Of the many interesting places of Orissa, Prachi Valley stands out as a unique region where sights of Orissan history and culture welcome visitors. The valley, on the bank of River Prachi, treasures monuments of all ages from 7th century AD to 15th century AD. The River Prachi, originating from the Mahanadi, after flowing nearly 50 km, joins the sea in the Bay of Bengal. Traditions and legends link various places of the valley with the epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Chahata, 62 km from Bhubaneswar, is one of the most beautiful places in the valley. It is located where the River Lalita, a tributary of the Prachi, joins it. Tradition links the place, known as Go Tirtha, with the sacred Ganga.
It is said that Lord Vishnu advised Ganga to take a dip at the river near the confluence. Even today, a beautiful image of Vishnu is worshipped here as Lalita Madhava.
Only a couple of kilometers from here exists the ancient site of Amaresvara, enshrining the Shivalinga of the same name. Traditions link the place with the Ramayana. The myth is associated with Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Ravana was said to have sacrificed his ten heads. To corroborate the legend, a big water reservoir named Ravankunda is situated on the northeastern side of the temple where ten human busts of stone are kept. Ravana's younger brother was said to have taken a holy dip here on the advise of Lord Ramachandra.
Another beautiful place in the valley is Arka Tirtha, where exists the Sobhanesvara Temple. Apart from the temple, a 6th-century AD Brahma image on a lotus pedestal is found, enshrined in a newly constructed temple, built in place of the old broken structure. Legends link the place with Parvati and Shiva. Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Sobhanesvara. To the west of Sobhanesvara, on the bank of Prachi, an eight-armed image of Chamunda (Durga) is worshipped as Harachandi. The image of Chamunda found here is considered the oldest Chamunda image so far discovered in Orissa. Sobhanesvara Temple consists of a sanctum, dancing hall, and a dining hall. Though the temple is now in ruins, the eight Dikpalas or Gods of eight directions with their respective consorts are carved on the body of the main temple. Full of beautiful sculptures, the temple can be considered as a treasure house for scholars and tourists. Of the beautiful images, eight four-armed images of Vishnu are worshipped here as Madhava. These Madhava images along with the two Vishnu images recovered from the pond near the Brahma temple of Niali lead to the belief that once the valley was the citadel of Vaishnavism.
In addition, there is Shiva temple. This temple, known as Gramesvara, dates back to 10th-11th centuries AD. While there is a Vishnu idol inside the temple, there are images of Ganesha, Narasimha, Vishnu, Astikajaradkaru, Karitkeya, Parvati, Trivikrama Vishnu, and Varaha as well.
The confluence where the Prachi, Saraswati, and Manikarnika meet is known as Manikarnika Tirtha. Though, at present, River Saraswati has lost its course, thousands of people take a bath here on Amavasya (moonless night) in the month of Magha (January-February).
Village Chaurashi is situated about 1 km from Amaresvara. The temple of Varahi stands at the outskirts of the village Chaurashi. Its frontal fašade is carved in scroll designs and Naga images are reminiscent of the carvings of the Rajarani Temple at Bhubaneswar.
Nearly 58 km from Bhubaneswar, Madhava Temple is situated on the eastern bank of the Prachi.
Situated at a distance of 5 km from Jiunti, the renovated Pidh Temple houses an image of Vishnu worshipped as Nilamadhava. Very close to this temple is another dilapidated shrine. Inside the temple, a very beautiful image of Vishnu as Nilamadhava is worshipped. The antiquarian remains of the site may be assigned to the 8th-12th century AD.
Apart from the beautiful sculptures and monuments, the valley presents the stamp of various religions.
Overall, Prachi Valley presents an interesting insight into the art and history of the state of Orissa. The entire valley, if properly studied, would reveal many interesting facts of the history of the valley hitherto unknown.
HOW TO REACH
Prachi Valley can be reached from Bhubaneswar. Bhubaneswar is connected by air, rail, and road.
WHERE TO STAY
Though there is no hotel to stay in Kakatapur or Astaranga, yet one can always seek permission to stay in the inspection bungalows of the government, PWD, etc. Besides, one can go to nearby Konark where tourists can stay in hotels.
Tourism-of-India.com provides complete information about tourism in Prachi Valley. Tourism-of-India.com offers various tour packages to make you visit comfortable. You can pick the one that suits you most.
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