Odisha is not only a land of magnificent monuments, golden beaches, precipitous waterfalls, sprawling lakes, healing hot springs, luxuriant forest, intricate handicraft etc. but also a land of colourful fairs and festivals. Every season in Odisha has a variety of occasions to celebrate. Many of the festivals are observed at more than one place on the same occasion. While the rituals remain the same, the ways they are, observed differ from place to place at times. Those who have no time to visit all the places to see the difference can choose the place where they are best observed. Given below are glimpses of important fairs and festivals observed/organised in Odisha. This is only a comprehensive and not an exhaustive list of the festivals
Sightseeing Tours -
Puri is not just about the Jagannath Temple, it also offers its visitors fascinating sightseeing, such as options mentioned below -
Holly Tanks Indradyumna, Manikarnika, Markanda, Narendra and Swetaganga are names of Puri's sacred tanks which offer a tranquil site for repose and relaxation for tourists. Maths and Ashrams (These are places where you can meditate or seek spiritual solace) Bada Chhata Math, Bauli Math, Dashavatar Math, Jagannath Ballabha Math, Punjabi Math, Satalaharhi Math, Sri Chaitanya Goudiya Math, Sri Purushottama Goudiya Math, Sri Radhakanta Math, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Sri Shankarachrya Govardhan Math, Sri Saraswat Goudiya Math and Thakur Bari Math. Among ashrams, you may visit Akhila Bhartiya Jayaguru, Sampradya, Bharatsevashram Sangha, Dhyana Mandir Ashram, Ramkrishna Mission Ashram, Sri Chaitanya Ashram and Girinar Bunt.
Balukhand Sanctuary - This sanctuary is situated at convenient location along seacoast between Puri and Konark. The flora of the area includes casuarinas, anacardium, neem, tamarind, karanja, etc. The prominent fauna includes blackbucks, spotted deer, monkey, squirrels, jungle cats, hyena, jackals, mongoose and variety of birds and reptiles. Puri is located just 3 km. From the entry point of the sanctuary and the Puri - Konark marine drive passes by it.
Puri offers a plethora of picturesque places for tourists, abounding in natural and architectural splendour for Excursion Tour.
* Distance from Puri
Brahmagiri (22 km)* - Brahmagiri is known for the living shrine of Alarnath. Streams of pilgrims visit Alarnath during Anabasara of Lord Jagannath. (the period of fifteen days when the deities are kept in isolation from public view after the Deva Snan Purnima, the Bathing Festival).Nearby is the shrine of Baliharachandi on the solitary sand dunes.
Baliharachandi (25 km)* - 25 km to the south-west of Puri is the temple of Baliharachandi. Situated on a sandy hill near the confluence of the river Bhargavi, Goddess Durga is worshipped here as Baliharachandi. The scenic beauty of this place is ideal for group picnic.
Raghurajpur (12 km)* - One of the most famous artist village in Orissa, Raghurajpur boasts not only of the exquisite crafts ‘patachitra's and talapatrachitra, but also of being the native place of the world famous Odissi danseuse Guru Padmabibhusan Kelucharan Mohapatra,and Gotipua dance guru Padmasree Maguni Das . Even today, under the tutelage of renowned Guru here, young boys practise Gotipua dance which is the genesis of Odissi dance. A visit to Orissa would definitely be incomplete without a visit to this quaint little village.
Satapada (50 km)* - Satapara, is a retreat in nature on Chilika Lake. Its location near the confluence of the Lake and the Bay of Bengal, and proximity to Puri (50 km), makes it an ideal spot to enjoy the beauty of Chilika. The thrilling sight of dolphins round the year and abundance of migratory and resident birds in winter make it an ideal place for a vacation with nature.
Balighai(8 kms) The Casuarinas fringed Balighai beach, just a little over 5 kilometers from Puri is a famous picnic spot. The sun and fun at the mouth of the river Nuanai is unforgettable.
Satyabadi(Sakhigopal) (20 kms) Satyabadi or Sakshigopal is known for the shrine of Lord Sakshigopal. It is believed that the visit to Puri is incomplete without a visit to Sakshigopal. The temple is only 20kms. from Puri and 2 km from the main road leading to Bhubaneshwar and is convenient to visit.
Barala Balunkeswar Pitha (25 km)* - 7 kms from Satyabadi, Balunkeswar Pitha is famous for the Siva Shrine of Lord Barala Balunkeswar. Legend would have it that Lord Rama during his exile had installed this Siva Lingam in sand under a banyan tree. Baruni Yatra is the biggest festival observed here for two days . Regular bus service is available up to Patanaikia Chhak (3 kms) on NH-203 (Puri-Bhubaneswar road).
Biswanath Hill (35 km)* - Famous for the temple of Biswanath on the top of the hill located near Delanga-(2 kms).The nearest bus stop to reach the place is at Delanga Market.
Manikpatna (43 km)* - 17 kms from Satapada, the place is associated with the cult of Lord Jagannath. Legend would have it that Lord Jagannath and His brother Lord Balabhadra had taken sweet curd from the milk woman Manika on the way while proceeding for a war to win over Kanchi in South India. So the place is named as Manikpatna. The 13th Century Bhabakundleswar Siva temple is an added attraction of this place.
Beleswar (14 km)* - 64 kms from Balighai it is an ideal Sea beach.
Pipili - (40 kms.) Pipili is the center of colourful appliqué work.Applique in Orissa is an old temple art , which has been refined to perfection. A fine example of the craft is the enormous applique canopies which cover the chariots of the Trinity at Puri during Rath Yatra.. Applique art is the process of cutting coloured cloth into shapes of animals , birds, flowers, leaves and other decorative motifs and stitching them on to a piece of cloth that can ultimately be used as a lamp shade , a hand bag or even a garden umbrella . Many of the Applique Artists of this village have won national awards for their crafts.
Other Activities -
There's much more to Puri than its temples and beaches.
Fairs and Festivals : Puri offers a plethora of colorful fairs and festivals round the year. However, the Ratha Yatra or Chariot Festival, Snana Yatra, Gosani Yatra, Puri Beach Festival, Shreekshetra Utsav, Ganesh Puja and Jhulana Yatra are among the more widely celebrated ones.
Art & Craft- A shopper's Paradise: Puri is a spectacular souvenirs centre. of seashell, Pattachitras and Palm Leaf paintings, Horn work, Wood carvings, and Solapith work can be purchased from Utkalika Emporium outlets or from the numerous private shops / stalls spread all over the beach town. Also, check out Puri's Swargadwar Market, Art & Craft complex at Mochisahi Chhak, Sudarshan Crafts Museum at Station Road, Sun Crafts at Police Line Square and Sambalpuri Bastralaya at Grand Road.
Cuisines & Restaurants -
Delectable seafood, traditional Oriya Cuisine, Indian (veg and non-veg), Chinese and Continental cuisine are available at Puri.
1. If you are male introduced to a lady or a grown-up girl, don't take the initiative of offering a handshake. If she extends her hand, you may reciprocate, but don't be the first to extend yours. If you are female and are being introduced to a male: it is up to you - the female - to take the initiative for a handshake. The rule of thumb is: the female extends her hand first, and the male reciprocates.
2. The Western practice of a peck on the cheek as a form of greeting a lady or a grown up girl is not advisable except in the case of those who are used to such practices.
3. Indian English has its own accent and this does vary depending upon the region. The universal welcome greeting across the country is with folded hands and a slight bow. This is called `namaste` or `namashkar`. It should be reciprocated with a smile.
4. Some Indians are in the habit of shaking their head to say yes or no. Please confirm what they mean, if you are not familiar with regional gestures.
5. While visiting places of worship, respect should be shown as required Some Indians do not take alcohol or meat for religious, traditional or personal reasons. This should be kept in mind in entertainment.