the lush green state, girdled by the Bay of Bengal, has
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Road: Once in Bhubaneshwar, road travel is the best option,
to visit the other attractions in Orissa.