Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, is also popularly known as the “Temple City of India”. Being the seat of Tribhubaneswar or ‘ Lord Lingaraj ‘, Bhubaneswar is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. Hundreds of temples dot the landscape of the Old Town, which once boasted of more than 2000 temples. Bhubaneswar is the place where temple building activities of Odishan style flowered from its very inception to its fullest culmination extending over a period of more than one thousand years.
Khandagiri Caves :-
Khandigiri caves of Odisha bear relics to the rich religious history of the ancient times. Located at a short distance of just six kilometers from Bhubaneshwar, the Khandagiri caves are notable Odisha attractions that offer the tourists to experience the archaeological remnants of the bygone era.
The fifteen caves of Khandagiri were used to be inhabited by Jain scholars and hermits during the ancient periods. A perfect example of rock cut temples the walls of the caves of Khandagiri are exquisitely designed with beautiful paintings and motifs. Some of the walls bear inscriptions from the holy texts of the Jain religion.
Udayagiri Caves :-
The Udaygiri Caves comprise of eighteen rock cut caves that depicts the unique religious legacy of the ancient times. Located at a height of 135 feet, the Udaygiri hills were commonly referred to as Kumari Parvata during the ancient period.
The caves of Udaygiri were constructed to accommodate the Jain hermits and scholars who had renounced the worldly pleasures in search of truth and peace. The walls of the Udaygiri caves are decorated with beautiful paintings of human beings and animals. Some of the walls of the caves have inscriptions from the sacred texts of Jain religion carved on them.
Where is the Nandankanan Zoo Better known as “Garden of Pleasure”; Nandankanan Zoo is situated 20km off Bhuvneshwar in Odisha. As part of Chandaka Forests here, the zoo is a perfect escape destination from hustle bustle of the city. The zoo lies on the lines of Kolkata-Chennai railway line and is very close to Barang Railway Station. With 362 hectares of forest area, Kanjia Lake occupies a significant portion of 66 hectares. The first ever breeding ground of endangered species, Nandankanan Zoo boasts of the significant contribution that the park has made in wildlife conservation.
Nandankanan is a Biological Park where animals are kept in their natural habitat. A centrally located lake divides the Zoo from the Botanical Gardens. Tigers, Lions, Clouded Leopards, Black Panthers, European Brown Bear, Himalayan Black Bear, Gharials, Rosy Pelican, Grey Pelican, Indian Python, King Cobra, etc. are among the attractions of the zoo, which is famous for its White Tigers. The exotic Botanical Garden on the other side of the zoo preserves varieties of indigenous plants. Regular bus services are available to reach the place.
Lingaraj Temple :-
The Lingaraj Temple is a temple of the Hindu god Shiva and is one of the oldest temples and a revered pilgrimage center.The temple of Lingaraja, the biggest of all at Bhubaneswar is located within a spacious compound wall of latterite measuring 520 feet by 465 feet.
The product of the accumulated and crystallized experience of several centuries, the Lingaraj temple, built in 617-657 A.D., is the quintessence of Orissan architecture. In the elegance of its proportions and the richness of its surface-treatment, it is one of the most finished and refined manifestation of temple architecture in India.
The Peace Pagoda built by the Kalinga Nippon Budha Sangha in 1973 and known as Shanti Stupa commemorates the change of heart of Emperor Ashok and the journey of budhism to the nation. There are two temples at Dhauli. One of Vairangeswar Mahadev and Dhabaleswar Mahadev. The proclamations of Emperor Achok are recorded in prakrit language in bhramin script on the rock of Dhauli on the Southeast end.
Surrounded by paddy fields, the Dhauli hill brings back memories of the historic ‘Kalinga war’ which was fought around here. It is here that Ashoka, the terrible, was transformed into Ashoka, the compassionate and championed the cause of Buddhism. On the foot of the hill one can see the Rock Edicts of Ashoka and the forepart of a skillfully sculpted elephant hewn out of a huge rock. Dhauli has gained prominence due to the establishment of a Buddhist Peace Pagoda, popularly known as Shanti Stupa, built in the early seventies by the Japan Buddha Sangha and Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha. An old temple of Lord Dhavaleswar, reconstructed in 1972, also stands on the hill-top.