Baripada is a fascinating city in Mayurbhanj district in the state of Odisha. Baripada is the district headquarter of Mayurbhanj. This small town has all the necessary elements to be a perfect holiday spot. In fact, your tour to Odisha would be incomplete if you don’t travel to Baripada. Located at the foothills of the Similipal mountain range, Baripada is the best place to access the whole region of Mayurbhanj.

Baripada was the capital of the Bhanja dynasty that ruled Mayurbhanj State since the 15th century. The Collectorate office, Maharaja Krushnachandra High School (popularly known as MKC) and the Maharaja Purnachandra College (Popularly known as MPC) in Baripada are great examples of the Bhanja architecture. Noted alumni’s of this school are the legendary Odia actors Uttam Mohanty & Bijay Mohanty. The Odisha Government has recently started building Pandit Raghunath Murmu Medical college which is located in Rangmatia, 8 km from the main town. This is said to be fully operational by the end of 2017.

Not only this, there are lot of ancient temples in this region. If you want to get some exquisite handloom stuff, you can visit the markets of Chandanpur. Bangriposi ‘tusser’ fabric is one thing that you can't miss buying from the markets of Baripada. Khiching is another place to admire for its amazing stone carvings. The Kichakeswari temple at Khiching is one of its kind which is uniquely built of chlorite slabs. The other nearby tourist locations are Devkund, Bhimkund, Lulung etc.

Baripada is well known for its Rathyatra (Car Festival), the second most popular Rath Yatra of Odisha after Puri. Hence Baripada is also called 'Dwitiya Srikhetra' (second Puri). Baripada's Ratha Yatra has a unique culture and is famous for its tradition of only women pulling the chariot of Maa Subhadra. Women of Baripada actively take part in this tradition. People from far off places come to attend this mesmerizing cultural festival. The town is also famous for ‘Chhau dance’, a classical and ancient martial dance form. Simlipal, the park of national importance, lies at a distance of just 60 km from Baripada. The national park comprises lush green valleys and dense forest lands.

The people of Baripada worships Maa Ambika, which they believe is a "living goddess" and looks after their beautiful town of Baripada. The deity’s idol is made of fine marble stone which is ancient. The idol has four hands also known as “Chaturbhuja”. Maa Ambika can be seen sitting on a lion and in her four hands, she is holding Dambaru, Khadga, Kharpara and Trisula. It’s also a famous belief among her devotees that though Maa is holding arms in her hand to fight with all the odds and save the mankind, her face is so calm, cool and glows vibrantly, As if Maa is always looking at her children with a motherly affection. Whoever visit her in the temple and seeks her blessings while looking at her, feels the divine touch. In her temple Maa Ambika is surrounded by other deities like Adyapujya Vignaraj Ganesha, Parama yogi Ambikeswar mahadev, Sankatamochana Panchamukhi Hanuman, Graha dosa nibaraka naba graha, Mangalamayi maa mangala, Shri chandika and maha sasthi etc. It is also a famous historical fact that once the ruler of Mayurbhanj, Maharaja Krushna Chandra Bhanja, when got seriously ill by the incurable small pox disease at that time, he sought the blessings of Maa Ambika to cure him from this deadly disease and was cured. Maa Ambika Temple is situated in Badabazar, 1 km from Baripada bus stand. This temple is a must visit to all the people touring to Baripada.

Jagadhatri Mela is one of the biggest mela (gathering) to be celebrated in this small town. It is the festival of Maa Jagadhatri, Goddess of the whole world. Generally, Jagaddhatri is referred as another name of Maa Durga. Jagaddhatri Puja is a major autumnal Hindu event after Durga Puja and Kali Puja. In Ramakrishna Mission, Jagaddhatri Puja was initiated by Sarada Devi, Sri Ramakrishna’s wife who was, according to popular Bengali belief, an avatar of Devi and observed in the centers of the Mission all over the world. There is a 10–15 days mela known as mini Bali Jatra (named after Cuttack's Bali Jatra) which takes place at Jagadhatri Mela grounds, near the Baripada railway Station during October– November. It is celebrated on Gosthastami.

There are lot of places inside Baripada town where one can take some time off from his/her hectic life. One such place is the Jubilee Library, which is one of the oldest book library of Baripada, established by Maharaja of Mayurbhanj. Many odia movies have been shoot at this place. One such movie which immediately comes to my mind is the Odia movie Hero No 1. The protagonist of this movie Babushan Mohanty, a very popular Odia cine actor and son of legendary actors Aparajita Mohanty and Uttam Mohanty also belongs to this place and was born here. In many of his interviews he has showered his love and affection towards this small town and the people of Baripada. Another such place is the Jubilee Park. The park’s prime attraction is the boating facility, which is said to be a hit with the residents. One more attraction is Sri Jagannath Temple. It was built by King Sri Srinath Bhanjdeo.

The night life of this small town is very peaceful. The people of Baripada are very simple and down to earth and extremely peace loving people. Hence you won't find many people venturing out during the night time. There are very few popular hotels/eateries in Baripada like Hotel Ambika, Hotel Durga etc., but the people of Baripada carve for road side delicacies like Pampdi Chat, aloo chat, pani puri, Dahi vada, Gola etc. The pampdi chat is very famous here and one should definitely taste it. There are also few shopping malls/places in Baripada. They are Vishal mega mart, Bazar India Shopping mall, Baripada Bazar etc.

Worthy of a place to spend some quality time.

The Author is from Odisha and lives in Bhubaneswar. He visits quite often to Baripada as he is married to a lady who belongs to this beautiful town. He has shared his own experiences in the above blog.

Sources: Wiki, google and author's own experiences.