Orissa, situated in the north-eastern part of the Indian peninsula, is bound
by the Bay of Bengal on the east, West Bengal in the north east, Bihar on
the north, Madhya Pradesh on the west and Andhra Pradesh on the south. The
state offers diverse habitats from lush green and hilly terrain to coastal
plains and rolling river valleys, criss-crossed by the Brahmani, the Mahanadi
and the Bansadhara rivers.
Orissa has a chequered history that has successfully assimilated and synthesized
the best of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu cultures. The first known history of
the state comes into light with the Ashokan victory in the battle of Kalinga,
which led to mass killings and devastation of the region. The extent of
violence perpetrated by his men and its effect on the victims led to a change
in the heart of Ashoka and he accepted Buddhism as his way of life.
It is to the Kharavela period that Orissa owes its Jain art and architectural
tradition. The sophisticated architectural style of the Jain Monastic caves
at Udaygiri and Khandagiri are a story unto themselves. The vastness of
Hindu temple architecture can probably be studied only in Orissa that are
not just the abodes of deities.
Orissa is a modern state with an ethnic past that is still vibrant. Most
of her tribes are to be found in the districts of Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar,
Phulbani, Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Koraput.
Odissi is the oldest traditional dance form of Orissa and probably owes
its origin to the temple dances of the devadasis (temple dancers) in temples
like the Brahmeswara and the dancing hall of the Sun temple at Konark. To
appreciate further the rare artistry, visit Raghurajpur artists village
and Pipli, near Puri, called the land of dexterous artists and craftsmen,
proud descendants of sculptors whose hands chiseled the unsurpassable designs
on Orissa’s famous temples, traditional Oriya arts and crafts like weaving
of Ikat, Bomkai and Sambalpuri Saris, stone carving, appliqué and
embroidery, silver filigree work, patta painting and palm leaf engraving.
Places of Interest
Bhubaneshwar is the temple city of the east. Temples in Bhubaneshwar are
built on a common plan as prescribed by Hindu norms. All visible parts of
a temple are sculpted with various motifs.
Udaygiri and Khandagiri are the twin hills 7 km from Bhubaneshwar. Built
by Kharavela around 1st - 2nd Century BC for Jain monks, they are excellent
examples of Jain Cave art. There are famous caves of Hathigumpha (elephant
cave) and RaniGumpha (Queen’s cave) in Udaygiri, with sophisticated architectural
styles of as early as the first Century.
At Dhauli lies the 3rd Century BC Ashokan Rock Edict when after the gruesome
war, he transformed into a Buddhist missionary. The Peace Pagoda has been
built in collaboration with the Kalinga – Japanese Buddhist Sangha.
The seat of Lord Jagannath, it is the site of renowned Rath Yatra Festival.
Puri is an ideal and popular seaside travel destination all the year round.
The interesting places to be visited include Shri Jagannath Temple, Daria
Hanuman and Sonar Gouranga Temple, Gundicha Char, Indradyumma Tank, Narendra/Chandan
Tank, Loknath Temple, Swarga Dwar, Sea Beach at Puri.
With its famous Sun Temple, Konark is the high point of a visit to the Golden
Triangle of Orissa. The temple, built in the 13th century and now in ruins,
is replete with stone sculptures. The temple is one of the unrivalled technical
marvels of ancient India. The intricate carvings on the walls and wheels
of the chariot are unprecedented in history. The fine and graceful sculptures
depicting Court life, celestial deities, epic of eroticism, etc. also adorn
the structures. The Sun Temple standing in solitary splendor is the relic
of a great past.
Chilka Lake, spreading over an area of 1100 sq. kms is the largest brackish
water lake in the country. It is home to a great variety of Flora and Fauna.
It attracts large number of migratory birds besides resident ones. Barkul
and Rambha are two places on the lake that serve as the base.
Gopalpur-on-Sea is a quiet and charming sea resort along the Bay of Bengal,
in the district of Ganjam. It offers secluded environment and magnificent
sun, surf and sand for most of the year.
Simplipal National Park is one of India's better-known wild life sanctuaries
with finest of India's fifteen Tiger reserves under Project Tiger.
Chandipur is a unique beach where the seawater recedes about 5 kms during
low tide and advances to the shoreline again during high tides each day.
- Chilka Lake