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Anupriya Bedi Apr 09 2014

Which are the famous things to see and do in Bhubaneshwar?

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Home to a staggering 600 temples, this pristine city is also known as Kashi of the East. There are a plethora of famous things to see and do in Bhubaneshwar. Enjoy the tour:

The Raja Rani Temple Cluster


The early 11th-century Raja Rani Temple stands in splendid isolation amid well-manicured lawns. No one offers prayers here any more. The richly illustrated themes from Shiva and Parvati’s lives suggest it may have been a Shaivite temple. Incidentally, the name of the temple has nothing to with any king or queen; it refers to a type of sandstone locally called rajaraniya. The carvings, wonderfully baroque and indulgently sensuous, are stunning.

Address:Raja Rani Temple, Bhubaneshwar
Entry fee: Indians INR 5, foreigners INR 250
Timings: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm


Photo of Raja Rani Temple (by Amartyabag)

The Mukteswara Temple Cluster

About a 100 yards away from the Raja Rani Temple complex is the Mukteswara Temple cluster, one of the most famous touristy attractions in Bhubaneshwar, that has two important shrines — Parsurameswara and Mukteswara. Said to be built around 650 CE, Parsurameswara Temple is the best preserved and the most attractive of the earliest temples in the region. One of the beautifully latticed windows inside the jagamohana has a charming image of a dancer-musician duo. The lingam inside the shrine is rather intricately carved — a precursor to the more polished successors such as the Lingaraja.


Close by stands the relatively small 10th-century CE Mukteswara Temple, with balanced proportions and masterly stonework. Look out for a meeting of emaciated sadhus, a group of playful monkeys, and illustrations from the Panchatantra on the outer face of latticed windows. But the piece de resistance is the beautiful arched gateway. The torana has exquisite carvings on the massive pillars and the arch, whose ends are shaped like a crocodile’s head. To the right of the gateway lies a small well, called the Marichi Kund. People here believe that bathing in its waters cure women of infertility.

Address: Mukteswara Temple, Bhubaneshwar


Photo of Mukteswara Temple, Bhubaneshwar (by Sujit kumar)

The Lingaraja Cluster

Built in the early 11th century by Yayati Keshari of the Somavamsi dynasty, the imposing 185-foot-tall Lingaraja is considered the quintessence of the Kalinga School of Architecture. The array of temples, with their dark and brooding appearance, inspires a mix of awe and curiosity. The sheer size and scale of Lingaraja defies belief. The lifesize chlorite stone statues of gods, though ravaged by time, testify to the sculptor’s extraordinary skills. Built in the Nagara style, it is hailed by historians as one of the most important temples in town. There are also amazingly graphic illustrations from the Kamasutra, including bestiality, on the outer walls of the Bhoga Mandapa. The Parvati Temple, located in the north-west corner of the complex, is famous for its beautiful and appealing carvings. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the Lingaraja Temple.

Address: Opposite Old Town Police Station, Old Town, Bhubaneshwar


Photo of Lingaraja Temple (by I, G-u-t)

State Museum

Visit the Orissa State Museum on Jaydev Marg for its amazing collection of palm leaf manuscripts. Beautifully painted, their uniqueness lies in the detailed rendering of human forms and scenery. The oldest manuscript here is dated 1690; 80 different folios make the Geet Govinda, a devotional poem written by Jayadeva in the 12th century.

Address: Jaydev Marg, Bhubaneshwar
Entry fee: INR 1
Timings: 10 am-5 pm (Mondays closed)


Photo of Orissa State Museum (by Tinucherian)


Shopping in Bhubaneshwar

Stone carving occupies an important place in Odisha’s heritage. From highly decorative idols to utilitarian stone utensils, these craftsmen seem to be gifted with a unique gene. To get some of their products (look out for cups known as pathuri, said to be ideal for setting curd), head for State Handicrafts Emporium Utkalika in the Market Building, or shop around the temple compound. But the finest and the most popular craft in the region is the silver filigree work called tarakashi. Its art is based on the process of drawing silver through consecutively smaller holes to produce fine strands of wire, which are shaped into different designs. Products include jewellery, tableware and models of temples. Head for shops lining Naya Sadak and Balu Bazaar in neighbouring Cuttack, one of the famous cities in Odisha.

Another must-buy are horn articles, in the form of combs, pen stands, cigar pipes and other decorative items. For the exquisite weave of Orissa saris, try Priyadarshani Odissi Handloom, 11, Western Tower or Kalaniketan, at 62, Kalpana Square. With so much fun attached to shopping, no wonder it is one of the favorite activities for the tourists and locals alike.


Now, you know that there are a lot of famous things to see and do in Bhubaneshwar, so don't miss out exploring them.


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