Iconic Landmarks In Bhubaneswar You Must Visit

The first planned city of Independent India, Bhubaneswar, is more than its famous temples. Showcasing its rich culture and heritage are these five tourist hotspots
Lingaraj temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar
Lingaraj temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar Pattnaik.chandan/ Wikimedia Commons

Odisha's capital Bhubaneswar is fast developing into an IT hub with the mushrooming software parks. One of the first planned cities of independent India, it has earned recognition in the sports arena by hosting the Men’s FIH Hockey World Cup in 2023. Known as the temple city, with its famous 11th-century Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar has newer landmarks to boast.

Although the sports capital of the country with its iconic Kalinga Stadium, the city's charm and uniqueness are its well-preserved natural areas, its biodiversity and its efforts to retain the rich heritage, tradition and culture. As a visitor, you will be amazed at the city's progress, which has earned the smart-city tag. But, these five touristy spots in and around Bhubaneswar will show you the 2.0 version of the temple city's old landmarks. Not really Odisha's best kept secret. 

Odisha State Tribal Museum, CRPF Square

Established in 1953, the Museum of Tribal Arts and Artefacts gives an insight into tribal life with its display of immaculate replicas of tribal huts, artefacts ranging from attire to ornaments and utensils, and even a showcase of the food habits of the various tribes. Renamed Odisha State Tribal Museum, its present building was inaugurated in 2001.

Odisha has more than 60 tribal communities, and the museum displays the different stages of the evolution of tribal cultures. The huts, jewellery and lifestyle of major tribes are showcased in the beautiful green campus. You can shop for souvenirs on the museum premises and can also watch artisans make them. The museum also organises two fairs and a dance festival during the year --- the National Tribal Crafts Mela in the third week of November, the Adivasi Mela in January/ February, and the National Tribal Dance Festival.

Timings: 10 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays and state government-declared holidays. There is no entry fee. For more information, visit https://bhubaneswartourism.in/museum-of-tribal-arts-artifacts-bhubaneswar

Nandankanan Zoological And Botanical Park, Jujhagarh Forest Block

Nandankanan on the banks of Kanjia lake is a short drive from Bhubaneswar
Nandankanan on the banks of Kanjia lake is a short drive from BhubaneswarRP Kumar Kunwar (@rpchaudri) via Instagram

Located 12 kilometres from Bhubaneswar, the Nandankanan Zoological and Botanical Park was started in 1960. Famous for its white tigers, it is built inside the forest, amidst a natural environment. The enclosures are spacious and replicate each animal's habitat.

Nandankanan has many firsts to its credit, one of them being that it is the first zoo to breed the endangered gharial in captivity. The 1,080-acre park holds regular drawing and sketching workshops and competitions for children. The botanical park was opened in 1963, and it was in 1981/82 that the two parks were combined and renamed the Nandankanan Zoological and Botanical Park.

The botanical garden, rich in biodiversity, sprawled on the banks of Kanjia lake. A must-visit for nature lovers, the impressive greenery of medicinal plants and trees, orchids, bonsai trees, acres of big trees is soothing to the eyes. A cable car service joins the two beautiful areas. The 12-car ropeway over Kanjia lake, covering 626 metres, is a recent tourist attraction.

For those who want to be in midst of nature for a few days, the botanical garden has a holiday cottage with basic facilites. It also allows people to picnic with family and friends, at a cost. You can book a picnic shed and enjoy the natural ambience. You can also join the Nandankana bird walk to spot the native and migratory birds.

Timings: 8 am to 5 pm. The park is closed on Mondays. For more information and to book tickets online, click here.

Entry charges: Children: INR 10; Adults: INR 50; Foreigners: INR 100.

Ropeway ticket fee: INR 120 per person.

How To Reach

Nandankanan is on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. You can avail the local bus service, Mo Bus, which will drop you near the entrance. The nearest railway station is Barang, but not all trains stop here. You can reach Bhubaneswar railway station or the airport and take a bus or hire a cab.

Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary 

Satkosia spreads along the magnificent gorge over the mighty river Mahanadi
Satkosia spreads along the magnificent gorge over the mighty river Mahanadi VK Pandian (@vkpadian.odisha) via Instagram

The sanctuary, spread over 795.59 square kilometres, is named after the narrow stretch of River Mahanadi, known as saat kos, or seven miles, approximately. It is at this point near Tikarpada, about 60 kilometres south of Angul, where the Mahanadi cuts across the gently sloping Eastern Ghats, where you will see the gharials, mugger crocodiles, and the rare freshwater turtles such as the Chitra indica, and Trionyx (Aspidiretes gangeticus).

Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary became a notified area in 1976 under the Government of Odisha, Forest, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry Department U/s 18(1) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Over the past few years, the government has developed the place as a tourist hotspot with nature and Eco-retreat camps; you can go on a river cruise and spot the gharials, turtles and aquatic birds. For more information, visit https://www.satkosia.org/

How To Reach

Satkosia, around 161 kms from Bhubaneswar, can be reached by road only. Hiring a car or driving your vehicle is the best option to reach there.

Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Near Acharya Vihar Square

This is one of the few places in the country that conduct shows in astronomy, astrophysics, and space science to generate awareness among people about the physical concept of stars, planets and galaxies that make up the universe. Built in 1990 by the Science and Technology Department of the Odisha Government, it is named after famous Odia astronomer Mahamahopadhyaya Chandrasekhar Singh Harichandan Mohapatra Samanta, popularly known as Pathani Samanta.

He has done groundbreaking work and penned the book Siddhanta Darpana, which found special mention in the American and European press back in 1899. The shows are scheduled in Odia, Hindi, and English language. Built in the heart of the city, the planetarium also conducts the Safe Sky Watch programme during solar and lunar eclipses and on days of rare astronomical events. It has been organising the Young Astronomer Talent Search programme every year since 2007. 

Show Timings: 10 am to 5 pm. Odia 2 pm and 5 pm; Hindi 3 pm; English 4 pm. The planetarium is closed on Mondays. For more information, visit https://bhubaneswartourism.in/pathani-samanta-planetarium-bhubaneswar

Entry charges: INR 30 for adults; INR 20

Odisha State Museum, BJB Nagar, Lewis Road

The museum was built in l932 on the premises of the Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, by historians professor NC Banerjee and professor Ghanshyam Dash, who had started a collection of archaeological treasures. In l938, the Government of Odisha transformed it into the Provincial Museum of Odisha. The Provincial Museum was also shifted with the state capital from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar in l947-48.

In l960, the museum was moved to a new building and renamed the Odisha State Museum. There are several galleries within the museum, such as the epigraphy and numismatics gallery, the natural history segment, the armoury gallery, and the manuscript gallery. The Paika Gallery is the new museum addition and focuses on the Paika revolution against the British. The recently revamped museum premises is attractive and green with huge lawns and colourful flowers --- an interesting place to learn more about Odisha's rich history and to relax on the beautiful campus.

Timings: 10 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays and state government-declared holidays. For more information, visit https://odishamuseum.nic.in/

Entry fees: INR 20 for adults; INR 10 for children

How To Get There 

Bhubaneswar is well-connected to the rest of the country by air, rail, and road. Biju Patnaik Airport is four kilometres from the town centre. 

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