Thursday, September 02, 2010

24 By City Bhubaneswar

Designed by the German architect, Otto Königsberger, modern Bhubaneswar is a well-planned city that looks to the future with infrastructure development while taking pride in its historical identity as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga.



Bhubaneswar is known as the Temple City of India, and not without reason. The many temples you see are a survived fraction of hundreds more that existed in ancient times. While some temples are fully functional places of Hindu worship even today where non-Hindus are only admitted in certain areas, there are other temples that are purely archaeological landmarks.

The Lingaraj Temple is one of the most important temples in Bhubaneswar and a perfect representation of Oriya temple architecture. The presiding deity, Lord Shiva is also known as Lingaraj (The King of Lingas) and Tribhuvaneswar (Lord of the Three Worlds). It is from the latter title that the name of the city was derived.

Other important sites that capture the evolution of Oriya architecture are the temples of Megheswar, Mukteswar, Kedar Gowri, Parasurameswar, Rajarani, and Vaital.

While a tour of the some temples is a must, do take the time to head a little out of the city for other sites of equal importance.


Khanda Giri & Udaya Giri

Hathigumpha, Ganeshagumpha and Rani Ka Naur are the most ornately decorated caves at Khanda Giri and Udaya Giri that served as abodes of Jain ascetics in the time of Emperor Kharavela.

Dhauli Giri

The Mauryan emperor Asoka is said to have waged the bloody Kalinga War in 261 BC near this site. When he saw the river Daya flow red with the blood of thousands, he renounced violence and converted to Buddhism. A stupa (Buddhist Pagoda) stands atop the hill. The rock edicts of Asoka are at the base.


A zoological park in the lush Chandaka Forest, Nandankanan is renowned for its population of white tigers, succesfully bred in-house. It also has a reptile park, acquaria, and safaris for spotting lions and white tigers. Open 7.30 a.m. To 5. 30 p.m (April to September) and 8 5 p.m.(October to March).

Other Attractions:

Besides the Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneswar is home to the Tribal Research and Training Institute. It has a fascinating Tribal Museum that provides an insight into the lives of the 62 indigenous tribes in Orissa. Open: Mon - Sat. 10a.m. - 5p.m. Closed second saturdays.


The Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus service linking the sights in and around Bhubaneswar. More details can be had here:


While there are restaurants serving an array of international and Indian cuisine, a chain of restaurants called Dalma serves traditional Oriya platters. Dalma is itself a staple vegetarian Oriya dish, made with lentils and mixed vegetables like pumpkin, raw banana etc. Ghanta Tarkari is an ensemble of vegetables and pulses. Don't miss the fish curry made with Hilsa, Pohala and Mahurali varieties. All these side dishes are served with boiled rice. Also try the shrimp, prawn or crab preparations with a distinct Oriya flavour.

Many Oriya desserts are made with fresh cottage cheese, locally called Chhena. West Bengal's famous Rasgollas were originally created in Orissa. Taste authentic Oriya desserts like Chhena Poda, Tadia and Rasabali at Pratihari near Rajmahal Chowk.


Ekamra Haat is a vibrant shopping destination that showcases the art and craft of Orissa. Pick up silver filigree work, terracotta, Chitra Pothi and Patachitra paintings, Ikat and other fabric products from Pipli, Cuttack and Sambhalpur in cotton and silk. Timings: Weekdays, 10 10p.m.

Pal Heights Mall is the local hangout and is home to a delightful bookstore, part of the Oxford Book Store chain.

Visit the Market Building for a taste of local shopping. Rub shoulders with locals and savour some of their favourite snacks like Gupchup (called Pani Puri in other parts of India) and rolls. Utkalika, the government-run handicraft emporium is located here.

(An edited version appeared in Culturama's September 2010 Issue)

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