Odisha is a diverse and culturally rich state located on the eastern coast of India. It boasts a captivating blend of history, heritage, natural beauty, and vibrant traditions that make it a unique and enticing destination for tourists. The state is renowned for its ancient temples, pristine beaches, tribal communities, wildlife sanctuaries, and colourful festivals. Let’s delve into some of the highlights of tourism in Odisha:

Historical and Religious Sites: Odisha is home to some of the most magnificent and architecturally significant temples in India. The Konark Sun Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an awe-inspiring masterpiece of architecture dedicated to the Sun God. The Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar and the Jagannath Temple in Puri are other notable religious landmarks that attract pilgrims and tourists alike.

Natural Beauty: The state’s coastline stretches over 480 kilometres, offering pristine beaches like Puri, Chandipur, and Gopalpur-on-Sea where visitors can unwind, relax, and enjoy water sports. The Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, is a haven for migratory birds and offers boat cruises for birdwatching and exploring its unique ecosystem.

Wildlife and Nature Reserves: Odisha is home to several wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. The Bhitarkanika National Park is known for its estuarine crocodile population and diverse bird species. Simlipal National Park is another biodiverse area famous for its tigers, elephants, and stunning waterfalls.

Cultural Diversity: The state is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, including its traditional dance forms like Odissi, which originated here. The annual Konark Dance Festival showcases classical and folk dances from across the country against the backdrop of the Konark Sun Temple.

Tribal Tourism: Odisha’s tribal communities, each with its unique customs and way of life, offer a fascinating insight into India’s indigenous cultures. Areas like Koraput and Rayagada are popular for tribal tourism, allowing visitors to interact with tribes like the Kondh, Gadaba, and Paroja.

Festivals and Celebrations: Odisha hosts a variety of colourful festivals, with the Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival) in Puri being one of the most famous. During this event, Lord Jagannath, along with his siblings, is taken out in grand processions on elaborately decorated chariots.

Handicrafts and Textiles: The state is known for its exquisite handicrafts, including intricate silver filigree work, Pattachitra paintings, and appliqué textiles. These traditional crafts make for unique souvenirs and gifts.

Cuisine: Odisha’s cuisine is a delectable blend of flavours, with dishes like Dalma (a lentil and vegetable stew) and Chhena Poda (a dessert made from cottage cheese) being popular among locals and visitors.

Destinations of Odisha

Puri  – Puri remains one of the most popular sea beaches in the country.  65 Km from the Capital Bhubaneswar it attracts tourists from all over the country and abroad. The long sandy beaches and the age-old Jagannath temple the small town offers a perfect combination of nature and religion. Puri remains one of the holiest Hindu pilgrim centres in the country. The experience of strolling through the Puri beach is unique.

Konark Sun Temple –  King Narasimhadeva of the great Ganga dynasty built this temple in the middle of the 13th century. It took 12 years to finish this grand temple. It was started in the year 1243 and the work was completed in the year 1255. It remains a visual treat for the tourists. Konark sun temple is a Unesco World Heritage site and an example of the architectural brilliance of the highest level. The Konark Sun Temple is the most eminent example of Odisha’s medieval architecture. The temple is dedicated to the Sun God. It is 35 Km from Puri and usually takes an hour’s drive.

Chilika Lake – Situated on the eastern coast of the country, it is the largest Brackish water lagoon in the Asian continent.  This huge vast lake is the home of a large number of migratory birds. The Chilika Lagoon comprises a few islands. This is a genuine marvel of nature and is famous for its unique and enriched biodiversity. A boat trip is always recommended as that gives you an unforgettable experience. Saatpada which is just 50 km from Puri is one of the boating points in Chilika. People who are interested in spotting dolphins are advised to take a boat ride from Satapada. This is a day trip from Puri.

Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves –  Udaygiri and Khandagiri are two adjutant hills and on those two hills, these beautifully carved caves are located. These caves reflect the significance of the Rock art architecture of Jainism. It is impossible to visit all the caves as there is a total of 33 caves located there. 18 caves are in Udaygiri and 15 caves are in Khandagiri. A few caves are strongly recommended such as the Rani Gumpha which is a double-storied cave in Uday Giri hills along with Ganesha and  Hathi Gumpha. Vyaghra Cave in the Udaygiri lines is also recommended.  As far as Khandagiri is concerned there are some extraordinary caves found and among them, Ananta gumpha, Navamuni Gumpha and Barabhuji caves are strongly advised to visit. Udaygiri and Khandagiri are close to the capital Bhubaneswar and the distance is just 10 km.

Dhauligiri   –  One of the most prominent Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the country. Just 8-9 km from the capital city it is situated on the top of Dhauli hills and beside the daya river. It is considered the place where the famous Kalinga War took place. The great king Ashoka won that battle but the blood bath which resulted from the war made him feel extremely guilty and remorseful and the change of his heart was the subsequent incident which changed the direction of history in this part of the world. One can locate the edicts of Ashoka embossed on several rocks here in Dhauli. This is a place of immense historical significance. There is a peace pagoda or shanty stupa constructed at the top of the hills.

Nandankanan Zoological Park –  This zoo and botanical garden justify its name. One of the major attractions in Odisa is the homeland of a white-coloured tiger which attracts tourists from every corner of the country. It has also got the distinction of successfully breeding the endangered gharials. some unique animals and birds such as sloth bears and white-backed vultures are spotted here.
The distance from Puri is approximately 85 km.
Visiting hours – 7.30m -5.30pm ( April – Sep) 8 am – 5 pm ( October to March)

Chandipur Beach –  The Chandipur beach is special because it observes a retreat of the sea every day by several kilometres.  the beach is merely 16 km from the Balasore Railway Station on the Howrah-Madras line of South Eastern Railways. This beach offers a boundless beauty.

Gopalpur on Sea – The lonely paradise in the state of Odisha. This is a remarkably beautiful beach. This pristine beach is just 20 km from the Bharatpur station. We must mention that it is one of the cleanest beaches in the state and a place for serenity and tranquillity.