Kendrapara, also known as Tulasi Khetra, is one of the holiest places (Kshetras) in Odisha. Known for its history as well as mythological importance, tourists can enjoy the true splendors of Odia culture here. Much of the tourist attractions of Kendrapara are undiscovered even to seasoned travellers. So, here are some of the must visit attractions of Kendrapara.
Baladev Jew Temple
Baladev Jew is another name for Lord Balabhadra, who is the presiding deity of Kendrapara. This temple is located in Ichhapur village and was built in the 17th century by Kujanga Raja. In addition to the presiding deity, there are many other temples present within the campus. Ananda Bazar, the dining place of the temple, is the main attraction of this temple. It serves 56 varieties of food that are offered to Lord Jagannath. Ratha Yatra held in this temple is the second most popular (after Puri Jagannath) and the chariot used here is even higher than that of Puri.
- Timings: 6 AM – 9 PM
- Bhog Booking: Bhog is available in Ananda Bazar till evening. No pre-booking is required.
- Aarti Timings: 9 – 10 AM; 2:30 – 3:30 PM; 6 – 7 PM
- Must Taste: While visiting this temple, do care to taste some Rasabali sweet from the nearby shops.
- Trivia: Tulasi idol placed in the centre of the temple is the presiding deity of Kandrapada and it is due to this that the district is also known as Tulasi Khetra.
Sakhibata is a 500-year-old Banyan tree situated near the Luna river. The area is named after a local farmer’s daughter – Sakhi. It is claimed that she was the first to worship Lord Baldev Jew under this very banyan tree. The old banyan tree marvelously covers an area of 4 acres and from a distance it looks more like a forest. Surrounded by three temples, this is a peaceful place.
- Trivia: In 18th century, when the Muslim feudal rulers sacked the Shree Baladev Jew Temple, the idols were brought and hid here to save them from destruction.
- Note: Though there are no opening and closing times, but the tourists are advised to visit the place while there is sunlight.
Kanika Palace (or Rajkanika) reminds the tourists of Kendrapara’s royal heritage. It was built by Raja R N Bhanjadeo, then ruler of Kanika. This beautiful palace is divided into three sections – main palace, drawing room and the wooden staircase. There is also a museum within this palace where many rare artifacts are on display.
- Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM
- Must See: Skull of largest crocodile and other hunting trophies are displayed within the palace museum.
Trivia: It contains some rare 100 year old stencil paintings.
Another must visit monument for all history buffs. This 200 year old palace was built by Raja Ramachandra Deba, king of Aul. Being situated on the banks of river Kharasrota, the palace and its surroundings turn picturesque during the monsoons when the area turns green and the winding river adds to the splendor.
- Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM
- Must See: King’s palace, Queen’s palace (Rani Mahal), Royal Horse Stables, Gardens
This 500-year-old Varaha temple is situated in the middle of the Aul village and surrounded by coconut trees. Varaha, the main deity, is the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Baraha Dwadashi (in the month of February) and Baraha DolaYatra (in the month of March) are celebrated with much fanfare at this temple.
- Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM
- Bhog Booking: Bhog can be booked from the Temple office between 6 – 9 AM.
- Aarti Timings: 9 AM – 10 AM; 2 – 3 PM; 6 – 7 PM
- Must Taste: While visiting the temple, also try the local sweet dish – chhenna murki from the nearby shops.
Other Tourist Places of Interest
- Bhitarkanika & Gahirimatha Wildlife sanctuaries
- Light House
- False Point Port
Nearest Railhead: Kendrapara Road (KNPR)