Ancient temples and modern living collide in the bustling city of Bhubaneswar. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes – there is nowhere on earth like India and nowhere on earth that visitors are made to feel more welcome. Yes, the World Cup Hockey will be spectacular, but it is matched for excitement and atmosphere by its host nation.
Once the site of thousands of temples, the city – which is found in the eastern state of Odisha (formerly Orissa) – still has more than 50 sandstone temples, which date back to around the 11th century onwards.
If you are interested in India’s cultural past or simply want to see some amazing historic sights that give a flavour of this fascinating country’s backstory, then you must visit some of the holy sites. The Bindu Sagar Lake, in the old city, is home to a number of quite astonishing temples, with one of the best examples being the Kalinga-style Lingaraja Temple. This Hindu temple is dedicated to Harihara, a form of Shiva and Vishnu, and is one of the oldest temples in the city.
Also near the Bindu Sagar Lake is one of the most iconic structures reflecting Bhubaneswar’s past. The Rajarani Temple, with its sculpted figures of the guardians of the eight cardinal and ordinal directions, was originally called Indreswara. It is locally known as the Love Temple because of the erotic carvings on the temple walls.
For an overview of the ancient art and culture of the city and surrounding area, the Odisha State Museum is well worth a visit for its vast array of Jain antiques, weaponry and indigenous pattachitra paintings.
Lovers of wildlife will enjoy a visit to the Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary, which shelters elephants and other animals. There are watchtowers from where you are able to observe the wildlife in a natural habitat.
Other animals can be seen at the Nandankanan Zoological Park on Kanjia Lake,which is home to more than 60 different kinds of mammals, 80 species of birds and 18 varieties of reptile. The 400 hectares include an impressive botanical garden.
If you are looking for some tranquility, then pay a visit to Indira Gandhi Park, also known as the IG Park. It is one of Bhubaneswar’s most famous parks and carries a huge historical significance in India’s political history. This park was the place where late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi delivered her last public address before she was assassinated. Today, this park is filled with joggers in the early morning and by families looking to spend some quality leisure time. It is beautifully decorated with flower gardens and fountains.
For people who love shopping, a trip to an Indian city should always include an excursion to the markets. One of the best markets is the huge Ekamra Haat. This shopping area, which spreads over five hectares, was set-up by the government of Odisha to provide a platform for the local artisans to sell their wares. The shops, shaped like tiny huts, offer a variety of goods for visitors to browse through. Some of the goods available at this market include stone carvings, wood carvings, appliqué, pattachitra, cane and bamboo, dhokra, bell metal, terracotta, palm leaf engraving and art textiles.
No visit to a new destination is complete without trying some of the local food. Most of the dishes in Bhubaneswar are rice-based as it is the main crop of this region. Most of the people of this area are non-vegetarian and dishes made from fish, crabs, lambs and chicken are popular. The cooking style of cuisine in Odisha is very distinctive. A typical meal in Bhubaneswar includes chapattis, Dal, Bhaji, and desserts.Back