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Orissa is one of the States of India. It is located between the parallels of 17.49'N and 22.34'N latitudes and meridians of 81.27'E and 87.29'E longitudes. Orissa was separated from Bihar and came into existence on 1 April 1936. The capital was established at the historic city of Cuttack, located at the apex of the Mahanadi delta. In 1956, it shifted to Bhubaneswar, a planned modern town of the post-independence period. It is bounded by the Bay of Bengal on the east, Madhya Pradesh on the west and Andhra Pradesh on the south. It has a coast line of about 450 kms. It extends over an area of 155,707 square kms which is about 4.87 % of the total area of India. According to the 1991 census, it has a total population of 31,512,070 (3.73 percent of the total population of India) out of which about 16,237,000 are male and 15,275,070 are female

Geographical Distribution

Orissa has been divided into five major morphological regions

- the Orissa Coastal Plain in the east
- the Middle Mountainous and Highlands Region
- the Central plateaus
- the western rolling uplands and
- the major flood plains.

The Orissa Coastal Plains

The Orissa Coastal Plains are the depositional landforms of recent origin and geologically belong to the Post-Tertiary Period. The 75 metre contourline delimits their western boundary and differentiates them from the Middle Mountainous Region. This region stretches from the West Bengal border, i.e. from the River Subarnarekha in the north to the River Rushikulya in the south.

This region is the combination of several deltas of varied sizes and shapes formed by the major rivers of Orissa, such as the Subarnarekha, the Budhabalanga, the Baitarani, the Brahmani, the Mahanadi, and the Rushikulya. Therefore, the coastal plain of Orissa is called the "Hexadeltaic region" or the "Gift of Six Rivers". It stretches along the coast of the Bay of Bengal having the maximum width in the Middle Coastal Plain (the Mahanadi Delta), narrow in the Northern Coastal Plain (Balasore Plain) and narrowest in the Southern Coastal Plain ( Ganjam Plain). The North Coastal Plain comprises the deltas of the Subarnarekha and the Budhabalanga rivers and bears evidences of marine transgressions. The Middle Coastal Plain comprises the compound deltas of the Baitarani, Brahmani and Mahanadi rivers and bears evidences of past 'back bays' and present lakes. The South Coastal Plain comprises the laccustrine plain of Chilika lake and the smaller delta of the Rushikulya River.

The Middle Mountainous and Highlands Region

The region covers about three-fourth of the entire State. Geologically it is a part of the Indian Peninsula which as a part of the ancient landmass of the Gondwanaland. The major rivers of Orissa with their tributaries have cut deep and narrow valleys. This region mostly comprises the hills and mountains of the Eastern Ghats which rise abruptly and steeply in the east and slope gently to a dissected plateau in the west running from north-east (Mayurbhanj) to north-west (Malkangirig). This region is well marked by a number of interfluves or watersheds. The Eastern Ghats is interrupted by a number of broad and narrow river valleys and flood plains. The average beight of this region is about 900 metres above the mean seal level.

The Central Plateaus

The plateaus are mostly eroded plateaus forming the western slopes of the Eastern Ghats with elevation varying from 305-610 metres. There are two broad plateaus in Orissa :

(i) the Panposh - Keonjhar -Pallahara plateau comprises the Upper Baitarani catchment basin, and

(ii) the Nabrangpur - Jeypore plateau comprises the Sabari basin.

The Western Rolling Uplands

These are lower in elevation than the plateaus having heights varying from 153 metres to 305 metres.


There are four groups of rivers which flow through Orissa into the Bay of Bengal (Table-2). They are :

(i) Rivers that have a source outside the State (the Subarnarekha, the Brahmani and the Mahanadi).

(ii) Rivers having a source inside the State (the Budhabalanga, the Baitarini, the Salandi, and the Rushikulya).

(iii) Rivers having a source inside the Orissa, but flow through other states (the Bahudu, the Vansadhara, and the Nagavali).

(iv) Rivers having a source inside Orissa, but tributary to rivers which flow through other states (the Machkund, the Sileru, the Kolab, and the Indravati).

River Mahandi

It is the major river of Orissa and the sixth largest river in India. It originates from the Amarkantak hills of the Bastar Plateau in Raipur district of Madhya Pradesh. It is about 857 kms. Long (494 kms. In Orissa) and its catchment area spreads over 141,600 sq.kms. (65,580sq.kms.) in Orissa). The river carries on an average about 92,600 million m of water.

The Brahmani

It is the second largest river in Orissa. It originates as two major rivers like the Sankh and the Koel from the Chhotanagpur Plateau of Bihar and both join at veda Vyasa near Rourkela of Sundargarh district of Orissa forming the major River Brahmani. It flows through the Easter Ghats in Sundargarh, Kendujhar, Dhenkanal, Cuttack and Jajpur districts into the Coastal Plains and enters into the Bay of Bengal along with a combined mouth with the Mahanadi known as the Dhamra. The Brahmani is 799 kms. Long (541 kms. In Orissa) and its catchment area spreads over 39,033 sq.kms. in Orissa).

The Baitarani

It originates from the Gonasika hills of the keonjhar districts. It is 365 kms long and its catchment area spread over 12,790 sq. kms . It entres into the Bay of Bengal after joining of the Brahmani at Dharma mouth near Chandabali Subarnrekha.

The Subarnarekha

It orginates from the Chhotnagpur plateau of Bihar. It is 433kms (70kms in Orissa ) and has a catchment area of 19,500 kms (3,200kms in Orissa ) with a mean annual flow of 7,900 million n.

The Budhabalanga

It orginates from the easterns slops of the Similipala massif. It is about 175 kms long having a total catchment area of 4840 sq. kms with an annual flow of 2177 million m . It is major tributaries are the Sone, the Gangadhar, the Catra etc.

The Rushikulya

It originates from the Rushyamala hills of the eastern ghats in Phulbani district. It is 165 kms long with 8900 sq. kms of catchment areas. It's tributaries are the Baghua the Dhanei Badanadi etc. It has no delta at its mouth.

The Bahuda

It originates from the Ramgiri hills of the eastern ghats in Gajapati districts and joins the bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh . Its length 73 kms having a catchment area of 1250 sq. kms .

The Bansadhara

It originates from the Flanks of the Durgakangar hills (Lingaraj hills) of the eastern ghats in Kalahandi districts. It is 230 kms long out of which only 150 kms in Orissa. It entres in to the Bay of Bengal at Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. It has a catchment area of 11500 sq. kms .

The Nagabali

It originates from the Bijipur Hills of the eastern ghats near Lanji garah . It is 210 kms long out of which 100 kms is in Orissa. It has a total catchment area of about 9410 sq. kms.

The Salandi

It originates from the Meghasani Hills of the Similipal massif in Keonjhar district. It is 144 kms long with a catchment areas of 1793 sq. kms.

The Indirabati

It originates from the eastern ghats in Kalahandi districts. It is 530 kms long with a catchment area of 41700 sq. kms as a tributary it flows into the Godabari river.

The Kolab

It originates from the Sinkaran hills of the eastern Ghats in koraput districts. It has catchment areas of 20400 sq. kms .


There are a number of Mountain springs and hotspring in Orissa. The Badaghagara and Sanaghagara in Keonjhar districts, Satpasajya in Denkanal districts, the Chandikhole in Cuttack distrcts, the Barunei in Khorda distrcts, the Narayani and Nirmalajhar in Ganjam and Puri districts, the Patalaganga in Kalahandi districts, the Nursinghanath in Sambalpur distrcts and the Harisankar in Bolangir distrcts and some of the important mountain springs in Orissa.


Most of the rivers, either at the point of origin or over the mountainous bed, have waterfalls. The Barehipani and Joranda (Similipal ) in Mayurbhanja districts, Sanaghagara and Badaghagara in Keonjhar district Padhanpuri in Deogarh district khandadhar (Banei) in Sundargarh district Phurlijharan, Khandabaladhar, and Rabandhara in Kalahandi district Kentamari and Putudi in Boudh and Phulbani district DumDuma in Malkangiri district and Bogra in Koraput district are some of the major waterfalls of Orissa.


The Chillika Lake

is blakish water lagoon located in the southern part of the Orissa coastal plane. It areas varies 780 sq. kms and 144 sq. kms from winter two monsson months having 71 kms long 32 kms breadth. It salinity decleans to a minimum during the monsson. But in winter due to the overflow of the tidal water through the narrow opening from the Bay of Bengal, it is maximum.


is a sweet water lake located in Banki of Cuttack districts. It is 3 kms in lengh and 1.5 kms in breadth. Sara is another sweet water lake located near Puri. It is 5 kms in length and 3 kms in breadth. Kanjia is another sweet water lake with about 134 acres of area located in Nandankanan of Cuttack districts near Bhubaneswar.


Oriya, one of the oldest languages in the country having Sanskritic origin, is the predominant language spoken in the state and its outlying tracts. It is spoken by about 84 per cent of the population of Orissa. Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Telugu are widely understood and sometimes spoken. Oriya is the official language of the state. English is spoken by the educated few. According to the 1981 census the Oriya-speaking people constituted 3.62 per cent of India's population and are nearest in strength to the speakers of three other major languages, namely Malayalam (4.00 per cent), Kannada (3.96 per cent)and Punjabi (3.00 per cent).

The Adivasis of Orissa

Orissa has one of the largest concentrations of tribal population in the whole country (22.13 per cent according to the 1991 census). In concrete figure they number around 7 million. Tribal communities differ from all others in many respects, their distinctive features being clan organization and territorial exogamy, classes social structure, youth dormitory, colourful rituals and folk art, music and dance. The 62 tribes in Orissa wary in their size, degree of acculturation and economic patterns. The major tribes living in Orissa are the Santab, Oraons, Gonds and Kondhs. Although many of the Adivasi tribes are found in other parts of the country, the Juangs, Gbhuyans, Saoras, Bondas and Bathudis are exclusive to Orissa. Most tribal people are basically working people, working to gather food and fuel or engaged in agriculture which is often at a primitive level or maybe in some primitive craft: Their work is usually of subsistence type. The Adivasis may not be the so-called gentlemen, for they have to dig and delve, slash and sow or ,pin and weave, but their uncomplicated Adamic approach to life and the basic human virtues, which constitute the hallmark of their integrated culture is fit for emulation, if feasible, by our acquisitive society.


Over 76 percent of the people are dependent on agriculture. Out of the gross cropped area of 87.46 lakh hectares, 18.79 lakh hectares are irrigated. Rice, pulses, oil seeds, jute, mesta, sugarcane, coconut and turmeric are important crops. There are also cash crops like tea, cotton and rubber. The state contributes one-tenth of the rice production in India. Apart from irrigation, floods, droughts, low yield per hectare and division and fragmentation of holidays are the most important agricultural problem of the state. Jute, gram, sesame, ragi, mustard, rape and maize are second-ranking crops in different districts. District-wise, jute ranks second in Cuttack and Balasore, gram in Puri and Phulabani. Maize in Mayurbhanj.

On the basis of distribution of individual crops, following agricultural zones have been worked out :

- The Baripada plain to the east of Budhabalanga. It is dominated by the sugarcane cultivation.

- The south Balasore plain. It is dominated by cereals.

- The southern valley of the Baitarani. This is mainly a sugarcane cultivation area.

- The Panposh plateau which is dominated by pulses.

- These zones cover the entire Mahanadi, Brahmani and southern portion of the Baitarani deltas. Throughout the zone, pulses are extensively cultivated. In the core, sugarcane, jute, oilseeds and other cereals are widely grown.

- This region is solely dominated by oilseeds and is located on the eastern bank of the Brahmani river.

- These zones are found in the middle and lower Brahmani valley. They are dominated by pulses. In the core of this region cotton and sugarcane are extensively cultivated. Pulses, sugarcane and cotton are the principal crops.

- This zone dominated by sugarcane is located in the Mahanadi valley and is confined to the Dhenkanal plains.

- In the Nayagarh region oilseeds are the principal crop.

- The upper Mahanadi valley is dominated by pulses.

- These zones located in the hilly terrain of the Udayagiri and Phulabani regions, almost overlap each other and are dominated by pulses and oilseeds.

- The Rushikulya plain is the second most important agricultural region in Orissa. It is dominated by pulses.

- The Vamsadhara valley is a region dominated by sugarcane cultivation. Rayagada stands at the centre of this zone. Oilseeds are also widely cultivated to the east of the Vamsadhara and thus a separate region is formed.

- This small region in the upper reaches of the Nagavali is dominated by sugarcane cultivation.

- This is a hilly region almost the same size as the former, but is principally a cereal area.

- The Nowrangpur plateau is mainly a region of pulses. Towards the southern part of this area, however, sugarcane dominates. So a separate region is worked out with pulses and sugarcane.

- The rolling uplands of Balangir-Titlagarh-Patnagarh and Bhawanipatna are dominated by cereals.

- The Sonepur plain is dominated by sugarcane cultivation.

- The Sambalpur and Bargarh rolling uplands, are dominated by pulses. In the northern part of this region sugarcane and in the south oilseeds dominate.

- This region covers the rolling uplands of the Ib basin and the Panposh rolling uplands of the Brahmani. Pulses are the principal crops here.

Industrial growth

Orissa has abundant natural resources and a large coastline. It contains a fifth of India's coal, a quarter of its iron ore, a third of its bauxite reserves and most of the chromite. It receives unprecedented investments in steel, aluminium, power, refineries and ports. India's topmost IT consulting firms, including Satyam Computer Services, TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), MindTree Consulting, Hexaware Technologies, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Infosys have large branches in Orissa. With IBM, Syntel, Bosch and Wipro all coming up with their development centers in Orissa. So far, two of the S&P CNX 500 conglomerates have corporate offices in Orissa viz. National Aluminium (2005 gross income Rs.51,162 million) and Tata Sponge Iron (2005 gross income Rs.2,044 million).

Orissa is notable as one of the first Indian states to have tackled its structural problems during the post 1994 Indian economic reforms. Orissa was the first state in India to begin to privatise its electricity transmission and distribution businesses. Over the period between 1994 and 2000 Orissa's former state electricity board (SEB) was restructured to form Gridco. This corporation was then divided into Transco and a collection of distribution companies. Attempts were then made to sell the distribution companies to the private sector. Like many other states, in 1996 Orissa was losing over 50% of the electricity it was delivered. The scale and importance of these reforms is notable and an important milestone in India's dramatic economic development.


Availability of cheap, adequate and uninterrupted power supply is an essential prerequisite for industrialisation. In Orissa, power is generated from two sources: thermal (non-renewable) and hydel (renewable). Hydel power is being generated from the perennial rivers like Mahanadi at Hirakud, Brahmani at Rengali, Machkund at Balimela and Machkund waterfall and Kolab. Thermal power is being generated from coal, mined at Talcher in the Brahmani valley and at the Rampur-Hingir coal fields in the IB valley. Talcher coal is suitable for blending with Coking coal from Jharia, which is being used in the blast furance at Rourkela steel plant.

Orissa's power generation growth is phenomenal. It was only 9.6 MW during the first plan, 260 MW during the second and 429 MW during the third. The state installed capacity in August 1991 at the end of the seventh plan, stood at 1611.5 MW while the unrestricted demand was 1271.0 MW and availability of power was only 712 MW. This power deficit is crippling the growth of industries in the state. The daily demand for power is more but the supply is limited. Power loss during transmission is another major problem.


Aqua Culture

Prawn culture has assumed great significance since 1982-83 when brackish water prawn culture started. It is being expanded as Orissa has a long coast line covering old Cuttack, Puri, Baleshwar and Ganjam districts.

In the coastal region of the state,1,263 mechanised boats and 3,500 country craft are operating from fishing centres like Chandipur, Chudamani, Salugaon, Kalupadgha, Pathara and Najari, where fishing jetties have been constructed. At Gopalpur, Dhamara and Astarang all -weather fishing ports have been built. While at Paradeep a large deep sea fishing port has come up. When Paradeep is fully operational it will have a fleet of 50 deep sea fishing vessels and 500 mechanised boats.

Recently, Orissa shrimp seed production centre (OSSPC) which is the only one of its kind in the country has been started. This centre is cultivating 'Bagda' type prawn which fetches a very high price in foreign markets.

Freshwater Fishing

Freshwater resources have been estimated to be 80,000 ponds of various sizes, 4,000 Km of river channels and canals and 0.25 million hectares of reservoirs which are suitable for fresh water fish cultivation, for which there is a ready local market. The catch finds a ready market either in Calcutta or in Orissa. The Kaibartas of Ganjam, the Nolias of Puri, the Gokhas of Cuttack and the Keatas of Balasore are the principal social groups who depend primarily on fishing. The Hirakud, Balimela, Salandi and the Bhimakurd reservoirs are the potential places for fish culture.


S.No Districts Area in Sq Km Population Headquarters
1. Angul 6,347 9,61,037 Angul
2. Balasore 3,706 16,96,583 Balasore
3. Bolangir 6,552 12,30,938 Bolangir
4. Boudh 4,289 3,17,622 Boudh
5. Bhadrak 2,788 11,05,834 Bhadrak
6. Bargarh 5,832 12,07,172 Bargarh
7. Cuttack 3,915 19,72,739 Cuttack
8. Deogarh 2,781 2,34,238 Deogarh
9. Ganjam 8,033 27,04,056 Chatrapur
10. Dhenkanal 4,597 9,47,870 Dhenkanal
11. Gajapati 3,056 4,54,708 Parlakhemundi
12. Jagatsinghpur 1,759 10,14,242 Jagatsinghpur
13. Jaipur 2,885 13,86,177 Panikolli
14. Jharsuguda 2,202 4,46,726 Jharsuguda
15. Keonjhar 8,336 13,37,026 Keonjhar
16. Kalahandi 8,197 11,30,903 Kalahandi
17. Koraput 8,534 10,29,986 Koraput
18. Kendrapara 2,546 11,49,501 Kendrapara
19. Khurda 2,888 15,02,014 Khurda
20. Mayurbhanj 10,410 18,84,580 Baripara
21. Malkangiri 6,115 4,21,917 Malkangiri
22. Nawarangpur 5,135 8,46,659 Nawarangpur
23. Nayagarh 3,954 7,82,647 Nayagarh
24. Nawapara 3,408 4,69,482 Nawapara
25. Puri 3,055 13,05,365 Puri
26. Kandhamal 6,004 5,46,281 Phulbani
27. Rayagada 7,585 7,13,984 Rayagada
28. Sambalpur 6,702 8,09,017 Sambalpur
29. Sundargarh 9,942 15,73,617 Sundargarh
30. Sonepur 2,284 4,76,815 Sonepur

How to reach

By Air

Bhubaneswar is well connected by air to all major cities in India. For visitors coming from abroad, whether you enter India from Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore or Hyderabad, you will find convenient flights to Bhubaneswar.

By Train

Bhubaneswar, Puri, Balasore, Cuttack, Khurda Road and Berhampur are major railheads on the East Coast Railway. Besides, other locations like Rourkela, Sambalpur, Talcher, Dheknanal and Koraput are also linked to the major cities by rail.

By Road

Orissa has a fine network of roads crisscrossing through the length and breadth of the state. In fact, to visit many of the destinations in the state, the preferred mode of travel is by road even when rail links are available. This is because the journey through the hinterland is an end in itself.