Joanne Coughlan

20 May 2019

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Odisha India – with it’s complex history, enticing tribal culture and natural beauty

 Over 40 million people live in Odisha (pronounced Orisha) – one of India’s 29 states.  Sitting in the northeast on the Bay of Bengal, it is generally regarded as India’s poorest state, but don’t let this tag put you off visiting. It’s a hidden gem, not on westerner’s travel list. However, it should be because it has wonderful cultural sites, fabulous food, very friendly people and great hotels! There are numerous must-see places of interest in this state and on a recent India small group tour, I was blown away by three of the best…
The Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Hindu Temple about an hour’s drive from Puri, a lovely coastal town on the Bay of Bengal. The temple is attributed to King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. Dedicated to the Hindu god Surya, the temple complex is about 30 metres high and was designed like a chariot.  A closer look at the magnificent stonework reveals horses and wheels all carved from stone. This beautiful building is a photographer’s dream, especially in the morning or afternoon when the sun hits it.  
Jagganath Mandur is also a masterpiece of Hindu architecture and one of the most important pilgrim sights in India for the Hindu faith. You reach the temple after a fascinating walk through the town of Puri itself, which, is highly entertaining and could be considered “classic” India. Look out for cows, tuk-tuks, bicycles, rickshaws and the occasional car. One of the best views of the temple and the streets below is from the balcony of the old colonial style library across the road.  
Bhubaneswar is the capital city of Odisha and has many temples, markets and other places of interest. Top of the list is the Lingaraja Temple – a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and built during the 11th century. It has about 50 shrines in the same complex so allow ample time to stroll.  
On Blue Dot Travel’s small group Nagaland and North East India, we spend 5 days in the state of Odisha seeing the best on offer. Contact us to register your interest for future tours. 
Words and photos by Brett Goulston