Temples and beaches
The state of Orissa is not widely visited by foreign tourists, despite having many attractions: These include the Sun temple at Konarak, outstanding temple architecture in Bhubaneswar and Puri, and the serenely beautiful Chilika lake, Asia's largest saltwater body.
Add to this the long sandy beach at Puri, with its distinctive green/blue waters, and you will find Orissa an unusual but worthwhile destination.
, the capital of the state of Orissa, is a pleasant city containing a real contrast between the modern new buildings and the superb Hindu temples, many dating from back a 1000 years or more. More than 400 temples remain of the 7,000 that are said to have once embellished the city. The most famous is the Lingaraj Temple.
is a popular seaside resort, famous for the great `Car Festival' held at the Temple of Jagannath in June or July. During this festival, the image of Jagannath is placed on an enormous 15m high wooden chariot and drawn through the streets by thousands of penitent devotees.
The splendid Sun temple of Konarak, built in the 13th century and located about 35 km from Puri, is the finest example of ancient Orissan temple architecture. The temple was conceived in the form of a colossal chariot for the sun god Surya, standing on 12 pairs of eight-spoke-wheels and drawn by seven galloping horses.
Just 20 minutes drive from Puri is the idyllic village of Raghurajpur, where every thatch-roof dwelling houses a family of artisans. Their skills in stone-and-wood carving, palm-leaf paintings, and fine drawings on silk or cloth, are passed down from one generation to the next. If you're interested, the artisans will demonstrate their processes.
You can take an excursion from either Puri or Bhubaneswar to Chilika, Asia's largest saltwater lake. Chilika lake is dotted with islands and is known for the many migratory birds which flock to the nesting sanctuary here in winter. The shallow lake is about 70 km wide and averages 15 km wide. It's separated from the sea only by a narrow sand bar.