Published on June 7th, 2013 | by Anusuya Suresh5
5 Reasons to Visit Orissa
Say Orissa, and most people will think of the Puri temple and maybe the Odissi dancers in their pristine white ensemble executing those fluid dance movements. While these may be reasons good enough to visit Orissa or Odisha, as it is now called, there are other equally convincing ones, too.
Poetry in Stone – Konark Temple
With a name that is derived from the name of the sun, the Konark (Kona means corner and Arka is the sun) temple built during the 13th century is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although in ruins, it is difficult to miss the beauty of the architecture as well as the images at the top of what remains of the temple – one in each direction, designed to catch the sun’s rays at dawn, noon and dusk. Built in the Kalinga style of temple construction, Konark temple was built in honour of the Sun God – a prominent deity of the Vedic times. The temple is in the form of a huge chariot with 24 wheels in which the Sun God is seated, with the chariot drawn by 7 horses.
Photo Credit: deejay08
Devotional Fervour – Jagannath Temple at Puri
While the Konark temple is no more than an architectural wonder, the temple at Puri is filled with the intense devotion of people who come to witness and participate in the elaborate rituals performed in honour of the presiding deities Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. One of the prescribed pilgrimage spots among the Chaar Dhaam, the temple is most well-known for its chariot festival held annually in June, the temple kitchen that many consider to be the largest in the world and a refreshing lack of discrimination on the basis of caste.
Photo Credit: backpackfoodie
Nature’s Miracle – Receding Sea in Chandipur
The Chandipur beach of Odisha is home to one of the wonders of nature. Every day during the high tide, the sea recedes by a distance of almost 5 kilometres and if you are there when it happens, you can actually walk into the space created alongside a few varieties of crab and get back. A few adventurous folks even ride a bike when the sea has receded. Chandipur also offers a wide variety of fresh seafood, so take time to sample it at a local hotel.
Visit Orissa in February and you get to witness a beach festival that highlights the dance, art and rich culture of Odisha. If you have a little more time, you could also visit the Shiva temple at Panchalingeshwar and the wildlife sanctuary at Similipal that is home to tigers, elephants, reptiles, leopards and crocodiles. Nilagiri located a little distance away from Chandipur is another attraction, with a 400-year royal palace and a Jagannath temple being the main draws.
Photo Credit: da_shutter_bug
Frolic at Sea – Gopalpur-on-sea
What was an active sea port during the British era, Gopalpur –on-sea is today a relatively silent beach resort that is fast catching the fancy of tourists. With its swaying palms, the gentle roar of the sea and an incredible view of the sun rising in the east, this beach in Ganjam district makes for a tranquil holiday when you visit Orissa. You can also visit a lighthouse constructed during 1965 for a spectacular circular view of the surrounding area. During December every year, the Government of Odisha and the Ganjam District Hotel Association also organize the Gopalpur beach festival that is helping spread word of the place’s tourist potential.
Photo Credit: leetucker
Birdwatcher’s Delight – Chilika Lake
The world’s second largest and India’s largest coastal lagoon, Chilika Lake covers the Ganjam, Khurda and Puri districts of Odisha. The lake supports over 200 species of fish, algae, aquatic as well as non-aquatic plants and phytoplankton.
In yet another record to its credit, this lake is believed to be the largest wintering ground on the Indian subcontinent for birds migrating from colder parts of the world. Rare varieties of birds flow as much as 12,000 kilometres to reach Chilika Lake from as far away as the Aral Sea, Kirghiz of Mongolia, Caspian Sea and the Himalayas.
Located in the centre of the Chilika Lake is Nalbana Island – a 15 square kilometers of land that has been declared a bird sanctuary because this is where all those migratory birds prefer to stay. If you visit Orissa during monsoon, you can’t see this island because it gets totally submerged. If you intend watching the birds, make sure you come when they are there – during the peak of winter.
Close to this island is Mangalajodi and what’s special about this place is that it was previously a poachers’ village but has today given way to community-run wildlife venture – truly a change in the right direction.
Some places are lucky to be blessed with so much natural as well as man-made splendour, it seems almost unfair. Orissa in eastern India is one such place and a visit to this land of breath-taking beauty is sure to make you want to go back yet again.
Photo Credit: nishanthjois
Photo Credit for Featured Image : deejay08