Bhubaneshwar at one time, the Bindu Sagar tank was bordered by over 7000 temples. Of these, 500 still survive, all built in the extravagant Oriya style. It is of these temples, that the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore had once said – ‘At all places where the eye rests, and also at places where the eye does not rest, the busy chisel of the artist has worked incessantly. The abode of god has been enveloped by a variety of figures depicting the good and the evil, the great as well as the insignificant, the daily occurences of human life….’
Festivals in Bhubaneshwar
The end of January is the time when the Tribal Fair comes around. February to March, Shivaratri is held at the Lingaraj Temple, Hakateswar Temple Atri and throughout Orissa. Magha Saptami is held at Khandagiri outside Bhubaneshwar.
At Ashokashtami, during April/May, the idol of Lord Lingaraja is taken out in procession, part of a chariot festival. Panashankanti (Fire-walking) takes place in various areas on the first day of Baisakh. In June/July, the impressive Rath Yatra takes place at Puri, Baripada and other parts of the state. Kali Puja, in October/November, the city is lit with lamps. Bali Yatra in October/November, a fair is held on the banks of the Mahanadi river in Cuttack.
How to reach Bhubaneshwar
On the National Highway linking Calcutta (480 km) and Madras (1225 km). Air links to Delhi, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Nagpur. Rail links to Calcutta, Madras, Delhi (1745 km), Bombay(1691 km).
one of the four holiest places in India, Puri is washed by the sea, and embraced by causarina – fringed beaches. It is said that one obtains ‘moksha’ from the cycle of birth and rebirth, if one stays here for three days and nights.
Puri is the hallowed seat of Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), Subhadra and Balabhadra. One of the four holy dhams of Hinduism, Puri is possibly one of the very few religious sites which combines the outdoor pleasures of sea and divine beaches with the religious sentiments of ‘darshan’.
A place, known by many names over the centuries – Nilgiri, Niladri, Nilachal, Purushottam, Sankhakshetra, Srikshetra, Jagannath Dham, Jagannath Puri – Puri is dominated by two great forces, one created by God, and the other by man.
How to Reach Puri
Road links to Bhubaneswar (62 km). Nearest airport is Bhubaneswar. There are also rail links to Calcutta, Madras, and Delhi.
Konark legends say that Samba, the son of Lord Krishna, was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father’s curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built this temple.
The Sun Temple: Built by Raja Narsimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty, in the 13th century AD, the temple is a pageant of human grandeur, in its perception, and in the execution of even the finest details. It resembles a colossal chariot, with 24 wheels, pulled by seven straining horses, and has a three-tiered pyramidal roof topped off by a fine spire. The Sun – God’s chariot, also represents the seven days of the week, and the 24 hours of the day, in its concept. The temple is a brilliant chronicle in stone, with impressive sculptures. Every aspect of life is represented here, and the erotic imagery, depicts the sublimation of human love manifested in countless forms. Scenes from court, civic life and war are also done with great precision.
Unlike the other temples of the Bhubaneswar-Konark-Puri region, the Konark temple had two smaller outer halls, completely separate from the main structure. The assembly-hall and the tower were built on an imposing platform, which were carved into meticulously crafted twelve pairs of decorated wheels, each 10 feet in diameter. The entrance is reached by a broad flight of steps, flanked on either side by prancing horses, the whole representing the chariot, in which the Sun-God rides across the heavens. The court of the temple, was decorated with large free-standing sculptures of great strength and beauty. Now protected under the World Heritage List, the temple’s interior was filled – up in 1903 A.D., by the then British Lt. Governor of Bengal, to save it from deterioration.
Festivals in Konark: The Chandrabhaga Mela or Magha Saptami mela in the month of February, is a grand religious festival. Thousands of pilgrims converge on the pool, on this day to take a holy dip in its curative waters, and then shuffle off to the beach where, in accordance with an age-old custom mentioned in the puranas, they watch the sun rise over the sea. The event is followed by the puja of the Navagraha.
Those interested in attending the Konark Dance Festival, held in the Open air Auditorium north of the Sun Temple, should visit during the first week of December.