Pilgrimage Tourism in India - Odisha Destinations

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali
 
ODISHA DESTINATIONS FOR PILGRIMAGE
I was in Odisha for a weeklong trip and ofcourse, as usual it was not enough! I saw some of Odisha and there's so much more left for me to see. Odisha is so important historically that the 3 major religions of Indian origin - Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism has had a stronghold here at various point in history and today, there are historic monuments in Odisha pertaining to all 3 religions and I managed to see some of those! Here's my 1 week itinerary of Odisha destinations near Bhubaneswar, esp., for religious tourism.
 
Puri Jagannath Temple as well as Bhubaneshwar Lingaraja Temple are very well known, and I did visit them too, I found them way too crowded for me to 'experience' the place. These 2 would be the top places to visit in Orissa in any list of pilgrimage tourism in India, in Odisha. Puri is also known for its Sand sculptures event that happens annually which is promoted well by Orissa Tourism.
But I did go on a huge network of smaller temples scattered all over Bhubaneshwar and around. My first stop was the very tiny Taleswara temple, on my way to Ananta Vasudev Temple. What's unbelievable is that these were built in 6th-8th C CE, making them 1400yrs old!!!! There are around 7-8 temples just around this area at a very short walking distance from each other including Uttareswara Deul, twin temples of Sari deul & Sukasari deul, Chitrakarini Deul, Daiteswara Deul, Vaital Deul and Parameswara Deul. 2 things that need special mention are the sculptural intricacy (the detailing on stone is so minute) and the 'bhoga' - food offering to God at Ananta Vasudev (its so aromatic & so yummy and you can see it getting prepared!)!!! Infact one of the window jaali of Parameswara Temple is made of human figures! I've never seen one like this!
 
Odisha Bhubaneswar Temples - Mukteswara Temple
 
A bit away from the centre, at Hirapur, is the Chausat Yogini temple which is quite intriguing and unusual compared to the rest! Its a circular temple with the 64 yoginis sculpted along the perimeter. This is a bit more of a tantric temple, when compared to the other main stream temples in the city. Then I was back in the city for Brahmeswara Temple and finally by end of Day 2, as the sun was setting, my last stop was the twin temples of Muktesvara and Siddhesvara
Mukteswara temple is considered the 'Gem of Orissan Architecture'. This was built in 970 CE and the most beautiful aspect is the gorgeous arch called Torana. My 3rd day began with Raja Rani temple and by  lunch, I was also done with Bhaskareswara Temple. So that's 2.5 days for all the temples of Bhubaneshwar. 
 
UNESCO Sites in India - Konark Sun Temple

UNESCO Sites in India - Konark Sun Temple
 
NATURE WORSHIP - SUN TEMPLE IN ODISHA
Ofcourse Nature Worship, my 2nd half of 3rd day at the world famous Konark Sun Temple is dedicated to Lord Surya or the Sun God! This is a UNESCO Site and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Odisha. 
Like the typical Orissan architecture this too originally had the Nata mandira, Jagmohana and the towering Deula! The ruins of the towering Deula (perhaps the tallest when it stood) was existent in early 19th C CE, but nothing is there now! To protect the Jagmohana from crumbling, it was closed and filled with sand. Today it is possible to view it all and ideally I'd suggest an entire day here. You'd need half a day to just admire the sculptural marvel here! 
 
Ratnagiri Buddhist Caves - Odisha

Udayagiri Buddhist Caves - Odisha
 
BUDDHISM 
IN ODISHA - PILGRIMAGE TOURISM IN INDIA
My 4th day was dedicated to Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Dhauli - the major Buddhists Sites of Odisha. The most important place is ofcourse Dhauli where expansive inscription of King Ashoka after the Kalinga War (near Bhubaneswar). 3 other sites are close to each other - Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri, Udayagiri. These were Buddhist monasteries from 2nd C CE onwards. One of it is atop a tiny hillock and the view is splendid indeed! There's also a small on-site museum. 
 
Udayagiri Jain Caves - Odisha

Udayagiri Jain Caves - Odisha
 
JAINISM
 IN ODISHA - PILGRIMAGE TOURISM IN INDIA 
My 5th day was to Jainism in Odisha. There are 2 major sites - Udayagiri & Khandagiri, located opposite to each other. No, this Udayagiri is different from the Buddhist Udayagiri. These are rock-cut, excavated temples built in 1st C BCE – 1st C CE. Udayagiri has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves. This is a Odisha tourist place for the locals and Some caves have inscriptions, some have gorgeous miniature carvings, some are under worship, some are slightly ruined, some are in 2-tiers, but all of it are fantabulous!

Days 1 to 3: Bhubaneswar Temples
Day 3: Konark Sun Temple
Day 4: Buddhist Sites in Odisha
Day 5: Jain Sites in Odisha
 
5 days itinerary in Odisha religious tourism, pilgrimage in Odisha

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

15 comments:

  1. This post of yours took me back few years when the visit was purely for tourist reasons although on work I have visited Bhubaneswar numerous times. Puri alway has it's charm as far as the beach is concerned. Have also been to Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Dhauli and loved them. However I have missed out the temples - Uttareswara Deul, twin temples Sari deul & Sukasari deul, Chitrakarini Deul, Daiteswara Deul, Vaital Deul and Parameswara Deul temples and would love to have a look next time. The carvings in all Orissa temples seem to be masterpieces in themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can totally understand that a week is not enough for Odisha. But you covered quite a lot of places in this time. I am so glad that you visited the Buddhist sites at Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Lalitgiri. Those places are some of the hidden gems of not only Odisha, but also of India. I also love the Chausath Yogini Temple in Hirapur. Loved reading your article on Odisha.It reminded me of our visit to Odisha. Bhubaneshwar does have a few ancient temples scattered around. Did you have the chance to visit Shishupalgarh?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love India when it comes to religion as it's usually so different from others - it's a way of life. What caught my attention here is Jainism, a term I never heard before! What are the basic beliefs of Jainism? Who is their God? What kind of religion is it? Sorry for bombarding you with a lot of questions now I am so curious and I want to know more! Thanks for sharing this post, Bhushavali! Xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am always amazed when I see the temples in India. The carvings are always so intricate. And diverse. You certainly saw a wide variety over the week you spent in Odisha. So great that they have recovered some of the ruins from the sand. And preserved the ones in caves.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There looks so much to do! I love seeing the temples of India. They are so beautifully built with amazing carving! I would love to visit one day. Looks like you enjoyed your stay and you managed to fit a lot into your time here!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love Indian temples and their beautiful architecture. The intricate details are truly amazing. I can't wait to return to this amazing country, it's an ever ending exploration :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm not surprised to read that a week is not enough for Odisha. It looks indeed like a place where I could stay much longer, exploring all those beautiful temples and the major Buddhist sites. Those rock-cut excavated temples built in 1st century BC look fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Odisha is still on my bucket list. I can't believe that I haven't planned yet. Your post is a reminder for me as I need to plan after lockdown. I am so fascinated by the culture of this state. Specially the tribal one. Also, Udayagiri & Khandagiri---wah what a great rock-cut temples and cave. Thank you for this post. Absolutely loved reading about the Hinduism and Jainism in a different way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a beautiful and special place. It is so interesting that the three religions come together and combine to form one complex. Each one looks so pretty with the intricate stone carvings. It's great that you can go to one place and see so many different things and learn about all three religions and their way of worship.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I haven't visited Odissa yet.The Konark Sun temple is high on my list,I have visited sun temple Modhera in Gujarat. Odissa has rich culture and kind tribal people.I am glad you visited chausath yogini temple too, its architecture is so beautiful.Loved reading facts about jainism and hinduism.Raghurajpur near Puri is famous for its Pattachitra art. You visited it or not??

    ReplyDelete
  11. By reading your blog I could literally experience odisha . I will definitely visit the location for more profound experience. I literally loved the part where you explain about hinduism.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is a truly eye opening account of the cultural heritage of odisha. Many people including me, have a limited vision of odisha as a tourist destination limited to a few beaches and the konark temple. I have only heard of Rajarani temple but havent had a chance to visit it. Thank you for this eye opening post.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is a truly eye opening account of the cultural heritage of odisha. Many people including me, have a limited vision of odisha as a tourist destination limited to a few beaches and the konark temple. I have only heard of Rajarani temple but havent had a chance to visit it. Thank you for this eye opening post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. We haven’t thought about visiting Orrisa till day and now after reading your post I think we should. 6-7th century Temples around Bhuvaneshwar are just wow. They are actually quite historic and intricate too. I love that figurine. It is beautiful. Konark temple is a gem and now we would love to add the mentioned Bhuddist sites and monasteries too our list too.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've never heard of this place. All these sculptures and details look simply amazing. I would like to take some photos there because I am a total architectural freak. :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting...! Why not leave a comment.? And tell your friends..!!!
By commenting you accept to our GDPR Policy.