Top 15 Things to do in Orissa you Shouldn’t Miss
Orissa boasts of several delights for the visitors, making the list of things to do in Orissa, quite extensive. This coastal state of India along the shores of the Bay of Bengal is a rather unexplored gem. It is blessed and not just by the Chardham destination of Puri. The exotic wildlife, lush environment, ancient temples, pristine beaches, placid lakes, tribal culture and more contribute to its appeal. Unspoiled by modern curses, the state has something for tourists of different kinds of interests. To help you make your travel plans, here are the Top 15 Things to do in Orissa:
Marvel at the Grandeur of Konark Sun Temple
One of the world heritage sites in Orissa, Sun temple in Konark is a 13th century temple dedicated to Sun God. The temple has a magnificent architecture and beautiful intricate carvings. Built in Kalinga style of architecture, the temple is a marvel of architecture. Of note is the sculptures promoting erotica through its Maithunas sculptures.
Known by the names of Konaditya and the Black Pagoda, the Konark Sun temple was built in 1278 CE by an Eastern Ganga King, Narsimha Deva I. The temple complex has a number of structures along. Start you with the main shrines such as Nata Mandir (dance hall) and Bhog Mandapa (dining hall), and Jagmohana (the audience hall). Mesmerizing is the word to describe the beauty, furthermore, the temple has a huge place in the history of the state and India.
Fee: Indian/Foreigner- INR 10/250, Video- INR 25, Guide per hour INR 150
Timings: Dawn – 08:00 PM
Seek the Lord’s blessing at the Jagannath Temple
One of the most revered Chardham destinations in India, Puri is the abode of the grand Jagannath temple. The temple is flocked by devotees in vast numbers throughout the year. The 12th century temple is a mix of Hindu, Kalinga and Dravidian styles of architecture, built by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, a ruler of Eastern Ganga dynasty.
Inside the temple, there are idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. The popular Puri Rath Yatra procession starts from the temple. The deities are brought out from the temple and are carried in a grand wooden chariot with enthusiastic pomp and show. The temple also becomes the venue of several other festivals all throughout the year. The very air of the temple is spiritually cleansing nonetheless how crowded it is.
Puja Timings of Jagnnath Temple
- Dwarpitha and Mangal Aarati at 5 AM
- Mailam at 6 AM
- Abakash – 6 AM to 6.30 AM
- Mailam- 6.45 AM
- Sahanamela – 7 AM to 8 AM
- Beshalagi – 8 AM
- Rosha Homa Surya Puja and Dwarapal- 8 AM to 8.30 AM
- Gopala Ballava Puja- 9 AM
- Mailam and Bhoga Mandap
- Sakala Dhupa (Morning food offering) 10 AM
- Madhyanha (Afternoon food offering) 11 AM to 1 PM
- Madhyanha Pahudha – 1 PM to 1.30 PM
- Sandhya Aarati
- Sandhya Dhupa – 7PM to 8 PM
- Mailam and Chandana lagi
- Badashringar Vesha
- Badashringara Bhoga
- Khata Seja Lagi and Pahuda 12.00 hours
Admire the Rock-hewed temples at Udaygiri and Khandagiri Caves
One of the best places to visit in Orissa, Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves are well known places in the Buddhsit pilgrimage in India. The caves are a combination of natural as well as man-made . Located 6 km west of the Bhubaneshwar city, these caves are known for their wonderful sculptures and Brahmi inscriptions. Udaygiri has 15 caves, and the neighboring Khandagiri has 18 caves. These caves were carved way back in the 1st century.
The caves at Udayagiri (Hill of Sunrise) and Khandagiri (Broken Hills) are known to be one of the oldest group of Jain rock-cut shelters. It is believed that these caves were the cells or dwellings of Jain ascetics, which they used for meditation and other purposes. Monkeys are abundant in the area entertaining the crowds with their tactics.
Fee: Indian/Foreigner- INR 5/100, Video- INR 25 (both the sites)
Timings: Dawn – Dusk
Pay homage to Self-Originated Lingam at Lingaraj Mandir
One of the oldest and largest temples in Bhubaneshwar, Lingaraj Mandir dates back to the 11th century. The red sandstone temple is dedicated to Tribhuvaneswar (Lord Shiva), is 54 m-high. The temple has mentions in the ancient Hindu scripture Brahma Purana.
The Lingaraj temple was constructed by King Jajati Keshari of Soma Vansha. The reverence of the temple is owed to the fact that the Shiv Lingam is Swayambhu or Self-Originated. The granite linagm is bathed every day with milk, bhang and water. The main shrine is surrounded by a number of smaller temples.
This temple has Kalinga style of architecture, and has a huge gopuram with stunning craftsmanship. The main gate is guarded by 2 yellow-colored lion statues. Lingaraj mandir is segregated into, the main sanctum, the Yajna Shala, the Bhoga Mandap and the Natya Shala.
Timings: Dusk – Dawn
Fee: Entry is Free
Enjoy Bird Watching at Chilika Lake
For a day picnic with your loved ones, Chilika Lake is your best bet. It is one the best places for bird watching in Orissa. Spread on an area of 1100 sq km, this brackish water lagoon is probably Asia’s largest coastal lagoon. The surroundings of the lake welcome several colorful birds. To name a few, you can spot, white-bellied sea eagles, flamingoes, gulls, golden plovers, sand pipers and a number of migratory birds. That is not all! The rich ecosystem of the lake is a huge fishery resource.
Do not forget to click memorable photographs of the lake’s picturesque backdrop. One of the best things to do in Orissa with family is to enjoy boating here. You can also opportunity to enjoy a leisure stroll on its banks, while you enjoying the natural bliss. Chilika is one of the world’s most important wetlands. In contrast to the cities this is an oasis of bliss.
Best time to visit: November-February
Places of interest: Bird Island, Satapada, Nalabana, Mangalajodi, Breakfast Island etc.
Adore the wonderful ancient temples of Bhubaneshwar
Home to some of the most famous temples in Odisha, Bhubaneshwar is dubbed as the ‘City of Temples’, with a history that is 2000 years old. The capital city of Orissa, Bhubaneshwar in addition to the modern city pleasures has more than 700 religious, spiritual and historical sites. Named after the Lord Shiva, the city temples are dedicated to the various forms of the three-eyed lord. Lingaraj, Mukteswar and Brahmeshwar being the major trio.
Tourist Attractions in Bhubaneshwar
- Udaygiri and Khandagiri Caves
- Lingaraj temple
- Raja Rani Temple
- Nandankanan Zoological Park
- Dhauli Giri hill
- Bindu Sarovar
Best time to visit Bhubaneshwar: October to March
Walk into the sea bed at Chandipur Beach
Chandipur beach is one of the most popular tourist places in Orissa. Set on the coast of Bay of Bengal, the beach is not just beautiful but interesting. During the ebb tide, the sea recedes as far as 5 km away from the beach. Enjoy the memorable sunset views. You can also enjoy a family picnic or a romantic getaway.
As you walk towards Mirzapur, you can also see horseshoe crab. There is a fishing market nearby, worth-visiting. Chandipur is around 200 km from Bhubaneshwar. Enjoy a walk a little further into the seabed as the waves are gentle here. There is a certain pleasure in writing your names in the sand. Walk along the waves or collect shells to take home. It is one of cherished memories of your holiday in Orissa.
Best time to visit Chandipur beach: November to March
Location: 16 km from the Baleswar Railway Station.
Explore the Rural Handicrafts Villages at Raghurajpur
Placed on the southern bank of Bhargavi River, Raghurajpur is a beautiful crafts village. The entire hamlet is enveloped by groves of tropical trees. Every family in this village keeps alive the the traditional crafts making. The village preserves the tradtions running in their family from generations. It is a wonderful sneak-peek into the rural life of Orissa. The artistic environment of the village is its highlight. Crafts of this village adorn Mathas and temples.
The handicraft villages at Raghurajpur displays the fine art culture of Orissa called Pattachitra. An assortment of craft items is on display outside the households. See the finesse of sodhai work, palm lead inscriptions, papier mache, filigree, wood and stone carvings, terracotta, applique, traditional masks, cow dung and wooden toys etc. In addition, explore the wonderful display mural paintings mainly depicting events of Ramayana and Mahabharata in the village environs.
Location: 14 km from Puri
Famous for: Pattachitra Painting
Enjoy stunning sunrise and sunset at Puri Beach
One of the most popular beaches in India, fine white sands and challenging sea waves are synonyms of Puri beach. The beach offers memorable sunrise as well as sunset views. Family vacationers and devotees of Lord Jagannath visit this beach every year in huge numbers. The beach is 65 km from Bhubaneshwar and 35 km from Konark. Every year, The Puri Beach festival is organized here in November month, welcoming beach lovers from world over.
Do not miss viewing the art of sand sculptures by world-renowned artist Sudarshan Patnaik at the Puri beach. Go for a leisure walk and enjoy the serene environments. A visit to the nearby fishing village provides the ideal opportunity to interact with the locals. If you simply wish to relax, head towards the beach’s eastern end.
Famous for: Sunset and Sunrise views, and Religious significance
Get your hands on wonderful Oriya craft at Pipli
Pipli is a village near Puri, extremely popular for its amazing colorful applique work. Shopping at Pipli is one of the top things to do in Orissa. This art is done by means of stitching and embroidering colored pieces of clothes on another huge base cloth. These exquisite art crates village scenes, flowers, animals, and even religious themes.
The village craftsmen sell some of the most creative items of Oriya craft. Here, you can get your hands on beautiful decorative items such as bags, garden umbrellas, lampshades, wall hangings, pouches, and wallets. The craftsmen of Pipli also make canopies for the annual Jagannath Yatra. A huge number of tourists visit this place to buy these stunning crafts. Take these beautiful displays to decorate your homes with wonderful remembrance of Orissa.
Location: 38 km from Puri
Famous for: Applique work
Rendezvous with the region’s wildlife at Nandankanan Zoological Park
The honor of India’s first zoo that became a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums goes to the Nandankanan Zoological Park. Spread over 400 hectares, this is one of the best places for kids in Orissa. The zoo is located in Bhubaneshwar. Lying amid the lush Chandaka forest, it also has a placid lake, Kanjia. The zoological park is the home of 67 kinds of mammals, 18 reptile varieties and 81 avifauna species, including the rare White Tigers (34).
Nandankanan is the first captive gharial breeding center of India. It is also known for “Adopt an Animal Project’. This is an initiative for animal lovers is also run here. Visitors can sponsor food and other essential items for the animal of their liking, inside the park. Along with animal safaris, boating is also offered here. Other wildlife species that are spotted here include black buck, Indian crocodiles, Indian pangolin, lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri Langur, Himalayan black bear and more. This sanctuary provides the true picture of the wildlife inhabiting India.
Timings: Closed on Monday
- 07.30 hours-17.30 hours (April to September)
- 08.00 hours- 17.00 hours (October to March)
- Indians – INR 25 / Foreigners- INR 100 / Children (3-12 years) – INR 10
- Physically handicapped and Children below 3 years- Free
- Still Camera / Handycam – INR 10 / 100
Less commercialized beach in comparison to Puri, Gopalpur beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Orissa. Ideal for couples and peace-seekers, this beach boasts of calm surroundings. It is perfect to simply relax, and admire the surrounding natural beauty. A popular attraction is the annual Gopalpur beach festival organized here by the Orissa government.
Gopalpur beach has wonderful opportunities for water sports activities. Be it rowing, wind surfing, paddle boat, swimming, scuba diving or water scooters, you can have fun. Spend a day of beach fun. Meanwhile, do not forget to buy some excellent quality cashew nuts from here.
Location: 17 km from Behrampur
Places of attraction: Berhampur, Taptapani, Chilika Lake, Mahuri Kalua,and Patisonapur
Explore the Tribal Villages of Orissa
Orissa state is home to as many as 62 tribal communities, which means it has the largest tribal population in the country. Visit Orissa to get a sneak-peak into the lifestyle, culture, food habits and traditions of these tribes. The tribal communities worship nature. They follow their own rules. The main source of livelihood is food gathering, hunting and fishing.
Dance and music are an important part of Tribal communities. They have their own festivals, culture and food. Orissa tribes have high artistic skills such as ornament making, wall paintings, weaving and body painting. Explore the tribal culture of Odisha. The nature-worshiping tribals are generally friendly. They open their homes and hearts for their guests.
Tribal Villages of Orissa: Rayagada, Chatikona, Jeypore, Baliguda, Onukudelli, and Belghar.
Popular tribes of Orissa: Bondo, Didayi, Barogadaba, Kondhs, Saura, Gadaba, Dhuruba, Juanga, Bhuiyan, and Dharua.
Paradise for nature-lovers: Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India. it is the erstwhile hunting grounds of the former ruler of Kanika, A scenic paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, this sanctuary is one of the most popular attractions in Orissa. The tranquil ambiance is a haven of colorful migratory birds, verdant mangroves, meandering rivers, beasty crocodiles, and cute turtles.
Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary has around 55 mangrove species. The mangroves here have a huge population of saltwater crocodiles. There are as many as 215 bird species, including kingfisher, white bellied sea gull, hornbill, brahminy duck, etc. Other animals at the sanctuary are sambar, python, hyena, jungle cat, leopard cat, partially white crocodile, while boar and so on. A treat for nature-lovers almost every tourist is left in awe of the sanctuary.
- Best time to visit: November to May
- Timings: 09:00 am to 07:00 pm
- Entry fee: Indian/foreigner ₹20/50
- Boating- INR 100/- per boat per day
- Camera fee (Indians) – Still/Video – INR.25/ INR 500
- Foreigners- Still/Video – INR 50/ INR 1000
Impressive Palm-leaf manuscripts at State Museum
Extremely popular for owning the best and huge collection of manuscripts on palm-leaves, The Orissa State Museum came into being way back in the year 1948. Besides the palm-leaf manuscripts, there are many other treasures housed in the museum. Marvel at the folk and traditional musical instruments. The Pattachitra paintings are an inspiring collection. For a lesson is history, check out the stone inscriptions, the armory section, tools from Bronze Age, coins, as well as Jain, Brahmanical, and Buddhist sculptures.
The eight century sculpture of Devi Chamunda is quite impressive. State Museum of Orissa in Bhubaneshwar has 2 life- size dancing welcome statues in Odissi dance posture, placed at the entry gate. The museum offers an amalgam of varied displays including natural history objects, tools, sculptures of different varieties, art and crafts items, and archaeological objects. The specimens make you wonder about the past days and the lifestyle of the population.
Entry Fee: Indian/foreigner ₹5/50, Camera ₹10/100
Timings: 10:00 am – 04.30 pm (Tuesday – Sunday)
Latest posts by Geetika Handa (see all)
- Top 10 Not To Miss-Out Places in Meghalaya - July 7, 2017
- Let’s Unmask the Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Venice - June 30, 2017
- 8 Beautiful Train Journeys in India for Lifetime Experiences - June 28, 2017