Orissa is located on the east coast of India. It is a little over sixty thousand square miles. The history of Orissa goes back over three thousand years. It differs from much of the history of the surrounding states. Orissa was originally named Odia, which was a more modern way of referring to the Odra tribes. The Odra tribes were located in the center of what is now known as Orissa.
Orissa used to belong to a kingdom called Kalinga. Kalinga was a very well known nation who had control over most of the sea routes located in the Bay of Bengal. The kingdom was very involved in trade through these sea routes.
A major war was fought in Orissa in 261 BC. The Kalinga nation went into battle against Emperor Ashoka’s troops. The battle was particularly fierce, and it led to Emperor Ashoka embracing the idea of a completely non-violent lifestyle.He later became responsible for spreading Buddhism throughout Asia.Orissa has been part of many dynasties and belonged to many countries.
After India gained its independence, the size of Orissa was doubled to its present size. Twenty four princely states were added. Orissa became one of India’s states in 1950.
Orissa is now home to over thirty million people. The largest city is Bhubaneswa, the capitol city. Bhubaneswa is home to an airport and it is easy to travel throughout Orissa from the capitol city. There is a large rail system as well as a road transportation system. Orissa is loosely divided into three regions; the coastal plains, the middle mountainous area, and the plateaus.
Most people in Orissa live in villages. Along the coast of Orissa are non-tribal people who speak the national language, Oriya. In the interior of the state, which is comprised of mostly hills and mountains, live indigenous people called Adivasis. About twenty-four percent of people in Orissa belong to this tribe. They are made up of over 62 ethnic communities. Their life is centered on the forest. They lead a very traditional life; however, their way of life has been threatened by the increased modernization of Orissa.
Most tribes in Orissa are considered slightly more primitive than the rest of Orissa. For instance, the most common way to take a bride in a tribal community is to capture her.In some tribes it is common for a woman to be purchased for marriage.However, current trends are leading more to arranged marriages. Although the tribes have a lot in common with each other, there is variance on how educated they are in the ways of the rest of the modern world.
The weather in Orissa is often rainy. There are many periods of heavy rain. Because of this, the land is particularly good for growing rice. Annual rainfall is approximately 1482 mm. There are often strong cyclones in the region. The weather is very pleasant between October and March and this is a time that many tourists visit the area. It is also a time where large numbers of migratory birds come to Orissa to make nests. Over 150 species of birds make Orissa their home throughout the year.
Although the main language spoken in Orissa is Oriya, there are eleven more main spoken languages. Orissa is home to three main religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Jainism is an ancient religion of India which has an emphasis in non-violence. It has had an influence on the culture of India for over three thousand years. Jains make up less than 1% of India’s population. There are also many followers of Islam and Christianity.
Orissa is known for its prehistoric cave painting sites. One is located in a hilly region named Gudahandi. Gudahandi means “pot with molasses” and it is thought that this area was named that due to its resemblance to a pot with a lid placed on top. There are red and black paintings inside several caves here, although they have not been studied deeply.
Similikhol cave holds a lot of meaning to the people of Jharbandh. In ancient times this thirteen foot high cave provided shelter to the primitive people of the area. Later, freedom fighters used the cave as a hideout from British soldiers. The cave is no longer even mentioned in government records, but local people have petitioned the government to protect the cave as a historical site.
Ushakothi is located deep inside a forest. The cave is quite large, measuring 200 feet in width and 150 feet in height. The paintings inside this cave have not been able to be deciphered yet.
Recently ancient coins were found in Orissa. These coins are considered to be some of the world’s oldest coins. Historians believe they might have come from 1000 BC.