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Things To Do In Sambalpur
Sambalpur, situated along the banks of the river Mahanadi and located in the western part of Orissa, is one of the most ancient cities in the country and is home to a large population of native Odia tribes. The city boasts a rich historical past with numerous religious monuments that are a testament to its ancient heritage. Sambalpur was also once a major diamond trading centre and was given the moniker of ‘Hirakhand’ or ‘Land of Diamonds’. Moreover, the most popular local attractions like the famous Hirakud Dam and the leaning temple of Huma are also responsible for driving large crowds of tourists to the region and contribute significantly to the economy of Sambalpur. To make the most out of your trip to this versatile city, here is a list of some of the best things to do while in Sambalpur.
Bird Watching at Hirakud Dam
Hirakud Dam is the most prominent tourist spot around Sambalpur and witnesses heavy footfall on a regular basis from both locals and tourists. While the dam itself is a spectacular example of architectural ingenuity, the region around the dam boasts a natural beauty that is nothing short of stunning. The dam extends between the Hirakud and Burla Hill and the surroundings in the region offer some brilliant views for all nature lovers. This area is also home to a variety of wildlife; during the winters, in particular, bird watchers love to visit the dam to witness the influx of numerous birds who visit from colder regions of Asia and Europe and make this region their temporary home.
Picnic at Chiplima
This beautiful picnic spot is located 24 km from Sambalpur and is frequented by even the locals for weekend excursions. There is also a natural waterfall here that is about 25 m in height and is currently being harnessed to generate electricity through the Hirakud Dam project. The area offers picturesque views of the Mahanadi River, along with being the location of the famous Ghanteswari Temple that brings in a lot of devotees as well.
Trekking at Gudguda Waterfall
This beautiful scenic spot is located away from the city and is just about two hours-worth of a drive from Sambalpur. Before you even reach the waterfall, you will find the entire place covered in dense beautiful forests with chirping birds and the sounds of the waterfall echoing through the region. The waterfall itself originates from Gudguda mountain and can be seen carved out through the rocks in multiple steps. This peaceful place attracts visitors from all nearby towns for family excursions and trekking opportunities.
Explore the Lost Temples of Hirakud
Before the construction of the dam the Padmapur village, which was one of the most populous regions in the area that is now the dam reservoir, housed numerous temples. After the dam was completed in 1957, most of the temples in the area were submerged under the reservoir and essentially lost. However, every summer season when the water level goes down, some of the temple structures become visible.
These hidden treasures of eras gone by that periodically alternate between remaining submerged and resurfacing have started to garner attention from historians and archaeologists. While a lot of the temples are predominantly in ruin after being underwater for so long, a lot of them still remain intact and make for an interesting sight during the summers. Scuba divers love to go underwater and explore the structures beneath the water, while many others prefer to go boating to these regions for some amazing camera-worthy moments.
Explore the Wildlife Sanctuaries
Two very popular sanctuaries of Sambalpur are the Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary and the Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary. Both are located close to the Hirakud Dam and can be visited on a day trip to the dam region. Jeep safaris are a fun way to explore the wildlife in these sanctuaries, which are home to hundreds of species of mammalian and aquatic life. Another favourite among the locals here, especially the children, is the Deer Park that attracts hundreds of visitors every day. It is essentially a mini zoo with numerous species like leopards, sloths, antelopes etc. that call this park their home.
While Sambalpur is known for a lot of things, the Sambalpuri handloom textiles have gained not just nationwide, but worldwide recognition and essentially put Sambalpur on the map. The Sambalpuri silk sarees usually feature on every visitor’s shopping list, which will prove to be the perfect gift for family and friends back home as well. If sarees don’t interest you much, the Sambalpuri textile can also be purchased in the form of bed linens. Gole Bazaar is one of the best places in the city for all kinds of shopping needs, including clothes and jewellery.