The capital of the East Indian state of Orissa, Bhubaneswar extends from latitude 20°15' North to longitude 85°52' East. An important city of the temple triangle of Orissa, Bhubaneshwar has direct air, road, and rail connection with the other major cities of India.
Bhubaneswar derives its name from the Sanskrit word Tribhuvaneswara, which stands for Lord Shiva. The area around Bhubaneswar constituted the famed kingdom of Kalinga, which was conquered after a bloody battle by Ashoka, the great Mauryan emperor. Appalled at the carnage, Ashoka renounced violence and embraced Buddhism. Around the 1st century BC, under the rule of Kharvela, Orissa regained its lost glory and Bhubaneswar again became the center of activities. During this period, monastery caves were constructed of which Khandgiri and Udaygiri are the most important. By the 7th century, Hinduism supplemented Jainism, and Ganga and Kesari kingdoms did a lot for the development of Orissan culture. Most of the kings who ruled Orissa constructed beautiful temples. For a better part of its history, Bhubaneswar remained under the influence of Afghans, Marathas, and the British (till 1947).
Against this multi-hued tapestry of history, and the backdrop of the soaring sandstone spires of old Bhubaneswar, a new capital has taken shape. The modern architectural designs and materials of new Bhubaneswar contrast starkly with the old city. Nevertheless, mindful of its unique status, new Bhubaneswar is a calm, progressive city, linking the old and the new most effectively.
On the day of Ashokashtami in the month of March, the image of Lingaraja (Lord Shiva) and other deities are taken in a procession from Lingaraja Temple to the Rameshwara Temple. Hundreds of devotees participate in pulling the chariot that carries the deities. The deities remain in the Rameshwara Temple for four days.
At the end of January comes Adivasi Mela, a fair that displays the art, artifacts, tradition, culture, and music of the tribal folks of Orissa.
Other festivals of importance are Durga Puja, Janmashtami, and Kali Puja.
Situated at an altitude of 45 m above sea level, the temperatures range between 15.7°C in winter to a maximum of 30°C to 40°C in summer. Bhubaneshwar is comfortable round the year, but the best season to visit the city is during the months of October to April.
Built in 650 AD, Parashurameshwara Temple is one of the best examples of the Orissa style of temple architecture. This temple followed very rigid parameters set by the ritualistic books. The temple has some exquisite carvings and sculpture.
Vaital Deul (800 AD) has a double-storied wagon roof, which in turn is an influence of the Buddhist cave architecture. The interior of the temple has the image of Chamunda (an incarnation of Goddess Kali).
Mukteshwar Temple (7th-8th century AD) is one of the most ornated temples in the Bhubaneswar. The intricate carvings of the deities testify the influence of Hindu, Buddha, and Jain style of architecture. The carvings on the roof are specially striking.
The Rajarani Temple (1100 AD), which derives its name from the stone known as the Rajarani, was built earlier in comparison to the impressive Lingaraja. Set amongst picturesque paddy fields, the relatively small Rajarani temple is noted for its fascinating female figures portrayed in a stunning variety of amorous poses and moods.
Brahmeswara Temple (1050 AD) is situated around a kilometer east of the main road. The temple stands in a courtyard flanked by four smaller temples.
The 10th- or 11th-century Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar has been described as "the truest fusion of dream and reality." A rare masterpiece, the Lingaraja temple has been rated one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temple in India by Ferguson, the noted art critic and historian. Every inch of the surface of the 55-m-high Lingaraja temple is covered with elaborate carvings. Sculpture and architecture fused elegantly to create a perfect harmony. Devout pilgrims, who wish to go to the Jagannath temple at Puri, must first offer worship at the Lingaraja temple.
The Orissa State Museum is one of the best places to explore sculptures, stone inscriptions, lithic and bronze-age tools, rare copper plates, palm-leaf manuscripts, paintings, anthropological specimens, and musical instruments.
The Handicrafts Museum at Secretariat Road has a good collection of folk paintings, horn toys, brass castings, and sculptures.
The Tribal Museum deals with the various aspects of the tribal life and culture in Orissa.