The capital city of Orissa, Bhubaneswar literally means The Abode of the Lord of the World. Bhubaneswar is also popularly known as the "Temple City of India", it is the seat of 'TriBhubaneswar’ or 'Lord Lingaraj', the Lord of the Three Worlds – the God Shiva. So come to the temple city of Bhubaneswar, where at every corner you turn you find another temple. Most of the temples are located in the old town and are reminiscent of the architecture during the Kalinga period. With this religious ambience, you fall asleep and wake up to the ringing of temple bells and chanting of shlokas!
Old Bhubaneswar’s skyline has temple spires extending tall fingers into the clouds with saffron pennants announcing the all-encompassing presence of Hinduism. The New Bhubaneswar, with its modern buildings and extensive infrastructure perfectly blends into the religious ambiance.
How to Reach Bhubaneswar?
By Air : The city has the only airport in the state. It caters to domestic flights alone, and regular commercial flights from Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad.From the airport situated southwest of the city, there is no regular bus service to the city centre. The most convenient and comfortable thing to do is rent a car, in fact have it meet you on arrival at the airport. There are taxis and auto rickshaws that will take you to your destination in town.
By Rail : Bhubaneswar is one of the two railheads in the state that are connected by trains to all the other metro cities of India like Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.
By Road : The bus station at Bhubaneswar resembles the Mad Hatter's party with interstate and intra state buses arriving and departing and passengers travelling laden with everything from chickens to goats. The state run roadways buses leave a lot to be desired but some of the private ones are more tolerable, faster, less crowded and a little bit more comfortable. Scheduled buses to Calcutta and to Vishakapatnam in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh arrive at regular intervals. Driving oneself can be fraught with adventure, and renting a car has the advantage of getting a chauffeur who wears the hat of a companion and guide as well!
Best Time to Visit Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar is a year round destination, but the best time to visitwould be from October to March when the rains are over and the temperature is just right. One can go to Bhubaneswar in February for Shiva Ratri, in January to check out the fair - Khandagiri Mela, in April for Ashokastami, Ramanavami and Jhamuyatra and in November to witness Anla Navami. A word of caution about travel in summer – it is, extremely humid and hence an unnerving time for travellers not used to the heat and humidity.
Things to do in Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneshwar is a temple town so the things to do here would normally be associated around the many temples in the town. Amongst them do not miss visiting the Lingaraj and Mukteshwara temples. If you like animals, do drive a little out of town to the Nandankanan Zoo which is the best zoo in India!
Shop for the locally made Ikat and Sambalpuri saris of Orissa and buy some filigree carving to take home with you.
Places Near Bhubaneswar
There are quite a few interesting places near Bhubaneshwar that you can visit. Khandagiri & Udayagiri Caves:
The twin hills of Khandagiri & Udayagiri, situated 8 km from Bhubaneswar are abundant with caves. Thirty-three rock caves were cut into the hill around 2nd century B.C. The caves have names like Hathi Gumpha (Elephant Caves), Parrot Caves and Ananta Gumpha (Snake Caves). The two-storied Rani Gumpha or Queen's caves are especially important for their art and architecture. The largest caves have ornate carvings, painstakingly and delicately done, displaying the high standards of artistic achievements in eastern India. Every year, this place plays host to a sadhus (holy men) convention in late January. Hundreds of travelling holy men, magnificent in their saffron robes and dreadlocks gather on the hillside to intone verses from the Gita – Hinduism’s holy book.
Dhauli is 8 km from Bhubaneswar, standing out from amidst the surrounding paddy fields. Dhauli is one of the Emperor Ashoka’s 3rd century’s Rock Edicts disseminating Lord Buddha’s teachings. It has a magnificent elephant carved on the top, said to be the earliest rock cut sculpture in India. The edict and area around it evokes images of the historic 'Kalinga War' that was fought here. The serene, pure white Shanti Stupa (‘Peace Pagoda’) was built on the neighbouring hill in 1970 to commemorate Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism and his adoption of the path of peace and righteousness. The Dhabaleshwara Mandir is a newly renovated and restored Shiva temple that lies close to the Shanti Stupa.
Hirapur situated some 15 km away from Bhubaneswar is the quaint little town famous for the Hypaethral Temple of sixty four Yoginis built in the 11th century. There are only four temples like this in India, two of which are in Orissa.
Atri is 42 km from Bhubaneswar. A green town famed for its hot sulphur spring that is said to have curative powers, especially for arthritis and skin diseases.
Nandankanan is the best zoo in India and definitely should be on your list of places to see. Located 25 km north of Bhubaneswar,it is charmingly carved out of the Chandaka Forest; and is a park where animals live in their natural habitat. This zoo is home to the rare white Bengal Tigers. The zoo population includes lions, clouded leopards, black panthers, European brown bears, Himalayan black bears, gharials (crocodiles), pelicans, Indian pythons, and king cobras along with the famous White Tiger.
The easiest way to get to the zoo is by the Orissa Tourism Development Corporation Tour, though one can also catch one of the state transport buses that leave every hour from the bus stand in Bhubaneswar. If not, you can always take a 90-minute trip by bicycle, a healthy and budget friendly option.
The striking Botanical Garden on the other side of the central lake conserves an assortment of native flora. Fascinating attractions here include a rare albino crocodile and the world's only white tigers successfully bred in captivity. After animal watching, take a trip across the lake in a row boat, enjoy the toy train ride, or experience the popular lion safari by minibus around a vast fifty-acre reserve.
Hotels in Bhubaneswar – Choice is Yours
There are numerous hotels in Bhubaneswar ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.