Nandankanan National Park is a must-visit tourist attraction of Orissa. On one hand, it fulfills the criteria of being a zoological park. On the other hand, it also serves as a grand botanical garden, where one can see even the rarest species of plants. The zoological park has been demarcated from the botanical garden with a natural lake. Nandankanan Wildlife Sanctuary has been named after the 'mythical garden' of Gods, the mention of which has often been made in the Puranic literature of India.The sanctuary has been so named because of its exquisite beauty and alluring serenity. It serves as the natural habitat of a number of animals, ranging from the rare white tigers, reptiles and snakes to distinctive kinds of birds. Even for kids, this place is very enjoyable. They can take a joy ride in the toy train that runs here. For the elders, there are boating facilities at the lake. The whole atmosphere of the Nandankanan National Park is so serene that it completely rejuvenates the mind as well as the soul.
Dhauli Hill, one of the most visited Buddhist pilgrim destinations in India, is situated in the state of Orissa. It is located in the Khurda district, at a distance of approximately 8 km from Bhubaneswar. The hill represents the place where, after witnessing the carnage of Kalinga War, Emperor Ashoka relinquished war and adopted Buddhism. Serving as a proof of this renunciation are the edicts of the Emperor, which have been preserved here.It is in these edicts that he had asked his administrators to rule with equality and compassion. One of the major attractions of the Dhauli Hills is a Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda). Situated on the opposite hill, this stupa was built by the Indians, in collaboration with the Japanese. It is circular edifice, which is adorned with a mushroom-like dome on top. Of the numerous stone panels in the stupa, the main panel is the one that has the reclining Buddha.
Udaygiri & Khandagiri Caves
Orissa is well known for the ancient caves located in the twin cities of Udaygiri (meaning the hill of the sunrise) and Khandagiri (meaning the broken hill). They are situated near the capital city of Bhubaneswar. Udaygiri caves are approximately 135 ft high and Khandagiri caves are 118 ft high. The caves are reminiscent of influence of Buddhism and Jainism in Orissa. The origin of the rock cut caves of Udaygiri and Khandagiri dates back to the 2nd century BC.The main attraction of these caves consists of its stupendous carvings. Of all the caves in Udaygiri, the largest one is the Rani Gumpha or the Queen's Cave. The cave of the queen is adorned with elaborate carvings. There is also an Elephant Cave or the Hathi Gumpha, where you can find the amazing statues of elephants installed on the gate. In the Khandagiri city, one can find a large number of caves and most of them have been occupied for meditative purposes.
Sun temple is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Konark. The credit for constructing this 13th century old shrine, dedicated to Sun God, goes to Raja Narsimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty. Konark Sun Temple has been built in the form of a gigantic chariot that has 24 wheels. Each of the wheels is nearly 10 feet in diameter. The chariot is drawn by seven horses. The temple, adorned with intricate and exquisite sculptural work, holds the distinction of being one of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. There is an interesting legend associated with the Sun temple of Konarak. It is said that Samba, the son of Lord Krishna and Jambavati, committed the mistake of entering the bathing place of Lord Krishna's wives. Angry at the act of his son, Lord Krishna cursed Samba with leprosy and made a proclamation that he would be relieved of this curse only when he worshipped Lord Surya with full devotion. Acting upon the decree, Samba reached Konaditya Kshetra. There, he found the idol of Sun God seated on a lotus.
Lying approximately 29 km from Bhubaneswar, Pipli is a small village that is famous as a centre for appliqué work. A visit to the village can bring you very close to the culture of Orissa. Colorful canopies, blooming gardens, bright beach umbrellas, shoulder and handbags, etc are some of the things you can shop for, when in Pipli.