The ancient city of Bhubaneswar is also known as the Temple City of Eastern India. It is also known as Mandiramalini or the city of temples also as Ekamra Kshetra and Kalinga Nagari. The word Bhubaneswar in its literal sense means the 'God's World' which showcases the walk down centuries of temple architecture.
The area around Bhubaneswar constituted the famed kingdom of Kalinga, which was conquered after a bloody battle by Ashoka, the great Mauryan emperor. Appalled at the carnage, Ashoka renounced violence and embraced Buddhism. Around the 1st century BC, under the rule of Kharavela, Orissa regained its lost glory and Bhubaneswar again became the centre of activities. During this period, monastery caves were constructed of which Khandagiri and Udaygiri are the most important. By the 7th century, Hinduism supplemented Jainism, and Ganga and Kesari kingdoms did a lot for the development of Orissan culture. Most of the kings who ruled Orissa constructed beautiful temples. For a better part of its history, Bhubaneswar remained under the influence of Afghans, Marathas, and the British (till 1947).
With 500 temples in its treasure, the city is probably the only city in the world that presents an veritable over-view of the stages of development of Hindu religious architecture. Today these temples are a gentle reminder of the gracious past and the rich heritage of India. During the ancient times the regular dances were performed by the 'Devadasis' or divine temple dancers girls, the rituals and the recital of religious song were all an central part of temple culture.