Bhubaneswar, the capital of the East Indian state of Odisha, lies in its coastal region. Together with Konark and Puri, it forms the Swarna Tribhuja or Golden Triangle of Odisha tourism. This ancient city makes an ideal starting point for the traveller who wishes to explore the magnificence of Kalinga architecture, worship at its grand temples or enjoy the beaches of Puri.
Bhubaneswar is 30 km from Cuttack, the commercial capital of Odisha. It is also an important business center in its own right. Bhubaneswar is also the seat of the State assembly. It is considered one of the fast-growing cities in India, with its Manufacturing and Information technology advancements. With more than 100 educational institutes in the city, Bhubaneswar is also very popular for students from the Eastern part of India.
Odia is the most common language spoken within the city. However, with a culture-shifting towards cosmopolitan manner, Hindi and English are very much understood and accepted.
With many Hindu temples, which span the entire spectrum of Kalinga architecture, Bhubaneswar is often referred to as a Temple City of India and together with Puri and Konark, it forms the Swarna Tribhuja (“Golden Triangle”), one of eastern India’s most visited destinations. The modern city was designed by the German architect Otto Königsberger in 1946, along with Jamshedpur and Chandigarh.
1 Biju Patnaik International Airport (BBI IATA). is small, but looks new and well maintained. It is well connected with major cities of India. Direct flights are available from Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and, to a lesser extent, Bangalore. International flights are available from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok with Air Asia. Biju Patnaik Airport (Q598850) on Biju Patnaik Airport
There are two officially sanctioned options for getting a taxi at the airport – Carzonrent, a private cab agency, and a prepaid taxi service run by the airport. Both have counters at the exit. The Carzonrent salesman will try to upsell you day trip packages when you are looking for just a ride. Ignore him as you are bound to find better options within the city. Also, the other prepaid taxi is available only once you get past the security barrier, while Carzonrent is available both inside and outside. You are better off making your decision only after you step out. Another good option, if your destination is within the city, is to call for a radio cab.
2 Bhubaneshwar Station. Bhubaneswar is the headquarters of the East Coast division of Indian Railways. It is situated on the mainline from Kolkata to Chennai and is well connected to most major Indian cities. For timings and other details check the Indian Railways website. Some major trains connecting Bhubaneswar with:
Rajdhani Express, Nandankanan Express, Kalinga Utkal Express, Duranto Express, Puri Express, and Purushottam Express
Konark Express and Lokmanya Tilak Express, etc.
Coromandel Express, Chennai Howrah mail, etc.
Dhauli Express, Janasatabdi Express, Coromandel Express, Howrah Puri Express, Shri Jagannath Express, Falaknuma Express, Howrah Chennai Mail, Howrah Yesvantpur Express, EastCoast Express, etc.
Falaknuma Express, East Coast Express, Konark Express, Visakha Express, etc.
Prashanti Express, Yeshwantpur Howrah Express, Yeshwantpur Guwahati Express(only on Mondays), Guwahati Express (Wed, Thu, Fri).
Bhubaneshwar is on the National Highway no.5 that runs between Kolkata and Chennai. It is 480 km from Kolkata, 445 km from Visakhapatnam, 1225 km from Chennai, 32 km from Cuttack, 130 km from Chilika Lake (Barkul), 184 km from Gopalpur-on-sea, 64 km from Konark, and 62 km from Puri.
Buses travel to and from major cities in the region, originating at Baramunda Bus Station. The station should be reached by auto as it is not central at all. Tickets can be booked at the station, which is serviced by a good number of eateries, fruit and grocery stores, and even a barber. Buses are decrepit, but quirkily decorated and very cheap (an overnight ride to Kolkata cost ₹400 in early 2015).
Bhubaneswar’s roads are well-laid out by Indian standards, and the newer parts of the city are well-planned. Getting around is easy and inexpensive.
Town buses ply throughout the city. These are government-run and cheap. DTS (Dream Team Shahara) is a partnership between the government of Odisha and Sahara, a private company, that runs a public bus service. Buses ply all over the city, between 06:30 and 22:30 at about 20 min intervals, though the timings for specific routes vary. Fares are very reasonable, a 15 km journey costs ₹25. Tickets are bought on the bus – by cash only. Caution is advisable in using these buses as typical of any other Indian city as they can be very crowded.
Auto-rickshaws are the lifeline of Bhubaneswar and can be found on most streets of the city. Drivers are generally courteous and honest. Negotiate a rate beforehand, and make sure that the driver understands your destination. A short journey of around 5 km will cost you about ₹100. There are also shared autos that make journeys for as little as ₹5/km.
There are several online cab-hailing companies, such as Sairam Taxi, Ola cabs (Auto, Share Taxis, Cabs, Full day rental cabs), Uber (Cabs), Jugnoo (Auto), and Rapido (Bikes) operating in Bhubaneswar. Ola and Uber can be hired for visiting day trips to Puri, Konark, or Chilika. However, you can easily find safe and reliable hired taxis also, that will do so.
Auto Rickshaws or ‘auto’ is a good means of transport. They can be hired for short distances or booked for a period of time covering predetermined tourist spots. They don’t run on meters, so prices should be fixed before the tour starts. Prices are also subject to heavy bargaining.
Temples are undoubtedly the most important attractions of this city. Bhubaneswar is an ancient city where the major religions of India, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, have all had a presence during some time in its history. All the religions have left their architectural footprints here. In particular, this is a place where the Kalinga style of Hindu temple architecture flourished between the 10th and the 13th century; you will see some of the finest examples of the style here. Unfortunately, most temples do not allow entry to non-Hindus. Most of the oldest temples, around 400 of them, are concentrated around the Old Town area.
1 Lingaraj Temple (odia:ଲିଂଗରାଜ ଠାକୁର), Lingaraj Road, Old Town, 08:00-12:00, 16:00-20:00. The 10th or 11th-century Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar has been described as “the truest fusion of dream and reality”. A rare masterpiece, the Lingaraja temple has been rated one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temples in India by Ferguson, the noted art critic, and historian. Every inch of the surface of the 55 m-high Lingaraja temple is covered with elaborate carvings. Sculpture and architecture fused elegantly to create perfect harmony. Non-Hindus are not permitted inside; however, there is an elevated viewing platform next to one of the boundary walls. To reach the platform, face the temple’s main entrance and walk around to the right. There is a laneway leading to the back of the temple and the platform. Photography is prohibited inside the temple complex: the platform offers a good vantage point to photograph the temple. Just be careful of the scammers who try to befriend you, saying they are in charge of the temple, then make you sign into the “guestbook”, which is just the notebook full of random names and “donations”, forcing you to “donate” as well. One of them reports any foreign people in the viewpoint to the second one, who comes later on the blue scooter, trying to trick you. Near the temple is Bindu Sarovara, a large lake that is reputed to have a drop of water from each of all the holy rivers of India. Free, offerings accepted.
2 Mukteshwara Temple. Dating back to the 10th century, this temple marks an important transition point between the early and the later phases of Kalinga architecture. The highlight is the magnificent Torana: the decorative gateway, an arched masterpiece, reminiscent of Buddhist influence in Odisha. This temple is considered to be the gem of Odishan architecture. Mukteswara means “Lord of freedom.” The Temple complex also houses the siddhesvara Temple. Free, offerings accepted.
3 Rajarani Temple. This temple got its name from a red-gold sandstone used, which is called Rajarani locally. It has no presiding deity but many intricately carved figurines in various stages of daily chores.
4 Ananta Vasudeva Temple (odia:ଅନନ୍ତ ବାସୁଦେବ ଦେଉଳ) (Eastern side of Bindu Sarovar). This 13th-century temple is on the eastern side of Bindu Sarovar. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra are worshipped out here. It is the first of the large temples of Odisha.
5 Parasuramesvara Temple (Next to the Mukteshwara Temple). Sunrise – Sunset. Dating to 650 AD this is the oldest surviving temple in Bhubaneswar, and possibly Odisha. The temple consists of two parts, Vimana and Jagamohan. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
6 Bhaskareswar Temple.
7 Megheswar Temple.
8 Bramehswara Temple.
9 Vaital Deul.
10 Rameshwar Temple.
11 Lakshmaneshwar, Bharateshwar, and Satrughaneswara Temple.
12 Chausathi Jogini Temple, Hirapur.
Sri Krishna-Balarama Mandir, ISKCON, on NH5 (ask the autorickshaw drivers, about ₹40 from town). Non-Hindus and foreigners who desire to visit a Hindu temple can go to this temple. The devotees are friendly and there is a cheap and clean vegetarian restaurant.
Buddhist and Jain Sites
13 Dhauli Giri, Dhauli Road (8km from the city). Looking down on the plains that bore witness to the gruesome war waged on Kalinga by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, stand the rock edicts of Dhauli. It was here that King Ashoka, full of remorse after the Kalinga War in 261 BC, renounced his bloodthirsty campaign and turned to Buddhism. The edicts are a living testimony to the King’s change of heart. He urges his administrators to rule the land with justice and compassion. The edicts are so remarkable that they have been excellently preserved, despite the fact that they date back to the 3rd century BC. A sculpted elephant, the symbol of the boundless powers of Lord Buddha, tops the rock edicts. The Shanti Stupa or the peace pagoda, built through the Indo-Japanese collaboration, is on the opposite hill.
14 Khandagiri & Udayagiri, Khandagiri-Chandaka Road Khandagiri (Off AH45 (NH16)). 06:00-18:00. These twin hills served as the site of an ancient Jain monastery which was carved into cave-like chambers in the face of the hill. Dating back to the 2nd century BC, some of the caves have beautiful carvings. The Rani Gumpha (Queen’s Cave), one of the largest and double-storied, is ornately embellished with beautiful carvings. In the Hati Gumpha (Elephant Cave), King Kharavela has carved out the chronicles of his reign. At the summit of Udayagiri is an excavated Jain temple. Khandagiri has an operating Jain temple. Udayagiri: ₹5 for Indians, ₹100 for foreigners. Entry to Khandagiri caves is free.
15 Odisha State Museum. Housing a rich collection of sculptures, coins, copper plates, stone inscriptions, lithic and bronze age tools, rare manuscripts written on palm leaves, traditional and folk musical instruments. Rare epigraphic records are preserved in the Epigraphy Gallery.
16 Museum of Tribal Art & Artefacts, CRPF Square. Gives an impressive insight into the culture of the many different tribes living in and around Odisha. Tools, clothes and artwork are presented over several halls. In every area, a guide of the museum will take care of you and give you extensive explanations. No entrance fee.
17 Regional Museum of Natural History. Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhubaneswar
18 Pathani Samanta Planetarium
19 Nandankanan Zoo, Nandankanan Road, Khordha Barang (About 15 km from the city). April–September: 07:30-17:30. October–March: 08:00-17:00, closed Mondays. The zoo has some rare species of animals and is particularly well known for white tigers. There is a nice lake inside for boating and a ropeway, which, as of 2015, has been non-functional for 3 years. There is also the Botanical Garden is adjacent to the zoo. Avoid visiting the park on weekends when it gets crowded. Entry: ₹20 for Indian adults, ₹5 for Indian children between 3-12yrs, ₹100 for foreigners (you get a map free), Free for handicapped visitors. ₹50 for the safaris – the tickets are sold together even though the prices are quoted separately. Aquarium: ₹10 for adults, ₹5 for children, Paddle Boat: ₹25 for a 2-seater, ₹50 for a 4-seater, and ₹100 for Family Boat. There are charges quoted for cameras, but no one seems to care about mobile cameras. ₹50/person for “Battery Operated Vehicles”, but they will insist that you take on the entire 15-seater vehicle for ₹750.
20 Deras Dam, near Chandaka Sanctuary (around 20 km away from the Bhubaneswar Baramunda Busstand). A pristine, quiet lake amid nature.
21 Ekamra Kanan Botanical Gardens.
Day 1: Arrive at Bhubaneswar/Puri; Drive to Puri
Reach at Bhubaneswar Airport / Railway Station or Puri Railway Station in morning time …. AM Morning meet and transfer to Puri for Hotel Check-in. After fresh depart for local sightseeing, Lord Jagannath temple, Maushimaa temple, Sunargaurang temple and Raghurajpur Craft village (14 km) & Shakhigopal temple. Overnight Stay at Puri.
Day 2: Puri / Konark Sightseeing / Puri
Early morning see Sunrise in Puri beach & Enjoy in Beach. After breakfast, excursion to Konark Sun Temple known as (black pagoda) world heritage & main attraction Light Illumination program, Visit Chandrabhaga beach (sunset), Ramchandi beach and come back to Puri. Overnight stay at Puri.
Day 3: Puri / Chilika Lake Sightseeing / Puri
After breakfast, Excursion to Chilika Lake on Satpada -the largest Ramsar site of Asia. Cruise to sea-mouth viewing rare Dolphins and Rajhans island & Allarnath Temple and after sightseeing come back to Puri. Free time visit to beach market. Overnight stay at Puri.
Day 4: Puri / Bhubaneswar
- Check out Hotel at 8 AM.
- Proceed to Bhubaneswar en-route covering the People appliqué market.
- Visit Hirapur Chausathi (64) Yogini Temple & Dhauli Buddhist heritage.
After refreshment evening, visit temples like Lingaraj, Rajarani, Muktaswar & Traditional market Ekamra Haat, Hotel Check-in. Overnight stay in Bhubaneswar.
Day 5: Bhubaneswar Sightseeing; End of Tour
Check Out Hotel at 8 AM & proceed to the last day sightseeing like State Govt. Museum (Monday Closed), Nandankana zoological Park (Monday Closed), Khandagiri & Udaygiri Jain monument & if you have free time shopping activity. Then drop at Bhubaneswar Airport / Railway Station for your onward journey to your home destination.
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