You might have considered Odisha simply for its fabulous beaches or its delectable cuisine, both of which are pretty valid reasons to visit the state but one thing that most tourists overlook is the rich wealth of culture and heritage that Odisha has to offer.
It’s known for Jagannath Temple in Puri, one of India’s four dhams and devotion for the deity is apparent all through its unique arts and crafts but there’s much more than just Odisha’s most famous temple to visit on your journey to the state. Here are five amazingly diverse culture and heritage sites you can visit on your upcoming visit to Odisha.
Fascinating Temples –
Sure, Jagannath Temple in Puri is a must-visit for anyone coming to Odisha. But don’t forget the vast majority of other famous temples in the state too. The capital city Bhubaneswar itself has some incredible and intricately-carved temples such as Lingaraj Temple, Mukteswar Temple and Rajarani Temple. Western Odisha is also known for its temples with Samaleswari Temple in Sambalpur being one of the major attractions for locals and visitors alike who wish to pay their respects to the reigning deity of the region. The recently launched light and sound show at the temple makes it a must-visit destination. Another fascinating temple is the Leaning Temple of Huma dedicated to Lord Shiva in the region that is one of only two leaning temples in the world and a must-visit whilst in Odisha.
Amazing Monuments –
Coming to Odisha and not seeing Konark’s famous Sun Temple is a bit like going to Rome and not seeing the Colosseum. This 13th century marvel of Kalinga architecture has to be seen to be believed. From chariot wheels to scenes of daily life 800 years ago and more, its difficult to believe how these were carved without modern equipment out of stone such a long time ago. You can spend hours in the peaceful environs of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and still not have enough of its beauty.
Unique Art and Craft –
Odisha’s unique handicraft and handloom is one of the main draws of the coastal state. Whether it is Pattachitra art form practiced and in full view at Raghurajpur Heritage Crafts Village near Puri or Sambalpuri ikat sarees with simple motifs and storytelling about Lord Jagannath’s life or even tribal art in hill stations like Koraput and Daringbadi, the sheer scale and dedication to craft by locals to their art makes it a worthwhile proposition to visit Odisha to simply pick up some stunning pieces to decorate your home and wardrobe with unique arts and crafts.
Tranquil Buddhist Heritage –
Located about 100 kilometres from Bhubaneswar in Jajpur district, visiting the diamond triangle of Buddhist sites called Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udaygiri makes for a pleasant and offbeat detour from regular tourist attractions. Buddhism thrived in Odisha from 6th century BC to 15th century BCE and nowhere is the grandeur of the state’s Buddhist heritage on bigger display than in these three places. Lalitgiri is the oldest excavated monastery of the region that was constructed in the 1st century BCE and contains the main stupa, prayer halls with the museum featuring many Buddhist artefacts. Udaygiri, meanwhile, is the largest and most scenic of the three sites with its panoramic views from the hilltop, lion statue and other stunning sculptures. Ratnagiri, on the other hand, is the best-excavated site and its intricately-carved gate is sure to make you stop and wonder before you proceed inside to see the Buddha in Bhumisparsha mudra. One can also visit the famous Dhauligiri, a peace stupa built to commemorate the conversion of Emperor Ashoka to Buddhism after the Kalinga war – one of the bloodiest battles of Indian history which took place on the banks of Daya river that flows next to the Stupa. One of the 14 major Ashokan rock edicts is located here.
Intricate Jain Monuments –
Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, located just a few minutes outside Bhubaneswar contain treasure troves of Jain heritage. Believed to have been made for the Jain monks in the 1st century BCE by King Kharavela, visiting some of these caves such as Udayagiri’s Rani Gumpha and Jaya Vijaya Gumpha that showcases a group of people praying to a Bodhi tree are some of the most surreal cave architectures you are likely to see. Khandagiri’s Navamuni Gumpha is known for sculptures of the nine Jain tirthankars while Trusula Gumpha features more Jain relief work that makes it a breeze to spend hours at these sites. Not to forget Digamabara Jain Temple that stands atop Khandagiri Hill and is a popular place of worship for Jains.
This is a Partnered Post.
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