On the west bank of Bhubaneshwar's holy Bindu Sagar (Ocean Drop Lake) lies what is possibly the city's most underrated attraction -- the Ekamravan Medicinal Plant Garden.
The name Ekamravan means "one mango tree forest". Old Hindu scriptures say that Bhubaneshwar was one of Lord Shiva's favorite places, where he liked to spend time meditating under a huge mango tree.
There are more than 200 varieties of plants in the Ekamravan Medicinal Plant Garden.
But that's not all that's remarkable about it. Until 2007, the area was an unattractive and crumbling space that was frequently used as a toilet. Then, government of Odisha decided to revitalize it, turning it into this magnificent garden. (The government is now focusing on the east bank of the lake and planting medicinal trees there).
The feature points of the garden are raised platforms dedicated to Lords Shiva, Parvati, and Ganesha. It was created by artisans from Raghurajpur handicrafts village and the historical Buddhist site Lalitgiri. If you're interested in Ayurveda, the garden is a must-visit. However, it's so beautifully landscaped (resplendent with lotus pond and stone sculptures) and relaxing, most people would enjoy it.
I was there while it was still misty in the early morning, and the divine clanging of temple bells and chanting could also be heard nearby, giving a delightful ethereal feel to it.
One of the Forest Guards accompanied me as I strolled around. He was very friendly, and shared his knowledge with me as he plucked various items for me to inspect or smell. One of them was a rather strange looking object, which turn out to be a seed pod from which natural kumkum powder (the red powder commonly used in Hindu religious rituals and applied to the forehead) is made from.
Fascinating! Who knew?
Another of the garden's highlights is a rudraksh tree, believed to have been a favorite of Lord Shiva. The round bead-like seeds are revered for their spiritual and energetic properties. They're usually strung together in a necklace (mala) and worn.
The Ekamravan Medicinal Plant Garden has an informative website, and a full list of the plants and their medicinal uses can be found on it.
Entry Fee and Opening Times
Ekamravan Medicinal Plant Garden opens at 8 a.m. and only costs one rupee to enter. The entry gate is located on Bindu Sagar Road.
Of course, the temples are the big attraction at Bhubaneshwar. Don't miss visiting these 5 Important Bhubaneswar Temples while you're there.