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It is im­pos­si­ble not to be as­ton­ished by In­dia. Nowhere on Earth does hu­man­ity present it­self in such a dizzy­ing, cre­ative burst of cul­tures and re­li­gions, races and tongues. Filled with ex­quis­ite tem­ples and ex­tra­or­di­nary mon­u­ments, home to many thou­sands of pro­lific artists and crafts­men; and possessing beaches, wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies, and nat­u­ral land­scape of of­ten-en­chant­ing beauty, Odisha is a unique and fas­ci­nat­ing land that is, nev­er­the­less, still largely undis­cov­ered by tourists. With the Bay of Ben­gal wash­ing its shore­line, some­times gen­tly, some­times in fury, the Ma­hanadi flow­ing with all its might, Odisha is a state steeped in an an­cient cul­ture unique to it­self. The state at­tracts peo­ple from far and wide to have a glimpse of the an­cient Kalinga ar­chi­tec­ture so pre­dom­i­nant in its tem­ples at Puri, Konark and the ad­join­ing places.

Tourism in Odisha is a ver­i­ta­ble mu­seum of In­dia’s sculp­tural and artis­tic her­itage and has long been fa­mous to schol­ars and con­nois­seurs for the mag­nif­i­cent Sun Tem­ple at Konark, for the ma­jes­tic tem­ple of Lord Ja­gan­nath at Puri and its beau­ti­ful beaches, and for the glo­ri­ous tem­ples of Bhubaneswar. The small but ever-grow­ing num­ber of so­phis­ti­cated tourists who do man­age to find their way to Odisha are gen­er­ally pre­pared with some knowl­edge of th­ese tem­ples. Tex­tiles of Odisha which have be­come fa­mous through­out the world, and, per­haps, of the beaches at Puri and Gopalpur on sea. The land of this East In­dian state is known for hold­ing unique­ness of cul­ture and na­ture, making Odisha worth to visit.

Chi­lika Lake which is Asia’s largest brack­ish wa­ter la­goon with wa­ter spread rang­ing from 1165 sq km m the rainy sea­son to 906 sq km in the dry sea­son is nes­tled in the heart of the coastal Odisha. It ex­tends from Puri dis­trict in the North to Gan­jam dis­trict in the South, sep­a­rated from the Bay of Ben­gal by a 60 km long nar­row strip of marshy is­lands and sand-flats. Some of the prom­i­nent is­lands like Nal­a­bana, Kal­i­jai, So­molo, Hon­ey­moon, Break­fast, Birds and Ra­ja­hansa in­hab­ited by small sub­sis­tence fish­er­men fam­i­lies, are pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for daily boat trips. Chi­lika is rec­og­nized as one of the most im­por­tant wet­lands in the world be­cause it is home to a phe­nom­e­nal va­ri­ety of birds. Chi­lika Lake of­fers visi­tors a spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of its color­ful avian charms in a thou­sand dif­fer­ent hues pre­sented by over 160 species in the peak sea­son be­tween Novem­ber and Fe­bru­ary.

Con­sid­ered as one of the most im­pres­sive wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies of Asia, the Bhi­tarkanika Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary in Odisha is spe­cial due to rea­sons more than one. Hous­ing the dy­namic and salt tol­er­ant species of trees, the Man­groves that gen­er­ally grow in trop­i­cal and sub-trop­i­cal inter-tidal re­gions; Bhi­tarkanika has a lux­u­ri­ant green, rich and pul­sat­ing ecosys­tem. Lo­cated in the re­gion of Brah­mani­baitarani, in the north-east­ern place of Ken­dra­para dis­trict of Odisha, the sanc­tu­ary cov­ers an area of 672 square kilo­me­ters of man­grove forests and wet­land. Crossed by a thick net­work of brooks, with the Bay of Ben­gal on the east, Bhi­tarkanika Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary is home to over 215 species of birds, in­clud­ing win­ter mi­gra­tory birds from Europe and cen­tral-asia. Apart from the Man­groves, an­other rar­ity that the sanc­tu­ary has to its ac­count is the in­hi­bi­tion of its ecosys­tem by the Gi­ant Salt Wa­ter Croc­o­diles and nu­mer­ous va­ri­eties of other an­i­mal species. It is be­cause of th­ese only that a vast ex­panse of for­est around 145 square kilo­me­ters has been of­fi­cially de­clared as the Bhi­tarkanika Na­tional Park. This park in­clud­ing man­grove forests, creeks, es­tu­ar­ies, rivers, ac­cu­mu­lated land, back­wa­ter and mud flats is very sig­nif­i­cant for the eco­log­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal and ge­o­mor­pho­logic back­ground of Odisha.

A state which can per­haps be com­pared to the Phoenix as it rises con­stantly af­ter na­ture un­leashes its fury from the sea re­peat­edly.

Odisha is home to a rich cul­ture and her­itage. There are a num­ber of mon­u­ments and des­ti­na­tions in Odisha that make the state one of the pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions in In­dia. Be­sides the nat­u­ral beauty, there are a num­ber of re­li­gious (sa­cred) places in Odisha that are closely re­lated with Hin­duism, Bud­dhism and Jain­ism. The grand ar­chi­tec­ture and sculp­ture of Ja­gan­nath tem­ple, Lin­garaj tem­ple, Muk­tesh­war tem­ple and the Sun tem­ple, Konark leave the visi­tors spell­bound. Events like the holy Ja­gan­nath Rath ya­tra in Puri at­tract a large num­ber of devo­tees ev­ery year. In ad­di­tion to the above men­tioned tourist at­trac­tions there are many other pop­u­lar spots in Odisha, which are worth vis­it­ing!

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