25 Places to Visit in Orissa- The Soul of Incredible India!

Not everyone knows much about the state of Odisha (formerly Orissa). Apart from the world-renowned Jagannath Temple at Puri and Sun Temple in Konark, the state actually has much more to offer. Be it the pristine beaches, or lush forests, or scintillating waterfalls, or exquisite handicrafts; we give you a list of places to visit in Orissa that are a must see for your trip to the state.

1. Sun Temple, Konark

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Rabridranath Tagore once said for this temple, "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of human." Built in the 13th century, this temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dedicated to the Sun God, this temple showcases beautiful Kalinga architecture and sculptures of Maithunas. The temple is shaped as a chariot, and built such that the first rays of the sun fall on the main entrance of the structure. The Sun Temple is a must visit tourist place in Orissa.

Also Read: 12 Temples in India that Portray Erotic Art

2. Jagannath Temple, Puri

Image Source: Wikipedia

One of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus, is the Jagannath Temple in Puri. One of the places for the sacred Char Dham Yatra, this temple is dedicated to the deity Jagannath, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. The deity's image is made of wood, unlike the stone or metal in most temples. The temple is renowned all over the world for its Rath Yatra, in which the three main dieties of the temple, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, are taken out for an annual procession in huge chariots to Gundicha Temple and has an attendance of almost miilions of devotees.

Also Read: Famous Yatras In India

3. Chilika Lake

Spread over 1100 square kms, Chilika Lake is the second largest lagoon in the world. It makes an excellent spot for bird-watching, as it is the largest migratory grounds for birds in winters. The lake is home to a lot of endangered flora and fauna, as well as, means of living for thousands of fisherfolk. Amongst the fauna, there are reported to be almost 152 species ofn endangered Irrawady Dolphins, so if you're lucky enough, you might just spot one.

Also Read: Beautiful Lakes of India

4. Nandankanan Zoological Park, Bhubaneshwar

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Open to the public since 1979, Nandankanan Zoological Park was the first zoo in India to to be a part of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. A perfect place for a family outing, the 900 acre large zoo is known worldwide for succesfully breeding white tigers, black panthers and alligators in captivity. You can also give back to nature by participating in the Adopt-an-Animal programme, where you can sponsor food and other necessities for the animals.

5. Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneshwar

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One of the oldest and the largest temple in Bhubaneshwar, the Lingaraja Temple is the most notable landmark of the state capital. Dedicated to Harihara, a form of Lord Shiva, this temple dates back to the 11th century. With prominent Kalinga architecture, this temple is known for the exemplary model for a purely Hindu temple. The best time to visit this temple is during the festival of Maha Shivratri, when it is flocked by devotees with their offerings to the deity.

Also Read: Bhubaneswar: The Beaming City of Temples

6. Dhauli

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On the banks of River Daya, is Dhauli, considered to be the grounds where the Kalinga War was fought and the very place where Ashoka shed so much blood of the enemy, that the river ran red with it and made the monarch realise the evil face of war. With his help, Dhauli later became an important famous Buddhist centre. You can find Ashoka's Edicts embossed on a rock here, as well as, some other Kalinga Edicts. Along with the Rock Edicts, there is a Peace Pagoda on top of the hill, for those in search of some inner peace.

7. Bhitarkanika National Park, Kendrapara

This national park lies in the midst of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, and is a haven for nature lovers. With mangroves covering over 650 square kms, Bhitarkanika is a rich, bio-diverse wetland which is home to a lot of indigenous flora and fauna. The main attraction of this national park is the endangered Saltwater Crocodile, which is known to grow, as long as, 23 feet. Along with the crocodile, you will also get to see White Crocodile, Indian Python, King Cobra, Black Ibis, Snakebird, among other such wildlife. Take the boat ride inside the park and enjoy the wonders of this natural habitat.

8. Puri Beach

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For all the beach bums there, the Golden Sands of Puri beckons! While Puri is most famous for the Jagannath Temple, the Puri Beach is perfect for a quite evening by the waters. And what's more, if you're visiting in November, make sure to catch the annual Puri Beach Festival. With sand artists making stunning sculptures with the sand, various classical dance and folk performances, this festival is quite a delight. 

Plan a trip to enjoy these Golden Sands with our TripHobo Trip Planner!

9. Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneshwar

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Welcome to the 'Love Temple'! Called Rajarani, due to the local name of the dull red and yellow sandstone the temple is built with, it is known for the erotic carvings of couples and women adorning the structure. The primary deity of the temple is Lord Shiva, and there are various depictions of the god, along with goddess Parvati, sculpted in the walls around the temple. Try visiting this beautiful tourist attraction in Orissa between January 18-21 in order to attend the Rajarani Music Festival, which focuses on Hindustani, Classical and Odissi music.

10. Barehipani Falls, Mayurbhanj

The highest waterfall in the state, the Barehipani Falls is situated in Simlipal National Park. The scintillating waterfall is two-tiered, which adds to its charm, and its total height is 399 metres. One of India's highest waterfall makes quite a sight to the onlookers.

11. Pipli

Image Source: Andrew Moore/Flickr

If you're looking for authentic Oriya handicraft, make a stop at the town of Pipli, which lies at 36 kms from Puri. Renowned for its applique work, this is an excellent display of Orissa's handiwork. Applique is a technique which involves smaller pieces of fabric are stitched to a larger contrasting piece. You can check out lampshades, wall hangings, bags, umbrellas and pouches made in this technique.

12. Barabati Fort, Cuttack

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Take a walk through Cuttack's history at Barabati Fort, which lies 8 kms from the heart of the city. Overlooking river Mahandi, Barabati Fort was built in the 14th century by the Ganga Dynasty. The ruins of the nine-storied fort still remains along with the moat and gate around it.

13. Ratnagiri, Jajpur

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Don't get confused with the Ratnagiri in Maharashtra famous for its Alphonso mangoes. This Ratnagiri is known for the excavated Buddhist monasteries and Stupas. A very peaceful and secluded location, this place is perfect for those looking for some calm time. The excavations stand proof to the fact that this was a very important centre for Buddhism, almost at par with that at Nalanda in Bihar.

14. Gundicha Temple, Puri

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The destination of the Puri Rath Yatra is the Gundicha Temple, which is just at a distance of 2 kms from the Jagannath Temple. The three chariots carrying deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, reach the gates of Gundicha Temple on the first day of the procession. Following day, the deities enter the temple, and then go on to reside within for 7 days after that. The main event during the Rath Yatra that takes place at Gundicha Temple is when Goddess Lakshmi, Jagannath's wife, is brought on her own chariot to the temple, followed by a lot of dramatics between the god and goddess, as per local legend.

Also Read: Offbeat Things to do in Religious Cities of India

15. Chandrabhaga Beach, Konark

A short distance from the Sun Temple, is the serene Chandrabhaga Beach. Legend says that Chandrabhag was a sage's daughter who was romantically pursued by the Sun God, but she killed herself by jumping into the sea here, in order to protect her chastity. As a tribute to girl's sacrifice, people from all over the state gather here annually for a dip in the water, as well as offer their prayers to the Sun God. The sunset here is beautiful, so make sure you do not miss it.

16. Raghurajpur, Puri

Image Source: Wikipedia

Another stop for an experience for Orissa's unique art and craft, is the heritage crafts village of Raghurajpur. The birthplace of Odissi dance Guru and one of the foremost pioneers of the dance form in the 20th century, Kelucharan Mohapatra, Raghurajpur is known for its Pattachitra paintings. With over 120 houses in this village, each is adorned with some or the other Pattachitra murals. Along with this art form, you will find a lot of others like traditional masks, stone idols, papier mache, sculptures and wooden toys.

17. Saptasajya, Dhenkanal

Saptasajya is a very hotspot for tourists, with many flocking here each year for the peace they find here. 'Sapta' means 'seven', which has led to a lot of folklore amongst the locals regarding the name of the place. According to some, it's named due to the seven hills aurrounding the place, while some say that it used to be abode for the Saptarishi, and others say that Lord Ram had spent seven days here during his 14 years long exile. Whatever the reason be, Saptasajya is a place for complete relaxation.

18. Khandadhar Falls, Sundergarh

 

Image Source: Panoramio

The 12th highest falls in the country, the Khandadhar Falls have an interesting legend begind it. According to the local Pauri Bhuiya tribals, it is said that the falls were craeted when a goddess Kankala Devi was placed on top of a rock, which she consumed, creating a deep hole from where the falls originated. This is an enchanting location to spend your weekend at, while you're in Orissa.

19. Simlipal National Park, Mayurbhanj

A part of the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, Simlipal is a national park, as well as, a tiger reserve. The park is a stunning place with dense forests, lush meadows and sparkling waterfalls and rivers adding to the beauty. Originally used as hunting grounds by royalty, Simlipal was declared a sanctuary for wildlife in 1979. If you're lucky enough you could even catch a glimpse of a peacock dancing in the greenery. But be warned, this is a high cerebral malaria prone zone, thus, be completely prepared with means for repelling mosquitoes.

20. Daringbadi

A famous hill station in the state, Daringbadi is known as the 'Kashmir of Orissa'. The tall pine trees, the thick coffee gardens and the scenic valley, paint quite a picture here. At a height of 3000 feet above sea level, this is the only place in Orissa to experience snowfall in winters, thus the moniker. It is a perfect destination to beat the summer heat, as the plateau is surrounded by lush rainforests.

21. Paradip Port, Paradip

An important port in Orissa, as well as, India, Paradip Port is also the largest port on the eastern coast of the country. While the 24x7 operating port is important for shipping, the Paradip Beach is a perfect place for tourists to unwind. With the sea on one side and lush green forests on the other, this is quite a tropical paradise. Take a stroll along the beach, or go boating, this place is perfect for some quite time. You can also visit the Smruti Udyan, a garden close by, which is dedicated to the lives lost during the cyclones that hit the state in 1990s. Don't forget to gorge on some mouth-watering seafood while you're here.

22. Kolab Dam, Koraput

Image Source: Panoramio

At a height of 3000 feet, is the Kolab Dam which utilises water from river Kolab to generate Hydro Electric Power. The most attractive feature of the reservoir is the Kolab Botanical Garden that stands beside it. An ideal spot for picnics with your family or friends, that garden has around 200 types of flowering plants. You can even go boating in the water.

23. Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Bhubaneshwar

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Part natural, part man made, these caves are situated on the two adjacent hills, Udaygiri and Khandagiri. With 18 caves in Udayagiri and 15 in Khandagiri, these caves are of archaelogical, historical, as well as, religious importance. It is said that the carvings were done out of residential rocks by Jain monks. If your interests are inclined towards histiry and archeology then these caves are a must visit in your Orissa trip.

Check out the things to do in Bhubaneshwar!

24. Bhimkund, Mayurbhanja

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Bhimkund is a natural water tank, that is famous for the second largest sleeping statue of Lord Vishnu, in India. The water of the tank is crystal clear and the tank is said to have a depth the cannot be measured. Legend says that while on exile, the Pandavas were passing by this place, when Draupadi passed out of thirst. In order to quench it, Bhim took his 'gada' and hit the ground so hard that water spurted out of it, which turned out to be the tank. Visit Bhimkind and see the natural wonder by your own eyes.

25. Chandipur Beach, Baleswar

Image Source: Wikipedia

This pristine beach is indeed a natural wonder. It is one of the few beaches in the world, where the water recedes from 1 to 5 kms during the ebb tide, daily. A lot of people here have some fun of their own by chasing the waves during this time. Due to this phenomenon, this beach is bio-diverse in nature. The beach also stands witness to some beautiful sunsets, which should not be missed while you're here.

So, apply for your leaves, pack your bags and get ready to explore this gorgeous state of Orissa.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRIYA SANYAL PRIYA SANYAL

A closet romantic, with an icy cool demeanour, to fool you. Heroine of her own Victorian love story and an imaginary superhero. A true-blue Taurean whose dream is to live in the Italian countryside, cook and eat delicious pasta, and write to her heart's content.

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