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Article: Rayagada- The Land Of Natural Beauty. By Manoj Senapati
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Rayagada is situated on the way from Behrampur to Koraput and is 400 kms from Bhubaneswar. It is known to be the land of natural scenic beauty and is abundant in meadows, waterfalls, terraced valleys and forests. It is home to many primitive tribal communities. Spreading over a total area of 7,073 sq km, Rayagada is divided into eleven blocks.

The district generates income mainly through agriculture based activities. Paddy, wheat, ragi, mung, biri, ground nut, potato and maize are the major crops grown in the area Hatipathar, 3 km from Rayagada and is known for its natural beauty which is due to its two waterfalls which merge with the River Nagavali.

The boulders on the River are naturally shaped like huge elephants. It is not possible to visit the site during the monsoons. Ma Majhighariani temple dedicated to the face of the Goddess Majhi Ghariani is a popular temple and is visited by a number of devotees on Fridays, Wednesdays and Sundays. Laxminarayan temple, dedicated to Lord Laxminarayan, is located at IMFA Factory in Therubali.

The temple also houses idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Hanuman, Lord Balabhadra and Lord Shiva. Paikapada is popular for the many Lord Shiva Lingams located around the Paikapada shrine. It is also known for its car festival of Lord Jagannath which is celebrated during Shivaratri. Chatikona, 48 kms from Rayagada, is surrounded by colorful valleys and wooden hills. At the centre is a Temple of Lord Shiva. Minajhola, 134 kms from Rayagada, is a natural beauty point. It is located at the confluence of three rivers and houses a Shiva Temple.

The dense forest of Minajhola is rich in wild life. The region is well connected by state run buses from Rayagada. Devagiri Hills, 50km from Rayagada, are 120.2 meters high with a flat platform at the top. The plains are rectangular and can only be approached from the north. One has to climb 476 steps to reach the top where there are perennial poles of water which are called Yamuna, Saraswati, Ganga, Indradyumna and Bhargavi. The Shiva Lingam is situated in a cave which is shaped in the form of jaws.

Padampur, 90km from Rayagada, houses the Manikeshwari Shiva shrine and was once the home of Dharmakirti, a Budhist Logician and Philosopher. The 7th century temple is located 90 kms from Rayagada. A beautiful Gayatri Temple is also located here which is famous for the Saraswati Puja which happens during January or February every year.

Maa Markama Temple, located at Bissam 40 km from Rayagada, is surrounded by lush green forests. Bhimasankar Jyotirlinga According to LINGA PURAN, Bhimasankar temple in Bhimpur around 30 KM from Gunupur is one of the Jyotirling, situated at the western part of the holy Mahendragiri mountains and at the river bank of Mahendratanaya (which is also believed as the Daakini area by many historian), was excavated in the year 1974, having quadrangular Shakti around the Linga and decorated by a Upavita as per the puran.

The nearest airport is Visakhapatnam which is 200 kms from Rayagada. The airport is well connected with flights from most big cities of India. By rail, Rayagada is well connected to most cities of India. It is also well connected by road and has regular buses services from Bhubaneswar and other nearby towns and villages.

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