Orissa, the state having historical importance, is located on the east coast of India. The state with an area of 155,820 Sq Kms, is bordered on the north by Jharkhand, on the North East by West Bengal, on the south by Andhra Pradesh, on the west by Chhattisgarh and on the east by Bay of Bengal. Orissa has long coastline and is enriched in mineral wealth. The western and northern portions of the state, are occupied by the Eastern Ghats range and Chota Nagpur plateau. The fertile alluvial lands spread over the coastal plain and the valleys of the river Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani.
Orissa is known for its temples, especially in the cities of Konark, Puri and Bhubaneswar. Bhubaneswar is the capital of Orissa, which is known as Cathedral City for having thousands of magnificent temples. Puri is another famous holy city, which is known as one of the four Dhams (holy places) of Hindus. The Jagannatha temple of Puri is located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Konark is famous for its Sun Temple, which is visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Languages Oriya is the official language of the state that is spoken by the majority of the people. The state has a high percentage of scheduled castes and tribes who speak tribal languages like Mundari, Santali, Saora and Kui.
Culture The state has a very rich cultural heritage, it is considered among the richest cultures of the country. The popular classical dance Odissi got its birth in Orissa. The other cultural aspects are the unique applique art workofPipli, silver filigree ornamental works, the silk paintings (Pattachitras) and other tribal influenced cultures.
Tribal of Orissa The state has the largest variety of tribal communities, which lead different life styles. One group of tribals lead an archaic mode of life, keeping their culture intact, while the other group lead a life like common agricultural communities. The diverse cultural identity of the tribal communities appears in their social organization, dress, ornaments, language, customs, festivals, and art and craft.
Major Tourist Attractions in Orissa: Festivals, Temples and Monuments, Beaches and Waterfalls, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Arts and Crafts, Museums etc.
In Orissa, three major religions namely Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism flourished since ancient time. The state is thronged by pilgrims of all religions throughout the year. The people of the state celebrates several festivals such as festivals related to different religions, tribal festivals and temple festivals.
Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi, Lakshmi Puja, Deepavali, Dussera, Mahashivaratri and Holi are popular religious festivals.The temple festivals are Jagganth temple festivals and other festivals like the Konark Festival, the Rajarani Music Festival and the Puri Beach Festival etc.
Temples and Monuments, Orissa
As Orissa has an ancient history dates back to 2,000 B.C, so the state is dotted with thousands of temples and monuments. The state has many Hindu temples and Buddhist and Jain monuments.
The major temples of the state are namely PuriJagannath(Puri), Sun Temple (Konark), Lingaraja (Bhubneswar), Mukteswara (Bhubneswar)and Rajarani Temple (Bhubneswar). The Buddhist monuments are situated at Dhauli, Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udaygiri. In addition the Jain monuments of Khandagiri and Udaygiri are important pilgrimage site.
Beaches and Waterfalls, Orissa
Among the caves, Cave2 is the biggest one which was excavated in the first century B.C. In one of the caves one can view some faint lines in Brahmini script, which are assumed to be 2000 years old. The AnataGumpha (Snake Cave), has a serpent shaped decoration at the entrance. The cave contains the best sculptures of the hill. The Jain temple situated at the hilltop is another attraction here.
Wildlife Sanctuaries, Orissa
The lush green forest of Orissa houses a wide variety of flora and fauna, that inludes the Royal Bengal Tiger. The popular sanctuaries of the state are Bhitar Kanika, Chandaka, Simlipal, Tikarpada, Gahirmatha and Nandan Kanan etc. Other scenic spots are Darjeeng, Dairinghbadi, Barunei, Chandabali, Tensa and Narayani etc.
Arts and Crafts, Orissa
Orissa boast of a varied and rich cultural heritage. The varied cultural heritage is due to reigns of several different rulers in the past. Orissan artist are world famous for their artistic skills. The charming Odissi dance and music, has made this sacred land of Lord Jagannath much popular.
A part from the Odissi, the Chhau and other dance forms are also very famous. The Handicrafts work like Applique work, Brass and Bell Metal, Silver Filigreaa and Stone Carving are famous. The state is also known for Odissi and Tribal handlooms.
The state has many museums, Orissa State Museum is situated on Gautam road, Bhubaneswar. The museum display spalm leaf manuscripts, copper plates, coins, excavated artifacts, folk musical instruments, tribal portraits, stone inscriptions and tools etc. In addition the museum has an interesting collection of Orissa's tribalanthropology. The museum is open from 10.00 am 17.00 pm daily, except Mondays and Government holidays.
Handicraft Museum is the another museum,located on Secretarial road, Bhubaneswar. The museum houses huge collectionsof traditional art, stone sculptures, crafts, silver filigree items, brass and horn work, toys and applique work etc. The museum is open from 10.00 hrs to 17.00 hrs every day, closed on Sundays. The Archaeological Site Museum atKonark, displays rare collection of sculptures from the ruins of the temples.
Accommodation in Orissa
The accommodation facility is available in hotels of Bhubaneswar, CuttackandPuri etc. The hotels offers a huge range of choices to guests according to their budgets
Best Time to Visit in Orissa
The summers are extremely hot while it rains heavily during July-September.The ideal time to visit the state is between October and March.
How to reach Orissa?
Bhubaneswar the capital of the state is well connected by Air, Rail and Road links. So it is better to reach Bhubaneswar to visit the important places in Orissa.
By Air - Bhubaneswar airport is connected with all major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Banaglore and Hyderabad.The flights of Indian Airlines operates for all the major cities.
By Rail - The main rain line of the country passes through major cities of Orissa like Bhubaneswar and Puri etc. The trains are available for all the major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore etc.
By Road - Orissa is criss crossed by National and State Highways. Regular bus services are available for Kolkata, Raipur,Tata, Ranchi, Visakhapatnmam etc. The buses are available for important tourist centres and cities of the state. The distance of important cities from Bhubaneswar are Kolkata (449 Kms), Chilka (100 Kms), Cuttack (25 Kms),Dhauli (8 Kms), Konark (62 Kms) and Puri (56 Kms).