Odisha, also known as Orissa, is an Indian state, that is located in the eastern part of the country. It is the 8th largest state in India with respect to area, and the 11th largest with respect to population.
The land where Odisha is situated today was occupied by King Ashoka of Mauryan dynasty in 261 BCE. Between 335 CE to 375 CE, the land was said to have been occupied and ruled by Samudragupta of Gupta empire, followed by some more dynasties in the medieval period.
The colonial era saw the establishment (by the Portuguese) of the first factories in Odisha. In 19th century, the British rule took over the state along with the rest of the country and a year before independence (in 1946) Bhubaneshwar became the official capital of Odisha, replacing Cuttack which was the capital of the state until then.
There are about 1048 cities and towns in Odisha, which are grouped into 30 districts, depending on their location. These districts are further divided into 3 revenue divisions in order to streamline their governance. These 3 revenue divisions are Cuttack (Central Division), Sambalpur (Northern Division), Berhampur (Southern Division) .
The capital city of Odisha is Bhubaneshwar, which falls under Khordha district in the central division of Cuttack.
Odisha has a population of 4.71crore (as of 2020), out of which 93.63% are Hindus, around 2.17% are Muslims, 2.77% are Christians and less than 1% are Sikhs or Jains.
Odisha’s culture is an amalgamation of different castes and tribes, and also certain traditions acquired from rulers and empires that ruled the land decades and centuries ago, and survived through the heritage.
The state of Odisha has the third largest population of India’s Scheduled Tribes. The state is home to around 62 different tribal communities!
Odisha also has a rich and glorious tradition of music and dance. Both Hindustani and Carnatic classical music forms are popular here. Odissi is the local dance form of the state, which is popular across India, and considered among the best classical dance forms in the country.
Among festivals, Durga Puja is a popular one, celebrated throughout the state, especially in Cuttack. Apart from this, non-hindu festivals such as Eid, Moharram and Christmas are also widely celebrated.
The official language of Odisha is Oriya (or Odia), which is spoken across the state. Apart from this, 21 different tribal languages based on Odia are spoken by the tribal communities here. Within these, there are more than 70 dialects and seven of these tribal languages even have their own scripts!
Odisha’s cuisine bears some similarities to both North Indian and South Indian cuisines, acquiring the influence as it has borders on both sides.
Rice is the staple food in the main course, and a lot of pulses of different kinds (Tur, Masoor, Moong, Horse gram and Bengal gram) are used in many dishes such as Dalma and Dali. Lot of vegetables (including many varieties of greens) and Ghee (clarified butter) are also used in most dishes.
Non-vegetarian dishes are mostly prepared with mustard paste or mustard oil with primary ingredients being fish, egg, chicken and mutton.
Sweet dishes include Kheeri (rice pudding) and Pithas (Pancake shaped fritters or steamed cakes of flour).
Trains, flights and buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Odisha. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.
Airports – Odisha has 1 International airport (connecting to various cities across India as well as other parts of the world), and 14 domestic airports (connecting to other cities within India only).
Railway Stations – Odisha has 300 train terminals/railway stations throughout its area, that connect to other cities and towns within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the major train terminals and junctions in the state are:
Bus Terminals – Odisha has its own line of state-run OSRTC (Odisha State Road Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at OSRTC stops/terminals that are available in every major district and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in the state are located in almost every city and town - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.
Odisha has many popular temples with amazing architecture and artwork. These include – the Konark Sun Temple (in Bhubaneshwar), Puri Jagannath Temple, and Lingaraja Temple.
Apart from temples the state also has historical monuments, beaches and wildlife sanctuaries (like Tikarpada Wildlife Sanctuary, Talasari beach, Cuttack city, Puri), and so on.
Water sports and activities are rampant in Odisha. Some thrilling water activities and things to do in Odisha for adventure lovers are -
Odisha has many historical gems to see. Some popular sites of historical significance in the state are –