Bhubaneswar, The Temple City Of India

Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, is known for its architecture and ancient temples. It is also a Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage destination. The 10th-century Lingaraja temple, dedicated to Shiva, has been described as “the truest fusion of dream and reality.” The surface of the 55-meter high Lingaraja temple is covered with carvings. Sculpture and architecture fused elegantly to create perfect harmony. The best times to visit are between October and March.

This city is most renowned for changing the conqueror Asoka to the conquered. The great Kalinga War took place here between Emperor Asoka and Kalinga (the old empire of Odisha). Asoka was overwhelmed at the gory of blood that flowed like a river. Asokan inscriptions still stand testimony for this. Having merged its intriguing past so uniquely with its modern aspirations, it forms an integral link in the Golden Triangle that incorporates the holy city of Puri (Jagannath Temple) and Konark (Sun temple). The twin cave groups of Kandagiri and Udayagiri are evidence of the region’s antiquity, dating to the 2nd century BC or the early Jain monastery.

Modern Bhubaneswar is a well-planned city with wide roads and many gardens and parks. The plan was made by Otto H. Koenigsberger, a German town planner. Though part of the city has stayed faithful to the plan, it has grown rapidly over the last few decades and has made the planning process unwieldy.

Bhubaneswar is one of three cities that make up three temple towns of Odisha and make the golden temple triangle of Eastern India. Bhubaneswar is a very religious center for Hindus and Buddhists. Bhubaneswar is also known as the temple city and there are many excellent examples of Oriya architecture in the old part of the city.

  • Old Town: Almost all the famous temples of Bhubaneswar are located here most of which were constructed in the 11th to 13th century period. Around 400 temples of varying sizes are located here. Be sure to visit Traffic Mahadev, a small temple which acts as a road divider. 
  • Lingaraj Temple: The 10th or 11th-century Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar has been described as “the truest fusion of dream and reality”. A rare masterpiece, the Lingaraja temple has been rated one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temple in India by Ferguson, the noted art critic, and historian. Every inch of the surface of the 55 m-high Lingaraja temple is covered with elaborate carvings. Sculpture and architecture fused elegantly to create perfect harmony. Non-Hindus are not permitted inside. However, there is an elevated viewing platform next to one of the boundary walls. To reach the platform, face the temple’s main entrance and walk around to the right. There is a laneway leading to the back of the temple and the platform.  
  • Bindu Sarovara: This large lake near to Lingaraj and Ananta Vasudeva temples keeps a drop (bindu) of every holy river in it. Bindu Sarovara
  • Khandagiri & Udayagiri, 8km from Bhubaneswar: These twin hills served as the site of an ancient Jain monastery that was carved into cave-like chambers in the face of the hill. Dating back to the 2nd century BC, some of the caves have beautiful carvings. The Rani Gumpha (Queen’s Cave), one of the largest and double-storied, is ornately embellished with beautiful carvings. In the Hati Gumpha (Elephant Cave), King Kharavela has carved out the chronicles of his reign. 
  • Dhauli Giri, 8km from Bhubaneswar: Looking down on the plains that bore witness to the gruesome war waged on Kalinga by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, stand the rock edicts of Dhauli. It was here that King Ashoka, full of remorse after the Kalinga War in 261 BC, renounced his blood-thirsty campaign and turned to Buddhism. The edicts are a living testimony to the King’s change of heart. He urges his administrators to rule the land with justice and compassion. The edicts are so remarkable that they have been excellently preserved, even though they date back to the 3rd century BC. A sculpted elephant, the symbol of the boundless powers of Lord Buddha, tops the rock edicts. The Shanti Stupa or the peace pagoda, built through the Indo-Japanese collaboration, is located on the opposite hill. 
  • Mukteshwara Temple: Dating back to the 10th century this temple marks an important transition point between the early and the later phases of the Kalinga architecture. The highlight is the magnificent Torana – the decorative gateway, an arched masterpiece, reminiscent of Buddhist influence in Odisha. This temple is considered to be the gem of Odishan architecture. The beautiful sculptures eloquently speak of the sense of proportion and perspective of the sculptor and their unique ability in the exact depiction of the minutest objects. Mukteswara means “Lord of freedom”. 
  • Rajarani Temple: This temple got its name from a red-gold sandstone used, which is called Rajarani locally. It has no presiding deity but many intricately carved figurines in various stages of daily chores.  
  • Odisha State Museum: Housing a rich collection of sculptures, coins, copper plates, stone inscriptions, lithic and bronze age tools, rare manuscripts written on palm leaves, traditional and folk musical instruments. Rare epigraphic records are preserved in the Epigraphy Gallery. editOdisha State Museum
  • Sri Sri Krishna Balarama Mandir, ISKCON, on NH5: (ask the autorickshaw drivers, about Rs40 from town) Non-Hindus and foreigners who desire to visit a Hindu temple can go to this temple – the devotees are friendly and there is a cheap and clean vegetarian restaurant. 
  • Nandankanan Zoo, about 15km outside of Bhubaneswar: (large numbers of buses ply from Acharya Vihar Square or by auto-rickshaw) The zoo has some rare species of animals and is particularly well known for white tigers. There is a nice lake inside for boating, a ropeway, also the Botanical Garden is adjacent to the zoo. Avoid visiting the park on weekends when it gets pretty crowded. Open 8 am – 5 pm. Every Monday closed.
  • Museum of Tribal Art & Artefacts, CRPF Square: The museum gives an impressive insight into the culture of the many different tribals living in and around Odisha. Tools, clothes and artwork is presented over several halls. In every area a guide of the museum will take care of you and give you extensive explanations – you get to know something about the things you see. Anyway, there is no entry fee. 
  • Deras Dam: It is situated near Chandaka Sanctuary, around 20Kms away from the Bhubaneswar Baramunda Busstand. It is a pristine, quiet lake amid nature.Deras Dam

Visit there:

By plane –  Bhubaneswar Airport is well connected to most of the major cities of India.

By train – Bhubaneswar is the divisional headquarters of East Coast railways. It is situated on the mainline from Kolkata to Chennai and is well connected by direct train service to most major Indian cities. For timings and other details check the Indian Railways website

By road – Bhubaneshwar is situated on the National Highway no.5 which runs between Kolkata and Chennai. It is 480km from Kolkata, 445km from Visakhapatnam, 1,225km from Chennai, 32km from Cuttack, 130km from Chilika Lake (Barkul), 184km from Gopalpur-on-sea, 64km from Konark, 62km from Puri.

From Bhubaneswar, after traveling 20km there is a place known as Pipili. This place is famous for patching cloth design locally known as Chandua. From the center of the Pipili market one has to take a left turn to go towards Konark and the straight road goes to Puri.

Khushi Anand

Hello! Great to meet you! I’m Khushi Anand, a university student who’s always looking out for new places to explore and stories to tell. With my colorful creativity, I want to take you guys on the adventure of a lifetime. www.khushianand.com

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