States of India
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
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.
Government of Orissa
Shri Naveen Patnaik is the Chief Minister of Orissa. The son of former Chief
Minister of Orissa and Gandhi era freedom fighter Biju Patnaik, he is member of
the Biju Janata Dal Party in Orissa.
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
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
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
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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