Orissa temples tour/Orissa attractions

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The state of Orissa in eastern India offers some of the finest examples of ancient Indian temple architecture. Bhubaneswar (or Bhuvanesvara), which is the state capital, itself has many magnificent temples, the most notable of which is the Lingaraja temple. It was built in the 11th century AD and it is still being used as a place of worship. Unfortunately, non-Hindus are not permitted inside. The spire of the temple rises to a height of slightly over 180 feet from the ground making it visible from a distance of about 15 kilometers. The Lingaraja temple represents Orissan temple architecture at its most mature and fully developed stage. This remarkable temple was featured in a 1949 Indian stamp (brown) as shown below. The same stamp was re-issued in 1951 in blue and is shown next to the brown stamp. (Note: You can click on any stamp image on this page to see a better picture and/or to learn more about the subject).

Lingaraja Temple, Bhuvanesvara
Lingaraja Temple,
Bhuvanesvara
Lingaraja Temple, Bhuvanesvara
Lingaraja Temple,
Bhuvanesvara

Close to Bhuvanesvara, at a place called Konark (alternative spelling, as used by UNESCO, is Konarak) is the famous thirteenth century Sun Temple. This awe-inspiring temple was built by King Narasimhadeva to worship the Sun God. Now in ruins, the temple is built in the shape of a huge chariot. The chariot has 20 huge wheels, and it is being pulled by seven horses. The temple itself is being guarded by two lions. In the compound of the temple there are sculptures of horses, elephants etc. This Sun Temple has been declared by UNESCO as a National Heritage Site. At present, the Sun Temple stands at a place which is about 2 kilometers from the shoreline (Bay of Bengal). But in the past, the sea was much closer making the temple clearly visible to sailors passing the area in their ships. The sailors called this temple "Black Pagoda" as the original red sandstone, of which the temple is made of, has weathered and turned blackish due to the close proximity from the sea.

In a recent issue (se-tenant pair) India has featured the whole temple in one stamp, and a wheel of the chariot-shaped temple in another stamp as shown below.

The Sun Temple and a wheel of the chariot-shaped temple
The Sun Temple, Konark and a wheel of the chariot-shaped temple.

India had featured sculptures from the Sun Temple in two earlier stamps. One featured a stallion and the other an elephant from the compound of the temple.

Konarak Horse
Konarak Horse
Konarak Elephant
Konarak Elephant

If you plan to visit Konark, try to go there in December. A spectacular Dance Festival takes place there every December in an open-air theatre adjoining the Sun Temple. Eminent dancers perform on the same stage various forms of Indian classical dances such as Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, Kathak etc. Lovers of Indian classical dances and music will find this festival irresistible specially because of its unique setting. Check out the festival calender of Konark (sometimes the Dance Festival is held in February also) and ask your travel agent about it if you want to see the Dance Festival. I highly recommend it. Click on this link to see just one picture and get an idea of what the festival might look like.

The Jagannath Temple of Puri is the other famous ancient temple of Orissa. That temple was built in the 12th century by the Ganga King Chodagangadeva, and it is still being used today. The spire of the Jagannath Temple is 214 feet (65 meters) high and is visible from a great distance.

Puri Jagannath Temple
Jagannath Temple,
Puri

Puri-Bhubaneswar-Konarak forms the so-called Golden Triangle of Temples in Orissa. You should try to see these temples, if you visit India. Besides Orissa has some beautiful beaches. Puri beach is one of them. Gopalpur-on-sea (Gopalpur on sea) is another. You can enjoy both temples and beaches if you go to Orissa.

Both Puri and Gopalpur-on-sea beaches are spectacular with vast expanses of clean, golden sand and breakers in the water. You will instantly fall in love with either of these beaches - guaranteed. Gopalpur-on-sea beach has been featured on a 1997 Indian postage stamp (Scott#1648). Unfortunately, I have miss-placed my copy of the stamp. So I am unable to use its image here to illustrate the beach. Sorry.

Orissa offers many attractions. More information about tourism in Orissa, including information about the different temples and beaches there, can be found in the following sites:

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