Knowledge Corner

Odisha is one of the 29 states of India, located in the eastern coast. It is surrounded by the states of West Bengal to the north-east, Jharkhand to the north, Chhattisgarh to the west and north-west, and Andhra Pradesh to the south and south-west. Odisha has 485 kilometres (301 mi) of coastline along the Bay of Bengal on its east, from Balasore to Malkangiri. It is the 9th largest state by area, and the 11th largest by population. Odia (formerly known as Oriya) is the official and most widely spoken language, spoken by 33.2 million according to the 2001 Census.

The ancient kingdom of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in 261 BCE resulting in the Kalinga War, coincides with the borders of modern-day Odisha. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April 1936, as a province in British India, and consisted predominantly of Odia-speaking regions. April 1 is celebrated as Odisha Day. The region is also known as Utkala and is mentioned in India’s national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”. Cuttack was made the capital of the region by Anantavarman Chodaganga in c. 1135, after which the city was used as the capital by many rulers, through the British era until 1948. Thereafter, Bhubaneswar became the capital of Odisha.


The term “Odisha” is derived from the ancient Prakrit word “Odda Visaya” (also “Udra Bibhasha” or “Odra Bibhasha”) as in the Tirumalai inscription of Rajendra Chola I, which is dated to 1025. Sarala Das, who translated the Mahabharata into the Odia language in the 15th century, calls the region Odra Rashtra and Odisha. The inscriptions of Kapilendra Deva of the Gajapati Kingdom(1435–67) on the walls of temples in Puri call the region Odisha or Odisha Rajya.

Prehistoric Acheulian tools dating to Lower Paleolithic era have been discovered in various places in the region, implying an early settlement by humans. Kalinga has been mentioned in ancient texts like Mahabharata, Vayu Purana and Mahagovinda Suttanta. The Sabar people of Odisha have also been mentioned in the Mahabharata. Baudhayanamentions Kalinga as not yet being influenced by Vedic traditions, implying it followed mostly tribal traditions.

Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty conquered Kalinga in the bloody Kalinga War in 261 BCE, which was the eighth year of his reign. According to his own edicts, in that war about 100,000 people were killed, 150,000 were captured and several more were affected. The resulting bloodshed and suffering of the war is said to have deeply affected Ashoka. He turned into a pacifist and converted to Buddhism.

By c. 150 CE, emperor Kharavela, who was possibly a contemporary of Demetrius I of Bactria, conquered a major part of the Indian sub-continent. Kharavela was aJain ruler. He also built the monastery atop the Udayagiri hill. Subsequently, the region was ruled by monarchs, such as Samudragupta and Shashanka. It was also a part of Harsha’s empire.

Later, the kings of the Somavamsi dynasty began to unite the region. By the reign of Yayati II, c. 1025 CE, they had integrated the region into a single kingdom. Yayati II is supposed to have built the Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar. They were replaced by the Eastern Ganga dynasty. Notable rulers of the dynasty were Anantavarman Chodaganga, who began construction on the present-day Jagannath Temple in Puri (c. 1135), and Narasimhadeva I, who constructed the Konark temple (c. 1250).

The Eastern Ganga Dynasty was followed by the Gajapati Kingdom. The region resisted integration into the Mughal empire until 1568, when it was conquered bySultanate of Bengal. Mukunda Deva, who is considered the last independent king of Kalinga, was defeated and was killed in battle by a rebel Ramachandra Bhanja. Ramachandra Bhanja himself was killed by Bayazid Khan Karrani. In 1591, Man Singh I, then governor of Bihar, led an army to take Odisha from the Karranis of Bengal. They agreed to treaty because their leader Qutlu Khan Lohani had recently died. But, they then broke the treaty by attacking the temple town of Puri. Man Singh returned in 1592 and pacified the region. In 1751, the Nawab of Bengal Alivardi Khan ceded the region to the Maratha Empire.

The British had occupied the Northern Circars comprising the southern coast of Odisha as a result of the 2nd Carnatic War by 1760, and incorporated them into the Madras Presidency gradually. In 1803, the British ousted the Marathas from the Puri-Cuttack region of Odisha during the Second Anglo-Maratha War. The northern and western districts of Odisha were incorporated into the Bengal Presidency.

The Orissa famine of 1866 caused an estimated 1 million deaths. Following this, large-scale irrigation projects were undertaken. In 1903, the Utkal Sammilani organisation was founded to demand the unification of Odia-speaking regions into one state. On 1 April 1912, the Bihar and Orissa Province was formed. On 1 April 1936, Bihar and Orissa were split into separate provinces. The new province of Orissa came into existence on a linguistic basis during the British rule in India, with Sir John Austen Hubback as the first governor. Following India’s independence, on 15 August 1947, 27 princely states signed the document to join Orissa.


Odisha lies between the latitudes 17.780N and 22.730N, and between longitudes 81.37E and 87.53E. The state has an area of 155,707 km2, which is 4.87% of total area of India, and a coastline of 450 km. In the eastern part of the state lies the coastal plain. It extends from the Subarnarekha River in the north to the Rushikulya river in the south. The lake Chilika is part of the coastal plains. The plains are rich in fertile silt deposited by the six major rivers flowing into the Bay of Bengal: Subarnarekha,Budhabalanga, Baitarani, Brahmani, Mahanadi and Rushikulya.


According to the 2011 census of India, the total population of Odisha is 41,947,358, of which 21,201,678 (50.54%) are male and 20,745,680 (49.46%) are female, or 978 females per 1000 males. This represents a 13.97% increase over the population in 2001. The population density is 269 per km2.

The dominant ethnic group is the Odia people, and Odia is the official language; it is spoken as a native language by 81.8% of the population. Linguistic minorities in the state are Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Telugu, Santali. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes form 16.53% and 22.13% of the state population, constituting 38.66% of the State population. Some of the important tribes are Santhal, Bonda, Munda, Oraon, Kandha, Mahali and Kora.

The literacy rate is 73%, with 82% of males and 64% of females being literate, according to the 2011 census.The proportion of people living below the poverty line in 1999–2000 was 47.15% which is nearly double the Indian average of 26.10%.


The majority (over 94%) of people in the state of Odisha are Hindu and there is also a rich cultural heritage in the state. For example, Odisha is home to several Hindu figures. Sant Bhima Bhoi was a leader of the Mahima sect movement. Sarala Das, a Hindu Khandayat, was the translator of the epic Mahabharatain Odia. Chaitanya Das was a Buddhistic-Vaishnava and writer of the Nirguna Mahatmya. Jayadeva was the author of the Gita Govinda.

The Odisha Temple Authorisation Act of 1948 empowered the Government of Odisha to have Hindu temples open for all Hindus including the Harijans.

Perhaps the oldest scripture of Odisha is the Madala Panji from the Puri Temple believed from 1042 AD. Famous Hindu Odia scripture includes the 16th-centuryBhagabata of Jagannatha Dasa In the modern times Madhusudan Rao was a major Odia writer, who was a Brahmo Samajist and shaped modern Odia literature at the start of the 20th century. Christians in Odisha account for about 2.8% of the population while Odia Muslims account for 2.2% as per census figures of 2001. The Sikh, Buddhist and Jaincommunities together account for 0.1% of the population. Large sections of the indigenous tribes follow Sarnaism, their indigenous natural religion, but subscribe as Hindus in the census.

Skill Test

1. As per the 2011 census what was the population density of Odisha?
2. On which date was Orissa separated from Bihar?
3. In which year the state of Orissa was separated from Bihar?
4. In which district of Odisha is the Diamond deposit been discovered?
5. Baitarani River forms a boundary between Odisha and which state?
6. Name the state that lies to the west of Orissa?
7. Who built the famous Konark temple of Orissa?
8. In which year Bhubaneshwar became the capital of Odisha?
9. What is the official language of Orissa?
10. In which year did Gandhiji visited Odisha for the 1st time?
11. What is the capital of Orissa?
12. What is the total area of Orissa?
13. Which among the following also is a world heritage site?
14. Which is the state bird of Odisha?
15. Gahirmatha Marine wild Sanctuary is the home to which endangered species?
16. Which state lies to the south of Orissa?
17. Which of the following is the Gem of Odisha Culture?
18. Name the highest point of Orissa?
19. Who is known as the Gandhi of Odisha
20. Which water body lies to the east of the state of Orissa?
21. Name the largest lake in Orissa?