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Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack - One Day Plan to Explore the Historical Sister Cities

Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack are two ancient cities located in the eastern state of Odisha, India. Known for their rich cultural heritage and historical significance, these cities have played a pivotal role in shaping the region's history. Bhubaneshwar was our first stop during the Odisha Visit in August 2023. We had a chance to explore the town along with the sister city of Cuttack. This article provides a glimpse of the tourist places you could consider visiting if you just have one day in the city. 

Introducing the Twin Cities

Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of Odisha in India, is a place steeped in history and culture. Known as the "Temple City of India," it boasts an array of magnificent temples that showcase the architectural brilliance of ancient times. On the other hand, Cuttack is renowned as the commercial capital of Odisha. It has a vibrant history that dates back over a thousand years.

Both Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack have contributed significantly to Odisha's cultural heritage. They host various festivals throughout the year that attract tourists from all over India and abroad. Their architectural wonders and cultural festivities make them must-visit destinations for anyone interested in exploring India's rich heritage. 

Some ground rules and disclaimers

1. There are guided tours and taxis available for hire. You could engage one for carefree travel without the hassle of identifying sites and finding transport. Odisha Tourism provides some good curated day tours and city tours.

2. Bhubaneshwar has a good public transport system including auto rickshaws, radio cabs, and city buses. Radio cabs provide comfort and service and wait times are generally bearable. For shorter routes, hailing an auto rickshaw is the most efficient way as these are available curbside at most locations.

3. We rented a car (through Eduxon Cabs)for our entire visit and hence were traveling with almost a personal vehicle. This helped us save some time on transportation and made it easier to cover more ground. During our visits, we did not find much issue of parking as we could find a spot at all the places. If you are parking roadside at non-designated parking, at least let a local vendor/shop know for courtesy (and safety).

4. We just had one day and wanted to absorb the soul of both the cities and hence you may find this to be a bit rushed. On the ground, it did not look as tough and we easily managed to cover all along with a 5-year-old with us. 

5. The list includes what interested us in the city based on innumerable things to do. This is not an exhaustive list by any means and hence should be taken up in that manner. For a more exhaustive list, visit Stamped Moment's article

6. Most things are closed on Monday, so you may want to plan there on other days.

Scenic Views in Dhauli

Tourist Places in Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack for One Day Plan

This article being ten tourist places that you can cover in one day and understand the twin cities in the best possible way. While one day is really a short time for the size of the two cities but still we had only a day and hence recommend below as per our experience. 

Start the Morning with Devotion

Assuming you are staying close to the airport area, we recommend starting as below. In case you are closer to other parts of the city, you could tweak the order based on location. Since we are in the City of Temples, it is natural to start with some devotion and visit to temples. Seeking lord's blessings before embarking on a day-long of fun!

1. Ram Mandir and Breakfast 

Our first stop was the Ram Mandir, which was a stone throw's distance away from our hotel. It is pretty close to the airport (about 3 kilometers) so easily approachable. This is a magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Rama, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. The main sanctum houses a beautifully sculpted idol of Lord Rama along with his consort Sita and his loyal devotee Hanuman. 

Climbing the Ram Temple

While it is an important religious center, it is also a center of gathering for the locals in the morning. This gathering is to enjoy sumptuous and local specialties for breakfast. Economically priced, efficiently managed, and frill-free tasteful breakfast is a great way to start your day. We started our day with Dalma Idly and Vegetable Umpa!

2. Lingraj Temple and Raja Rani Temples

One of the most famous temples in Bhubaneshwar is the Lingaraj Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is a masterpiece of Kalinga architecture and dates back to the 11th century. Its towering spire and intricate carvings leave visitors awestruck. This is located in the southern part of the city and could take half an hour's drive from Ram Mandir. Also, consider that the temples, especially the more popular ones attract a huge number of devotees. The rush is manifold on weekends. So be prepared to handle the rush and carry water to keep yourself hydrated. The famous Raja Rani temple is located a short walk away and is a must-visit as well. 

Lingraj Temple

There are many other temples across the city that are popular and visited by devotees in large numbers. Each has its own unique charm and belief and no temple is lesser than others. 

3. Nandankanan Zoo

Since we had a kid with us for whom temples and art have relatively lesser significance, we made Nandankanan Zoo our next destination. Located in the northern part of the city, it is some distance from the Lingrat Temple. 

This sprawling zoo is spread over an expansive area of 400 hectares and is home to a wide variety of animals, birds, and reptiles. Visitors can also enjoy boating in the picturesque Kanjia Lake located within the zoo premises. There is a toy train that runs through the lush green forests and is a quick attraction for the kids. Some of the unique features of this zoo include the Tiger, Lion, and Bear Safari and the Bird Aviary. These are the places where the birds and animals have relative freedom to roam in their environment while the visitors are enclosed. 

Hippos Welcome us to their World
Lazy us using Golf Cart to Conquer the Zoo
Kanjia Lake - Take a Boat Ride

If you are more interested in history rather than animals, you could cover the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves in place of the zoo. 

Steal a Glimpse of Cuttack in the Afternoon

4. Naraj Barrage

Naraj Barrage is an engineering marvel situated on the Mahanadi River near Cuttack. Built during British rule in 1953, it serves as a major irrigation project for Odisha. The barrage not only controls floods but also supplies water for agricultural purposes throughout the year. Its picturesque surroundings make it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts who can enjoy boating or simply relax by the riverbank. It was another site we added because of the kid - helped create some educational moments amidst the fun.

Naraj Barrage - Scenic and Educational

5. Dableshwar Temple

Dableshwar Temple is a renowned Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It stands as a testimony to the architectural brilliance of ancient India. The temple's intricate carvings and sculptures depict various mythological stories, leaving visitors in awe of its grandeur. The serene atmosphere within the temple premises creates a spiritual ambiance that provides solace to devotees.

Also, the hanging bridge across the river taking you to the temple island is a fun way to reach the temple. 

6. Barabati Fort

The fort was built by the Ganga dynasty rulers in the 14th century, this ancient fort offers a glimpse into the city's glorious past. The fort stands majestically on the banks of the Mahanadi River and provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. It is an important tourist destination within the city and hence you may want to pay a quick visit to explore the area. 

Museum within a Fort

7. Netaji Subhash Birthplace Museum

The Netaji Subhash Birthplace Museum is a testament to the life and legacy of one of India's most revered freedom fighters, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. This museum stands as a tribute to his indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication to the cause of Indian independence and is a reminder of the great land where this freedom fighter was born.

The museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to delve into the life and times of this extraordinary leader. It houses an impressive collection of artifacts, photographs, and personal belongings that provide invaluable insights into Netaji's journey. From his childhood days to his role in organizing the Indian National Army (INA), every aspect of his life is meticulously documented.

The Historic Museum

The place had special significance for us as we recently visited Andamans, which was one of the important regions where Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose conducted activities during the freedom struggle. Here is more from our Andaman Visit

Ease out into the Evening

After a quick glimpse into the city of Cuttack, it was time to head back to Bhubaneshwar. It took about an hour and a half of drive to be back.  

8. Ekamra Haat

Ekamra Haat is a unique handicraft market located in the heart of the city. It offers a platform for local artisans to showcase their craftsmanship and sell their products directly to customers. The market is known for its wide range of handloom textiles, wooden artifacts, stone carvings, and traditional paintings. You can witness the intricate workmanship that goes into creating these masterpieces while also supporting local artisans.

It is again very close to the Ram Mandir (where we started the day) and hence a logical evening way to ease the day out. It is also a great place to pick some souvenirs. 

9. Enjoy Local Cuisine

You cannot miss out on trying authentic Odia cuisine while in Bhubaneshwar. From mouth-watering street food like pani puri or dahi vada to traditional delicacies like Dalma (lentil curry) or Chhena Poda (cheese dessert), there are plenty of culinary delights waiting to be savored. We try to at least have one local meal whenever we are in a region with its own cuisine. We had our dinner at Odisha Hotel which served delectable food. There is another restaurant named "Dalma" after the famous dish itself which has a great following as well. 

Unwind in the Night to Prepare for Tomorrow

10. NightLife

Bhubaneswar nightlife presents a vibrant and energetic atmosphere after sunset. The city comes alive with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants offering a variety of entertainment options. From live music performances to DJ nights, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The nightlife scene also showcases the fusion of traditional Odia cuisine with contemporary flavors, making it a gastronomic delight.

Most of the nightlife is established around the modern areas of the city, predominantly the IT Hubs and places where the younger crowd thrives. IIT Square, Patia, and Damana Square side are some major places that fit the bill. 

Some additional places you should consider

While we only had one day in the city, if you have more time, we recommend considering some of the below 

1.  The Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are ancient rock-cut caves that were once used by Jain monks for meditation. These caves are adorned with intricate carvings depicting various scenes from mythology. It is a great and intriguing site but involves quite a lot of hike to reach the top where the real fruit is. We were apprehensive about the kid and also had limited time so decided to skip.

2. Bhubaneshwar has innumerable temples. One that we had on the itinerary but missed was the Mukteshwar Temple. You could consider if you have more time in the city. 

3. Parks and gardens - Recently the focus has been on extending the green cover in the city. There are a number of parks all around. A couple of notable ones are Ekamravana and Ekamra Kanan.

4. Cuttack has a long tradition of meticulous and sophisticated craftsmanship in silver filigree works. Locally known as 'Tarakasi', the silver filigree of Cuttack is noted for its delicateness and intricate workmanship. Additionally, places like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Market offer a unique shopping experience where one can find traditional handicrafts, textiles, and delicious street food.

5. There are many museums in Bhubaneshwar - some of the important ones are the Odisha State Museum and the State Tribal Museum. They house an impressive collection of artifacts, sculptures, paintings, and manuscripts that depict Odisha's rich history and culture.

6. Dhauli Shanti Stupa and Ashoka Roch Edict are two sites that are really important for the city. They are live artifacts of how an emperor had a change of heart and biggest proponent of peace. 

Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Ashoka Rock Edict

For those from the state or who have visited recently, let us know if we missed any of the important sites. Also, do comment if you have any thoughts on our site!!

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