Jajpur, yes, you read that right – the word indeed is Jajpur and not Jaipur or Jeypore. There is no typographical error or autocorrect at work here – turning Jajpur into Jaipur or Jeypore on its own accord. The fact of the matter is, our beautiful country India is so big area-wise that many times, significant places of historical relevance fall behind in making a mark on the tourism map of the country. They are known or are famous, but only within limited territories or within certain communities. Jajpur is one such place – dotted with temples of deep religious significance, archaeological remnants of Buddhism, handicraft hubs and village clusters creating a variety of exquisite Tussar silk products.
Where is Jajpur?
Jajpur is an ancient town in its namesake Jajpur district in the state of Odisha. Roughly 100 kms north of the capital city of Bhubaneswar, it is located in the north eastern part of Odisha.
Nestled around the holy Baitarani River, Jajpur’s history teems with stories of its numerous name changes, its rise as the capital of Utkala under the powerful King Jajati Keshari’s rule, and its importance as the power centre of Tantric studies.
Sneak Peek into History of Jajpur
Jajpur district was founded in the early 10th century by the much-celebrated Somavanshi Dynasty king, Jajati Keshari. The district takes its name from district’s headquarter town, Jajpur. Since time immemorial, the history of Jajpur has been synonymous with the Goddess Biraja and her place of worship is referred to as Biraja Kshetra.
According to Brahmanda Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas (religious scriptures) in Hindu religion, the creator Lord Brahma organised a ceremonial yagna on the banks of river Baitarani to impress Goddess Parvati. Moved by Brahma’s deep reverence and rituals, Goddess Parvati appeared before him and decided to reside at the very same place as Goddess Biraja. This is the reason Jajpur district is also referred to as Biraja Kshetra.
Most importantly, Jajpur holds great significance among the Hindus as it is one of the 18 Shakti Peethas where the body parts of Goddess Sati (the consort of Lord Shiva) fell after it was cut by Lord Vishnu. As per legend, Sati’s navel fell here. More details on Maa Birija Devi temple coming up in my next post.
Jajpur Mahotsav 2023
Since the last few years, the Odisha state government in association with Jajpur District Administration, organises the Jajpur Mahotsav, an annual fair put up to bring people from and around Jajpur together and celebrate the cultural extravaganza that the Mahotsav offers. Mounted on a lavish scale, this event gives an enriching insight into folk art, music, handicrafts, local culinary items, and other artistic delights of the district. This year the Jajpur Mahotsav was organised after two years of covid induced lockdown. It was a wonderful opportunity to be invited to this gala event as Jajpur district administration’s guest.
During my last trip to Odisha, I had mostly explored the capital Bhubaneswar and its surrounds. Despite its rich heritage, Jajpur could not be a part of my itinerary because of paucity of time. So, this time, when this invitation to explore Jajpur district came calling, I was only too happy and grateful for the opportunity. The event programme list had celebrities from the Hindi and Odiya film industry coming in to perform for the guests. The performers included biggies like the immensely talented music composer and singer Amit Trivedi, actor and singer Ayushman Khurana, the bold and beautiful Sona Mohapatra and the very versatile Sunidhi Chauhan.
Besides, attending the Mahotsav, my Jajpur itinerary also included sightseeing trips, and tours to handicraft hubs of the district. The details of all the sightseeing and experiences will keep coming in the subsequent posts here on the blog, and I look forward to sharing them with you and reading your take on my experiences.
Consultants for Heritage, Art, Culture and Tourism (HACT)
The Odisha government in association with the Jajpur district administration is focussing on developing Jajpur as a wholesome tourist destination for travellers interested in archaeology, culture, religion, heritage, and handicrafts. Jajpur district is known for its exquisite culture and architecture that dates to the early first millennium. The district has a rich tradition of handicraft which includes Tussar Silk weaving, Golden Grass products, bamboo weaving and store carving. The district is home to the renowned Ratnagiri and Udaygiri Buddhist monasteries which have historical significance dating to as far as 5th century AD. And all this treasure trove of art, archaeology, culture, and heritage needs visibility.
Helping the Jajpur administration revamp the face of tourism in the district are Consultants for Jajpur District Administration on Heritage, Arts, Culture and Tourism (HACT). With the assistance of in-depth local on-ground research by HACT, a plethora of engaging activities and events are being organised by the district administration to attract tourists and create awareness about the tourism potential of the district.
During the 5-day long Jajpur Mahotsav 2023, the local HACT team played a pivotal role to in ensuring the guests had a comfortable stay and enjoy sightseeing at a relaxed pace.
As I wrap up this post, here is little Jajpur trivia for you all – Did you know our National Song, Vande Mataram, was written by the great Indian novelist and poet Shri Bankim Chandra Chatterjee while he was posted as the Deputy Magistrate of Jajpur from 1882 to 1884. Shri Chandra Bankim worked as a deputy magistrate in Jajpur for about two years during his three-decade long stint as a deputy magistrate in Bengal and Orissa as during that period Orissa was under the Bengal province. Historical trivia is fascinating, isn’t it?
Hope you enjoyed his introductory post on Jajpur. It would you great to read your comments on the same. There are more interesting Jajpur related posts coming up, so stay tuned and let’s discover various touristy delights of Jajpur together. Thank you!