Sightseeing - Bhubaneshwar

Bhubaneswar exhibits some of the finest examples of the famous Orissa temple architecture. Along with the Hindu temples, there are also very significant Buddhist and Jain monuments.

Dhauli: A complex which has Emperor Ashoka's rock edicts, and dates back to the 3rd century BC. It was from here that Ashoka set out for his historic mission of spreading the Buddhist religion and culture. There is also a white Stupa built in collaboration with the Japanese Buddhists on top of a hill. The monument can be seen for miles, towering over the countryside. It is about 8 km from the city on the Puri-Bhubaneswar Road.

Udaygiri and Khandagiri Complex: It was originally a Jain monastery. The rock-cut cave complex dates back to the 2nd century BC. The two granite hills of the complex still have thirty-three existing caves. Besides the 1st century BC rock edict of Emperor Kharavela, the complex also has a hotel, lecture halls and prayer halls which exhibit the best in Orissa architecture. Said to have housed the royal family of Kalinga after the defeat in the famous battle. 'Rani Gumpha' (Queen's Cave) with its beautiful carvings, and the "Hathi Gumpha" (Elephant Cave) are popular with tourists. This complex is about 8 km north of the city.

Parasurameswara Temple: The oldest surviving temple, built in 650 AD., is an excellent example of Orissa's temple architecture and the mastery of the craftsmen of the era. It brings to the fore the two basic characteristics of Orissa's temple - the 'Deul' (tower) and the 'Jagmohana' (porch-like hall). Though small, it has some exquisite carvings and sculpture. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva however there are images of Lord Vishnu, Yama, Surya and seven Mother goddesses.

Mukteshwar Temple: Akin to Parasurameswara, it is set in picturesque surroundings with a tank and minor temples in the compound. Dating back to 950 AD, this temple not only possesses the most exquisitely carved "Torana" (gate) in delicate and intricate detail, but could also be the first model of the style which led to the construction of such monumental temples as the Jagannath Temple at Puri, the Sun Temple at Konark and the Lingraj Temple of Bhubaneswar. It is often referred to as the "gem of Oriya architecture".

Lingraj Temple: Dates back to the 11th century AD, is also a fine exponent of the architecture of this region. It was built by Lalatendu Keshari of Somavamsi dynasty in 617-657 A.D. This complex has around 180 shrines and the spire dominates the city of Bhubaneswar, soaring to a height of 55 meters. This temple, apart from the main temple, also has a Natya Mandira (dance hall) and a Bhoga Mandap (Pavillion for offerings). Though dedicated to Lord Shiva, the complex also reflects the influence of Vaishnavism. There are temples dedicated to Lord Shiva's wife Parvati, son Ganesh and many other deities. The sculptures in the Lingraj complex mirror many aspects of contemporary life. It is one of the best preserved temples. By the time, the Lingaraja temple was built, the Jagannath cult had become widespread, throughout Orissa. This is exemplified by the fact, that the presiding deity, here, is the Svayambhu Linga - half Shiva, half Vishnu, a unique feature of the temple. Almost all the Hindu Gods and Goddesses are represented in this temple, mirroring the inherent element of harmony within the religion.

Raja Rani Temple: Built in the 11th century AD, the origin of the name of this temple is a bit of an enigma. It has nothing to do with a Raja or a Rani. Perhaps the name is taken from the types of stone used in its construction. The two sandstone varieties, one dark brown and the other yellowish, are locally known as Raja and Rani respectively. The main entrance has nine planets depicted through the figures of the King Cobra and his Queen. It is famous for its ornate deul, or compass, decorated with some of the most impressive Oriya temple architecture. The temple is remarkable for the absence of any presiding deity. Set in a picturesque locale, the temple creates a dramatic image against the setting sun.

Vaital Deul : Vaital Deul is the shrine devoted to Chamunda (a tantric avatar of Goddess Kali) or Shakti. Seated on a corpse in a dark, inner sanctum is the deity, a garland of skulls around her neck, flanked by a jackal and an owl. The various niches on the inner wall depict equally startling images as also scenes of tantric rituals. It is the first of the temples to depict erotic sculptures, and is also unique in that, that the outer surface of the vault is plain and the interiors are lavishly embellished.

Orissa State Museum: Gautam Nagar (Puri Road). The collection on display includes sculptures, inscriptions, rare palm leaf manuscripts, arms and coins.

Handicrafts Museum: The museum displays the rich handicrafts of Orissa. The exhibits include pata paintings, horn, toys, silver filigree work, sculpture and brass castings.

Science Museum: Regional Science Center, Secretariat Road, Unit IX. Highlights the advances made in Science and has working models of machines.

Tribal Museum: CRP Square, offers an insight into Orissa's rich tribal culture with a depiction of their lifestyle, housing and ornaments.

Orissa Bhubaneshwar