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Facts about Orrisa

Area 1,55,707 sq km
Capital Bhubaneswar
Population 36,804,660
Principal Languages Oriya

History and Geography: Orrisa, the land of Oriyas, was known as Kalinga in ancient days. In the third century BC (261 BC) Ashoka the Mauryan emperor, sent a powerful force to conquer Kalinga which offered stubborn resistance. Kalinga was subdued but the carnage which followed, struck Ashoka with remorse. After the death of Ashoka, Kalinga regained its independence. In the second century BC, it become a powerful country under kharavela. With the death of Kharavela, Orrisa passed into obscurity. In the fourth century AD, Samudragupta invaded Orrisa which lay astride his path and overcame resistance offered by five of its kings. In 610 AD, Orrisa came under the sway of King Sasanka. After Sasank’s death, Harsha conquered Orrisa.

Orrisa had its own rulers (Ganga Dynasty) in the seventh century AD. In 795 AD, Mahasivagupta Yajati II came to the throne and with him began the most brilliant epoch in the history of Orrisa. He united Kalinga, Kangoda, Utkal and Koshala in the imperial tradition of Kharavela. Under the kings of Ganga dynasty Orrisa continued to flourish. Narasingha Dev of this dynasty is reputed to have built the unique Sun temple of Konark. From mid-16th Century, Orrisa was ruled successively by five Muslim kings till 1592, when Akbar annexed it into the Mughal empire. With the decline of the Mughal empire, Marathas occupied Orrisa. They continued to hold it till the British took over in 1803.

Orrisa was made into a separate province on 1 April 1936. After Independence princely states in and around Orrisa surrendered their sovereignty to the Government of India. By the States Merger (Governor’s provinces) Order, 1949 the princely states of Orrisa were completely merged with the state of Orrisa in January 1949. Although the state of Orrisa had many ancient times like Kalinga, Utkal and Udra, it is widely known as the land of Lord Jagannath. Lord Jagannath is intimately connected with the social, cultural and religious life of Orrisa. Jainism, Islam and Christianity have had considerable impact on the people of Orrisa in different periods.

Orrisa is situated on the north-eastern part of Indian peninsula. It is bound by the Bay of Bengal on the east, West Bengal on the north-east, Jharkhand on the north, Chhattisgarh on the the west and Andhra Pradesh on the south. The state may be broadly divided into four geographical regions-the northan plateau, central river of basin, eastern hills and coastal plains.

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