Odisha Tourism and Travel Guide

Rich heritage, diverse cultures and awe-inspiring historical monuments define this vibrant state in India. Travellers often claim that Odisha tourism hasn’t received its due and is often overshadowed in lieu of other states. But if you are looking for history, architecture, nature and wildlife, there can’t be a more apt state for you to explore. Odisha tourism has a large number of historical and religious monuments including the magnificent Jagannath Temple. Travellers can admire the breathtaking Rath Yatra and participate in the enthralling Konark Dance Festival that takes place every year. The monsoon season usually brings the state to a standstill but the spirit of the people remains unshaken. Performing arts and traditional crafts are highlights that surprise visitors exploring Odisha tourism. The heritage village of Raghurajpur is the perfect example of the varied art forms that still exist and thrive in the beautiful state of Odisha. Adventure enthusiasts and offbeat travellers hold Odisha tourism in high regard. Small tribal villages, lesser-known archaeological wonders and untouched wilderness offer travellers a unique experience and urge them to keep coming back for more. If you want to explore all aspects of Odisha tourism, your itinerary should include a mix of adventure, historical tours, spiritual exploration and a cultural tour of the arts and crafts of the state. This Odisha travel guide lists down important aspects that will help you plan your Odisha tourism itinerary including hotels, restaurants, places to see and things to do.
Get Customised Packages View on Map

Hotels and Homestays in Odisha

Best Time To Visit Odisha

The best time to explore Odisha tourism is between October and February. This time period marks winter in the state and is the ideal time to prepare an action-packed Odisha tourism itinerary. Another reason that travellers prefer exploring Odisha tourism during winter is because of the spellbinding Konark Dance Festival. The festival takes place in February and is a treat for art lovers. Summer in the state begins in April and lasts until June. The days are extremely hot and the evenings are balmy. We suggest not planning your trip to explore Odisha tourism during this time owing to the hot weather. The coastal state of Odisha faces extreme monsoon from June to September. Cyclones and tornadoes are common in most cities close to the coast. But, if you want to explore the state during monsoon, you can head to the Eastern Ghats. However, despite the rains, monsoon is a great time for budget travellers to plan their Odisha tourism itinerary. If you are apprehensive about embarking on an Odisha tourism trip during summer or monsoon owing to the weather, we suggest planning  for a winter trip in advance. Doing so will also get you better discounts.

Top Attractions in Odisha

Puri

Puri is home to the majestic Jagannath Temple and is one of the four pilgrimage sites for Hindus. An integral part of the Char Dham Yatra in India, Puri welcomes thousands of visitors every year. The city is also a delight for backpackers and adventure enthusiasts. Besides the majestic Jagannath Temple, Puri is home to Chilika Lake, a beautiful attraction that is part of Odisha tourism. It is the largest internal saltwater lake in Asia. 

 

Jagannath Temple, the main attraction of Odisha tourism was built in the 11th century by King Indradyumna. The primary deity in the temple is Lord Jagannath, who is a form of Lord Vishnu. The temple complex is home to numerous smaller temples and you will surely be in awe of the traditional Kalinga architecture on display. The main temple is surrounded by two walls and a 58-metre high sikhara. It’s important to note that cameras and mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple. The Lion Gate of the temple is the passageway where the rath yatra takes place. The rituals in the temple take place throughout the day and you can witness them during your visit. Another highlight of visiting Jagannath Temple is the prasad that you receive here. It is among the largest community kitchens in India and devotees wait for hours to receive blessings. The best time to visit Jagannath Temple is at 08:00 am, when the ritual of Bhitara Katha takes place. It’s important to note that non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. 

 

Your Odisha tourism itinerary should include a visit to Chilika Lake. Home to unique flora and fauna, Chilika Lake is a beautiful spot to visit. You can choose to spend an evening here admiring a wide population of birds or choose to head here in the morning for a picnic. On weekends, Chilika Lake is visited by a number of locals and it’s a wonderful way to learn more about the local culture.. The lake is pear-shaped and is home to smaller islands that are a treat for nature lovers. Bird Island, Breakfast Island and Honeymoon Island are a few places that are frequented by tourists as well as locals. Another highlight of Chilika Lake is that it is home to Irrawaddy dolphins – one of the two sites in the world where this endangered species can be spotted. Adventure enthusiasts and nature buffs can also experience the bliss of camping on the banks of Chilika Lake, an experience you won’t easily forget. When in Puri, you can’t miss including the stunning Puri Beach, Lakshmi Temple, Raghurajpur Heritage Village and Astaranga Beach in your Odisha tourism itinerary. 

 

Rayagada

Rayagada is gradually becoming a popular tourist attraction in Odisha tourism itineraries. The highlight of a visit to Rayagada is the tribal culture that one is able to experience. Art lovers, shopping enthusiasts and photographers are attracted to Rayagada owing to the numerous historical places and its reputation as a hub for crafts and tribal products. 

 

When exploring Rayagada in your Odisha tourism itinerary, you can spend time in the tribal village of Chaitkona. Located 40 kilometres from Rayagada, the village is popular among travellers for its natural beauty. Home to a spellbinding waterfall and lush forests, you can expect to have a memorable time here. Dongria Kondh, a tribal village in Chaitkona, is known for its varied art and crafts. This is a great place to pick up souvenirs and other products to promote the local economy. You can also meet artisans here if you want to know more about the local crafts in the state. 

 

Chaitkona Falls, Shiva Temple and the hanging bridge in Chekaguda village are a few other spots that you can include in your Odisha tourism itinerary. The hanging bridge is important for the cluster of villages in the city as it has made moving around more convenient. You can spend time here to enjoy the views of the Nagavali River and the lush greenery. It’s important to remember that no vehicles are allowed on the bridge and it is only for pedestrians. Rayagada is an unusual tourist destination to visit when exploring Odisha tourism but can be included in your itinerary if you are in the mood to spend time in a lesser-known attraction. 

 

Bhubaneswar

Travellers have always been attracted to Bhubaneshwar owing to the grand architecture it’s home to. The temple city of India is the centre of commerce for Odisha and is also a thriving business city. When exploring Odisha tourism, you can expect history, culture and warm hospitality from Bhubaneswar. Home to Lingaraj Temple and Parasurameswara Temple, the city sees hundreds of pilgrims from across the country. 

 

Lingaraj Temple is one of the most popular temples in Odisha tourism. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it’s the largest temple in the city and was built in the 7th century. It’s believed that the Shivlinga here is a natural formation and rises to a height of eight inches above floor level. The architecture of the temple is Kalinga and you can notice this in the stone vaults covering the sanctum of the temple. The temple is home to a smaller temple which is dedicated to Goddess Bhagawati. As is with other temples in Orissa, the entry is restricted only to people of the Hindu faith. If you can plan your Orissa tourism itinerary around the festival of Mahashivratri, you’ll be able to witness the grand celebrations with the locals. The temple is the main venue for the celebrations and it almost feels as though the whole country has come together. 

 

Iskcon Temple, Parasurameswara Temple, Nandankanan Zoological Park, Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves and the Odisha State Museum are some of the tourist attractions that can be part of your Odisha tourism itinerary when you are exploring Bhubaneswar. 

 

Konark

The most common introduction to the city of Konark is that it’s home to the iconic Sun Temple. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sun Temple is a fine example of architectural brilliance. As the name suggests, the Sun Temple is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. The temple is revered for its fluid architectural style. The first rays of the sun fall on the entrance of the temple and the sight is mesmerising. The temple is in ruins but efforts are being made to renovate and restore the beauty. The Sun Temple is constructed in the form of a chariot pulled by seven horses. Dedicated to three deities that are situated in different directions, the temple is a delight for architectural buffs. We recommend saving sufficient space in your Odisha tourism itinerary for a visit to the archaeological museum located within the premises. 

 

Beaches are another highlight in this Odisha travel guide that you should visit in Konark. Chandrabhaga Beach should be on your Odisha tourism itinerary if you want to admire serene views of the sunset and the horizon. The azure waters of the beach will instantly charm you and you can easily spend three to four hours here. The beach is so well maintained that it was awarded the Blue Flag certification by the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE). The certification is presented to beaches that are pollution-free and have put efforts into maintaining the local ecosystem. The beach is a venue for a large number of cultural and religious fairs and is heavily frequented by travellers. 

 

Your Odisha tourism itinerary will be incomplete without visiting Astaranga Beach. The beach is surrounded by a fishing village and is popular among locals and travellers as a picnic spot and for mesmerising sunsets. If you are exploring Odisha tourism during winter, you can head here to witness the magnificent olive ridley turtles. The turtles come here during winter to carry out their nesting process. The experience is humbling and should be part of all Odisha tourism itineraries.

Activities And Things To Do In Odisha

Visit Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are situated in Bhubaneswar and should be part of your Odisha tourism itinerary if you enjoy exploring architecture. Earlier known as Cuttack Caves, the caves are partially man-made. They are popular owing to the intricate sculptures and the numerous Brahmi inscriptions on the walls. Udaygiri translates to hill of sunrise and Khandagiri translates to broken hills and they are both said to be the oldest group of Jain rock-cut shelters in India. 

 

The rock-cut caves at Udayagiri are home to two primary monasteries that are home to a pyramidal brick stupa known as Ranigumpha. The ruins are two kilometres from the main city and you can reach there by hiring a cab. The most prominent caves in Udayagiri are Hathigumpha and Ganesh Gumpha. The caves owe their popularity to the plethora of sculptures, relics and other treasures that art lovers can admire. You must also make time for Ananta Cave, which displays intricately carved figures of women and animals. It's best to keep aside three to four hours when you are visiting the caves. We also recommend exploring the caves with a tourist guide to enrich your experience.

 

Tikarpada Wildlife Sanctuary

Wildlife enthusiasts should plan a trip to Tikarpada Wildlife Sanctuary for a tryst with local flora and fauna. Situated in Tikarpada village, the sanctuary is one of the lesser-known places in Odisha tourism. The highlight of the sanctuary is the Mahanadi River that flows through lush, thick forests. Angling, white-water rafting and camping are a few activities that take place here and are highly recommended for adventure enthusiasts. Most travellers make their bookings in advance for adventure camps if they intend to include a visit to the sanctuary in their Odisha tourism itinerary. If you plan to go trekking, we recommend booking a guided tour since the unfamiliar terrain can cause problems. Sighting a tiger might be rare but you can see a wide variety of animals including spotted deer, sloths, gharial, antelopes and crocodiles. In fact, Gharial Sanctuary, which is within the premises of Tikarpada Sanctuary, is known for its work as a conservation centre for endangered species of crocodiles. 

 

We suggest saving sufficient time in your itinerary since trekking, camping and safaris are time consuming. It’s best to keep aside half a day in your Odisha tourism itinerary. If you have time in your itinerary and would like to spend more time amidst nature, you can include a visit to Saptasajya, which is a picnic spot located close to the sanctuary. If you are interested in camping, you should keep in mind that one requires special permission from the forest department to set up a camp within the forest. 

 

Explore the art at Raghurajpur

Odisha tourism offers art enthusiasts a variety of places to explore and one such place is the heritage village of Raghurajpur. A priority for artists and creators, a tour of the village is a beautiful experience. The village is primarily known for its Pattachitra paintings. The art form can be traced back to the 12th century BC. It's enthralling to understand the journey of art through the eyes of artists who have been doing this for generations. If you want to learn more about the local culture, you can visit families to spend time with them and understand their way of life. 

 

The painting style followed by Pattachitra painters is unique and is done on seven layers of cloth cut into small discs. Earlier the paintings were adorned using natural dyes from plants and minerals. Even though synthetic colours have taken over, the beauty remains untouched. You must also take a look at the palm paintings that are made prepared using smaller discs. The village is home to Gotipua dance troupes as well. This Indian classical dance form put Odisha tourism on the map and made it possible for artists to perform and showcase their art. Shopahollics must take note since this is a wonderful place to take back souvenirs such as papier-mache items, household items made from coconut and wooden toys.

Where To Stay In Odisha

Hotels are an important part of planning any trip and the accommodation options in Odisha cater to all kinds of travellers. There are luxury hotels, resorts and small homestays that travellers can choose. To help you plan your itinerary better, this Odisha travel guide lists down some of the hotels below:

 

Luxury hotels in Odisha

There are numerous accommodation options in Odisha that offer a combination of luxury, comfort and local hospitality. You can expect a customised Odisha tourism itinerary, local cuisine and transport packages from most luxury hotels in Odisha. Here are a few popular hotels that are part of Odisha tourism

 

  • Mayfair Lagoon, Bhubaneshwar
  • Mayfair Palm Beach Resort, Gopalpur 
  • Toshali Sands Nature Escape, Puri
  • Trident, Bhubaneshwar
  • Mayfair Waves, Puri
  • Lotus Resort, Konark

 

Mid-budget hotels in Odisha

Owing to the popularity of Odisha tourism, there are numerous mid-budget hotels in the state. If you are travelling to major cities such as Cuttack, Bhubaneswar or Puri, you can rest assured. Here are a few hotels that are part of Odisha tourism that you can choose from.

 

  • Hotel Pushpa, Puri
  • Hotel Holiday Resort, Puri
  • The Central Park Boutique Hotel, Rourkela
  • The Sutrupti, Bhubaneshwar
  • The Empire Hotel, Bhubaneshwar

 

Budget hotels in Odisha

Choosing the right hotel is important when you are planning a budget trip to explore Odisha tourism. The best way to save on hotel costs is if you plan your trip in advance and get better discounts. Here are a few hotels that are part of Orissa tourism. 

 

  • Hotel Gangotri, Puri
  • Shakti International, Puri
  • CASA Residency, Bhubaneshwar
  • Surya Inn, Konark
  • Arpita Beach Resort, Chandipur

Cuisine And Best Places To Eat

Exploring the local cuisine of Odisha will become an integral part of your Odisha tourism itinerary simply because the food in the state is irresistible. Oriya cuisine offers the best of both north Indian and south Indian flavours and is also influenced by geography and traditional practices.

 

The most common ingredients used in Oriya cuisine are mustard oil, fish, fresh vegetables and curd. Since Odisha is a coastal state, fish is part of all delicacies but there are sufficient options for non-vegetarians and vegetarians. Macha ghanta is a delectable dish that is made using vegetables and the head of a fish. This dish is an offering to Goddess Durga during Durga Puja. Chungdi malai or creamy prawns are a favourite as well, especially if you have the dish with steamed rice. Besides this, we recommend trying khichede, pakhala bhaat, chakuli pitha, aloo potol rasa, dahi kanji and saaga moonga.

 

You can enjoy a decent meal in the city for Rs.150 and if you are a budget traveller, you can save a lot of money on food. Some of the best places to eat in Odisha are Odishi Restaurant in Brahmapur, Eshwar Dahibara Aloodum in Cuttack, Mamma Mia, Shiraz Golden Restaurant and Truptee in Bhubaneshwar, Hotel Chandrabhaga and Water Grill Cafe in Konark.

How To Travel In Odisha?

To travel within the state, one can choose air, rail or road transport. Generally, rail and road are the preferred ways to explore the state, as Odisha only has two commercial  airports. The rail network in Odisha is elaborate and covers a vast area. In fact, travelling by train is a great way to explore Odisha tourism since the East Coast Railways is one of the most picturesque railway routes in the county, offering spellbinding scenery all along its route. All major cities and districts have railways stations with connectivity to the state capital, Bhubaneswar. Road network in Odisha is also excellent and provides connectivity to major towns and cities within the state. The buses operated by the State Road Transport Corporation are the most convenient way to travel within the state. A number of private bus services also operate, connecting cities like Bhubaneswar and Puri to neighbouring states like Telangana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The well-maintained highways provide an excellent means of transportation to travellers. A number of local cab services are also available for travellers. Bhubaneswar and Jharsuguda are the two airports in Odisha. Bhubaneswar is well connected with all major cities of India, while Jharsuguda is a relatively new airport. Another airport is being planned at Rourkela.

Typical Costs In Odisha

The amount you spend on a trip completely depends on the season you travel in and the way in which you travel. If you are looking for a luxury trip, you can spend the majority of your budget on your accommodation and travel. On the other hand, if you are looking to plan a budget trip to explore Orissa tourism, we suggest planning in advance so that travel and hotel costs are reasonable. Let's take a look at how much it'll cost different kinds of travellers to explore Odisha tourism. 

 

Per-day costs for luxury travellers can vary from Rs.3000 and Rs.6000. You can expect a comfortable trip with luxurious rooms and convenient travel options.

 

Mid-budget travellers can spend between Rs.2000 and Rs.3000 per day while exploring Odisha tourism. You can reduce this cost by booking your hotel in advance and choosing Odisha tour packages that are customised according to your budget. 

 

For budget travellers, the per day cost to explore Odisha tourism is between Rs.700 and Rs.1500. You can reduce this cost by using local transport and including audio tours in your Odisha tourism itinerary.

FAQs

How many days do I need to explore Odisha tourism?

Odisha tourism promises a variety of experiences including interesting places to see and things to do. If you want to explore Odisha tourism, you'll need four to ten days. This amount will vary depending on your travel interests and budget. If you want to explore just Bhubaneswar and Puri, you'll need at least two days in each city. 

 

What are the things I should pack for a trip to explore Odisha tourism?

Packing is an essential part of planning any trip, especially if this is your first experience in a new destination. To help you plan your Odisha tourism itinerary, here are four packing essentials you can consider:

  1. Umbrella, waterproof jacket and raincoat
  2. Extra cash that you might need in smaller cities
  3. A scarf to cover your head when visiting temples
  4. A pair of sturdy flip flops

 

Suggest three tips for planning a trip to explore Odisha tourism.

If you are exploring a new place, it’s very important to know about the local culture and norms. Odisha is a state that is steeped in culture and tradition, and these travel tips will help you plan your trip. 

  1. Respect the local culture, especially when you are visiting the temples in Bhubaneshwar and Puri.
  2. Odisha tourism includes a large number of places and it will be highly beneficial if you have a customised itinerary before setting out.
  3. The best way to promote the local economy of any place is by using local resources. This will not only enrich your experience but will also make things convenient. 

 

Which are the lesser-known places in Odisha tourism?

There are popular tourist attractions that we all know of but the hidden gems of a state are where the magic lies. Some of the places that you should include in your Odisha tourism itinerary are Satapada, Araku Valley, Debrigarh Sanctuary, Chandragiri, Bhitarkanika and Khasada Waterfall.

 

Are digital payments widely accepted in Odisha?

Digital payments are accepted in cities such as Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack and Puri but most hotels and local restaurants still prefer cash payments. We recommend carrying cash when you are exploring Odisha tourism since this will save you the trouble of finding ATMs in smaller places. 

 

Which are the best markets to explore in Odisha tourism?

Shopping buffs will have a great experience exploring Odisha tourism owing to a large number of markets in the state. Almost all cities in the state have a local market that offers a variety of arts and crafts as well as souvenirs that you can take back. The popular markets in Odisha tourism are Unit-1 Market, Ekamra Haat, Station Square, Orissa Modern Art Gallery and Market Building in Bhubaneshwar, Chaudhari Bazaar and Nayasadak in Cuttack. 

 

Which are the most popular beaches that are part of Odisha tourism?

The beaches in the state have played a major role in increasing the popularity of Odisha tourism. To help you plan your Odisha travel guide better, here is a list of the best beaches in Odisha:

  • Ramchandi Beach
  • Gopalpur-on-Sea
  • Chandrabhaga Beach
  • Astaranga Beach
  • Beleswar Beach

 

Which are the best restaurants in Puri?

Food lovers will have a great time exploring Puri. Some of the best restaurants in the city are Dalma, Wildgrass Restaurant, diners around Jagannath Temple and Two States.

 

Which are the best camping sites that are part of Odisha tourism?

Adventure buffs must save sufficient space in their Odisha travel guide for trekking, camping and rafting. The best campsites that are part of Odisha tourism are Satkosia Sands Resort, Sand Pebbles Chilika Eco Resorts and Nature Valley Resort. 

 

How much does a temple tour cost when exploring Odisha tourism?

If you are on a religious trip to Odisha, you can make the process of planning your trip easier by booking a temple tour. A temple tour in Odisha will cost you between Rs.4000 and Rs.12000 depending on the number of days and budget.

Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.