Odisha or ORISSA is a lesser known state at the Eastern India and has lot of hidden treasures to discover which is away from hustle or bezels of crowded TOURISM DESINATIONS.If you have a bend of mind towards slow travel, calm places and interested with different culture , living temples and their rituals, hand made craft or you want to sit under a huge Mango tree at the tribal weekly haats –then Welcome to Odisha or ORISSA.
TEMPLES, TRIBES, TEXTILE, TRANQUEL BEACHES & TURTELS are some of the top highlights as explained under:
1 – TEMPLES
Odisha has its own style of Temple Architecture known as KALINGAN STYLE of Temple Architecture which has three stages (Dancing Hall, Offering or Parying Hall and the Sanctum) .
Bhubaneswar , known as the Temple city has alone more than one thousand temples which date backs from 7th till 12th century.
In Puri you have the most interesting living temple of Lord Jagannath (only Hindus are allowed to enter) and the life around the temple is like a living Museum.
The masterpiece of Odishan temple architecture can be experienced at the world Heritage Site repute KONARK SUN TEMPLE which is an identity for Indian Temples. Apart from these major temples, Odisha has several unique temples like Barahi temple near Berhampure, Leaning Temple at HUMA, Sun Temple with wall painting at Buguda, Kichekeswari temple with black granite stone at Khicing, Sameleswai temple at Sambalpur, Sabar Srikhetra at Koraput , Jain CAVES at Khandagiri, The Buddhist ruins at Lalit giri are few from the list of temples. One need from 3-7 days to explore the rich temple history of Odisha
2 – TRIBES
Odisha is the home land of 62 types of Tribes and around 30% of its population is Tribal. Each tribes have their own distinct feature in terms of living, festivals, housing .The visit to the tribes is to learn their unique community based living with nature and in a six to ten days of tour, one can meet three to four ethnic tribes (PVTG) who live mostly at southern Orissa.
BONDA, GODABA, PARAJA, DUNGURIA, KONDH, KUTIA , SAURA, SANTAL, DHURUA are some of the very unique tribes as they still live in their traditional life style even though the world around them is changing. ORISSA offers unique opportunity for guests having interest on ethnic culture, anthropology , rural tourism to explore the tribal weekly haats, their crafts, hike at an amazing landscape .
But this tour is strictly for people having respect for other culture and the travel operator should have adequate experience on Responsible Travel Practice so that you should not intrude to others and the benefit of Tourism should go to the local community .
Foreign Tourists need permit which can be obtained from the local Collectors at the Dist head quarters or RECOGNISED TOUR OPERATORS having approval for PVTG area. Photography is restricted in certain areas too.
This tour to the ethnic tribal villages with the principles of Responsible Travel can be one of the highlight for travel in India.
KORAPUT, RAYAGADA, PHULBANI is the major districts which homes the ethnic tribal communities. YOU NEED ABOUT A WEEK TO EXPLORE THIS MOST UNIQUE PART OF ODISHA WHICH COULD BE ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHT FOR YOUR INDIAN JOURNEY.
3 – TEXTILE
Yet another unique identity of Odisha as the textiles of Odisha is world famous from ancient trading times because of its unique weaving pattern and design. Tie and Die, Ikat and use of natural colours make this textile different from others. In ancient times the traders from Odisha used to sail across bay of Bengal to Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand , Myammar etc to trade this textiles and spices.
Even to day, the machine looms has not been able to replace the high skill of tradintiaol weavers in Odisha.Nuapatna, Sonepur, Bargarh, Bolangir , Olasingh, Kotpad area still the homeland of thousands of traditional weavers from generations to generation.
There is also a interesting textile research center at Bhubaneswar which may be a perfect place to understand the Odishan textile and then you can take a journey to Central and Western Odisha to meet various Master Craftsmen who has created their own identity and taken the fame of the Odishan unique pattern of textile to global label.
A TEXTILE TOUR IN ODISHA CAN BE FIVE TO TEN DAYS AND IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED IF YOU ARE ONTO TEXTILE.
4 – TRANQUEL BEACHES
Odisha is blessed with 460 km of coast line and beach tourism has attracted many visitors to rewind at the tranquil beaches of Odisha .Up in north, the beaches like Talsari , Chandipur is unique where the sea plays a hide and seek game with effect of tides. Dotted with casuarinas forest, these beaches are perfect place for relaxing or hike during sunset or sunrise.
Also Puri , Konark (chandrabhaga)and Gopalpur on sea is famous for its uninterrupted golden sandy beaches and draws a large number of tourists who come with their families in search of sea bath and leisure by the beach.
Beach vendors’ sale typical Jhalmudhi, Sweets which is a favorite draw for repeated visitors. Life Guard by traditional fishermen popularly known as NOLIA is a friend at sea for many Indian families as they assist them for beach services and a safe sea bath.
So far beach Tourism has not picked up in Odisha as they have been in other destinations like Goa , Kerala due to its cultural and religious back ground. But for sure, the beaches of Odisha is much more peaceful and serine.
At present, several high end beach resorts at Goplapur, PURI, Konark has been opened to cater the need of Spa and Beach Tourism in Odisha. Also there are several budget accommodations available at these beach destinations to suit every ones pocket.
5 – TURTELS & NATURE TRAILS
The Olive ridley sea turtle nests in huge numbers come over to the Rishikulya river mouth near Rambha on the coast of Bay of Bengal for hatching during March-May. This is a rare sight to be witnessed and attracts the attention of nature lovers, students, research scholars. There are several fishing villages near this important nesting site. Local fishers use various fishing methods and also known about the nesting of turtles since time immoral. Its worth to stay at Rambha along the chilika lake in a decent hotel overlooking the beautiful chilika lake and do the short excursion to Rishikulya river bed for turtle activities.
Also Gahirmatha near Bhitarakanika draws a large numbers of Olive Riddle Turtles as a mass nesting venue and during the full moon of Feb-March they come from far away destinations like Indian Ocean or Pacific ocean to lay eggs.
Apart from Turtle nesting, one can visit the Mangrove forest at Bhitarakanika and take a nature trail at Baga gahana island where you can meet large numbers of Birds .A boat trip on the creeks is a treat for nature lovers as one can not only meet large numbers of Crocodiles on the muddy river beds during low tide but also the beauty of nature at this mangrove forest.
SATAKOSIA TIGER RESERVE , SIMILIPAL NATIONAL PARK , DEBRIGARH SANCTUARY , MANGALAJODI BIRDS RESERVE offers un-spoil nature trails which is a must if you want to discover the beautiful , scenic , serine and sublime Orissa.