With a locational advantage with the Bay of Bengal coast on one side and shared borders with other states on the remaining sides, Odisha is indeed a potential tourism destination. Mostly unexplored, Odisha’s contribution to the tourism industry is immense, because of its rich history, culture, heritage, arts, and myriad attractions in the form of beaches, waterfalls, vast fresh water lakes, bird sanctuaries, wildlife sanctuaries, and hill stations.
Odisha has a chequered past spanning various centuries; the ancient kingdoms in this region were ruled by several major dynasties such as the Chedi, the Satavahanas, the Somavamsis, the Somas, Ganga Dynasty, the Afghans, the Mughals, the Nizams, the Marathas, and finally the British. The most significant is of course the Kalinga war in 261 BC after which Ashoka, the great Mauryan emperor from Magadha, embraced Buddhism and made it the state religion. It is said that Buddhism spread its roots from here to almost the entire world. The Angkor Vat temple in Cambodia is in fact representative of the Odia form of architecture.
Bhubaneshwar, the current capital of Odisha, was a power centre during the Somavamsis rule way back in 931 AD. The Lingaraj Temple was built during 1050 AD, during the Soma rule while the Jagganath Temple in Puri was built by Chodaganga Dev in 1112 AD. Cuttack was established as a modern city (Avinaba Baranasi Katak) in 1211 AD by Anangabhima Dev III.
Odisha was known as Kalinga, Utkala, Odra and Koshala during different parts of its history. Since it was ruled by various dynasties, it has become home to Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu cultures but has managed to retain the tribal cultures which are so unique to it. Each monument, each dance form and each handicraft is testimony to these ethnic identities and continues to charm both the casual traveller as well as the cultural enthusiast equally.
Social customs in Odisha are still largely influenced by tribal cultures because the state has a large tribal population with 62 different kinds of tribes. Dance, music and art are an integral part of life for these tribal people and can be experienced if one visits the innermost regions of certain parts of the state such as the Koraput, Phulbani, Keonjhar, Ganjam, Mayurbhanj and Dhenkanal. A unique tribal tradition is worshipping of the Shakti (female life force) and practice of magic and sorcery.
Places to Visit in Odisha
Odisha has a lot to offer for any kind of a traveller; whether you are looking to explore ancient architecture, culture and heritage, cuisine, adventure or relaxation, you will find it here.
Beaches and Lakes
For those looking to take back a piece of this beautiful state or to gift someone an exquisite piece of art, Odisha is popular for patta chirtra (colourful miniature paintings on cloth), palm leaf paintings, brass and bell metal ware, silver ware and filigree (intricate silverware) work, terracotta and pottery (mud), golden grass work, cane work, applique work, horn (of cattle) work, sarees, stone and wood carvings.
There is so much in Odisha for both the casual traveller as well as for those with a keen eye for exclusivity. Get in touch with Xenia Cities for tour packages and group tour packages to Odisha.