Odisha is one of the states of India, located in the east of India. It is surrounded by the states of West Bengal to the north-east, Jharkhand to the north, Chhattisgarh to the west and north-west, Telangana to the south-west and Andhra Pradesh to the south.
Odisha is the 9th largest state by area in India, and the 11th largest by population. Odia is the official and most widely spoken language, spoken by three quarters of the population. Odisha has a relatively unindented coastline and lacked good ports, except for the deepwater facility at Paradip, until the recent launch of the Dhamara Port.
It is also known as ‘the land of temples’ as there are a number of temples that are beautifully carved and are a proud testimony to the empires that were established here. The land is also famous for its cultural heritage. The major attraction here is the classical Odissi dance form. Odisha has more than just culture and tradition.
The main rivers are the Subarnarekha, Budhabalanga, Baitarani, Brahmani, Mahanadi, Rushikulya, and Vamsadhara. Orissa’s saltwater Chilika Lake is one of the largest lagoons in India. Notable mountain peaks include Mahendra Giri (4,924 feet [1,501 metres]), Malayagiri (3,894 feet [1,187 metres]), and Megasini (3,822 feet [1,165 metres]).
Odisha is also a home to the dozens of the religious places for pilgrimage in the country, the best reason for people to visit the state. The state capital Bhubaneswar houses ancient temples, including the famous Lingaraj Temple built in the medieval period. One of the four most celebrated religious centers of India Puri is also is a city of Odisha. Jagannath Puri temple, the foremost epicenter for the festival of the Rath Yatra, is situated in Puri.
Being a land of age-old and globally renowned temples and shrines, Odisha is also also known for fairs and festivals that are world famous and participated by people from all across the world. As the entire state (especially, Bhubaneswar, Cuttak, Puri, Konark, Jajpur, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri) is full of pilgrimages, festivals are organized for different religions.
When Chandragupta Maurya ruled India, there were only two states which was not under him, One is Kalinga(Odisha) and another one was in south (this is not ruled by Chandragupta Maurya because of a friendly deal). But Kalinga(Odisha) couldn’t be ruled because of Kalinga’s warrior’s skills & tactics. Chandragupta’s empire took more than 60 years to battle with Kalinga(Odisha). It’s the same battle we have seen in movies and read in stories. Battle between Maurya Empire and the kalinga. Do you know it’s one of the 25 greatest battle ever fought in the world till date and Kalinga warriors were counted as better than the Sparta’s army (Spartans, that time’s greatest Army). Unbelievable right, believe it. Why it’s greatest, probably we all know, 60,000 army destroyed more than 100000 army of the Maurya Empire. It was all the skills, tactics & strength of Odiya Warriors. But it’s sad that it was not documented anywhere in history, probably one of the reason world doesn’t know about these facts.
After this battle, Kalinga managed to free its land from Maurya Empire. In today’s name, Bihar, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhyapradesh, Telengana, and part of Andhrapradesh and Karnataka were part of Kalinga. Yes!! All these states were separate from Kalinga(Odisha). Kalinga was also known as Utkal, and many of the above mentioned states were under Utkal, like, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and part of AP. In 1st April 1936 Odisha got its official name as Orissa and in 2010 there was an alteration of name bill was introduced and suggested name was Utkal. It was rejected because, under Utkal, other states and parts of other states were accounted, so just to avoid problems in future, in 2011 Orissa got a new name Odisha.
World famous Rasgulla is originally from Odisha not from west Bengal. The whole world still knows that Rasgulla is from West Bengal. The myth says when goddess Lakshmi was angry from Lord Jagannath and she went to her mother’s house. Jagannath created this sweet and named it Kheermohan and gifted to goddess Lakshmi. Nabeen Chandra Das and his brother who started Rasgulla business in Odisha actually shifted to Kolkata so that they can earn better money from this business. But they started selling sponge Rasgulla not the authentic soft Rasgulla. The softest Rasgulla can be found in Odisha only. Now days it’s packaging and being export to all over the world by Bikali Kar. Bikalinanda Kar who started his Rasgulla Empire in Odisha after Das brothers somewhere in 1946. The Indian space agency, ISRO is developing dehydrated Rasgullas and other dishes for Indian astronauts in its planned manned mission in 2016.
One more fact which even many Odiyas don’t know and that is, the well-known rice pudding, kheeri (kheer) that is relished all over India, originated in Puri 2,000 years ago. Chhenapoda is another major Odisha sweet cuisine originated in Odisha and the authentic Chhenapoda is only available in Odisha.
Kalinga established some of the oldest Indian colonies in SE Asia, spreading Indian culture & religion to Cambodia, Malaysia, Java, Sumatra, Bali. Ceylon, Burma & Thailand. During the course of history, Odiya kings went on to rule most of these countries. Purely maritime relationships existed with faraway kingdoms such as Egypt, Rome, Persia, Arabia, China & Japan. Odisha is very ancient & the oldest rocks (from Mayurbhanj) date back to 3 billion years (Our planet is believed to be 4.5 billion years old). Civilizations thrived here almost 5000 years ago, during the times of Harappa & Mohenjo Daro. Kalinga was one of the earliest republics, a feudal state. It finds a proud mention among handful ancient sovereign states
Do you know, based on India’s archaeological evidence Odishi dance (Classical art form) is the oldest surviving dance form in India! It has long, unbroken tradition of more than 2000 years and finds mention in the Natyashastra of Bharatamuni, possibly written circa 200 BC. Sadly Odishi went nearly extinct during the British period, only to be revived after India’s independence by a few gurus and it’s the most complicated dance form.
There are very less people who know Mr. Biju Patnaik. Well, he was an aviator, a business man and a politician. His contribution to Indian and other countries are remarkable. He was a pilot and former CM of Odisha. He rescued Sultan Sjahrir (Former PM of Indonesia) & Achmad Sukarno (Former President of Indonesia) from Dutch control for Indonesia’s freedom. He flew to Java with his wife to rescue Sultan in a Dakota. Colour of the Dakota was sea green which was nearly invisible for the Dutch army. For this bravery, Biju Patnaik was granted the Citizenship in Indonesia and awarded the highest bravery award “Bhoomi Putra(Son of the Soil)”. He Named Sukarno’s daughter as Meghavati (Goddes of the cloud) When Indonesia celebrated its 50th Independence Day, Biju Patnaik was awarded with the highest national award “Bintang Jasa Utama”. Which Makes him the only Indian having 2 foreign highest award. He had a great contribution to Indonesia freedom.
Do you know Biju Patnaik piloted the first plane that left Palam Airport at Delhi on 27 October 1947 at dawn and landed at Srinagar Airport in the early morning. He brought 17 soldiers commanded by Lt.Col. Dewan Ranjit Rai. He flew low on the airstrip twice to ensure that no raiders were around. Instructions from PM Nehru’s office were clear: If the airport was taken over by the enemy, you are not to land. Taking a full circle the DC-3 flew ground level. Anxious eye-balls peered from inside the aircraft only to find the airstrip empty. Biju Patnaik has contributed to Indonesian freedom, China war, Major Role in saving Kashmir. The whole world new him expect Indians. Sad Right!!
Do you know Odisha has 17 airstrip and 16 helipads, which makes Odisha having the highest no of airstrip and helipads among the all Indian Statess. It has 3 Seaports for International Trading. Odisha is the only state where all type of tourist places will be found. Hill Station, snow fall, Sea shore, wild life, back waters, forest and temples. One of the 4 Dham (Puri) is in Odisha.
British came to Odisha port before Kolkata to start the East India Company. Kolkatta was their 2nd choice. Netaji Subhash Chnadra Bos was originally from Odisha, Cuttack. Odiya culinary has the maximum variety of food in India (Be it Veg or non-veg), probably in the world. There are 56 types of Prasad served in-front of Lord Jagannath itself.
Have heard a Name Sudarshan Patnaik? Well, Sudarsan has represented India in 50 international Sand Sculpture championship and festivals all around the world and Won 27 (Twenty seven) championship prizes for the country. During the year 2013, he won 1st prize (gold medal) at Saint Peters Burg in 12th International sand sculpture competition at Russia, Danish grand prizes at International Sand competition Championship, Denmark and won Moscow museum prize at Russia. In 2011 he won 1st prize and public prize at Denmark and also won double medal at Solo International sand art contest in Mervala 2012. In 2010, he won the gold medal for people choice award at 3rd Moscow World sand sculpture championship. He also won three medal in North American solo sand sculpture championship, People choice prize in Canada and Moscow. In 2009 Won the Korea sand sculpture award. In 2008 he won the World champion title at USF World sand sculpture championship, Berlin. Apart from this he is the 5 times winner of people choice award at Berlin, which is a record.
King Indrabhuti of Sambalpur was the original establisher of Vajrayana sect of Buddhism and his kingdom was known as Oddiyana. Other Buddhist mahasiddhas like Luipa, Saraha, Lakkshmikara, Kuruma, etc originated from Odisha. Tapasu and Bahlika were the two merchants and early Buddhist followers who spread the Buddhist religion in Myanmar. All the three tooth relics and the Bodhi tree relic alive around the world were taken from ancient Kalinga.
Gudahandi, Vikramakhol, Jogimath, etc are the cave sites in western Odisha with the traces of paleolithic civilization of at least 20,000 years old. Recently traces of stone age, bronze age and iron age civilizations were found in the coastal Odisha part.
Some notable emperors of India from Odisha never mentioned in History books are Kharavela, Satrubhanja, Kapilendra Deva, Purusottam deva, Narasingh deva I, Empress Tribhuban Maha Devi II who had 3,00,000 standing army at her disposal and the taxpaying feudal kings worshiped her of fear.
Ashoka wins the battle of Kalinga but never conquered complete Kalinga as the western part was known as Antanam Abijitam whcih means people beyond my frontiers.
Paika Tradition is one of the oldest martial traditions in India. The 7 years war of Gajapati Odisha with the Vijayanagar Empire ended when a fort named Udaygiri in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh was captured by the later after a brave resistance of 18 months by the defending and starving Paikas. The Prince of Gajapati Odisha named Virabhadra committed honorable suicide after he was taken into captivity and insulted with a sword fight against a low ranking soldier of the Vijayanagar Army.
Tara Tarini is one of the major 64 Shakti peeths in South Asia.
Koraput in Southern Odisha is believed by the scientists as the origin of the Rice seedlings that spread to the world and multiplied into different varieties of rice grown under different climatic conditions.
The ancient name of Odisha Kalinga and Odra came from princes who were the two out of five sons of Bali.
Paika rebellion in Odisha was the first organized revolt in India against the British that occurred 40 years before the famous 1856 sepoy mutiny of Mangal Pandey. The youngest martyr of India in the struggle for independence is Baji Rout from Odisha and not Khudiram Bose from bengal.
There have been attempts to replicate the kingdoms and dynasties of ancient Odisha in Southern and south East Asia. There is still a province named as Kalinga in the far away islanda of Philippines, a dynasty named as Kalingai Chakrabarty descended from the kalingan prince Kalinga Magha ruled Sri Lanka for 4- 5 generations and in Java there was king dom replicated from the original Kalinga as Ho linga in history. In the local Thai and Malay language Indians are still known as keeling representing that the only people in India to first master High sea travels were the people of Kalinga.
Ancient pali language originated from Odisha and it is the only state in India where all three types of early brhami scripts are found together.
Odisha has the largest collection of palm leaf manuscripts in India.
NB: This article is curated from various sources including inputs from Amit Mallick and Manjit Keshari Nayak