The Cathedral City of India

Excerpted From



Veenu Sandal (ET correspondent)

A Capital in the Textile Business

BHUBANESWAR, famous as a temple town and a handicraft centre, has, over the last decade, acquired yet another dimension: that of an upcoming business centre.For business travellers, the capital city is an essential point of call whether they are visiting the steel plant at Rourkela, the pig iron plant at Barbil or any of the other major plants in Orissa.

A railway line runs through the middle of Bhubaneswar, accentuating the contrast between the old part of the city and the rapidly expanding, modern area which rules the destiny of more than 31,659,736 people (as per the 1991 census). While the city itself boats of no giant industrial plants, small scale manufacturing nits especially in the refrigeration and textile sector abound. Showcased in the main bazaar of Bhubaneswar are craft technologies that date back over several thousand years. The traditional tie and dye technique of ikat is, for instance, an ancient and intricate process of dyeing yarn in segments to produce myriad patterns woven on the loom.

The royal Mauryan textile workshops that were established more than 2000 years ago employed spinners, weavers and embroiderers. Over time, temple towns such as Bhubaneswar became home for many weaving communities. Bhubaneswar today derives a portion of its importance as a thriving business centre since it is still a part of the great weaving belt that stretches through Assam and other North-eastern states, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.


Excellent. The Oberoi (with a five star deluxe rating) is Bhubaneswar's top notch hotel. Built in the style of the traditional temples of Orissa and located on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, the room tariffs range upwards of Rs 2500. The Kenilworth and Hotel Swosti are four star hotels with tarrifs ranging between Rs 1500 to Rs 3000. Hotels in the three star category include Hotel Keshari (Rs 675 to Rs 2000). Besides these, there are many two star hotels as well.

Telecommunication Links

Good. Fax, ISD, STD are efficient and commonplace.

Pollution Levels/Air Quality

Not noticeable. Even though there has been marked increase in buses and mini-buses in recent years, pollution levels and the air quality are still of acceptable levels.

Transportation network

Fairly efficient. Taxis and cyclerickshaws are the most popular modes of transport.


Great. Bhubaneswar has one main bazaar and if you are particularlyinterested in buying handloom fabric or sarees should head for the Orissa State Handloom Weavers' Co-Op Society Ltd, on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, and Priyadarshini. These outlets offer a wide range of designs.

Unwinding options

Reasonable. Just drive through the city or if you are sufficiently adventurous opt for a cycle rickshaw and cruise past the spires of ancient temples juxtaposed against the modern office buildings. A swimming pool at Hotel Prachi can be used for a fee, even if you are not a hotel guest.


Excellent. Once upon a time, there were more than 7000 temples in and around Bhubaneswar. Today, that number has come down to a little over 500. The superbly crafted temples of Bhubaneswar are in a class apart and constitute some of the best specimens of temple art anywhere in the world.

The most significant is the famous Lingaraj temple with a 40 metres high ornately carved spire. Bindu sagar, a tank north of the Lingaraj, is said to contain water rom every holy stream, pool and tank in India. Other temples include the 7th century Vaital temple, the impressive 10th century Mukteshwar temple, the 11th century Raja Rani temple with its fine carvings and many others.

The State Museum and the unique Tribal Research Centre offer an unwinding option of a different genre.


Fairly Good. Indian, Chinese and Continental food is available. The Hare Krishna Restaurant offers excellent vegetarian meals. Bhubaneswar offers a good selection of seafood.


Interesting. The Nandankanan Zoo with its lion and tiger safari is, white tigers, boating facilates on the lake, and elephant rides, is just 23 kilometres from Bhubaneswar. The famous Ashokan edicts of Emperor Ashok are just 8 km away. On the outskirts of Bhubaneswar are the Udayagiri and Khandagiri hills with a network of caves dating back to the 1st century BC.

Travel Links

Very good. Bhubaneswar is linked by air to all the major metros. The main Madras-Calcutta railway line runs through Bhubaneswar and the train network make the Orissan capital easy of access. Bus services linking the city to other states as well as within Orissa are very good, and Bhubaneswar acquired some years ago a spanking new, impressive bus terminus.

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Debasmita Misra

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