Orissa situated on the eastern coast along the Bay of
Bengal, is an attractive treasure house of cultures and
customs, religions and traditions, languages and literature,
art and architecture, scenic beauties and wildlife. The
state offers diverse habitats from lush green and hilly
terrains to coastal plains and rolling river valleys,
crises-crossed by the Brahmani, the Mahanadi and the
Bansadhara rivers. In its long history spanning several
centuries, the region of modern Orissa is today one of the
most popular with tourists.
With a documented history stretching back to 2000 BC, it is
no wonder that Orissa is dotted with ancient monuments
ranging from the ruins of Sisupalgarh to the magnificent
Lingaraj and Jagannath temples, from the world heritage site
of the Konark Sun temple to the exquisitely carved Mukteswar
and other such temples. The various archaeological finds at
Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri, Udaigiri and other locations prove
that Orissa had also been influenced by Buddhist thought.
The state once formed a part of the Kalinga kingdom which is
best known in ancient history for its brave resistance
against the invasion of the Mauryan King Ashoka in the 3rd
century B.C., who ultimately conquered it. That the emperor
turned to Buddhism and peace after witnessing the bloodshed
in this war is well known. This also formed the turning
point in the history of Orissa giving a boost to art and
architecture in the ancient kingdom. Jainism too has left
its mark on Orissa as the rock cut caves at Khandagiri &
Udaygiri as well as remains at other locations show.
Orissa is blessed with around 500 km long coastline and has
some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Chilika,
Asia's largest brackish water lake, not only provides a
haven for millions of birds, but is also one of the few
places in India where one can view Dolphins. The lush green
forest cover of Orissa plays host to a wide variety of flora
and fauna, including the famed Royal Bengal Tiger. Amidst
the picturesque hills and valleys nestle a number of
breathtaking waterfalls and rivulets that attract visitors
from all over.
Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, is also popularly known
as the "Temple City of India". It provides an ideal
introduction to the rich cultural heritage of the state of
Orissa. Bhubaneswar derives its name from the Sanskrit word
Tribhuvaneswara, literally “lord of the three worlds” which
stands for Lord Shiva or Lord Lingaraj. An important Hindu
pilgrimage centre, hundreds of temples have become an
integral part of the landscape of the Old Town, which once
boasted of more than 2000 temples. The area around
Bhubaneswar constituted the famed kingdom of Kalinga, which
was conquered after a bloody battle by Ashoka, the great
Mauryan emperor. Appalled at the carnage, Ashoka renounced
violence and embraced Buddhism. Around the 1st century BC,
under the rule of Kharvela, Orissa regained its lost glory
and Bhubaneswar again became the center of activities.
During this period, monastery caves were constructed of
which Khandgiri and Udaygiri are the most important. By the
7th century, Hinduism supplemented Jainism, and Ganga and
Kesari kingdoms did a lot for the development of Orissan
culture. Most of the kings who ruled Orissa constructed
beautiful temples. For a better part of its history,
Bhubaneswar remained under the influence of Afghans,
Marathas, and the British (till 1947).
Lingaraja Temple: Built in the 10th or 11th century,
Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar has been described as 'the
truest fusion of dream and reality. A rare masterpiece,
Ferguson, the noted art critic and historian, has rated the
Lingaraja temple as one of the finest examples of purest
Hindu temple in India. Lingaraja temple is covered with
intricate and elaborate carvings. Sculpture and architecture
fuse elegantly to create a perfect harmony. It is believed
that pilgrims, who wish to go to the Jagannath temple at
Puri, must first offer worship at the Lingaraja temple.
Parashurameshwara Temple: The mid-seventh century
dated temple is based on style, as well as on the eight
planets, which appear over the door to the inner sanctum. In
later temples, there are nine. This small temple shows the
early stages of development of the two main Orissan temple
components: the beehive-shaped tower (generally referred to
as the deul) and the porch in front of the tower (generally
called the Jagamohan). The tower is built in successive,
inward-tapering stories, marked by “loti” form corner
Mukteshwar Temple: Built in the year of 950 AD, the
temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Mukteswara, is carved
with figures of ascetics in several poses of meditation. The
highlight of the temple is the magnificent torana - the
decorative gateway, an arched masterpiece, reminiscent of
Buddhist influence in Orissa.
Vaital Deul Temple: Vaital Deul is the shrine of
Chamunda (a tantric form of the Goddess of Kali) or Shakti
seated on a corpse. In a dark inner sanctum is the goddess
Chamunda, garland of skulls round her neck and flanked by a
jackal and an owl. Built in 800 AD, the niches on the inner
wall of the temple depict equally startling images along
with scenes of tantric rituals. It is the first of the
temples to depict erotic sculptures.
Rajarani Temple: Built in 1050 AD, this temple stands
alone in a green field and is one of the latest of the
Bhuabneswar temples. It is famous for its ornate deul, or
compass, decorated with some of the most impressive Oriya
temple architecture. Set in a picturesque locale, the temple
creates a dramatic image against the setting sun. It is
particularly interesting in that it has no presiding deity.
The temple's name is supposed to be derived from the
red-gold sandstone used in building it - Rajarani being the
local name for the stone.
Brahmeswara Temple: Brahmeswara Temple built in 1050
AD, is situated around a kilometer east of the main road.
The temple stands in a courtyard bordered by four smaller
temples. The temple depicts the mature Orissan style of
temple architecture. The deul and the jagmohan are both
intricately carved. For the first time in temple
architectural history, musicians and dances appear on the
outer walls and iron beams find their first use.
Orissa State Museum & Handircraft Museum: The Orissa
State Museum is one of the best places to view sculptures,
stone inscriptions and bronze-age tools, rare copper plates,
palm-leaf manuscripts, paintings, anthropological specimens
and musical instruments. The Handicrafts Museum has a good
collection of folk paintings, horn toys, brass castings, and
Tribal Museum: The Tribal Museum deals with the
various aspects of the tribal life and culture in Orissa.
Puri is the holiest place in Orissa and one of the biggest
pilgrimage centres in India situated on the shoreline of the
Bay of Bengal. Here, the city's activities generally revolve
around the Jagannath Temple. The town is divided into two -
the old town the main residential area, including the main
shops and huge market area. Most nights, the beaches host
colourful markets and the city is abuzz with life. Puri is
the hallowed seat of Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe),
Subhadra and Balabhadra. One of the four holy dhams of
Hinduism, Puri is possibly one of the very few religious
sites, which combines the outdoor pleasures of sea and
divine beaches with the religious sentiments of 'darshan'.
Puri beach is famous for its golden sands, soothing sunbath
and the colourful sunrise and sunset. Puri was once a part
of Kalinga kingdom that was taken over by Emperor Ashoka of
the Mauryan Empire. After passing through the hands of
various dynasties, the entire Puri region came under the
British rule in the year 1803.
Jagannath Temple: Jagannath temple is one of the four
sacred Dhams of the Hindu religion. The other three being,
Dwarka, Badrinath, and Rameshwaram. It is dedicated to the
Lord of the Universe and its name is actually a combination
of two words - Jag meaning universe and Nath meaning lord.
Built in the 12th century, it is considered one of the
tallest temples in India. Built in the Kalinga style of
architecture, the temple consists of Jagmohan (hall) and the
Deul (main shrine) in its front. The Nata Mandir was built
in the 14th century and the Bhoga Mandir was built in the
15th century in the typical Orissan style. With 6000 direct
temple servitors, a temple kitchen, which feeds 10,000
people daily (and some 25,000 on festival days), and a
central deity who has become the focus of religious life
throughout Orissa, the Jagannath temple is truly an
institution unique in the world. The famous Rath Yatra
(chariot festival) is held every year in June-July as a part
of the festival of this great temple. The proceedings
commence with the installation of Lord Jagannath, his sister
Subhadra, and brother Balabhadra in massive, lavishly
decorated chariots and thousands of devotees throng in to
pull the three gigantic chariots through the streets of Puri
to the Gundicha Mandir, accompanied by the chanting of
sacred mantras (incantations) and music. It draws good
number of pilgrims from all over the world.
Gundicha Ghar: The Gundicha Ghar or Gundicha temple
is regarded as holy as the Jagannath temple itself. It is
considered to be the place of Lord's aunt Gundicha.
Non-Hindus can walk within the walls and see the beautiful
garden, but they are not allowed inside the temple building.
According to popular local belief, it is here that Lord
stays for 9 days during the time of the famous Rath Yatra.
On the day of the Rath Yatra, Jagannath, Balabhadra and
Subhadra (the brother-sister trio) are ceremoniously taken
in attractively caparisoned wooden “rath” from the Jagannath
temple to Gundicha temple. At the garden house, their aunt
welcomes them by feeding them padoapitha (specially baked
rice cakes). This event is an important part of the famous
Rath Yatra festival of Puri.
Puri Beach: Perhaps the only beach worth a visit on
the eastern coast of India, Puri has soft white sands,
simple people, the sweets and snacks hawkers and widespread
waters of the Bay of Bengal continuously washing your feet
as you walk. Beach Festival, celebrated in the later part of
March or early April, it showcases the best of Orissa's folk
and classical dance forms, music and handicrafts. Quite
popular among the tourists, it is the best place to witness
the cultural riches of the entire state at one place.
Konark is better known for its Sun Temple dedicated to the
Sun God or Surya. A masterpiece of Orissa's medieval
architecture, it has been declared as a UNESCO World
Heritage Site. Konark derives its name from Konarka, the
presiding deity of the Sun Temple. Konark is actually a
combination of two words, Kona (corner) and Arka (sun),
which, when combined, means the sun of the corner. Sun has
been a popular deity in India since the Vedic period. Once a
bustling port with good maritime trade relations with
Southeast Asian countries, Konark was one of the earliest
centres for Sun worshipping in India.
The magnificent Sun Temple at Konark is the culmination of
Orissan temple architecture, and one of the most stunning
monuments of religious architecture in the world. Even in
its ruined state, it makes one gasp at first sight. The poet
Rabindranath Tagore said of Konark that 'here the language
of stone surpasses the language of man', and it is true that
the experience of Konark is impossible to translate into
words. Today it is located two kilometers from the sea, but
originally the ocean came almost up to its base. Until
fairly recent times, in fact, the temple was close enough to
the shore to be used as a navigational point by European
sailors, who referred to it as the 'Black Pagoda'.
The Konark temple is widely known not only for its
architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and
profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been
conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each
about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and
elaborate carvings. Seven horses pull the temple chariot.
Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. There are
three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of
the sun at Dawn, Noon and Sunset.
The place has been referred to in the Puranas as Mundira or
Mundirasvamin, a name that was subsequently replaced by
Konaditya or Konarka. Other religious texts also point
towards the existence of a sun temple at Konark long before
the present one. The present Sun Temple was probably built
King Narashimhadev I of the Ganga dynasty in the 13th
century to celebrate his victory over the Muslims. The
temple was deserted in the early 17th century after an envoy
of the Mughal emperor Jahangir desecrated it. However, there
is a legend, which says that the temple was constructed by
Samba, the son of Lord Krishna who was afflicted by leprosy,
brought about by his father's curse on him. After 12 years
of penance, Surya, the Sun God cured him. Thus, Samba built
an exquisite temple in his honor.
Sun Temple - equally as sensational was the rediscovery
among the ruins of some extraordinary erotic sculpture.
Konark is plastered with loving couples locked in ingenious
amatory postures drawn from the Kama Sutra. Just outside the
Sun Temple, is the Archaeological Museum that houses many
sculptures and carvings found during the temple excavations.
The stone images of nine planet deities, the Navagrahas,
which were originally set above the temple's ornamental
doorways is now kept as a living shrine.
Three kilometers from the temple, is the Konark beach or
Chandrabhaga. Not only a walk on the beach is a pleasant
experience, people also flock to the place for a holy dip in
the sparkling seawaters and roll in the white-grained sands.
The Black Pagoda (The Sun Temple), the glorious and majestic
edifice, stands frozen with its splendor as the cool blue
sea and the rapid waves roll in and out complementing its
Located in Southern Orissa, Gopalpur is a tiny town of
Gopalpur on the Bay of Bengal. This quiet seashore town of
Gopalpur is a popular beach resort of Orissa. The deep and
clear blue waters instantly provoke those who are good
swimmers. The temptation of bathing here is irresistible.
White surf splashing on the golden sands makes Gopalpur-on-Sea
as one of the finest beaches on the eastern coast. A
fascinating haunt for avid beachcombers and sea worshippers,
it is a splendid retreat. Originally a small fishing village
on the coast of Orissa, it was so named when a temple
dedicated to Lord Krishna was constructed some time in the
18th century. North-West of Gopalpur and 50 kms from
Berhampur, amidst greens hills of the Eastern Ghats lies
Taptapani, famous for its hot water sulphur spring. The
water of the spring, believed to have medicinal properties
is channelised to a pond to facilitate bathing. The beauty
of the rolling tribal inhabited hills is an added bonus
while traveling through this area.
The former capital of Orissa and the oldest city in the
region, Cuttack today is a bustling commercial center.
Situated on the delta formed by the Mahanadi and Kathjuri
rivers, Cuttack assumed significance due to its strategic
location. The warlike Keshari Dynasty founded a Kataka or
"military camp," here in AD 989. The place was a major river
crossing for the busy north-south land route as well as a
nexus for the canals that connect Orissa’s interior with the
sea. The island proved an ideal platform from which to
dominate the region's economy. Orissa's last independent
Hindu ruler, Mukunda Harichandan, built a much grander,
nine-story palace. The Raja never had much of a chance to
enjoy it however, as only eight years after his succession
the Mughals and soon after, the Afghans of Bengal, annexed
the city. Marathas took over Cuttack in the 18th century,
and during this time it expanded further. Lucrative trade
with the British on the coast financed the construction of
new temples. For some geographical and climatic problems,
the capital was transferred to Bhubaneswar after some time.
Cuttack is famous for its stone revetment on the riverbanks,
a great engineering marvel of the 11th century AD and a
remarkable example of ancient technological skill of Orissa.
The medieval Barabati Fort, with its moat and gate and the
earthen mound of the nine-storied palace, is situated on the
bank of the river Mahanadi. A sacred shrine both for the
Hindus and Muslims, Quadam-i-Rasool, has a compound wall and
towers at each corner. Inside the shrine are three mosques
with beautiful domes and a Nawabat Khana (music gallery). It
is an object of veneration for Hindus and Muslims alike.
Chandi is the presiding deity of the city and the shrine
dedicated to her is on the itinerary of all those visiting
Nestling in the heart of coastal Orissa, spread over 1100
sq. km. Chilika is the country’s largest inland lake. Chilka
Lake is situated at a distance of 45 km from Gopalpur.
Dotted with islands, it has the richest variety of aquatic
fauna and is a bird watcher’s paradise when migratory birds
arrive in winter. Containing a large variety of fish, the
lake provides a livelihood to thousands of fisherman.
Hundreds of boats sail out daily on the lake’s blue expanse
in search of Mackerel, Prawn and Crab, the sight providing
an insight into the pageant of rural India at its colourful
best. Enriched by hills all along its arched shape, Chilika
Lake’s colour changes with the passing clouds overhead and
the shifting sun. The water ripples languidly; occasionally
rippling with a gentle breeze across from the Bay of Bengal.
Sunset and sunrise are memorable experiences here. Boating
and fishing facilities are available in this lake, which is
rich in fish. One can view the Dolphins at Chilika mouth
Jeypore, the commercial nerve center of Koraput district,
endowed with falls and forests thronged with colorful
wildlife has all such facilities to serve as the convenient
base for visiting the places of interest in and around.
Duduma, a charming waterfall on the river Machhakund, 70 km
from Jeypore is also a place of pilgrimage and rare scenic
beauty. Gupteswar which is 58 kms east is a scenic spot with
the cave shrine of lord Shiva. The place aglow on the
occasion of Mahashivratri. The ShivaTemple with Champak
trees at Papaddhandi (52km) is worth visiting. Sunabeda is
also a placed of scenic beauty amidst lush green valleys.
Orissa can boast of a vast tribal population belonging to
diverse races and culture which are at various stages of
socio-economic development. It has the second largest
concentration of Tribals and constitutes an impressive
quarter of the total population of the state.
The tribes believe that their life and work are controlled
by supernatural beings whose abode is around them in the
hills, forests, rivers and houses. It is very difficult to
standardize the Gods and spirits as their composition
continually changes when old ones are forgotten with the
introduction of new ones. Their Gods differ from one another
in composition, function, character and nature. Some are
benevolent; some are neutral and some are malevolent. The
malevolent spirits and Gods are cared more than their
benevolent counterparts as they can bring misery. Illness or
misfortune is attributed to displeasure and malicious act of
the Gods or ancestors. The sacrifice of different kinds of
livestock accompanied by all the rites and ceremonials of
fetishism is considered appropriate appeasement.
Furthermore, their extremely superstitious nature prohibits
the undertaking of any enterprise unless the Gods are first
appeased and the omens, after being carefully considered,
are adjudged to be propitious. A major portion of the tribal
habitat is hilly and forested. The scenery is magnificent,
the villages and hamlets are fascinating. Tribal villages
are generally found in areas away from the alluvial plains
close to rivers. The tribes are quite friendly. Among all
the tribes conformity to customs and norms and social
integration continue to be achieved through their
traditional political organizations. The tributary
institutions of social control, such as family, kinship and
public opinion continue to fulfill central social control
functions. The relevance of tribal political organization in
the context of economic development and social change
continues to be there undiminished. Modern elites in tribal
societies elicit scant respect and have very little
followings. And as the traditional leaders continue to wield
influence over their fellow tribesmen, it is worthwhile to
take them into confidence in the context of economic
development and social change.
Ethnic curio seekers, Anthropologists, Sociologists and
Missionaries - they have all from time to time tried to
penetrate the mystery surrounding the tribes of Orissa. Of
these tribes, the most numerous are the Kondh, the Paraja,
the Gadaba, Koya and the famous Bonda tribes. Each of these
tribes is marked for its own unique culture.
The tribes of Orissa, despite their poverty and
preoccupation with the continuous battle for survival, have
retained the rich and varied heritage of colourful dance and
music forming an integral part of their festivals and
rituals. Among them, the dance and music is developed and
maintained by themselves in a tradition without aid and
intervention of any professional dancer or teacher. It is
mainly through the songs and dances the tribes seek to
satisfy their inner urge for revealing their soul. Some of
the tribal communities like the Bonda and the Gadaba have
their own looms by which they weave clothes for their own
use. These handspun textiles of coloured yarn are examples
of best artistic skill of these people. So also among the
Dongaria Kondhs the ladies are very much skilled in making
beautiful embroidery work on their scarves. The tribal women
in general and the Bonda, the Gadaba and the Dongaria Kondh
women in particular are very fond of using ornaments. The
Bonda women, who are considered most primitive, look
majestic when they wear headbands made of grass, necklaces
of coloured beads and girdles made of brass on their bodies.
All these are expressions of their artistic quality and
The tribal people turn out excellent handicrafts for their
own use. The woodcarving of the Kondhs, metal works by the
lost wax process among the Bathudis, cane and bamboo
basketry works among the Juangs and Bhuyans, are all
symbolic of artistic creation