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Bhubaneshwar
 
Bhubaneshwar
 

Bhubaneswar is the capital and the largest city of the Indian state of Odisha. The city has a long history of over 2000 years starting with Chedi dynasty (around 2nd century BC) who had Sisupalgarh near present-day Bhubaneswar as their capital. Historically Bhubaneswar has been known by different names such as Toshali, Kalinga Nagari, Nagar Kalinga, Ekamra Kanan, Ekamra Khetra and Mandira Malini Nagari. The largest city of Odisha, Bhubaneswar today is a center of economic and religious importance in the region.

Its proud possession of magnificent sculptures and architectural heritage, coupled with the sanctity as Ekamrakshetra make this one of the great religious centres of Odisha since early medieval days. With its large number of Hindu temples (over 600 in number), which span the entire spectrum of Kalinga architecture, Bhubaneswar is often referred to as a Temple City of India. Together with Puri and Konark and, Bhubaneswar forms the 'Swarna Tribhuja' (the 'Golden Triangle'), one of the most visited destinations in East India.

The modern city of Bhubaneswar was designed by the German architect Otto Königsberger in 1946. It is one of the cleanest and planned city of Modern India, after Chandigarh. The city is surrounded by dense canopy of forests, picturesque Chandaka and the Nandankanan; this along with an abundance of in-city greenery and an efficient civic body (the BMC) makes it one of the cleanest and greenest city of India today.

Bhubaneswar replaced Cuttack as the political capital of the state of Odisha in 1948, a year after India gained its independence from Britain. Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are together known as the "twin cities" of Odisha. The metropolitan area formed by the twin cities has a 2008 population of 1.9 million and The World gazetteer estimates the metro area population as 1,666,429 making it the 22nd largest urban centre in the country. Bhubaneswar comes under the category of tier 2 cities of India. It is an emerging IT hub and one of the fastest developing cities of India in recent years.

Culture

Bhubaneswar at one point in time is supposed to have had over a thousand temples. Although a large number of temples have given way for urban infrastructure, Bhubaneswar still abounds in temples of various deities. This has earned it the tag of the Temple City. The most famous ones are Lingaraj Temple, Lakshmanesvara group of temples, Parasuramesvara Temple, Svarnajalesvra Temple, Muktesvara Temple, Rajarani Temple, Vaital Temple, Brhamesvara temple, Meghesvara temple, Vaskaresvara Temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Sari Temple, Kapilesvara Temple, Markandesvara temple, Yamesvara temple, Chitrakarini temple, Sisiresvara Temple. Apart from the ancient temples few other important temples were built in recent times that includes Ram Mandir, ISKON etc. The Lingaraj Temple towers above the cityscape and is visible from far. Careful conservation has helped save many of these symbols of Oriya culture.

There has been a recent awareness towards preserving the ethos of Odia culture in the form of Classical Odissi dance, handicrafts, sand artistry, sculpturing as well as theatre and music. Boundary walls and gardens are increasingly being redone to depict the folk art of the region.

The Ekamra Haat is the popular hand-loom and handicrafts market that was constructed recently to popularise them. Similarly SRJAN, the Odissi dance academy founded by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra the legendary Odissi dancer is located here. The Rabindra Mandap in central Bhubaneswar plays host to a number of cultural engagements and it also has a modern amphitheatre to host theatre and private functions.

At Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udaygiri (on the way to Paradip) Buddhist sites of great historical significance have been excavated. The site at Ratnagiri is the most extensive and the carvings and sculpture are highly regarded for their proficiency and artistic merit.

Khandagiri & Udayagiri (Jain Heritage): The twin hills of Khandagiri & Udayagiri, 8 km from Bhubaneswar, served as the site of an ancient Jain monastery which was carved into cave like chambers in the face of the hill. These caves, with artistic carvings date back to the 2nd century BC. Of particular note of their artistic carvings are the Rani Gumpha (Queen's Cave)and the Hati Gumpha (Elephant Cave). The Hati Gumpha has carved chronicles of King Kharavela's reign.

Lingaraj Temple: The 10th - or 11th-century Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar has been described as "the truest fusion of dream and reality." It is dedicated to Shiva. The Lingaraja temple has been rated one of the finest examples of Hindu temples in India by Ferguson, the noted art critic and historian. The surface of the 55 m-high Lingaraja temple is covered with carvings. Tradition among Hindus exist to visit the Lingaraj Temple before visiting the Jagannath temple at Puri.

Dhauli Giri: Just 8 km away from Bhubaneswar looking down on the plains that bore witness to the gruesome war waged on Kalinga by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka the Great, stand the rock edicts of Dhauli. It was here that Ashoka, full of remorse after the Kalinga War in 261 BC, renounced his blood-thirsty campaign and turned to Buddhism. Ashoka erected two main edicts in Kalinga, one in Dhauli and the other in Jayagarh. The principles of Ashoka which reflect his compassion were inscribed on all the other edicts in his empire except Kalinga. In the Kalinga edicts he warned the people of Kalinga not to revolt and that he would take appropriate action if they did. This is in sharp contrast to all of his other edicts and proof of his political acumen.

The edicts are remarkably well preserved, despite the fact that they date back to the 3rd century BC. A sculpted elephant, the universal symbol of Lord Buddha, tops the rock edicts. The Shanti Stupa or the peace pagoda, built through the Indo-Japanese collaboration, is located on the opposite hill.

Fairs & Festivals

On the day of Ashokashtami in the month of March, the image of Lingaraja (Lord Shiva) and other deities are taken in a procession from Lingaraja Temple to the Rameshwara Temple. Hundreds of devotees participate in pulling the chariot that carries the deities. The deities remain in the Rameshwara Temple for four days.

At the end of January comes Adivasi Mela, a fair that displays the art, artifacts, tradition, culture, and music of the tribal inhabitants of Odisha.

Durga Puja is also an important festival. Various pandals are constructed throughout the city. The largest pujas are: the Shahid Nagar Durga Puja, the Nayapalli Durga Puja, and the Rasulgarh Durga Puja. Laxmi Puja at Laxmisagar near Jharapada is also very famous.

Tourism in Bhubaneshwar
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    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhubaneswar
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