Sambalpur is the Western Odisha region’s administrative, commercial and educational hub. The city contains many famous temples, historic buildings, and parks. Sambalpur is famous for premier educational institutes like Sambalpur University, Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR), Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology (VSSUT), Gangadhar Meher University, Indian Institute of Management Sambalpur and Odisha State Open University (OSOU). Hirakud Dam, the longest earthen dam in the world and the largest artificial lake of Asia, is at Hirakud.

After the independence of India, many commercial and government establishments sprung up in and around Sambalpur. Sambalpur is one of the major railway junctions in Odisha with the headquarters of the Sambalpur Railway Division under the East Coast Railway Zone of Indian Railways. National Highway 53, National Highway 55 pass through the City, and State Highway 10 & 15 originate from the city.

Sambalpur Sambalpur is also the headquarter of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited since 1992, a subsidiary of Coal India Limited.

The world-famous Hirakud Dam, built-in 1956 across the Mahanadi River, about 15 km (9.3 mi) from Sambalpur, is a major tourist attraction. It is one of the longest dams in the world, about 26 km (16 mi) in length. It also forms the biggest artificial lake in Asia, with a reservoir covering 743 km2 (287 sq mi) at full capacity with a shoreline of over 640 km (400 mi). It also attracts a large number of migratory birds in winter.

The Leaning Temple of Huma, located about 25 km (16 mi) from Sambalpur, built in the 17th century, leans at an angle of approximately 47 degrees to the west. (Pasayat, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008). It is one of a kind in India.

Samaleswari Temple is the main temple of the goddess Samaleswari, located on the banks of the river the Mahanadi. Sambalpur owes its name to her.

Chiplima (Chipilima Hydro Electric Project (CHEP)) located about 37 km (23 mi) from Sambalpur, is known for a natural fall (24.38 m (80.0 ft) in height) harnessed for generating electricity. It is an ideal picnic spot and famous for Ghanteswari Temple, the presiding deity of the place. This temple played an important role in river navigation in the past.

SambalpurLost Temples of Hirakud Dam

These are remnants of temples submerged after the dam was completed in 1957. In summer, due to the receding water of the dam, the structures become visible. These hidden treasures have finally caught the attention of historians and steps are being taken to understand the historical significance of these temples which periodically go underwater, only to resurface again. Many temples have been destroyed after 58 years of underwater existence. However, some remain intact.

Interest in these lost temples has been rekindled after two stones, etched with writing (‘Shila Lekha’), was recovered from what is believed to be the Padmaseni temple of the submerged Padmapur village. The temples located inside the reservoir area were part of the then Padmapur, one of the oldest and most populous villages in the region before the dam construction. More than 200 temples were submerged by the dam; nearly 150 temples have either perished or are underwater and about 50 are visible during summer. These lost temples present excellent opportunities for scuba diving enthusiasts to explore under the Hirakud Dam. These temples are visible to visitors on boats only during the summer months of May and June.

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