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Odisha: Top Facts About The Land Of Temples And A Unique Heritage

Indian State Odisha

States and UTs

Odisha: Top Facts About The Land Of Temples And A Unique Heritage

This eastern state is a must-visit destination for those interested in history and culture.

Odisha, the modern-day avatar of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga, is spread over an area of 1,55,707 sq. km.  It shares its borders with Jharkhand, West Bengal, TelanganaChhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Dr Harekrushna Mahatab was the first chief minister of the state which was created on 1 April 1936. He was also a member of the Constituent Assembly of India. The current incumbent, Naveen Patnaik, belongs to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). He was sworn in as Odisha’s 14th Chief Minister on 21 May 2014. The state’s Governor is Dr S C Jamir.

Quick Facts

  • Capital- Bhubaneshwar
  • Districts -30
  • Population – 41,974,218
  • Assembly seats -147
  • Lok Sabha seats – 21
  • Rajya Sabha seats – 10
  • Literacy rate – 73.4%
  • Sex ratio – 979
  • Life expectancy rate – 65.8 years
  • Infant mortality rate -51

Rich History

Odisha has been home to many kingdoms and tribal communities such as Kalinga, Utkal, Toshali, Kosala, Kangoda and Odra.The state’s name has been derived from the Sanskrit words, Odra Desha or Odra Vishay, meaning the land of Odras. The word Utkal is included in India’s National Anthem.

Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism after witnessing the devastating effects of the Kalinga War. The Shanti Stupa on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar stands close to the spot where this war was fought.

During the British rule, the capital of Odisha was Cuttack.

State Exclusives

  • Hirakud Dam, the ‘longest man-made dam in the world’ is located in western Odisha.
  • Chandipur beach, known as the “Hide and Seek beach” recedes several kilometres twice a day.
  • Dhanu Jatra is the ‘largest open air theatre in the world’ situated in Bargarh municipality.
  • The Jagannath Temple’s kitchen is considered to be among the largest kitchens in the world.
  • Chilka Lake is the world’s second largest lagoon and Asia’s biggest lagoon.
  • The test of missiles like Agni, Akash and Prithvi missile is conducted from the Dr APJ Kalam Island, also known as the ‘Wheeler Island’.
  • Rourkela Steel Plant (SAIL) is the first Indian steel plant to be integrated with the public sector.
  • The arribada on the coast of Orissa is one of the world’s largest turtle-nesting groundsfor the species Olive ridley.

Cultural Heritage

  • Odia is the state language though other languages like English and Hindi are also widely spoken.
  • Odissiis the main folk dance but other dances like Chhau, Dandanata and Chadya are also famous.
  • Ramchandi Beach in the state is famous for conducting the “India Surf Festival” which is a combination of yoga, art, music, nature and surfing.
  • The major rivers flowing in the state are Mahanadi, Brahmani, Subarnarekha, Baitrani and Budhabalanga.

(Read: Flavours of India: Bangaler Rasogolla and other Geographical Indications)


Odisha is famous for its temples. The Jagannath Temple in Puri is of India’s major pilgrimage centres. The annual Rath Yatra attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists.

The Sun Temple at Konark, known for its beautiful stone sculptures, is also called the Black Pagoda.Bhubaneswar is known for the Lingaraja Temple devoted to Lord Shiva.

“67 kinds of mammals, 18 varieties of reptiles, 81 species of birds, coexist in the deeply forest boundaries” of Lion Safari Nandankanan zoo. It also has some of the rare and endangered species like Black Panther, White Tiger, Gharial Crocodiles and Chinkara deers.

Trade and Commerce

Agriculture is the main occupation in the state providing employment to more than 50% of its population. The state produces one-tenth of the total rice produced in the country. Other major crops are jute, oilseeds, sugarcane, pulses, coconut, bajra, maize and turmeric.

The state is also known for freshwater and salt water fisheries in addition to its steel industry.

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