Orissa, officially spelled Odisha, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in 261 BCE. The modern state of Orissa was established on April 1, 1936, as a province in British India and consisted predominantly of Oriya speakers. April 1 is therefore celebrated as Utkala Dibasa (foundation day of Orissa). Cuttack remained the capital of the state for over eight centuries until April 13, 1948 when Bhubaneswar was officially declared as the new capital of Orissa, and still is the present capital of this state.
Oriya is the language spoken by the majority of the people of the state. English is widely used for official purpose and Oriya is used as regional language. Oriya belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family, and is closely related to Bengali and Assamese. A few tribal languages belonging to the Dravidian and Munda language families are spoken by the Adivasis (original inhabitants) of the state. The state has a very opulent cultural heritage, one of the richest in India. The capital city of Bhubaneshwar is known for the exquisite temples that dot its landscape. The classical dance form Odissi originated in Orissa. Contemporary Orissa has a proud cultural heritage that arose due to the intermingling of three great religious traditions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The culture of the Adivasis is an integral part of modern Oriya heritage.
Orissa has abundant natural resources and a large coastline. It contains a fifth of India's coal, a quarter of its iron ore, a third of its bauxite reserves and most of the chromite. Rourkela Steel Plant was the first integrated steel plant in the Public Sector in India. It receives unprecedented investments in steel, aluminium, power, refineries and ports. India's topmost IT consulting firms, including Mahindra Satyam, TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), MindTree Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Infosys have large branches in Orissa. IBM, Syntel and Wipro are setting up development centers in Orissa. So far, two of the S&P CNX 500 conglomerates have corporate offices in Orissa, for example, National Aluminium (2005 gross income INR.51,162 million) and Tata Sponge Iron (2005 gross income INR.2,044 million).
Flood and cyclone are the major hurdles in Orissa's development as the important districts are situated near to the Bay of Bengal. In the five-year period between 2004 and 2005 and 2008–09, Orissa's GDP has grown by a stunning 8.74% way beyond the definition of 7% growth. It should be noted that the all-India growth during this period was 8.49%.In this period, Orissa is the fourth fastest growing state, just behind Gujarat, Bihar, Uttarakhand.
The Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneshwar boasts of a 150-foot (46 m) high deul while the Jagannath Temple at Puri is about 200 feet (61 m) high and it dominates the skyline of the town. Only a portion of the Sun Temple at Konark, the largest of the temples of the Golden triangle exists today, and it is still staggering in size. It stands out as a masterpiece in Orissa architecture. Orissa is also well known as a Buddhist and Jain pilgrimage destination. North-east of Cuttack, about 10 km from Bhubaneshwar, there are Buddhist relics and ruins at the three hilltop complexes of Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, which still bear witness to Buddhism's fruitful tryst with this region until well into the 13th century.
Orissa's varying topography – from the wooded Eastern Ghats to the fertile river basin – has proven ideal for evolution of compact and unique ecosystems. Thereby creating such treasure troves of flora and fauna that even seem inviting to many migratory species of birds and reptiles. Bhitar Kanika National Park is famous for its second largest mangrove ecosystem. The bird sanctuary in Chilika (Asia's biggest brackish water lake) and the tiger reserve and waterfalls in Simlipal National Park are integral part of any eco tours in Orissa, arranged by Tourism of Orissa.
Odissi (Orissi) dance and music are classical art forms. Odissi is the oldest surviving dance form in India on the basis of archaeological evidence. Odissi has a long, unbroken tradition of 2,000 years, and finds mention in the Natyashastra of Bharatamuni, possibly written circa 200 BC. However, the dance form nearly went extinct during the British period, only to be revived after India's independence by a few gurus, such as Guru Deba Prasad Das, Guru Mayadhar Raut, Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Mahadev Rout, Guru Raghu Dutta, and Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra. Odissi classical dance is about the love of Krishna and his supposed consort Radha, mostly drawn from compositions by the notable Oriya poet Jayadeva, who lived in the twelfth century AD.
Ghumura Dance (or Ghumra Dance) is one of the most sought and leading folk dance form in Orissa. It is classified as folk dance as the dress code of Ghumura resembles more like a tribal dance, but recent researchers argue different mudra and dance form present in Ghumura bear more resemblance with other classical dance form of India.
Being a part of the rich culture of Orissa, its music is also as much charming and colorful. Orissi music is more than two thousand five hundred years old and comprises a number of categories. Of these, the five broad ones are Tribal Music, Folk Music, Light Music, Light-Classical Music and Classical Music. Anyone who is trying to understand the culture of Orissa must take into account its music, which essentially forms a part of its legacy.
In the ancient times, there were poets who wrote the lyrics of poems and songs that were sung to rouse the religious feelings of people. It was by the eleventh century that the music of Orissa, in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari, underwent transformation and was converted into the classical style. Folk music like Jhumar, yogi gita, kendara gita, dhuduki badya, prahallad natak, palla, sankirtan, mogal tamasa, gitinatya, kandhei nacha, kela nacha, ghoda nacha, danda nacha and daskathia are popular in Orissa. Almost every tribal group has their own distinct song and dance style.
Major cities of Orissa like Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Brahmapur, Sambalpur are well connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kanpur, Patna, Howrah, Secunderabad, Guwahati, Amritsar, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Jodhpur by direct daily trains and weekly trains. Most of the railway network in Orissa lies under the jurisdiction of the East Coast Railway with headquarters at Bhubaneswar and some parts under South Eastern Railway.
- Port of Dhamara
- Port of Gopalpur (Commenced Operation From January 2007 as Seasonal Port)
- Port of Paradip