The complete guide to Bhubaneswar
Historically described as Ekamra Kshetra, Utkala and Kalinga—Odisha was the cradle of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Bhubaneswar became the capital of Odisha (then Orissa) in 1949 after the capital moved from Cuttack. Designed by German architect Otto Königsberger, the new city was named after Tribhubaneswar or ‘Lord of the three worlds’, an aspect of Shiva worshipped as the main deity of Lingaraj temple. With nearly a thousand shrines, Ashokan edicts and inscriptions, the history of India’s Temple City is literally etched in stone. With a direct connectivity to the Bhubaneswar airport, traveling is very convenient.
What to See and Do in Bhubaneswar
There are a number of places to visit in Bhubaneswar.The city’s most important shrine is the Lingaraj temple, which includes within its complex, a cluster of 50 smaller shrines around the main Shiva temple. The nearby Rajarani and Muktesvara temples with their ornate torana (arched entrance), are suffused with erotic art that would make the temples of Khajuraho blush. The twin hills of Khandagiri and Udayagiri, the site of an ancient Jain monastery carved into cave-like chambers in the hillside, have artistic stone carvings dating back to the 2nd century BC. After the Mauryan empire, the area was ruled by the Mahameghavahana dynasty, whose powerful king Kharavela etched the famous Hathigumpha inscription. Though more recently built, the Ram Mandir and ISKCON Temple are also worth a visit. Bhubaneswar to Puri is about 68.5 km and if you have the time, you must visit the famous Jagannath Puri temple.
Bhubaneswar’s most popular attraction is Nandankanan Zoological Park, located on the city’s northern outskirts. India's first zoo to join the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, here one can marvel at white tigers and other magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The State Botanical Garden (Odisha) and Regional Plant Resource Center, are botanical gardens with a large collection of exotic and regional fauna. The Odisha State Museum has archaeological artefacts, weapons, local arts and crafts as well as insights into the state’s history. The SCST Tribal Research and Training Institute Museum has life-size models of various tribal dwellings and stunning dokra (metal casting using the lost wax process) pieces – both ceremonial and functional. The Odisha Art Gallery at Forest Park is good for art buffs. For amusement, drop by at Nicco Park and Ocean World Water Park. Other museums include Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Regional Museum of Natural History, Regional Science Center and State Handicrafts Museum.
Drive 8km south of Bhubaneswar to Dhauligiri or Dhauli for short to see the Japanese Peace Pagoda built in the 1970s and the most complete Ashokan Edicts engraved on rock. Site of the bloody Kalinga War (262-261 BC), the sight of the Daya river turning red from this vantage point made Mauryan Emperor Ashoka shun violence and turn to Buddhism. This is one of the most important tourist places in Bhubaneswar. The rock-cut elephant above the edicts is the earliest Buddhist sculpture in Odisha. Continue via the village of Pipli (famous for its appliqué work) to Puri and visit the beach and the holy Jagannath Puri temple. Along with the Sun Temple of Konark, it forms the Golden Triangle of Odisha. Just a little southwest of Puri is the salt water lake of Chillka, the largest coastal lagoon in India and the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian subcontinent. During the annual Puri Rath Yatra in June¬–July witness grand processions of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra pulled in massive chariots by thousands of devotees.
Where to Eat
Dalma, Sachivalaya MargTraditional Odiya cuisine with excellent mutton kassa, bamboo mutton and dalma (Odiya lentil-vegetable curry), after which it is named.
Bling It On, Hotel MarrionOne of the rare joints in Bhubaneswar to serve excellent Continental, Mexican and Italian! Try their Hungarian goulash, lasagna, chicken chowder, Starry Nachos Chicken and caramel custard.
Zaika, Jayadev ViharA fine-dine restaurant with plush interiors; the highlight is the complimentary crispy roomali roti to munch on while you wait for the order to arrive!
Hare Krishna, Lalchand MarketThe best vegetarian restaurant in town for the last two decades, all the dishes here are made without onion or garlic. Try the dum aloo, stuffed brinjal, navratan korma and pulao, dal fry and dhaniya gobi.
Nakli Dhaba, Mayfair LagoonEasily the pick of the nine eateries in the complex, the speciality restaurant has all the taste but none of the trappings of a Punjabi dhaba—killer black dal, methi corn, chicken dishes, complimentary chhaas and amazing baked gud rasgulla!
Where to Stay
Swosti Premium, Jaydev ViharLocated on Nandan Kanan Road, this is a newer hotel by the company behind the Bhubaneswar landmark Swosti Grand. They also run branches at Chilka and Gopalpur.
Mayfair Lagoon, Jaydev ViharSet amidst pretty gardens and a lagoon, the luxury resort is decorated with garden sculptures, vintage cars, even a beautiful old Beech aircraft! There’s a cluster of restaurants, swimming pool, spa, gym and a jogging track that encircles the 10-acre property.
The Presidency, NayapalliA decent three-star hotel offering free Wi-fi and airport pick up, inclusive of breakfast.
VITS Bhubaneswar, Cuttack-Puri RoadThis is one of best hotels near Bhubaneswar railway station where you can stay at an affordable price. The hotel offers value for money comfort, two dining options and a business centre.
What to Buy in Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar is a great shopping destination with everything from Sambalpuri cotton saris, tussar silks, dokra metal artefacts, patachitra paintings on palm leaf or cloth, appliqué work from Pipli, stone sculpture, shell handicrafts and semi-precious stones for sale. The main shopping hubs are Bapuji Nagar Market, Ashok Nagar Market and Shahid Nagar Market. Ekamra Haat is a wonderful handloom and handicrafts market with food stalls as well. Utkalika the state-run government emporium in the busy Marketing Building is also good for handicrafts, as are Mayuri and Soumya Handicraft near Chausath Yogini. Besides Utkalika, Boyanika, the oldest brand name in Odisha handlooms, also has an outlet at Unit-1 Market. Odisha Handloom & Fabrics is located at Western Tower Market Building in Nayapalli. For a wide range of dokra craft and tribal paintings, drop in at Anwesha Tribal Arts & Crafts at IRC Village, Nayapalli. And if you’re looking for good old retail therapy, try malls like The World, MTG Mart and Mega Shop.
6E & Cheeky
Bhubaneswar is a good place to settle the debate of where the rasgulla was born. Though Bengal lays claim to it, the rasgulla has been an age-old traditional offering to goddess Lakshmi on the last day of the Rath Yatra; only after this the trinity of deities re-enter the temple. The common belief is that the sweet is as old as the temple itself! Have a taste at sweet shops like New Bidya Ganguram, Shree Kunj Mithai and Chhappan Bhog, as you try the other local favourites chhena poda and mishti doi. Gorge on delicious street food from stalls selling dahi bada and bara piaji to an entire Foodie Street outside St. Joseph’s High School near Ram Mandir, where half a dozen food trucks dish out everything from Mexican to Indian fast food.
|Airport Road, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 751020||BBI|