Bhubaneswar Tourist Attractions
Bhubaneswar, located on the eastern coast of India, is a lively center of commerce and religious activity. With over one million people, Bhubaneswar has had rapid population growth - almost doubling every decade.
The city of Bhubaneswar is divided into several districts that include Vani Vihar, home to Orissa's premier university, Utkal University; Rupali Square, a major shopping district; Central School Square, named for the numerous schools in the area; Convent Square, site of the most popular Hindu temple in the city and the only Catholic Church; and Master Canteen, one of the oldest squares of Bhubaneswar.The Old Town of Bhubaneswar boasts hundreds of temples, this used to be in the area of 2,000 but Bhubaneswar is still an important Hindu pilgrimage and spiritual center. The new Bhubaneswar has modern buildings that complement the city's heritage.The numerous temples and shrines are a testament to amazing engineering and artistic feats as well as the history of the area which spans 25,000 years. Other notable sites in and around Bhubaneswar are the twin hills of Khandagiri & Udayagiri, Atri hot sulphur springs, the Yogini shrine at Hirapur, the State Museum and Ekamra Haat with its indigenous trade and handicrafts on display.
Nandankanan Zoological Park
The Nandankanan Zoological Park is a major tourist attraction in Orissa. The main distinction of the Nandankanan Zoo is that it hosts captive breeding of white tigers. Nandanakanan is also, the first ever, captive breeding center of endangered species including rare Asiatic lions.Nandankanan also breeds cheetahs, black bucks and crocodiles in protected areas and then releases them into their natural habitats throughout Orissa.Some of the highlights of a visit to Nandankanan Zoo include lion and tiger safaris, reptile park, nocturnal house, aquarium, a toy train, boat rides and aerial cable cars.The State Botanical Garden is located next to the entrance gate of the Zoo. Features of the garden include the Mughal Garden, Holiday Cottage, Children's Park, Glasshouse, and Japanese Garden. The Botanical Garden is the perfect destination for bird and nature enthusiasts. Plant lovers will enjoy the likes of hibiscus, brownie grandiceps, bougainvillea, dahlia, and chrysanthemum.
Lingaraj Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Lingam. Built in the 11th C, Lingaraj Temple has experienced many changes and additions over the centuries as varying rulers took possession. The presiding deity is the Lingam, a symbol of half Shiva and half Vishnu.The temple is surrounded by high walls and located in a spacious courtyard. The Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneswar is an architectural marvel with its elaborate stone carvings, various pillars and halls as well as smaller temples and shrines surrounding it.Lingaraj temple is the largest and an outstanding example of the Orissa style of temple construction.Each day over 22 worship services take place, including the granite block representing Tribhuvaneswar bathed in milk, water and marijuana. The Parvati Temple is the sight of 51 beggars and 51 priests devouring daily food offerings that are supposedly consumed by Parvati.Non-Hindus are not permitted inside the temple but a viewing platform located outside the temple allows non-Hindus to get a birds eye-view.
Parasuramesvera Temple is a 7th C Shiva temple, one of the oldest in Bhubaneswar. It is well preserved and ornately decorated with bas-reliefs of elephant, horse processions and Shiva images.Not far from the Parsuarameswar is the small 10th C Mukteswar Temple that features a mix of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu carvings. The walls are covered with figures of female warriors, eroticism, elephants, maidens and monkeys in various comical scenes.The Kedargauri Temple is the oldest in Bhubaneswar but has been substantially rebuilt. It is of typical Orissan design including a hall with a sloping terrace and a wall with crowning ornaments.Siddheswar Temple is a plainer temple with a red-painted statue of Lord Ganesh as the main attraction.The Brahmeswar Temple was built in the 9th C and is noted for its detailed sculptures featuring elements of eroticism.
Udaygiri and Khandagiri
Udaygiri and Khandagiri are twin hills with ancient caves located wets of Bhubaneswar. The caves provide sufficient proof of Jain and Buddhist occupation. This was the site of an ancient Jain monastery.Rock cut shelters have been chiseled into the Khandagiri and Udaygiri hills and some are ornately carved. There are many caves in the middle of Udaygiri . The Rani Gumpha (Queen's Cave) is the largest and most ornately embellished with Jain symbols and battle scenes.The Hati Gumpha (Elephant Cave) has less to see but does feature a long inscription relating to the exploits of King Kharavela during his reign.Khandagiri offers lovely views over Bhubaneswar from its summit. The Ananta Cave features carved figures of athletes, women, elephants and geese. There are four temples on Khandagiri , the oldest being 200 years old.
Orissa State Museum
The Orissa State Museum receives special mention for its collection of rare palm-leaf manuscripts. The manuscripts are made of palm-leaf, bamboo leaf, hand-made paper, and are designed in rare garland-shaped, fan-shaped, fish-shaped, sword-shaped, and parrot-shaped varieties.Other important artifacts housed at the State Museum highlight the history of Orissa. The exhibits include stone artifacts, traditional clothing, ancient and medieval tools and weapons. Coins, copper plates, bronze-age implements, paintings, traditional folk and musical instruments and other art objects are also on display.There is a splendid array of Buddhist and Jain sculptures that are displayed in chronological order. This collection represents the most important antiquities at the Orissa State Museum.
Raja Rani Temple
Raja Rani Temple is one of the best examples of traditional Orrisan temple design from the 11th C. The temple is protected by statues representing the eight dikpalas or guardians set around the compass points. These guardians include Indra (east) the head of the demigods, Agni (southeast) god of fire, Yamaraja (south) god of death, Nirritti (southwest), Varuna (west) god of water, Vayu (northwest) god of air, Kubera (north) god of wealth, and Isana (northeast).Raja Rani is known as a 'love temple' with erotic carvings of women, nymphs and couples that decorate the niches and pillars. It is noted for the fascinating portrayal of women in a variety of amorous poses and moods.The temple is surrounded by relaxing, well-maintained gardens.
Bindu Sagar Lake is north of the Lingaraja Temple and is a popular tourist destination. The scenic beauty and picnic areas are perfect for a day by the lake. The waters of the Bindu Sagar Lake are said to contain water from every holy stream, river, pool and tank in India.Annually the deity from the Lingaraja Temple is submerged in the Bindu Sagar water for a ritual bath and then pilgrims take a dip in the lake water to remove all their sins.At one time, over 7,000 temples bordered the Bindu Sagar - only 500 of these still survive, all built in the Oriya style.
Vaital Temple features a double-story oblong roof that was influenced by Buddhist cave architecture. The Vaital Temple in Bhubaneswar belongs to the Khakara Order and was the center of Tantric worship, eroticism and sacrifice. The erotic sculptures are evident on the walls of the Vaital Temple and the shrine is dedicated to the deity, Chamunda, and eight-armed goddess representing the violent side of the universe.Built in the 8th C, the Vaital Temple is an excellent example of Kalinga architecture that attracts visitors from all over the world.
Orissa Modern Art Gallery
The Orissa Modern Art Gallery in Bhubaneswar was founded by Karen Kent, a US citizen along with Tarakanta Parida, an artist from the city. The Modern Art Gallery showcases oils, acrylic, lithographs, etchings, drawings and sculptors from the most skilled artists of in Bhubaneswar. Much of the artwork is available for sale.