At an altitude of 2,150 ft, Kapilash is called the Kailash of Odisha. The getaway is located atop an undulating lush green hillock close to the headquarters of Dhenkanal district, also called Dhenkanal. The region was once part of the ancient capital of Keshari kingdom and known as Chowduar.
The gateway to Kapilash is Dhenkanal town, 26 km away. Pick up your provisions here before heading up. You will be able to find basic ration even at Kapilash.
Surrounded on all sides by the Eastern Ghats, Kapilash is quite picturesque. There is an abundance of sal, segun, kendu, jarul and mohua apart from many other plants. The fauna consists mainly of monkeys, jungle cats, peacocks and squirrels. The dense forests and the presence of wild animals draws many nature-lovers to this area.
The people of the region believe that Kapilash is the abode of Lord Chandrasekhar or Shiva. There is a popular temple atop the hill. This is surrounded by a cluster of other shrines and a medieval fort. Nearly 2,000 steps lead to the main temple. There is also a serpentine motorable road.
The temples of Narayana and Viswanath on the hilltop are also popular places of pilgrimage. Some distance away is a ridge on which stands the relics of a ruined fort and a few ancient caves.
The deer park was the solitary attraction of the foothills till a science park was built adjacent to it. For children, the two parks remain the top draw of Kapilash.
The tourism department of the Odisha government provides the best accommodation option. Not only is its Panthashala quite comfortable, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare is available at reasonable rates.
A stay at the tourism department bungalow will help you recharge your batteries. The surroundings are serene and free of pollution. The lush green vista and oxygen-rich air are guaranteed to provide a welcome diversion from city life.
Having said that, Kapilash is not really a place for those looking for adventure. Lie back and laze around for as long as you can. A leisurely walk is the most strenuous activity you can possibly undertake here.
There is a trail to explore, though. It leads through the jungle around the bungalow to a spring. Its water is believed to be a cure for many a disease.
Deogaon, 5 km way, is worth a visit, even if only in search of sustenance. Many tourists at Kapilash go there to buy chicken!
If you do not want to take all that trouble for a meaty mouthful, place your order in advance with the manager of Panthashala and he will take care of the rest.
Saptasajya is another charming spot, 11 km from Dhenkanal. Visit the temples of Saptarshi and Raghunath there. Legend has it that the Pandavas had taken shelter here while in hiding.
You can also go on an excursion to Joranda, now growing in popularity among tourists. Followers of the Mahima cult visit Joranda as pilgrimage. It is also famous for handicrafts.
The hills around Kapilash form the rough boundary of the Cuttack and Dhenkanal districts. Of the numerous peaks, the loftiest is Kapilash.
The abode of Shiva comes alive during the most important festival of the region, Shivratri. Thousands of pilgrims gather here from various parts of the state. Some come from as far off as Cuttack. Devotees carry the water of the Mahanadi in earthen vessels on their shoulders. They trek barefoot to the hilltop before pouring the water on the Shivling. The fair held to celebrate the occasion continues for three days.