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BHUVANESHWAR


The day breaks at Bhubaneswar to scores of temple bells proclaiming the advent of the Sun God. The temple shikharas (spires) assume a favourable visibility and human zeal becomes pronounced. The business of the day progresses with religious fervour. Such is the significance of temples in this town that almost the entire life revolves around them. The town lives for its temples, and the temples by the town.

Against this multi-hued tapestry of history and the backdrop of the soaring sandstone spires stand Bhubaneswar, the capital of the eastern state of Orissa. The place is mythical as well as historical. It is here that king Ashoka embraced Buddhism and non-violence.



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An important city of the temple triangle of Orissa, Bhubaneswar has direct air, road, and rail connection with the other major cities of India. Bhubaneswar derives its name from the Sanskrit word Tribhuvaneswara, another name for Lord Shiva. The area around Bhubaneswar constituted the famed kingdom of Kalinga, which was conquered after a bloody battle by Ashoka, the great Mauryan emperor. Appalled at the carnage, Ashoka renounced violence and embraced Buddhism. Around the 1st century BC, under the rule of Kharavela, Orissa regained its lost glory and Bhubaneswar again became the centre of activities. During this period, monastery caves were constructed of which Khandagiri and Udaygiri are the most important. By the 7th century, Hinduism supplemented Jainism, and Ganga and Kesari kingdoms did a lot for the development of Orissan culture. Most of the kings who ruled Orissa constructed beautiful temples. For a better part of its history, Bhubaneswar remained under the influence of Afghans, Marathas, and the British (till 1947).



Sightseeing
Once a magnetic centre of Shaivism, Bhubaneswar was home to some 7,000 temples dedicated to different deities of which about 500 survive to this day. The magnificent temple of Lord Lingaraja is the most imposing temple of Orissa. There are fine chlorite images of Ganesha, Parvati and Skanda in large niches. Vertical ribs dominate the tower from top to bottom while horizontal dividing lines dominate the pyramidal roof of the porch with its bell-shaped top. Another important temple is the Rajarani Temple which is noted for its fascinating female figures portrayed in a stunning variety of amorous poses. Then there is the Mukteshwara Temple where you come across a captivating array of voluptuous female figures and famished ascetics, dwarfs and animals. The beautiful and the grotesque have been skilfully depicted through exquisite carvings. The Parashumeshwara Temple is one of the earliest extant temples of Orissa, acknowledged to be a symbol of all that is chaste and elegant in sculpture. Besides, there are the Brahmeswara Temple and the Ashokan rock edicts on the Dhauli Hills which are must-visit sites on the itinerary of tourists to Bhubaneswar.


Excursions
Bhubaneswar is a part of the famed Golden Triangle circuit of Orissa along with Puri and Konark and as such the city is generally visited in combination with these two places. Puri is one of the four holy dhams of Hinduism and the hallowed seat of Lord Jagannath. Washed by the waters of the Bay of Bengal and embraced by casuarina-fringed beaches, it is a famous beach on the eastern coastline of peninsular India. Konark (65 km) houses the renowned Sun Temple which is in a class of its own. Fine carvings cover almost every inch of the outer surface, portraying with uninhabited fidelity the vast panorama of life. Besides, there are a number of nearby places that can be easily accessed from Bhubaneswar. Among these is Atri (42 km from Bhubaneswar) known for its hot sulphur springs and a temple dedicated to Lord Hatakeswar. Khandagiri and Udaygiri are two famous archaeological sites with fine specimens of rock-cut temples, just northwest of Bhubaneswar. Nandankanan (20 km from Bhubaneswar) has a zoo and is especially known for its white tigers which can be seen in their natural setting. Pipli (20 km from Bhubaneswar en route to Puri and Konark) is famous for its appliqué work done with bright colours into a fanciful range of items. Chilika Lake (121 km), the largest brackish water lake in Asia, and Gopalpur-on-Sea (180 km), with its beautiful beach resort, are two other nearby destinations that can be visited on a daylong trip.









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