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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
Capital: Bhubaneswar
Main Language: Oriya
Best time to visit: November to March


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