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North East India , Orissa

India N E  India N W  India Bombay (Mumbai) Calcutta (Kolkata) Delhi South India

Population approx 37 million

Orissa is commonly known as the Temple state of India. It also happens to be one of the poorest states, the two may not necessarily be unconnected. The capital Bhubaneswar had something in the region of 2,000 temples  and has a population of approx 700,000 people. Only 20% of the roads in Orissa are paved, and it has been said that (in Rural areas at least) nearly 65% of the population have no access to safe drinking water.

We took a two day tour of Orissa's golden triangle (Bhubaneswar, Puri and Kono
rak) flying in from Calcutta. There are many other things to see here but we were concentrating on the temples. The main temples Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar and the Jagannatha Temple in Puri are prohibited to non-Hindus so as a tourist you can just marvel at the outside. Apparently you cannot become a Hindu - we were advised that you had to be born a Hindu rather than choose to become one. We were also advised that a Hindu who marries a non-Hindu is no longer a Hindu. Not exactly the most welcoming of religions. Shaila did manage to get into the Jagannatha Temple, however the priest who escorted her around then demanded payment which was politely but firmly refused.

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