Orissa……. Eastern Panorama

The State of Orissa lies along the eastern seaboard of India, south of Bengal. The main attractions of Orissa are the temple towns of Puri and Bhubaneswar and the great Sun Temple at Konarak. These three sites make a convenient and compact little triangle and Bhubaneswar is on the main Kolkata-Chennai Railway route. The state is predominantly rural with fertile green plains along the coast rising up to the hills of the Eastern Ghats.

Orissa's hazy past comes into focus with the reign of Kalinga. In 260 BC he was defeated by Ashoka, the great Indian emperor, but the bloody battle left such a bitter taste with Ashoka that he converted to Buddhism and spread that gentle religion far and wide. Buddhism soon declined in Orissa, however, and Jainism held sway until Buddhism reasserted itself in the 2nd century AD. By the 7th century AD Hinduism had, in turn, supplanted Buddhism and Orissa's golden age was in full swing.

Under the Kesri and Ganga kings the Orissan culture flourished and countless temples from that classical period still stand today. The Orissans managed to defy the Moslem rulers in Delhi until the region finally fell to the Moghuls during the 16th century. Many of Bhu-baneswar's temples were destroyed at that time. Today Orissa is tapping the hydro-electric potential of its many rivers and fledgling industries are being started but the state is still a region of green fields and small villages.

Orissa’s coastal strip is fertile, with alluvial rice-producing soil, fed by the rivers Mahanadi, Brahmani, and Baitarini. The interior regions are hilly, forested and inhabited by tribal people, who constitute almost one-fourth of Orissa's population. The state gets a lot of rain through the year and the coastal areas are subject to occasional cyclones. Orissa is a mineral-rich state, associated with mining, steel and aluminium industries, and power generation. It contains one-third of the country's bauxite deposits, one-fourth of its iron ore, and one-fifth of its coal.

Orissa's tourist attractions are clustered around the coast, especially in the triangle of Bhubaneshwar, Konark and Puri, which have old and architecturally celebrated temples. The capital Bhubaneshwar is not a big city but is said to be home to some thousand temples. It has a domestic airport and is the base to visit the renowned Sun Temple at Konark, a World Heritage Site, 65 km away. This 13thcentury temple to Surya was built in the form of a giant chariot with 12 pairs of wheels to carry the god across the sky. Every December the Konark Dance Festival of classical Indian dances is held here. The seaside town of Puri, 60 km from Bhubaneshwar, is a popular beach destination for tourists from the eastern region. But it attracts even more pilgrims for the Jagannath temple, a huge 12th-century temple that has 6000 priests and 400 cooks to perform the deities rituals. Lord Jagannath's annual chariot procession in June/July is pulled by thousands of worshippers. Chilika Lake, 50 km from Puri, is India's largest lake and a bird sanctuary.

To the north-east, Orissa has the Simlipal Tiger Reserve and the Bhitarkanika Sanctuary. The latter is known among wildlife lovers as the spot where lakhs of Olive Ridley Turtles come to nest every year in February.

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Bhubaneshwar - Puri - Konark - Kolkata Tour :
Puri - 3 Nights, Kolkata - 2 Nights