Bhubaneswar, the gateway city to Odisha, rises on the fertile delta of Mahanadi river. Mark Twain described it as one of the wonders of the world, for thousands of temples, each a marvel of ancient architecture, were built in Bhubaneswar from 6th century CE onwards, a time when the Western world was enveloped in the Dark Ages. 500 of these structures still stand around the Bindu Sagar Lake, some with finely detailed erotic sculptures that tour guides delight to point out. Many day trips can be planned from Bhubaneswar in all directions, including the cave temples at Udayagiri and Khandagiri, the fascinating Konark Sun Temple and Jagannath Temple and fine beaches with stretches of sand.
The chief attraction are the sandstone temples much celebrated for the outstanding finesse of the Kaḷinga architectural style. The Lingaraj temple, built in 6ht century, is dedicated to the deity Shiva. Mukteshwar Temple dating from the 10th century is regarded as the “Gem of Odisha architecture". Rajarani Temple is another highlight, known by some as the “love temple” due to its exceptional erotic carvings. Religious syncretism is evident in temples of Bhubaneswar where Jain and Buddhist culture are infused with the Hindu style. On the outskirts of Bhubaneswar are the Dhaul hills where one of the eleven known Ashokan major rock edicts is situated. In 261 BCE, Bhubaneswar witnessed the famous war between the state of Kalinga and the Emperor Ashoka who expanded Buddhism across ancient Asia. The historic temple of Jagganath (from which the word Juggernaut is derived) with its annual chariot procession and the monumental Konark Sun Temple are just over an hour’s drive from the city.
In 1946, German architect Otto Königsberger designed the modern city of Bhubaneswar on a linear pattern, making it one of the first planned cities of India, the others being Chandigarh and Jamshedpur. This offers a striking contrast to the architectural legacy of previous periods of history making this a very rewarding destination to visit.
>> Read our blog: What brings you to Bhubaneshwar?
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