Orissa, officially spelled Odisha, is a state of India, located on the South east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in 261 BCE. The modern state of Orissa was established on April 1, 1936, as a province in British India and consisted predominantly of Oriya speakers. April 1 is therefore celebrated as Utkala Dibasa (foundation day of Orissa). Cuttack remained the capital of the state for over eight centuries until April 13, 1948 when Bhubaneswar was officially declared as the new capital of Orissa, and still is the present capital of this state.
Orissa is the 9th largest state by area in India, and the 11th largest by population. Oriya (officially spelled Odia) is the official and most widely spoken language, spoken by three quarters of the population. Orissa has a relatively unindented coastline (about 480 km long) and lacked good ports, except for the deepwater facility at Paradip, until the recent launch of the Dhamara Port. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi river delta supports the bulk of the population.
The landscape of Orissa is dotted with a large number of temples. The temples of Orissa conform to the Indo Aryan Nagara style of architecture, with distinctive features specific to this region.
The Sun Temple, Konark built by the Eastern Ganga dynasty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best known of these are the Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneshwar, Jagannath Temple at Puri and the Sun Temple at Konark. The temples of Orissa exhibit a majestic grandeur. An Oriya temple (deula) usually consists of a sanctum, one or several front porches (jagamohana) usually with pyramidal roofs, a dancing hall (nata mandir) and a hall of offerings (bhog mandir).
The Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneshwar boasts of a 150-foot (46 m) high deul while the Jagannath Temple at Puri is about 200 feet (61 m) high and it dominates the skyline of the town.
Only a portion of the Sun Temple at Konark, the largest of the temples of the Golden triangle exists today, and it is still staggering in size. It stands out as a masterpiece in Orissa architecture.
Orissa is also well known as a Buddhist and Jain pilgrimage destination. North-east of Cuttack, about 10 km from Bhubaneshwar, there are Buddhist relics and ruins at the three hilltop complexes of Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, which still bear witness to Buddhism's fruitful tryst with this region until well into the 13th century.