Konark Sun Temple Konark Sun Temple
Capital : Bhubaneswar
Largest city : Bhubaneswar
District(s) : 30
Population : 36,706,920 (11th)
Density : 236/km² (611/sq mi)
Language(s) : Oriya
Established : 1949-04--01

Odisha, formerly known as Orissa is an Indian State on the subcontinent's east coast, by the Bay of Bengal. It is surrounded by the Indian states of West Bengal to the north-east and in the east, Jharkhand  to the north, Chhatisgarh to the west and north-west and Andhra Pradesh to the south. It is the modern name of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in 261 BCE. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April 1936, as a province in British India and consisted predominantly of Oriya speakers. 1 April is therefore celebrated as Utkala Dibasa  (foundation day of Odisha). The region is also known as Utkal.Cuttack remained the capital of the state for over eight centuries until 13 April 1948 when Bhubaneshwar was officially declared as the new state capital, a position it still holds. Oriaya (officially spelled Odia) is the official and most widely spoken language, spoken by three quarters of the population.
Orissa has a long coastline and a storehouse of mineral wealth. Because of its mineral wealth and strategic location it attracts foreign investment in steel, aluminum, power, refineries, and infrastructure. Orissa is also emerging as a player in the outsourcing IT (Information Technology) and IT services industry. The total planned investment in the state is projected to be 90 billion U.S. dollars. However, there are environmental concerns and land acquisitions for some of these projects have been opposed by the local people. The relatively unindented coastline (200 miles/320 km long) lacks good ports, except for the deepwater facility at Paradip. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi River delta, is exceedingly fertile. Orissa is home to the Hirakud Dam, one of the longest dams in the world. Rainfall is heavy and regular, and two crops of rice (by far the most important cereal) are grown annually. The coastal alluvial plain is inhabited by the non-tribal speakers of the Oriya language. The interior, inhabited largely by the indigenous people known as Adivasis is hilly and mountainous. Orissa is subject to intense cyclones; in October 1999, Tropical Cyclone 05B caused severe damage and some 10,000 deaths. Orissa has several popular tourist destinations. Puri, with the Jagannatha's temple near the sea, and Konark, with the Sun Temple, are visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Along with the Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar, the Jagannatha Temple and the Sun Temple of Konark are important in the archaeological history of India.

Chilika Lake Chilika Lake
Orissa has a history spanning a period of over 5000 years. Before Kalinga it was called 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. Orissa has also been the home of the Kalinga and Utkal tribes 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. Unlike some other parts of India, tribal customs and traditions played a significant role in shaping political structures and cultural practices right up to the 15th century. when Brahminical influences triumphed over competing traditions and caste differentiation began to inhibit social mobility and erode what had survived of the ancient republican tradition.

A major turning point in world history took place in Orissa. The famous 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, Asoka was instrumental in spreading Buddhist philosophy all over Asia.

Puri Beach Puri Beach
In the third century BC, Kalinga flourished as a powerful kingdom under the Jaina king, Kharavela. He ruled all the way down south to include parts of the Tamil country. He built the superb monastic caves at Udayagiri and Khandagiri. Subsequently, the kingdom was ruled under various monarchs, such as Samudragupta and Sasanka. It also was a part of Harsha's empire. In 795 AD, the king Yayati Kesari I of Kesari dynasty united Kalinga, Kosala and Utkala into a single empire. He is also supposed to have built the first Jagarnnath Temple at Puri although the current structure of the temple is entirely different and was built by Kings Choda Gangadeva and Ananga Bhimadeva of the Ganga Dynasty in the 12th century. The famous Lingaraja temple in Bhubaneswar was started by Keshari dynasty king Yayati Keshari III and completed by his son Lalatendu Keshari in the 10th century. King Narasimha Dev is reputed to have built the magnificent Sun Temple in Konark. Although now largely in ruins, the temple may have rivaled the Taj Mahal in splendour.

The Mughals conquered Bengal and Orissa in 1576; however, Orissa was subsequently ceded to the Marathas in 1751.

In 1803, the British under the British East India Company occupied Orissa after the Second Anglo-Maratha War. In 1823, Orissa was divided into the three districts of Cuttack, Balasore and Puri, and a number of native tributary states. Orissa was administered as part of the Bengal Presidency. Following famine and floods in 1866, large scale irrigation projects were undertaken in the last half of the 19th century. The coastal section was separated from Bengal and made into the Province of Bihar and Orissa in 1912, in response to local agitation for a separate state for Oriya-speaking peoples. In 1936, Bihar and Orissa were split into separate provinces.

Following Indian independence, the area of Orissa was almost doubled and the population was increased by a third by the addition of 30 former princely states. In 1950, Orissa became a constituent state in the Union of India.


According to the 2011 census of India, the total population of Odisha is 41,947,358, of which 21,201,678 (50.54%) are male and 20,745,680 (49.46%) are female, or 978 females per 1000 males. This represents a 13.97% increase over the population in 2001. The population density is 269 per km². The dominant ethnic group is the Oriya people and Oriya as the official language; it is spoken as a native language by 81.8% of the population. Other linguistic minorities in the state are Bengali, Hindi, Santali, Telugu. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes form 16.53% and 22.13% of the state population, constituting 38.66% of the State population. Some of the important tribes are Santhal. Oraon, Munda, Kandha, Bonda, Kora and Mahali. The literacy rate is 73%, with 82% of males and 64% of females being literate, according to the 2011 census. The proportion of people living below the poverty line in 1999–2000 was 47.15% which is nearly double the all India average of 26.10%. Data of 1996–2001 showed the life expectancy in the state was 61.64 years, higher than the national value of years. The state has a birth rate of 23.2 per 1,000 people per year, a death rate of 9.1 per 1,000 people per year, an infant mortality rate of 65 per 1000 live birth and a maternal mortality rate of 358 per 1,000,000 live births. Odisha has a Human Develpoment Index of 0.579 in 2004.
Chandipur Beach Chandipur Beach
Orissa is an Hindu majority state with Hindus forming 91.35% of the population. This places Orissa as the 3rd most Hindu majority state (in terms of percentage) in India. Islam is practiced by 5.5% of the population, followed by Christianity with 1.0%. Other faiths comprise less than 1.0%.
The religion of ancient Kalinga was Jainism. Rishabhnath and Parshvanath the first among the Jaina tirthankars preached and were revered in this land. Kalinga is also well mentioned and its history documented in Jain texts. Kalinga's Jain traditions were a major cause for inciting the attacks first by Mahapadma Nanda and later by Ashoka who were egged on by courtiers and advisers. The Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves are among the only stone monuments dedicated to the Jain religion which still survive. They were constructed by Emperor Kharavela and his courtiers. Nanda attacked Kalinga and looted several parts of the state. He also took away the idol of Lord Rishabhdev to Magadha. But when Kharvela came in power he convulsed Nanda and brought back the idol of Lord Rishabdev, the symbol of pride for Kalinga. Jain texts have praised him as "Mahamegh Vahana Jain Raja Paramarhat Kharvela". These inscriptions are there in the jain caves of Udai Giri & Khanda Giri.

Perhaps the most well-known temple in Orissa is the Konark Temple. This is also known as the Sun Temple and is famous for its exquisite Orissan style of architecture. The Konark temple was built in the 13th century A.D. It includes in its decoration many vignettes of military life. The thousands of elephants marching around the base of the temple demonstrate pride in the superb war elephants for which Orissa was famous.

Another well known temple in Orissa is the Jagannath Temple, which was built in the 12th Century A.D. It is located in Puri and is associated with the Ratha Jatra (Chariot Festival) celebrated all over northern India. Every year millions of devotees come to Puri during the Ratha Jatra. It is a festival during which the three deities, Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra are brought out of the Jagannath temple in chariots to tour the streets, providing a glimpse to the thousands of devotees who throng the street.

The capital city of Bhubaneswar has some magnificent temples, including the Lingaraja temple, and the Mukteswar temple. Not surprisingly, it is called the Temple City of India.

Lingaraj Temple Lingaraj Temple
Oriya is the official language of Odhisa and it is spoken by the maority of the people.. Oriya belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family, and is closely related to Bengali and Assamese. The state has a very opulent cultural heritage, one of the richest in India. The capital city of Bhubaneswar is known for the exquisite temples that dot its landscape, Bhubaneshwar is also called the "city of temples". The famous classical dance form, Odissi originated in Orissa. Contemporary Orissa has a proud cultural heritage that arose due to the intermingling of three great religious traditions - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Orissa is also known as Odisha. The culture of the Adivasis (the original inhabitants of India) is an integral part of modern Orissan heritage.

Odissi or Orissi music is usually classified as a kind of Hindustani classical music of northern India, although some aspects of Odissi are quite distinct. Odissi has a long, unbroken tradition of 2,000 years, and finds mention in the Natyashastra of Bharatamuni, possibly written circa 200 BC. However, the dance form nearly went extinct during the British period, only to be revived after India's independence by a few proponents, such as Guru Deba Prasad Das, Guru Mayadhar Raut, Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Mahadev Rout, Guru Raghu Dutta, and Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra. Odissi classical dance is about the divine love of Krishna and his consort Radha, mostly drawn from compositions by the notable Oriya poet Jayadeva, who lived in the twelfth century AD.

Other cultural attractions include the Jagannatha Temple in Puri, known for its annual Rath Yatra or Car Festival, the unique and beautiful applique artwork of Pipili, silver filigree ornamental works from Cuttack, the Patta chitras (palm leaf paintings), famous stone utensils of Nilgiri (Balasore) and various tribal influenced cultures. The Sun temple at Konark is famous for its architectural splendor.