for Howrah (Kolkatta) passing through Odisha. You can alight at Berhampur, Bhubaneswar or Cuttack as you plan. Howrah is just 10 hrs away from Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha. Bhubaneswar has an Airport also.
The language spoken here is Odiya. People also follow Hindi very well. The educated citizens speak English too.
Food and accommodation are cheap while comparing to other tourist places in India.
4. Arts and Festivals
When it comes to arts and festivals, Odisha stands top. On this segment, the first mention must be about Odissi, the classical dance form of the state. Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, the most renowned dancer made Odyssey so popular worldwide. The best places to watch this dance are Puri and Konark.
'Mahotsav' means grant festival. Odisha was earlier known as Kalinga. The Festival attracts expert martial dancers from all over the country. It is a must watch item. Usually held in early February in Dhauli at the outskirt of Bhubaneswar.
Puri Rath Yatra
The world famous Rath Yatra or Car Festival is held here in Puri every July. It is Odisha's most famous festival. Several thousands of people from across the country take part in this grand procession. You could feel the spiritual frenzy of the devotees by observing this festival. The video appended on the beginning part of this article takes you to a virtual world of the festival fanfare. Please watch it. The accompanying music is in Odiya, the language of Odisha. It conveys that great spirit of India's one of the largest religious conclaves.
The festival is held every year in December in the backdrop of the Sun Temple at Konark. It is great entertainment event. Many celebrated dancers perform at various venues. All of them try to reach and give their best performance in the festival without a miss as it offers them such a wonderful audience. The festival is being jointly organized by the Odisha Tourism Department and Odisha Research Center. The idea behind the festival is to promote the various features of Indian dance heritage and to promote the tourism potentiality of Konark thanks to its World Heritage status and to popularize the state as a hot choice for the travelers.
What I covered here is the knowledge and experience that I gathered during my two-week long stay in Odisha a few years back. My place of the camp was Berhampur and from where I moved to all major places except Cuttack. This is just a glance of Odisha's total attractions. For a comprehensive study, you may please visit the official website of the Tourism Department, Government of Odisha. For your convenience, I place below the links to some official portals related to Odisha Tourism.
On travel, William Hazlitt said, "The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty to think, feel, do just as one pleases". I do endorse his saying for I have no counter points to offer. You are at full liberty to explore, experience and express more on this enchanting land called ODISHA.
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My Other Hub Related to Odisha
- An unforgettable journey to Odisha (Orissa)
A journey to the state of Odisha is a rich experience to know about the versatile heritage and culture of the state on the eastern part of India. An unforgettable episode that took place in a train journey to the state is explained here.
© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth