If you search for ‘places of tourist interest in Odisha’ on Google, it is highly improbable that the search engine will lead you to Boudh.
Carved out of Kandhamal (Phulbani), Boudh is one of the smallest districts of Odisha, nearly 240 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar.
Next only to Deogarh in population, Boudh is rarely known as a tourist destination. In fact, during my days as Balangir Collector, I had passed through it umpteen number of times, without stopping to stand and stare.
During my stint as the Water Resources secretary, I had visited the Bagh irrigation project in the district and had a night halt at Boudh, without discovering the hidden treasures in the district.
Named after Gautam Buddha, the district and its vicinity are home to a trio of tall Buddha idols and flying Gandharvas, chiseled in stone and sandstone.
While one of the Buddha statues is located in the town itself, the other two are located at Shyamsundarpur and Pragalpur; the presence of three remarkable Buddhist statues is indicative of the fact that it was once a center of Buddhist culture.
Then, there is a group of three Shiva temples in the town, dating back to the 9th century AD, called the Rameswar or Ramanath temples.
Another place of tourist attraction in the town is the Jogindra Villa Palace, the palace of ex-ruler of Boudh locally known as Rajabati.
This was constructed during the reign of Raja Jogindra Dev, who was a benevolent and generous ruler.
The palace provides a magnificent view of Mahanadi and you can visit Bhiarabi and Madan Mohan temples near it.
Jagati, near village Gandhradi, about 16 km from Boudh is another place of interest where you can visit the famous twin temples of Nilamadhava and Sidheswar.
These temples were constructed under the patronage of the Bhanja rulers of Khinjali Mandala in 9th century AD on a platform that is similar to each other.
While the Siddheswar temple on the left is dedicated to Lord Shiva and its sikhara is surmounted by a Sivalinga, the Nilamadhava temple is dedicated to Vishnu and its sikhara is surmounted by a wheel of blue chlorite.
However, that is not all that the area has to offer; the Hanuman temple in the midst of a shimmering Mahanadi is a sight to behold.
The Chandra Chuda and Matengeswar temples beside the Mahanadi are bound to lure you with their sculptural beauty and both of these are Shiva temples.
Boudh’s own Jagannath temple is an ancient edifice in the heart of the town and tranquility reigns at the Raghunath temple in Debagarh, about 14 km from here.
And if you have time, you must also visit Nayakpada cave and the Padmatola Sanctuary where you can breathe the fresh mountain air and watch the serpentine Mahanadi at Dambarugada.
And last, but not least, Marjakud which is located on the opposite side of the river Mahanadi is a wonderful island.
So those of you, who had enough of Bhubaneswar, Puri, Konark, and Chilka can head westwards to this, not so well known, destination.
How to reach?
By Flight: The nearest airport is at Bhubaneswar and you can either go by road or take a train from here.
By Road: Boudh is well connected with road and rail with the state capital Bhubaneswar, as well as other districts. To reach here, you can use the Khurdha-Balangir National Highway No 224 via Nayagarh and Charichhak or the National Highway No. 42, via Angul.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Rairakhole and there are regular train services from Bhubaneswar: Bhubaneswar to Sambalpur Intercity Express, and Hirakud Express. From Rairakhole you will need to travel around 27 km, either by bus or taxi, to reach Boudh.
Boudh Mahotsav: 2-6 January 2020
(The author is 1985-batch Odisha cadre IAS officer currently posted as the secretary with the Water Resources Department, Government of India.)