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Ancient History Of Odisha

"Explore the rich tapestry of Odisha's history, from ancient civilizations to medieval dynasties. Uncover the cultural gems and architectural marvels that define this East Indian state. Dive into the tales of great empires, vibrant traditions, and the evolution of Odisha through the ages. Discover the historical milestones that shaped the land of temples, beaches, and art. Journey through time with our comprehensive guide to the history of Odisha, a fascinating blend of heritage and legacy."

history of odisha

Odia derives its name from the Odra or Udra tribes that lived in contemporary Odisha's central coastal zone (Khurda and Nayagarh districts). Odisha's Pre-Historic name is Udra, while the current name of the old Kalinga Empire is Odisha.

Odisha, also known as Odra Desa, Udra, and Kalinga during the ancient period, has a rich history that has seen the rise of numerous powerful kingdoms. Human history in Odisha extends back to the Lower Palaeolithic age, as evidenced by several archaeological sites found around the state. The reign of Nandas marks the beginning of political history. In 350 BC, the Nandas governed Magadha and were among the first to include Kalinga into their dominion.

In 260 BC, the Mauryan dynasty led by Emperor Asoka fought the historic Kalinga War. This conflict changed Ashoka. In roughly 100 BC, the Chedi dynasty arose, followed by the Muranda dynasty. In 350 AD, the Gupta dynasty took control of Kalinga and partitioned it into four states. Sub-regional kingdoms arose during the Gupta era. Matharas, Nalas, Parvatadvarkas, Mehas, Vindyatavis, and Sarbhapuriyas are some of the families.

Virgrahas, Mudgalas, and Mandala states were some of the kingdoms that arose following the Gupta dynasty. The Sailodbhava Dynasty began in 553 AD and lasted around 130 years. The Bhauma-Kara dynasty was created in the early part of the eighth century AD.

It had a large number of female rulers. The Somavamsi dynasty ruled for 300 years beginning in the middle of the 10th century AD. It was the final dynasty to be created in ancient Odisha before the age of mediaeval empires began.



The Mahabharata is the first to mention Kalinga and Odra. It cites these places, as well as the sacred river Baitarani and Goddess Viraja.

The Ramayana mentions Kalinganagara, which is located west of the Gomati River, as well as Gandhamardan and Utkala, which are related with the Mekala and Dasarna areas.

The Kapila Samhita and Prachi Mahatmya are also regarded historical sources in Odisha.

Puranas such as Vayu Purana, Matsya Purana, Bhagavata, Harivamsa Purana, Vishnu Purana, and others include details on Kalinga and Utkala, as well as its mythical kings.

2)Jaina and Buddhist Sources

Historically, the people of Odisha were mostly adherents of Jainism and Buddhism. Thus, the Jaina and Buddhist literatures describe the people and culture of ancient Odisha.

Avasyaka Niryukti and Harivamsa, as well as Buddhist literature such as Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, Kurudharma Jataka, Vessantara Jataka, Mahaparinirvana Sutta, Dathavemsa, Mahavastu, Kumbhakara Jataka, Kalinga Bodhi Jataka, and others, contain descriptions of Kalinga and Utkala.

history of odisha

3)Other Literary Sources

Other literary works, such as Kautilya's Arthashastra, Manusmriti, Narada's Brihaspati, Katyayana's Yajnavalkya, Kamandaka, and others, emphasise Odisha's political institutions and systems.

Other major ancient literary manuscripts of Odisha include the Baudhayana Dharmasastra, Ashtadhyayi, Brihat Samhita, Harshacharita, and Ratnavali.

4)Foreign Accounts

• The inhabitants of Kalinga have been referenced by Greek historians like as Pliny, Diodorus, Curtius, and Plutarch.

• In his work Indica, Megasthenes mentions the Gangetic Kalinga Region.

• Pliny classified Kalinga into three categories: Gangetic, Middle, and Kalinga.

• Ptolemy, a Greek geographer, mentions various places of Kalinga, including Palur, Naingain, Katikardam, Kannagar, and others.

• The most significant of the foreign narratives is that of Hiuen Tsang, a Chinese pilgrim who visited Odisha in 638-39 AD. In his work Si-yu-ki, he described the religious circumstances of ancient Odisha. He referred to Odra as Wu-Cha.


Inscriptions are a significant source of knowledge about Odishan history. The pictographic projects are the state's first examples of inscriptions.

Pictographs may be found in many rock shelters in the hills of the districts of Sundergarh, Sambalpur, and Kalahandi. The Vikramkhol and Gudahandi rock art sites in Jharsuguda and Kalahandi are two instances of such writings.

Engravings are also found on copper plates, stone pieces, and temple walls. The oldest epigraphs of the pre-Christian era are two sets of Asokan edicts (distinct Kalinga edicts unearthed at Dhauli and Jaugada), which shed information on King Asoka's governmental system in Kalinga.


The study of coins is referred to as numismatics. Coins aid in the study of trade, commerce, time period, religion, metallurgy, and so on. The coins discovered at Odisha archaeological sites are as follows:

7)Punch-Marked Coins

Punch-marked coins are the oldest coinage discovered in Odisha. These coins were in use between the 4th century BC and the 4th century AD.

These coins bear punch marks of the Sun, animals, birds, trees, humans, mathematical shapes, and so on. These coins, which were composed of silver and copper and were uneven in shape and size, were plentiful in coastal eastern Odisha.

8)Coins of Puri-Kushana

Puri-Kushana coins, which have been discovered in Odisha from Mayurbhanj to Ganjam, are Kushana coins and their imitations. These coins were in use from the first to third centuries AD.

9)Gupta Coins

Gupta archer type gold coins have been discovered in Bhanapur, Khiching, and Angul. These coins provide information on trade and business in Odisha during the Gupta period, which lasted from the fifth to the seventh centuries AD.

10)The Nala Coins

The Nala coins of Odisha's western area shed insight on the 5th-6th century AD Nala kingdom in South Kosala. The back of these Nala coins is blank, while the obverse features a humped bull with a crescent and the name of the monarch in box headed lettering.


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