Palace Stays, Heritage Villages, & More: A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha

Pictures showing you a glimpse of all you can experience in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Odisha Akshita M Bhanj Deo

Despite its history and cultural heritage, Odisha is an Indian state that often flies under the radar of Indian and global travellers looking to experience all new vistas of excitement, adventure, and culinary delight. Here's a one-stop homegrown guide to everything you need to do, see and experience while you're in Odisha.

Luxury Accomodation

The Belgadia Palace, Baripada, Mayurbhanj (North Odisha)

Description: Stay in the majestic Belgadia Palace, a heritage property that offers a unique blend of royal hospitality and modern amenities. This palace, built in the 18th century, allows guests to experience the grandeur of Odisha's royal history.

Highlight: Luxurious rooms, traditional Odia architecture, and lush gardens.

Location: Baripada, Mayurbhanj.

Rambha Palace, Rambha, Khallikot (Coastal Odisha)

Description: A 200-year-old palace restored to a luxury boutique hotel and wellness retreat by Chilika Lake.A picture showing you a glimpse of all you can experience in Odisha.

A picture showing you a glimpse of all you can experience in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Talib Chitalwala
A picture showing you a glimpse of all you can experience in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Akshita M Bhanj Deo

Hotels

Swosti Chilika Resort, Chilika Lake

Description: A premium eco-resort situated on the banks of the tranquil Chilika Lake, it's also home to the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia. The resort offers picturesque views, luxurious accommodations, and a range of water-based activities.

Highlight: Boating on Chilika Lake, dolphin sightings, and bird watching

Location: Chilika Lake, Puri

Desia Eco Tourism Camp, Koraput

Description: This eco-friendly camp in the heart of the tribal hinterlands of Koraput provides an authentic rural experience. Guests can engage with local tribes and explore the natural beauty of the region.

Highlight: Tribal cultural experiences, guided treks, and organic food.

Location: Koraput

Taptapani Springs Resort (earstwhile Taptapani Panthanivas) Taptapani Springs Resort is the only shelter for tourists at Taptapani to indulge in the pleasant serene of green hilly nature and is situated near Berhampur city. The two ac suites have a common balcony and each has a huge bedroom, a dressing room and a bathroom containing a small swimming pool fed by the warm water from the hot springs. The cottages overlook a pristine valley replete with various shades of green.The dining hall is strategically placed in between two crests of a mountain fold. A few minutes walk from here will take you to Kandimata mandir where the locals take a bath in the spring before offering their daily prayers. There is also a deer park maintained by the local forest department.

Eco Retreat, Konark

Sunbathe at the pristine Ramchandi Beach or indulge in thrilling water sports activities on your glamping staycation at Eco Retreat Konark. The atmosphere is beautifully designed with a modern mix of luxurious amenities and fun-filled activities right on the beach overlooking the majestic Bay of Bengal.

Bed & Breakfast

Golden Dews Farmstay, Koraput

Escape to this lush coffee plantation retreat, where modern luxury meets rustic charm. Amidst nature's beauty, enjoy the tranquil monsoon season and bring your furry friends along. Indulge in home-cooked meals and freshly brewed coffee.Refresh your mind, body, and soul in its serene surroundings across a lush 35 acre plantation.

Contact Information: 8637277174, 9078628125

A picture showing you a glimpse of all you can experience in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Akshita M Bhanj Deo

Food & Drinks

Dalma Restaurant, Bhubaneswar

Description: Famous for serving traditional Odia cuisine, Dalma offers a range of dishes prepared using authentic recipes. The restaurant is named after the popular Odia dish, Dalma, made from lentils and vegetables.

Must-Try: Dalma, Pakhala Bhata (fermented rice), and Chhena Poda (sweet cheese dessert).

Location: Multiple locations in Bhubaneswar.

Kanika Restaurant, Puri

Description: Located in the Mayfair Heritage hotel, Kanika is renowned for its seafood and traditional Odia delicacies. The restaurant provides a fine dining experience with a touch of local flavor.

Must-Try: Machha Besara (fish in mustard sauce), Mutton Rogan Josh, and Rasabali (a traditional sweet).

Location: Puri.

Nandini Restaurant, Rourkela

Description: A popular restaurant in Rourkela known for its diverse menu that includes both Odia and North Indian dishes. The ambiance is casual and family-friendly.

Must-Try: Chicken Kassa, Chingudi Malai Tarkari (prawn curry), and Kheer (rice pudding).

Location: Rourkela.

A picture showing you a glimpse of all you can experience in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Akshita M Bhanj Deo

Mayfair Lagoon, Mama Mia, Bhubaneshwar: Mamma Mia is an Italian-Mexican restaurant that offers a laid-back ambience, perfect for relaxing while indulging in a hot brew and some cake.

Gelhis Cakes & Bakes, Bhubaneshwar: A boutique café & bakery crafting delights for Bhubaneswar.

Garma Garam, Baripada, Mayurbhanj: 

This well-known establishment acts as a one-stop destination servicing customers both local and from other parts of Mayurbhanj.

Delicacy: Mudhi Mangsho (Mutton Curry with Puffed Rice)

Desii by Masterchef Smrutishree, Bhubaneshwar: An initiative by MasterChef Smrutisree Singh ‍to serve authentic flavors of Odisha. They'll be serving up all your favorite Odia dishes, made with fresh ingredients and passed-down recipes.

A picture showing you a glimpse of all you can experience in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Akshita M Bhanj Deo

Artisanal Coffee

Bocca Cafe, Bhubaneshwar: Located within the campus of perhaps the most artistic contemporary built up spaces in the city, this outlet of Bocca provides a completely unique experience, quite unlike the other two. Set up as an outdoor cafe with artistically created seating spaces, the cafe provides the most serene experience on a breezy evening amidst the green surroundings. The coffee and cheesecake does taste better, but its only because of the surroundings.

Koraput Coffee: Improving the livelihoods and empowering tribal women farmers in Odisha through the rich tapestry of wild forest coffee. Embrace the enchanting plucking season, where the true essence of Odisha unfolds from farm to cup.                                                                                                                                       Kalinga DESIAGRO Foundation (KDF): A social impact enterprise that is committed to fostering socio-economic development in rural Odisha while remaining rooted in the principles of eco-friendliness, sustainability and inclusiveness. Available online.

Cafe 16 Satyanagar: The first House Cafe in Bhubaneswar, set up in a 50-year-old house. With open air and indoor seating, a rich library and delectable food from around India and the world.

A picture showing you a glimpse of all you can experience in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Akshita M Bhanj Deo

Must-See Local Tourist Spots

Konark Sun Temple

Description: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sun Temple in Konark is an architectural marvel dedicated to the Sun God Surya. Its intricate carvings and chariot-like structure are a testament to ancient Odia craftsmanship.

Highlight: The annual Konark Dance Festival, which showcases classical Indian dance forms.

Location: Konark.

Chilika Lake

Description: Asia's largest brackish water lagoon, Chilika Lake is a biodiversity hotspot with a rich variety of flora and fauna. It is also a haven for migratory birds and the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.

Highlight: Boat rides to Nalabana Bird Sanctuary and sightings of the rare Irrawaddy dolphins.

Location: Spanning Puri, Khurda, and Ganjam districts.

Dhauli Shanti Stupa

Description: Situated on the banks of the Daya River, the Shanti Stupa is a significant Buddhist site that marks the place where Emperor Ashoka renounced war and embraced Buddhism. The stupa offers serene views and a peaceful ambiance.

Highlight: The ancient rock edicts of Ashoka and panoramic views of the Daya River.

Location: Dhauli, near Bhubaneswar.

Konark Sun Temple
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Wikimedia Commons

Art & Culture

Raghurajpur Artist Village

Description: Known for its Pattachitra painters, Raghurajpur is a heritage craft village where visitors can witness traditional art forms being created. The village is also famous for its Gotipua dance troupes.

Highlight: Interacting with local artists and purchasing authentic handicrafts.

Location: Near Puri.

Kalabhoomi Musuem and Arts Centre, Bhubaneshwar

Odisha Crafts Museum also known as Kalabhoomi designed by Architects' Studio, is a museum in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India, dedicated to the art and crafts of Odisha.

Odisha Modern Art Gallery, Bhubaneswar, India

This gallery exhibits the best of Odisha's contemporary art. The permanent collection includes over 200 works by prominent Odishan artists. You'll also find many works for sale.

Museum of Tribal Arts & Artefacts, Bhubaneswar, India

This superb museum is a must-visit for visitors interested in Odisha's 62 local indigenous communities. Complete with interactive elements such as augmented reality glasses, its galleries display traditional dress, bead ornaments, silver collars, coin necklaces, elaborate headdresses, ornate wind pipes and musical instruments. One gallery is dedicated entirely to weaponry, fishing, hunting and agricultural equipment. Behind the museum are replicas of traditional houses from the Gadaba, Kandha, Santal, Saora, and other tribes.

A craftsperson in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Akshita M Bhanj Deo

Temples

Konark Sun Temple

Conceived as the cosmic chariot of the sun god Surya, this massive, breathtakingly splendid temple was constructed in the mid-13th century, probably by Odishan king Narashimhadev I to celebrate his military victory over Muslim forces from Bengal. Around the base, seven rearing horses, each representing the days of the week, move the stone leviathan on 24 stone cartwheels which represent the hours of the day. The temple was positioned so that dawn light would illuminate the deul (temple sanctuary) interior and the presiding deity.

Chausath Yogini

Hidden among rice fields 15km south of Bhubaneswar, this small but serene 9th-century open-roofed temple is dedicated to yoginis (female tantric mystics) and is one of only four in India. No larger than a village hut, the temple contains intricate rock carvings of 64 (chausath) yoginis, each shown standing on top of her vahana (vehicle; often in animal form). No buses go here and a return trip from the city by autorickshaw/Uber costs around ₹500/600.

Lingaraj Mandir

The 54m-high Lingaraj Mandir dedicated to Shiva dates from 1090 to 1104, and is surrounded by several smaller temples and shrines. The granite block within, representing Tribhubaneswar (Lord of Three Worlds), is bathed daily with water, milk and bhang (marijuana). The main gate, guarded by two mustachioed yellow lions, is a spectacle in itself, as lines of pilgrims approach with offerings in hand. The temple is closed to non-Hindus.

Jagannath Mandir

This mighty temple is home to Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), an incarnation of Vishnu. Built in its present form in 1198, the temple, closed to non-Hindus, is surrounded by two walls, with its 58m-high flag-draped sikhara (spire) topped by Vishnu's wheel.

Mukteswar Mandir

This small but beautiful 10th-century structure is one of the most ornate temples in Bhubaneswar; you'll see reproductions of it on posters across Odisha. Intricate carvings show a mixture of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu styles. Look for Nagarani (the Snake Queen), easily mistaken for a mermaid, whom you'll also see at the nearby Rajarani Mandir. The ceiling carvings and stone arch are particularly striking, as is the torana (archway) at the front, which clearly shows Buddhist sculptural influence.

Jagannath Mandir
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Wikimedia Commons

Festivals

The Konark Dance Festival

The Konark Dance Festival is organised by Odissi dancer Gangadhar Pradhan's Odisha Dance Academy at Konark Natya Mandap in Konark. Famous classical dancers get together to be a part of this extravagant celebration which is fondly enjoyed by people from across the globe. It runs from December 1 to December 5.

Rath Yatra, Puri

The Ratha Yatra of Puri, also rendered as the Ratha Jatra, is considered the oldest and largest Hindu chariot festival celebrated annually, on the bright half of the lunar month of Ashadh. The festival is held at the city of Puri, in the state of Odisha, India and associated with the deity Jagannath. The Rath Yatra takes place on the second day of the Odia month of Ashadha Shukla Tithi (bright fortnight) every year to commemorate the journey of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings from their abode, the 12th century Jagannath Temple, to the Gundicha Temple, believed to be their aunt's home.

Rath Yatra, Baripada, Mayurbhanj:

The Baripada Ratha Yatra is a vibrant, unique celebration in Odisha. On the day after the renowned Puri Ratha Yatra, Baripada's version unfolds. This event is distinguished by a special tradition: Devi Subhadra's chariot is solely pulled by women.

Baliyatra, Cuttack:

The word Baliyatra literally means voyage to Bali. Each year during KartikaPurnima, people observe the ritual of ‘Boita Bandana’ by floating paper/cork boats, in ponds, rivers and other water bodies. This day marks the end of the Hindu holy month of Kartika (October-November) when the ‘Sadhabas’ (Seafarers) sailed off to the distant lands of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Borneo, Ceylon, Daman and Diu, for their trading activities, on huge boats named as ‘Boita’

Moreover, the festivity is a reminder of the ancient glorious maritime trade traditions of Odisha, and is as old as the state itself.

Baliyatra is celebrated in most parts of Odisha, but particularly in Cuttack, it is celebrated with great fanfare. The seven-day long fair now is a delight for people of all age groups. From rich traditional handicrafts to lips smacking Odia cuisine and much more, everything is available at the numerous stalls set up here.

Chhau Festival, Mayurbhanj (Chaitra Parva)

Chaitra Parva is a chhau dance festival being performed for the past 300 years and observed annually by Chhau Nrutya Pratisthan, Mayurbhanj at Chhau Padia, Baripada. It's a 3-day festival starting from April 11 to April 13 every year. There are two main associations of dancers that participate in this festival, namely Uttarsahi Sahi and Dakhsin Sahi.

The Ratha Yatra of Puri
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Travel Link India

Wildlife

Similipal National Park

Description: A protected area and a tiger reserve, Similipal National Park is home to a variety of wildlife including tigers, elephants, and deer. The park also boasts beautiful waterfalls and dense forests.

Highlight: Wildlife safaris, trekking, and exploring the Barehipani and Joranda waterfalls.

Location: Mayurbhanj district.

Daringbadi (A Hill Station)

The Kashmir of Odisha.

Bhitarkanika

Description: The National park is essentially a network of creeks and canals which are inundated with waters from rivers Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra and Patasala; forming a unique ecosystem. Bhitarkanika is home to the largest congregation of the endangered Salt Water Crocodile in the country. The park is also home to numerous reptiles like water monitor lizards and pythons to name a few. Bhitarkanika is also home to animals like deer, hyenas, wild boar etc and migratory birds which make it their home during the winter season, which lends a vibrant hue to the eco system. The other unique phenomenon is the bagagahana or the heronry near Surajpore creek. Thousands of birds colonise the creek for nesting and the aerial acrobatics performed prior to the mating makes for an impressive sight. Bhitarkanika is also home to eight varieties of Kingfisher birds which is also a rarity. The fact that it was once a hunting porch of the Maharaja adds to its heritage value.

Things to do: Boating – take the boat ride though the network of creeks and canals and watch the inhabitants of Mini Amazon of India. Birding - for bird lovers, Bhitarkanika spoils you for choices. There are eight varieties of Kingfisher birds alone, apart from a host of native and migratory birds.

Chilika Lake, Chilika Lake - Asia's Largest Brackish Water Lagoon

The Chilka lake is one of the biggest brackish water lagoons and is the visiting ground of several species of migratory birds. The lake also supports various other flora and fauna such as dolphins, turtles, birds and fish. It is located in the state of Orissa or Odisha and is famous for flamingos.

An animal at the Similipal National Park
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Cambridge In Colour

Heritage Villages

Jirang (Chandragiri):

The Tibetan village in Odisha, Jirang, also known as Chandragiri, is a small village in the Gajapati district of Odisha, which boasts of a small but significant Tibetan population. The village had maintained a very low profile untill it became home to the largest Buddhist monastery in Eastern India in 2010. Since then, slowly and steadily its popularity has grown within the tourist circles of India and abroad. Visitors from all parts of the world now flock the small village to experience unadultrated village life, get bowled over by the mighty Eastern ghats, and to get wowed by the beautiful Padmasambhava Mahavihara Monastery.

Jirang in the Gajapati district of Odisha
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha East Indian Traveller

Shopping

Pipli, Odisha

This colourful village, 16km southeast of Bhubaneswar, is notable for its locally made brilliant appliqué craft, which incorporates small mirrors and is used for door and wall hangings and the traditional canopies that are hung over Jagannath and family during festivals. Inexpensive lampshades and parasols hanging outside the shops turn the main road into an avenue of rainbow colours. During Diwali the place is particularly vibrant.

Koraput Market, Odisha

There’s a smaller market here every day, but it’s Koraput’s big Sunday Market that’s worth exploring. Tribespeople and local traders alike buy and sell food produce and handmade goods in the lanes around the bus stand and behind the police station. Buying things here is a rare opportunity to interact with tribespeople on your own.

Adisha

Known for its exquisite handloom and handcrafted products, Adisha showcases a blend of traditional and contemporary designs. Perfect for unique saris, garments, and home decor items.

Galang Gaban by Lipsa Hembram

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/galang.gabaan/?hl=en

Orissa by Tania

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/orissabytania/?hl=en

Hasa Atelier, Baripada, Mayurbhanj

If you're looking for a bespoke shopping destination, then look no further then the The Belgadia Palace for contemporary bespoke designs of Kalinga handicrafts and handlooms.

Suta

Suta works with weavers across India to create affordable ethnic wear, such as handloom designer lehengas, sarees and blouses.

B.E.A.D.S Studio

BEADS is a design studio based out of Bhubaneswar under the mentorship of Jagganath Panda that creates elegant, ethnically inspired, and environmentally friendly products.

Ekamra Haat, Bhubaneswar

A wide-ranging exposition of Odishan handicrafts can be found at the 50 or so stalls at this permanent market, located within the pleasant, well-tended gardens of Madhusudan Marg.

Utkalika, Bhubaneshwar

Located in the busy all-day market streets known as Market Building, Utkalika features Odishan textiles.

Boyanika, Bhubaneswar

An excellent selection of Odishan textiles, including ikat fabric (featuring tie-dyed thread) and bomkai saris (known for their intricate needlework), are available at this showroom.

A market in Odisha.
A Homegrown Guide To Mindful Travel In Odisha Flickr

Tours

Ekamra Walks, Bhubaneshwar:

‘Ekamra Walks’ offers curated city trails, initiated by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority. Ekamra Walks aims to brand Bhubaneswar as one of the most preferred Urban Tourism Destinations.

Old Town Bhubaneswar, also known as Ekamra Kshetra, is the center of Kalingan temple architecture. In 2014, Ekamra Kshetra earned a place in UNESCO’S tentative list of World Heritage sites. Ekamra Walks, hence borrows its name from this and is a guided tour for people interested in the history and culture of a city home to temples dating back to the 6th century AD.

With an aim to explore the city from the lenses of heritage, science, history and food, the third edition of the Ekamra Walks promises a pleasant touring experience across the city.

Website: https://www.instagram.com/ekamrawalks/?hl=en


Culinary Tours with Chef Rachit Kirteeman

Chef Rachit Kirteeman, who has spent a considerable amount of time re-discovering Odia cuisine, infuses the essence of Odisha’s coastline, rich tribal heritage, and artisanal haats into dishes perfectly suited for modern palates. The different dishes he cooks up includes a community feast, millet pancakes, foraged preperations, ant chutneys and dessert with a twist. You can pre-book tours to embark on a culinary retreat with him across the state.

Craft Itinearies with Craftpotli, Kavya Saxena

Craftpotli is spearheaded by Kavya Saxena, is a unique enterprise focused on empowering Adivasi communities in various parts of India, with its core operations in Koraput, Odisha.

Born from a passion for rural exploration, Craftpotli transcends traditional handicraft brands and collaborates exclusively with six Adivasi (tribal) communities across three states. With a commitment to sustainability and empowerment, it stands as a beacon of rural development; offering handmade products that carry the essence of India’s tribal artistry. Journey to Roots is her way of providing craft itineraries in north and south Odisha.

Volunteer Opportunities

Amulya Jeevan Foundation, Bhubaneshwar, Social Welfare

Pro Sport Development, Bhubaneshwar, Sports for Development

Sikshasandhan, Bhubaneshwar and Mayurbhanj, Social Welfare

Future Star Sports Academy, Mayurbhanj, Sports for Development

This guide was put together with assistance from Akshita M. Bhanj Deo and the Belgadia Palace.

You can follow Akshita here.

You can follow the Belgadia Palace here.

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