5 Diverse Cultural and Heritage Experiences You Can Only Have in Odisha

You might have considered Odisha simply for its fabulous beaches or its delicious cuisine, both of which are quite valid reasons to visit the state, but one thing most tourists overlook is the rich culture and heritage that it offers. ‘Odisha has to offer.

It is known for the Jagannath temple in Puri, one of India’s four dhams and the devotion to the deity is apparent through its unique arts and crafts, but there is more to it than the most famous temple in India. ‘Odisha to visit on your trip to the state. Here are five incredibly diverse cultural and heritage sites that you can visit on your next visit to Odisha.

Fascinating temples –

Of course, Jagannath Temple in Puri is a must visit for anyone coming to Odisha. But don’t forget about the vast majority of other famous temples in the state, either. The capital Bhubaneswar itself has amazing and intricately carved temples such as Lingaraj Temple, Mukteswar Temple and Rajarani Temple. Western Odisha is also known for its temples, with the Samaleswari Temple in Sambalpur being one of the main attractions for locals and visitors who wish to pay homage to the reigning deity of the region. The recently launched sound and light show at the temple makes it a must-see destination. Another fascinating temple is the leaning temple of Huma dedicated to Lord Shiva in the region which is one of only two leaning temples in the world and a must visit in Odisha.

Amazing Monuments –

Coming to Odisha and not seeing the famous Konark Sun Temple is a bit like going to Rome and not seeing the Colosseum. This 13and Century wonder of Kalinga architecture has to be seen to be believed. From chariot wheels to scenes of everyday life from 800+ years ago, it’s hard to believe they were carved in stone without modern equipment so long ago. You can spend hours in the peaceful surroundings of this UNESCO World Heritage Site without getting tired of its beauty.

Unique arts and crafts –

One of the main draws of the coastal state is Odisha’s unique handicrafts and handcraft. Whether it is the art form of Pattachitra practiced and prominently displayed at Raghurajpur Heritage Crafts Village near Puri or Sambalpuri ikat sarees with simple designs and stories about the life of Lord Jagannath or even the tribal art in hill stations like Koraput and Daringbadi, the scale and craftsmanship dedication by the locals to their art, it is worth visiting Odisha to simply pick up some great pieces to adorn your home and wardrobe with unique arts and crafts.

Tranquil Buddhist Heritage

Located about 100 kilometers from Bhubaneswar in the Jajpur district, visiting the diamond triangle of Buddhist sites called Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udaygiri is a pleasant and offbeat detour from the usual tourist attractions. Buddhism flourished in Odisha from the 6and century BC to 15and century BCE and nowhere is the grandeur of the state’s Buddhist heritage more visible than in these three places. Lalitgiri is the oldest excavated monastery in the region which was built in the 1st century BCE and contains the main stupa, prayer halls with the museum displaying many Buddhist artifacts. Udaygiri, on the other hand, is the largest and most picturesque of the three sites with its panoramic views from the top of the hill, its lion statue and other superb sculptures. Ratnagiri, on the other hand, is the best excavated site and its intricately carved doorway will certainly make you stop and wonder before heading inside to see the Buddha in the Bhumisparsha mudra. One can also visit the famous Dhauligiri, a peace stupa built to commemorate Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism after the Kalinga War – one of the bloodiest battles in Indian history which took place on the banks of the Daya River which flows beside the Stupa. One of Ashokan’s 14 major rock decrees is found here.

Intricate Jain Monuments –

The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves, located a few minutes outside of Bhubaneswar, contain treasures of Jain heritage. Believed to have been made for Jain monks in the 1st century BC by King Kharavela, visiting some of these caves such as Rani Gumpha of Udayagiri and Jaya Vijaya Gumpha which features a group of people praying to a Bodhi tree are some of the most surreal cave architectures you are likely to see . Khandagiri’s Navamuni Gumpha is known for the carvings of the nine Jain tirthankars, while Trusula Gumpha features more Jain relief works that make spending hours at these sites a breeze. Not to mention the Digambara Jain temple which stands on top of Khandagiri hill and is a popular place of worship for Jains.

This is a joint publication.

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