Odisha: Rich Culture, Historic Heritage and Prosperous Future

OdishaRich Culture, Historic Heritage and Prosperous Future

Situated in Eastern India, Odisha, previously known as Orissa, is the eighth-largest state by area and the eleventh-largest by population, with over 41 million residents. It shares its borders with Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana and boasts a coastline stretching 485 kilometres along the Bay of Bengal.

Odisha's vibrant history traces back to the ancient kingdom of Kalinga, famously invaded by Emperor Ashoka in 261 BCE, which led to the historic Kalinga War.

Modern Odisha came into being on April 1, 1936, with Cuttack as its capital until 1948, when Bhubaneswar took over. With a flourishing economy ranked 16th in India, Odisha is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and robust economic growth. 

This article aims to delve deeper into Odisha's culture, history, economic landscape and more.

Historical Landscape

Historical inscriptions show that the name "Odisha" originated from the ancient terms "Odda Visaya" or "Udra Bibhasha." In 2011, the English and Hindi renderings of "Orissa" were officially changed to "Odisha," and the language name from "Oriya" to "Odia."


The history of Odisha can be traced back to prehistoric times, with archaeological discoveries revealing evidence of early human settlements. Texts such as the Mahabharata and Vayu Purana mention Kalinga, an ancient kingdom in the region.

Notably, the region witnessed significant events like the Kalinga War, during which Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty embraced Buddhism after the war’s devastation.

Throughout centuries, Odisha saw the rule of various dynasties, including the Somavamsi and Eastern Ganga, contributing to the region's cultural and architectural heritage, exemplified by landmarks such as the Lingaraj and Konark temples.

During British rule, it faced challenges like famines and witnessed socio-political movements such as the Utkal Sammilani, advocating for linguistic unity.

On April 1, 1936, Odisha emerged as a separate province based on linguistic identity. Post-independence, princely states merged with Odisha, leading to its present-day formation.

Assam: A Rich Blend of Historical Narratives, Culture, and Diversity

Diverse Geography

Odisha, sprawling across 155,707 square kilometers between latitudes 17.780N and 22.730N, and longitudes 81.37E and 87.53E, showcases a 450-kilometer coastline, encompassing 4.87% of India's total landmass.

Its varied geography encompasses coastal plains, mountain ranges, plateaus, and rolling uplands. Within its borders lie scenic treasures such as the Chilika Lake and Deomali Peak, towering at 1,672 meters in Koraput district.


The state witnesses four distinct seasons: winter, pre-monsoon, southwest monsoon, and northeast monsoon, with temperatures and rainfall varying across the region.

Odisha's diverse habitats, spanning forests, plateaus, and coastal zones, foster a rich tapestry of biodiversity. Despite facing challenges like deforestation and urbanisation, conservation initiatives persist.

The state boasts exceptional ecosystems, including evergreen forests that nurture over 130 species of orchids and a myriad of tree varieties such as Sal and bamboo.

These forests serve as habitats for a diverse array of wildlife, contributing to the state's abundant biodiversity. Protected wildlife reserves like Simlipal National Park and Bhitarkanika National Park are home to species like the Bengal tiger, elephants, crocodiles, and diverse bird species.

Chilika Lake, a brackish water haven, attracts migratory birds during winter months and shelters endangered species like the Irrawaddy dolphin. Nearby Satapada offers enchanting dolphin-watching experiences, enhancing Odisha's natural splendour.

Governance and Administration

Odisha follows a parliamentary system of government, with major political parties including the Biju Janata Dal, Indian National Congress, and Bharatiya Janata Party.

Naveen Patnaik of Biju Janata Dal serves as the Chief Minister of state since 2000. The state legislature consists of 147 elected members and operates as a unicameral body. 

The administrative setup of Odisha is divided into 30 districts, which are further grouped into three revenue divisions: North, Central, and South. Each division has ten districts and has a Revenue Divisional Commissioner as its administrative head.

Local governance is decentralised, with collectors and district magistrates overseeing district-level administration and panchayats managing rural affairs. 

Bhubaneswar is the capital and largest city, with other major urban centres, including Cuttack, Rourkela, Berhampur, and Sambalpur. Municipalities and corporations handle urban governance across various cities and towns in Odisha.

Economic Overview

Odisha's economy is experiencing robust growth, particularly after the Covid pandemic, surpassing the national GDP growth average. Spearheading the Smart Cities initiative, Bhubaneswar, the capital, has attracted substantial investment.

Its abundance of natural resources and strategic coastal location has garnered interest from foreign investors, particularly in sectors such as steel, power, petrochemicals, and IT.

Bhubaneswar and Rourkela Steel Plant
Bhubaneswar and Rourkela Steel PlantBhubaneswar and Rourkela Steel Plant

Significant projects like the Rourkela Steel Plant and upcoming ventures by global industry leaders like Arcelor-Mittal, Nippon Steel Corporation, and Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Company underscore Odisha's appeal to investors.

Additionally, the state ranked as the second most attractive domestic investment destination in 2009, with diverse sectors witnessing substantial investment inflows.

The recent Make in Odisha Conclave 2022 further bolstered the state's economic outlook, with investment proposals totalling a remarkable 10.5 trillion. These proposals promise to create employment opportunities for over a million individuals. With this momentum, Odisha is set on a trajectory to achieve the status of a trillion-dollar economy by 2030.

Transportation Infrastructure

Odisha boasts a well-established transportation infrastructure encompassing roads, railways, airports, and seaports. As a vital hub, Bhubaneswar seamlessly connects with the rest of India via air, rail, and road networks.

The government has ambitious transportation plans, including the Mega Metro Rail Project linking Puri, Bhubaneswar, and Cuttack. Moreover, a new expressway is being developed to connect Bhubaneswar's Biju Patnaik International Airport with the proposed Shri Jagannath International Airport in Puri.

Rourkela Airport and Paradip Port
Rourkela Airport and Paradip Port Rourkela Airport and Paradip Port

Presently, the state operates three airports, with further expansion plans underway, notably including the recently operational Rourkela Airport. In maritime trade, Odisha's coastline boasts major ports like Paradip, complemented by minor ports such as Dhamara and Gopalpur.

The railway network, primarily managed by the East Coast Railway, ensures seamless connectivity between Odisha's major cities and the rest of the nation, facilitating both daily and weekly train services.

Diverse Demographics

Odisha, with a population of 41,974,218 according to the 2011 census, shows a slight male majority at 50.54%. The literacy rate stands at 73%, with notable gender disparities, with 82% of males and 64% of females being literate.

However, the state has made strides in poverty reduction, with a significant drop from 57.15% in 2004–2005 to 32.6% today. 

The life expectancy in Odisha is 61.64 years, with a birth rate of 23.2 per 1,000 people and a death rate of 9.1 per 1,000 people annually. The state's Human Development Index is 0.606 as of 2018. In terms of religion, Hinduism dominates, accounting for about 94% of the population, while Christians make up 2.8%. 

Odia serves as the official language, spoken by 82.70% of the population, with various dialects like Sambalpuri and Cuttacki. Additionally, the state is home to diverse tribal communities, each with its own language, though many are at risk of extinction due to increasing contact with outsiders and migration.

Manipur: Discovering Northeast India's Cultural Gem

Education and Sports Overview

Odisha boasts a rich array of educational institutions, encompassing esteemed universities and specialised institutes.

Among the notable establishments are the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bhubaneswar, along with the National Institute of Technology in Rourkela.

Admission to these institutes, particularly for engineering programs, is facilitated through the Odisha Joint Entrance Examination, while the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test is applicable for medical courses.

Indian Institute of Technology in Bhubaneswar
Indian Institute of Technology in BhubaneswarIndian Institute of Technology in Bhubaneswar

Furthermore, Odisha has made significant strides in sports, serving as the host for international events such as the Men's Hockey World Cup in 2018 and the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2022.

Kalinga Stadium
Kalinga StadiumKalinga Stadium

The state features top-notch sports stadiums like the Kalinga Stadium and the Barabati Stadium, along with High-Performance Centres dedicated to nurturing talent and fostering various sports disciplines.

Cultural Tapestry

Odisha's vibrant cultural tapestry shines through its diverse cuisine and dynamic dance forms. The kitchen of the Shri Jagannath Temple in Puri, recognised as the largest in the world, serves traditional meals to thousands daily, employing age-old cooking techniques.

Pahala rasagola, a syrupy dessert, and Chhenapoda, a sweet delicacy originating from Nayagarh, stand as iconic dishes representing Odisha's culinary heritage. The state's culinary excellence is further exemplified by dishes like Dalma, a flavorful blend of dal and vegetables.

Cultural Tapestry
Cultural TapestryCultural Tapestry

In addition to its culinary delights, Odisha is celebrated for its classical dance form, Odissi. With a history spanning over 2,000 years, Odissi is among India's oldest dance traditions, cherished for its grace and elegance.

Alongside Odissi, other traditional dances like Ghumura, Chhau, and Gotipua showcase the diverse cultural heritage of Odisha, adding vibrancy to its artistic landscape.

Must Visit Tourist Attractions

Odisha, a treasure trove of tourist attractions, caters to every visitor's preferences. The state boasts splendid temples such as the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar and the Jagannath Temple in Puri.

From the architectural marvels of the Konark Sun Temple to the spiritual sanctuaries of Maa Sarala and Maa Tarini, Odisha offers a wide array of experiences.

Must Visit Tourist Attractions
Must Visit Tourist AttractionsMust Visit Tourist Attractions

For nature enthusiasts, Bhitarkanika's mangroves and the bird sanctuary of Chilika Lake are must-visit destinations. Hill stations like Daringbadi and tranquil beaches like Chandipur beckon travellers seeking relaxation amidst natural beauty.

The Hirakud Dam and Samaleswari Temple stand as testaments to engineering and cultural brilliance.

In the southern region, the Taratarini Temple and the revered Deomali Peak await pilgrims and adventure seekers alike. Despite its diverse offerings, Odisha's share of foreign tourist arrivals remains modest, indicating the untapped potential of this eastern Indian gem.

Exploring the Essence of Haryana

Female Entrepreneurs

No stories found.

Marketing Tips

No stories found.

Software's for Small Business

No stories found.
StartupCity Magazine