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The land corresponding roughly with modern Orissa, but at times much larger in area,passed under the name of Utkala, Kalinga, and Odra Desa in ancient and medieval times. In origin, these names were associated with peoples. The Okkala or Utkala, the Kalinga, and the Odra or Oddaka were mentioned in literature as tribes. Ancient Greeks knew the letter two as Kalingai and Oretes. Ultimately the names became identified with territories. For centuries before and after the birth of Christ, Kalinga was a formidable political power, extending from the Ganges River to the Godavari. Approximately between the 11tn and 16th centuries the name fell into disuse: instead, the name Odra Desa was gradually transformed into Uddisa, Udisa, or Odisa, which in English became Orissa. The language of Odisa came to be known as Oriya or Oria.

At the dawn of Indian history, therefore, Kalinga was already famous. Buddhist sources refer to the rule of King Brahmadatta in Kalinga at the time of Buddha's death. In the 4th century BC the Indian emperor builder, Mahapadma Nanda, conquered Kalinga, but the Nanda rule was short-lived. In 261 BC the Indian emperor Ashoka invaded Kalinga and fought one of the greatest wars of ancient history. He then renounced war, became a Buddhist, and preached peace and nonviolence in and outside India. In the 1st century BC the Kalinga emperor Kharavela conquered vast territories that collectively came to be called the Kalinga Empire. In the early centuries of the Christian Era Kalinga was a maritime power. Its overseas activities culminated in the 8th century AD with the establishment of the Sailendra Empire in java. During the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries Orissa was ruled by the powerful Bhaumakara dynasty, and in the 10th 11th centuries by the Soma dynasty. The temple of Lingaraj at Bhubaneswar, the greatest Saiva monument of India was begun by the Soma king Yayati.

Medieval Orissa enjoyed a golden age under the Ganga dynasty. It's founder Ananta Verma chodagangadeva (1078-1147), ruled from the Ganges to Godavari with Cuttack as it's capital. He began the construction of the Temple of Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) at Puri.
Narasinghadeva 1 (1238-1264) built the Sun Temple at Konark, widely acknowledged as the finest Specimen of Hindu architecture. In the 13th and 14th centuries, when the whole of India was overrun by the Muslims, Independent Orissa remained a citadel of the Hindu Religion, Philosophy, art and architecture. The Gangas were succeeded by the Surya dynasty. It's first king Kapilendradeva (1435-1466), won territories from his Muslim neighbors and greatly expanded the Orissan Kingdom. His successor, Purusottamdeva, maintained these gains with difficulty. The next and last Surya king, Prataprudradeva, became a disciple of Chaitanya, the great medieval saint, and became a pacifist. After his death (1540) Orissa declined, and 1568, when King Mukundadeva was killed by his own countrymen, Orissa lost its independence to the Afghan rulers of Bengal.

The Mughal emperor Akbar conquered Orissa from the Afghans. When the Mughal Empire fell, part of Orissa remained under the Bengal Nawavas, but the greater part passed to the Marathas. The Bengal sector came under British Rule in 1757 after the battle of Pallassey; the Maratha sector was conquered by the British in 1803.

Thus, the British did not conquer the entire Oriya speaking area at the same time; nor did they administer the whole area, when conquered, as one unit. Consequently, there arose a demand for unification on the Linguistic basis, and as a result Orissa was constituted a separate province on April 1st 1936. Even then, 26 Oriya princely states remain outside the provincial administration. After, Independence in 1947, how ever, all those states except Saraikala and Kharasuan (which merged with Bihar), were included in Orissa. The Constitution of India (1950) recognized Orissa's state hood.

Orissa has the same animal life as the rest of Peninsula India. Monkeys are common. Carnivores include different Tigers. The Elephant, Wild Buffalo, The Black Buck, and the four - Horned Antelope are found in some districts. The Peafowl is one of the features of Orissa Forests. Lake Chilika is noted for its marine Fauna.

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