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Sambalpur Tourism And Travel Guide
25° C / 77° F
October to March
2 to 3 Days
Veer Surendra Sai Airport, Jharsuguda (64 kms)
Sambalpur Railway Station
The city of Sambalpur is situated in the western part of Orissa very close to the banks of river Mahanadi. The earliest record of any mention of the city is in a 2nd-century geographical document by Ptolemy wherein Sambalpur is referred to as ‘Sambalak’, which points towards the city’s rich historical past. It is also known to be have been a diamond trading centre in earlier times and was known as the ‘Land of Diamonds’.
The region is covered in dense green forests and a wide variety of wildlife, and while the city has undergone considerable development and commercialisation in recent times, it still retains a rural charm and an authentic simplicity that contributes to the thriving tourism in Sambalpur. Come discover this multifaceted city for yourself and plan your visit with the help of this travel guide detailed below.
How to Reach
The Biju Patnaik International Airport is the only international terminal in the state of Orissa, and the only way to reach Sambalpur if taking the air route from overseas. For those travelling from within the country or state, the domestic terminal of the airport in Bhubaneswar is accessible from all the major cities in India.
Sambalpur has four railway stations and serves as one of the three railway divisions of the East Coast Railway Zone. The Sambalpur City Railway Station, Sambalpur Road Railway Station, Hirakud Railway Station and the Maneswar Railway Station connect the city to a number of major junctions across the country, providing easy accessibility to Sambalpur via train.
Reaching Sambalpur via road travel can be accomplished through a number of routes. The National Highway 53 connects Sambalpur to the rest of Orissa and various spots across India. National Highway 55 is the convenient route to take if travelling to and from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. There are buses available from every bus stand in Sambalpur, and a separate bus stand for private buses, which has more regular operations to all major towns in the region.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Winter (October – February):
Winters are the most ideal season to take a trip to Sambalpur wherein visitors can make the most out of the pleasant weather to venture outdoors and explore the attractions of the city. The weather does tend to get chilly, especially during the night when the temperatures can dip to single digits.
Summer (March – June):
Summers are not a pleasant time to visit Sambalpur since the extreme day time temperatures, which can rise to levels as high as 45⁰C, are too intense and uncomfortable to enjoy any outdoor activity.
Monsoon (July – September):
The monsoon rains bring considerable relief from the sweltering heat of summers and the temperatures drop to a range of 20⁰C - 30⁰C. The rainfall received during these months is quite heavy though, and floods are relatively common during this season. With relatively high humidity levels as well, it is not a preferable time to visit Sambalpur.
Things to Do
Bird Watching at Hirakud Dam:
Hirakud Dam is probably the most widely visited tourist spot in Sambalpur and is equally frequented by tourists as well as locals. The structure is known to be the longest man-made dam in the country and has been constructed over the river Mahanadi. While the surrounding vistas offer some of the most picturesque views in the region, it is also just as amazing a spot for bird watching during the winter season when migratory birds visit the Hirakud Dam area from colder regions of Asia and Europe and make this reservoir their temporary home.
Visit the Temples:
There are numerous temples in Sambalpur that are dedicated to locally worshipped deities. The leaning temple of Huma is one of the most impressive structures here, with the top of the temple exhibiting a characteristic lean towards one side that doesn’t seem to have any known reason. The Ghanteswari Temple is known for the many wish-fulfilling bells that decorate all sides of the temple. Sambaleswari Temple is dedicated to goddess Samalei who is the most widely worshipped deity in western Orissa. Additionally, visitors to the Hirakud Dam will also find the opportunity to see the remnants of ancient temples that once occupied the region that is almost completely submerged under water today.
Explore Wildlife Sanctuaries:
Sambalpur also has a few wildlife sanctuaries that make for a fun day trip, especially for those travelling with children. The Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary and the Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary are both great places to enjoy jeep safaris among the dense forests and observe some exotic as well as indigenous species in their natural habitat.
The Sambalpuri handloom textiles need no introduction today. Exquisite designs that make use of the tie-and-dye technique and other handcrafted patterns are most popular in the form of silk sarees, but other household items like bedsheets etc. also make for great souvenirs and gift items. They are widely available in most shops around the city, but Gole Bazaar is one of the best markets for all your shopping needs in Sambalpur.
Sambalpur is a city that relies heavily on its cultural heritage, which is also evident in the local festivals celebrated here. The Sambalpur Lok Mahotsav is an annual event that features live performances of folk dance and music while uniting the culture and heritage of the entire western Orissa region under one stage. The Sitalsasthi Carnival is a celebration of the marriage ceremony between Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati, which is also celebrated with music and dance and artists from all over the country visit to be a part of the carnival.