Unlike the old capital of Cuttack, 30 km away, which is overcrowded, the new Bhubaneswar is a well-planned city with broad tree-lined roads and empty spaces. The feeling that one gets in certain parts of the city – especially the south — is of a small town with green, cool avenues and large, sprawling bungalows.
There is another facet to the capital that cannot be ignored: the temples. Old-timers maintain that the city may have close to ten thousand temples it legendarily possessed at one time, many of which can be seen in Old Town in the south of the capital. The temples showcase the unique beauty of the region’s varied and intricate Hindu architecture. The main attraction in the old part of town is Bindu Sagar, the lake and the Lingaraj Temple, which can be seen from a distance.
Today, the city exhibits both the outward characteristics of a modern state capital and the enduring spirit of the majestic kingdom that was classical Orissa. Along with the rest of the country, Bhubaneswar is fast catching up with modern times. The changing skyline and commercial districts have now been joined by the tourism sector, with new upscale hotels, international apparel outlets, shopping malls and excellent dining-out options.
Bhubaneswar’s importance as the gateway to the fascinating state of Orissa and its abundant attractions cannot be overlooked. Chilika Lake, the important Buddhist sites of Ratnagiri, Udaigiri and Lalitgiri, Dhauli, Khandagiri, Simlipal National Park, Orissa’s many beach resorts, and Konark’s famous Sun Temple, are some of the attractions.
In a city tour the following sites must be included: The Lingaraj Temple is one of Orissa’s main temples, notable for the balanced placement of sculpture on its 45 m spire. More than 50 smaller temples surround the main temple. Next to the Lingaraj temple is the Bindu Sagar, a large tank believed to contain droplets from all of India’s holy pools. The Parasurameswar Temple, the oldest and one of the best-preserved, should be next on your list. The Mukteswar Temple is a series of small monuments and its inverted U-shaped archway is known for its intricate carvings. Rajarani Temple is famous for its shikhara, built with miniature temple spires clustered around the main tower. Udaigiri and Khandagiri are caves cut into the hillside with 33 niches or gumphas. Dhauli commemorates Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism. Nandankanan, the zoo and wildlife sanctuary, is a vast expanse of the Chandaka forest, and has a huge collection of animals from all over the world, including the famed white tiger.