Tour of Odisha during Durga Pooja

Written By

Viji Hari

Odisha Loading

After much deliberation on the destination to visit during the Navaratri/Dussera holidays with the kids, we finally decided to tag along with a friend to the state of Odisha.

Odisha having borne and witnessed the rise of Kalinga dynasty has a rich heritage and historical temples filled with architectural marvel.

Day 1



City of Temples

We landed in Bhubaneshwar airport after a long¬†flight from Chennai.¬†Around the evening, we visited the ‘Lingaraj temple’ – this 11th-century temple is a beautiful structure whose main deity is Hari-Har (Vishnu-Shiva) in the form of a Swayambhu, a self-manifested lingam, with a Saligramam in the centre of the base. The temple has a vast courtyard mired with 108 smaller shrines for all Hindu deities. It is a blissful experience and a “must visit”¬†temple.

I learnt that the “Prasad/Bhog” is prepared through the day with great devotion. A dark covered passage connects the kitchen to the main sanctum ensuring that no sun rays fall on the Prasad before being offered to the presiding deity. It is said that if the sun rays fall on the¬†Prasad, it becomes an offering to the Sun god.¬†This custom is followed till date.

A temple pundit still manually climbs atop of this 1000-year-old 55m tall tower to change the flag every morning. Quite an enviable task for any professional mountain climber!


No mobiles and cameras are allowed inside the temple. Hence, an aerial view of Lingaraj Temple. Pic courtesy ‚Äď

Day 2


Must visit

It was time to head out to pay our respects to Puri Jagannatha and from there to the Sun temple of Konark.

Puri Jagannatha:

The deity of Odisha resides in this twelfth-century temple located at an hour‚Äôs drive from the capital and considered as one of the “char dhams” (must visit holy pilgrimages) of Lord Vishnu. The story on how the Lord Jagannatha was carved & installed initially, how the new statues are carved¬†at regular intervals based on a dream that one of the temple servitors gets, and how life is infused into these statues is mesmerising.

Do read about the science-defying mysteries surrounding the temple tower.

PS: Don’t trust the pundits in the guise of temple guides who force you to donate an amount starting from INR 1700 to the temple. A huge portion of this enters their own pockets. But I highly recommend you take a proper guide to all these main temples to understand their history and significance.


Pic Courtesy:

Sun temple, Konark:

This is a 13th-century temple dedicated to the Sun God. The temple is designed as a chariot with the 24 “chakras” (wheels) and pulled by 7 horses. The entire architecture depicts the cycle and stages of life with its beautiful carvings. The famous sundials on the chakras accurately tell the time till date. It is sad to hear that the main tower collapsed and was destroyed by foreign invaders in the 18th century when they removed the 50-tonne magnet at the top of the tower. This magnet and iron plates sandwiched between the sandstones of the temple walls helped to keep the main deity afloat.

A lovely photo spot.


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Konark Temple Sun dial and the only Chakra without any damages


Day 3



Durga Pandals in Balasore

 A visit to Balasore is a must for the famous Chandipur beach and during Durga Pooja.

We loved to see how diversely our country celebrates Durga Pooja and Navaratri. Durga Pooja is celebrated with great pomp and show here. The entire community comes together to give life to Goddess Durga in the form of beautifully decorated clay idols, and to bid her farewell after the destruction of evil (Mahishasur). Each and every area has a Durga pandal. I was told that the cities of Cuttack and Raurkela have celebrations on a larger scale.

Balasore too has its mini version of Jagannath temple with its own beautiful sculptures and hot prasad¬†‚Äď khaja and maalpua.

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durga pandal resized-01  orissa-durga pandal4orissa-durga pandal3

Day 4, 5


Shopping and Odiya food

Holidays without food and shopping are never complete. Shopping in the local markets for Odisha’s famous Sambhalpuri sarees and dress materials is absolutely mind boggling.

Pic Courtesy: Pravin Shekar

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The handcrafted silver filigree jewellery/silverware from the Cuttack craftsmen are very appealing to any woman.  Tasting the Odiya street food and chat items is an experience in itself. Samosas, paneer based sweets from Jadeshwar stall and seafood from the main Bhojan restaurant are a must try.


orissa10Authentic Odiya food is flavoured with mustard oil or mustard paste. Balasore is famous for its seafood and reputed to be THE destination  for the fish lovers.

Pic Courtesy: Pravin Shekar


Day 6, 7


The sea that disappears

The beauty of Chandipur beaches – it felt like an eternity walking along the 1 km long clayey sands of this pristine beach with the sea receding during low tide and slowly rippling back to the shore along with the high tide of sea water.

Pic Courtesy: Pravin Shekar


We can slowly crawl back to the shore along with the high tide. Every day it takes around 6 hours for the sea water to recede 3 to 5 km and return to the shore. The tide cycle Рduration and timing Рdepends on the phases of the moons.

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There is a beautiful DRDO resort which Dr Abdul Kalam used to frequent as a scientist. The beauty of this beach makes you want to visit it again and again.

Pic Courtesy: Pravin Shekar

The best part of the trip was staying with a friend from Odisha and understanding their food, culture and tradition of the Odiya family. It felt like our childhood days when we would visit aunts or grandparents in smaller towns during holidays and returning back with happy memories.

There are lovelier ancient treasures and cultures to be explored in our Indian states. Next on my list to¬†explore are West Bengal, Gujarat, New Delhi states, specifically during Navaratri to experience the “Garba” festivities and Delhi‚Äôs “Ram Lila”.¬† For that, I need to first acquire some friends from these states ;). Any volunteers?




Viji Hari is an Author of BCC: Behind Closed Cubicles, CEO and Co-Founder of Kelp HR, a human resources consultancy firm ( and specializes in setting up governance models, prevention and redressal committees of sexual harassment in the corporate world. She is a speaker in several forums on this topic and has conducted awareness workshops across India on the topic of Prevention of Sexual Harassment, Gender and Diversity sensitization. She loves reading, travelling the world to explore and experience the local culture, food, people and places. Connect with Viji at Share your feedback, stories and experiences on this topic at

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