Top 10 Things to Do in Bhubaneswar

Attractions in Odisha's Capital City

Lion in front of Lingraj Temple, Bhubaneshwar.
Lion in front of Lingraj Temple, Bhubaneshwar. Kay Maeritz / LOOK-foto/Getty Images

Modern-day Bhubaneswar was born in 1948, after India's independence from the British. It was designed by German architect Otto Königsberger and was one of India's first planned cities. Nowadays, it's a fast-growing commercial center and emerging sporting center. However, Bhubaneswar is best known for being a city of ancient temples. It has a very long history that can be traced back to the 3rd century B.C.E.

The old part of the city is fascinating, and is where most of the major temples are located. Undoubtedly, they're the highlight. Yet, there are many other interesting places to visit in Bhubaneswar that shouldn't be overlooked. As the attractions are spread out over the city, it's best to take a tour or hire a car (or auto rickshaw) for the day to visit them. 

Here's the pick of things to do.

01 of 10

Stargaze at Pathani Samanta Planetarium

Circular, yellow planetarium building in Bhubaneswar

Subhashish Panigrahi / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Address
7RXJ+6VX, Acharya Vihar, Doordarshan Colony, Gajapati Nagar, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 751015, India
Phone +91 674 256 7653

Named after astronomer Pathani Samanta, this planetarium occupies a five-acre plot near Acharya Vihar Square. Learn about stars, planets, and galaxies in a 178-seater dome where 30- to 40-minute shows play continuously throughout the day. The highly regarded science institution holds group gazing events during solar and lunar eclipses, plus any additional noteworthy star events. If nothing else, visit just to get an up-close look at fascinating astronomy equipment.

02 of 10

Climb up to the Peace Pagoda

Low-angle view of steps leading up a Buddha-topped hill

Amlantapan1 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Address
5RRQ+WQJ, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 752104, India

One of the major spiritual attractions in Bhubaneswar is Dhauli Giri Shanti Stupa, also known as the Peace Pagoda. Sitting atop the Dhauli Hills, where the ancient Kalinga War is believed to have taken place, the domed monument is a symbol of peace in war-free times.

It depicts a Buddha because the war reportedly prompted Mauryan King Ashoka to adopt Buddhism and devote his life to peace. The monument was built in 1973 by the Kalinga Nippon Budha Sangha.

03 of 10

Go Temple Hopping

Mukteshwar temple, Bhubaneshwar.

Kamlesh_Sethy/Getty Images

 

Temple construction flourished in Bhubaneswar from the 8th to the 12th century, when Lord Shiva was widely worshiped. Hindu scriptures say that Bhubaneswar was one of Lord Shiva's favorite places where he meditated under a mango tree. The city gets its name from Lord Shiva's Sanskrit name, Tribhubaneswar, meaning "Lord of Three Worlds". It's estimated that about 700 temples remain there. Their distinctive architecture features towering heavily sculptured spires (deula).

Don't miss seeing these top temples in Bhubaneswar. Ekamra Walks conducts comprehensive free guided heritage walks of the Old Town every Sunday morning at 6.30 a.m., starting from Mukteswar Temple.

04 of 10

Relax at Bindu Sagar and Shoshi Ghat

Shoshi Ghat
Sharell Cook.
Address
Bindu Sagar, Old Town, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 751002

Divine Bindu Sagar (Ocean Drop Lake) is situated in the heart of the Old Town, just north of the iconic Lingraj Temple. It's believed to have been formed by Lord Shiva, who collected water from holy places all over India, for his wife Goddess Parvati. Pilgrims take a dip in the lake to cleanse themselves of sins. Take a stroll around it, and sit for a while and soak up the atmosphere at picturesque Shoshi Ghat.

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05 of 10

Explore Rock-Cut Caves

Ganesh Gumpha at Udaygiri caves.

AROYBARMAN/Getty Images

 

Address
7Q7M+2V7, Khandagiri, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 751030, India

Head 15 minutes southwest of the city on National Highway 5, and you'll reach the rock-cut Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. These caves are spread over two adjacent hills—Udayagiri (Sunrise Hill) has 18 caves, and Khandagiri has 15. Apparently, most of them were carved for Jain monks to live in during the reign of Emperor Kharavela in the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C.E.

Cave number 14 (Hathi Gumpha, the elephant cave) has an inscription that he wrote. In addition to the caves, there's a Jain temple atop Khandagiri. If you climb up the hill, you'll be rewarded with a great view over Bhubaneswar. The caves are open from sunrise until sunset.

Ekamra Walks conducts free guided walking tours of the Khandagiri hills every Saturday morning at 6.30 a.m.

06 of 10

Discover Odisha's Culture and Heritage

Odisha tribal dress.
Kimberley Coole/Getty Images.

The exceptional Kala Bhoomi Odisha Crafts Museum is the state's first museum dedicated to handloom and handicrafts. This interactive museum is spread over a massive 13 acres. There are four zones with exhibitions, galleries, and workshops. The outdoor display sections, with courtyards dedicated to tribal living and temple architecture, are a feature.

If you're interested in the state's distinctive tribal culture, do stop at the insightful and well-developed Odisha State Tribal Museum on the way to the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. It's one of the best tribal museums in India. The museum opens at 10 a.m. daily except Sundays and public holidays. Entry is free.

The Odisha State Museum is worth visiting, too. Its four floors have an outstanding collection of rare palm-leaf manuscripts, folk musical instruments, primeval weapons and tools, Buddhist and Jain artifacts, and other archaeological treasures. The museum opens at 10 a.m. daily except Mondays and public holidays.

07 of 10

Feast on Odia Food

Odia seafood thali at Swosti.

Sharell Cook

 

Delicious Odia food is typically less oily and less spicy than usual in India but still very tasty. Dalma (named after the state's trademark dal with vegetables) is the city's most famous Odia cuisine restaurant. Seafood is a specialty there and thalis (platters with a variety of dishes) are reasonably priced. If you'd prefer a less touristy alternative, try Odisha Hotel in Sahid Nagar. For somewhere more upmarket, Chandni at the Trident hotel is costly but worth it. Do note it's only open for dinner. Kanika restaurant at the Mayfair hotel is also recommended.

08 of 10

Browse the Handicraft Market

Shops at Ekamra Haat.
Sharell Cook.
Address
Madhusudan Marg, Unit 3, Ekamra Vihar, UNIT- 9, Ekamra Vihar, UNIT- 9, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 751001, India

Ekamra Haat is a permanent handicraft market located on a large five-acre landscaped plot at the Exhibition Ground in Bhubaneswar. It was made along the lines of Delhi's Dilli Haat, albeit on a much smaller scale. There are about 50 shops selling paintings, handloom textiles, stone statues, and other products made by artisans in Odisha. The market is a convenient place to shop for souvenirs (and grab a bite to eat at the snack stalls). It's open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., but some shops remain closed until later in the day. Entry is free.

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09 of 10

Shop for Silver Jewelry

Silver filigree from Lalchand Jewellers, Bhubaneshwar.
Sharell Cook.

Odisha is famous for its silver work, particularly Tarakasi silver filigree from Cuttack. If you love silver jewelry, don't miss trawling the silver emporiums near Bhubaneswar Railway Station. You'll find a huge range of inexpensive silver earrings, toe rings, anklets, and necklaces. The intricate toe ring designs are really special and unique, and often have glittery stones or bells. Ask the shop assistants to show you the boxes full of toe rings kept under the display counters.

10 of 10

Support Odisha's Tribes

Tribal painting in Odisha.

Kimberley Coole/Getty Images

Address
9, IPICOL Rd, UNIT- 9, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 751022, India

Odisha's Tribal Development Co-operative Corporation has a signature "Adisha" retail outlet on IPICOL Road near Rupali Square in Bhubaneswar. This attractively designed store stocks a wide range of exclusive goods produced by the state's tribal communities including organically colored Kotpad sarees, jewelry, dhokra figurines, paintings, spices, honey, and coffee.

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From Temples to Tribes in Odisha's Capital, Bhubaneswar