Named after Tribhuvan Eshwar or the 'lord of the three worlds' is the capital of Odisha, Bhubaneswar. It is set on the Mahanadi Delta but is not restricted to only coastal areas. Caves, hills, zoological parks, museums, art galleries, temples, amusement parks – you'll find all this and more at Bhubaneswar. The 180 ft tall, majestic Lingaraja Temple is the most popular in the locality. It is a sculptural feat featuring gods, goddesses, kings, queens, hunters and musicians. Lord Harihara, a union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu is the presiding deity. The Mukteshwar Temple is smaller in comparison to others, but is famed for its beautiful ceiling of an eight petalled lotus and a glorious archway. The other prominent temples are Brahmeswar and Rajarani. The captivating natural beauty of the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves will compel you to lose yourself in historical wonder. However, be prepared to deal with numerous langoors jumping all over the place. The dense and tranquil forests of Nandankanan will welcome you on your way to its national park. Apart from the wildlife and the white tiger safaris, you can also spend some quiet time in the gardens and indulge in an exciting ride on the ropeway. Another wonderful site to visit is the Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa. Situated on Dhauli hills, it is a well-maintained edifice where you can visit for beautiful views and solitude. If you want to be enlightened about the tribes of Orissa make sure you visit the tribal villages, markets and the Museum of Tribal Arts & Artifacts. Among places to stay, the Mayfair Lagoon or Trident are great options, but there are also other hotels that are light on the pocket.
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Nandankanan Zoological Park
The name of this park means the garden of the heavens. This has been declared as a sanctuary and is spread over the Chandaka Forest. The Kanjia Lake is also a part of this park. This park and sanctuary is mainly known for the variety of tigers here, especially the Royal Bengal Tiger and the white tigers. wildlife safaris are the main attractions here and guides and proper security facilities are also available to take care of all the tourists.
Lingaraj Temple :The temple dedicated to Harihara, a combined deity form of Lord Vishnu and Shiva, is one of the major tourist attractions of the city. The central tower of Lingaraj Temple stands at a height of 180 feet and the temple complex contains 50 other shrines. Pandas/Priests at the entry approach for offering puja but we did not avail their service. There were only few people inside, we performed pooja here and poojari gave us a silver bilwapatra. Around the vicinity of the shrine, there are other temples of different gods and goddess.
The ancient caves of Khandgiri and Udaygiri are some of the finest examples of ancient India's rock-cut architecture. These caves served as residential blocks for Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela. The Jain temples in Bhubhaneshwar are at an hour's distance from these caves, and are another excellent example to study the ancient architecture of India.
Raja Rani Temple
Rajarani Temple is built in the 11th Century is the most scenic temple of the city. This temple symbolises Love due to the erotic carvings of women and couples. Currently there are no Gods present inside the temple but it is believed that this temple was also dedicated to lord Shiva. The temple was built using a type of stone called "Rajarani stone" hence taking the name Rajarani temple.
Ashokan Rock Edict
In the rock edicts where Ashoka immortalized himself,it's recounted how the emperor lamented the widespread loss of lives and sufferings of the people of Kalinga during and after the war and how this event brought about a sea-change in the heart of Devanampriya(meaning beloved of the Gods)-a term by which Asoka is referred to in the numerous rock edicts. After the emperor took to the compassionate and non-violent ways of the Buddhist Sangha,the teachings of the Sakyamuni spread out from the confines of the Indo-Gangetic plains to lands beyond-Ceylon,China,Java,Japan,Indonesia and and as far as Greece and the Mediterranean. This royal patronage to the 'Buddha','Dharma' and 'Sangha' may have been a precursor for Buddhist heritage to grow in Odisha. The 13 th Rock Edict at Dhauli in Odisha states that-"Though a great victory has been won over the people of Kalinga but the price at which the victory has come has filled the heart of Piyadassi(Asoka) with grief and remorse.Piyadassi now has come to believe that the true victory over other fellow beings can only be obtained through Dhamma and teachings of Buddha.There is no other victory"(not the exact words but the basic idea of the text) A few summers back while at Leh in Ladakh,I witnessed the 14 th Dalai Lama initiate the proceedings of the 33 rd Kalachakra gathering and little did I know then that my curiosity of the events would take me back in time to a place nearer home in Odisha.Many months later,in the winter of the same year I found myself exploring the half-excavated ruins of the Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri complex at the borders of Jajpur-Cuttack district of Odisha. But what stories can half buried ruins narrate? Can a place tell it's own story? The excavated sites in-situ at the complex hide many mysteries in it's heart,some of which we can be sure of but many cannot be confirmed.Scholars may stand in perplexity and ambiguity but a curious layman like me needs clarity in facts .The thing I remember before the surreal experience took me was that it was a clear moonlit night and after a day's exploring at the ruins of the Ratnagiri hill top I had returned for a lazy stroll near the ruined monastery late in the nightMainly because I expected the place to talk to me and partly because the stone works look enchanting in the moonlight.While I stared at the dozen odd Buddha heads of varying sizes inside the main compound,I could not help but notice the eyes which seemed content with the knowledge of truth,half closed but not drooping.Those eyes had knowledge and knew peace.It was then that I met someone unexpected.He would have been perfectly in place a thousand years ago,but not tonight. At any other time and at any other place,I would have been startled but not at that moment. An old man had appeared at the beautiful green chlorite gateway of the main entrance to the monastic compound.I don't remember if the man moved or the moon glided over his face,but as light shone on him,I recognized an old and wizened lama who stood there with a smile on his lips.He made a gesture which must have meant that I must follow him to the outer courtyard,because I did that instantly. He sat on a pedestal of rock and asked me to sit near him.Many centuries ago this pristine hill top was residence to more than five hundred Buddhist monks who came here to study ,meditate and contemplate on the path of Dhamma as shown by Buddha himself.Equally extraordinary was finding a solitary lama wandering the ruins in the present day.I had questions and by the look in his 'half closed' eyes ,I somehow knew he had the answers.As the old saying goes -When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears. We were on the verge of a good conversation. Me: Do you live around here or have you come to visit the ruins just like me? Lama: I am a wanderer and these excavated ruins attracted me from afar and I came to see for myself what old promise remains here. Whatever has been discovered and extracted here,has only increased anticipation of great stories buried underneath. Me: You are a scholar then? I almost wished to meet one. Lama: Knowledge is every man's right and not only of the scholar's. Curiosity and wonder are the beginning of all wisdom. Me: You speak of this place holding great promise and anticipation?Can you tell me something about Tantric Buddhism,something for which I heard this place was famous for in ancient times? Lama: When I speak of this place holding great interest,I do so with the knowledge that this ancient land of Odisha is one of the few places in India which had uninterrupted flow of Buddhist culture from ancient times to medieval times.And whatever we see in the Ratnagiri-Lalitgiri-Udaygiri complex holds great promise because as per Hiuen Tsang's records this was the supposed place for the great Puspagiri University,a place for great learning and scholarship at par with Nalanda or Takshasila. I had heard of Hiuen Tsang and his travels in Indian sub-continent.He was a true-blue traveler in the ancient world ....may have been the very pioneer of serious travel and exploring.And we did not have travel guides or the internet back then to fall back on. Me: So the supposed Diamond Triangle of Buddhism in Odisha lies in these hills of Langudi? Lama: The entire complex of the ruins excavated at the three sites of Lalitgiri,Ratnagiri and Udaygiri separated from each other with short distances is known together as the Diamond Triangle in modern nomenclature of scholars. May be after the historical sites are fully explored ,someday we would name the whole compound as Puspagiri University as supposedly it was known in ancient times. The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang even describes divine lights emanating from top of the stupas and other magical experiences. So if Hiuen Tsang is right,we shall wait in anticipation of great wealth buried underneath and what we see now may be only the tip of the iceberg. Me: Wealth you speak of? Lama: The knowledge and wisdom accumulated over centuries by our ancestors and the works they have left behind are indeed any Age's greatest wealth. It's not gems and gold I am talking about.And I sincerely believe that the ability to appreciate the cultural and intellectual heritage of the generations gone to dust and to drink at it's fountainhead is what makes a civilization cultured.This is what Newton was talking about when he said about sitting on shoulder of giants and thus seeing farther than any men.That is why we must strive to protect these ruins. The moon was overhead and the place around me was taking a very interesting shape through it's glorious history and it's equally promising future. It speaks of the magic of archeological exploration with time as it's carving tool.A place that was once inhabited by thousands of monks and teachers and where many great seekers came to think about the big questions of life and creation , was buried by the sands of time.A great heritage waits patiently in the wombs of mother earth for some curious explorer to come and unearth it.All historical monuments narrate great old stories but how many can boast of a promising future? A future pregnant with mysterious hopes. The old lama and me got up to take a leisurely stroll around the ruins of Ratnagiri.
This temple is considered to be the oldest existing temple of the city built around 650 AD. Though the Presiding God of this temple is Lord Shiva, this temple is a combination of the Shiva and Shakti. The outer wall of the temple is engraved with the idols of Lord Parsuram (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu), Lord Indra (the king of Gods), Surya and many more Gods. This temlpe adjacent to the Mukteswar temple is one of the most beautiful temples of Bhubaneswar.
Chandaka Reserve Forest
ChandakaDesignated as an Elephant reserve in 1982, Chandaka is situated in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar (the capital city of Odisha). Though the major attraction of Chandaka is giant Indian Elephants, Chandaka is inhabited by a number of wild animals including Leopards, Chital, barking deer, mouse deer, wild pig, common langur, rhesus monkey, small Indian civet, common Indian mongoose, small Indian mongoose, ruddy mongoose, pangolin, sloth bear, ratel, Indian wolf and hyena. The Deras Dam situated inside the reserve is a perfect place to spot wild animals and witness a gorgeous sunset. Wild animals can also be viewed from a number of watchtowers constructed inside the reserve.
ISKCON is the International Society for Krishna Conciousness and the temple in Bangalore is dedicated to Lord Krishna of course. The temple is situated on a hillock also known as the Hare Krishna Hill. The temple is built in a neo- classical style with typical South Indian temple Gopurams in it. There are 4 gopurams inside the temple which are joined by a glass canopy which looks spectacular. This temple was built to mark the birth anniversary of Sri Prabhupada, the founder of the whole community. The peaceful atmosphere and the continuous chanting of "Hare Rama, Hare Krishna" is extremely soothing. There is also a separate prayer hall, vedic theatre, vedic museum and lecture hall in the temple. There is an average footfall of around 8000- 10000 people everyday and this goes up to 15000 or even more on weekends. The main festival celebrated here is the Krishna Janmashtami.
Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa
Dhauli Shanthi stupa : Dhauli believed to be the battleground of Kalinga war is a hillside lying on the banks of river Daya just 8km from Bhubhaneshwar. Kalinga war that took place in 261B.C had lot of implications on Emperor Ashoka's mind ,completely transformed his thoughts and soul after which he embraced Buddhism. It is said River Daya had completely turned red due to the blood of dying soldiers from both sides of Magadha and Kalinga kingdom. This is the site of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa built by Japan Buddha Sangha and Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha. After offering our obeisance to Lord Buddha, we had an aerial view of Daya River
Brahmeswar Siva Temple
The name Bramheswar is the combination of two terms i.e. Bramha and Ishwar which means the God of Lord Bramha. Built in between 1000-1100 century AD by Somavamsi king Udyotakesari this temple houses the Lingam of Lord Shiva. This temple is built with the Kalingan style architecture of Temple building, the inner wall of the temple is engraved with various art and crafts unlike other temples where the art and crafts are being seen only on the outer walls of the temple.
This Shiva temple is the temple built for the "Ishwar of Megha" which literally means the God of the Rain. This ancient temple is built in the 12th Century AD. The outer wall of the temple is nicely engraved with a lot of art works. This is a living temple where Lord Shiva is worshiped even today.
Chausathi Yogini Temple
As per Hindu belief Shiva is incomplete without Shakti and this ruined temple is dedicated to Shakti the wife of Lord Shiva. Situated about a distance of 10 KMs from the city center near Hirapur. 56 idols of Shakti, made up of black granite stones on a circular wall are worshiped in this temple. This temple is believed to be built in the 9th Century AD by queen Hira Devi of Bramha dynasty.