Odisha lies on the eastern coast of India. It is bounded by West Bengal in the north east, Jharkhand in the north; Madhya Pradesh is in the West, Andhra Pradesh in the South and the Bay of Bengal in the east. Orissa can be divided into three broad regions. The coastal plains, the middle mountainous country and the plateaus. The region of the coastal plains is a combination of several deltas formed by major rivers of Odisha such as the Subarnarekha the Budhabalanga, the Baitarani, the Brahmani, the Mahanadi and the Rushikulya. The middle mountainous region covers about three fourths of the entire state and comprises the hills and mountains of the Eastern Ghats the plateaus are mostly eroded table lands, forming the western slopes of the Eastern Ghats.
To sum up, the state offers diverse habitats from lush green and hilly terrain, to coastal plains and rolling river valleys, criss crossed by rivers that include the Brahmani, the Mahanadhi and the Bansadhara.
In ancient times, Odisha was known as Utkala, Kalinga and Odra Desa at different points in its history. For many centuries, Kalinga was a very powerful kingdom. The famous war that the emperor Ashoka waged against Kalinga proved to be turning point in his life.
The Bloodshed and killing of war sickened him, and led him to renounce violence and turn to Buddhism. This war had a great impact on the history of this region too, for under Ashoka’s benevolent guidance, literature, language, music and dance flourished here during ancient times. In 1568, the last Hindu ruler war thrown by a Muslim general and finally Odisha was annexed by Akbar in 1592. The Mughals ruled till 1803, when Odisha came into British possession following India’s independence the 26 princely states in the region were merged into modern state of Odisha.
Odisha is famous for the art of sand sculptures. According to belief, a famous poet Balram Das wanted to climb Lord Jagannath’s chariot during the Rath Yathra, but was not allowed. Saddended, he then went to the beach, the carved the images of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra on the golden sand and prayed to these images.
Due to the reigns of many different rulers, the culture, arts and crafts of the Odisha underwent many changes from time to time yet, the artistic skill of the Orissa artists remains unparalleled. From traditional times, Odisha has been considered as a state blessed with talent of arts right from palam leaves writing, to appliqué work, the craft men of Odisha have perfected it all several art forms that have died out over time in many parts of the country are still practised in parts of Odisha.
The crafts men create breathe taking works in silver filigree, wood craft, appliqué work, brass and bell metal work. They also excel in horn work, papier mache creation, terracotta figures and tie and dye textiles. In fact ever since the Mauryans set textile workshops here. Odisha has been an important hub for the craft of weaving there are now numerous weaving communities, which have more than 2 lakh weavers. When it comes to music and dance. Odissi music is colourful and charming and multi splendored. In addition to the world renowned Odissi and Chhau dance forms, Odisha boats of a number of folk dances too.
Konark Dance festival
The Konark sun temple in Odisha was built in the 13th century. It was conceived as a gigantic solar chariot with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels of them dragged by seven rearing horses. The exquisite natamandir or the dancing hall of the shrine is an architectural wonder. The Konark Dance festival is held in December every year, against the beautiful backdrop of this temple. A host of celebrated classical dancers from all over the country perform in the open air auditorium. This festival provides a platform for both the performing artists and the dance connoisseurs to appreciate the essence of various classical dance forms of the country.