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Baripada Odisha

The district headquarter of Mayurbhanj, Baripada is the main commercial town of the northeastern Odisha. The terrain is thickly forested with hills, streams and the neatly thatched villages inhabited by large tribal population, especially Santal Tribe. There are a few time worn civic buildings erected by the local Maharajas during the days of Briitish. The area for centuries has been ruled by Bhanja Kings and their old palace is now a college on the main road. There are historic sites at Khiching and Haripur where these rulers have left their marks and some prehistoric sites at Kuchai and Kuliana in the district. The colourful tribal festivals and their handicrafts like cast metal toys and sect images and the tassar silk of this district attract the visitors. Baripada is also the gateway to Similipal National Park, about 50 km drive away. Bhubaneswar Baripada is about 295 km.

The town's main attraction is the annual Ratha Yatra in June/July associated with its Jagannath Temple, a small scale version of one that is at Puri. Its unique feature is that the Chariot of Subhadra-Lord's sister is pulled only by women. Another colourful and vibrant annual show is the Chaitra Parba in April and it is a treat to watch tribal attired in fabulous dresses performing the vigorous Chhow dance. This dance was performed by the warriors in the past before they ventured into the battle grouns. Baripada has a small museum, exhibiting some fine sculptures, pottery, coins and other paraphernalia belonging to former Maharajas.

Haripur: 16 km southeast of Baripada, Haripur was founded in 1400 as the capital by Maharaja Harihar of the Bhanja dynasty. It has the evocative ruins of some palaces and temples. The magnificent Rasikaraya Temple, and outstandisng example of a brick-built monument is particularly noteworthy. Equally impresssive are the ruins of the inner apartment of the queen, the Ranihamsapur and of Durbar Hall sith its beautiful carved stone columns and arches.

Kumbhirgadi: Situated on the banks of Subarnarekha, the lingam of Baba Bhusandeswar is being worshipped for years in a remote village of Kumbhirgadi. Carved out of black granite, the lingam is about 3.8 m in height and 3.5 m in diameter, Asia's largest, now housed in a temple constructed in 1984

Legend has it that to grant the wish of the demon King Ravana, Lord Shiva gave an atmalinga to him but warned that no one can remove the lingam from where it is placed once. When Ravana was carrying the lingam to Lanka from Kailash Mountain, he felt thirsty and asked a young shepherd to hold it till he returned. Unable to hold it, the boy put it down. On returning, in spite of all his strength, Ravana could not uproot the lingam and with every effort, its size kept on increasing. He returned to Lanka and since then it is enshrined here and being worshipped as Bhusandeswar.

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