Odisha Travel Guide

Orissa, now known as Odisha, is “India’s best-kept secret.” And it is because this state just keeps surprising us on what its culture and vast coastal landscape holds. You could spend your entire life in this state and still keep discovering something novel about its roots. Which in a way, can be regarded as a signature quality. 

Odisha was historically known as Utkala and you might have surely heard this word in our national anthem. Now that’s a little history nugget for you to feed on. You’ll find many more historical nuggets when you visit its streets and temples. You will learn about its creation and about the many legends associated with them. If you think that’s something that will pique your interest, we’ve created a one-stop place for all things Odisha. Continue reading our Odisha travel guide to know more.

History And Culture Of Odisha

Odisha’s deep history stems from the many rulers and kings it has had. The most prominent historical feat that took place in this region was the battle of Kalinga that took place in 261 BCE. The war was advanced by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, and it resulted in total bloodshed that saw thousands of soldiers’ lives lost.

Although Ashoka was the victor, he was gravely affected by this immense bloodshed, and therefore chose to live a life of non-violence by choosing Buddhism. If you visit Dhauli, which is 8 km away from the state’s capital, you’ll find the Dhauli Ashoka Pillar, an emblem that resembles peace.

That’s enough of a history lesson for today. Let us talk a bit about this state’s vibrant and significant culture. Music and dance is the most joyous way this state celebrates its heritage and tradition. Its music roots are so deep that it has engravings of dancers and musicians carved on the walls of the temples. Odissi music comprises nearly all elements of Hindustani and Carnatic music, making dancing polyrhythmic and unique.

The Odissi dance and the Chaau, are the most prominent dances in this state. The Odissi dance is said to have originated from the Jagannath Temple in Puri, performed by the Maharis who were a group of devadasi dancers. Chaau is a form of warrior dance that is danced to the rhythm of traditional musical instruments and is performed today.

As for food, Odisha’s cuisine offers nothing less than a tasty platter. Some of the state’s most famous and iconic dishes include Chungdi Malai (a creamy gravy prepared with prawns and coconut milk), Dalma (chickpea dal cooked with vegetables and raw papaya), Chhena Podo (a sweet dish prepared with cottage cheese, sugar, and nuts), and Macha Ghanta (fried fish cooked with spices).

Also read: 5 Interesting Temples In Odisha 

Odisha travel guide

How To Get To Odisha

There are a consistent number of trains and regular flights and buses from major cities that go to this state. With such transport frequency, getting to Odisha won’t be a hassle at all.   

Getting To Odisha By Air

Odisha’s domestic and international flights fly from Biju Patnaik International Airport which is in the state’s capital Bhubaneswar. It has flights connecting to all major cities in the country as well as a few prominent places beyond national borders. Therefore, it won't be a hassle to find a flight or airline of your choice. This airport is just 6 km from the city center.     

Getting To Odisha By Train 

There are many railway stations scattered around Odisha. However, the Bhubaneswar Railway Station in Bhubaneswar is the main station that connects to other major Indian states. Konark Express, Rajdhani, and Coromandel Express are some of the major trains that travel via this route.  

Getting To Odisha By Road

Unfortunately, due to its location, you might not get many direct buses that ply from major Indian states to Orrisa. There are a couple of private interstate buses from Kolkata, Durgapur, and Tata (Jharkhand). NH 16 connects Odisha to West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Other than that, you have NH 18, 20, 53, and 55 passing through Odisha and making it accessible to reach via road. 

Best Time To Travel To Odisha 

For sightseeing, it’s better to visit Odisha during the winter months (October - March). The skies are clear, and the temperature is just right to enjoy the outdoors. Also, the Annual Dance Festival of Konark happens in February, making your visit even more delightful. This season makes the exploration of Odisha’s tiger reserves, coffee plantations, and pine jungles captivating. You’ll indeed feel like Dora The Explorer when you set out to visit the offerings of Odisha!

Just to give you a heads-up: get your cameras ready because many migratory birds come to Odisha during this time.

The monsoons (July - September) see harsh rains, and the summers (March - June) have torrid temperatures, both of which make sightseeing unpleasant. So if you want to make the most of Orrisa, you should try and plan your trip during winter.

Also read: 7 Things To Do In West Bengal For A Memorable Holiday

odisha travel guide

Getting Around Odisha

By Bus

Odisha has a well-integrated system of local buses that commutes passengers around the state. Many locals use these passenger buses for long distances as they’re much cheaper than other modes. And the best part is, this state has 5 types of buses that ply to and fro. Apart from the ordinary buses, you can choose between express buses, deluxe buses, AC deluxe buses, and super-premium buses.

The rates are as follows: ordinary buses are 87 paise per km, 91 paise per km for express buses, deluxe and AC deluxe bus prices are INR 1.25 and INR 1.53 per km respectively, and premium buses are around INR 2.38 per km. Do keep in mind that these rates could fluctuate from time to time.  

By Taxi 

Taxi services are spread out all over the state. You can book a car for a local trip at any of the taxi service booths. You might have to Google their location since they’re a bit spread far out. The prices depend on the type of vehicle you choose. For example, a sedan car will cost you around INR 1,500, whereas an SUV will charge you approximately INR 3,000. These are approximate rates are for an 80 km trip.

Ola and Uber are always at your disposal to complete a long-distance trip, but not the most efficient if you want to plan a day entirely for sightseeing. The local taxis have special sightseeing packages, offering various discounts. This allows you to save money if you avail any one of them.   

By Auto Rickshaw  

For short-distance travel, rickshaws are the cheapest way to travel around Odisha. By using them, you’ll be saving the environment as well because most of them are battery-powered. In this regard, Odisha deserves a few brownie points where energy consumption is concerned.

A rickshaw takes two passengers at a time and the fare is around INR 20 for each passenger. This is only for the first 3 km. If it crosses that distance, it will be an extra INR 10 per km. 

By Rail 

Odisha has 6 major rail lines connecting the state capital with Sambalpur, Rourkela, Bhadrak, Koraput, Berhampur, and Balangir. You will have to check the Indian Railway website for availability. 

Breaking Stereotypes About Odisha

“The locals speak Orissi.”

For starters, there is no spoken language known as Orissi. The closest you’ll get to those syllables is Odissi, which is a classical dance form that has its origins in the temples of Odisha. Odia is the language that is widely spoken in this state and is known to be one of 6 major classical languages spoken in India. So, never make the mistake of asking a local if they know how to speak Orissi! 

Exploring Odisha

Go Check Out 

Bhubaneswar 

Regarded as the “Temple City Of India '', Bhubaneswar is home to various complex designs that adorn the pillars of its ancient temples. People from far and wide travel to this bustling city to stay in touch with themselves by breathing in a bit of the divine. If you feel like you need to get on track with God, then this city will definitely call out to you.

The name Bhubaneswar literally translates to “Lord Of The Universe.” And its name is pretty much reflected in the number of temples and the religious admiration the locals have in this city. Here are some of the most prominent ones you should not miss:

  • Lingaraj Temple: This is Bhubaneswar’s largest temple situated in the heart of the city. History books recount that this temple, containing a Linga that is believed to have occurred naturally, was constructed by King Jajati Keshari somewhere in the 7th century. This temple is famous for its Mahashivratri celebrations as the temple is decked up in full swing with flowers and lights.
  • Parasurameswara Temple: This temple, constructed somewhere around 650 A.D, holds one thousand lingas in its premises. You can say, this is this temple’s unique trait that attracts many temple enthusiasts to appreciate this feat. In addition, its walls have beautiful carvings of Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, and Goddess Parvati. While you’re appreciating those works of art, you’ll instantly be transported into a wormhole that’ll take you back in time.
  • Raja Rani Temple: This temple has sensuous carvings of women on its surfaces, and that is why it’s colloquially known as the “love temple.” The outskirts of this shrine have a few carvings of God Shiva and Goddess Parvati, but inside its halls, there are no idols. Thus, these qualities make the Raja Rani Temple one of Bhubaneswar’s most unique sanctums. 

Puri 

Being one of Odisha’s most prominent pilgrimage sites due to the presence of the Jagannath Temple, Puri is a city surrounded by beaches along the Bay of Bengal. This city is a perfect balance of spirituality and adventure. That’s why many tourists have been coming back to this serene place. If you’re living in West Bengal, and need an exotic destination to rejuvenate, then this haven is approximately 480 km by car.

The Rath Yatra, which is a chariot festival that takes place between June to July, should not be missed as it reflects a major part of Odisha’s vibrant culture. You can be one with the people during this time, in turn, making the visiting experience even more enthralling.

If you want some time to yourself, walk on the golden sands of Puri Beach or sail on the calm waters of Chilika Lake. 

Konark

Konark should be on your itinerary as well because it’s one of Odisha’s gems that still continues to be a major attraction. The Sun Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the flag bearer of Konark. What makes this monument so great? You may ask. The answer is its complex architectural design and numerous layered pillars make this structure achieve this grand status.

Apart from the temple, Konark hosts the 5-day Annual Dance Festival that brings immense dancing talent from all over the nation. It’s a grand celebration of our country’s cultural achievements where it celebrates the numerous dance forms our country has invented. This event is held mainly in February, so if you’re in Konark at the time, make sure that you don’t miss it.    

  odisha travel guide

FAQs On Traveling To Odisha 

What Is Odisha Famous For? 

There are many reasons why Odisha is visited by many new tourists year after year. For starters, this state is rich in culture due to the deep history it has. And this is reflected in the temples and customs the locals follow. Being a coastal state located along the Bay of Bengal, this state is known for its beaches and easy-going lifestyle as well.    

What Language Is Spoken In Odisha? 

Odia is the main language spoken in this state. Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, and Urdu are also some other languages that are generally spoken by many locals in the state. 

What Is The Climate Of Odisha? 

Since it's situated near the coastal belt, you can expect a tropical kind of climate consisting of high temperatures, and dry humidity. Winters are short and mild, but monsoons definitely have to be watched out for. They range from mild to heavy and can be accompanied by cyclones. So, it’s better to stay away from Odisha’s monsoons at all costs.   

What Is The Best Time To Visit Odisha?

Winters are the best time to visit this beautiful state of Odisha. The temperatures are lenient, between 17°C and 30°C, which makes sightseeing doable and pleasant. As you open your front window, you’ll be welcomed with a chill wind just brushing the edges of your cheeks, and that’s why winters in Odisha are unmissable.

Which Is The Richest District In Odisha?

Khordha is a very well-developed and one of the richest districts in Odisha. 

Which Is The Poorest District In Odisha?

The poorest district is Kalahandi Balangir Koraput Region in Odisha.

What Is The Main Occupation Of Odisha?

The main occupation of Odisha is Agriculture.

How Many Types Of Tribes Are There In Odisha?

There are 62 distinct tribes in total in Odisha.