Bhubaneshwar - striking temples, archaeological & historical sites

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Bhubaneshwar - Quick Facts

Area: 135 Sq. Km.
Population: 1,132,761
Altitude: 52 m above sea level
Clothing: Summer- Light cotton, Winter- Heavy woollen
Season: October to March
Rainfall: 1500 mm average
Languages: Hindi,punjabi & English

The history of Bhubaneswar and its environs, as the several archaeological finds from the dawn to historical period to the end of Hindu rule, goes back much earlier than the 7th to 13th centuries. Its sanctity as Ekamrakshetra led rulers to embellish the area with grandeur temples actuated by the hope of an eternal abode in heaven. The Bhubaneswar area first appears in history during the 4th century BC. The fortified city of Sisupalgarh, 5 km northeast of Dhauli and 2.5 km southeast of Bhubaneswar, was the site of Kalinga Nagar--the Capital of the Chedi (Mahameghavahan) Kings. Excavations here revealed that this Fort had a well developed civil and military architecture, all through the beginning of the 3rd century BC to the middle of the 4th century AD. The archaeological remains at Dhauli, and hills of Udayagiri and Khandagiri give evidence of both Jain and Buddhist settlements around Bhubaneswar in the first two centuries BC. The waning of Buddhism and vanishing of Jainism with the growth of Saiva Pasupata Sect, in the second century BC saw Brahmanism as the dominant religion under the successive dynasties that ruled Orissa--the Shailodbhava and the Bhaumakaras in the 12-13th centuries.

The temple building reached the zenith of its glory between 7th and 12th centuries when thousands of sandstone temples were erected around the Bindu Sagar, earning it the title 'The city of Temples'. The period under the Gangas saw emergence of Vaishnavism to prominence. The perfect symphony between its architecture and sculpture, the mastery carvings and the grand repertoire of its motifs make these temples unique. In the 15th century, the Mughals raided the city and razed all but a few of the temples. After independence, Bhubaneswar was declared the new Capital replacing Cuttack. The southern suburbs of the city have remnants of some of the striking temples, like the Lingaraja Temple, the Muktesvara Temple, etc., together with the famous archaeological and historical sites of Dhauli, Khandagairi and Udayagiri.

The area on the northeast has wide tree-lined avenues and many a modern administrative buildings. The commercial and the business activities are centered around places named as Kalpana Square or Kalpana Chhak on the busy Cuttack Road, Rajmahal Square, Station Square or Master Canteen and the road further on to Vani Vihar, Janpath, housing most lodges, restaurants, shopping arcades and banks.Set on the Mahanadi Delta, the present city is a modern happening place with top class infrastructure. Many major national and international conglomerates having inked agreements to profitably invest in the State occupy offices here in Bhubaneswar. Star category hotels, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls provide quality lifestyle and refinement.

By Air
Bhubaneshwar is well linked by air to Delhi, Chennai, Varanasi, Nagpur, Calcutta, and Vishakhapatnam on daily basis flights by Indian Airlines. The airport is 4 km from the town centre.

By Rail
Super fast trains connect Bhubaneswar to major cities of India. A major railhead on the East Coast (E Co) Railway, it has fast and super fast train links to Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other important centres of the country as well as within the state. The station is located in the centre of town.

By Road
Bhubaneswar is well linked to the rest of India by the national highways. The New Bus Stand in Bhubaneswar is on NH5, at Baramunda, about 6 km from town centre.
Distance from the cities are:
Konark - 64 km, Puri - 60 km, Cuttack - 25 km, Kolkata - 441 km, Vishakapatnam - 425 km, Jhansi - 1235 km.

Lingraja Temple
Built in the 11th century, Lingraj Temples most distinctive features are its ornately carved tower and its spires that soar to a hight of 54 meters. Dedicated to Tribhuvaneshwar (Lord of the three worlds) also known as Bhubaneshwar, it is one of the most prized examples of the temple architecture in the country. Here Lord Tribhuvaneshwar is bathed daily with water, milk and bhang. There is a Parvati temple too within the same precincts.

Parasurameswara Temple
The temple built in the Kalinga School of architecture, was dedicated to Lord Shiva but there are images of Lord Vishnu, Ama Surya and seven mother goddesses. Lavishly decorated it has exquisite friezes depicting animal life, human figures and floral motifs coupled with impressive busts of Shiva.

Svaranajaleswara Temple
This temple lies south of the Parsurameswara temple, built in similar fashion, only the motifs on the walls depict scenes from the Ramayana.

Vaital Deul
Vaital Deul is the shrine devoted to Chamunda (a Tantric avatar of Goddess Kali) or Shakti.

Rajarani Temple
The Raja Rani temple is Famous for its ornet deul or compass, decorated with some of the most impressive Oriya temple architecture. The temple is remarkable for the absence of any presiding deity. The temple name is supposed to be derived from the red-gold sandstone used in building it Rajarani being the local name for the stone. The lower portion of the deul is populated by statues of eight Dipalakas, guarding the eight cardinal directions of the temple.

Mukteswara Temple
This sculpture temple is decorated for the Mukteshwara is refferd to as the “Gem of Oriya architecture” Richely sculpted the temple offers pride of the place to tales from the Panchatantra. The highlight of the temple is the magnificient torana- The decorative gateway and arched masterpiece, reminiscent of Buddhist influence in Orissa.The temple is is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Brahmeshwar Mandir
Known for its fine erotic sculptures, this 9th century Brahmeshwar temple is a smaller copy of the Lingraja temple.

Bindu Sagar
The legendary Bindu Sagar (Ocean Drop Tank) is believed to contain water from every holy stream, pool and tank in India. There is a water pavilion in the centre of the tank.

Orissa State Museum
 The museum at the top of Lewis Road, or near Kalpana Square showcases some of Orissa's finer archaeological remains and treasures displayed in various galleries. It has a magnificent collection of various archaeological finds including some Buddhist and Jain sculptures, copper plates, coins and donatives inscriptions from ancient and medieval Kalinga. It boasts traditional and folk musical instruments, heavy jewellery, ancient weapons, tools and some photographs. The highlight of the museum is the rare palm leaf manuscripts and a collection of antique paintings. The well equipped library of the museum has some valuable publications on archaeology, architecture, history, anthropology, philosophy etc. Monday closed.

Museum of Man
Also known as the Tribal Research Institute, located near the CRP Square, has collection of tribal dresses, weapons and jewellery representing more than 60 different tribal groups mostly concentrated in southern parts of Orissa. Prototypes of the traditional style huts with authentic murals decorating their walls attract a large number of visitors. Sundays closed.

Pathani Samantha Planetarium
Named after the illustrious astronomer of Orissa, the planetarium situated near the Acharya Vihar Square, features programmes related to astronomy in a domed shaped air conditioned auditorium. The sprawling 4 acre complex has well manicured garden around it.

Orissa Modern Art Gallery
Set with the sole objective to promote contemporary Orissan art, the Gallery at Surya Nagar has an array of work in oil and water, sculptures, serigraphy, etching, lithography, wood carvings showing myriad aspects of life.

Ekamra Haat
A showcase of Orissa's art, craft, culture and cuisine, set amidst lush green environ, Ekamra Haat, on a 5 acre plot is managed by IDCO, on behalf of the State government. The architectural design and ambience of Haat matches the activities carried out there. The shops selling ethnic produce not only promote the traditional craft but provide a direct market access to the local artisans and weavers. The infra-structure and facilities also include an open-air theatre, lily pond with water fountain, food stalls, artisan rest rooms and info centre.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri
The caves, 6 km from West of Bhubaneswar city centre, were chiseled out for the ascetic Jain monks, also has some inscriptions describing the exploits of king Kharavel.

About 20 km from city centre is a Zoo and a botanical garden surrounded by dense forest, famous for breeding of various endangered species, safaris and white tigers.

15 km southeast of Bhubaneswar, situated on the eastern bank of river Kuakhai, the shrine Chausath Yogini Temple in the village of Hirapur is dedicated to 64 manifestations of the goddess Shakti, who symbolizes female creative energy. All the images, called Yoginis carved out of the black chlorite stone in standing posture (0.6 m tall) are placed in niches in the sanctum. The inner enclosure of the temple is a circular enclosure with no roof overhead, resembling a Buddhist stupa. In the centre, there stands a mandapa enshrining the image of 'Ekapada Shiva', an incarnation of the Shiva. The outer wall has nine 'Katyayani' images depicting feminine charm at its best housed in its niches. The miniature size of the shrine and its hypaetheral shape makes it an interesting monument.

At a distance of 42 km from the Bhubaneswar or about 13 km from Khurda, the hot spring at Atri, near the famous Lord Hatakeswar Temple, is believed to have medicinal properties. The waters of spring with high percentage of sulphur bubbles up from the ground amidst paddy fields. The water is at constant temperature of 55°C is channelized to two ponds comprising a bathing complex for the visitors. The temple is the venue of a grand annual fair, Makar Jatra, on the day of Makar Sankranti (mid January) when the visitors congregate in large numbers to worship Lord Hatakeswar to fulfill their desires and bath in the ponds to get cure of their diseases.

A small village enveloped in a blaze of colour, 15 km South of Bhubaneswar, on the highway to Puri, is home of applique work. The craft originated to serve temples, providing intricately stitched coloured awnings and covers for deities and hangings for festival days, details on the craft.

Bhubaneswar, the ‘Temple City of India’, is not only known for its magnificent places of worship. Rather, it is also a shopping lover’s delight. You don’t need to worry about ‘where to shop’ at all. There are innumerable shopping places in the city; of which some are run by private owners, while others are Government-owned. For those who are fond of traditional fabrics, Bhubaneshwar is just the place to shop. The city is well known for its Ikat fabrics, which are extensively used in making Saris as well as other readymade garments.

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