The capital city of Odisha is steeped in history that is most commonly known for the Kalinga War. It is adorned with many ancient temples that tell a tale of grandeur of the bygone times and let you dive deep into the historical days of Bhubaneshwar. Talking about the most popular visitors’ spots here, the ravishing Uayagiri and Khandagiri Caves situated nearby top the list. Bhubaneshwar has something for everyone – whether a nature lover, foodie or a history buff. One can find the perfect balance of religions and cultures in this pristine city that is highly responsible for making this city an ‘important pilgrimage destination’ for Hindus and Buddhist devotees. Bhubaneshwar has held to its roots and yet adapted to modernity in a beautiful manner. You can get that traditional feel in the city, with the warm hospitable people who are continually adding crystals to the overall travelling experience of this place.
Lingaraj Temple, Nandankanan Zoological Park, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves
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Bhubaneswar - capital city of Odisha, is popular for age-old architecture and innumerable ancient temples. This place is a prominent Hindu pilgrimage destination and a prime part in Buddhist Lotus Trail in India. The Lingaraja temple here dates back to 10th century, and is described as "the truest fusion of dream and reality." This is the city, which witnessed the most heinous war of Kalinga, which changed Emperor Ashoka to a non-violent follower of Buddhism. His inscriptions are still here, well preserved to stand testimony for his change. Bhubaneswar is now a busy city, developing rapidly and also list the chart as one of India’s Smart City, nevertheless number of temples here and the religious fervor of locals is worth experiencing. This is where history is beautifully entwined with the progressive present.
Bhubaneswar, the modern city, was established in 1948 as it replaced Cuttack as the capital of Odisha. However, the city & its periphery areas have historical evidences dating back to 1st century BCE or might be much earlier. This area was the Kalinga Dynasty of the past. Dhauli, a place adjacent to Bhubaneswar was the site of the Kalinga War (c. 262-261 BCE), in which the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka invaded and conquered Kalinga. The stories of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka is narrated in edicts that are carved in rock, just 8 kilometers from city’s center. After the decline of the Mauryan Empire, Mahameghavahana dynasty king Kharavela took over and one can find his Hathigumpha inscription is located at the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves near Bhubaneswar. Kalinga & nearby areas were later ruled by different Kings & dynasties, including the Guptas, Satavahanas, Shailodbhavas, and Matharas. Somavamshi or Keshari dynasty established their kingdom in Kalinga in the 7th century and constructed a number of temples. After the Kesharis, the Eastern Gangas ruled until 14th century CE. After them, Mukunda Deva of the Bhoi dynasty (said to be the last Hindu ruler) ruled here until the Marathas intervened and developed several temples & religious buildings here. In 1568, the Karrani dynasty of Afghan origin controlled the area. They destroyed many temples and structures were disfigured. Thereafter in the 16th century, it was pachamani Mughal control here.
The Marathas, succeeded the Mughals and encouraged pilgrimage here. In 1803, the area came under British colonial rule and was a prime part of Bengal Presidency followed by Bihar and Orissa Province and then Orissa Province until India’s independence
Bhubaneswar is an ancient city with modern wrapper and is full of beautiful historic temples and relics of the past that attract historians, architect buffs, sightseeing lovers, Hindu & Buddhist pilgrims and also leisure tourists from all over the world. Bhubaneswar has more than 400 temples, of different sizes, built centuries ago and these have retained their structure and aura of devotion over all these years. Old Town in Bhubaneswar is known for the temples and most of them were constructed sometime between 11th to 13th centuries. Do not miss to visit “Traffic Mahadev”, fondly named small temple that acts as a road divider. Another rare master piece is the Lingaraj Temple of 10th century, which is one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temple in India. Other places that attract tourist are Bindu Sarovara, Ananta Vasudeva temple, Mukteshwara Temple of 10th century, Rajarani Temple, Odisha State Museum, Sri Krishna Balarama Mandir, ISKCON, Nandankanan Zoo – known for White Tigers; Botanical Garden near Nandankanan, Museum of Tribal Art & Artefacts, Deras Dam and more. Khandagiri & Udayagiri, twin hills are known for ancient Jain monastery of 2nd century BC. The prominent caves here are Rani Gumpha & Hati Gumpha. Another prime attraction near Bhubaneswar is the Dhauli Giri on Dhaui hill, the place where Mauryan emperor Ashoka stood, after winning the War of Kalinga, to rejoice his victory but he was so full of remorse with the sight of bloodshed that he renounced his desire to fight battles that conquer kingdoms and adopted Budhism. A sculpted elephant, the symbol of the boundless powers of Lord Buddha, tops the rock edicts here. The Shanti Stupa or the peace pagoda, here on Dhauli Giri Temple is worth the visit.
Once can also plan day tour to Puri – Jagganath Dham, Konark – Sun Temple and many other beach-side locations, nearby. Orissa is a delight for handicraft & handloom lovers. From Pipili applique work to intricate Silver filigree work, from hand woven ikkat to hand painted pattachitra, from colorful wooden icons of Jagannath to sand stone statues, handloom & handcraft is Odisha enriching.
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