It is said that Sambalpur is mentioned in the book of Ptolemy (2nd century AD) as Sambalaka on the river Manada (the Mahanadi river). This gateway to the exotic charms of the western region of Orissa was the cradle of an ancient civilization and is an important landmark in India's cultural history.Lying 321 km from Bhubaneswar, this ancient centre for the diamond trade is famous for its internationally renowned textiles (ikat), rich tribal heritage and fabulous forestlands. Samaleswari, the presiding deity of this region is enshrined at `Samalai Gudi' on the bank of Mahanadi river. The other temple of importance is the Budharaja Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and is perched atop the Budharaja hill. Sambalpur is easily accessible by rail and road. Places to visit
The longest Dam of the world, it stands in its lone majesty across the great river Mahanadi which drains an area of 1,33,090 Sq. kms more than twice the area of Ceylon. The bulk of Hirakud Dam contains earth, concrete and masonry materials, "sufficient to make a road 8 metres wide and pave it from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and Amritsar to Dibrugarh in Assam."From horizon to horizon the reservoir forms the largest artificial lake in Asia with an area of 746 Sq.kms having a shore line over 640 kms. A twenty-one kilometres drive on the dyke affords a unique experience of calm serenity and majesty of nature. One can enjoy the sight of the mighty Hirakud Dam and the fantastic expanse of water from the top of the revolving minaret called Gandhi Minar ane comfortably stay at Ashok Nivas,a luxury Guest House adjoining the Nehru Minar at the other end of the Dam.As the largest multipurpose river valley project of the world, it is a real gift to the nation-"all for happiness and prosperity".
26 kms to the west of Jharsuguda Railway Station, it is a cave containing pictographic inscription (1,500 B.C. or even earlier) of antiquity. This pre-historic find is of remarkable importance and is yet to be deciphered. The plaster-cast of the inscription can also be seen in the Orissa State Museum at Bhubaneswar. Vikramkhol is 88 kms by road which is unmetalled.
The Pradhanpat hill with its picturesque waterfalls offers a rare scenic beauty. These falls are close to Deogarh town which is attractively situated with the background of wooded hills. Two beautiful guest houses named Basanta Nivas and Lalita Basanta have been constructed by the ex-rulers of Bamra and are now under the management of the Works Department, provide accommodation. Reservations are made by the Executive Engineer, National Highway Division, Sambalpur. There are a number of temples in the town of Deogarh notable among which are of Gopinath, Jagannath and Gokarneswara. Deogarh is 96 Kms. from Sambalpur on N.H.No.6.
The place has gained prominence as the second Hydro-Electric Project of the Hirakud Dam. A natural fall of 80 ft. (24-39 metres) high in the river Mahanadi is made use for generating electricity. The place is mostly inhabited by fishermen whose deity 'Ghantlei' is very popular in the neighboring areas. The State Live Stock Breeding Farm and and Agricultural Farm are located here. National Parks and Wild Life Sanctuary
A jeep tour makes a perfect trip to checkout the pleasures of wildlife at Ushakothi. This small sanctuary was established in 1987, only 48 km away from Sambalpur. Tiger, elephant, sambar, leopard and bison make their home amongst the deciduous forests that share ground with sal, sandalwood, arjun, neem, acacia and casuarina. There are 15 tigers in the sanctuary and 35 elephants. Visitors can get a close-up of the animals from the Watchtowers placed near the watering holes. Temples
The Vidala-Nrusimha Temple stands amidst the verdant beauty of the picturesque Gandhamardan hills. Nrusinghanath is a popular and attractive pilgrim point. Coupled with a series of beautiful waterfalls and some sculptures, its location offers an air of serenity and visual delight, making the trip worthwhile. It is only 165 km away from Sambalpur.
Leaning Temple Huma
Huma is home to the famous leaning temple dedicated to Lord Bimaleswar. Situated about 32 km from Sambalpur, on the bank of the Mahanadi river, it offers tourists a beautiful view of the surrounding environs. Kudo fishes are found aplenty in the river at this point. It is a case of "you can look but you cannot touch", since popular belief has it that the fishes belong to Lord. Bimaleswar.