Ever washed by the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal in the east, Orissa is bounded in the north by Bihar, in the north-east by West Bengal, in the south by Andhra Pradesh and in the west by Madhya Pradesh. This rural riverine land of multi-splendours, is watered by the rivers Mahanadi, Brahmani, and Vaitarani flowing in the south-easternly direction before merging in the Bay of Bengal. These rivers and their tributaries provide the state with rich alluvial tracts.
Orissa is possessed of an extensive plateau in the interior with sprawling coastal plains in the foreground. This plateau, an undulating upland, gently slopes down towards the Bay of Bengal. Its extensive palm fringed coast-line running to 482 kms., serene holiday beaches, pronounced rural environs, charming blue hills rising here and there abruptly from the plains and the plateau, green wood-lands, rock caves, so fascinatingly sculptured temples and other monuments , picturesque mud villages set in greens, modern industrial leviathans, colourful and gay tribals and so rich and varied handicrafts make Orissa a miniature India. Here is Bharat in a capsule.
THE ADIVASIS (TRIBALS)
In Orissa one out of every four persons is an Adivasi or Tribal. These tribals are heavily concentrated in the hilly tracts of Western Orissa. In the coastal regions they constitute a small percentage. They live there in a certain degree of seclusion and prestine form. They must have settled there in obscure past long before the coming of the Aryans.
The aboriginals still lead a simple, traditional and colourful life, hunting and agriculture, amidst deep woods, valleys, lush forests, and primitive situations in spite of the inroads of so-called modern civilization and developmental programmes. Over 62 distinct tribal groups live in Orissa, each one with its own culture and traditions different from the other. The main Adivasi groups include Kondh, Bondas, Santals, Juangs, Parajas, Oraon, Godabas and Koyas. The dormitory life among the Bonda youngs is quite fascinating. In the evening unmarried boys and girls enjoy music, dance, frolic and fun together and spend the night in dormitories until their mutual intimacy develops into a marriage. The simple, gay, abundant and colourful tribal life can be a great source of entertainment and education to the visitors. Their life is most characterized by dance, music, rituals, hunting, gaiety and wild ways.
Orissa has vast mineral, marine and forest resources for setting up large, medium and small scale industries. Today Orissa can boast of a leviathan Steel Plant at Rourkela, Sand Complex at Chhatrapur, Heavy Water Project at Talcher, Aluminium Smelter at Talcher and a fertilizer Plant at Paradeep. In spite of this rapid industrialization, Orissa remains mainly an agricultural state and over 76 percent of its people are dependent on agriculture. Rice, pulses, oil seeds, jute, sugarcane, turmeric and coconut are its main crops.
Orissa is also noted for its classical dance Odissi and many folk forms like Chhau, Chaiti Ghoda, Patua Jatra and tribal forms. Orissa is also famous for its traditional handicrafts which include glass beads, stone carvings, silver filigree, horn-work, wood carvings, lacquer and bamboo wares, toys, sea-shell work, banana fibre works, tassar fabrics, lustrous handloom silks and curtains.