The most memorable trips are often those that stand out as unique and true to life. India often tops the list of destinations that travelers remember most vividly, for this reason.
In India, there are many amazing tourist attractions and destinations that will blow you away and leave you with a feeling that you’ve just witnessed something incredible, like visiting the Taj Mahal for the first time (see our full guide to the Golden Triangle in Northern India). Odisha is one of those places.
If you’ve never heard of Odisha, it’s located in Eastern India and is known for its tribal culture and many ancient Hindu temples. The temples are the major draw, but certainly not the only attraction. There’s also a beautiful beach and incredible sea views.
If you’re looking for something a little different that will take you away from the normal tourist track, and leave you with a memory you’ll never forget, why not plan a side trip to Odisha?
In this post, we will walk through the 7 best Odisha points of interest – the top places to visit in Odisha.
1. Puri Beach
Pretty much 100% of Indian millennials associate the word “Odisha” with the legendary Puri Beach, also called Golden Beach. No trip to Odisha is complete without spending at least a few evenings enjoying the beach.
The long stretch of beach is often full of people and life. You can hire plastic chairs by the sea, so you can hang out and enjoy the bright lights filtering out from the many hawker stalls, talking and eating the local food, while the sea breeze blows.
Learn more about tourist places in and around Puri.
2. The Jagannath Temple
This temple, and the many others nearby, is the reason Orissa, which is the old name for Odisha, originally became famous.
It’s an important Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath, a form of Vishnu, and it’s located in the heart of town. Its walls have supremely fine architectural work, and grand statues of the gods Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra at the core of the temple.
These three gods are the main attraction in the annual Ratha Yatra festival, where you’ll see their image being carried on elaborately decorated temple cars.
The ‘thakurs’ here, people who perform your worship for you, are a captivating lot.
Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the temple. However, visitors can look at the temple from the nearby roof of the nearby Raghunandan Library.
3. The Konark Sun Temple
The Kanark Sun Temple is a wonder that continues to fascinate in spite of, or perhaps because of, its obscure origins. Some say, with research to show for it, that Narasimadev of the Eastern Ganga dynasty built it.
Since then, it has been worshiped, attacked, plundered, and had a host of things done to it. It has received hallowed entry into prestigious lists like UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the 7 Wonders of India.
>> Start planning your trip to Konark.
4. Chilika Lake
Another body of water to look at during your Odisha stay is the exotic Chilika, or Chilka Lake. Blue-green and beautiful, it is a body of brackish lagoon spread over three separate districts.
It is one of the biggest of its kind in the world and remains a tourist destination through many years now. It boasts of secondary tourist attractions as well, like a huge assortment of birds in the opulent eponymous bird sanctuary, or the nearby Nalaban island.
Gopalpur is something that will appear to you as a place out an 80s children’s book written about India. It’s a pretty, small town, but bustling with tourists now, thanks to its discovery.
It used to be a port, now no longer in use, and the jetty is what draws visitors to this place. Besides being a third water-related-destination, it has innovative activities in store: water sports like scuba diving.
Also, it has beach festivals to feature, adding a very Goa-like vibe to the place and its all.
Known as the industrial capital of Odisha, this place is one you might have read of in Geography textbooks when young as contributing to national industry through its steel plant.
Rourkela is an urban oasis in largely suburban Odisha, and it has prominent schools, a stadium and extensive transportation networking available. It is the birthplace of the likes of Mira Nair and Lazarus Barla. It has recreational parks and shopping centres for tourists.
This is another city with a nickname: “the Silk City”. It is famous for its silk weaves, garments and products. It also has quality educational, transport and media facilities, but for the tourist it has in store temples like the Kedareswar Temple and Thakurani Temple, and the Tata Benz Square.
Odisha is one of the best places India can offer to a tourist, and its combination of the hip and cultural, groovy beaches and holy temples is the factor that works. To max out your vacation here, it would be ideal to visit these worthy places in Odisha, and feel the satisfaction when you tick one item after the other off the list.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This travel guide was written by Rohit Agarwal. Rohit is a blogger at TransIndiaTravels.com. He writes about travel to and within India and has a strong passion for his country that he loves to share with his readers.