Rest of India
Orissa has a
chequered history which has successfully assimilated and synthesised the best of Buddhist,
Jain and Hindu cultures. Orissa or Kalinga as it was then called was a settlement of
non-Aryan and Aryan settlers. It was a formidable maritime empire with trading routes
stretching up to Bali, Sumatra, Indonesia and Java. The key to international trade and
immense wealth, it was coveted by many rulers. In fact, it was here that the famous Battle
of Kalinga was fought in 261 BC, which made the great Mauryan Kshatriya (warrior caste)
king Ashoka forsake war. He became a follower of Buddhism and spread the spirit of ahimsa
and peace, the message of Buddhism, to Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka) and the Far East,
Exquisite remains of the Buddhist past still remain in the areas of Udaygiri, Lalitagiri
Kharavela, who came to power in
Kalinga, around 1st Century BC, was a staunch follower of Jainism. It is to this period
that Orissa owes its Jain art and architectural tradition.
The sophisticated architectural style of the Jain Monastic
caves at Udaygiri and Khandagiri are a story unto themselves. During the 7th to the 13th
Century AD, Orissa flourished. Trade and commerce increased and along with it evolved its
art and architecture. The style of Hindu temple construction, so unique to Orissa also
developed around this time.
To understand all that a Hindu temple stands for one must
realize that temples in India are not merely abodes of deities but a shradhanjali
(offering) to the most sacred. Here a darshan is a communion between man and
his creator. Hence, Orissan temples are characterised by profuse decorations, exquisite
carving and ornamentation covering the entire visible area with Gods & Goddesses,
kings and queens, animals and flower motifs ranged against each other. They radiate the
artists inner love and dedication. Orissa is probably the only state where one can
study temple architecture in all its successive stages of development.
Odissi, is the traditional dance form of Orissa and
probably owes its origin to the temple dances of the devadasis (temple dancers). Possibly
the oldest classical dance form, one must sit through a performance to experience its
sheer lyrical grace. Mentioned in inscriptions, it is depicted on sculptures, in temples
like the Brahmeswara and the dancing hall of the Sun temple at Konark. In fact in the
1950s the entire Odissi dance form was revitalized with the help of the Abhinaya
Chandrika and sculpted dance poses found in temples. Orissa enjoys a rich tradition of
tribal and folk dances as well. Chhau from Mayurbhanj District is a martial dance form
reminiscent of Orissas earlier maritime tradition. Other folk and tribal dances
include Danda Nata, a daylong performance ending in acrobatic sequences, Ranapa or dances
in which dancers perform balancing acts on bamboo stilts.
Land of dextrous artists and craftsmen, Orissa possesses a
rich artistic tradition which enjoyed liberal patronage from the temples as well as the
nobility. Diverse and varied, the craftsmen artists of Orissa still retain their
indigenousness, trying to refine it to suit a changing sensibility. Be it the applique
artists of Pipli or the stone carvers of Orissa, proud descendants of sculptors whose
hands chiseled the unsurpassable designs on Orissas famous temples, the essential
conflict between the traditional and the modern is gradually being resolved. The
progressive attitudes of the Orissan artists coupled with hereditary skills zealously
perpetuated, has given traditional Orissan arts and crafts like weaving of Ikat, Bomkai
and Sambalpuri Saris, stone carving, applique and embroidery, silver filigree work, patta
painting and palm leaf engraving, brass and bell metal work, lacquered boxes and toys and
basket weaving, a unique place in the connoisseurs dictionary the world over. A
visit to the Raghurajpur artists village and Pipli, near Puri, to see the artists at work
is quite a rewarding experience.
The green coconut with its pure water and the abundant sea
food from Chilika lake and the sea are as Orissan as pizzas are Italian. Delicious prawns,
crabs, sweet water fish, lamb, chicken and eggs cooked by Orissan cooks are widely
available gourmet fares, while specialty restaurants serve almost everything. Milk
preparations like Rasgulla, Rasmalai, Khirmohan, Rasabali, Kalakand are delicious. Pithas,
sweet and savoury are served as local snacks. This is a traditional preparation requiring
skill and care. Pithas like Mandas, Kakara, Chhunchipatra are usually domestic
preparations much loved by the Orissans.
The Ethnic World of Orissa
Orissa is a modern state with an ethnic past that is still
vibrant. Most of her tribes are to be found in the districts of Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar
Phulbani, Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Koraput. As many as 62 tribes exist in Orissa - Kondhs,
Koyas, Bondas, Gadabas, Santals, Juangs, Oraon, to name only a few are some important
tribes who have retained their individuality and their close bond with nature. From the
last week of January to early February, the Tribal Fair at Bhubaneshwar brings together
the ethnic world; their art, craft and culture is on display. For those desirous of a
closer look trips are arranged by many tour operators from Bhubaneshwar and other cities
but it is a hardier trail and more time consuming.
The Tribal Museum (T.H.R.T.I.) at Bhubaneshwar (CRP Square)
however is quite comprehensive and provides adequate information on the art, craft,
housing and life-styles of the various tribal groups.
Temple City of The East
Visit the ancient city of Bhubaneshwar (Bhuban being world
and Iswar God) and it is a walk down centuries of temple architecture, With 600 temples
still extant, temples are to this ancient city as forts are to Rajasthan. It is probably
the only city in the world that enables an authentic over-view of the stages of
development of Hindu religious architecture. In the fast moving world of today these
temples are a gentle reminder of the splendour, the heritage that was once India, It is
not hard to imagine what a temple would have been at the time of its patron ruler. Regular
dances by the Devadasis or divine servant girls, rituals and rites, recital of
hymns were all an integral part of temple culture. Temples in Bhubaneshwar are built on a
common plan as prescribed by Hindu norms. The structure is divided into four distinct
parts connected to each other. The external part or the outer chamber is the
Jagamohana. The Garbhagriha is the inner sanctum sanctorum of the presiding
deity. There is also a conical beehive shaped tower which forms the third part the
Nata Mandap and the fourth is the Bhoga Mandap. All visible parts of a temple are sculpted
with motifs of priests, kings, courtiers, pilgrims, celestial dancers, couples in embrace,
birds, animals or scenes from religious epics and legends.
Dhauligiri (8 km) has Ashokan edicts carved on rocks. These
date back to 2nd century BC. Also has Buddhist temple built with Japanese collaboration.
Udaygiri, Khandagiri (8 km) have a series of cave temples belonging to the Hindu and Jain
faiths. Local guides required for the labyrinthine caves. Nandan Kanan Zoo (25 km) for
viewing the Royal Bengal Tiger and white tigers. Chandipur (16 km) is a seaside resort
with one of the finest beaches in Orissa. Pipli (29 km) is a village famous for its
appliqué work, originally only made for the temple Gods. Atri Springs (42 km) has sulphur
springs and the famous Hatakeshwara Temple. Sun Temple, Konark (65 km) is a magnificent
13th century temple visualized as the chariot of the Sun God, as he glides through the
firmament from dawn to dusk. The ruins have sculptures detailing every aspect of human
life. The city also has a beautiful beach.
Area : 65.03 sq km.
Altitude : 45 metres (146 ft.)
Temperature (deg C): Summer - Max.38, Min.27.1; Winter - Max.28.2,
Rainfall : Mid June-September 60 inches (152 cms).
Languages Spoken : Oriya, Bengali, Hindi, English etc.
Best season : October to March.
7 kms from Bhubaneshwar are the twin hills of Udaygiri and
Khandagiri. Built by Kharavela around 1st - 2nd Century BC for Jain monks, they are
excellent examples of Jain Cave art. The famous caves of Hathigumpha (elephant cave) in
Udaygiri, RaniGumpha (Queens cave) also in Udaygiri, with upper and lower storeys,
spacious courtyards and extremely delicately designed friezes bear witness to the
sophistication the architectural styles had attained as early as the first Century BC.
Driving down the Puri-Konark Highway from Bhubaneshwar one
comes across Dhauli hill on the banks of the River Daya. Surrounded by the soothing
greenery of paddy fields, lies the 3rd Century BC Ashokan Rock Edict, a memory of the
gruesome war that transformed Ashoka, the great Warrior into a Buddhist missionary. The
Peace Pagoda built in collaboration with the Kalinga Japanese Buddhist Sangha, on
the opposite hill, is completely modern and is an excellent foil.
The seat of Lord Jagannath, Site of Renowned Rathyatra
Festival and one of the most popular sea side resorts on the Bay of Bengal, Puri is an
ideal travel destination all the year round.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Shri Jagannath Temple, Daria Hanuman and Sonar Gouranga
Temple, Gundicha Char, Indradyumma Tank, Narendra/Chandan Tank, Loknath Temple,
Swarga Dwar, Sea Beach at Puri.
Sakshigopal - 19 kms, Konark - 31 kms, Bhubaneshwar - 63
Renowned for its magnificent sun temple, which was
constructed by Narasimha Deva of Ganga dynasty of Orissa in mid 13th century, Konark is
also a lovely beach resort. It is easily approachable from BhubanesHwar-64 kms &
Puri-32 kms by coaches and tourist cars. Regular bus services including conducted
sigthtseeing tours are available for Konark from BhubanesHwar and Puri.
In Konark, the "Natya Mandir", the dance hall of
the Sun Temple probably remains as the last remnant of the glorious temples of Orissa an
extant example of the architectural excellence of the times. Built in the 13th Century,
here a collossal image of the chariot of the Sun, drawn by seven horses and 24 wheels
symbolises the divisions of time. The main tower of Konark stood as high as 227 feet,
superceding both Lingaraja and Jagannath Temples. The Jagmohana (Porch) structure and the
tower are both situated atop the stone platform supporting the 24 wheels. The Konark Sun
Temple also houses a Natamandira or dancing hall. Only two subsidiary temples out of the
22, that were also situated inside the temple precincts, exist today. The
VaishnadeviMayadevi Temple stand to the West of the towers. The Sun temple of
Narasimhadeva is a depiction in stone of the life of those times royal, social,
religious and military. The intricate carvings on the walls and wheels of the chariot are
unprecedented in history. The fine sculptures depicting Court life, hunting, scenes,
celestial deities are epitomes of precision and grace. Graceful sculptures from the world
of the Kamasutra, epic of eroticism also adorn the structures. The Sun Temple standing in
solitary splendour is the relic of a great past. The history lovers can regale themselves
at the Archaeological Museum at the site of the Konark Sun Temple. The majestic Sun Temple
silhouetted against the setting sun remains indelibly etched in the spectators
Area : 2.5 sq.km.
Altitude : Sea level.
Temperature (deg C): Summer- Max. 43, Min. 32.2; Winter- 26.7, Min. 10.6.
Rainfall : 152.4 cms (July to September).
Clothings : Summer- Light tropical & cottons, Winter- light woollens.
Languages spoken : Oriya, Bengali, Hindi, English.
Best season : Throughout the year, but preferaby October to March.
STD Code : 067581.
Chilika Lake, spreading over an area of 1100 sq. kms is the
largest brackish water lake in the country and attracts large number of migratory birds
besides resident ones. Barkul and Rambha are two places on the lake which serve as the
base. Though the lake can be visited throughout the year, October to March is the best
The lake harbours the "aquatic vegetation" of its own and is typically
represents by Algal forms (e.g. Chaetomorpha and Enteromorpha widely distributed algae
followed by Lyngbya, Ulva, Cladophora and others like Gloeocapsa, Nostoc, Sprigyra,
Oedogonium, Chara, Nitella, Gracilaria etc.), a number of Diatoms/Phytoplanktons and a few
species of brackish water submerged phanerogams like Potamogeton pectinatus, Halophila
ovalis, Ruppia maritima, Naja faveolata, Hydrilla verticellata and Ceratophyllum demersum
etc. Some floating plants like Eichhornia crassipes, Pistia stratiotes and Azolla pinnata
etc. enter the lake with flood water but disappear after a few months. The communities of
Schoenoplectus littoralis in association with Eleocharis dulce, Phragmites karka,
Myrostachya wightii & many other grasses and hedges also exist in shallow muddy areas.
Species like Salicornia brachiata, Suaeda maritima, Sesuvium portulacastrum, Phyla
nodiflora, Heliotropium curassavicum & some others occur in marshes and salt fields
along the edges and other shallow areas. The present scanty littoral and scrub jungles on
lake margin, islands and rocky faces are represented by the species like Salvadora
presica, Pongamia pinnata, Colubrina asiatica, Cassipourea ceylonica, Aegiceras
corniculatum, Azima tetracantha, Pisonia aculeata, Clerodendron inerme, Carmona retusa,
Carissa spinarumm, Crateva spinarumm, Meytinus emarginatus, Opuntia dillenii, Ficus sps.,
Crateva adansonii spp., Lepisanthes tetraphylla, Streblus asper etc. and a number of
climbers/twinners and herbaceous ground flora. The dunes & sandy areas of the beaches
near lake have the floral composition of their own, favoured in the conditions they offer.
The land lying between Sea and Lagoon exhibits rich growth of casuarina equisetifolia,
planted by Forest Dept.
There is a wide variety of animal life forms representing various groups of Animal Kingdom
(ranging from Protozoa, Porifera, Polyzoa, Brachiopoda, Coelenterata, Ctenophora, Isopoda,
Echiura, Sipuncula, Chaetognatha, Platyhelminthes, Annelida, Crustacea, Arachinida,
Insecta, Mollusca to Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mamals). The more details of
some of these fauna arefurnished here.
Around 158 species of fishes and prawns have so far been recorded.Crabs like Scylla
serrata & Neptunus pelagicus are the predominent types available here.
Oyster (e.g. Ostrea talpur, Arca, Meretix etc.) occurs in small patches. Nearabout
countless types of Amphibians Reptiles viz. Snakes, Lizards, Turtles & Crocodiles.
Discovery of Limbless skink (Barakudia insularis), a rare reptile which was reported first
time from loose soil of Barakudia island by Annandale (1917), attaches much significance
to this place. The Dolphins have been reported mostly near Satapada-Magarmukha area and
occasionally between Kalijai and Balugaon. Other mammals reported from small pockets in
the surrounding hlls/forests/scattered islands & amidst the vegetation of sandy ridge
facing Chilika and Sea include Black bucks (Antilope cervicara), Spotted deer, Fox,
Jackal, Hyaena, Jungle Cat, Hare, Rat, Pachyura (an insectivora), Common bat, Otter,
Common mongoose, Monkey, Squirrel, Porcupine etc.
PLACES OF INTEREST
The lake with several of its islands, main among them
being, kalijai, Nalabana, Honeymoon, Breakfast islands etc. Satpada towards the South
Eastern stretch of the lake is closer to puri and is fast developing as a tourist spot on
the shore of Chilika.
CRUISE ON THE LAKE: To visit various islands, particularly, Kalijai &
Nalabana as well as to cruise on the Chilika Lake, motorised Yatch and speed boat
services are available at fixed rates from the Manager, O.T.D.C., Panthniwas, Barkul.
Narayani (22 kms from Rambha), Gopalpur-on-Sea (45 kms from
Rambha and 75 kms from Barkul), Taptapani Sulphur Spring (100 kms from Rambha and 130 kms
Area : 1100 sq. kms. ( Wildlife Sanctuary
area- 15.53 sq. kms.)
Temperature (deg C): Summer- Max. 37, Min. 30; Winter- Max. 24, Min. 17.
Rainfall : 1160 mms. (Mainly July to September).
Clothings : Tropical.
Languages Spoken : Oriya, Bengali, Hindi, English.
Best Season : Throughout the year.
Gopalpur-on-Sea is a quiet and charming sea resort along
the Bay of Bengal, in the district of Ganjam, Orissa. It offers secluded environment and
magnificent sun, surf and sand for most of the year.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Gopalpur is situated right on the Bay of Bengal with a
Chilika Lake (Rambha-45 km and Barkul-75 km), Nirmaljhar
(56 km), Taptapani sulphur-spring (67 km).
Altitude : Sea level.
Temperature (deg C): Summer- Max. 35, Min. 23; Winter- Max. 27, Min. 16.
Rainfall : 118.7 cms (46.7 inches).
Languages Spoken : Oriya, Hindi, English.
Best Season : Throught the year, but preferably October to April.
Nestled in the centre of Mayurbhanj, the northernmost
district of Orissa is the similipal National Park one of India's better known wild life
sanctuaries, covering a large forested area of 2750 sq.kms. The variation in topography,
climate and vegetation has supported large varieties of animals, birds and reptiles.
Similipal is one of the earliest and finest of India's fifteen Tiger reserves under
PLACES OF INTEREST
Fauna found at the Park include the tiger, leopard,
elephants, bison, sambar, porcupine, pangolin, flying-squirrel, hill myna, hornbill,
Kiching (50 kms from Joshipur).
Area : 2750 sq.km.
Altitude : 559.31 metres above sea level.
Temperature (Deg C): Summer- Max.40, Min.20; Winter- Max.20, Min.4.4.
Rainfall : 1648 mm ( Mid. June to Mid. September ).
Best Season : 1st November to 15th June. December to February is
extremely cold. (The reserve remains open from 15th Oct. to 15th June).
STD Code : 06792.
Chandipur (16 kms) away from Balasore Railway Station on
Howrah-Madras line of South Eastern ( S.E.) Railways is a unique beach where the sea water
recedes about 5 kms during low-tide and advances to the shore line again during high-tides
each day. An ideal beach resort of Orissa.