Taptapani literally translates to boiling water. Taptapani is a hot spring located 50 km away from Berhampur. Natural hot springs on the face of planet earth are numbered and most of them are not accessible. Taptapani offers an up close and personal experience as visitors can take a dip in the warm water.
The high sulfur content in the water is the reason that the water of Taptapani is known to have medicinal qualities. Believers from across the country come in search of cures for pains and skin ailments like eczema and scabies.
The location of Taptapani is another reason for the influx of tourism in Berhampur. The hot springs are nestled in the midst of the Eastern Ghats at an elevation of 1800 ft above sea level. There are temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Kandi Mata, a tribal Goddess in the vicinity. A deer park maintained by the Government is located 5 km away from the hot spring.
Taratarini Temple is dedicated to twin Goddesses, Tara and Tarini. The temple is located 32 km outside of Berhampur. The river Rushikulya runs through the area adjoining the temple enhancing the natural serenity associated with the temple. Every year, the month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar attracts large crowds of devotees, especially on Tuesday, a religiously significant day.
A revenue inspection bungalow is the only accommodation available to tourists in the area. Most tourists and visitors choose to stay in Berhampur, the hub of tourists, and travel to Taratarini temple. Regular public transport (buses) carry passengers from Berhampur to Taratarini temple and vice versa.
The temple is located on a hill near Purusottampur. The Goddesses are revered and worshipped in households across Southern Orissa. The Taratarini hill as it is popularly known occupies 180 acres of lush green land broken only by the Rushikulya river flowing through.
The Bankeswari Temple has attracted devotees from all over India, before travel moved into the realms of leisure. The sacred and spiritual theme of the temple continues outdoors. The temple is located 20 km outside of Berhampur on the Kerandimala hill range in the Eastern Ghats.
The area is approachable from the Berhampur–Digapahandi Highway. After a diversion from the highway the views and the temple are located a mere 10 km away. 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. Bankeswari is a religious sanctuary for believers and for the atheists; the views and the serenity that the place offers is unparalleled.
Bankeswari is a hilly area located in the Ganjam district of Orissa. The place is a must visit for anyone who visits the Gopalpur sea beach. The place is located at a distance of 12 km from the nearest railway station in Berhampur.
The place can also be reached by road as it is situated on the highway of Berhampur-Digapahandi. The place is a scenic spot which is very famous for picnics and outings. Winter is the best season to visit this beautiful place.
It is located on the Kerandimala hill ranges on the Eastern Ghats. There is dense forest all around the place and the view is magnificent with many streams flowing by it. The place is also used for trekking by the majority of tourists.
Mahendragiri is a hill station located in the Paralakhemundi subdivision of the district of Gajapati in Orissa. A part of the Eastern Ghats, the mountain peak is worth a visit for the views if not for the sights, sounds and culture on offer.
The mountain peak is religiously and historically important owing to the associations with Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. The area is mentioned in all the holy scriptures as a place where penance and a trance like state of meditation was practiced.
The natural beauty of the area underscores and enhances attempts at shedding the daily grind that life gets reduced to in the cities. Ancient temples and archaeological remains rumoured to have been built by the Pandavas regularly dot the landscape in Mahendragiri. The best time to visit Mahendragiri would be during Shivarathri when the town comes alive with chants and festivities.
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.
Maa Budhi Thakurani Temple hosts the bi-annual festival, Thakurani Yatra. The festival begins with the head of the Dera (community of weavers) and his wife leading a procession of devotees to Maa Budhi Thakurani Temple. Dressed in traditional attire, the sight of the ceremonial head leading the procession is a visual treat to devotees and spectators.
A large decorated chariot carries the goddess from her marital home to her parent’s abode. The sight of thousands of devotees showering the idol with flowers through her journey at night is irreplaceable. The reverence and devotion of the gathering is infectious.
The temple is located in Old Berhampur. The priests in the temple contrary to popular belief belong to the barber caste of Hinduism, a break from tradition. The festivities are spread over a month’s period. Folk dances drawing from the cultural identity of the place make the festival cheerful and enjoyable across all ages and backgrounds.
Buguda Biranchinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple located in Buguda, a small town in Ganjam, Orissa. The Buguda Biranchinarayan Temple is the second Surya (Sun) Temple after the Konark Sun temple. The Biranchinarayan Temple unlike the Konark Sun Temple faces west.
While the rays of the rising sun adorn the idol at Konark, the rays of the setting sun light up the idol’s feet at Buguda Biranchinarayan Sun Temple. Further, the idol in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is made from wood unlike the vast majority of the stone idols in temples across India.
The temple was commissioned under the aegis of King Srikara Bhanjadeva. The image of the sun God driving a chariot lead by the seven horses is a part of the imagery in the temple. The festivals of Ratha Saptami and Samba Dashami are celebrated with great pomp in the temple.
The Balkumari Temple is located 30 km away from the Berhampur city railway station. The best way to reach the temple is via railway journey to Berhampur and then public transport or rental cars from there to the temple. The nearest accommodation for weary travellers is 16 km away near Girisola. Most travellers prefer staying in Berhampur and then taking a day trip to see the Balkumari temple.
The approach to the temple is through an astounding 1240 steps. 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 are as difficult or even more physically draining.
The path to spiritual life and a higher understanding is tough and demanding. Believers in the restorative powers of Balkumari come from Andhra Pradesh and parts of Southern Orissa. Tuesdays are religiously significant days for visiting the temple.
Kulada is a religious retreat for spiritual followers of Maa Bagh Devi. The temple located in Kulada is dedicated to Goddess Bagh Devi. The approach to the temple is through a series of steps as the temple sits on a hill. Devotees climb 210 steps to reach the entrance to the temple.
The merits accredited to Kulada, however, do not end at the religious front. A famed and renowned Oriya poet known as Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja called Kulada home. The spiritual forces and the serenity that the abundance of nature afforded probably helped further his creative bent of mind.
The ruins of an ancient fort with the Mahanadi river flowing on the east side of the fort makes Kulada an area reminiscent of the eons gone by. The western walls of the fort enclose a dense forest cover with sunlight that can barely penetrate the thick cover of the forest.
Mantridi Siddha Bhairavi Temple is a Devi or Shakti Temple located in a small village called Mantridi, 18 km away from Berhampur. The location of the temple on National Highway 5 is very close to the border between Orissa and Andhra Pradesh making the temple equally accessible for denizens of both the states.
The temple has seen numerous renovations with the latest renovation adding 108 idols to an extension to the existing temple including a sanctum sanctorum for Lord Jagannath. The idol of Goddess Bhairavi was unearthed by a farmer ploughing his land.
The idol was not sculpted again and stands today as it was found. The crude sculpture represents the Goddess as having three hands and one leg. The temple was frequented by sailors and sea men seeking a safe journey in the days gone by. Today the temple sees large crowds of devotees on Tuesdays and Sankranthi, Mahasapthami and Dushera.