Odisha (erstwhile Orissa) is an eastern state of India bordering the Bay of Bengal. Odisha is synonymous with the kingdom of Kalinga during the age of Mauryas and Utkala during Mahabharata.
Odisha is a state with lots of historical significance having been influenced by Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Here is a look at the top 10 things that will make you love Odisha – the land of wonders.
Odisha has a history of arts and handicrafts with “Patta Chitra” being one of the most famous. “Patta” refers to a piece of cloth in Odia and ‘Chitra” refers to art. Patta Chitra are small paintings with religious themes used as wall hanging and decorum around the house. The artwork at is very famous as is the Silver filigree works of ornaments in Cuttack.
Sand Art using fine grained sand with water is a tourism draw card in Puri, one of the purest beaches in India around Odisha’s coast.
Other handicrafts and art forms include Metal Work, Stone carvings in Nilgiri (Balasore) , Puppets/Masks, Sambalpuri textiles to name a few.
2. Temple Architecture
Temples in Odisha are famous and dot the historical cities of Bhubaneswar and Puri. However, what distinguishes these temples are its sculpture and art work such as the one in Lingaraja temple in Bhubaneswar. Bhubaneswar city is dotted with more than 500 temples and is known as the city of temples.
Sun Temple at Konark (The Black Pagoda) is famous for its sculptures around the union of sexes. It has one of the oldest sun clocks in existence.
The beach at Puri is pristine, clean and is alluring to tourists across the globe. Its one of the most beautiful and clean beaches in India. Views of sunrise and sunset from the beach is captivating to say the least.
This eastern state has developed its cuisine focussed on rice…Jaganath temple at Puri is assumed to host the largest kitchen in the world with more than 1000 chefs feeding thousands of people during a day.
Food habits and the cuisine in the land of Black Pagoda is defined by unique blend of mouth watering meals and deserts. Some of the favourites are Pakhala (rice with water), Ghanta (a kind of mixed vegetable) and the eternal favourites Rasagulla.
5. Rath Yatra
Also known as the Chariot festival, Rath Yatra is one of the key festivals in Odisha. It is marked by drawing of three large chariots marking the visit of Lord Jaganath along with his siblings to the temple of Queen Gundicha.
6. Dance Forms
Orissa (Odisha) is the originator of Odissi as a a classical dance form. Its the oldest dance form in the world with tradition spanning 2000 years.
7. Tribal Culture
24% of the population is tribal. Tribals are people who survive on food gathering, hunting/fishing revolving around forests.
Tribals in Odisha have their traditions with folk music and dance defining their own distinctive style.
Interesting Facts about Odisha
- April 1 is celebrated as Utkal Diwas (Odisha Day) to mark the day when this modern state was established in 1936 under the British rule on the basis of language. April 1 is also April’s fools day – which is no way related to Utkal Diwas.
- Oriya is the predominant language spoken in Odisha
- As with other modern cities and states in India, Orissa was re-named as Odisha in 2011 and the language Oriya was renamed as Odia.
- Odisha has a rich history dating back to many years before Christ. Its name prominently figures in Mahabharata
- The war of Kalinga (Kalinga War) where in King Ashoka conquered Kalinga in 261 BCE resulted in several deaths which affected King Ashoka personally leading to him embracing Buddhism
- Bhubaneswar is the capital city of Odisha and is known as the “city of temples”. It has over 500 temples that date back to 7th century AD.
- Ratnagiri, an ancient site of ruins for a center of Buddhist learning is in Jaipur district of Odisha and is one of the oldest universities in the world.