Hirakud Dam is built across the Mahanadi River, about 15 km from Sambalpur. Built in 1956, it was the first major multipurpose river valley project started after India’s independence. The dam is the world’s largest earthen dam and is one of the longest dams in the world, about 16 mi (26 km) in length. It also forms the biggest artificial lake in Asia, with a reservoir holding 743 km² at full capacity with a shoreline of over 640 km.
The Leaning temple of Huma located about 25 km from Sambalpur. Located on the banks of the Mahanadi, the 17th century temple of Huma leans at an angle of 47 degrees to the west. The temple is dedicated to Lord Bimaleswar. The special type of fish found here are called as ‘Kudo’ fish. They are said to be so tame that they will eat sweets and other foods from the hands of devotee who bathe close to the temple. During auspicious days they are called by their names and given the ‘prasad’ of the God. Here nobody tries to catch them as they are believed to be the assets of the God (Pasayat, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008).
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. These temples are located at a few kilometres’ distance from Sambalpur.
A wild life Sanctuary, 43 km north-East of Sambalpur on National Highway 6 stretching for more than 130 km, the Sanctuary hosts of Elephants, Tigers, Gaurs, Sambars, Black panthers, Deer, Spotted deer, and Wild bears etc. There are two watching towers located near the saline tank inside the Sanctuary which enable the visitors to catch a view of these animals.
As the name indicates there’s bells in every direction. Located 33 km south-west of Sambalpur and on the bank of river Mahanadi, it played an important role for navigation in the past. It was called a light house without a light. A temple also existed here, of Goddess Ghanteswari from whom the place got its name. Earlier there were some large bells on this spot and with the help of wind those created enormous sound which made the navigators aware of this treacherous spot. This area being the conglomeration of three streams of water of river Mahanadi, the water current here is very dangerous forming a whirlpool. Due to this many boats get drowned while nearing this spot. Here the wind blows quite heavily and with the help of it, the bells produce sound. Now after the construction of Hirakud Dam, this spot became safer. The specialty of this temple area is thousands of bells hanging everywhere, the only place of its kind in Orissa.
Located about 37 km from Sambalpur, Chiplima is known for a natural fall(24.38 mts in height) harnessed for generating electricity. It is an ideal picnic spot and also known for harbouring “Ghanteswari”, the presiding deity of the place. Moreover, the State livestock Breeding Farm and Agricultural Farm are located here.
Sambalpur also boasts of a pilgrimage-cum-sight seeing spot. Kandhara, 78 km from Sambalpur in Rairakhol Sub-Division, is the birthplace of Poet Bhima Bhoi, the great propounder of Mahima Dharma or alternatively known as Alekha Dharma.