formed a part of the ancient Kalinga of Mahabharat fame. Ashok the Mauryan
King of Magadh, invaded Kalinga in 261 BC and this event has gone down in
history as the Great Kalinga war. Then the people of Kalinga offered a
relentless & dauntless resistance, but they lost at last. How desperate was
the battle, how bitterly was it fought, and how terrible were the results,
are known from Ashok’s own descriptions. This is what he wrote about the
Kalinga war in his thirteenth Rock Edict. The country of Kalinga was
conquered when King Priyadarshan, beloved of the Gods had been anointed
eight years. One hundred and fifty thousand were there from captured, one
hundred thousand were there slain, and many times as many died.
was the result? The conquered Kalinga conquered her conqueror. This was the
last war fought by him after which he became the great champion of Buddhism
the values of peace and non-violence.
The ancient state rose to prominence as a Kingdom under Kharavela , a
great conquerer and patron of Jainism, in the second half of the Ist century
B.C. Other great rulers belonged to the Keshari dynasty and the Eastern
Ganga dynasty who were also great builders.
At one time the vast kingdom spanned from Ganga to Godavari. The
flourishing maritime trade with South-East Asian countries i.e. Java, Bornio
had brought in a golden era of affluence and opulence.
The Kalinga School of architecture flourished from the 7th to 13th
century A.D. The most important monuments of this period can be seen in and
around Bhubaneswar and Puri. The Mukteswar Temple is the finest piece of
architecture of Kalinga. The Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneswar, the Jagannath
Temple of Puri above all the world renowned world heritage Sun Temple at
Konark is the epitome of temple architecture and sculpture. The construction
of Konark Temple utilized 12 years of state revenue which can be compared to
the mighty Moghul Empire, which also utilized its resources of 12 years for
building world famous Taj Mahal.
It has also shown its military strength and prowess during Buxi
Jagabandhu, period of the warrior of Khurda Paikas. The glories of Orissa
ended in later half of 16th century. Two centuries later the British
administered the final blows by dividing the original territory in to
several administrative units.
In 1936, ultimately an independent state Orissa was constituted as a
separate province by carving out certain portions from the provinces of
Bihar, Orissa and Madras. As centuries rolled by, Orissa continued to invite
heros, Scholars and prophets alike. Famous Kings like Samudra Gupta and
Harsha Siladitya came to Orissa on political missions while scholars like
Prajna and Hieuen-Tsang came to learn at centers of learning. Hieuen-Tsang,
the famous Chinese pilgrim of the 7th century who visited Orissa was
surprised to see the University of Puspagiri imparting knowledge to
innumerable scholars now lying buried under Buddhist complex at
Various prophets visited Orissa, the significant among those visits is
the visit of Adi Sankaracharya in 9th century to Puri to make it a center
of his mission and a towering citadel of his spiritual ideology & message.
He established four monasteries in four corners of Indian Peninsula out of
which “ The Gobardhan Pitha” of Puri was one of the most significant.
Another Great Saint Ramanujacharya, the propounder of Visista Dwaita
philosophy also visited Puri and established the Emar Matha. In the same
century Jayadev composed his world famous lilting treatise “Gita Govinda”.
Subsequently in 16th century Sri Chaitanya, the exponent of the Bhakti Cult
came to Orissa and made Puri his abode for last 18 years of his life. His
contemporary Pancha Sakha i.e. Sri Jagannath Das, Sri Achyutananda Das, Sri
Balaram Das, Ananta & Yasobanta were spiritual stalwarts and literary
luminaries of the time.
Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja, Kabi Surya Baladev Ratha, Radhanath Ray,
Fakir Mohan Senapati, Pandit Gopabandhu Dash, Pandit Nilakantha Das,
Godabaris Mishra, Kalandi Charan Panigrahi, Sachidananda Routray & many
others have contributed substantially to the language & literature of Orissa.
Utkal Gaurav Madhusudan Das was the architect of Modern Orissa and
subsequently Sri Nabakrushna Chowdhury, Dr. Harekrishna Mahatab, Sri
Bijayananda Patnaik & others engineered their best efforts for catapulting
Orissa to himalayan heights of fame & glory.
In fact, Orissa has become a multi dimensional, multi coloured, many
splendoured, vibrant & boisterous modern state all set on its journey in the
present millenium to make its presence and voice felt in the nooks &
crannies of the world through the Universal Cult of brotherhood, its unique
cultural heritage, luxuriant forests & wild life, sprawling Chilika Lake,
bountiful coastline, wide range of tribes & colourful canvass of art &
Orissa has been resurgent again rejuvenating and resuscitating its
ancient glory, glamour & greatness.
the name of the State
The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang who visited Orissa in
about 636 A.D. gives an account of the territory named Wu-Cha which is
very likely the same as Odra. The pilgrim states that the Wu-Cha (Wu-tu)
country was above 7,000 li in circuit and its capital was above
20 li in circuit. The area of the territory, which was 7,000
li or (2,253 km) in circuit, was very extensive. General
Cunningham who calls this territory as Odra or Odra Desa writes as
“The ancient province of Odra desa or Or-desa was
limited to the valley of the Mahanadi and to the lower course of the
Subarnarekha river. It comprised the whole of the present districts of
Cuttack and Sambalpur and a portion of Midnapore. It was bounded on the
West by Gondwana, on the North by the wild hill states of Jashpur and
Singhbhum, on the East by the sea and on the South by Ganjam. These also
must have been the limits in the time of Hiuen-Tsang as the measured
circuit agrees with his estimate”.
The Muslim geographer lbn Khurdadhbin who wrote his
geography in 846 AD refers to a territory called Ursfin which is
identified by the Russian scholar V. Minorsky with Odra Desa. In another
Persian geography called Hudad-al Alam written towards the close of the
10 th century A.D. mention has been made of a territory called Urshin
(Odra Desa) which has been associated with the territories called N.
Myas, Harkand, Smnder and Andhras which were more or less contiguous.
The territory called N.Myas may be Mahismati and Harkand is suggested to
be Akarakhand (eastern Malwa). Urshin may be the same as Odra Desa and
Smnder may be the territory bordering the sea. Andhras is without doubt
the same as Andhra Desa. Alberuni has referred to a territory called
Udra Vishau located 50 forsakhs towards the sea in the south from the
Tree of Prayaga. Fifty forsakhs is equal to about 200 miles or 321.86
km. So Udra Vishau may be the same as Odra Desa.
In the mediaeval Muslim chronicles like
Tabaquat-I-Nasiri, Tabaquat-I-Akbari, Riyadus-Salatin, Tarkh-I-Firuzsahi,
etc., the Odra territory has been referred to as Jajnagar probably after
the capital Yayatinagar or Jajatinagar. The territory of Jajnagar very
probably denotes to the Ganga empire during the period from
Chodagangadeva to Anangabhimdeva III when Jajatinagar (modern Jagati on
the Mahanadi) was the capital of that empire. It was Anangabhimadeva III
who transferred the capital from Jajatinagar to Baranasi Kataka. And
even after the change of capital some Muslim chroniclers continued to
call this territory as Jajnagar. Shams-I-Seraj-Afif called this
territory as Jajnagar-Udisa with its capital city Banaras on the right
bank of the Mahanadi. The word ‘Udisa’ added to Jajnagar appears very
significant. It is a developed form of the word Ursfin or Urshin used by
earlier Muslim writers of the 9 th and 10 th centuries A.D. In Buddhist
literature this word is expressed as Odivisa or Udivisa as found in the
works of Lama Taranath and the author of Pag-Sam-Jon-Zang. In the
Tantric literature of the mediaeval period the word Udisa has been
frequently used and in Tantrasara, Jagannath has been referred to as
Udisanatha. Poet Sarala Das mentions both the words Odra Rastra and
Odisa in his famous treatise Mahabharata while Gajapati Kapileswaradeva
(1435 – 1467 AD) in his proclamation inscribed on the temple walls of
Jagannath calls his territory as Odisa Rajya. Thus from the 15 th
century AD onward the land of the Oriya people was called Udisa or Odisa.
A new awakening was marked in Orissa after the ‘Na Anka’
famine of 1866 and during the time of the ‘language agitation’. Growth of
education, development of communication, increase in the volume of trade and
commerce, establishment of printing press and publication of journals and
periodicals paved the way for the growth of political consciousness in Orissa.
This consciousness made the people aware of administrative disadvantages.
The tales of the woes of the scattered Oriyas under other
neighbouring people and their strong desire for union with Orissa crowded the
columns of the newspapers and journals. When Lord North Brook, the
Governor-General, suggested to break up the Central Provinces and to merge its
areas with other provinces, the pioneers of the Oriya movement advocated
strongly to merge Sambalpur with Orissa.
The question of amalgamating outlying Oriya-speaking tracts
with Orissa was so far confined to newspapers and journals but later steps were
taken to submit representations to the Government to that effect. When John
Beams was the Commissioner of Orissa, the Oriyas appealed to him for the merger
of the Oriya-speaking areas into a distinct linguistic unit. The people of
Baleshwar made a similar representation to Richard Temple, the
Lieutenant-Governor, who did not pay any heed to that appeal. In 1876, Raja
Baikunthanath Dey of Baleshwar and Bichitrananda Das, the Sirastadar of the
Commissioner of Orissa, made a representation to the Government for the union of
all the Oriya-speaking areas under a single administration.
In creating consciousness for the amalgamation of the
Oriya-speaking areas, the district of Ganjam played a leading role. The people
of Ganjam for the first-time organized meetings and passed resolutions for the
unity of all the Oriya-speaking areas. In September 1870, in the village of
Russelkonda (present Bhanjanagar) under Ghumusar Taluk in the Ganjam district, a
mass meeting was held. In the meting it was resolved to request the Oriyas of
Cuttack to make united efforts for amalgamation. The Ganjam Oriyas formed an
association called the ‘Ganjam Utkal Hitabadini Sabha’ with the Raja of Kalinga,
Venkates Beu, as its Secretary and carried on the agitation more vigorously.
In the Orissa Division, on the 28 th November, 1874, there
was a vast congregation of all the Rajas, Zamindars, and aristocrats in the
garden of Bichitrananda Das to discuss the common problems of Orissa. In July
1877 an association called ‘Utkal Sabha’ was formed under the leadership of
Utkal Gourab Madhusudan Das. On the 16 th August, 1882 the Orissa Association
was also formed by Mr.Das. In 1888 the Orissa Association made a representation
to Sir Stewart Colvin Bayley, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, to unite all
the Oriya-speaking areas. On 15 th December, 1902 Raja Baikunthanath Dey
submitted a memorial to Lord Curzon to the same effect. In 1903 the Ganjam
Oriyas sent a memorial to Lord Curzon for the amalgamation. They also sent a
copy of their memorandum to the people of Orissa Division. In the same year a
meeting was held at Rambha in the Ganjam district under the leadership of the
Raja of Khallikot and the ‘Ganjam Jatiya Samiti’ was formed. Its first meeting
was held at Brahmapur and Shyamasunder Rajguru of Paralakhemundi was its
President. Delegates to attend this meeting from Orissa Division included such
eminent persons as Utkal Gourab Madhusudan Das, Biswanath Kar, Nanda Kishore Bal
and Gopal Chandra Praharaj. This meeting was regarded as the fist national
conference of the Oriya people. This was followed by the formation of the Utkal
Union Conference at Cuttack on the 30 th December, 1903 under the leadership of
Utkal Gourab Madhusudan Das. This conference played the most significant role
for the amalgamation of the Oriya-speaking areas.
In 1901 Andrew Fraser, the then Chief Commissioner of the
Central Provinces proposed to transfer Sambalpur to the Orissa Division. On 3 rd
December, 1903 Lord Curzon in a scheme proposed to unite under a single
administration the scattered sections of the Oriya-speaking population while
considering a proposal for the partition of Bengal. But the proposed scheme was
partially carried into effect by the transfer of the Sambalpur district to
Orissa Division on the 1 st September, 1905 minus the Chandrapur and the
Padmapur estates and the Phuljhar Zamindari. In the same year the two feudatory
states of Gangpur and Banei (Bonai) from the Chota Nagpur Division and the other
five Oriya feudatory states of Patna, Kalahandi, Sonapur (Sonepur), Bamra and
Redhakhol (Rairakhol) were transferred to Orissa Division from the Central
The next great agitation for the amalgamation took place in
1911 when Lord Hardinge, the Governor General, created a new province consisting
of Bihar and Orissa excluding the Oriya-speaking areas of Midnapore, Ganjam and
Vizagapatnam agencies; the states of Sarangagarh, Rayagarh, Bastar, Phulijher,
Chandrapur, Padmapur, etc. and the states of Saraikela, Kharsawan and Sundergarh.
The Orissa being dissatisfied at this, continued their agitation with double
vigour. The claims of the Oriyas were discussed at the Utkal Union Conference
which met from year to year. Besides the Utkal Union Conference, the Oriya
Peoples’ Association, the Balasore National Conference, the Udit Club of
Singhbhum, the Utkal Milan Samaja and the Utkal Hitaisini Samaja of Ganjam also
played leading roles for the union of the Oriya-speaking areas. A counter
movement called the Ganjam Defence League was organized by the Telugus in Ganjam
to oppose the Oriya movement.
In 1917 the Montagu-Cheimsford Commission visited India on
the subject of self-Government. As regards Orissa, the Commission in its report
recognized the need for an administrative union of the Oriya-speaking people and
recommended for a sub-province for the Oriyas. But in the Act of 1919, there was
no provision for a separate sub-province and the merger of the Oriya-speaking
The question of amalgamation of the Oriya-speaking people was
discussed from time to time in the Central and the Provincial legislations. On
the 20 th February, 1920 Satchidananda Sinha moved a resolution in the imperial
Council for the amalgamation of the Oriya-speaking tracts. A similar resolution
of A.B. Latthe supported by Brajasundar Das was moved in the Indian Legislative
Assembly on the 2 nd September, 1921. In reply Sir William Vincent, the Home
Member, expressed his inability to take any step to change the provincial
boundaries. On the 25 th November, 1921, Viswanath Kar, an Oriya member in the
Bihar and Orissa Legislative Council moved a resolution for the union of the
Oriya-speaking tracts. In the same year Sasibhusan Rath moved a similar
resolution in the Madras Legislative Council. All these resolutions were
disallowed by the Government.
At last India Government appointed C.L. Philip and A.C. Duff
to make enquiry regarding the attitude of the Oriya inhabitants of the Madras
Presidency towards this merger with Orissa. The Commission in their report made
the following concluding remarks “Our enquiry has shown that there is a genuine
long-standing and deep seated desire on the part of the educated Oriya classes
of the Oriya-speaking tracts of Madras for amalgamation of these tracts with
Orissa under the administration”. Before any step was taken on the
recommendations of the Commission, the Government appointment a statutory
commission in 1928 under the Chairmanship of the Sir John Simon to report on the
working on the reforms in India. The Commission in its report stated, “Bihar and
Orissa is a glaring example of the artificial connections of areas which are not
naturally related.” The Commission, therefore, appointed a sub-committee for
Orissa with Major Attlee as Chairman. The sub-committee recommended the creation
of a separate Orissa province.
The report of the Simon Commission led to the
summoning of the Round Table Conference. Krushna Chandra Gajapati
Narayan Dev, the Maharaja of Paralakhemundi represented Orissa in the
Conference. The Maharaja circulated the pamphlet, “the Oriyas, their
needs, and reasons for a separate province.” His efforts bore fruits :
before the Third Round Table Conference ended, the Orissa Boundary
Commission was appointed to review the boundary lines of the proposed
According to the suggestion of the Simon Commission
the Orissa Boundary Commission was appointed with D’Donnell as the
Chairman. The Committee examined the claims of the Oriyas and finally
recommended for inclusion in Orissa of the plains and the agency areas,
excluding Paralakhemundi, in the Ganjam district; and Kharial and
Padmapur, excluding Phuljhar in the Central Provinces. But the
Commission opposed the inclusion in Orissa of the Oriya-speaking areas
in Bihar and Bengal. The report of the Committee was vehemently opposed
by the Oriyas.
The “white paper” was published on the 17 th March,
1933, containing the draft proposals for the reform of the Indian
Constitution. It proposed to create two new provinces, viz., Sind and
Orissa. But the proposal regarding the boundary of Orissa was far from
satisfactory. It excluded the Vizagpatam Agency and Paralakhemundi
estate and the Jalantar Maliah in the Ganjam agency from the proposed
Orissa province. When the “white paper” was under review of the Joint
Parliamentary Committee, an Oriya delegation consisting of seven members
met the Secretary of State under the leadership of the Maharaja of
Paralakhemundi on the 3 rd July, 1933 and submitted a representation.
In the meantime, the Utkal Union Conference Committee
met and authorized the Maharaja of Paralakhemundi to represent before
the British Parliament for the inclusion of the Oriya-speaking areas of
the Ganjam district. The Maharaja by his powerful arguments convinced
the Parliamentary Committee for the transfer of Jaypur (Jeypore) agency
and a portion of Paralakhemundi to Orissa. The Commission after careful
consideration made the following recommendations.
A separate province of Orissa would, however, be
perhaps, the most homogenous province in the whole of British India both
racially and linguistically. They recommended that a new province of
Orissa be constituted. They also recommended that there should be added
to the Orissa Province, a portion of the Jaypur (Jeypore) estate which
the O’Donnell Committee proposed to transfer to Orissa, the
Paralakhemundi and Jalantar Maliahs and a small portion of the
Paralakhemundi estate including Parlakhemundi town.
But no step was taken for the transfer of
Oriya-speaking areas from Bengal and Bihar. By this recommendation the
total area was raised from 55,799 to 84,677 sq. km. (21,545 to 32,695
sq. miles). In the lines of the recommendations of the Committee, the
Government of India Bill 1935 was passed by the Parliament and the new
province of Orissa as an administrative unit came into being on the 1 st
April, 1936 with the following areas as per the Government of India
(Constitution of Orissa ) Order,1936.
- Orissa Division of Bihar and Orissa.
- the Ganjam agency tracts :
- non-agency portion of Ganjam district such as the Taluks of
Ghumusur, Chatrapur, Asika, Sorada, Kodala and a portion of the
Taluks of Ichhapur and Brahmapur as laid to the north and west of
the line described in Part-II of the Schedule.
- So much of the Paralakhemundi estate as laid to the north and
east of the said line.
- From Vizagapatnam district-the Jaypur (Jeypore) estate and so
much of Patangi Taluk as was not included in that estate.
- Areas from Central Provinces
- the Kharial Zamindari in Raipur district
- the Padmapur tract consisting of the 54 villages of the
- seven villages, namely-Kuakunda, Badima, Soda, Brahmapur,
Palosoda, Jagni and Thakurpali.
Since then throughout the pre-independence days
Orissa has suffered a lot as it was not possible to put together all the
Oriya-speaking areas under a single administration. There were only six
districts, viz., Cuttack, Puri, Baleshwar, Sambalpur, Ganjam and Koraput.
The old district of Anugul was split up into two statutory districts,
viz. Anugul and the Khondmals under the Angul Laws Regulations, 1936 and
the Khondamals Laws Regulations, 1936 respectively. But for
administrative purposes Angul was tagged to Cuttack district and
Khondamals to Ganjam district. The Collectors of Cuttack and Ganjam
became respectively the ex-officio Deputy Commissioners of
those two areas. The rest of the province constituted 26 princely
states, governed by the Rajas and Maharajas who had the last word of law
within the jurisdiction of their respective princely states. They were
loosely knit and administered under Political Agent of the British
Government who was mostly satisfied after the collection of a
predetermined part of the total revenue collection known as tribute or
Nazarana from the rulers of those states. The process continued till
1947 when the country got independence.