Lonely Planet Magazine India|March 2020

The coastal state of Odisha has a lot to offer visitors. Venture beyond Bhubaneswar to discover an unexplored side


The Odia capital Bhubaneswar is not the usual jumble of chaos big cities are infamous for. Designed by German architect Otto Königsberger (also involved in the planning of Jamshedpur), it’s a well-planned place and, aside from the broad streets, there’s plenty of green cover to balance out the concrete. The ancient temples the region is famous for often come as a surprise to visitors, set as they are amid these modern urban confines. As much of a contrast as it is, the architecture of these is fascinating. The largest one in the city, Lingaraj Temple dates back to 6 CE and is the quintessence of Kalinga architecture (Lingaraj Nagar, Old Town; 6am – 9pm). The temple complex in itself has 50 shrines apart from the main Shiva shrine. While non-Hindus cannot enter, a raised platform to one side of the compound can be accessed from the outside and serves as a great spot from where to get a good look at the temple complex. The Rajarani Temple is traced back to the 11th century and the carvings on its walls are similar to those found in the Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh (Tankapani Rd, Kedar Gouri Vihar, Rajarani Colony; 7am – 5pm). Towards another end of town lie the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves, ancient dwellings for Jain monks on two adjacent hills, dating back to 1 BCE (9am – 6pm; entry: ₹15). Aside from the history, the panoramic view of the city from atop either hill is worth a visit.

If you want a break from architecture, make your way to the Museum of Tribal Arts and Artifacts (Unit – VIII, CRP – DAV Rd, CRPF Colony, Nayapalli; 10am – 5pm Tues – Sun; entry free). The facility offers up a wonderfully-curated glimpse into the lives and traditions of the indigenous people that live in the state. Don’t miss the chance to visit the canteen within the compound of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute, just past the museum gift shop. The menu has sumptuous tribal fare that provides a rather delicious insight into ancient indigenous culture. For serious indulgence in Odia fare, go try the pakhala thali at Odisha Hotel. Pakhala is the local version of a preparation that is popular across eastern India. Rice is cooked and then soaked in water overnight. It’s soothingly cool and helps beat the heat, extremely useful given the local climate. And it goes rather well with the fried fish and prawn and the crab in thick gravy that comes with the thali.

The Trident, Bhubaneswar is a business hotel that makes for a good stay option. It’s situated right in the middle of the city, on an arterial road, but the gardens within the property very effectively insulate it from all the noise outside. In fact, the gardens are quite the focus at this property, with almost 70 per cent of the acreage dedicated to vegetation. Given the decent road connectivity in the state, you could base yourself out of Bhubaneswar and make day-trips to the famous temple towns of Puri and Konark.


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March 2020