Kalinga to Odisha

01 Apr 2017  Sat

The chronicles of Odisha date back to antiquity; in ancient India, it had many titles like Kalinga, Utkal and Odra; it was the time when the boundary of this state extended far from the present one. The frequent reference of Kalinga in Mahabharata and later during the time of Mahavir and Buddha help us recognise its political and geographical significance.

The history of Odisha can be traced through ancient literature and epics like Kapil Samhita and Prachi Mahatmaya. Jain literature also contains a description of Kalinga in ‘Avasyaka-Niryukti' and ‘Harivamsa' even the Buddhist scripture ‘Digha Niyaa' mentions about ‘Kalinga-Rattha' ( Kalinga Rashtra). The 'Arthasastra' of Kautilya and literature of Ganga period shed light on Odisha's history. Many travellers who visited this land mention about its culture and people like Pliny, Diodorus, Curtius, Plutarch and also Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang.

Odisha’s political history came into view during Nanda dynasty of Magadha. Later on, it was conquered by the Mauryan King Ashok who mentions about the war with Kalinga in his 13th rock edit. It was a conquest which was conquered but changed the heart of the conqueror, affecting not only India but also entire Asia.

Many dynasties ruled this land, due to which Odisha's coinages have many variations. Different coins which can be found in this region are Punch- marked coins, Puri-Kushan coins, Gupta coins, Nala coins and Ganga ruler coins. In the medieval period, the Mughal coins of Emperor Shahjahan and Aurangzeb have been found in Katak mint (In Odisha) and later on Maratha coins from the same mint.

East India Company merged the coast of Odisha in Madras Presidency after the Carnatic Wars. In 1865-66 a great famine hit the region of Odisha and a quarter of the population died of starvation. People started expressing their dislike for the foreign administration in the form of revolts.

Today on 1st April 1936, it was separated from Bengal, Madras and Central Provision of the British India. A state with the domination of Odia(Oriya) speaking population was formed. Later in 1948, after attaining Independence, the state of Orissa joined the newly formed Indian Union and was named Odisha.

Odisha's history is rich due its temple architecture and festivals. To promote and preserve its cultural heritage, India post has issued a Miniature sheet which depicts the Ratha-Yatra of Jagannath Puri temple.

Learn more about the architecture of Odisha from the temple of Konark.

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