Orissa, is a state located on the east coast of India.
Orissa is a littoral state of India with a long coastline and a storehouse of mineral wealth. Because of its mineral wealth and strategic location it attracts foreign investment in steel, aluminum, power, refineries, and infrastructure. Many foreign steel companies, such as Arcelor Mittal and POSCO, have invested money to make steel plants in the state. Orissa is also emerging as a player in the outsourcing IT (Information Technology) and IT services industry. The total planned investment in the state is projected to be 90 billion U.S. dollars. However, there are environmental concerns and land acquisitions for some of these projects have been opposed by the local people.
The relatively unindented coastline (c.200 mi/320 km long) lacks good ports, except for the deepwater facility at Paradip. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi River delta, is exceedingly fertile. Orissa is home to the Hirakud Dam, one of the longest dams in the world. Rainfall is heavy and regular, and two crops of rice (by far the most important cereal) are grown annually.
The coastal alluvial plain is inhabited by the non-tribal speakers of the Oriya language. The interior, inhabited largely by the indigenous people known as Adivasis is hilly and mountainous. Orissa is subject to intense cyclones; in October 1999, Tropical Cyclone 05B caused severe damage and some 10,000 deaths.
Orissa has several popular tourist destinations. Puri, with the Jagannatha's temple near the sea, and Konark, with the Sun Temple, are visited by thousands of tourists every year. The Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar, the Jagannatha Temple of Puri,the Sun Temple of Konark and the Barabati Fort of Cuttack are important in the archaeological history of India.
Orissa has a history spanning a period of over 3000 years. The history of Orissa is in many ways atypical from that of the northern plains and many of the common generalizations that are made about Indian history do not seem to apply to the Oriya region. The word Oriya is an anglicised version of Odia which itself is a modern name for the Odra or Udra tribes that inhabited the central belt of modern Orissa. Orissa has also been the home of the Kalinga and Utkal nations that played a particularly prominent role in the region's history, and one of the earliest references to the ancient Kalingas appears in the writings of Vedic chroniclers. In the 6th C. BC, Vedic Sutrakara Baudhayana mentions Kalinga as being beyond the Vedic fold, indicating that Brahminical influences had not yet touched the land. Unlike some other parts of India, tribal customs and traditions played a significant role in shaping political structures and cultural practices right up to the 15th C. when Brahminical influences triumphed over competing traditions and caste differentiation began to inhibit social mobility and erode what had survived of the ancient republican tradition.
A major turning point in world history took place in Orissa. The famous Kalinga War that led emperor Ashoka to embrace non-violence and the teachings of Buddha was fought here in 261 BC. Ashoka's military campaign against Kalinga was one of the bloodiest in Mauryan history on account of the fearless and heroic resistance offered by the Kalingas to the mighty armies of the expanding Mauryan empire. Perhaps on account of their unexpected bravery, emperor Ashoka was compelled to issue two edicts specifically calling for a just and benign administration in Kalinga. Later on, Asoka was instrumental in spreading Buddhist philosophy all over Asia.
In the third century BC, Kalinga flourished as a powerful kingdom under the Jaina king, Kharavela. He ruled all the way down south to include parts of the Tamil country. He built the superb monastic caves at Udayagiri and Khandagiri. Subsequently, the kingdom was ruled under various monarchs, such as Samudragupta and Sasanka. It also was a part of Harsha's empire. In 795 AD, the king Yayati Kesari I of Kesari or Soma dynasty united Kalinga, Kosala and Utkala into a single empire. He is also supposed to have built the first Jagannath Temple at Puri although the current structure of the temple is entirely different and was built by Kings Choda Gangadeva and Ananga Bhimadeva of the Ganga Dynasty in the 12th century. The famous Lingaraja temple in Bhubaneshwar was started by Keshari dynasty king Yayati Keshari III and completed by his son Lalatendu Keshari in the 10th century. King Narasimha Dev is reputed to have built the magnificent Sun Temple at Konark. Although now largely in ruins, the temple may have rivaled the Taj Mahal in splendour.
The Moguls conquered Orissa in 1576The last Hindu Emperor of Orissa Gajapati Mukunda Deva was defeated and was killed in the bettle of Gohiratikiri.The Mughals divided Orissa into two parts i.e. Garjat and Mughalbandi.The coastal plain of Orissa from Medinipur to Rajahmundry came under Mughalbandi rule which was broadly divided into six parts as Jaleshwar Sarkar,Bhadrakh Sarkar,Cuttack Sarkar,Chicacole (Srikakulam) Sarkar,Kalinga Dandapat and Rajamundry Sarkar or Godavari Province.The Garjat areas of Orissa's Central, Northern, Western & Southern hilly areas were ruled independently by the Hindu kings.These Hindu kings were paying their tribute to the Mughal Subahdar of Orissa who was residing at Cuttack.The Nizam of Hyderabad was occupied the area between Rajahmundry to Srikakulam in 16th century.The rest part ofOrissa including Mughalbandi & Garjat areas were subsequently ceded to the Marathas in 1751.
In 1803, the British under the British East India Company occupied Orissa after the Second Anglo-Maratha War. In 1823, Orissa was divided into the three districts of Cuttack, Balasore and Puri, and a number of native tributary states. Orissa was administered as part of the Bengal Presidency. Following famine and floods in 1866, large scale irrigation projects were undertaken in the last half of the 19th century. The coastal section was separated from Bengal and made into the Province of Bihar and Orissa in 1912, in response to local agitation for a separate state for Oriya-speaking peoples. In 1936, Bihar and Orissa were split into separate provinces.
Following Indian independence, the area of Orissa was almost doubled and the population was increased by a third by the addition of 30 former princely states.But unfortunately the Oriya speaking princly states of Saraikela and Kharsawan( now in the state of Jharkhand ) & Oriya speaking regions of Singhbhum of Jharkhand ,Medinipur of West Bengal, Raigarh,Sarangarh,Bindhranawagarh & parts of Bastar district of Chhattisgarh & Srikakulam & parts of Vizianagarm & Vishakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh remained outside the territory of the State of Orissa. In 1950, Orissa became a constituent state in the Union of India.
The official language of the state, spoken by the majority of the people is Oriya. Oriya belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family, and 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. The state has a very opulent cultural heritage, one of the richest in India. 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. Orissa is also known as Odisha. The culture of the Adivasis (the original inhabitants of India) is an integral part of modern Orissan heritage.
Odissi or Orissi 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, possibly written circa 200 BC. However, the dance form nearly went extinct during the British period, only to be revived after India's independence by a few proponents, such as Guru Deba Prasad Das, Guru Mayadhar Raut, Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Mahadev Rout, Guru Raghu Dutta, and Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra. Odissi classical dance is about the divine love of Krishna and his consort Radha, mostly drawn from compositions by the notable Oriya poet Jayadeva, who lived in the twelfth century AD.
Other cultural attractions include the Jagannatha Temple in Puri, known for its annual Rath Yatra or Car Festival, the unique and beautiful applique artwork of Pipili, silver filigree ornamental works from Cuttack, the Patta chitras (palm leaf paintings), famous stone utensils of Nilgiri (Balasore) and various tribal influenced cultures. The Sun temple at Konark is famous for its architectural splendor.