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Orissa State Information

Capital : Bhubaneswar

Districts : 30

Languages: Oriya, English

Introduction to Orissa

Orissa lies on the eastern coast of India with the waters of the Bay of Bengal swirling along its eastern and southeastern boundaries. With an area of about 1,55,707 square kilometers, the state offers diverse habitats from lush green and hilly terrain to coastal plains and rolling river valleys, crises-crossed by the Brahmani, the Mahanadi and the Bansadhara rivers. With its long history spanning several centuries, the region of modern Orissa is today one of the most popular destination with tourists.

Geography of Orissa

Orissa located between 17o 49'N to 22o 34'N latitude and from 81o 29'E to 87o 29'E longitude on the eastern coast of India. West Bengal in northeast, Jharkhand in the north, Madhya Pradesh in the west, Andhra Pradesh in the south and the Bay of Bengal in the east bound it. Orissa was separated from Bihar and came into existence on 1 April 1936.

The capital was established at the historic city of Cuttack, located at the apex of the Mahanadi delta. In 1956, it shifted to Bhubaneswar, a planned modern town of the post-independence period. Based on physiographical characterstics, Orissa can be divided into three broad regions - the Coastal plains, the Middle mountainous country and the Plateaus and rolling up lands. The Orissa Coastal Plains region stretches from the West Bengal border i.e. from the River Subarnarekha in the north to the River Rushikulya in the south. This region is the combination of several deltas of varied sizes and shapes formed by the major rivers of Orissa, such as the Subarnarekha, the Budhabalanga, the Baitarani, the Brahmani, the Mahanadi, and the Rushikulya. The Middle Mountainous Region covers about three-fourth of the entire State and comprises the hills and mountains of the Eastern Ghats, which rise abruptly and steeply in the east and slope gently to a dissected plateau in the west running from north-east (Mayurbhanj) to north-west (Malkangirig). The Plateaus are mostly eroded plateaus forming the western slopes of the Eastern Ghats with elevation varying from 305-610 metres.

Brief History of Orissa

The aboriginal tribes, the Buiyas and Gonds, originally inhabited Orissa. They confined themselves to the forest and hills when the Dravidian race settled here.

Orissa was known as Kalinga in the early period. Kalinga is related with the greatest Mauryan empire ruler Ashoka who on seeing the horrors of war in his battle with the Kalingan army abandoned warfare and embraced Buddhism. In the second century AD Kharavela established a strong rule over this region. The Guptas dominated over this region in about the 4th century AD. Till the 10th century Orissa witnessed the rule of the Bhaumakara dynasty, followed by the Soma dynasty. From the 11th to 12th century. The Gangas became prominent. The Muslims Sultanate had their influence on Orissa during the 13th and 14th centuries, which continued until 1568. This was followed by the rule of the Mughals, which lasted until the death of Aurangzeb.

The decline of Mughal power brought the influence of the Nawab of Hyderabad and then Marathas who ruled it until they ceded this territory to the East India Company in 1803 AD.

Districts of Orissa

Orissa has 30 districts: Angul, Bolangir, Balasore, Bargarh, Boudh, Bhadrak, Cuttack, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Kalakhandi, Kendrapara, Keonjhar, Khurda, Koraput, Malkangirir, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangapur, Nayagarh, Nuapara, Kandhamal, Puri, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Sonepur and Sundargarh.

Economy of Orissa

Over 76 percent of the people are dependent on agriculture. Out of the gross cropped area of 87.46 lakh hectares, 18.79 lakh hectares are irrigated. Rice, pulses, oil seeds, jute, mesta, sugarcane, coconut and turmeric are important crops. There are also cash crops like tea, cotton and rubber. The state contributes one-tenth of the rice production in India. Jute, gram, sesame, ragi, mustard, rape and maize are second-ranking crops in different districts. District-wise, jute ranks second in Cuttack and Balasore, gram in Puri and Phulabani and Maize in Mayurbhanj. The infrastructure for the development of industry in Orissa is available.

A combination of coal, iron ore, limestone, bauxite and a host of other minerals on the one hand and port facilities on the other are the unique features in Orissa. In addition, the bountiful forest resources and agricultural products provide ample scope for the development of forest-based and agro-based industries.

The major industries of the state include cement, aluminum, ceramic glass, chemical, fertilizer, heavy water, aeronautical industry, and agri-based industries such as cotton textiles, sericulture, sugar mills and rice mills.

Orissa Travel Information

It is not difficult to understand why there are so many temples in Orissa. Right from the beginning of its history, religion and power were integrated. Temples were the genuine expression of the ruler and the ruled towards their almighty, the power that was protecting them from all the problems in life. They created grand temples, far more beautiful than in any other part of the world. All the major places in Orissa have its share of these temples including the capital Bhubaneswar, where you can find more than hundred beautiful temples. The Sun Temple of Konark and temples of Bhubaneswar and Puri are world famous.

The Jaggannath Rath Yatra of Puri is an annual festival, which attracts religious tourism from world over. Apart from the temples, the state has some of the most stunning beaches in India as well as a rich flora and fauna. Some the beaches worth visiting are beaches of Puri, Konark and Gopalpur on the Sea.

The other places of tourist attraction are Chandraprabha Sanctuary, Simlipal National Park, Khiching, cave structures of Ratnagiri and Udayagiri, Lalitagiri and Prachi Vallay and beaches.

Rivers of Orissa

There are four groups of rivers, which flow through Orissa into the Bay of Bengal. The first group is the rivers that have a source outside the State such as the Subarnarekha, the Brahmani and the Mahanadi. The second group is the rivers having a source inside the State such as the Budhabalanga, the Baitarini, the Salandi, and the Rushikulya. The third group represents the rivers having a source inside the Orissa, but flow through other states such as the Bahudu, the Vansadhara, and the Nagavali. Thelast group represents the rivers having a source inside Orissa, but tributary to rivers, which flow, through other states such as the Machkund, the Sileru, the Kolab, and the Indravati.

Education in Orissa

The ruins of a major ancient university and center of Buddhist learning, Ratnagiri, was recently discovered in Orissa. Scholars from far away lands, such as Greece, Persia and China used to study philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and science at this famed University. Taxila, Nalanda and Ratnagiri are the oldest universities in the world. The modern Orissa is home to many colleges and universities, deemed and otherwise. The major universities in Orissa include Berhampur University, Biju Patnaik University of Technology, Fakir Mohan University, Kalinga Insitute of Industrial Technology, National Institute of Technology, North Orissa University, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Sambalpur University, Shri Jagannath Sanskrit Vishvavidyalaya, Utkal University and Utkal University of Culture. Although the federal government in New Delhi has so far denied Orissa any educational institution of national importance, Orissa has witnessed the rise of several prominent academic institutions, mainly through private participation. The upcoming educational institutes include Vedanta University are National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneswar (NISER). The overall literacy rate in the state is 63.61% as per census of 2001 with male literacy at 75.95% and female literacy at 50.97%.

Food of Orissa

Food of Orissa is simple and delicious. But the pattern of food is same as that seen in the neighbouring states due to the proximity and similar geographical conditions.

Rice is the major food crops and the staple food for the people of Orissa. Vegetables which are grown in plenty too form and integral part of the meal in the state. A large number of people practice vegetarianism because of their deep religious nature. However, a significant proportion of people relish fish and other sea food delicacies like prawns, crabs and lobsters as these are found in plenty in the vast coastline of the state.

Oriya food is spicy and has less calorific value as it is cooked with little or no oil. Curd and coconut milk find great use in the diet of the people. People are also very much fond of sweets and many of the recipes are popular all over the country. 'Pancha-phutana' a magic mix of cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and kala zeera is used for tempering vegetables and dals.

Another traditional must is the tasting of the 'Mahaprasad' or the sacred food offered as 'Bhog' to Lord Jagannath. The temple kitchen is believed to be the largest kitchen in the world. Created on a cooking facility, which is highly efficient despite its age, 400 'supkars' (cooks) work around 200 hearths daily to feed over 10,000 people.

Arts & Culture of Orissa

The state has a very opulent cultural heritage, one of the richest in India, and the capital city of Bhubaneswar is known for the exquisite temples that dot its landscape.

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. The culture of the Adivasis (the original inhabitants of India) is an integral part of modern Orissan heritage. The popular cultural festival from Orissa includes the well-known annual Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannatha in Puri.

Oriya belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is closely related to Bengali and Assamese. A few tribal languages belonging to the Dravidian and Munda language families are still spoken by the Adivasis (original inhabitants) of the state. Odissi 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, circa 200 BC.

While in Orissa, a visitor cannot miss the rich handicrafts and the handloom textiles heritage that, the state boasts of. Especially noteworthy is the art of silver filigree work, tiepins, cuff links, picture-frames, handbags, colourful saris and Ikat fabrics in unique styles. Stone carving is widely practiced in and around Puri though, there are other smaller centers as well. Similarly, the paintings of Raghurajpur, a village near Puri, are also well known for their themes depicting various scenes from Indian mythology and those incorporating the three principle deities of the Puri temple-Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Other handicrafts of Orissa include horn-work of Cuttack, palm leaf etching, ivory work, making of mats, decorations made with paddy grains and utensil making.

Dance & Music of Orissa

Odissi is the major classical dance form of the state of Orissa and is believed to be one of the oldest classical dance forms of India. This dance extensively uses poetry of Jayadeva, who wrote on the life of Lord Krishna. Odissi classical dance is about the divine love of Krishna and his consort, Radha. Orissa has a varied heritage as far as folk dances and folk theatre go. An interesting example is Chhau, a form that combines effectively the elements of tribal, folk and classical dances. In many ways, the Chhau is more a non-verbal theatre. Orissa also has a very rich and fascinating theatre tradition, notably the Prahaladnatak, Jatra and Danda-natak, all of which incorporate elements of dance, music and mime in their larger than life characters, theatrical movements, dialogues, colorful costumes and sumptuous sets.

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