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History of Odisha

dhauli-hills The name, Odisha (formerly Orissa), refers to the current state in India. But in the different era the region and parts of the region were known by different names. The boundaries of the region also has varied over the ages.

The human history in Odisha (Orissa) begins in the Lower Paleolithic era, as Acheulian tools dating to the period have been discovered in various places in the region. The early history of Odisha (Orissa) is mostly obscure, with few mentions found in ancient texts like the Mahabharata, Maha Govinda Sutta and some Puranas. In 261 BCE, Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty conquered the region in the bloody Kalinga War. The resulting bloodshed and suffering of the war deeply affected Ashoka. He turned into a pacifist and converted to Buddhism. He sent peace emissaries to various neighbouring nations. Thus as an indirect consequence, the event caused the spread of Buddhism in Asia.The region was also known to other kingdoms in region of East Indies due to maritime trade relations.

The year 1568 CE is considered a pivotal point in the region's history. In 1568 CE, the region was conquered by the armies of the Sultanate of Bengal led by the iconoclast general Kalapahad. The region lost its political identity. The following rulers of the region were more tributary lords than actual kings. After 1751, the Marathas gained control of the region for almost half a decade. In 1803, the region was passed onto the British empire. The British divided the region into parts of other provinces. In 1936, the province of Odisha was formed on the basis of populations of Odia-speaking people.

Historical names of Odisha (Orissa)

The region which comprises the modern-day Odisha (orissa) was not known by the same name throughout history. It and parts of it were referred by different names in different era.

Kalinga: According to some scriptures (Mahabharata and some Puranas), a king Bali, the Vairocana, the son of Sutapa, had no sons. So, he requested the sage, Dirghatamas, to bless him with sons. The sage is said to have begotten five sons through his wife, the queen Sudesna. The princes were named Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Sumha and Pundra. The princes later founded kingdoms named after themselves. The prince Vanga founded Vanga kingdom, in the current day region of Bangladesh and part of West Bengal. The prince Kalinga founded the kingdom of Kalinga, in the current day region of coastal Odisha (Orissa), including the Northern Circars. Ptolemy, Pliny the elder and Claudius Aelianus have also mentioned one Calinga in their texts.

Utkala: Utkala was a part of Kalinga in some parts of Mahabharata. Karna is mentioned to have conquered kingdom of Utkala among others. But, according to other texts like Raghuvasma and Brahma Purana, they were separate kingdoms. There are several views regarding the etymology of the name. Utkala may have meant northern (uttara) part of Kalinga or ut-Kalinga. Utkala desha (country or land) may have meant the land of "finest art" (utkarsha kala).] There are also other arguments regarding the origin of the name.

Mahakantara: This name has been found in some Gupta-era inscriptions. It literally means "great forest"[citation needed] and it is usually identified with the modern-day Kalahandi and Jeypore region. The Mahabharata also mentions a Kantara, which may have or may not have referred to the same region.

Udra: Udra (also Urda-desha) may have originally referred to an ethnic group or tribe called Udra. But later may have referred to the kingdom of Udra, around the coastal region of Odisha (Orissa).

Orda: Odra (also Orda-desha) similar to Udra, may have meant a tribe of people called Odra, but later came to refer to the land of Odras.

Oddiyana: Oddiyana, mentioned in some Buddhist texts, according to some scholars may have referred to Odisha (Orissa).

Kamala Mandala: Literally "lotus region", a c. 13th-century inscription found in Narla in Kalahandi refers to the region by this name.

South Kosala: South Kosala (also Dakshina Kosala) may refer to the modern-day Chhattisgarh and some part of Western Odisha. It should not be confused with Kosala, which is in current day Uttar Pradesh. According to Ramayana, one of Rama's sons Lava ruled Uttara Kosala and his other son Kusha ruled over this region.

Kongoda: A copper plate found in Ganjam district refers to region as Kongoda (also spelled Kangoda).

Trikalinga: This name has been found inscribed on some copper plates found in Sonepur. Tri-Kalinga may have literally meant "three Kalingas" and may have referred to the three states of Kalinga, South Kosala and Kangoda.

Chedi: Chedi (also known as Chedirashtra) referred to the kingdom of Kharavela. It was named after his dynasty, Chedi[citation needed] (also Cheti dynasty and Mahameghavahana dynasty). It should not be confused with Chedi kingdom of western India.

Tosali: Tosali (also spelled Toshali) referred to a city and the region around it was called Tosala, possibly a subdivision of Kalinga in Ashoka-era. The capital of Tosala has been placed in modern-day Dhauli. In later era (c. 600 CE), North Tosali (Uttara Tosali) and South Tosali (Daskhina Tosali) have been mentioned, which were possibly kingdoms north and south of the Mahanadi river.

Uranshin: The name has been used by some 10th century Arab geographers.

Jajnagar: The name used for Odisha in the Tabaqat-i-Nasiri (c. 1260), Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi (c. 1357), and other texts of the period.

Odivissa: A name used in some Buddhist texts, including in those by Taranatha.

Ancient Odisha (Orissa)

lingaraj-temple1 According to some scriptures (Mahabharata and some Puranas), a king Bali, the Vairocana and the son of Sutapa, had no sons. So, he requested the sage, Dirghatamas, to bless him with sons. The sage is said to have begotten five sons through his wife, the queen Sudesna. The princes were named Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Sumha and Pundra. The princes later founded kingdoms named after themselves. The prince Vanga founded Vanga kingdom, in the current day region of Bangladesh and part of West Bengal. The prince Kalinga founded the kingdom of Kalinga, in the current day region of coastal Odisha (Orissa), including the North Sircars.

The Mahabharata also mentions Kalinga several more times. Srutayudha, the king of Kalinga, son of Varuna and river Parnasa, had joined the Kaurava camp in the Kurukshetra War. He had been given a divine mace by his father on request of his mother, which protected him as long he wielded it. But, Varuna had warned his son, that using it on a non-combatant will cause the death of the wielder himself. In the frenzy of battle, harried by Arjuna's arrows, he made the mistake of launching it at Krishna, Arjuna's charioteer, who was unarmed. The mace bounced off Krishna and killed Srutayudha. The archer who killed Krishna, Jara Savara, and Ekalavya are said to have belonged to the Sabar people of Odisha (Orissa).

In the Buddhist text, Mahagovinda Suttanta, Kalinga and its ruler, Sattabhu, have been mentioned.

In the 6th century sutrakara (chronicler), Baudhayana, mentions Kalinga as not yet being influenced by Vedic traditions. He also warns his people from visiting Kalinga (among other kingdoms), saying one who visits it must perform penance.


Mahapadma Nanda the ruler of Magadha is presumed to have conquered Kalinga during his reign around c. 350 BCE. The Hathigumpha inscriptions mentions the suzerainty of the Nandas in the Kalinga region. The inscriptions also mention irrigation projects undertaken by the Nanda kings in the state during their reign.

In Asurgarh, beads and punched coins belonging to an unknown king dating to the pre-Mauryan period have been discovered.

Mauryan occupation

Further Information: Ashoka and Kalinga War

Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty conquered Kalinga in the bloody Kalinga War in 261 BCE which was the 8th year of his reign. According to his own edicts, the war about 1,000,000 people were killed, 1,500,000 were captured and several more were affected. The resulting bloodshed and suffering of the war deeply affected Ashoka. He turned into a pacifist and converted to Buddhism.

The Kalingans had used personnel from the Atavika region, which was in the west of Kalinga, during the war. According to his edicts, Ashoka conquered the coastal region of Kalinga but didn't try to conquer the Atavika region.[citation needed] The Mauryans governed the Kalinga region as a province. They used Tosali as the regional capital and judiciary center. A kumara (viceroy) ruled from Tosali, modern-day Dhauli. Samapa, modern-day Jaugada, was another administrative centre. Ashoka erected two edicts in the region, at Jaugada and Dhauli.


In the 1st century BCE, Mahameghavana established the Mahameghavahana dynasty in Kalinga. Kharavela was the third ruler of the dynasty. He reigned in the second half of the 1st century BCE. Most of the information about Kharavela comes from the Hathigumpha inscription in Udayagiri near Bhubaneswar. The inscription also calls the dynasty as Chedi but it is not the same as the Chedi kingdom of western India. The inscription records his life from his boyhood to his 13th regnal year.

Reigning year 1 - 5 : Kharavela took up the administration after the premature death of his father as a yuvaraj (heir apparent). He ascended to the throne as a proper King when he came of age at 24, around c. 170 BCE, but the date is contentious by several decades. In the first year of his coronation, he repaired the gates and ramparts of his capital Kalinganagari which had been damaged by storm. In the second year, he invaded the territory of the Satavahana king Satakarni I and marching up to the Kanha-bemna river (possibly Krishna river) stormed the city of Musikas. In the 3rd year of his reign, he organized various performances of dance and music and delighted the people of the capital. In the fourth year, he again invaded the Satavahana kingdom and extended his political supremacy over the region. In the fifth year he is known to have renovated the aqueduct that was originally excavated three hundred years back by the Nandas.

Reigning year 6 - 10 : In the sixth year, he remitted taxes and gave benevolences both in urban and rural areas of his kingdom. The account of his seventh year is not known. But that year his chief queen, Queen of Vajiraghara ("The Queen of the Diamond Palace") gave birth to a child. In his eighth regnal year he led a military expedition against Rajagaha (Rajagriha). By that time the Yavana (Indo-Greeks) who were in possession of Mathura were advancing towards Pataliputra. But getting the news of the triumph of Kharavela at Rajagriha the Yavana king had to retreat to Mathura. Kharavela pursued the Yavana ruler, Dimita (possibly Demetrius I) and purged them out of Mathura, which was an important seat of Jain religion and culture. In commemoration of this achievement, he built a victory palace in Kalinga at a cost of thirty-eight hundred thousand penas during the ninth year of his reign. In the tenth regnal year, he again invaded northern India the account of which is not clearly known.

Reigning year 11 - 13 : In the eleventh year of his reign, Kharavela defeated the Dramira country which had been in existence for hundred and thirteen years before his time. In the twelfth year, he invaded northern India for the third time and advanced as far as Uttarapatha. On his return, he terrorized Magadha. Bahasatimita (a Shunga king), the king of Magadha surrendered and Kharavela brought back the statue of Kalinga Jina. Kalinga Jina was the statue of Rishabhanatha, which had been taken away from Kalinga by Mahapadmananda three hundred years back and its restoration was considered to be a great achievement of Kharavela. In his thirteenth reigning year, Kharavela excavated a number of cave-dwellings in the Kumari hills for the Jain monks and bestowed endowments for them. Jainism greatly flourished in Kalinga under the patronage of Kharavela. He was also extending liberal patronage towards other religious communities and earned great reputation as the worshipper of all faiths and the repairers of all temples. He also built the caves at Udayagiri and Khandagiri for Jain monks.

The record stops at his 13th regnal year. It is presumed that he was succeeded by his son, Kudepasiri.[citation needed] The Mahameghavahana dynasty (or a successor Sada dynasty) probably continued to rule over Kalinga and Mahishaka as evident from the inscriptions and coins discovered at Guntupalli and Velpuru, Andhra Pradesh, which mention a series of rulers with the suffix Sada.

Kushanas, Satavahanas and Murundas

Gautamiputra Satkarni of Satavahana dynasty possibly held some sway over some parts Kalinga.

The Kushana empire may have reached Kalinga or parts of it during the first three centuries[citation needed] of the common era as evident from coins found at several places in notably in Jaugada, Sisupalgarh and Gurubai in Manikapatana (Puri) among others. It should be noted that more imitation coins are found than real ones. So, the local rulers possibly circulated them in the post-Kushana period. There is coin of one Maharaja Rajadhiraja Dharmadamadhara which has been found in Sisupalgarh. There is a Kushana motif on one side and a human head on the other.

During the 3rd century, a tribe called Murundas, ruled from Pataliputra. They have been speculated to have arrived from Central Asia. They used to issue coins similar to Kushana coins.

But other than these mostly numismatic evidences, this period of history is mostly in the dark.

Guptas, Matharas and Sarabhapuriyas

In c. 313 BCE, a princess of Kalinga, Hemamala, is recorded to have fled the kingdom with a tooth of Buddha, a sacred relic, hidden in her hair and presented it to king Sirimeghavanna of Sri Lanka. According to the legend, Khema took a tooth from the pyre of Buddha and later gave in to a king, Brahmadutta. He built a temple at a city called Dantapura. After several generations, during the reign the Guhasiva, the prince of Ujjain came to Dantapura to worhship the relic. He married the daughter of Guhasiva, Hemamala, and was later called Dantakumara (Prince Tooth). When a king attacked Kalinga, Dantakumara and Hemamala fled with the relic to protect it.

Samudragupta (reign c. 335 - c. 375 CE) is presumed to have conquered the region, as in his Allahabad inscription, it has been mentioned that, he had conquered Mahendra of Kosala, Vyaghraraja of Mahakantara, Mantaraja of Kerala, Mahendra of Pishtapura, Svamidatta of Kottura on the hill, Damana of Erandapalla, Vishnugopa of Kanchi, Nilaraija of Avamukta, Hastivarman of Vengi, Ugrasena of Palakka, Kubera of Devarashtra, Dhanamjaya of Kusthalapura, and others. Pishtapura (modern-day Pithapuram) is presumed to be the then capital of Kalinga. Mahakantara is presumed to be parts of western Odisha (Orissa) and Central India. Kottura is traced to modern day Ganjam district.

Eastern Ganga Dynast

Indravarman I is assumed to be the earliest known king of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. His Jirjingi grant mentions no predecessors and was issued in his 39th regnal year, c. 537 CE. He had his capital at Dantapura. Another plate found also mentions him defeating a Vishnukundina king called Indra Bhattaraka.[50] Many rulers of this dynasty went by the title Trikalingadhipati,[51] literally the "lord of the three Kalingas". The capital was later shifted to Kalinganagara, later during the reign of Devendravarman I (c. 652 - 682?).

During this period, c. 639 CE, Xuanzang visited this region, he notes that Buddhism was widely practiced in this region. He mentions the existence of the monastery called Puphagiri. The sites were lost until recently. New excavations have found several Buddhist monuments dating to this period. Odisha (Orissa) was conquered by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty in the early 11th century.

The capital was again shifted to Kataka by Anantavarman Chodaganga in 1135. He is said to have started building the Puri Jagannath temple. The temple was later completed by his successor Anagabhimadeva III. Narasimhadeva I is known to have built the Konark temple.

In 1187, Nissanka Malla who ascended to the throne in Sri Lanka claimed to have descended from Kalinga. He may have born in 1157 in the capital of Kalinga, Sinhapura (modern day Srikakulam, now in Andhra Pradesh). In 1215, an invader from Kalinga, called Kalinga Magha landed in Sri Lanka and had an oppressive reign of 21 years.

By the early 12th century, Kalinga had been conquered by Kulothunga Chola I and his general Karunakara Tondaiman. The literary work called Kalingathu Parani, is written in praise of the invasion.

According to the text Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, the ruler of Jajnagar (Kalinga) began to harass the Lukhnauti (Bengal) ruler in 1243. Tughral Tughan Khan the governor of Bengal advanced against Jajnagar in March 1244. They armies encountered after a month at the frontier fort of Katashin and the Kalingan army retreated after taking losses. Later, when the army of Khan was having lunch, the Kalingan army flanked them and attacked. The defeated army of Khan then retreated.

Medieval Odisha

The Gajapati Dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1435, after the fall of the last Eastern Ganga king, Bhanudeva IV. The dynasty is also known as a Suryavamsi dynasty. In about 1450, Kapilendra Deva installed his eldest son, Hamira, as the governor of Rajamundry and Kondavidu.[65][66] Kapilendra Deva managed spread his kingdom from Ganga in the north to as far as Bidar in the south by 1457.

During Kapilendra Deva's reign, Sarala Dasa, the Odia poet, wrote the Odia Mahabharata and his other works.

When Kapilendra Deva died in 1467, a civil war occurred to capture the throne, among his sons. In the end, Purushottama Deva succeeded in securing the throne in 1484 by defeating Hamvira. But, during this period significant southern parts of the empire were lost to Saluva Narasimha, the ruler of Vijayanagara. By the time of his death, he had managed to recover some these territories.

He was succeeded by his son, Prataparudra Deva, in 1497. Immediately, he had to faced the armies of Alauddin Husain Shah of Bengal. During his reign, Alauddin Husain Shah attacked again in 1508, this time the Muslim army marched up to Puri. In 1512 Krishna Deva Raya of the Vijayanagara Empire invaded Kalinga and defeated the forces of the Gajapati Kingdom. In 1522, Quli Qutb Shah of Golconda ousted the Odia army from Krishna-Godavari tract.

Govinda Vidyadhara was a minister under, Gajapati king, Prataparudra Deva.[66] But, he rebelled against him and succeeded in ascending the throne in 1541, after murdering the two sons of Prataparudra Deva.

Bhoi Dynasty

The Bhoi Dynasty was founded by Govinda Vidyadhara who came to throne in a bloody coup, in 1541. The dynasty was short-lived and during this period the kingdom came under conflict with neighbouring kingdoms and reeled with civil wars. First, Raghubhanja Chhotray who was the nephew of Govinda Vidyadhara, became a rebel. Govinda was succeeded by his son, Chakrapratap, who was an unpopular ruler. After he died in 1557, a minister called Mukunda Deva rebelled. He killed the last two Bhoi kings and squashed the rebellion of Raghubhanja Chhotray. After that, he declared himself the ruler of Odisha (Orissa).

Mukunda Deva

Mukunda Deva (also known as Mukunda Harichandana) came to throne, in 1559, in a bloody coup. According to the Madala Panji (temple records), he was a Chalukya. During this period, Odisha was going through many internal conflicts. Mukunda stuck an alliance with Akbar, that he made him a foe of Sulaiman Khan Karrani, the ruler of Bengal. Sulaiman sent his son, Bayazid Khan Karrani and his infamous general, Kalapahad, to conquer Odisha, in 1567.

Mukunda met the forces in the north but had to withdraw to stop a rebellion after signing a treaty with the Sultan's son. Mukunda was killed in a battle with the rebel forces led by Ramachandra Bhanja. Ramachandra Bhanja was a feudal lord under Mukunda, who had rebelled. He himself got caught up in the conflict and was murdered by Bayazid. Akbar was preparing for the invasion of Chittor, so he was unable to respond. Kalapahad ran across the kingdom in a plundering spree and destroyed several temples. By end of 1568, Odisha was under the control of Sulaiman Khan Karrani.

During this period, Ramachandra Deva I, who was the son of a general and had been imprisoned by Mukunda, escaped from prison and fled to Vizagapatam.

Karrani occupation

In 1568, Odisha (Orissa) came under the control of Sulaiman Khan Karrani of Karrani dynasty, who was the ruler of Sultanate of Bengal.

In the Battle of Tukaroi, which took place in modern-day Balasore, Daud Khan Karrani was defeated and retreated deep into Odisha. The battle led to the Treaty of Katak in which Daud ceded the whole of Bengal and Bihar, retaining only Odisha. The treaty eventually failed after the death of Munim Khan (governor of Bengal and Bihar) who died at the age of 80. Daud took the opportunity and invaded Bengal. This led to the Battle of Rajmahal in 1576, where Daud was defeated and executed.

Mughal occupation

In 1590, Qutlu Khan Lohani, an officer of Daud, declared himself independent and assumed the title of "Qutlu Shah". Raja Man Singh who was the Mughal governor of Bihar, started an expedition against him. Before facing Man Singh, Qutlu Shah died. Qutlu Khan's son Nasir Khan, after little resistance, accepted Mughal sovereignty and paid homage to Man Singh on 15 August 1590. Nasir Khan was then appointed Governor of Odisha (Orissa) and signed a treaty which ceded the region of Puri. Nasir Khan remained faithful to the Mughal empire for two years but after that he violated the conditions of his treaty by laying siege to the Jagannath Temple of Puri. Man Singh attacked Nasir Khan and decisively defeated him on 18 April 1592 in a battle near the present day Midnapore town. By 1593, Odisha (Orissa) had passed completely to the Mughal empire and was a part of Bengal Subah.

Under Akbar

Raja Ramachandra Deva, the king of Khurda, had accepted Akbar's suzerainty. Akbar mostly followed a policy of non-interference in the local chieftains' matters. After Akbar, his son, Jahangir came to power, who followed a different policy. Under him, Odisha (Orissa) was made into a separate Subah and a governor, titled Subahdar, ruled in the name of the Mughal emperor.

Under Jahangir

Quasim Khan was appointed the governor of Odisha (Orissa) in 1606. During this period, the king of Khurda, Purusottam Deva was attacked by Mughal armies led by Kesho Das. He was defeated, and had to offer his sister and daughter along with dowry to buy peace.

In 1611, Kalyan Mal, son of Todar Mal came to be the governor of Odisha (Orissa). Kalyan Mal also attacked and defeated Purusottam Deva, who had to send his daughter to the Mughal harem. In 1617, Kalyan was recalled to the court.

In 1617, Mukarram Khan became the governor of Odisha (Orissa). He also tried to attack Purusottam Deva. But, Purusottam Deva fled from Khurda. In 1621, Ahmad Beg was made the governor of Odisha (Orissa). Purusottam Deva died in exile in 1622 and was succeed by his son Narasimha Deva. According to the Madala Panji (temple chronicles), prince Shah Jahan had visited Odisha in 1623, which was just after his rebellion. Ahmad Beg remained governor until 1628.

Under Shah Jahan

In 1628, Shah Jahan became the Mughal emperor and Muhammad Baqar Khan was appointed the governor of Odisha (Orissa). He extended his influence well into the kingdom of Golconda. In 1632, he was recalled. Shah Shuja was appointed by Shah Jahan as the Subahdar of Bengal from 1639 until 1660. From 1645 onwards, a deputy of Shuja called Zaman Teharani was the governor of Odisha (Orissa). In 1647, Narasimha Deva was beheaded by a Mughal general called Fateh Khan.

Under Aurangzeb

In 1658, Shah Jahan took ill and Dara Shikoh took on as the royal regent. This led to a war of succession in which Aurangzeb emerged victorious in 1659. He imprisoned his own father, who later died in 1666. During this period of instability in the Mughal empire, several chieftains in Odisha (Orissa) had declared independence. Khan-i-Duran was appointed the governor under Aurangzeb and his reign was from 1660 to 1667. During this period, he crushed several rebel chieftains and subdued Mukunda Deva I, the then king of Khurda.

Under Murshid Quli Khan

In 1707, Aurangzeb died and the control of Mughals over Odisha (Orissa) began to weaken. Murshid Quli Khan was made governor of Odisha in 1714. In 1717, he was also made the Nawab of Bengal. He swore fealty to the Mughal emperor but he was an independent ruler for all purposes. He took several measures to increase revenues and create several new Jagirs. In 1727, on his death, his son-in-law, Shuja-ud-Din became the Nawab of Bengal. Before that he was a deputy of Murshid in Odisha (Orissa). During his time, several tracts of land were lost to neighbouring kingdoms.

Under Shuja-ud-Din

In 1727, Taqi Khan, the son of Shuja-ud-Din, was made the governor. He got engaged in a war with Ramachandra Deva II. Ramachandra Deva II was imprisoned and was converted to Islam. Ramachandra Deva II once visited Puri to see car festival. Taqi Khan was displeased by this advanced on Khurda and Ramachandra Deva II fled. Bhagirathi Kumar, son of Ramachandra Deva II, was declared king by Taqi Khan. Taqi Khan died in 1734. During his reign, several Islamic monuments were built in Odisha (Orissa).

His successor, Murshid Quli Khan II (alias. Rustam Jung), a Naib Nazim (deputy governor) of Shuja-ud-Din and also his son-in-law, allowed worship in Puri and he is said to have given his daughter to Ramachandra Deva II in marriage. He installed Padmanava Deva as king of Khurda in 1736 but replaced him by Birakesari Deva, son of Ramachandra Deva II in 1739. Shuja-ud-Din died in 1739 and was replaced by his son, Sarfaraz Khan. Sarfaraz Khan was defeated and killed in the Battle of Giria by Alivardi Khan. Rustam Jung marched against Alivardi Khan but he was defeated. Alivardi Khan was not a popular ruler.

The Marathas started raiding Alivardi Khan's territory starting in 1742, aided by Rustam Jung and his allies. These raids used quick hit-and-run tactics and were called bargis. Alivardi Khan unable to check the raids ceded Odisha (Orissa) to Raghoji Bhonsle I in 1751.

During this period, the idols of Jaganatha and other deities were removed from the temple several times, and hidden to save them from iconoclasm.

Maratha occupation

The river Subarnarekha served as the border between Bengal and Maratha-controlled Odisha (Orissa). Marathas used to collect a pilgrimage tax at Puri, which was exempt for paupers.

In 1803, the British conquered the region during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, when majority of the Maratha forces were engaged elsewhere.

Colonial era 1600-1803

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to build factories in Odisha (Orissa). They had a settlement in Pipili in Puri district. The British had established a settlement in Hariharpur (modern-day Jagatsinghpur), with the permission of the Mughal administrator, as early as 1633 to trade cotton goods. But it could not be maintain long because of the harsh climate, and Portuguese and Aracanese pirates.] In 1765, Lord Clive acquired the diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha from titular Mughal emperor, Shah Alam II. But, only the Midnapore district was meant by Odisha, as rest of it had passed on to the Marathas. Lord Clive had tried to negotiate the acquisition of Odisha (Orissa) from the Marathas. His successor, Warren Hastings, had also tried negotiating with the Marathas.

A Colonel Harcourt of the British Army sailed from Northern Circars on 3 August 1803 and landed on 25 August. He marched from Ganjam with 5000 men on 8 September, to flush the Marathas out of the region. On 18 September, Harcourt took control of Puri. On 21 September, a second force had landed at Balasore and after taking control of the region, it sent reinforcements to Cuttack to help with the siege of the fort. On 14 October, the fort of Barbati was stormed and captured.

On 17 December 1803, Raghoji II Bhonsle of Nagpur signed the Treaty of Deogaon (also Deogarh) in Odisha (Orissa) with the British after the Battle of Laswari and gave up the province of Cuttack (which included Mughalbandi, the coastal part of Odisha (Orissa), Garhjat the princely states of Western Odisha (Orissa), Balasore port, parts of Midnapore district of West Bengal).

In 1817, the British had to suppress the Paika rebellion. The Paika were a landed militia who were exempted from taxes in lieu of their services. They were dissatisfied with the new British land laws and were led by Bakshi Jagabandhu, a commander of the king of Khurda.

Surendra Sai from Sambalpur region had started a rebellion against the British in 1827. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the princes of Odisha (Orissa) did not join the wars.

In 1866, Odisha (Orissa) was struck with a great famine, called Na Anka Durvikhya (literally the nine number famine) locally. The death toll has been estimated to be about one million spread across different regions. During the famine, Babu Bichitrananda Das and Gouri Shankar Roy decided to publish a magazine in Odia. The first issue of Utakala Deepika appeared on 4 August 1866 from the newly Cuttack Printing Press. It dealt with issue of famine. Though Christian missionaries had established a printing press in Cuttack in 1838, this was the first independent publication in Odia.

In 1870, Madhusudan Das became the first person from Odisha (Orissa) to acquire a graduate degree. He had completed his Bachelor of Arts from Calcutta University and later went on to acquire a Master of Arts from the same university in 1873. He also acquired a law degree in 1878. He went on to become one of the foremost leaders from the state.

After Madhusudan Das returned from Calcutta to Cuttack in 1881, the Utkal Sabha was formed in 1882. It marked the beginning of political activities in Odisha. In 1888, a durbar was held in Cuttack during the visit of Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, where the Utkal Sabha led by Gouri Shankar Roy presented the issue of bringing Odia-speaking territories under one administration.


In 1903, the Utkal Union Conference was founded. In 1911, Odisha (Orissa) and Bihar were separated from Bengal province to formed a new single province. In 1912, the Orissa Tenancy Act was introduced the Bihar-Orissa Legislative Assembly. The previous Bengal Tenancy Act of 1885 was considered ill-suited for the conditions of the region. On 12 September 1913, the Orissa Tenancy Act was passed, securing better rights and treatment for ryots in the region. In 1913, Sashibhusan Rath began publishing the first Odia daily newspaper, Asha, from Berhampur. Gopabandhu Das was the editor and wrote its editorials until 1919. In 1915, Gopabandhu Das began publishing a magazine called Satyabadi, to promote Odia literature and culture. On 4 October 1919, he started his own weekly newspaper, Samaja. In 1914, the revolutionary Bagha Jatin moved to a hideout in Kaptipada village in Mayurbhanj. On 9 September 1915, Bagha Jatin and his companions were discovered by the British and it resulted in a 75 minutes gunfight. On 10 September 1915, Bagha Jatin died of bullet wounds at the Balasore hospital.

In 1885, Indian National Congress was founded. In 1920, it adopted reorganization of provinces according to linguistic basis as one its agendas.[94] This inspired many leaders in Odisha (Orissa) to form an Odisha (Orissa) Congress Committee and demand a separate province for the Odia-speaking population. In 1923, the Bhubanananda Odisha (Orissa) School Of Engineering was established in Cuttack. It was the first technical diploma institution in the region. In 1927, the districts of Cuttack and Balasore were hit by abnormal floods for the third successive year. About 28,756 families were affected by the floods according to the government report.

On 6 April 1930, a group of volunteers marched from Cuttack to Inchudi in Balasore. On 12 April, they defied the British salt tax law by making salt. On 1 April 1936, Odisha (Orissa) was granted the status of a separate province. Odisha (Orissa) Day (Utkala Dibasa) is celebrated locally every year on 1 April to mark the day. In 1936, Odisha (Orissa) has 6 districts: Cuttack, Puri, Balasore, Ganjam, Koraput, and Sambalpur. On 11 October 1938, Baji Rout, a ferry boy of 12 years, was shot dead by policemen in Dhenkanal district, when he refused to ferry them across the river. In 1943, the Utkal University was founded.

In March 1946, the foundation stone for the Hirakud Dam was laid by the Governor of Odisha (Orissa), Sir Hawthrone Lewis. Also in 1946, the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) was established in Cuttack to prevent occurrences like the Bengal famine of 1943. On 22 July 1947, Biju Patnaik rescued the Indonesian Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir and Vice President Mohammad Hatta from behind Dutch lines and flew them to Singapore in a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, disguised as crew members. They reached India on 24 July.

Post-independence 1947-2000

On 27 May 1947, Harekrushna Mahatab took oath to form a Congress ministry. In 1946, it was decided that Bhubaneswar would replace Cuttack as the political capital of the state of Odisha (Orissa). A year after India gained its independence from Britain, the task of designing had been granted to the German architect Otto Konigsberger. Also in 1948, construction on the Hirakud Dam began. By 1949, the 24 princely states had been integrated and Odisha (Orissa) had 13 districts: Cuttack, Puri, Balasore, Ganjam, Koraput, Sambalpur, Dhenkanal, Sundergarh, Keonjhar, Balangirpatna, Boudh-Khonmandal, Mayurbhanj and Kalahandi.[99] On 12 May 1950, Mahatab resigned to join the Cabinet of India. Nabakrushna Choudhuri took over as the Chief Minister the same day.

In 1951, Biju Pattnaik made a donation to the UNESCO to establish the Kalinga Prize. It has been awarded every year since 1952 to people who have contributed to the popularization of science.On 12 February 1952, Nabakrushna Choudhuri took oath as the Chief Minister after the 1951 Assembly polls. In 1953, the 66 meters high and 25.4 km long Hirakud Dam was completed. In 1953, the Rourkela Steel Plant was planned to be built in collaboration with a West German consortium. On 19 October 1956, Nabakrushna Choudhuri resigned and Mahatab became the Chief Minister. In 1956, the first technical degree institution in the region, University College of Engineering, was established in Burla (presently it is known as Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology). In 1957, the Odisha (Orissa) Sahitya Academy was established to develop and promote Odia language and literature. On 13 January 1957, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru officially inaugurated the Hirakud Dam. The 1957 Assembly polls were also won by the Congress party and on 6 April 1957 Harekrushna Mahatab took oath as the Chief Minister. On 22 May 1959, a coalition of Congress and Gantantra Parishad formed the government. On 21 February 1961, the coalition collapsed. On 25 February, President's rule was imposed on the state.

Legislative Assembly of Odisha (Orissa) building was inaugurated in 1961

On 12 February 1961, the new building of the Legislative Assembly of Odisha (Orissa) was inaugurated by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan then Vice-President of India. On 15 August 1961, the Regional Engineering College, Rourkela was founded.[112] The mid-term polls were held in 1961 and Biju Pattnaik formed a ministry on 23 June 1961. On 3 January 1962, the foundation stone of the Paradip Port was laid by Prime Minister Nehru. On 18 April 1966, it was declared the 8th major port of India. Also in 1962, the Balimela Reservoir project was started. In August 1963, the Kamaraj Plan was formulated and Biju Patnaik was among the Chief Ministers to resign. After him, Biren Mitra became the Chief Minister. In April 1964, a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited plant was set up in Sunabeda to manufacture Tumansky R-11 F2 engines for MIG-21 FLs. In 1966, Mahatab left Indian National Congress to form a new party called the Jana Congress. After the 1967 Assembly polls, Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo became the Chief Minister of a coalition government consisting of the Swatantra Party and the Orissa Jana Congress.

In 1971 Assembly poll, the government was formed by a coalition of Utkal Congress, Swatantra Party and All India Jharkhand Party, with Biswanath Das as the Chief Minister.[118] On 14 June 1972, Nandini Satpathy became the Chief Minister of Odisha (Orissa), heading a Congress ministry. On 1 March 1973, Chief Minister Nandini Satpathy resigned. In February 1974, mid-term polls were held. On 6 March 1974, Nandini Satpathy formed her second ministry. On 19 December 1976, Nandini Satpathy resigned again. She was replaced by Binayak Acharya who remained in office for 4 months. In 1977, Nilamani Routray became the Chief Minister after the Assembly poll, and Janata Party remained in power until 1980. The 1980 Assembly poll resulted in Janaki Ballabh Patnaik, of Indian National Congress, as the Chief Minister.

In 1981, NALCO was founded with the collaboration of the Pechiney company of France. It was headquartered in Bhubaneswar. On 30 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was in Bhubaneswar giving a speech. The next day she was assassinated. In 1985, Janaki Ballabh Patnaik was re-elected as the Chief Minister. Sachidananda Routray, Odia poet and novelist, received the Jnanpith Award for his contributions to modern Odia poetry. On 22 May 1989, the Agni-I was tested fired at Chandipur. On 6 December 1989, Janaki Ballabh Patnaik resigned as the Chief Minister and on 7 December Hemananda Biswal was sworn in. On 16 December 1989, Rabi Ray becomes the Speaker of Lok Sabha and he held the position until 9 July 1991.

1999 Odisha (Orissa) cyclone making landfall

In 1990, Ranganath Misra became the 21st Chief Justice of India. In 1990, the Assembly polls were won by the Janata Dal and a government was formed under the leader of Biju Patnaik. In 1992, four new districts were created, Gajapati, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Nabarangpur. In 1993, 10 more districts were created, Khurda, Nayagarh, Sonepur, Bargarh, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Nuapada, Angul and Bhadrak. In 1994, three more were craved out, Jharsuguda, Deogarh and Boudh. This brought the number of districts in Odisha(Orisssa) to 30. In 1993, Ranganath Misra became the first chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of India. The 1995 Assembly polls were won by the Indian National Congress and Janaki Ballabh Patnaik became the Chief Minister. On 22 January 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were murdered.[129] Soon afterwards, Janaki Ballabh Patnaik resigned and was replaced by Giridhar Gamang.[130] In October 1999, a cyclone struck Odisha (Orissa) causing economic loss estimated at $2.5 billion (1999 USD) and about 10,000 deaths. In December 1999, Gamang also resigned. He was replaced by Hemananda Biswal on 7 December. In March 2000, Naveen Patnaik become the Chief Minister of a BJD-BJP alliance government.


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