Tourist Guide to Undiscovered Odisha
By: Tiasha Chatterjee
Nested in the heart of nature and endowed with great wonders, Odisha, a state in eastern India is a great visual delight for every tourist. No matter what the season is, the culturally enriched state never falls short of the huge list of great tourist attractions it has to offer, for visitors of every age group and diverse needs.
From natural wonders such as lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, biosphere reserves, serene beaches, to culturally rich heritage sites with temples and museums - Odisha is a must-visit tourist destination if you are planning a trip to the incredible India!
The majestic charm of the ancient state can never be described through words, one must go there and explore the region by themselves. So, what are some of the great undiscovered places in Odisha that every tourist needs to visit at least once in their lifetime? Keep reading to find out!
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Located 15 km from the state capital, Nandankanan can be literally translated to “celestial garden”. Built in 1960, the zoo was an afterthought to the World Agriculture Fair. Hosted in New Delhi in 1960, the Odisha pavilion displayed its animals on a stall in the fair, and once it was over, the realization dawned that the animals now needed a home - thus Nandankanan was built on its current site in the Jujhagarh Forest block.
What sets Nandankanan apart from other zoos is that it is located right inside a forest, in the backdrop of a natural environment. The animals are kept in huge enclosures that are built to replicate their natural habitat, thus helping them to settle in and lead healthy and happy lives. There are many reasons for Nandankanan to be hailed as one of the most prominent zoological parks in the world - it is the most famous host for the endangered white tiger species, and the first zoo to breed Gharials in captivity, yet another endangered species.
Nandankanan offers numerous activities to its visitors to make their visit worthwhile - this includes Lion, Tiger, Bear, and Deer Safari. You can also enjoy a peaceful time in the idyllic settings of Kanjia Lake.
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Chilika Nature Camps
Each year as winter sets in the country, millions of migratory birds from all over the world, including Siberia, Russia, etc. come over to Chilika lake, thus making it the largest winter ground for migratory birds in the subcontinent. The immense beauty of the lake has captured the hearts of tourists and writers alike.
The lake is also home to a huge number of Irrawaddy Dolphins, making it the highest recorded inland population in the world. While you are there, it is not uncommon to witness groups of dolphins diving and swimming near the Rajhans Nature Camp. Hailed as a Wetland of International importance and a RAMSAR Site, Chilika lake is also the largest breeding ground for Flamingos in the world. The huge variety of bird species residing here includes White-bellied Sea eagles, Gray-lag geese, purple moor-hen, flamingo jacana, herons, Brahminy ducks, Pintails, etc.
To help tourists who have come to enjoy the serenity of Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, Odisha’s Dept of Tourism and Forest Department has built nervous accommodation facilities, including Pathanivas at Barkul and Rambha. Nature Camps at Berhampur, Rajhans and Mangalajodi.
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Situated on the southern slopes of the Gandhamardan hills of Odisha’s Rourkela city, Harishankar falls is famous amongst the locals as a pilgrimage site that draws in thousands of devotees every year. However, for non-religious travellers, the Harishankar falls with its fantastic views and mild weather is an equally breathtaking picnic location.
While you visit the Harishankar falls, you will also come across the ancient Harishankar temple. All the major festive occasions, such as Sankranti, Shivratri, Makar Sankranti, Ekadashi, and Maagha Mela are hosted in this temple with great decorum, and womenfolk from all over the city partake in these celebrations.
If you wish to visit the area by rail, the closest railway station is the Harishankar Road, from where the temple is only 32 km away. You will also find regular taxis which will take you to the zone from the railway station.
Raghurajpur Artist Village
A short drive of only 10 km from Puri, this tiny village is a getaway to the rich ancient history of Odisha. No less than a modern-day virtual art gallery, here in this village you will be getting a majestic glimpse of the village artisans painting intricate drawings on traditional palm leaves.
In a village where almost every house is an art museum and every person is an inborn artist, the villagers have kept the traditional art form of ‘pattachitra’ painting (painting on leaves) alive to this day. This art form can be traced back to the 4th century. A great heritage village but a silent tourist attraction, Raghurajpur Artist Village is situated at a distance of 55 km from Bhubaneshwar, the state capital.
Spread over a sprawling land of more than 650 sq km, the Bhitarkanika Mangroves are seated on the river delta of Brahmani and Baitarani, offering its visitors an easy and cosy wildlife experience. The national park is home to plenty of endangered species, such as the saltwater crocodiles, Indian python, King Cobra, black ibis, darters, and not to forget the diverse variety of enchanting flora and fauna.
If you wish to reach the destination by rail, the nearest railway station is the Bhadrak station, which is only 77 km away. You can also reach the Bhitarkanika Mangroves by road, for which the best route to drive is the Bhubaneswar via Rajnagar highway - it will take you four to five hours to reach this way.
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Daringibadi Hill Station
Commonly known amongst the townsfolk as a Kashmir in the heart of Odisha, Daringibadi Hill Station is the only place in Odisha to receive snowfall during the winter season. The region has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources, making it a must-visit for visitors to come and witness the pine trees, coffee plantations, and scenic valleys with hill-view parks, botanical gardens, great waterfalls, and emu farming land. The wonderful valleys and enchanting meadows of Daringibadi Hill Station make it a fantastic summer retreat for all nature lovers.
Settled in the Kandhamal district, the Daringibadi Hill Station can be reached by both railways as well as roads. If you wish to reach the place by train, you will have to get down at the Berhampur railway station which is 125 km away from the exact location. You can also reach via road, and for that, you will be offered numerous public transport options such as taxis from Berhampur, Phulbani or Balliguda.
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If you take a walk down the enormous coastline of Odisha, you will be greeted by innumerable virgin beaches, and Talsari stands out amongst them. Falling in the Balasore district, Talasari beach is only 10 km away from Bichitrapur, which is the second-largest mangrove forest in Odisha.
While you are at the serene Talasari beach, you will experience the fulfilling peacefulness of the region, as the sun sets far above the seashore. Filled with rows after rows of palm trees, red crabs, and sand dunes, if you wish to unwind a little from your daily hassles of life and cherish the peaceful aura of nature with your loved ones, Talasari beach is the place to be! And while you are there, do not forget to explore the sea with the boat rides.
The largest freshwater lake in the state of Odisha, Ansupa Lake is guaranteed to take your breath away with its many vibrant hues - especially during the rainy season! And during the winter months, migrating birds come to the lake in flocks, thus transforming the place into a paradise for nature lovers.
The lake derives its name from its shape of a horseshoe or Ansupa. Boat rides have also been arranged for visitors who wish to experience the rich beauty of the place up close!
While you visit Ansupa Lake, you will also come across the ruins of the ancient fort that is settled on the top of the Saranda hill, adjacent to the lake, thus adding to the charmful panoramic view. Although there is no specific history to the first, local people believe that it was built by Saranda for his safety. All that remains today of this fort is The Baruda Ghar (ammunition store), two wells, and a metal door entrance to the fort.
Ansupa Lake is located at 50 km from Cuttack, in the middle of the state highway that connects Athagarh with the Banki block of Cuttack district.
Now that you are aware of the magnificent wonders of Odisha, it is about time you get down to exploring the area by yourself! Pack your bags and get your visa - it is the time to visit India!
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