The splendid Lingaraj Temple (king of lingas, the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva) is a masterpiece and the culmination of the revolution of temple architecture in Odisha. The 54 metre high buildings is surrounded by dozens of smaller temples and shrines in an extensive complex. The main temple is restricted to Hindus, but there is a viewing platform from which one can catch a sight. Over a thousand years old, the temple stands as a testament to the marvellous Kalinga type of architecture and is filled with extraordinary detail and traditions: from the granite block representing the lord and bathed daily in milk, water and bhang (marijuana) to the two moustachioed lions at the main gate.
Lingaraj Road, Old Town Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, India, +91 674 234 0105
Spread over 400 hectares in the Chandaka forest lies the impressive Nandankanan Zoological Park. Located on the banks of Kanjia Lake, this zoo is home to over 67 kinds of mammals, 81 species of birds and 18 varieties of reptiles. It was the first zoo in India to join the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and also houses a botanical garden. Visitors can see black panthers, white tigers, gharial crocodiles and many other animals, birds and reptiles in an attempt to maintain the natural balance of nature against the growing urbanisation of Bhubaneswar.
Opening hours: 7.30am-5.30pm (April – September), 8am-5pm ( October – March ); Closed Mon
Six kilometres to the west of the city lay the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. These caves provide a brief look into the history of the Kalinga Empire and Jain religion. The caves have derived their names from the hills on which they are situated, facing one another across the road. They are said to have been chiselled out for Jain ascetics in the 1st century BC. The caves have been enumerated according to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Hatigumpha (Cave 14) and Ganehsagumpa (Cave 9) are especially well known. Cave 1 is adorned by sculptural friezes while Carved figures of women, elephants, athletes and geese carrying flowers are in the Ananta Cave (Cave 3).
The Pathani Samanta Planetarium was established to generate awareness of astronomy, astrophysics and space science. The planetarium offers regular shows about outer space which are loved and attended by a lot of school kids; the planetarium also conducts workshops for astronomy enthusiasts – think night sky gazing, display of astronomical instruments etc. There are also regular conferences, and an extensive library with an impressive number of books in the fields of astronomy, environment, science and technology.
Built around 1100, this centuries-old temple is perhaps the most renowned temple in Bhubaneswar. The temple derives its name for the wonderful red and gold sandstone, locally known as Rajarani, which was used to build it, and it is surrounded by gardens and paddy fields. The unique feature is the absence of a presiding deity. It is locally called the ‘love temple’ for the many intricate and beautiful carvings of nymphs, and erotic scenes of women and couples.
Also known as the peace pagoda, Dhauli Giri is a Buddhist structure built jointly in 1972 by the Japan Buddha Sangh and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangh. The stupa has a mushroom-like dome and decorated with stone panels. The main panels are adorned with a reclining Buddha, an elephant procession, Bodhi tree and the footprints of Buddha bearing the chakra (wheel). The panels also display Emperor Ashoka renouncing war by offering his sword to Buddha at Dhauli Giri. There are also plenty of other ancient sculpture and diverse art forms found at the site.