Indian State Orissa

Andhra Pradesh
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General Information

Orissa, the lush green state, girdled by the Bay of Bengal, haKonark Temple in Orissas seen some of the best fusion of traditional Indian art in its many temples and monuments, and has been able to preserve much of it, in an environment natural to its wonder and attractions. It was in Orissa, that Buddhism found some of its strongest exposure, and cult following. However, it was Hindu art that dominated the landscape, eventually, and resulted in the profusion of temple traditions, that have endured till now.

Heavily forested, and isolated, Orissa was once famous for its majestic battle elephants. But life in Orissa revolved around temples, and that the Oriyas lived lives free of strife, is evident from the fact that the state has few forts or fortified palaces to its credit, indicative of centuries of peace and harmony.

Most of the state's attractions are close to each other, and convenient access is provided out of the state capital, Bhubaneshwar. The capital itself is an intriguing amalgam of the old and the new, an emerging modern Indian city, that is steeped in the roots of the traditions of its glorious past, without being overwhelmed by it.

History of Orissa
In its long history spanning more than just the present millennium, the region of modern Orissa was known by different names at different points of time-Kalinga, Utkala, Kongada and Odr-desha.

Ancient Orissa had a number of important ports such as Paloura, Tamralipti and Dharmra along Orissa's 482 km long open coastline. It is little wonder then that a flourishing maritime trade existed between Paloura (now Puri) and the Indonesian islands. As a result, the influence of the Pali language and Buddhism spread, in due course, to Southeast Asia. The old Buddhist connection with these regions is visible in the 'Peace Pagoda' built by the Japanese Buddhists in this century and the Dhavateswar temple on the Dhauli hilltop near Bhubaneswar.

It is noteworthy that the first Aryan immigration from India into Ceylon also took place from the shores of Kalinga. The first known history of the state comes into light with the Ashokan victory over the independent ruler of this place, which led to mass killings and devastation of the region. The extent of violence perpetrated by his men and its effect of the victims led to a change in the heart of Ashoka and he accepted Buddhism as his way of life.
In the first century BC, under King Kharvel, the most famous of Kalinga rulers, Buddhism declined as the major religion and Jainism was restored. The cave inscriptions of Khandgiri and Udayagiri give a lot of information about the rule of King Kharvel and much other information about the society at that point of time.

Later, Jainism gave way to Hinduism in around 7th century AD. This was the time when the ruling dynasties were the Ganga and Kesari, who constructed some of the most magnificent temples in India.

After the decline of these dynasties, the local kingdoms fought hard to keep the Muslims away, but by the end in 16th century, the Mughals defeated them and gained control over this region. After the decline of the Mughals, Orissa was ruled by the Marathas and the British. Orissa became a separate province under the British Government in 1936.

Geographical Information about Orissa
Orissa, situated in the north-eastern part of the Indian peninsula, is bound by the Bay of Bengal on the east, West Bengal in the north east, Bihar on the north, Madhya Pradesh on the west and Andhra Pradesh on the south. The state extends between the latitudes 17°49' North and 22°34" North and longitudes 81°29' East and 87°29' East.

Physical Features
Orissa can be divided into two major parts, one being the coastal plains and other the northwestern plateau. The coastal region varies in width except in the Ganjam district where the eastern hills attain their highest altitude at 1,500 metres. Mahanadi and its tributaries cross through this region and create a large delta, which is very fertile. The rivers bring enormous water and sometime cause dangerous floods.

The climate of the state is primarily tropical with the coastal climate being distinct from the rest of the state. During the monsoon, the region comes under tropical depression and is hit by heavy rain and tropical cyclones that create heavy damage to property and crops.

Flora and Fauna
With the presence of vast, thick and dense forests, which cover almost 55,000 sq km area of Orissa, there are quite a few areas that have either been reserved, demarcated protected, undemarcated protected, or just unclassified. The important among these are the Simlipal National Park, Bhitar Kanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Nandan Kanan Zoological Park and the Chilka Lake. These forests shelter a great variety of avifauna, animals, and plant species.

How to reach:

By Air: The most convenient access into Orissa is a flight to Bhubaneshwar. Indian Airlines has flights from Hyderabad, Nagpur, Calcutta, Delhi, Raipur, Varanasi, Mumbai and Chennai.

By Rail: Train connections from all parts of the country exist, but are usually long and the non - availability of air-conditioned class travel is a constraint.

By Road: Once in Bhubaneshwar, road travel is the best option, to visit the other attractions in Orissa.