| Orissa, the lush green state, girdled by the
Bay of Bengal, lies along the eastern seaboard of India. . It
has seen some of the best fusion of traditional Indian art in
its many temples and monuments, and has been able to preserve
much of it, in an environment natural to its wonder and attractions.
Orissa was once famous for its majestic battle elephants.
It is not everywhere in the world that monuments and other edifices
can be seen in so continuous a chronology. The temples of Bhubaneswar
which once numbered about 7,000 and now only 500 date from the
6th century AD right upto the 13th century AD. The 11th century
Lingaraj Temple is surely an architectural feat. Constructed
without mortar, the temple stands up to a height of 45 metres.
The Jagannath Temple of the 12th century at Puri is one of the
four most important pilgrimage centres of the Hindus. The Temple
rises to a sheer 65 metres, making it a prominent landmark for
miles around. And there is the Chariot Temple of the Sun God
at Konark, where every nook and corner, every available inch
of space is a celebration of life. The Peace Pagoda atop the
Dhauli Hill was built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga
Nippon Buddha Sangha.
Orissa has been a haven for various dynasties, reigns and kingdoms.
It has witnessed the rise and fall of Jainism, Buddhism and
Hinduism. This was the land where King Ashoka renounced the
mundane life and accepted Buddhism as a way of life, a life
of peace and compassion. For the traveller, Orissa offers a
rewarding mix of culture, beach and wildlife tourism.
The Rath Festival
The Rath Yatra or the Car Festival of Puri, held annually around
the month of June/July, is a very sacred and important festival,
and a large number of pilgrims come from all over the country
to witness this festival. It is a time when the deities of the
Jagannath Temple -- Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and
sister Subhadra -- are taken in giant chariots to the Gundicha
Ghar for a week and then returned to the main temple. The festival
begins by beating of gongs while the deities are carried out
to the chariots. There are lavishly decorated elephants, and
sadhus with holy ash smeared on them.
The Konark Festival
The Konark Festival is held in the open air auditorium at the
backdrop of famous Konark temple. The festival has endevoured
towards revival, preservation and continuation of the unique
temple dance tradition of Orissa. Various other dance forms
from India are also performed during the festival, and the audience
comprises domestic as well as foreign tourists. There is innovation
and experiment in choreography, lighting and sound effects,
melodies of vocal and instrumental ragas and tales, beautiful
movements of dancers' feet and much more. A lively Crafts Mela
accompanies the Konark Festival.
Area: 155,707 sq. km
Population: 34.2 million
Main Language: Oriya
Best time to visit: November to March
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