Odisha is one of the most interesting states in East India. The State is predominantly rural but industrialisation is changing its face. Bhubaneshwar is the modern capital of Odisha. Odisha is known for the famous Sun Temple at Konark and Jagannath Temple in Puri. Although, Odisha is one of the least visited states of India, it is also easily accessible. Odisha lies just south of the Tropic of Cancer and is very warm throughout the year. The best season to visit Odisha is from October to March. Oriya, Hindi and English are the main languages which are spoken in Odisha. Festivals of Odisha Odisha has its own way of celebrating the fairs and festivals. Some of the famous fairs and festivals of Odisha are the Makar Mela on Kalijal Island, Chilka Lake, the Tribal fair of Bhubaneshwar, Durga Puja, the Car festival of Lord Lingaraja of Bhubaneshwar and the Rath Yatra in Puri. Various pilgrims visit Puri from India and abroad in the Rath Yatra. The three deities, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, are taken in a chariot procession to their summer temple for a week. Their magnificent chariots are drawn by the devotees. The Bali Yatra of Cuttack is another festival which is celebrated on the Kartik Purnima in October-November. In memory of the traders who had set sail for the islands of Bali, Java and Sumatra in the olden days, people go to the Mahanadi river, and bath and sail tiny boats made of pith and paper. From daybreak till late in the evening, a huge fair is held on the river-bank, in front of the Barabati fort for four days. Odisha Temple The golden age of temple construction in Odisha stretched from the 8th to the 13th century but it achieved the pinnacle of glory in the 10th and 11th centuries. The temples in Odisha represent the development of the “Nagara” style of Indo-Aryan architecture. The temples of Bhubaneshwar, Puri and Konark represents a remarkable development of the Odishan temple architecture from the 7th century to the 13th century AD. Some of the temples are living shrines, centres of active pilgrimage, worship and faith. The plan of the temple is simple. The temples consists of a tall, curvlinear tower or spire thrusting upwards in a pinnacle and an open structure or porch in front of the entrance to the tower. The taller tower which rises over the main temple and enshrines the deity is known as Deul and the porch is known as Jagamohana. The Jagmohan is usually square with a pyramidal roof. Sometimes one or two more halls are built in these temples and set in front of the porch. They are known as Natmandir and Bhogmandir. The interior of the temple is quite dark and is designed to allow only a glimpse of the presiding deity and to enable the priests to conduct ritual worship. Each exterior part of the temple tower is divided by the vertical, flat-faced projections or rathas. The sculptures in these temples are not easy to describe. The statues represent everything from the sacred to the profane, but every stone used in temple construction has been carved. Birds, animals, flowers and plants, human beings can be seen in various postures in fine details. Shopping in Odisha Cigar boxes, jewellery, and decorative trays with extremely intricate silver filigree work, Pattachitra, the folk painting of Odisha, brassware. Papier mache masks, colourufl canopies, awnings and umbrellas with applicaque work from Pipli are some of the famous items which can be bought from Odisha. Odisha is also the home of exclusive silk and cotton handloom saris and fabrics that can be made into dresses, bedspreads, table linen and furnishings. Beaches in Odisha Odisha is also blessed with quiet beaches that invite the traveler to share their charm. Gopalpur-On-Sea, an ancient seaport, is one of the most beautiful, unspoiled beach resort in Odisha. Today, it is a modern, luxurious beach resort, and offers excellent facilities for surfing and sailing. Chandipur is undiscovered beach resort and here the sea retreats for several kilometers everyday. Balighat is another beach, where the river merges with the ocean. Chilka Lake is situated just south of Puri. Chilka Lake is a place of enchanting beauty. Chilka Lake is one of the largest mixed salt and fresh water lake in Asia. Marshes, lowlands and islands dot the shallow waters. Various migratory birds can be seen along the banks of the lake in winter. Tourist Attractions in Odisha The principal tourist attractions of Odisha are the temple towns of Puri and Bhubaneshwar and Konark. These three tourist attractions form a convenient and compact little golden triangle. Bhubaneshwar, Puri and Konark are easily accessible by rail and road. The Jagannath Temple in Puri, Sun Temple in Konark, Lingaraj and Raja Rani Temple in Bhubaneshwar and Chandrabhaga and Puri Beaches are a few main attractions of the region. Wildlife in Odisha Due to natural abundance, Odisha is an ideal place for wild animals and birds. Odisha has excellent wildlife sanctuaries. Nandankanan is set in the natural wilderness, about 20 km. from Bhubaneshwar. It is a delightful place, and famous all over the world for its white tigers and as the first breeding ground in captivity of black panthers and gharial. Leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, bear, monkeys, and several other types of mammals can also be seen at close quarters, in near-natural surroundings. The Similipal National Park is the most famous national park in Oissa. It was established as one of the India’s Project Tiger reserves and has rich valleys, rolling hills, grand waterfalls and majestic mountains. Besides tigers, there are panthers, antelopes, India bison, deer, sloth bear, and over 200 species of birds that make this sanctuary truly irresistible. The wildlife sanctuary of Gahirmatha, about 130 km. from Bhubaneshwar, is an unusual place in Odisha. In September each year, various Pacific Ridley sea turtles swim from as far away as South America to make this place an important Pacific Ridley nesting ground in India.