Odisha Region, Odisha, India
Odisha (Orissa) slipped off the tourist radar once Puri’s hippy-hangout days began to fade, but it’s beginning to reestablish itself as an off-the-beaten-track favourite for more adventurous types. Those who make the effort are rewarded with an intricate patchwork of history, culture and natural beauty, along with an old-fashioned sprinkling of sun and sand.
The forested hills of the southwest (and overly officious bureaucracy) keep Adivasi (tribal) groups hidden from mainstream tourism, but it is still possible to visit their fascinating weekly markets. Forests elsewhere – both inland and along the coast – are home to some of Odisha’s wonderful nature reserves, where you can spy on 6m-long crocs, rare dolphins, endangered sea turtles and thousands of nesting birds.
Foodies will relish a whole new set of regional flavours cooked up in Odishan kitchens, while history buffs will be left salivating over long-lost Buddhist universities, ancient Jain rock carvings and centuries-old Hindu relics, including Konark’s unparalleled Sun Temple.
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