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Odisha Tourist Places & Itinerary including Jagannath Puri Temple

Odisha, earlier called Orissa, is a land of rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, making it an ideal destination for travelers. From ancient temples to pristine beaches, Orissa offers a diverse range of experiences that captivate the senses. Interestingly, the state is called "India's Best Kept Secret" by its tourism department. We leveraged the long weekend around Independence Day in 2023 for a visit to this wonderful state. 

We had a great experience visiting some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, unwinding at Blue Flag Beaches, and digging into some of the exotic local cuisines. We would recommend this side of the country as a must-have experience, if not for spiritual or religious reasons, then for the natural beauty and marvelous folks who live here. 

Introducing Odisha, India's Best Kept Secret

Odisha is a state located in the eastern part of India along the Bay of Bengal coast. With a rich cultural heritage and historical significance, Odisha has emerged as one of the most captivating states in the country. The land of temples and art, Odisha offers a unique blend of natural beauty and architectural marvels.

One of the highlights of Odisha's travel is its magnificent temples. The state is home to some of the most famous Hindu temples in India, such as the Jagannath Temple in Puri and the Sun Temple in Konark. These architectural marvels showcase intricate carvings and sculptures that depict mythological stories and religious beliefs.

Apart from its temples, Orissa boasts stunning natural landscapes. The Chilika Lake, Asia's largest brackish water lagoon, is a paradise for birdwatchers with its vast variety of migratory birds. The Simlipal National Park is another must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts, offering a chance to spot tigers, elephants, and other exotic species.

Orissa's coastline stretches over 480 kilometers and is dotted with beautiful beaches like Puri Beach and Chandipur Beach. These sandy shores provide opportunities for relaxation as well as water sports activities like surfing and snorkeling.

In addition to its cultural and natural attractions, Orissa also hosts several vibrant festivals throughout the year. The Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival in Puri attracts millions of devotees who come to witness Lord Jagannath's grand procession.

Golden Triangle of Odisha

You have hopefully heard of the Golden Triangle of India - Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra, the three historic and touristic sites of Northern India. We have a similar triangle in Odisha which is formed by the three revered temples of the region. The Golden Triangle of Odisha is a region that is characterized by three important cities in the state – Bhubaneswar, Puri, and Konark. These three cities form a triangle on a map and are home to some of the most important cultural and architectural sites in India. There is one of the most popular temples in each of these cities that form the anchor of the triangle. 

Bhubaneshwar has the Lingraj Temple which is believed to be the oldest of the three temples of the triangle. Then there is the famous Jagannath Puri temple which sees a huge rush of devotees especially during the months of the Yatra (possession). The yatra is held every year around July. The third corner of the triangle is the Sun Temple in Konark which has its own history and chain of fables. Together these three temples create the anchor for the cultural and religious fabric of this state.

Our Odisha Itinerary - When did we do What in Odisha and Jagannath Puri Darshan

We had limited time and hence this itinerary is suitable for anyone who wants to absorb the soul of Odisha in the shortest time. Ideally, at a minimum, you should spend three full days in the state. In case you have an extra day, we would highly recommend covering the Chillka Lake which is a day tour from Puri. It is another dip in nature giving you an opportunity for a dolphin sighting. It should be your Day 4 as per the below itinerary. 

Day and Date City Covered Accommodation Description
Day 1
August 11, 2023
Bhubaneshwar Hotel Hindustan International - Travel day - took the flight from New Delhi to Bhubaneshwar
Day 2
August 12, 2023
Bhubaneshwar & Cuttack Hotel Hindustan International - Visited the Lingraj Temple & Nandan Kanan Zoo
- Also visited sites in Cuttack including Netaji Subhash Birth Museum and Baramati Fort
Day 3
August 13, 2023
Puri Xenious by Hermitage Koshal - Drove from Bhubaneshwar to Puri
- Visited the Dhauli Shanti Stupa and Ashok Rock Edict on the way
- Visited Lord Jagannath Puri Temple for Darshana
- Explored Puri Beach, Lighthouse, and Beach Market
Day 4
August 14, 2023
Konark Hotel Swosti Grand (Bhubaneshwar) - Drove from Puri to Bhubaneshwar via Konark along the scenic Marine Drive Road
- Explored the Konark Sun Temple and visited the Chandrabhaga Beach
Day 5
August 15, 2023
Bhubaneshwar NA - Travel day - took the flight from Bhubaneshwar to New Delhi

For details on these cities, you could also visit the official tourist website of the Odisha Government at - https://odishatourism.gov.in/content/tourism/en.html

How to Reach Odisha

Bhubaneshwar is the largest airport in the state which is well connected to major domestic destinations. There are a few international flight connections as well but you may, in most probability, transit through one of the other major Indian airports. The state is also well connected by trains with all major cities having a railway station. The frequency of trains and timings are adequate to plan a trip. Further, there are buses, both public and privately run, that offer good connectivity and frequency. 

A Mesmerizing Sunset Capture from our Flight

For internal travel, the best way to explore the Golden Triangle of Orissa is by road. Most tourists prefer to hire a car or take a guided tour that covers all three cities. Buses and trains are also available, but they are not as convenient as a private car or a guided tour. One of the upcoming trends is self-driven vehicle rentals. We used this option and rented a self-driven car through a local agency called Eduxon Car Rentals. Other players like Avis and Zoom Car are available as well but ours came out to be much more economical with an Airport Drop and Pick Up. 

Important Cities on our Itinerary

As part of our itinerary (as given above), we covered the four historic or important cities of Odisha. These included the capital city of Bhubaneshwar followed by the second largest city Cuttack. Then we covered the seat of religious importance at Puri Jagannath Ji Temple and at the end, we visited the historic site of Konark Sun Temple. 

Bhubaneswar - The City of Temples

The Lingraj Temple in Bhubaneshwar

Bhubaneswar is the capital city of Odisha and is known for its magnificent temples and architecture that dates back to ancient times. The city has actually been nicknamed the "Temple City of India". The Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar is one of the most famous Hindu temples in India and is a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city also has many other temples and archaeological sites that are worth a visit. Apart from temples, the city has a rich and varied culture. It is the face of modernization of the state and the largest city of Odisha. The establishment of multinational organizations has brought youth from across the country giving the city a cosmopolitan vibe. 

Additionally, the city is home to one of the largest zoological parks in India. Nandankan Zoo is developed within the Chaddaka Forest Range and offers a lot to explore across various flora and fauna-related areas. The sheer size of the park along with a number of innovative approaches for the least restrictions on animals within a caged environment makes it a must-go site. In fact, if there were only two things you could visit in Bhubaneshwar, the zoo will make it. We recommend at least keeping a day for the city if you want to get the vibe of it.

Puri - The Seat of Lord Jagannath Ji

The Jagannath Puri Temple

Puri is a small coastal town located about 60 kilometers east of Bhubaneswar. It is a place of immense cultural and historical significance. Known for its pristine beaches, ancient temples, and vibrant festivals, Puri has been a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims alike.

The most iconic landmark in Puri is the Jagannath Temple. Built in the 12th century, this temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The annual Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival held here attracts millions of devotees from all over the world. It is believed that participating in this grand procession ensures salvation.

Apart from its religious importance, Puri also offers breathtaking natural beauty. The golden sandy beaches stretching along the Bay of Bengal are perfect for leisurely walks or enjoying water sports like surfing and swimming. The famous beach festival held annually showcases traditional art forms like sand sculptures and folk dances.

We believe that if you want to spend time at a reasonable pace, the town deserves a day. However, if your purpose is primarily to visit the Jagannath Puri temple, half a day would work as well. We recommend visiting the temple in the evening when it is relatively less rushed and also provides an opportunity to witness the daily flag-changing ritual.

Golden Beach in Puri has coveted Blue Flag Status

Konark - The Sun Temple

Konark is a small town that is home to the world-famous Sun Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is renowned for its amazing architecture and intricate carvings that depict various scenes from Hindu mythology. The stories of the science and engineering behind its construction, the history of its destruction, and the fables of how no prayers could ever be performed in this temple are interesting and intriguing. The temple is a must-visit for anyone interested in ancient Indian architecture and culture. Spend at least half a day across the temple and the Chandrabhaga Beach to make memories in this town. 

Lots of history and fables surrounding the Konark Sun Temple


Cuttack is a city that seamlessly blends history with modernity. Its rich heritage, magnificent forts, religious sites, and unique art forms make it an ideal destination for history enthusiasts and culture lovers alike. It is home to the famed Dableshwar Temple, Baramati Fort, Netaji Subash Birthplace Museum, and silver filigree work. Take a half-day tour from your Bhubaneshwar stay and cover an additional city on your trip. 

Cuttack is a city of many flavors

Some Observations and Lessons

  • The road infrastructure is pretty good across the state. We drove a rental and never faced any issues with the roads. The tolls are efficient and justified. The road from Puri to Konark is noteworthy for its scenic beauty.
  • We did not see any issues with law and order. We noticed the presence of tourist police as well at a number of sites. However, locals warned us to not travel through the Puri-Konark stretch late at night as it passes through the forest area and is secluded. 
  • The temples can get pretty rushed with huge crowds of devotees so be prepared to deal with it, mentally and physically. While it is not ideal, we recommend taking the services of priests if you want to make the entire experience slightly bearable. It is easy to find contacts of them at your hotels. 
  • Odisha has some of the nicest folks we have met across the world. You ask for directions and they are ready to take you to the place. We did not have any arguments (or a hint of it) during our entire stay. 
  • Odisha has a rich cuisine and there are a number of famous sweets and savories that have originated here. Try Dalma and Rosogulla at the very least - for non-vegetarians, the list is limitless.
  • Some recommended places to try for food - Tiffin Center at Ram Mandir (Bhubaneshwar), Odisha Hotel (Bhubaneshwar), Dalma (Bhubaneshwar & Puri), and Cookies Cafe (Puri)
  • Choose hotels carefully so that you are placed closer to your sites of interest. In Bhubaneshwar, if you are close to the airport, you are in a good place. For Puri, we recommend picking something close to Golden Beach (facing it if possible). Also, one thing to note is that most hotels in Puri have a very early checkout (around 8 AMish in most cases) so you may want to be mindful of it while booking. 
  • Chillka Lake is a very exciting place by all versions we have heard. However, it is a time-consuming affair as well. With about an hour and a half drive on each side and 2-3 hours of the boat ride, it easily takes up an entire day. 
  • If you are taking a self-driven rental car, try to pick one during the daytime. Also, make a detailed video of the car from outside and inside along with some good resolution pictures. Make sure you capture the fuel levels and the odometer reading in front of the vendor. 

In conclusion, Orissa Travel offers a unique blend of spirituality, history, nature, and festivities. Whether one seeks solace in ancient temples or wishes to explore picturesque landscapes or indulges in local traditions during festivals – this enchanting state has something for everyone. We enjoyed our time in the state and would look forward to going back someday.

Leaving with a refreshing drink from Cookies Cafe, Puri

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