Odishan Royal Heritage and Wilderness Tour


Tour Description


On your arrival at the Kolkata Airport, you will receive a traditional Indian welcome by our Royal India Holidays representative. You will then drive 5-6 hours to Belgadia Palace in Baripada, en route stopping at some local farming villages to walk around, connect with the inhabitants and soak in the local essence and culture. . At the Belgadia Palace you will be welcomed warmly by the resident Royal family of Mayurbhanj. Established in 1804, the Belgadia Palace sits atop a raised hill with a stunning backdrop of verdant hills and sparkling waterfalls reflecting the rich East-Indian countryside. Home to the erstwhile royals of Mayurbhanj, this boutique home stay introduces the unique concept of purposeful travel by engaging its guests with the local tribal community and organising specially curated tours to explore the interiors of Odisha. Later over a grand dinner with the royal family, you can learn about their fascinating history and rich cultural heritage.

After breakfast, you will spend the day exploring this off beat tourist destination. Walk around the beautifully landscaped gardens of Belgadia Palace with a serene lake surrounded by a profusion of exotic flowers. You can also tour the fruit orchards and organic farm which supplies most of the produce for meals in this Heritage home stay. Its tastefully done interiors done by members of the royal family and rooms inspired by the dignitaries who stayed there will transport you to a bygone golden era of royalty. . You will also visit the local Sabai grass making village and interact with the artisan community there. The products created by them and the level of detailing involved will leave you awe-inspired. Pay a visit to the Santhal tribal villages and understand their daily lives and traditions. The Sanhtals are one of the most populous tribal communities of India, found mainly in a few districts of Odisha. The word 'Santhal' is derived from two words; 'santa' meaning peaceful and 'ala' meaning man. These peaceful men believe in the existence of a number of deities, ghosts and spirits residing in the hills and forests with their ancestral spirits guiding every aspect of their life. .

After breakfast, drive to Aul en-route visiting the typical farming villages of Odisha, interact with the villagers and understand their unique rural lifestyle. You will visit the Khirachora Gopinath Temple situated in the little town of Remuna. The name "Remuna" comes from the word "Ramaniya" which means very good-looking. . In the afternoon, on your arrival in Aul you will be assisted with your check in at the Killa Aul Palace. Established in 1590, it is an ancient palace converted into a heritage home stay spread over 40 acres of land. With its intricate stone carving, glittering marble, beautifully crafted furniture and luxurious rooms, this palace will take you back to the royal medieval era. Its location near the Baitarani river allows you to sail and view different parts of the fort added at different time periods by various rulers which tell their own stories. You can also soak in the natural beauty of the place by sitting on a pandal (platform) near the river. The Killa Aul Palace replete with royal stories and rich heritage of the prestigious Chalukya dynasty will prove to be a memorable destination for you. . You will also visit the nearby Sialia village situated on the outskirts of Kendrapara district. This unique village known for its open doors welcomes all its visitors with warmth and hospitality. With a populace of nearly 500 people, you will be amazed at this village which has about 60 houses with no doors in them. .

After breakfast, you will check out of the Palace with a packed lunch and head for Bhitarkanika National Park. The Bhitarkanika National Park includes thick mangrove forests, meandering rivers, gurgling creeks and estuaries as well as beautiful back waters. Its creeks are the last refuge of the endangered salt water Crocodile. A large number of water birds including the Asian open bill, egrets and black ibis can also be seen here. The Bhitarkanika mangroves have been declared a wetland of international importance. . You will explore this mini Amazon of India by boat for 3 to 4 hours before heading to a heritage home stay Aul-Bhitarkanika for the night. .

After breakfast you will drive 4-5 hours to reach Dhenkanal. En route you will get a chance to follow the Buddhist heritage trail known as the Diamond Triangle of Odisha comprising of Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udaigiri. Chinese Pilgrim HiuenT'sang found it to be the seat of a flourishing Buddhist University called Puspagiri. You will see ruins of brick pagodas, sculptured stone portals and old Buddhist images testifying to its ancient glory. .

The Ratnagiri hill established in 6th century AD by the river Birupa has a rich concentration of Buddhist antiquities. Here you will behold ancient Buddhist shrines, large monasteries, a big stupa and a number of small stupas. Buddhism was fostered at this place unhindered up to the 12th century AD. . Udayagiri, one of the largest Buddhist complexes in Odisha located in the basin of a hill is known for its bell-shaped stupa signifying Vajrayana, a tantric form of Buddhism. This complex came in to being after Ratnagiri and Lalitgiri, flourishing between 7th and 12th century AD. Here, you will see the ancient rock-cut sculptures, remains of a monastery, a stupa, and a well with an inscription. . Lalitgiri is one of the earliest Buddhist complexes, dating back to the 1st century AD. The huge brick monastery, the remains of a Chaitya Hall and a number of stupas at the top of a rugged standtone hillock dominate the greenery around this hill. Here you will also visit a sculpture shed which displays excavated images, throwing light on the various schools of Buddhist art. . Dhenkanal has one of the most ancient forest covers of Orissa which shelters elephants, tigers and numerous species of birds and animals. It is believed that it owes its name to a Savara chief called Dhenka who formerly ruled over in this tract. On reaching Dhenkanal, you will be warmly welcomed by the Royal family and assisted in your check in at the Dhenkanal Palace. Established in 1860, with a large complex of apartments, courts and gardens nestled against the slope of the Garhjat Hills of Eastern Ghats, the Dhenkanal Palace is a heritage home stay where one can experience the rich history, royal traditions as well as the art and culture of Dhenkanal. . In the evening you can stroll around the local markets to see the indigenous life style of the area. .

After breakfast at Palace you will leave for a day excursion to discover tribal crafts villages and meet the weavers. You will also interact with of Siali tribal community. The Nuapatna weaving village has many co-operatives of weavers, where centuries of tradition are woven lovingly and painstakingly into fabric. This village is famous for the pattern popularly known as 'IKAT' which is a unique mechanism of texturing. You can interact with the weavers and watch all the steps of Ikat Bandha. In Sadeibarni you will witness Dokra crafts, a variety of metal casting limited to only a few pockets of Orissa. Practiced by an aboriginal caste called Sithulias, its motifs are mostly drawn from folk culture. Later, you will head back to Dhenkanal Palace to spend the night.

After breakfast you will drive 2 hours to reach the capital city of Orissa, Bhubaneswar. The meaning of Bhubaneswar, 'Lord of the Universe' is clearly reflected in its large number of temples and the religious enthusiasm of its local population. The ancient city's Old Town once boasted of more than 2000 shrines, and even today the city is dotted with hundreds of majestic temples and stunning architecture making Bhubaneswar an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. The city's rich history seamlessly intertwined with its religious significance and progressive present makes it a popular tourist destination. . You will first visit Kala Bhoomi a textile and crafts museum that celebrates the work of local Odissi craftsmen by displaying their handicrafts, traditional textiles, paintings, metal work and wood carvings etc. In the afternoon you will go to the ancient Khandagiri and Udaygiri Jain caves whose construction was started by the first Odissi ruler king Kharavela in 1st century BC. These caves were carved and tunneled, to create multi-storied residences for Jain monks. Walk around these caves to see beautifully carved inscriptions and sculptures. Later, you will be assisted with your hotel check in for overnight stay in Bhubaneswar. .

You will have the unparalleled opportunity of taking an early morning Heritage Walk to the ancient temples sites of Bhubaneswar. You will start with a visit to the famous Lingraj Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built in 11th century, it is the biggest temple in Bhubaneswar with an edifice that exemplifies the Odissi style of architecture with intricately designed stone vaults and beautiful sculptures carved on the spire. The tranquil Bindusagar Lake near Lingaraj Temple is also a popular tourist attraction. Next, you will visit Mukteshwar temple built in the 10th century. With its intricate carvings and sculptures depicting the various Panchatantra tales, this temple is a testimony to the popularity of the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture. It has. You will also take a tour of the renowned Rajarani temple which gets its name from red and gold sandstone (locally known as raja rani) used in its creation. . You can lose yourself in the aesthetically designed botanical garden of Ekamra Kanan (meaning the one mango tree forest) situated on the Western banks of Bindusagar Lake. Nestled in the epicenter of heritage sites in Bhubaneswar, the garden has been created by the craftsmen of a local heritage crafts village Raghurajpur and houses a variety of plants with spiritual and medicinal significance. After that, prepare to be dazzled by a performance of the traditional classical dance of Odisha - Odissi. Origininally started in the temples, the rhythm and postures used in Odissi dance have a distinctive quality of their own. It largely depicts the love theme of Radha and Krishna. . After this exhilarating heritage walk you will return to the hotel for breakfast. Later, you will visit the "Museum of Tribal Arts and Artifacts." Established in 1953, it has been a hub for the locals and tourists who want to enrich their knowledge on tribal people, their society and culture. After lunch with a local family you are free to explore Bhubaneswar on your own or spend a leisurely evening at the hotel. .

After breakfast you will drive 3 hours to visit the Mangalajodi community village at Chilika Lake. It is Asia's largest salt water estuarine lake situated along the eastern cost of Odisha with migratory birds coming from as far as the Caspian Sea and other parts of Asia. Abundance of flora and fauna makes it a haven for nature lovers and bird watchers. . Located on the northern banks of Chilika Lake, Mangalajodi Ecotourism is a unique community managed wildlife conservation venture. The wetlands of Mangalajodi have a one of its kind ecosystem epitomized by a sustainable lifestyle that harnesses wildlife tourism to help conserve migratory birds, and at the same time support local community. This 'Birding Destination' hosts more than 3,00,000 birds in its marshy waters, especially in winters. . Uncover the inspirational story behind Mangalajodi wherein the locals who where expert bird poachers have now become their protectors. These former hunters use their formidable knowledge of the wetlands to guide visitors on bird watching trips. You will enjoy a country boat ride at Mangalajodi and then visit the Mangalajodi village and interact with the fishing families. Later, you will head back to Bhubaneswar for overnight stay at the hotel. .

After breakfast you will drive 2 hours to reach Puri. En route you will also visit Dhauli and the Pipli appliqu center. The Dhauli Hills are famous for the symbol of love and peace called the Shanti Stupa. At this significant Buddhist pilgrimage, you will behold a rock inscribed with the edicts of the emperor Ashoka. After witnessing the devastating sight of blood filled land and the Daya River that turned red because of the slaughter of around 1,50,000 warriors, King Ashoka filled with grief decided to renounce wars. It is at Dhauli that Ashoka resorted to Buddhism and presented his sword in front of Lord Buddha. . Pipli, Orissa's appliqu capital presents the essence of Oriya culture in bright colourful splashes. Here, you will be dazzled by vivid awnings, canopies, umbrellas, shoulder and handbags etc. which are also available for shopping. . On your arrival in Puri, you will be assisted in your hotel check-in. The holy town of Puri is known as the resting place of Lord Shiva. It's remarkable history dates back to the 3rd century BC. The golden sandy beaches Puri have attracted both foreign tourists and pilgrims for ages. Here you will definitely encounter the charming sight of the local fishermen, with their catamarans and wide brimmed cane hats on the beaches. . One of the Char Dhams, Puri's religious importance revolves around the renowned Jagannath Temple and its famous Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival). In the afternoon, you will pay reverence at the 12th century Jagannath Temple dedicated to Jagannath -"The Lord of the Universe." This glorious temple attracts devotees from all over the world. You can also wander into the narrow lanes of the old Puri as you take a thrilling cycle rickshaw ride. .

After breakfast you will visit a heritage crafts village Raghurajpur and its nearby pottery village. The economic, social and cultural life of these villages is entirely dependent on their arts and handicrafts. As you wander around the village you will notice the men painting and the women preparing the canvases and the pigments in houses with delightfully painted murals. You can walk around, interact with the gracious artisans, watch them work and even buy their pieces which include Pattachitra or traditional cloth paintings, palm leaf engravings, stone carvings and wooden toys. . You will also enjoy a delicious local lunch while witnessing the centuries old Gotipua dance. Executed by a group of boys who are dressed as females, the beautiful dances are inspired by the life of Radha & Krishna. . In the afternoon, you will drive to the Sun Temple of Konark, the prominent third link of the Odishan Golden Triangle of Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark. Conceived as an enormous chariot of the Sun God hauled by seven carved horses, the Sun temple has one of the most magnificent temple architectures in the world. This 13th century temple is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later, you can also visit a local Fisherman's village and interact with the society to know more about their culture. You will then return to Puri for overnight stay at your hotel.

After breakfast you will drive one and half hours to Bhubaneswar Airport to board a flight to your onward destination.