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Journey Map / Odisha (Orissa)

Situated on the eastern coast of India, Odisha, or Orissa, as it was previously called, is revered as the land of temples and of divinity. Orissa also finds reference in the Indian National Anthem as ‘Utkala’, or the ‘Land of Artistic Excellence’. The word itself stems from Pali/Sanskrit words – Ora or Odra Desa. 

Odisha’s history started as Odra Desa which was confined to the valley of Mahanadi and Subarnarekha Rivers and spanned the districts of Sambalpur, Cuttak and parts of Midnapur, currently fragmented between the states of Orissa and West Bengal. The Savara, the Naga and the Orda tribes were the primary inhabitants of the land. Trade flourished in the state, making it one of the most powerful empires the Nation has ever seen. The credit for this monumentous success goes to the location of Odisha along the sea ports and its liberal approach to the then-prevalent caste system. Any member of the society, irrespective of caste, could contribute to the trade if he had the requisite skills, as opposed to the staunch Vedic Brahmanical society.

Odisha also witnessed one of the greatest battles that shaped the history of the nation. The state, referred to as Kalinga then, crumbled when King Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire fought the Kalinga War and adopted Buddhism. This made Odhisa the centre for three major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, establishing religious diversity in the region.

The Rath Yatra, a procession to appease the Gods, brings forward the various colours, traditions and rites that have been prevalent for several centuries. This dedication to the deities is also apparent in the motifs that are used by the local population. Handloom textiles, for which Odisha is famous, are generally categorised as ikat, the bandha, the bomkai and the pasapalli. They are usually made in earthen colours like brown, cream, maroon and rust. Another speciality of the region is the tie-and-dye technique that is used to create unique motifs. These saris have devoted fans all over the world due to their unique characteristic and distinctive appeal.

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