I had kept a day to explore Bhubaneshwar. I’d booked with the OTDC sightseeing bus which covered the main destinations of the city. It was supposed to start from 9’o clock in morning, so I decided to cover some of the other destinations that wouldn’t be covered by OTDC but are worth visiting. First I visited Bramehswara Temple which is said to be built in 1058. It is preserved by ASI, but doesn’t require any entry fee, this is an active Shiva temple with disciples coming with milk and prasad sold outside the Temple to offer to Lord Shiva. The temple has a water body behind it.
Next I went to Rajarani Temple which is a walking distance. Built between 11th and 12th centuries, known as the ‘love temple’ this Shiva Temple depicts various interesting sculptures of Shiv Parvati on the walls of the temple. The garden surrounding the Temple is well maintained.
Another walking distance was the Mukteshwar Temple. This Shiva Temple built between 950–975 CE has many shrines and an arched gateway called torana. There is a tank behind the temple where according to traditions, barren women give birth to sons if they take a dip in it. Just a long lawn on the other side leads to Parashurameshvara Temple. Built in 650 CE and considered one of the oldest in the city, the temple depicts sculptures of Shakta deities, Chamunda, Varahi, Indrani, Vaishnavi, Kaumari, Shivani, Brahmi and several other on its walls.
Next, I went to Panthanivas where my sightseeing tour with OTDC was supposed to commence. OTDC sightseeing tour package does not include entry fees and fooding. We’re alloted a AC Tempo Traveller and our first destination was The Dhauli Shanti Stupa or Peace Pagoda. This place is outside the main city and can be reached by boarding route 11 bus upto Dhauli Square. We’re alloted 25 mins. to go around. Built in 1970s by Buddhist organisations near the banks of river Daya, the structure stands on the top of the Dhauli hill offering a beautiful view of the surrounding plains. King Ashoka adopted the path of peace and resorted to Buddhism, he laid the foundation of Dhauli Shanti Stupa which is known for the end of Kalinga War. Our next destination was Mukteshwar Temple which I already visited in morning since somebody had suggested me that it’d be shown from inside the vehicle and won’t be allowed to go out and explore. But I hadn’t been to the back of the temple where the tank lies and found several people bathing there.
Our next destination was the largest and most beautiful temple of Bhubaneshwar, Lingaraj Temple. Mobile phones aren’t allowed inside , so I kept my phone and shoes in the designated counter and went inside. This active 11th century temple complex has around 50 shrines and the most crowded temple of the city. There are three main halls inside the main temple, assembly hall or the Jagmohana, the Natamandira or the dancing hall and Bhogamandira or the hall of offerings. The temple complex is surrounded by high walls outside of which some devotees were trying to capture picture of the temple with a selfie stick.
Next destination was State Museum which was closed due to a govt. holiday, so we headed to Nandankanan Zoo. We’re given only a hour to explore which was not sufficient enough. In a hour all I could afford was watch a few wildlife animals in cages, snakes and take a walk by the lakeside. There was much to explore in this huge park including the zoo, a botanical garden and a sanctuary whose Safari I couldn’t do due to lack of time allocated. It is said to be home to over 1600 individual animals, 67 species of mammals, 81 species of birds, and 18 species of reptiles. One can take routes 10,12 and 18 bus whose details I have given here from the city upto Nandankanan.
The last destination was Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves. It was a few meters from the parking where our bus parked and takes Rs 25 entry fees for Indians. These artificial caves built in 2nd century BCE, it is believed that these caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jain monks at that time. Udayagiri has 18 caves and Khandagiri has 15 caves. Khandagiri and Udaygiri hills both offers a good view of Bhubaneswar from its tops. The entrance of the caves showcases stoneworks and minor and major incriptions in the cave. Hathigumpha cave on Udaygiri hills has the inscription, written by Raja Kharavela, the king of Kalinga at that time consists of seventeen lines incised in Brahmi letters in Hathigumpha in the south side of the Udayagiri hill. Ranigompa is a double stored monastery. Both the hills and the caves had much to be explored but again due to lack of time alloted, I couldn’t explore properly. The OTDC bus dropped me at the Railway Station to continue with my next destinations before continuing with other tourists to Panthanivas.