Orissa, also known as Odisha, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa or Odisha was established on 1 April 1936 at Kanika Palace, Cuttack, as a province in India, and consists predominantly of Odia speakers. 1st April is therefore celebrated as Utkal Divas (Odisha Day). It is home to the Hirakud Dam, near Sambalpur the longest earthen dam in the world.
Orissa or Odisha has several popular tourist destinations. Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar are known as Golden triangle of eastern India. Puri, with the Jagannath temple near the sea (famous for Rath Yatra or the Car Festival), and Konark, with the Sun Temple, are visited by thousands of tourists every year. The Jagannath Temple of Puri, the Konark Sun Temple, the Lingaraj Temple, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Dhauligiri of Bhubaneshwar, Ashoka’s famous Rock Edict at Jaugada near Berhampur city and the Barabati Fort of Cuttack are important in the archaeological history of India.
Origin of the name of the State
Orissa was renamed as Odisha and Oriya language was renamed as Odia on November 9, 2010 by Parliament of India. The name Odisha is derived from the Sanskrit Odra Vishaya or Odra Desa. Both Pali and Sanskrit Literatures mention the Odra people as Oddaka and Odrah, respectively. Ancient writers like Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy described the Odra people as Oretes. In the Mahabharata the Odras are mentioned along with the Paundras, Utkals, Mekalas, Kalingas and Andhras, while according to Manu the Odras are associated with the Paundrakas, Dravidas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Sakas, Paradas, Pallavas, Kiratas and Khasas. The location of the Odra territory has been given in the Natural History of Pliny in which it is mentioned that the Oretes were inhabiting the country where stood the Mount Maleus. The Greek Oretes is probably the Sanskrit Odra and the Mount Maleus has been identified with Malayagiri near Pala Lahara. Pliny associates the Mount Maleus with the people called Monedes and Sharis who were probably the same as the Mundas and the Savaras respectively inhabiting the upland regions of Odisha.
History of Ancient Orissa or Odisha
Odisha has a history spanning a period of over 5,000 years. Before Kalinga it was named as Udra or “Odra Desa”. The Ancient Odra desa or Ordesa was limited to the valley of Mahanadi and to the lower course of Subarnarekha River. It comprised the whole of the present districts of Cuttack and Sambalpur and a portion of Midnapur. Bounded on the west by Gondwana, on the north by the wild hill states of Jaspur and Singhbhum, on the east by the sea and on the South by Ganjam, Odisha has a legendary history. The name Odia originated from Odra or Udra tribes that inhabited the central coastal belt (Khordha District and Nayagarh District) of modern Odisha. Odisha has also been the home of the Kalinga, Utkal, Mahakantara/Kantara and Kosal that played a particularly prominent role in the region’s history, and one of the earliest references to the ancient Kalingas appears in the writings of Vedic chroniclers. In the 6th century BC, Vedic Sutrakara Baudhayana mentions Kalinga as being beyond the Vedic fold, indicating that Brahminical influences had not yet touched the land.
A major turning point in world history took place in Odisha. The Kalinga War that led emperor Ashoka to embrace non-violence and the teachings of Buddha was fought here in 261 BC. Ashoka’s military campaign against Kalinga was one of the bloodiest in Mauryan history on account of the fearless and heroic resistance offered by the Kalingas to the mighty armies of the expanding Mauryan empire. Perhaps on account of their unexpected bravery, emperor Ashoka was compelled to issue two edicts specifically calling for a just and benign administration in Kalinga. Later on, Ashoka was instrumental in spreading Buddhist philosophy all over Asia. However, Ativ Land (South Western Odisha) was unconquered by Ashoka.
Bhubaneswar is the capital of Odisha. It is famed for its magnificent temples, numbering around a thousand. Cuttack, the former capital of Odisha, is 22 km from Bhubaneswar. With the rapid expansion of two cities and better road connectivity, the two cities are now almost conjoined and considered as twin cities. The city of Puri is about 60 kilometers from Bhubaneswar and lies on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Puri is considered a holy city and the abode of the deity Lord Jagannath. It is one of the Char Dhams (Four holy places) of Hinduism. The world-famous “rath yathra” (car festival) is celebrated every year in the Hindu month of Ashadha (Mid June to Mid July) in Puri.
The Chota Nagpur plateau occupies the western and northern portions of the state, while along the coast are fertile alluvial plains and the valleys of the Mahanadi, Brahmani, and Baitarani rivers, which fall into the Bay of Bengal. These alluvial plains are home to intensive rice cultivation. The Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), Asia’s largest rice research Institute is situated along the bank of Mahanadi in Cuttack. One of the major nesting ground for the Olive Ridley sea turtles can be found in the Beaches of Odisha; in Devi, Gahirmatha and Rushikulya, which are known to be the nesting sites for the L. olivacea Indian Ocean population. In 2007, around 130,000 turtles nested on the beaches of Gahirmatha. The shore line also acts as their mating site and have attracted various scientific communities for research and studies.
Although most of Odisha’s forest cover has been denuded lately, one of the greatest attractions of Odisha is its still vast expanses of unspoiled natural landscape that offer a protected yet natural habitat to the state’s incredible wildlife. There are many wildlife sanctuaries in Odisha. The Simlipal National Park Tiger Reserve is a huge expanse of lush green forest with waterfalls, inhabited by tigers, elephants, and other wildlife. The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary has been protecting estuarine crocodiles since 1975.
Chilka Lake, a brackish water coastal lake on the Bay of Bengal, south of the mouth of the Mahanadi River, is the largest coastal lake in India and the second largest in the world. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. It is protected by the Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary, which harbors over 160 migratory and resident species of birds. Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here. The highest mountain peak in the state is Deomali (1672 m), which is situated in Koraput district in southern Odisha. It is also the tallest peak of the Eastern Ghats. It is part of the Chandragiri-Pottangi mountain system.
Most of the rivers, either at the point of origin or over the mountainous bed, have waterfalls. The Barehipani and Joranda (Similipal) in Mayurbhanja districts, Sanaghagara and Badaghagara in Keonjhar district, Pradhanpat in Deogarh district, khandadhar (Banei) in Sundargarh district, Koilighugar in Jharsuguda district, Phurlijharan, Khandabaladhar, and Rabandhara in Kalahandi district, Kentamari and Putudi in Boudh and Phulbani district Duduma in Malkangiri district and Bogra in Koraput district are some of the major waterfalls of Odisha.
List of Lakes and Dams
The Chilika Lake is brackish water lagoon located in the southern part of the Odisha coastal plane. It areas varies 780 km2 and 144 km2; during the two monsson months it is 71 km long and 32 km wide.
Anshupa is a sweet water lake located in Athagarh of Cuttack district. It is 3 km long and 1.5 km wide. Sara is another sweet water lake located near Puri. It is 5 km long and 3 km wide. Kanjia is another sweet water lake with about 134 acres (0.54 km2) of area located in Nandankanan of Cuttack district near Bhubaneswar.
Pata is another sweet water lake located alongside the town of Chatrapur. It is 4 km long and 0.5 km wide.
Hirakud Dam: Artificial Lake in Sambalpur and Jharsuguda largest in Asia.
Indravati Dam: Artificial Lake in Kalahandi and Nabarangpur
Kolab Dam: Artificial Lake in Koraput
Odisha has a strong media field, one of the best known among other states. The print newspapers like Samaja, Dharitri, Sambad, Samaya, Anupam Bharat, Prajatantra updates daily the Odisha people with the news. Other major dalies are Sambad Kalika, Amari Katha, Pragatibadi, Dinalipi, Odisha Bhaskar, Khabara etc. Some prominent weekly and fortnighty news papers like Loka Samachar, Sarkar, Bartta, Saburi Katha, Neta etc. are providing space for people’s aspirations and awareness in the state. Odisha has a strong team of journalists and media group.
Odisha has abundant natural resources and a large coastline. It contains a fifth of India’s coal, a quarter of its iron ore, a third of its bauxite reserves and most of the chromite. Rourkela Steel Plant was the first integrated steel plant in the Public Sector in India. It receives unprecedented investments in steel, aluminium, power, refineries and ports. India’s topmost IT consulting firms, including Mahindra Satyam, TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), MindTree Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Infosys have large branches in Odisha. IBM, Syntel and Wipro are setting up development centers in Odisha. So far, two of the S&P CNX 500 conglomerates have corporate offices in Odisha, for example, National Aluminium (2005 gross income Indian Rupee 51,162 million) and Tata Sponge Iron (2005 gross income Indian Rupee 2,044 million).