|City of Temples is situated on the main railway line that connects Howrah in the north with Chennai in the south. Geographically it is placed at 20 The city is well connected by air as well as land routes with other parts of the country. This place is a bit hot in summer with the mercury occasionally rising to 42 celcius, sweltering and humid during the monsoon as the onrush of the south-east monsoon wind brings down the gushing rains and is relatively dry in winter, rarely the mercury plunging below 11 celcius. The Bay of Bengal, barely 100 kms away as the crow flies, exercises a moderating influence over the climate and keeps it temperate. Of course, the seasons have their own charm and the distinctive appeal and Bhubaneswar can be visited at anytime of the year. The period between mid-September and mid-March is considered as the tourist season when the sun is bright and warm, the sky is blue, the air is cool and the weather is generally pleasant. To the visitor, Bhubaneswar is a city of contrasts, co-existence and continuity. There is a happy encounter of past and present in this temple town which has a history of about 2500 years. All religions and sects flourished here.
There is the famous Lingaraj Temple which has been a centre of Shiva-worship. Buddhism and Jainism also received royal patronage and general acceptance. Emperor Ashoka won a bloody war in 261 B.C. but lost his victory in remorse and repentance and thus he embraced Buddhism. This is also the landof the great Odishan emperor Kharavela whose exploits and achievements have been recorded in the rock-cut inscriptions in the caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri. The grace and majesty of Odishan art can be seen in the great temples of Lingaraj, Rajarani and Mukteswar.
In the modern part of the city which is only about forty years old, one finds the temples of our time, the major academic and research establishments such as Utkal University, the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, the Utkal University of Culture, Regional Research Laboratory, the Institute of Physics, the Indian Council of Medical Research, and so on. Life is quicker here compared to what it is in the ancient section. The city traffic cannot be called heavy even during the peak hours and parts of the city wear a deserted look for the better part of the day. The city is generally safe for travel at all hours. But as a precaution one need not venture out at odd hours at night. One invariably returns from Bhubaneswar with pleasant memories and a rich haul of memorabilia consisting of exquisite artefacts or beautifully designed hand-woven silk or cotton material or plenty of photographs of temples, caves, landscape and so on, and above all, with a fond desire to come back someday to the land of history and culture, into the folds of affection of the place and the people.
The major places of interest are listed in alphabetical order. Bhubaneswar has two distinct zones : one belonging to the glorious past that includes the majestic temples, the ruins of ancient shrines and cities, the caves and the historically significant rock-cut inscriptions and royal edicts, and the other belonging to our times with all the signs and symptoms of a modern city, such as the massive complex of the Odisha Secretariat, the nerve centre of state administration, tall buildings that are the veritable beehives of commercial activities, beautiful shopping areas, lovely parks and posh housing localities, the Universities and many other institutions of learning and research, luxurious hotels and restaurants offering comfort and food that would compare favourably with the best anywhere, and so on. This modern city is also the capital of the State.There is a sense of continuity as one finds the spire of the Lingaraj temple looking over the modern highrise steel and concrete structures, office complexes and hotels. The city is a living phenomenon expanding and growing with the passing of every day.
The vistor to this temple town can reach Bhubaneswar by air or bus or train. Once in the town he may choose his own mode of travel either by city buses or hired cars and autorickshaws. But to absorb the ambience of the place and have a leisurely pace to his visits, he may prefer the cycle-rickshaw to other modes of fast transport.Figures against each entry indicate the approximate distance between the proposed place of visit and the railway station that is at the centre of the city and the gateway of entry to the majority of visitors to Bhubaneswar Ananta - Vasudeva Temple 1278 A.D.(4 km)Often considered to be a watered down version of the magnificent Lingaraj temple as far as the architecture is concerned, this 18.29 metre high lone Vaishnav shrine is the most finished temple situated on the east bank of the Bindu Sarovara. It was erected by Chandradevi, the daughter of Anangabhima III during the rule of Bhanudeva in 1278 AD. In support of this date eminent historians offer a fresh reading and interpretation of the text found on the commemorative inscription of the temple. This piece of evidence now is under the custody of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Other scholars think 1200 AD as a probable date of its construction.The temple has four component parts; their roofs ascending upward, culminating in the mastaka of the deul. The shrine has a profusely carved exterior and an ornamental platform within the complex. Ananta-Vasudeva temple is an important Vaishnavite place of worship with the images of the Holy Trinity, Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra in the sanctum. The parsva-devatas include at least three incarnations of Vishnu, the Preserver. It is customary for the devout to visit the temple after taking a holy dip in the Bindu-Sarovara, prior to the darshan of Lord Lingaraj. Scores of pilgrims from different parts of the country entering the temple with fresh flowers, sweets, coconuts and bananas as offerings to the deities is a colourful sight. They eagerly await their turn in the rush to partake of mahaprasad or holy food.Bhaskareshwar Temple (6 km)This small temple is remarkable for its stepped design and the unusually high linga in its sanctum. The peculiarity of the temple structure seems to have been dictated by the practical necessity of performing rituals like bathing or garlanding or putting pastes of sandalwood and other perfumery on the tall linga which rises to a height of nearly three metres from the floor level. Some scholars believe that the linga was originally a free standing pillar.
Bindu Sarovara (4km) Situated to the north of the Lingaraj temple this large pool measures approximately 400m x 230m. The devouts believe this Sarovara to contain water from every holy stream, pool and river of India and can purify them of all sins. Hence on its banks, they perform many rituals, or tonsure their heads and take a dip in its water. Once upon a time the tank had all its sides covered with stone. Today only the southern side and parts of the eastern side have the original linings made of blocks of laterite stone. At the centre of the tank there is an island temple to which the icon of Vishnu is customarily taken during the Snana Yatra.The embankment on all sides is dotted with innumerable shrines and temples, some of which are still under active worship.
Brahmeshwar Temple 1061 AD.(6.5 km)This temple was built by Kolavati, the mother of the Somavansi king Udyotakesari, in the eighteenth regnal year of his reign, in the Siddhatirtha locality at Ekamra. One of the inscriptions, now believed lost, stated that Kolavati presented many beautiful women to the temple. This presentation is interpreted as an early evidence of the devadasi (Gods Maids) tradition. This tradition influenced the socio-economic as well as the cultural life of the Odissan people at a later date and formed a dominant and recurrent motif in Orissi music and dance. The importance of this system can be realised from the fact that this motif had come to be part of the art idiom too.The temple is a fine specimen of innovative and mature Odishan style of temple building. For the first time iron beams have been used to build up the structure. This is the second temple, after the Mukteshwar, to boast of a Jagamohana that has a finely carved interior. The sculptural details and the immaculate iconography show expert workmanship of the Odishan artists of the era. The figures of the musicians and dancers, the lion-head motif, the amusing and erotic figures and others exude a special charm. One must notice the beautiful figure of a young woman appearing a little bewildered and perhaps a little surprised at her lovers unexpected naughty probe into her body. The floral motifs, the intricately designed creepers, the flying figures, the images of the eight directional guardian deities and so on, are all meticulously executed and the chiselling shows an excellent sense of proportion, harmony and an eye for aesthetic embellishment on the part of the artists. The usual Shaivite door keepers stand above the double vidalas at the bottom of the jambs; the figure of the Gajalakshmi adorns the mid section of the lintel and those of the navagrahas are there on the architrave. This shrine, though dedicated to Lord Shiva, shows a number of images which might have been inspired by the Tantric cult of the time. On the western facade the figure of Chamunda stands on a corpse with a trident and a human head. Elsewhere many other deities, including Shiva, are depicted in their horrific aspects.
B K College of Art and Crafts (10 km) The college offers higher studies in certain modes of art and craft including wood carving, palm leaf etching, stone sculpture, clay modelling,commercial art, graphic art, line drawing and painting. The college is located in Khandagiri area. It is affiliated to the Utkal University of Culture.Dhauli (9 km) Dhauli is a small hillock rising conspicuously on the southern bank of the river Daya, in the midst of green fields that seem to reach out to the horizon. This is the site where Ashoka waged the final battle against Kalinga in 261 BC. The victory came to him riding over a million corpses bringing him a macabre confirmationof his military prowess that had already earned him the sobriquet, Asoka the Slayer (Chandasoka). Legend has it that the gory sight of the battle with dead men chocking the flow of the Daya river (literally, the river of compassion) that had turned to be a river of blood, filled the heart of the conqueror with an hitherto unknown feeling of compassion and bouts of remorse. He realised the futility of digvijaya (military conquest) and the nobility of dharmavijaya (spiritual conquest). Thus Asoka the Slayer changed into Asoka the compassionate (Dharmasoka). He embraced Buddhism, it is believed, here, at the Dhauli foothill. This is the place where gory deeds were amended by hoary corrections.