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TRAVEL TOURS

Konark Sun Temple

Designed to be a huge chariot for the Sun God Surya, the intricately carved Sun Temple was constructed in the 13th century. It stands 30 meters high on 12 massive wheels. Erotic carvings similar to those on the Khajuraho temples are a renowned feature. The Sun Temple can be visited on a day trip from either Puri or Bhubaneshwar. However, it's worthwhile seeing the temple in the late afternoon, after the day trippers have departed, and staying a night in Konark. You'll appreciate the more peaceful atmosphere. The temple is open from sunrise until sunset. The entrance fee is $5 for foreigners.

Don't Miss: The Konark Festival if you love classical music and dance.

Bhubaneshwar

The capital city of Orissa, Bhubaneshwar blends old and new. It's remarkable for having the largest temple in Orissa (the Lingraj Mandir), as well as a motley collection of caves cut into the hillside on the outskirts of the city. The caves were once home to Jain aesthetics. The most interesting ones can be found at Udayagiri (Sunrise Hill). The complex is open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.
If you love history and architecture, there are plenty more temples to see around the city. A Hop On Hop Off Bus service will take you there, as well as to the best of Bhubaneshwar's other attractions such as handicraft markets, parks, museums, and Nandankanan Sanctuary to see the white tigers. Don't Miss: A sunrise over Udayagiri if you're an early riser.

Chandipur Beach

Casuarina trees, sand dunes, and a tide that receeds out for miles all make Chandipur Beach special. This little known beach is the place to come if you want a tranquil beach getaway. Of course, if you're looking for crystal clear water and golden sand, there are better beaches in India. However, this one is unique! It's also very safe. Chandipur Beach is readily accessible by train from Bhubaneshwar, and also Kolkata in West Bengal.
Don't Miss: Walking on the huge stretch of seabed when the tide is out. It's brilliant for beach-combing. Discover small puddles of water with tiny fish, sea shells, and crabs.

Puri

Puri is located on the beach, but don't go there expecting a beach paradise. You'll need to head far away from the center to find an unpolluted patch of sand. Instead, Puri's appeal lies in its holiness. The imposing Jagannath Temple is only open to Hindus, but the roof of the Raghunandan Library opposite offers decent views. Puri is also a good place to organize tribal tours, and day trips such as to Chilika Lake and the Raghurajpur heritage crafts village.
Don't Miss: The Rath Yatra festival, which takes place in July/August each year. It's the only occasion when non-Hindus can get to see the temple deities. A mere glimpse of Lord Jagannath on the chariot, or even to touch the chariot, is considered to be very auspicious. A Puri Beach Festival is also held every November.

Tribal Villages

There are more than 60 tribal communities in Orissa. These ancient people with mystical ancient ways dwell in Orissa's remote, deep forests and hilly interiors. Most of them are in the southwest part of the state. Visiting the tribes can be a fascinating experience, but you'll need to go on an organized tour. Some tribal areas are quite inaccessible and require permits, and language is also a barrier. Heritage Tours are professional and knowledgeable. Also try community-based Grass Routes Journeys in Puri.
During a tribal tour of Orissa, you'll get to mix with the local tribal people and learn their lifestyles. Tours run for at least five nights/six days, due to the amount of travel involved.
Don't Miss: The weekly tribal markets.