Rourkela, or Your Village, in the sadri dialect of Odisha, is under the global spotlight as it hosts the FIH Hockey Men's World Cup, from 13th to 29th January, at the largest seated stadium in the world, the Birsa Munda Stadium. A planned city, it has always had one or the other type of focus on it, be it sports or steel. It is counted as the third largest city in the state, after the state capital Bhubaneswar, and Cuttack, the rolling green hills of Rourkela are a repository of essential minerals. These have kept the city as the locus of the iron and steel industry. Did you know that Rourkela is home to India's first public-sector steel plant, The Steel Authority of India (SAIL) They set up the plant in the 1960s with the help of the German company Krupp and Demag. It is also a Smart City in the third phase of the Smart City list.
A Festive Mood
The Rourkela City Festival, organised by Odisha Tourism, is being held along with the hockey world cup, and it's one of the bigger extravaganzas that have taken place in the city. The festival began on 14th January and will continue till 22nd January. It is a diverse, multi-disciplinary festival loaded with activities, events, performances, food, etc. You can attend the concerts of the legendary Sukhwinder Singh, Kailash Kher, maestros of the band Indian Ocean, melody masters Salim-Sulaiman, Sonu Nigam, and the K-pop band Black Swan, and also the Indo-Japanese parentage Odhiya rapper, Big Deal. After the festival, during your tour of the city, or outside it to escape its hustle and bustle, include these four sites on your sightseeing list.
Birsa Munda Stadium
The newly-built stadium has 20,846 bucket seats and therefore is not only one of the largest hockey stadiums in India but also the largest seated hockey stadium in the world. It was built in 15 months and boasts two world-class FIH-approved turfs for hockey, apart from gymnasiums, and the World Cup Village, which can house over eight teams. The stadium, named after Indian freedom fighter Birsa Munda, is built over 50 acres inside the Biju Patnaik University of Technology campus in the Sundergarh district. The fabled former Indian hockey players, such as Dilip Tirkey and Sunita Lakra, are from this district, which is nurturing many new talents too.
About 156 kilometres from Rourkela, the Bada Ghagra Waterfalls are near Keonjhar. A direct result of the Badaghagra reservoir, it is on the Machakandana river and a significant source of water for Keonjhar. The waterfall is a favoured scenic spot in the area and is rich in biodiversity.
A popular picnic spot 22 kilometres from Rourkela city centre, in the Sundargarh district, the Pitamahal dam is an irrigation project built across the Pitamahal Nallah and was completed in 1976. The river Pitamahal is the tributary of river Sankha in the Brahmani basin. The dam's catchment area is 103.60 km2, and it easily qualifies as one of the most Instagram-friendly sites in Odisha.
Located on the banks of the Brahmani River, Darjeeng is favoured by families looking to get away from the city. You can explore the Deodhar gorge, two kilometres from Darjeeng, and in the Deodhar Reserve Forest, so you will need permission from the Forestry Department before you venture towards it. Darjeeng Park is 45 kilometres from Rourkela, on NH 23.