Bhubaneswar is the fastest growing city in Eastern India with a blend of traditional & cosmopolitan looks. The Old Town part of Bhubaneswar, better known as Temple Town is more than 2000 years old. The modern part of Bhubaneswar was formally established on 19th Aug 1949 when the capital city of Odisha was shifted from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar. But, its foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 13th April 1948 & hence Bhubaneswar Foundation day is celebrated each year on that day. It falls under the golden triangle connecting heritage pilgrims town of Puri, mystical ruins of Konark & planned Bhubaneswar which are on top of tourists wish list while visiting Odisha. This article is applicable for both travellers, tourists & residents of Bhubaneswar & can be tried as a ready reference guide while moving around in Bhubaneswar whether solo or in a group. The city has well-connected roads with various modes of transport available from app-based services like Ola/Uber (cabs), Rapido (bike), Jugnoo (auto), Mo Cycle (bicycle ride) to Mo Bus (govt run bus services). Bike rentals & self-drive cars are available too apart from normal cab services. So, let’s get started with …..
A. Visit Heritage Temples :
Brahmeswar Temple – Entry Free, Photography allowed except inside sanctum sanctorum
Rajarani Temple – Entry Fee Rs 25 for Indians, Photography allowed
Lingaraj Temple – Entry free, Photography not allowed but can be taken from an elevated platform (Curzon’s seat) outside the complex
Mukteswar Temple – Entry Free, Photography allowed
Chausathi Jogini Temple – 15km from BBSR, Entry Free, Amateur still photography allowed
Note: Temples are open almost all the time during the days except during the rest hours of the deities in the afternoon.
B. Try Local Breakfast:
Try breakfast (Jalakhia in Odia) at any street shop like Rabi Bhaina’s (Unit 6) Ganga Nagar esp chhenapoda, ghuguni, bara), Mohan Rao’s Anna South Indian (CRP Sq), Ram Mandir Tiffin Centre, Kora Khae (puffed rice dipped in jaggery) at Tini Mundia Deula Chowk, Pahala Rasagola (line of sweets shops on BBSR-Cuttack NH) among the few popular stalls. For South Indian fine dine restaurants, you can still go to Hotel Priya (Kharabela Ngr), Vineeth’s (Master Canteen Sq), Truptee (Madhusudan Nagar, Kalpana Square), North Indian restaurants are Shri Kunj (Raj Mahal Square & Jaydev Vihar) & Hare Krishna Restaurant (Lal Chand market complex at Master Canteen). Remember, almost all breakfast outlets in the morning hours will be vegetarian only.
Among breakfast items, one can try chhenapoda (roasted cottage cheese) in the picture, chhena jhili (fried cheese dipped in sugar syrup), rasagula (Odisha’s own), fried items like bara or aloochop with ghuguni (yellow peas curry) or dalma (lentil curry with vegetables), arisa cake, kakara cake, chakuli pitha (black gram+rice based flat cake), chittau pitha (rice based cake), etc. Best sweets shops in BBSR includes Bikalananda Kar Rasagula, Nimapara Sweets, Venus Sweets, Vineeth’s, Chappan Bhog, Cuttack Sweets, Jalaram, etc etc
For tea/coffee connoisseurs there are both traditional street shops like Omfed Milk Parlours at Gunga Bhai tea stall (opp RD Womens’ College), Ram Bhai Tea Shop (at CRP Square serving 80+ varieties), etc. Modern Startups like Tea Junction & Cha Biscuit (Unit 9) are also there apart from the regular CCDs. Try tandoori chai too!
C. Visit Historical Sites:
Sisupalgarh – said to be the world’s 1st planned urban city, best known for its 16 pillars
Dhauli Ashokan edicts – in fact, there are two inscriptions now. One below this monolithic elephant image n another just near the turning towards it
The twin hills of Khandagiri n Udayagiri known for their caves for monks. Originally there were 117 caves made by King Kharavela, out of which only 33 caves are now intact.
D. Attend Heritage Walks & Museums:
- Ekamra Walks at Old Town every Sunday & at Khandagiri-Udayagiri hills every Saturday from 6.30 am. The usual route in Old Town is from Mukteswar Temple, Parshurameswar Temple, Kotitirtheswar Lane, Bindu Sagar East, Anant Basudeba Temple, Doodhwala Dharamsala, Rath Road, Curzon’s seat, Suka-Sari Temple, Bindu Sagar South, Baital Temple, Ekamravan & finally ends with Odissi performance at Ileana Citaristi’s Art Vision.
- Guided Museum Walk at Odisha Crafts Museum (Kalabhoomi), Pokhariput on every Sunday from 3.30 pm onwards. There are also daily guided tours in Hindi & English & occasional special trails & handicrafts workshops too. Entry Fees: Rs50/-. Photography not allowed. Museum timings – 10 to 5 pm. Open on all days except few Govt holidays. http://www.odishacraftsmuseum.com, email@example.com, cell # 08046809358
- Odisha State Museum, Lewis Road. Timings-10 – 4.30*pm (Mon closed). Entry Fees for Adult Indian: Rs20/-, Extra charges for the camera. http://www.odishmuseum.nic.in
- Museum of Tribal Art & Artefacts (Tribal Museum), CRP Square. All days opened except the Govt holidays. Timings 10-5 pm, Entry-Free, Photography allowed now.
- Regional Museum of Natural History, Acharya Vihar, Bbsr. Timings-10-6pm (Mon closed), Entry free, Photography allowed.
- Regional Science Centre, Acharya Vihar, Timing-, Entry Fees-, Camera,
- Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Acharya Vihar, Timing-, Entry Fees-, Camera
There’s one more upcoming museum of waste to art scrap museum in Bhubaneswar at Kalinga Vihar. Inaugurated in Nov 2018, it’s expected to be open to the publc soon. And. there are various agencies providing seasonal free/paid walks in Bhubaneswar like India Heritage Walks https://www.indiaheritagewalks.org/, themed heritage walk by http://aitiha.com/
E. Try Local Lunch:
- Ananta Vasudeva Temple (Old Town) with Abadha (pure veg Odia temple food) cooked in earthen pots since the 13th century. Avg rate-Rs 100/- onwards per head from 11.00 AM to 3.00 PM daily. Have a look at its kitchen facility n stunning temple too, foreigners & photography allowed. One can also try temple food at Lingaraj’s Ananda Bazar after 2.00 PM. Open daily & heavy rush mainly on Mondays, Kartika month & religious festive days. ISKCON owned Govinda’s Restaurant serves pure veg food at ISKCON Temple, CRP Square
- Odisha Hotel -Saheed Nagar (branch at Patia & Ravi Talkies too), best known for its Odia Thali with veg & non-veg items like mutton, chicken, fish, dalma, badi chura, aloo chakata, pakhala (fermented rice), etc served in brassware.
- Dalma Restaurant – Due to its popularity, there are copycat restaurants with similar names. But for the best ambiance & authentic food, just opt for this restaurant at Aditya Park, Unit IV. Lunch hours-11.30 AM to 3.30 PM. Both veg & non-veg menu available, but don’t forget to try Dalma item, the lentil with veg items curry. Avg price Rs 150 onwards. Heavy rush on Sundays, Wednesdays & public holidays.
- Venus Inn Restaurant – For pure veg South India food, try Venus Inn (Bapuji Nagar) – the oldest South Indian restaurant in Bhubaneswar. Now, they have added North Indian items to offer variety. Lunch hours-11.30 AM to 3.30 PM. Other options for veg restaurants (both North & South Indian) include Hotel Priya (Kharavela Nagar), Hotel Venus (Surya Nagar), Truptee Restaurant (Madhusudan Nagar & Buddha Nagar), Hotel Hare Krishna (Master Canteen), Shri Kunj Restaurant (Raj Mahal sq & Jaydev Vihar), Hotel Vineeth (Master Canteen), etc. Recently in 2021, Odisha Tourism has opened premium Nimatran Restaurant (Janpath) to serve authentic Odia cuisine.
Try Pakhala (fermented rice), Mati Handi Mansha (earthen pot mutton), Bamboo Chicken, Dalma, etc which are local favourites.
F. Visit Nature Zones within or near BBSR :
Deras Dam n its nearby Jhumuka Dam, around 15 km from Bhubaneswar. Both are minor irrigation dams made by Govt & are one of the entrance gates to the Chandaka-Dampara sanctuary. Both are a hot fav of locals for picnics in winter. Entry Fee-Rs40/-. Photography allowed. Timings-8 to 5 pm https://chandakawildlife.in/Eco-Tourism.htm
Chandaka Eco-tourism facility at Godibari, around 18 km from BBSR. Meet Jasoda n Nandi, the tamed elephants, see the medicinal garden, enjoy adventure sports, go for a jungle ride in BOV. Entry Fee-Rs40/-. Photography allowed. Timings-8 to 5 pm. Note: Tickets bought at Deras or Godibari can be used to enter the other site free of charge. https://chandakawildlife.in
State Botanical Garden (Baranga) near Nandan Kanan zoo, around 15 km from Bbsr. Things to enjoy-Kanjia lake view, butterfly park, rose garden, pitcher plant section, orchid garden, picnic zone, etc. Timings-8 to 5 pm, Mon closed. Entry fee-Rs50/-, Vehicle entry charges extra. Photography allowed https://www.nandankanan.org/
Nandan Kanan Zoological Park (Baranga), 15 km from BBSR. It literally means ‘the garden of heaven’ & is known for its white tigers, captive breeding of gharials, etc. Entry fees-Rs50/- for above 12 yrs. One can opt for boat riding at a nominal fee. Timings-8 to 5 pm. https://www.nandankanan.org/
- Ekamra Kanan (RPRC complex), IRC Village. Best for nature watching, birding, cactus house, flower lovers, children’s park, joggers, etc. Entry fees-Rs25/-* for adults. Amateur Photography allowed. Timings-8 to 5 pm*. Early morning paid jogging facility (daily/monthly) available from 5.30 AM onwards. Boating facility available at nominal fees. There is also an annual flower exhibition on the 2nd week’s weekend (Sat-Sun) in January for flower lovers to visit & enjoy. http://www.rprcbbsr.in/View/Home.aspx
- Ekamravan (One mango tree forest) at Bindu Sagar West (Old Town) is the best example of conservation before #SwachhBharatMission was introduced. For fresh air, this medicinal plant garden is the best. Entry Fee-Rs5/-, Photography allowed. Timings: 8 – 5pm. http://www.ekamravan.in/
- G. Visit Fairs & Exhibitions:
Adivasi Mela at Exhibition Ground (shifted from Unit1). Enjoy tribal village, haat, crafts, cuisine, folk dance, etc & even one can buy tribal daily items. Annual Mela Dates-26 Jan – 9 Feb, Entry-Free, Photography allowed, Timing-2 to 9 pm
- Toshali National Crafts Mela at Janata Maidan. It’s a visual delight for visitors and a craft collector’s haven with 300+ stalls from all over India. Enjoy cultural programmes while shopping. Annual Dates:15th – 27thDec, Entry: Free, Photography allowed, Timings: 2 – 9 pm. https://www.odishatourism.gov.in/events-of-odisha
- Annual State Level Flower Show at Ekamra Kanan during the 2nd weekend (two days) of Dec-Jan month
- Khandagiri Mela (Magha Mela)from Magh Saptami (Jan-Feb) onwards & runs for avg 9-10 days at foothills of the twin hills of Khandagiri & Udayagiri. Sadhus from various areas congregate here for mass jagyan & there is meena bazaar for shopping seekers.
- Mruttika Terracotta Exhibition at Exhibition Ground just a week before Diwali. Once can buy from wide ranges & designs of decorative earthen diyas to earthen pots, collectibles & idols directly from the artisans.
H. Attend Concerts & Cultural Programmes:
1. Mukteswar Dance Festival from Jan 14th – 16th at Mukteswar Temple (Old Town) premises from 6 – 8.30 PM and witness various reputed artists performing Odissi dance form. Entry – Free. Photography allowed. https://www.odishatourism.gov.in/events-of-odisha
2. Raja Rani Music Festival from Jan 18th – 20th at Raja Rani Temple Complex, Tankapani Road from 6 – 8.30 pm. It’s the one-point location for classical music lovers, both instrumental & vocal. Entry – Free. Photography allowed.
3. Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav in first week’s Fri-Sunday of Feb at Dhauli Stupa foothills from 6 – 8.30 PM. Enjoy the captivating classical dance performances of various Indian dance forms by reputed artists. Entry – Free, Photography allowed.Musical Fountain with Laser Show at Bindu Sagar (Old Town) with two slots – 6.30 to 6.50 PM & again at 7.10 to 7.30 PM on all days excluding stormy weather evenings. Be seated at the southern ghat & enjoy Shiv Tandav in laser technology. Entry – Free, Photography allowed
Light & Sound Show at Dhauli with two slots for Kalinga War– 1st show at 7.00-7.35pm & repeat at 7.45 pm to 8.20 pm during summer. While during winter the time slots are 2nd 6.30 pm to 7.5pm & repeat at 7.45 to 7.50 pm. Fees – applicable, Photography not allowed. Closed on Mondays & during stormy weather evenings. (temporarily discontinued post-Fani cyclone due to damaged equipment).
Odissi Dance Concerts at Auditoriums like Rabindra Mandap, Utkal Mandap, Jaydev Bhawan, Bhanja Kala Mandap, Odissi Research Centre, etc. Watch out for International Odissi dance Festival (26-30 Dec), Odissi International Festival (Dec), Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra event by Srjan, Guru Pankaj Das Odissi, Ramli Ibrahim’s Odissi by Sutra Foundation, Odissi Research Centre’s Aruna Mohanty, Lashya by Saswat Joshi troupe, etc
I. Attend Literary Fests:
1. Kalinga Literary Festival (KLF) at Mayfair Convention Hall/Swosti Premium in June-July. It’s one of the top Lit Fests in current India with a chance to meet celebrity writers & performers. KLF also organises Mystic Kalinga event at the start of the year.
2. Tata Steel Bhubaneswar Literary Meet at changeable locations in Bhubaneswar. It’s an initiative by Tata Steel to bring onboard celebrities from various pursuits including the literature of course, both from Odisha & pan India. Dates-3 days during 1st half of Jan month https://www.tatasteel.com/corporate/our-organisation/corporate-initiatives/tata-steel-bhubaneswar-literary-meet/
3. Odisha Literary Festival (OLF) – The New India Express Odisha Literary Festival is the most significant literary event in Bhubaneswar which brings together writers, poets & Bollywood celebrities. Dates – 3 days between Sep-Nov http://www.eventxpress.com/olf/
Note_ There are some more literary festivals going around the year like Vagdevi, KLF Corner, Konark Literary Festival, etc but these are the prominent ones.
J. Attend Local Events & Festivals:
Boita Bandaana – Enjoy Boita Bandaana (worshipping of boats) with locals wearing traditional dresses during the early mornings of Kartika Purnima Day by launching tiny boats made of banana peels, paper, etc to celebrate the rich maritime legacy of ancient Kalinga (Odisha) with South-East nations like Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, etc
Mahashivratri – Witness the Mahashivratri (Great Night of Lord Shiva) in Feb-March with locals at heritage Shiva temples in Old Town like Lingaraj, Brahmeswar & Bhaskareswar temple where fasting devotees light up earthen lamp till the maha deep is posted at the temple top.
Raja Parba – The days swing festival (avg 14-16 June) for young girls becomes grandeur with new attire, red alatas (traditional red dye) in feet, chewing pan (betel leaf) & savouring traditional pithas (pancakes)
Ashokastami – The chariot (known as Rukuna Rath) of Lingaraj goes on a ritualistic ride to Mausima Temple (Rameswar Temple complex) on Ashokastami day with the chalanti pratima (living deity) of Lingaraj & his sister Rukmani. He returns back to Lingaraj Temple after a four days stay there.
K. Evening snacks Hangout in Bhubaneswar –
Major hangouts are at KIIT Square, Infocity square, Jagamara-ITER square, Saheed Nagar’s Rupali Chowk, Ram Mandir Square incl Food trucks at Convent School, Bapuji Nagar pindi (near over bridge), Gopabandhu square, Market Building area, Khau Gully (backside of the airport near Baramunda village), etc. Try Ghuguni at Jianta Ghuguni (near Kedarsons Janpath), Sahoo Mausa (CRP Square), Market Building, opp Forum Mart (Satya Nagar), etc. Gupchup (local name for Panipuri) has great followers here with popular outlets at Gopabandhu Square, CRP square, ID market, etc. For chats, Mayaram papdi chat at Bapuji Nagar, Akhila Bhai at Rupali Chowk, Abhijit at CRP Square are on top list.
L. Additional Things to Try
- Try visiting various local parks in BBSR in the morning or evening. Some of the popular ones Indira Gandhi Park, Biju Patnaik Park (Forest Park), Ekamra Kanan Park, IMFA Park, Buddha Jayanti Park, Netaji Park , Science Park, Ekamravan, Jaydev Vatika, SP Mukherjee Park etc.
- Have a cycle ride within Bhubaneswar with Mo Cycle, the bicycle sharing app
- Go on a rickshaw ride in the seven streets & 42 bylanes of the ancient Old Town area dotted with around 330+ heritage temples, tanks & muths
- Try street shopping at Capital Haat for daily needs & Market Building for fashion items, handicrafts & apparel from Boyanika, Utkalika & Priyadarsini. Have Narula Kulfi in front Kalamandir Store, one of the oldest garment shops here https://gocoop.com/collections/boyanika/ , https://utkalika-orissa-state-emporium.business.site/
For mall experience, you can still go to Forum Mart (Satya Nagar), BMC Bhawani Mall (Saheed Nagar), Pantaloons (Saheed Nagar), Central Mall (Saheed Nagar), DN Regalia (Patrapada), Esplanade (Rasulgarh), Pal Heights (Jaydev Vihar), Reliance Super (Master Santeen sq), Symphony Mall, Utkal Royal Galleria Mall, etc
- Try for movies at traditional one-screen cinema halls like Keshari Theatre, Maharaja Picture Palace, Shriya/Stutee/Swati Cine Complex, etc. Multiplex like Cinepolis (Esplanade), Inox at BMC Bhawani Mall, DN Regalia & Symphony, etc are there for the modern cine-goers.
M. Things to try near BBSR
Cuttack – famous for Filigree work (Silver City), Bali Jatra & Durga Puja. Also known as Museum city with nine museums to explore starting with the State Maritime Museum, Netaji Birthplace Museum, Printing Press Museum, Judiciary Museum, Police Museum, Anand Bhawan (birthplace of Biju Patnaik), Swaraj Ashram, Skill Museum, Madhu Babu Museum, etc. http://odishastatemaritimemuseum.org/ . Do join the Cuttack Heritage Walks on the last Sunday of the month initiated by locals of Cuttack city. https://www.facebook.com/cuttackheritagewalks/
Joranda Mela at Joranda gadi in Dhenkanal during Jan-Feb on a purnima day
Konark – Chandrabhaga & Ramchandi beach, Dance Festival, Sand Art Exhibition,
Puri – Temple, Sahi Jaata, Chandan Jatra , Gosani Jatra, Rath Jatra, Suna Besha etc
Raghurajpur – first heritage village promoting handicrafts
Chilika – second largest brackish water lagoon in the world known for migratory birds
Mangalajodi wetland – a paradise for migratory birds
Buddhist Circuit of Ratnagiri, Udayagiri, Langudi in Jajpur district & Lalitgiri in Cuttack
Note:- The article is just for information purposes & not an updated one. Visitors are required to check for current facilities, entry fees, photography permissions, timings, opening days & holidays & rates at sites or in portals