Orissa lies on the eastern coast of India bounded by the
Bay of Bengal in the east, West Bengal in the north-east, Bihar in the north, Madhya Pradesh in the west and Andhra Pradesh in the south. Spread across 155,707 sq km, it contains diverse habitats from lush green and hilly terrain to coastal plains and rolling river valleys, and rivers. Orissa was conferred statehood in the Indian Republic in 1950, with the famous temple town and handicraft center Bhubaneswar as its capital.
Oriya is the official language. The climate is primarily tropical. The coastal regions are more prone to heavy rain and tropical cyclones.
Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are the two major cities. The Mahanadi, Brahmani and the
Baitarani are the three major rivers. Hirakud dam, one of world’s longest dams, is built across the Mahanadi. Orissa has no giant industrial plants, but is famous for its traditional tie and dye technique of 'ikat' and exquisite handicrafts. One of the oldest and finest forms of Indian classical dance, Odissi, has its origin in Orissa.
Orissa is known for its temples scattered across the state. The holy cities of Puri, Konark, and Bhubaneswar are often referred to as Orissa's 'golden triangle.' Puri is the site of the annual festival of Lord Jagannath. Other famous temples are the
Lingaraj temple, Jagannath temple, and the Sun temple of Konark or the 'Black Pagoda.'
Orissa is also home to several beaches, Nandankanan Biological Park which is famous for white tigers, Chandaka Elephant Reserve, and Chilika, the largest brackish water lake in the country. Major festivals celebrated are Magha Mela, Konark Dance Festival, Sitala sasthi, Maha Shivratri,
Holi, Rath Yatra and the Bali Yatra, held on the banks of the Mahanadi at Cuttack.