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India States - Orissa

India Taj Mahal. Orissa is a state situated in the east coast of India. Orissa is bounded on the north by Jharkhand, on the north-east by West Bengal, on the east by the Bay of Bengal, on the south by Andhra Pradesh and on the west by Chhattisgarh. The relatively unindented coastline (c.200 mi/320 km long) lacks good ports except for the deepwater facility at Paradip. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi River delta, is exceedingly fertile. Rainfall is heavy and regular, and two crops of rice (by far the most important food) are grown annually. The state is known for its temples, especially in the cities of Konark, Puri, and Bhubaneswar. Orissa has several popular tourist destinations. Puri, with the Jagannatha's temple on the sea, and Konark, with the Sun Temple, are visited by thousands of westerners every year. Along with the Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar, the Jagannatha Temple and the Sun Temple of Konark are the must sees for anyone doing research on the archaeological marvels of India. The dense population, concentrated on the coastal alluvial plain, is inhabited by the non-tribal speakers of the Oriya language. The interior, inhabited largely by indigenous people (adivasis), is hilly and mountainous. Orissa is subject to intense cyclones; in October 1999, Tropical Cyclone 05B caused severe damage and some 10,000 deaths.

Perhaps the most well-known temple in Orissa is the Konark Temple. This is also known as the Sun Temple and is famous for its exquisite Orissan style of architecture. The Konark temple was built in the 13th century A.D. It includes in its decoration many vignettes of military life. The thousands of elephants marching around the base of the temple are not figments of the imagination. Rather, they demonstrate pride in the superb war elephants for which Orissa was famous. Another well known temple in Orissa is the Jagannath Temple, which was built in the 12th Century A.D. It is located in Puri and is associated with the Ratha Jatra (Chariot Festival) ce;ebrated all over northern India. Every year millions of devotees come to Puri during the Ratha Jatra. It is a festival during which the three dieties, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are brought out of the Jagannath temple in chariots to tour the streets, providing a glimpse to the thousands of devotees who throng the street. The capital city of Bhubaneswar has some magnificent temples, including the Lingaraja temple, and the Mukteswar temple. Maa Charchika's Temple at Banki is one of the Shakta place of worship. It is situated on Ruchika parbat near the Renuka river, in a place called Banki near the two major cities, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. The Sunadei temple on the bank of river Mahanadi is an Orissan landmark.

Orissa is blessed with around 500 km long coastline and has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Chilika, Asia's largest brackish water lake, not only provides a haven for millions of birds, but is also one of the few places in India where one can view dolphins. The lush green forest cover Of Orissa plays host to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including the famed Royal Bengal Tiger. Amidst the picturesque hills and valleys nestle a number of breathtaking waterfalls and rivulets that attract visitors from all over. 51 kms from Rourkela, on the banks of the river Bramhini, is another of Orissa's beautiful picnic spots. The presence of the picturesque Deodhar Gorge about 2 kms from Darjeeng is an added attraction.Nandan Kanan means '"garden of pleasure", and this combination of zoo, botanical garden and sanctuary 20 km from Bhubaneswar, in the splendid environs of the Chandaka Forest, along the rippling waters of the Kanjia lake, fits the description.The zoo has created history in many ways. In 1967, a wild female tiger approached Nandan Kanan, and scaling a high fence, she crept around until she found the tiger enclosure. She then climbed up a concrete wall, and leapt down into the enclosure, thus perhaps becoming the only wild animal in existence who has ever opted to join in a zoo. In commenting on this rare occasion, the National Geographic magazine pointed out that Orissa must be the only place in the world with enough sophistication to have a modern, well designed zoo, and enough tigers to stock it by voluntary membership!

India Tourism.Orissa is home to many colleges and universities, deemed and otherwise.The ruins of a major ancient university and center of Buddhist learning, Ratnagiri, was recently discovered in Orissa. Scholars from far away lands, such as Greece, Persia and China used to study philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and science at this famed University. Taxila, Nalanda and Ratnagiri are the oldest universities in the world. The ruins of Ratnagiri University have not been fully excavated yet.

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