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Bhubaneswar


Bhubaneswar, popularly known as the ‘Temple City of India’, is the capital of the Indian State of Odisha, formerly Orissa. The city is an historical pilgrimage centre and comprises of over 500 temples around which the religious life of the city revolves. The city derives its name from Tribhubaneswar, which literally means the Lord (Eeswar) of the Three World (Tribhuban), which refers to Shiva and has a history of over 3000 years comprising of ancient city which evolved over a period of thousand years while the modern city emerged in 1948.

Bhubaneswar is part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ with Puri and Konark, making it the most visited destinations in East India and is admired for housing magnificent sculpture and majestic architectural heritage.

The city first appears as the ancient capital of Kalinga Empire and has been referred during the Kalinga War near Dhauli, in 3rd century BC (now in south of the city). Later, archeological remains on the outskirts of the city have revealed that the fortified city of Sisupalgarh, 5 km northeast of Dhauli and 2.5 km southeast of Bhubaneswar, had a well developed civil and military architecture, all through the beginning of the 3rd century BC to the middle of the 4th century AD. The settlements around Bhubaneswar in the first two centuries endorses of Jain and Buddhist shrines and also give a good account of Hathigumpha inscriptions at the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves by Kharavela. Besides, the remains of the proclamation issued by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka carved in rock, dating from between 272–236 BC, were found in the southwest of the modern city. These famous archaeological and historical sites, in an around the city, especially in regions of Dhauli, Khandagairi and Udayagiri, testify the importance of the region during the 7th to 11th centuries CE, when the Kalinga kings ruled Odisha and beyond.

City’s history of Temples built throughout the ancient and medieval period, which reached the zenith of its glory between 7th and 12th centuries, is very significant. Thousands of sandstone temples erected in and around the city earned it the title of ‘The city of Temples’. Most of the temples built in Bhubaneswar are of Lord Shiva, built from 8th to 12 centuries. There are only two temples of Lord Vishnu in the city, namely – The Ananta Vasudeva Temple and Bindusagar Tank. Some of the famous temples include, Lingaraj Temple, Muktesvara Temple, Rajarani Temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple. Apart from the ancient temples, other important temples were built in recent times include Ram Mandir and ISKCON. The grand pattern used skilfully made these temples unique. However, in the 15th century, these temples were razed and raided by Mughals.

Odissi, the oldest of the eight surviving classical dance forms of India can be traced from archaeological evidence from the temples in Bhubaneswar.

Eventually, Odisha became a separate province in British India with Cuttack as its capital and post Independence of India in 1947, the capital of Odisha was shifted to Bhubaneshwar, which was built as a modern city having wide roads, gardens and parks. The city was designed by German architect Otto Königsberger and was formally inaugurated on 13th April 1948 and has grown rapidly over years to become a happening place with top class infrastructure housing modern administrative buildings, star category hotels, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls clubbed with commercial and business activity centres thereby providing quality lifestyle.

In the month of March/April, on the day of Ashokashtami, thousands of devotees participate in pulling the temple car that carries the Lingarajas and other deities taken in a procession, known as Rukuna Rath, or the Rath Yatra (Temple Car Festival), from Lingaraja Temple to the Mausima Temple, where the deities remain for four days. This procession is the most important and similar festival in Odisha and Bhubaneswar to commemorate Jagannath, who is said to have been the incarnation of India’s revered deities, Vishnu and Krishna.

Other festivals celebrated here include Shivaratri,Diwali, Ganesh Puja, Nuakhai and Saraswati Puja. The famous Durga Puja, held in September-October, is also celebrated glamourously, very much like Eid and Christmas that is celebrated by religious minorities in the city. As a part of the Ekamra Festival, many cultural sub-festivals takes place in January in Bhubaneswar which includes, Kalinga Mahotsav (for traditional martial arts), Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav (for classical dance forms), Rajarani Music Festival (for classical music) and Mukteswar Dance Festival (for Odishi dance).

In the month of January, every year, a fair, called as Adivasi Mela, held to display art, artefacts, tradition, culture, and music of the tribal inhabitants of Odisha and in the month of December, the famous Toshali National Crafts Mela, is held to showcase handicrafts from all over India, and from foreign countries as well.

Bhubaneswar is the home of Classical Odissi dance, handicrafts, sand artistry and sculpturing as well as theatre and music. Odissi dance is generally accompanied by Odissi music. Srjan, the Odissi dance academy founded by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the legendary Odissi dancer is located here. The Rabindra Mandap in central Bhubaneswar plays host to cultural engagements, theatre and private functions.

The city is also famous for archaeological artifacts, weapons, local arts and crafts as well as insights into Odisha’s natural and indigenous history mostly offered by the Odisha State Museum. The authentic tribal dwellings created by tribal craftsmen can also be located at the Tribal Research Institute Museum and also at the Ekamra Haat, which is a handloom and handcrafts market. The Nandankanan Zoological Park happens to be the India’s first Zoo to join World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and The State Botanical Garden (Odisha) and Regional Plant Resource Center, popularly known as Ekamra Kanan, a park and botanical garden, has a large collection of exotic and regional fauna.