Prachi Valley in Odisha: A Heritage Trail Less Explored

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Prachi river flowing through the Prachi valley is considered as the Saraswati of the East in India. The mystic Saraswati river has long been extinct. But the Prachi river is still flowing, although in limited condition. The valley is known for its magnificent monuments built alongside the river banks. This region flourished between 7th & 16th century AD. That is when most of the monuments here were originally built. Monuments here include brick temples, stone temples, mutts, stepped-wells, tirthas, Ghats, Forts, Ports, sand dunes, etc.

Google map of the Prachi valley region
Google map of the region

Prachi valley has witnessed the co-existence of various religious ideologies. Like Jainism, Buddhism, Shaivism, Shaktism & Vaishnavism. Most of the monuments here have been lost in time. A few that remain are a living testimony of the glorious civilization which once flourished in this circuit. Among these monuments, two from a total of 150, are under ASI. 15 monuments are under the state archaeology department.

Dynasties linked with this region include the Kharvela’s Chedi dynasty, Shailodbhavas, Bhaumakaras, Somavamsis, Eastern Gangas, Gajapatis, Mughals & Marathas.

Magnum opus Geeta Govinda was composed by Poet Jayadev on the banks of the sacred Prachi river.

Prachi Valley, Odisha Roadtrip

Prachi Valley is just within 15 Km from Bhubaneswar the state capital city, touching the districts of Khurda, Cuttack & Puri with a total stretch of around 54 Km. The river stretch starts from a small village called Dakamba near the Naraj Barrage in Cuttack & ends up at Keutajanga after joining the Kadua river, 3 km upstream from the Debi estuary in Puri.

You can approach it either from Bhubaneswar-Phul Nakhara-Adaspur side or from Bhubaneswar-Uttara-Balipatna side. My most memorable route is the Bhubaneswar-Phul Nakhara-Adaspur side touching places like Niali, Chaurasi, Amareswar, Gop & Balipatna.

Prachi river flowing through Prachi valley
Prachi river view

I started off on a cool Sunday morning & zipped to the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack NH16 to have my breakfast at Pahal, around 15 KM’s en route. The place is best known for fresh fried Rasagolas. There are several street shops on both sides of the NH. But I suggest you try tasting this local delicacy at the stalls under Prachi Bazaar Vanika Sangh on the right side of NH below the bridge. Interestingly note that the association is also named after Prachi Valley under which Pahal falls. You can also try another local delicacy Chhenapoda (pan-fried cottage cheese) here.

Pahal Rasagola

Further, ahead I moved towards Phul Nakhara on the highway & took a right turn on Adaspur-Niali state highway 60 route. My first stop in this circuit was Sobhaneswar Temple at Niali under Cuttack district.

Sobhaneswar Temple

I was greeted by a huge Nandi statue outside the entrance of the temple. The 48-feet high temple is located on the left banks of the Prachi river. It is a Rekha Vimana with Pidha Jagmohan of the Kalingan order. The frontal pillar remnants show that earlier there was a Natya Mandap.

This living temple was probably built by the Eastern Ganga dynasty King Anangabhima Deva III at the end of the 12th century. The inscription on the walls of the temple in Odra-Magadhi language mentions the Vassal Nagavamsi King Vaidyanath who might have taken care of the maintenance after the Gangas.

Sobhaneswar Temple with the Natya Mandap pillars in the foreground
Sobhaneswar Temple with the Natya Mandap pillars in the foreground

The east-facing temple is made of sandstone. It has a Shivling within a circular Yonipeeth.

Mahashivratri is the major festival here. There is a small museum shed housing rare Madhava & other idols recovered from the Niali area. It’s around 23 KM’s from Phul Nakhara.

Do read: Chausath Yogini temple, Hirapur – A 9CE gem of Odisha

Madhavananda Temple – Prachi Valley, Odisha

My next stop was the magnificent Madhavananda Temple in the Madhava village under Niali block of Cuttack district. The 49-feet high temple is a Rekha Vimana with Pidha Jagmohan. It has a flat-roofed Natya Mandap of the Kalingan order. The east-facing temple was built by the Eastern Gangas during the middle of the 13th century. A living temple, it is made of sandstone. The presiding deity is a four-armed Madhava (a Vishnu Swaroop) in black chlorite. The granite Garuda Murti is a treat to the eyes.

Rear side view of the Madhavananda Temple
Rear side view of the Madhavananda Temple

Janmashtami, Dol Purnima & Ram Navami are the major festivals here. Temple food is available at the premises in the afternoon but on prior booking. This temple is said to be the maternal uncle’s house of Lord Puri Jagannath. It’s around 30 Km from Phul Nakhara & 7 KM’s from Sobhaneswar.

Angeswar Mahadev Temple

Then I moved through the village street roads to Angeswar Mahadev Temple at Nua Pitapada in Cuttack district. The 14.25-meter high temple is a Rekha Vimana of the Kalingan order. This east-facing temple was built by the Somavamsis during the 10th century. A living temple made of burnt bricks which is rarely noticed in this part of India. The most astounding factor is that this brick temple has even survived the horrific super cyclone of 1999 that battered this region. The presiding deity is a Patalphuta Shivling on a circular Yonipeeth.

Angeswar Mahadev Brick Temple, Prachi valley, Odisha
Angeswar Mahadev Brick Temple

Mahashivratri is the main festival here. There is a beautiful Vishwanath heritage temple nearby which you can visit if time permits. The temple is around 52 Km from Phul Nakhara & 18 KM’s from Madhavananda.

Do read: 24 Must-see things at Konark Sun Temple in Odisha

Varahi Temple at Chaurasi

After crossing Cuttack district, my first destination in Puri was the magnificent among all temples under this circuit – The Varahi Temple of Chaurasi village. It is located in a village with an unusual name Chaurasi, on the right bank of the Prachi river. The 15.84-meter high temple consists of a Khakhara Vimana & a rectangular Jagmohan. Made in sandstone the east-facing temple was built by the Somavamsis during the first quarter of the 10th century.

The presiding deity is a two-armed Maa Varahi with a fish in her right hand, hence named Matshya Varahi too.

Varahi Temple, Prachi valley
Varahi Temple landscape view

The structure is mostly intact on a lush green garden, now maintained by ASI. Known for its beautiful scrollwork & motifs especially that of Surya on the rear side. Dussehra & Rajja are the major festivals here.

It’s around 57 Km from Phul Nakhara & 7 Km from Angeswar. The temple can be even approached from Amareswar chowk on the Nimapara-Kakatpur side which is just 2 KM’s away.

Gangeswari Temple, Prachi Valley

In Puri district, my next destination was Gangeswari Temple at Bayalishbati village in Gop block. The 15.85-meter high temple consists of a Khakhara Vimana & a Pidha Jagmohan of Kalingan order. This unusual south-west facing a living temple was built by the Eastern Gangas during the 13th century. It is made of sandstone. Torana (facade) is a unique feature of this temple. Stunning Varahi as Parswadevi is not to be missed here.

The presiding deity is a four-armed Mahisasuramardini. It is said to be the prototype of the Konark temple.

Gangeswari Temple Torana view
Gangeswari Temple Torana view

Dussehra, Chiatra Mangalwar, Shola Puja, etc are the major festivals here. It’s around 18 Km from Varahi Temple Temple. The temple can be even approached from Amareswar chowk on the Nimapara-Kakatpur side which is just 2 KM’s away.

Chhena Jhili at Nimapara
Chhena Jhili at Nimapara

While returning back, one should not miss savoring soft Chhena Jhili (fried cheese balls), a sweet invented by Late Artabandhu Sahu family of Nimapara. His son now manages the Artabandhu Sweets stall. A must-visit for all food lovers & food bloggers.

Do read: Biraja Devi Shaktipeeth at Jajpur in Odisha

Buddhanath Temple

After a short ride in Puri district, I took the road back to the Khordha district to visit Buddhanath temple. It is around 27 KM’s from Gangeswari at Garedi Panchana village under Balipatna block. It is situated in the middle of scenic & rustic village settings at Garedi Panchana. The 21.85-meter height temple consists of a Rekha vimana & a Pidha Jagmohan of Kalingan order. The east-facing temple was built by the Eastern Gangas during the first quarter of the 13th century. A living temple, it is made of sandstone. The two platforms in the compound are of laterite. The architectural motifs, particularly of Parvati & Kartika, are worth seeing personally.

Buddhanath Temple landscape view
Buddhanath Temple landscape view

Mahashivratri & Bada Osha Festivals

Mahashivratri & Bada Osha are the major festivals here. Maa Amrutalochani worshipped in an ancient temple inside the Buddhanath complex is the Gramdevi of this village. The location is around 24 KM’s from Bhubaneswar via Uttara Square.

While returning back to Bhubaneswar, one can stop at Balakati before Uttara Square to check the bell metal makings. This handicraft is quite famous. Artisans have been making beautiful brass metal utensils & temple bells here for ages. These are supplied to various places in Odisha and outside.

Day Tour of Prachi Valley

I toured these magnificent sites of the heritage circuit in a day. Other sites that you can visit here are

  • Kuruma Buddhist site
  • Madhukeswar & Bodhikeswar temple at Deulidharpur
  • Kakatpur Mangala Temple
  • Jayadev Peeth of Kenduli Village
  • Hirapur Chausathi Yogini Temple

Do read: Raghurajpur – Pattachitra Artisan village in Puri, Odisha

Travel tips

  • No public transport facility is available to most of these sites. Advise you to hire a cab.
  • Roads are motorable with scenic landscapes giving an essence of the rural side.
  • Public amenities like restrooms, hotels & restaurants may not be available on this route. Make use of public toilets at fuel stations or Sulabh Sauchalayas wherever possible.
  • Most of these sites are in rural areas away from main roads, advise you to carry tiffin, lunch & water while visiting.
  • There are proper road signages that lead you to these temples.
  • Tiffin can be still availed at Pahala, Phul Nakhara, Niali, Nimapara & Uttara Square.

Do read: Saltwater Crocodiles and Kingfisher birds at Bhitarkanika National Park, Odisha

This is a guest post by Taranisen Pattnaik.

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Taranisen Pattnaik is an MBA by qualification, an accountant by profession, heritage enthusiast by passion. Brought up in the temple city of Bhubaneswar, the capital of culturally vibrant Odisha. An avid traveler, he spends free time solo exploring on a bike, the lesser-known heritage monuments, and the cultural aspects of his home state. He posts on travel stories and other cultural heritage regularly on www.bbsrpulse.com/blog, exclusively dedicated to Odisha. He wishes this region is brought into the state’s tourist circuit.


11 COMMENTS

  1. Well written article capturing the minute details.These magnificent temples should also feature in the list of the travellers. Govt needs to promote them under rural tourism and also necessary arrangements to be made for the tourists. Thank you for showcasing these beautiful temples to us.

  2. This article gives detail about each and everything one should know about .In my opinion I think that the government should do some kind awareness programe so that people can explore these places by visiting and I would definitely try chhena jhili (fried cheese balls) whenever I will visit it.

    • After reading this blog I got a quite good knowledge of those destinations, which are less explored. Like, Prachi valley in orrisa heritage destination which is less explored by the people. This blog is best to cover these sort of destination which is unknown, by people it has to be discovered in front of people. After exploring this destination people will get a lot about this destination.

  3. Hey, great article. It is awe-inspiring. Your observations on various temples and their beautifully captured images, bring calm and peace of mind. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Amazing article,
    and those temples are beautiful and magnificent especially the Gangeswari Temple.
    Thank you for sharing.

  5. After reading this article I got to know that problem here is love and passion towards our heritage is very less . Almost in every foreign country they are very particular about restoring their old heritage buildings , monuments and a big part here plays the government.
    Indian government should do some kind of awareness program so that people can explore these places and try to maintain our old customs and culture.
    Thanks for sharing it Anuradha mam

  6. After reading this article I got to know that problem is here is love and passion towards our heritage is very less . Almost in every foreign country they are very particular about restoring their old heritage buildings , monuments and a big part here plays the government.
    Indian government should do some kind of awareness program so that people can explore these places and try to maintain our old customs and culture.
    Thanks for sharing it Anuradha mam

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