As a place Bhubaneswar is special to me in any ways. One it was the place where I got the first major break in my career, also my first daughter was born when I was working here. Again at certain times in my career, the city had proved to be the turning point in my life. This is a place where I spent 4 years of my life. giving me a personal bond with the place.
Personal nostalgia apart there is a lot about the capital city of Orissa where I spent 1 year. The city derives it’s name from one of the names of Lord Shiva Tribhuvaneshwara meaning Lord of the 3 worlds . True to it’s name Bhubaneswar is a Saivite center in contrast to Vaishnavite dominated Puri .The other name of the city is Ekamra, referring to the tree with one mango under which Lord Shiva meditated. It became the capital city in the 60’s taking over from it’s bustling neighboring city of Cuttack which is still the commercial capital of Orissa. The city is divided into two halves the new planned city on the lines of Chandigarh and the older quarter of the city which contains most of the temples that have given it the nickname of Temple City of India .
The Temple City
Bhubaneswar is often called as India’s temple city and is said to be home to around 1000 temples dating back to ancient and medieval Orissa. The older part of Bhubaneswar is dotted with most of these temples, and the biggest and most famous of them all is the Lingaraja Temple. This temple is said to have been built by Yayati Kesari and dates to the 10th century. Located over an area of 25,000 sq ft, the temple is marked by it’s huge tower soaring to 180 feet and which is elaborately carved with various sculptures. The huge tower can be seen from any place in the city and is a dominant feature of it’s sky line. Right next to the Temple is the Bindusagar lake which is believed to contain drops of every holy river in India. The temple is built in typical Kalinga style architecture, with the main temple, the Bhoga Mandap, Yajna Sala and the Natya Shala. The Shiva Linga is a swayambhu Linga, and one of the temples where both Vishnu and Shiva are worshipped as Harihara.
An interesting temple in Bhubaneswar is the Raja Rani temple. The temple is unique in that it’s the only temple in India not dedicated to any God or Goddess. The sculptures are quite exquisitely carved and contain many erotic carvings.
The Parasurameswara temple is a complex of around 20 small temples and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This 7th century temple has sculpture of amorous couples, lions, elephants and birds.
The Mukteswara temple is another ancient 10th Century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the torana or the gateway is worth a watch, her for it’s fusion of Buddhist and Hindu styles of Architecture. While built in the standard Kalinga style, the Jaganmohana here is built in a rectangular pattern here. . One can find carvings based on the Panchatantra out here.Next to the Mukteswara Temple is the Kedareswara temple, another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, again famous for it’s sculptures of women, animals, birds.
A must visit place in Bhubaneswar. This is a natural zoo located around 20 km from the city. Its also a popular picnic spot for the city people. The animals here are located in a natural environment and you have a good collection of animals,birds and reptiles. The zoo has an excellent collection of white tigers, gharials and rare birds. A rope way across the lake takes you to a huge botanical garden. Adjoining the zoo is the Chandaka sanctuary which houses a large number of wild elephants. However you have to be careful when traveling in this sanctuary, as these elephants can be dangerous at times.
These are twin hills located around 7 km from Bhubaneswar. They are famous for their cave temples containing Jain and Buddhist sculptures. Most of the ancient rulers of Orissa were patrons of Jainism and Buddhism and many temples in Orissa, have strong influences of both. These caves contain many inscriptions about King Kharavela one of the greatest rulers of Orissa. His empire extended from Magadha in the North to Madurai in South. Many of these caves were believed to have been built by him. The largest cave is the Rani Gumpha or the Queen’s cave, while the Hathi Gumpa or elephant’s cave contains the only rock cut inscription in India describing the deeds of Kharavela. One more cave on Khandagiri hill contains sculptures of all 24 Jain thirthanakaras carved on a single rock.
Down town Bhubaneswar contains all the office buildings, banks, shops, travel agents, restaurants etc. The market in Unit III is like Karol Bagh where you can haggle and get really good stuff. Shoppers can go for the famous silver filigree work, the wonderful embroidery of the Sambalpuri sarees are some things you can pick up here. Bhubaneswar also has many restaurants offering different types of cuisine. I would also suggest to check out the tribal art works available here, some of the finest in India, and you get it at a reasonable price. Also the Pattachitra paintings which are exquisite works of art. If you are a foodie, you would love Bhubaneshwar’s gastronomic delights, right from its pitha,Cuttack mixture, Cuttack Chaat. The city also has some of the best Rosgulla’s you could ever find, especially the Pahalla Rosgulla, and that you find at Biklananda Kar’s. Also check out the Chhenna poda, a kind of sweet cake, famous in Odisha.
The city is also an educational center in Orissa. It contains Xavier Inst of Mgt, XIM one of the top mgt institutes in the country. The University College of Engineering and the Kalinga Inst of Industrial Technology are one of the top 100 engineering colleges in India. It also has the Utkal University and the Orissa University of Agriculture and Tech . The city is also home to many research institutes like Institute of Physics and Regional Research Laboratory . Due to it’s non polluted atmosphere , the Orissa Govt is developing this into an IT hub with Mahindra Satyam, Infosys, TCS already setting up shop there, and an InfoCity with a host of other local city based IT firms.
Bhubaneswar is a city which is in perennial festival mode. Apart from the by now famous Ratha Yatra and Durga Puja, the city has other interesting festivals also. One of them is Boita Bandhan which celebrates Orissa’s ancient maritime history. Many people release paper boats lighted with candles and lamps into Bindusagar Lake to mark the occasion. The city also celebrates festivals like Saraswathi Puja and Vishwakarma Puja in a major way. At the end of every January, there is an Adivasi Mela held in the city, to commemorate Orissa’s tribal culture. And we have the Raja festival which is somewhat similar to Teej in Rajasthan.