The capital of Orissa is Bhubaneshwar. It is famed for its magnificent
temple, numbering around a thousand. The city of Puri is nearby, at a
distance of around sixty kilometers on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
Puri is a famous holy city and the site of the annual festival of the
deity Jagannath and is one of the four Dhams (holy places) of
Hinduism. The world-famous "car festival" (rath yatra) occurs in Puri.
The Chota Nagpur plateau occupies the western and northern portions of
the state, while fertile alluvial plains occupy the coastal plain and
the valleys of the Mahanadi, Brahmani, and Baitarani rivers, which
empty into the Bay of Bengal. These alluvial plains are home to
intensive rice cultivation.
Although Orissa's forest cover has been denuded lately, one of the
greatest attractions of Orissa is its still vast expanses of unspoilt
natural landscape, that offers a protected yet natural habitat to the
states incredible wildlife. There are many wildlife sanctuaries in
Orissa. The Simlipal National Park Tiger Reserve is a vast expanse of
lush green forest with waterfalls, inhabited by tigers, elephants, and
other wildlife. The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary has been
protecting estuarine crocodiles since 1975.
The religion of ancient
Kalinga was Jainism. Rishabhnath and Parshvanath
the first among the Jaina tirthankars preached and were revered in
this land. Kalinga is also well mentioned and its history documented
in Jain texts. Kalinga's Jain traditions were a major cause for
inciting the attacks first by Mahapadma Nanda and later by Ashoka who
were egged on by courtiers and advisers. The Khandagiri and Udaygiri
caves are among the only stone monuments dedicated to the Jain
religion which still survive. They were constructed by Emperor
Kharavela and his courtiers. Nanda attacked Kalinga and looted several
parts of the state. He also took away the idol of Lord Rishabhdev to
Magadha. But when Kharvela came in power he convulsed Nanda and
brought back the idol of Lord Rishabdev, the symbol of pride for
Kalinga. Jain texts have praised him as "Mahamegh Vahana Jain Raja
Paramarhat Kharvela". These inscriptions are there in the jain caves
of Udai Giri & Khanda Giri.