Brahmapur or Berhampur as it is called, is the largest city and gateaway to Southern Odisha. Situated on the eastern coastline of the country, Berhampur or Brahmapur which is popularly known as the ‘Silk City’, is located under the province of Ganjam district and lies at a distance of 166 km from the state capital, Bhubaneswar. The city was once a part of the Madras Presidency which was under the rule of Emperor Ashoka. Other than this, Berhampur is a major education centre of Odisha which could be clearly seen in the number of well-established schools and universities. Berhampur is well known for silk, temples and vibrant culture that holds the attention of the tourists coming from different parts of the world. It has tropical climate- with hot & humid summers & pleasant winters. The cuisine of Berhampur is heady mix of Telegu and Odia preparations which give the dishes a completely new dimension altogether. Apart from the local cuisine, the city has restaurants to cater to diverse tastes and palate of the tourists. The cuisine of Berhampur is heady mix of Telegu and Odia preparations which gives the dishes a completely new dimension altogether. Apart from the local cuisine, the city has restaurants to cater to diverse tastes and palate of the tourists. It is a rewarding experience to see weavers sitting at their looms in the busy bazaar and shop for silks; also available brass and bell metal ware, horn toys, wood carvings and carpets. The shrines of Thukurani, Jagannath and Nilakantheswar Shiva Temples within the town are worth visiting. The museum here has a collection of some sculptures, and specimens of anthropological and natural history.
Mahuri Kalua Temple is located 37 km away from Chhatrapur and 15 km away from Behrampur. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mahuri Kalua which is believed to be worshipped by the King of Mahuri. According to folklore, the deity was earlier established inside a cave where only the king could reach and which was beyond the reach of any local people. The Goddess once gifted the King a sword which saved him from all dangers. But then one day the sword was lost and the king was defeated by Britishers. Henceforth, the deity was established on the foothills inside the temple which can be seen today. The temple is situated amidst dense forest that has crept all around the undulating hills. A flight of steps has been made on the body of the hill to aid the visitors to reach the cave where the deity was earlier established. The place has become a favourite picnic spot for tourists.
The Narayani Temple, located 80 km outside of Berhampur offers captivating views of the surrounding Sal and Mango groves. A perennial spring runs through the forest creating a scene worthy of reproduction on postcards. The holy temple of Narayani enshrines Maa Durga’s idol in the inner sanctum sanctorum. The idol of Maa Durga is said to be omnipotent and devotees throng to catch a glimpse during festivals and important days. Shakti or the omniscient, omnipotent feminine power is revered and worshipped across India, between castes, cultures and tribes. The form of Shakti represented in the Narayani temple has ten arms and is a reincarnation of Maa Durga. The tribal people inhabiting the area since time immemorial have worshipped a natural stone idol that they believed to be Maa Durga. The current idol in the shrine is a modern representation of the Goddess undertaken by the rulers of the pre-independence era.
Budhi Thakurani is considered as the istadevi of Silk City of Berhampur. As a child feels safe and secure in her mother’s lap, the inhabitants of Berhampur always have a secure felling under the blessings of Maa Budhi Thakurani. Therefore, the people of the city worship the deity with great reverence, devotion, love and affection and have strong belief on the Goddess as their guard wall. The temple is situated near Big Bazzar area of old Brahmapur. A large number of devotees visit the temple and worship to the deity inside the shrine is a piece of stone cut in crude fashion and smeared with sindoor. Originally the goddess was worshipped by the Dera people, a weaver community of Rajmuhendry on their set up at Brahmapur in its early days. The temple presents a unique feature of close association between low caste people and main stream of Hinduism. Here, the priests are barber by caste whereas devotees come from different castes.
Rolling green hills, jungles washed by rains and clouds tucked within the distant hills – that’s Taptapani located amidst the forests of Ganjam District of Orissa, just 50 kilometres from Berhampur. Taptapani is mainly known for its natural hot sulphur springs whose water is considered to have medicinal properties and is capable of curing aches, pains and skin ailments like eczema and scabies. Taptapani is surrounded by beautiful hills of the Eastern Ghats, which is inhabited by the ancient tribes of Orissa. There is also a majestic Buddhist Monastery, a deer park and a Shiva Temple nearby. It is a great weekend destination near Kolkata, which can be visited with another great beach destination of Orissa – Gopalpur on Sea. Taptapani is an all season destination and you can visit this place all round the year. However, to enjoy the dip in the hot water spring and to visit the nearby places, the most preferred time to visit Taptapani is between October and March.
Taratarini Temple is located in the Southern part of Orissa. It is a renowned religious place, which is presided over by Goddess Tara and Tarini - the twin sisters. It is perched atop a hill surrounded by the sacred Rushikulya River. Reaching the shrines of the temple is an interesting and exciting, as it requires climbing more than 999 steps from the base of the hill to its top. The Tara Tarini Shakti Peetha is one of the most seasoned journey focuses of the Mother Goddess and is one of four noteworthy old Tantra Peetha and Shakti Peethas in India. The deities Tara and Tarini have human faces. These idols are made of stone and are adorned with gold and silver jewels and precious stones. Chaitra Parba, also known as Chaitra mela or Chaitra Yatra, is the major festival celebrated here. It is held on each Tuesday in the month of Chaitra, which falls in April-May as per the English calendar.
Nija Bankeswari is a famous shakti pitha of Ganjam situated to the south of Digapahandi. The temple is located 20 km outside of Berhampur on the Kerandimala hill range in the Eastern Ghats. The inner sanctum sanctorum of the temple is home to Maa Bankeswari’s idol. The idol shows the all-consuming power of Maa Shakti. Clothed in a bright red sari Maa Bankeswari looks forbidding and protective at the same time. The best time to visit Bankeswari would be during summer when the elevation and the cool air can be savoured and relished. In ancient times the deity was worshipped inside the dense jungle full of wild animals. Legends say that the present shrine was erected at Dumbula giving respect to the wish of the goddess. The place is regularly visited by devotees but the fair of Dola Purnima attracts a large influx of devotees..
Kulada is famous for Goddess Bagh Devi which is the presiding deity, Kulad is said to be birth place of great Oriya Poet Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja. It is situated to the north west of Ganjam District with a ruin fort, river Mahanadi flowing in the east and dense forest in the west side of the ruined fort. Legend speaks that during 12th century a Bhanja ruler had joined hands with a tribal leader’ KULA’ to be eradicating the foreign invasion. Seeing the danger from the tribe he stained the tribal leader KULA and on the same place, constructed a fort which was later known as Kulad / Kulargad. The original temple is at the top of the hill known as Upper Bagh Devi with 210 steps. Upendra Bhanja spent his term in meditation at this place. As the steps are yet to be made and the route is very tough for climbing another temple of Goddess Bagh Devi has been constructed near the road where people in large number gather to worship.
Maa Bhairavi Temple is situated in a remote village ‘Mantridi' near Berhampur city in Ganjam district. This temple pays homage to goddess Bhairavi. The deity is an icon with one leg and four hands, craved in crude fashion. The image of the idol was found beneath the land while ploughing and was enshrined as such in a newly built temple in the year 1937. Legends says that fishermen and sailors used to take the blessings of Maa Bhairavi before commencing their journey. This temple has become an important Shakti Pitha for the villages nearby. Tuesdays and Sankranti days of all months are considered auspicious to worship Siddha Bhairavi. The temple features a big shrine which houses Lord Jagannath along with his siblings. Another unique feature of Siddha Bhairavi Temple is the 108 sub shrines which enshrine all the major Hindu gods such as the 12 Jyotirlingas, Venkateshwara, Badrinath, Madurai Meenakshi, Maa Vaishno Devi, Ranganatha and the Dasavatharas. Major festivals celebrated in the temple are Maha Saptami, Makar Sankranti, Dushera, and Mesha Sankranti.
Buguda is famous for the temple of Biranchinarayan. The temple was built by King Srikara Bhanja who ascended the throne of Ghumusar in 1790 CE. The image of God Biranchinarayan which is installed in the sanctum of the temple was recovered from the ruins of Malatigarh. About the finding of the statues, Sewell in his Ghumusar Report has stated that once a heredboy, while tending cattle, struck his foot against a plate of metal at the foot of the hill. Consequently, the villagers dug up the portion and unearthed a life-size image of Suryanarayan which was carried to Buguda where it was consecrated in a new temple. The temple subsequently came to be known as Biranchinarayan. The temple is built in the form of a chariot driven by seven horses. The temple is conspicuous for its remarkable wood carvings and wall paintings. The wood carvings are noticed on the ceiling of the Mandap and on the jambs of the entrance door way as well.
Situated 16 km away from Berhampur, Gopalpur-on-Sea is a splendid retreat for avid beach lovers. From golden sands to clear blue waters, the beach has everything that can entice visitors. Besides a sun-kissed beach, Gopalpur-on-Sea offers glimpses of its past glory as a commercial port. The crumbling walls and pillars of an ancient jetty can still be found on the beach. In fact, Gopalpur was once a bustling maritime zone in Odisha and a sea port through which early settlers of Southeast Asia sailed off. Established during the British rule, the port stopped functioning in 1942 during the Second World War. There are ruins of several bungalows and mansions belonging to the European merchants, which give it a colonial look. A red-and-white striped lighthouse also stands on the popular beach. Commissioned in 1871, it is one of the oldest lighthouses in the state. Every year during Kartika Purnima, people sail tiny boats made of banana stems and paper, with lamps, betel leaves, crackers, fruits and coins in them, to mark the rich maritime history of Gopalpur-on-Sea.
Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1,100 km2. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest coastal lagoon in the world. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. The lake and its reed islands teem with nesting birds-white bellied sea eagles, ospreys, golden plovers, sand pipers, flamingos, pelicans, shovellers, gulls, include migratory ones flying great distances from Iran, Central Asia and Siberia. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals. This lake is an ecosystem with large fishery resources. It sustains more than 150,000 fisher–folk living in 132 villages on the shore and islands. The enthralling lake also offers scenic views of sunrise and sunset and a host of other options to choose from. Attractions such as the Bird Island, Breakfast Island and Honeymoon Island are also frequented by tourists who visit the Chilika Lake. The lake also boasts of being one of the only two sites in the world where the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins can be spotted.
The Balkumari Temple is located 30 km away from the Berhampur city railway station. Temple of Maa Balakumari was founded by the royal family of Chikiti. Maa Balakumari is the famous goddess of the locality. The temple is situated in the east of the town Chikiti. The place is provided with all necessary features. Tourists have to climb 1240 steps to reach at the top of the temple. The temple reigned by Goddess Durga is frequented by people of many parts of Southern Orissa (Chikiti)and near areas of Andhra Pradesh. Although ascending the steps is daunting and undoubtedly tiring, it has spiritual significance. The idea of penance and worship are intertwined since time immemorial. The approach to numerous temples across India is as difficult or even more physically draining. The place is at a distance of 52 km. from the district headquarters and at a distance of 208 km from state capital. One of the important festivals celebrated at the temple is Sanskranti day of each month and all Tuesdays.