Odisha (formerly Orissa) is one of India’s predominantly rural and “off the beaten track” destination of the tourists. However, tourist interest in Odisha’s eclectic combination of attractions is growing more and more. Odisha offers religious sides of famous temples, Buddhist relics, picturesque national parks and wildlife, unpolluted beaches, traditional music and dance, handicrafts and tribal culture. My favourite tourist spots in Odisha.
Most attractive tourist spots in Odisha
One of the stunning monuments of historical and religious significance, as well as a true masterpiece of Indian architecture, is the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha. It was built in the thirteenth century by King Narasimhadeva. It is designed in the shape of a colossal chariot with 7 horses and 12 wheels, carrying the sun god Surya, across heavens. The erotic carvings on the outside walls of the Konark temple, almost similar to Khajuraho sculpture, are a renowned feature. It proudly stands 30 metres high at a manageable distance of 35 km from Puri, the seat of Lord Jagannath, and around 65 km from the capital city of Bhubaneswar.
Puri and Jagannath Temple enjoy the glory of being one of the char dhammas, every Hindu who wants to go on pilgrimage. The Jagannath Temple was built in the eleventh century. The structural design of the temple is found in the form of a pyramid. The holy sight of Lord Jagannath accompanied by Subhadra and Balabhadra is an object of magnetic attraction among the devotees.
The capital city of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, is most famous for its temples (over 700, mostly devoted to Lord Shiva), including the largest temple in the State-the Lingaraj Temple. The motley collection of caves cut into the hillside on the outskirts of the city are another popular attraction. They were once home to Jain ascetics.
The sacred Buddhist sites in Odisha attract many tourists from India and abroad. They have been excavated relatively recently and are largely unexplored. The most interesting ones can be found at Udaygiri (Sunrise Hill).
Udaygiri and Khandagiri Caves are partly natural and partly artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance near the city of Bhubaneswar in Odisha. The caves are situated on two hills Udaygiri and Khandagiri.
Ratnagiri was once a site of Mahavihara or major Buddhist monastery. It is in the Bhahmani and Birpa river valley in Jaipur district of Odisha. It was a part of the Puspagiri University, together with Lalitgiri and Udaygiri.
If you want to spend an enjoyable time in the midst of nature, you may head to the remarkable Chilika Lake. It is Asia’s largest brackish water (a combination of sea and freshwater) lagoon with an ecological wonder spanning around 1,000 sq. kilometres.
Some other popular tourist destinations of Odisha are Simlipal Nationa] Park and Nandan Kanan, the reserved forests for wildlife. Simlipal takes its name from the abundance of small or red silk cotton trees that bloom vividly here, It is set on a wide expanse of sal forest. This park is spread over a sprawling area of 2,750 sq. km. at an altitude of 559.31 metres, and nestled in the very centre of Mayurbhanj, the northernmost district of Odisha. Besides various types of wildlife, it is home to three of India’s biggest animal species-tiger, Asian elephant, and gaur. Nandan Kanan literally means ‘The Garden of Heavens’. It is a 400 hectare (990 acres) zoo and botanical garden in Bhubaneswar. It was established in 1960 and was opened to the public in 1979, and became the first zoo in India to join the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2009.
Other destinations of the tourists are Khandadhar Falls, Duduma Waterfall, Kolab Dam and Hirakud Dam in Odisha. The Khandadhar Falls is located at Nandapani in Sundergarh district in the State, and it is the twelve highest waterfall in India. The majestic Duduma Waterfall is located in Koraput district. It is a majestic waterfall (also known as Matsya Tirtha) which falls from a height of 175 metres. A hydroelectric project with its winch developed amidst deep greenery is a place of pleasure for the tourists.
The Kolab Dam in Koraput district at an altitude of about 3,000 ft (1,000 metres) above sea level on the river Kolab is a majestic reservoir for sightseeing. The Hirakud Dam built on the Mahanadi river is the longest dam in India. The overall length of the main dam is 4.8 km, and the total length is 25.8 km with dam and dykes taken together. The dam is about 15 km upstream of Sambalpur town and the first post-independence major multipurpose river valley project in India.
So a tourist can feel happy visiting the tourist spots in Odisha, one of the Eastern States of India.