Orissa is indeed a place with a wide variety of things to do for a perfect vacation. Be it exploring the wild, enjoying local cuisine, temple hopping, admiring the architecture and local art, or even experiencing indigenous culture; Odisha has it all.
The Sun temple at Konark, or the Black Pagoda as it is fondly referred to, is one of the top places to visit on your trip to Orissa. The intricate stone carvings and the history behind are sure to leave you elated. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
The best place to know more about the Black Pagoda is at the Sun Temple itself. You’ll find many authorized guides, whom, in my opinion, you should hire. Once you are done with the guided tour, visit the museum. Stay over for the animated show to see how the monument was constructed.
Situated few kilometres from the UNESCO heritage site, Konark Sun Temple is Odisha’s very own ‘blue flagged’ site – Chandrabhaga beach. The beach formed at the confluence of Chandrabhaga river and Bay of Bengal could be your pit stop to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the way back from Konark.
Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha, dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Maha Vishnu) is one of the major pilgrimage destinations in India. It is, in fact, one among the Char Dham; four holy places that Vaishnavites believe will help in achieving ‘moksha’.
Your visit to Orissa remains incomplete without witnessing the famous daily flag hoisting ceremony at Jagannath temple. A priest climbs up the gopura to change the flags, a ritual that’s to be done every day. If not, the temple is believed to shut down for the next 18 years.
Have you observed any of these? If not, head to the famous pilgrim centre of Jagannath right away. Don’t forget to taste their Prasada as well 🙂 and maybe get a peek into more of its folklore!!
An evening stroll along the shores of Puri beach tops the list of things to do in Orissa. You can also go on camel rides here. It is here that you can witness the magic of sand art. You can also visit the Sand Art festival conducted yearly in December.
As the lore goes, poet Balaram Das who was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath was denied access to climbing the Lord’s chariot during Rath Yatra. Feeling humiliated, the poet marched over to the shores, carved idols of the deities and started offering his prayer. It is said that his devotion was so pure that the idols vanished from the chariot to appear at Das’s place of worship.
Chilka lake, a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the second-largest brackish/saltwater lagoon in the world. Enjoy a boat ride at the Chilika lake alongside the dolphins and migratory birds during your visit to Orissa. You can club this along with an itinerary for Puri and Konark.
Bhubaneshwar boasts of its umpteen temples and temple architecture. Most of them, I was told, are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Want to know why? Read on…
Bhubaneswar, the capital of ancient Kalinga Empire, resonates with Lord Shiva’s name – Tribhuwaneshwar, meaning ‘Lord of Three Worlds’. It is said that Bhubaneshwar, which is one of the top touristy places in Odisha today, was once the favourite hangout place for Lord Shiva!
Make sure that you visit a few of these lesser-known temples of Orissa.
Dhauligiri or the Dhauli hill with its ‘Peace Pagoda’ is one of the must-visit sites in Orissa. It is here that the famous war of Kalinga was fought. Emperor Ashoka, after witnessing the river Daya turn red with innocent blood, decided to follow the path of Lord Buddha.
Apart from the Buddhist Stupa, there are other Buddhist attractions nearby as well. These include the Saddharma Vihar Monastery and the Dhavalshwar temple.
Bhubaneswar museum on tribal culture is the right place for any travel enthusiast who has not planned a visit to various tribal dwellings. The Tribal museum of Bhubaneswar or the ‘Museum of Man’ is home to a vast and rare collection of Odisha’s tribal culture. Apart from ethnic wears, art, culinary, musical, and hunting instruments, one also gets to see how different dwellings are set. They have a virtual reality screening of various tribal villages as well. This is bound to leave you enthralled.
The tribal museum is well maintained. And, guess what, there is no entry fee (as of Feb 2019). Also, note that the visiting hours are from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Adivasi mela, the states Tribal fair, is conducted once every year at Bhubaneshwar. Indigenous communities from different parts of the state come over to share their traditional art and crafts. One would get to witness vibrant tribal cultures at this exhibition thereby making it a must-visit.
Apart from the tribal art souvenirs, one can also enjoy the cultural extravaganza – various folk performances will also be showcased.
This is for all those interested in exploring various ethnic cultures. You can meet communities like Bondas, Mali, Desia Kondhs, Saura etc, learn more about their lifestyle, art and crafts etc.
Odisha is one of the states with a large number of indigenous communities. A visit to their tribal weekly markets or trekking up to these quaint villages certainly can’t be excluded from the list of top things to do in Orissa.
Get a glimpse of various traditional weaving techniques on your visit to Orissa. Olasingha is a small textile village near Bhubaneshwar in Orissa. Meet friendly, talented, and hardworking people who’re more than happy to welcome tourists in search of authentic Indian textiles.
If you are planning to visit Orissa, be it leisure or research, a trip to its various textile villages is a must. You can book a seven-day textile tour with Heritage Tours Orissa as well.
Orissa is blessed with many talented artisans. Few of the famous art and crafts of Orissa have been listed on our previous blog post.
A visit to various artisans village including Pipli, Raghurajpur, Balakati, Kandapara etc. finds its place in one’s list of ‘top things to do in Orissa‘. Buy authentic souvenirs from these artisans at a very fair price. This will help in their economic sustainability as well as retain an interest in their traditional arts among future generations.
If you are looking for places to stay in Puri, head straight to Marine Drive. There are umpteen options here. Right from beach view resorts to OYO rooms. We had stayed at hotel Mahodadhi. It’s a lovely heritage hotel, right in front of the beach. We had a fairly good stay at this place with proper services, food, and clean rooms. The Kamat’s hotel right outside is an added advantage for vegetarians like us.
Thanks to Mohanty uncle, we had a comfortable stay at Bhubaneshwar. We stayed at the Royale Midtown hotel – good food, services, and well connected to other parts of the city.
Confused about where to stay in Orissa? If you are not into planning trips by yourself then heritage tours, Orissa is the suggestion I’d give. Do not forget to check out their Tribal tour.
One thought on “12 things to do in Orissa – A list of top places to visit”
Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post. Really thank you! Keep writing.