Orissa, known as Kalinga in the annals of history, is situated in East India and is the ninth largest state in the subcontinent. Situated at the Bay of Bengal, this state is known for its straight coastline, which is where most members of the Orissan population have made their homes. It stretches for almost 500 kilometres and, although it cannot accommodate good ports because of its lack of indentations, it is ideal for residents and holidaymakers alike. Bhubaneshwar is its capital city.

It was once inhabited by the Odra tribes, as well as the Kalinga and Utkal people, who lived in the now sparsely populated central areas of the state. In 261 BCE (Before our Common Era), the Kalinga War was fought in Orissa. Eventually, this led the people to adopt the peaceful principles of Buddhism rather than resorting to violence. This pro-peace initiative led to a complete change in attitudes and the people’s approach to political and cultural differences. Thereafter, various kingdoms ruled over Orissa until 1576, when the Mughal Empire finally took control. Under this empire, Orissa was divided into Garjat and Mughalbandi, which were ruled independently. In 1803, the British Crown became the ruling kingdom of Orissa, as well as of many other parts of India. In 1947, India achieved political independence from English rule. Because of its complex history, Orissa is the home of many fascinating and beautiful temples.
Image of Rajarani Temple
Ancient Hindu Temple (Rajarani Temple). Ornately carved building
with large tower set in landscaped gardens. Bhubaneswar,
Orissa, India. 11th Century AD

The coast is lush and fertile, creating a green oasis for the Orissan residents. The coastline and surrounding region has been formed and shaped by the six major rivers in the region. Three-quarters of Orissa is mountainous or hilly, with deep gorges and impressive valley intersecting these peaks. The central region is characterised by plateaus, in which not many people live. The various rivers, springs, waterfalls and lakes add a natural splendour to the landscape as well as much-needed water reserves.

Orissa is rich in coal, ore, bauxite, chromite, and so on.

Odia is the official language of this Indian state, being spoken by approximately 90% of the population. There are tribal languages existing in Orissa too, derived mainly from the Dravidic and Munda languages of old.

As with many other cultures in the world, the Orissa society uses song and dance extensively to express their beliefs, ideals, celebrations, etc... The Mahari Dancers are of particular interest to visitors. This is a religious group that becomes “married” to the Lord when they are only nine years old. Their dance is characterised by certain rules, including that they are not permitted to enjoy themselves during the performance, they always need to wear clean clothes, they may not allow physically disabled people to dance, they cannot look at the audience, and they must precede each dance with individual worship to the Lord.

The cuisine of Orissa displays fairly equal amounts of vegetarian and meat dishes. There are a particular abundance of seafood dishes, due to the state’s proximity to the ocean.

Popular tourist attractions include:

• Bhubaneswar (with its array of temples and shrines)
• Konark
• Puri
• The Jagannath Temple
• Rath Yatra (or the Chariot Festival)
• Udaigiri
• The Udaigiri Caves and Khandagiri Caves
• Lingaraj Temple
• Konark Dance Festival
• Chilka Lake

For more information, please view: http://www.orissatourism.org/

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