In & Around

City Guide

Known as the soul of India, a distinctively cultured and historical land with priceless natural wealth buried under its surface, Odisha lies along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is the land that witnessed great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, converting to Buddhism. The architecturally incredible Sun Temple at Konark, the Jagannath Temple in Puri and its spectacular RathYatra, dot its coastal plains. One of the most densely forested regions of India, it contains some most outstanding scenery and retains its remote charms.

Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha is now a sprawling city, home to top national & international conglomerates and growth centers for many IT units. The state has a major port at Paradeep and excellent connectivity by air, rail and road. The social infrastructure includes the best in educational institutes like the IIT’s and AIIM’s, modern and affordable housing facilities.

Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are often commonly together known as the twin-cities of Odisha. Bhubaneswar is categorized as a Tier-2 city. An emerging Information Technology (IT) hub, the boom in the metals and metal processing industries have made Bhubaneswar one of the fastest developing cities of India in recent years.


Dhauli
Distance from the Hotel: 14.5 Kms

Dhauli Hills are located on the banks of the river Daya, 8 Kms south of Bhubaneswar in Orissa. It is a hill with vast open space adjoining it, and has major Edicts of Ashoka engraved on a mass of rock, by the side of the road leading to the summit of the hill. Dhauli hill is presumed to be the area where Kalinga War was fought.

Ashoka had a special weakness for Dhauli, where the battle was fought. The Daya River is said to have turned red with the blood of the many deceased after the battle, and enabled Ashoka to realize the magnitude of horror associated with war. He saw to it that Dhauli became an important centre of Buddhist activities. He built several chaityas, stupas and pillars there. He got abodes excavated for the recluse, instructions inscribed for officials, expounded the main principles of dandaniti for the public, provided special status to his new kingdom including the stupas at Dhauli.

On the top of the hill, a dazzling white peace pagoda has been built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha in the 1970s.

Puri - Jagannath Temple
Distance from the Hotel: 61 Kms.

The Jagannath Temple in Puri (Orissa) is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat (Universe) and Nath (Lord of). The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions, particularly worshippers of Krishna and Vishnu, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one's lifetime . The temple was built in the 11th century atop its ruins by the progenitor of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. The temple is famous for its annual RathYatra, or chariot festival, in which the three main temple deities are hauled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Since medieval times, it is also associated with intense religious fervour. The temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka.

The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2), and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India. The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the 'srichakra' (a eight spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the "Nilachakra", it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. Among the existing temples in Orissa, the temple of Shri Jagannath is the highest. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet (65 m) above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks.

The main shrine is enclosed by a 20 feet (6.1 m) high wall. Another wall surrounds the main temple.

Puri Rath Yatra

Every year during the months of June or July, three richly decorated chariots, resembling temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Puri. This commemorates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balarama, and their sister Subhadra to their aunt's temple, the Gundicha Temple which is situated at a distance of 2 Kms from their temple. This is the only day when devotees who are not allowed in the temple premises such as non-Hindus and foreigners, can get their glimpse of the deities. During the festival, devotees from all over the world go to Puri with an earnest desire to help pull Lords' chariot with the help of other priests pulling the chariots with ropes.

Jagannath, believed to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu, is the Lord of Puri - the coastal town of Orissa in eastern India. Rath Yatra is of great significance to the Hindus, and especially to the people of Orissa. It is during this time that the three deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out in a grand procession in specially made gigantic temple-like chariots called raths.

The Puri Rath Yatra is world famous for the crowd that it attracts. Puri being the abode of these three deities, the place plays host to devotees, tourists and about one million pilgrims from across India and abroad. Many artists and artisans are engaged in building these three chariots, weaving its fabric covers that dress up the chariots, and painting them in the right shades and motifs to give them the best possible looks.

Konark Temple
Distance from the Hotel: 66.5 Kms

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Konark Temple

On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, bathed in the rays of the rising sun, the temple at Konarak is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya's chariot; its 24 wheels are decorated with symbolic designs and it is led by a team of six horses. Built in the 13th century, it is one of India's most famous Brahman sanctuaries.

Konark is an outstanding testimony to the 13th-century kingdom of Orissa. It is directly and materially linked to Brahmin beliefs, and forms the invaluable link in the history of the diffusion of the cult of Surya, which originated in Kashmir during the 8th century and finally reached the shores of eastern India.

On the eastern coast of India, south of the Mahanadi Delta, is the Brahmin temple of Kimarak, one of the most famous Brahmin sanctuaries of Asia. Konark derives its name from Konarka, the presiding deity of the Sun Temple. Konarka is a combination of two words, kona (corner) and arka (Sun). It was one of the earliest centres of Sun worship in India. Built around 1250 in the reign of King Narasingha Deva (1238-64), it marks the apogee of the wave of foundations dedicated to the Sun God Surya; the entire temple was conceived as a chariot of the Sun God with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings.

Puri-Konark Marine Drive

Puri Konark Marine drive is a beautiful drive by the sea and forest reserve. Ramachandi Temple is also located between Puri and Konark. Puri-Konark Beach is rated one of the most excellent beach in the world. The long stretch of sparkling sand and divine tranquility makes it one of the prefect beaches to enjoy. It is one of the best places to watch the sunrise.

Pipili
Distance from the Hotel: 23.5 Kms.

Indian handicrafts is famous all over the world and one of the best places where you can get to see fine examples of this is Pipili in Orissa.

Pipili is particularly known for its appliqué work. It is often regarded as the appliqué capital of Orissa. Starting from clothes right down to lampshades; everything has colorful appliqué work that is fascinating to look. You can come over here and buy a large number of products like bed covers, wall hangings, tablecloth, sofa covers, children's garments and bags from here. Other articles that you can buy from here include beach and garden umbrellas and canopies. The products on sale here are made by some of the master craftsmen of the village.

Chilika Lake
Distance from the Hotel: 105 Kms.

Chilka Lake (Chilika Lake) is a brackish water lagoon. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the World.

It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals. The lake is an ecosystem with large fishery resources. It sustains more than 150,000 fisher–folk living in 132 villages on the shore and islands.

The lagoon hosts over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and South-East Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here. These birds travel great distances; migratory birds probably follow much longer routes than the straight lines, possibly up to 12,000 km, to reach Chilika Lake.

Lingaraj Temple
Distance from the Hotel: 8.7 Kms.

Lingaraj Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Harihara, another name for Shiva and is one of the oldest temples of Bhubaneswar, a revered pilgrimage center and the capital of the state of Orissa, India.

The temple is more than 1100 years old, dating back in its present form to the last decade of the eleventh century, though there is evidence that parts of the temple have been there since sixth century as the temple has been emphasized in some of the seventh century Sanskrit texts. This is testimony to its sanctity and importance as a Shiva shrine. By the time the Lingaraj temple was constructed, the Jagannath (form of Vishnu) cult had been growing, which historians believe is evidenced by the co-existence of Vishnu and Shiva worship at the temple.

Mukteswara Temple
Distance from the Hotel: 7.8 Kms

Muktesvara Temple is a 10th century Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Siva located in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, India. The temple dates back to 970 A.D., is a monument of singular importance in the study of the development of Hindu temples in Orissa. In this stylistic development, the Mukteswara plays a pivotal role; it marks the culmination of all earlier developments, and initiates a period of experiment which continues for an entire century, as seen in such temples as the Rajarani Temple and Lingaraj temple, both located in Bhubaneswar. The temple’s most striking feature is the torana, or the arched gateway, dating back to about 900 A.D. and showing the influence of Buddhist architecture.

The Gateway to the Mukteswara Temple is modeled on the torana recovered from the field in Bhubaneswar and bears sculptures that range from elaborate scrolls to pleasant female forms and figures of monkeys and peacocks. The arched gateway has thick pillars that have strings of beads and other ornaments carved on statues of smiling women in languorous repose. The porch is a wallerchanber with a low, massive roof, and internal pillars are wholly wanting. The combination of vertical and horizontal lines is skillfully arranged so as to give dignity of buildings of moderate height. This early astylar form of the temple is best illustrated in this temple.

Raja-Rani Temple
Distance from the Hotel: 7.4 Kms

The Rajarani temple is one of the most beautiful temples representing a unique experiment in the field of architecture in Orissa.

The temple, in all probability, referred to in the traditional Sanskrit texts as Indresvara Siva temple is remarkable for its sculptural excellence, profusion of ornaments, exuberant architectural features and multiple scroll work. At present, the sanctum is devoid of any deity. The present name Rajarani has been derived from a very fine grained yellowish sand stone called Rajarania in common parlance with which the entire edifice has been built. Mellowed by time, the glaring amber of the stone complements its architectural splendor. 

Udayagiri & Khandagiri
Distance from the Hotel: 11Kms.

Located on the suburbs of Bhubaneswar, the two hills of Udayagiri & Khandagiri consist of a large number of natural and artificial caves. The Udayagiri & Khandagiricaves were constructed from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD and is a prime attraction for locals and tourist alike.

Udayagiri, or the sunrise cave, contains 18 natural and artificial caves. The star attraction is the two storied Ranigumpha occupying the central region of the cave complex. The other caves are arranged around the Ranigompha in a crescent shape.

Hatigumpha located at the very entrance of Udayagiri, has great historical importance. It contains the famous inscription of the Emperor Kharavella, of Kalinga dating back to the 2nd century BC. The 17 line inscription inscribed in deep cut Brahmi script can still be seen on the ceiling of Hatigompa.

Khandagiri contain statues of all the 24 Jain Tirtankharas, including a giant statue of Mahavir.

Lalitagiri
Distance from the Hotel: 82 Kms

The earliest Buddhist complex, dating back to the 1st century AD, Lalitagiri (85 kms from Bhubaneswar), is a major centre of Buddhist attraction, following a recent excavation, that uncovered material of archaeological importance. A huge brick monastery, remains of a chaitya hall, several stupas, and a renovated stone stupa crowning a small hill, are some of the fascinating ancient monuments dotting the region. The Orissa State Museum, at Bhubaneshwar, showcases a range of Mahayana sculptures, chiefly massive Buddha figures, and Boddhisattva statues. A majority of these sculptures, have brief inscriptions on them.

The standing Buddha figures, draped in trailing robes, are reminiscent of the Gandhara and Mathura school of art. Caskets containing sacred relics, probably of the Buddha himself, discovered from the hill - top stone stupa, only serves to underline the importance of this particular area, for Buddhists everywhere. This stone stupa brings to mind, the massive stupa on the top of a hill at Pushpagiri Mahavihara, which emitted a brilliant light, due to its essential sacredness, as described by Hiuen Tsang himself in the 7th century. The search is on to identify Pushpagiri as Lalitagiri, as it is known at present.

All these factors combine to make Lalitagiri, the top priority with visitors, especially those from the Far-East and South-East Asian countries.

Ratnagiri
Distance from the Hotel: 91 Kms.

The third of the four important Buddhist sites in Orissa, is Ratnagiri (90 kms from Bhubaneswar), in Cuttack district. A small hill near the Ratnagiri village, is a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist monuments and other relics. A recent excavation has unearthed two huge monasteries, a large stupa, many Buddhist shrines, sculptures and a great number of votive stupas. The fact that this Buddhist site dates back to the time of the Gupta king, Narasimha Gupta Baladitya (early 6th century AD) was also revealed during the excavation. Buddhism is believed to have flourished here, at least till the 12th century AD. It started out, as an important centre of the Mahayana form of Buddhism, but in the 8th - 9th century AD, developed into a significant centre of Tantric - Buddhism or Vajrayana school of art and philosophy. The Ratnagiri Institute was instrumental in the emergence of the Kalachakratantra, during the 10th century AD, according to a Tibetan source, Pag Sam Jon Zang.

The Mahavihara at Ratnagiri, was a premier centre of learning in Buddhist philosophy, according to Oriya inscriptions. Though, today all that remains of this impressive establishment are the majestic ruins. It still draws hordes of visitors from all over the world. One can still discern the remains of grand monasteries, stupas, a sanctum with a huge Buddha figure and other Buddhist sculptures in these ruins.  Source: The above content is taken from Wikipedia.