The land of Odisha or former Kalinga has undergone several changes in terms of its boundaries since ancient ages. It was also known by different names like Odra Desha, Kalinga, Hirakhanda, Mahakantara or Utkala in different eras. Unlike other Ancient Kingdoms in India, Odisha for most part of the History remained a stable and major power till medieval era due to wide spread martial culture and prosperity brought by successive native ruling dynasties. The year 1568 is considered a turning point in the history of Odisha. In 1568, Kalapahad invaded the state. This, aided by internal conflicts, led to a steady downfall of the state from which it did not recover.

Ancient period

Ancient texts

One of the sons of Vaivasvata Manu known as Saudyumna could change genders according to changing cycles of a day. As a female and known as Ila she gave birth to the founder of the Lunar or Aila dynasty by the name Pururavas after her union with Budha. As a male, he fathered three other sons Utkala, Gaya and Vinasva, each of who later established kingdoms by their own name in the eastern parts of India including some parts of Kuru kingdom.[1]

According to Mahabharata and some Puranas, the prince Kalinga founded the kingdom of Kalinga, in the current day region of coastal Odisha, including the North Sircars.[2][3] The Mahabharata also mentions one Srutayudha as the king of the Kalinga kingdom, who joined the Kaurava camp.[4] In the Buddhist text, Mahagovinda Suttanta, Kalinga and its ruler, Sattabhu, have been mentioned.[5]

Mentioned in Mahabharata

Mentioned in Devi-Bhagavata Puran

Mentioned in Buddhist and Jain texts

Kalinga Dynasty

This dynasty is mentioned in Chullakalinga Jataka and Kalingabodhi Jataka. The first king Kalinga I is said to have broken away from the Dandaka kingdom along with the kings of Asmaka and Vidarbha as its feudal states.

Unknown dynasty mentioned in Dathavamsha

Mentioned separately in continuity without any kings or their dynasty in the middle.

Nanda Dynasty

Kalinga was believed to be briefly annexed by Mahapadma Nanda.

When Chandragupta Maurya rebelled against the Nandas, Kalingas broke away from the empire of Magadha.

Maurya Empire

Ashoka invaded Kalinga in 261 BCE. Kalinga broke away from the Mauryan empire during the rule of Dasharatha.

Mahameghavahana Dynasty

Hātigumfā inscription of Emperor Kharavela at Udayagiri Hills.

Mahamegha Vahana was the founder of the Kalingan Chedi or Cheti Dynasty.[6][7] The names of Sobhanaraja, Chandraja, Ksemaraja also appear in context.[8] But, Kharavela is the most well known among them. The exact relation between Mahamegha Vahana and Kharavela is not known.[6]

It is not known that, if Vakadeva was a successor or predecessor of Kharavela.[9] From the inscriptions and coins discovered at Guntupalli and Velpuru, Andhra Pradesh, we know of a series of rulers with the suffix Sada who were possibly distant successors of Kharavela.[10]

Satavahana Dynasty

Gautamiputra Satakarni is known to have invaded Kalinga during his reign.[11]

The history of the region is obscure for a while after the reign

Naga Dynasty

An inscription dating from 3rd to 4th century found in Asanpat village in Keonjhar revealed the existence of this dynasty.[12]

Nala Dynasty

Nalas and Kalinga, with their other contemporaries, c. 375 CE

For some time in 4th century, the southern Odisha region around modern-day Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri and undivided Bastar, was ruled by the Nalas.[11]

Main article: Nala dynasty

Parvatadvarka Dynasty

During the same period as the Nalas, the region around modern-day Kalahandi was ruled by them. Not much is known about them.[11]

Kings mentioned in Raghuvasham of Kalidasa

Gupta Empire

Gupta Empire 320–600 CE

Samudragupta invaded Kalinga during his reign in c.350.[11] By c.571, most of Kalinga had broken away from the Gupta empire.[13]

Sura Dynasty

The later half of the 4th century, this dynasty was established in the South Kosala region.[11]

Sharabhapuriya dynasty

Main article: Sharabhapuriya dynasty

Not much is known about this dynasty. Everything known about them, comes from the inscriptions on copper plates and coins. They may or may not have also been known as the Amararyakula dynasty.[14] This dynasty is supposed to have started by one Sarabha, who may have been a feudal chief under the Guptas. They ruled over the modern-day region of Raipur, Bilaspur and Kalahandi.[14]

Mathara Dynasty

The Mathara dynasty ruled during the 4th and the 5th centuries. The Mathara rulers include:[15]

Vishnukudina Empire

Anantasaktivarman lost southern part of his kingdom to Madhava Verma I and the Matharas never recovered it.[11]

Indra Bhattaraka Varma possibly lost his Kalinga holdings to one Adiraja Indra, who possibly was Indravarma I of East Ganga Dynasty.[11][16]

Vigraha Dynasty

They ruled the region called South Tosali, around modern-day Puri and Ganjam, during second half of 6th century.[citation needed]

Mudgalas Dynasty

They ruled the region of North Toshali, the river Mahanadi served as the border between North and South Toshali. In 603 CE, they captured South Toshali from the Vigrahas.[citation needed]

Durjaya Dynasty

In mid-6th century CE, a chief, Ranadurjaya, established himself in South Kalinga.[17] Prithivimaharaja probably defeated the Mudgalas by his time.[11][17]

Gauda Empire

Shashanka invaded and possibly occupied northern parts of Kalinga during his reign around c. 615.[11][13]

Shailodbhava dynasty

Main article: Shailodbhava dynasty

They ruled from the region ranging from coastal Orissa to Mahanadi and to Mahendragiri in Paralakhemundi. This region was called the Kangoda mandala.[citation needed] Sailobhava, the founder of dynasty, is said to have born of a rock, hence the name Shailodbhava.[18] Sailobhava was the adopted son of one Pulindasena, who was possibly a chieftain. They were possibly the subordinates of Shashanka during Madhavaraja II, then they later rebelled.[11][19]


Harsha invaded Kalinga and Kangoda, soon after the death Pulakesi II in 642 CE. Madhavaraja II was the vassal of Harsha until the death of later in 647 CE.[11]

Bhaumakara Dynasty

Main article: Bhauma-Kara dynasty

The Bhauma or Bhauma-Kara Dynasty lasted from c. 736 CE to c. 940 CE.[20] They mostly controlled the coastal areas of Kalinga. But by c.850 CE, they controlled most of modern Orissa. The later part of their reign was disturbed by rebellions from the Bhanja dynasty of the Sonepur and Boudh region.[21]

The mandala states

Between the 8th and 11th centuries, Orissa was divided into mandalas which were feudal states ruled by chieftains.[citation needed] These chieftains swore allegiance to the Bhaumakaras.

Bhanjas of Khinjali Mandala

Khinjali refers to modern-day Balangir, Sonepur and Phulbani.

Bhanjas of Khijjinga Mandala

This refers to modern-day Mayurbhanj and part of Kendujhar

Sulkis of Kodalaka Mandala

Kodalaka refers to the modern-day district of Dhenkanal.

Later, the mandala was divided into two parts, Yamagartta Mandala and Airavatta Mandala. The Bhaumas allowed the Tunga and the Nandodbhava families to rule over Yamagartta Mandala and Airavatta Mandala respectively.

Tungas of Yamagartta Mandala

The Mandala refers to the northern part of modern Dhenkanal district. Jayasimha was ruler of the mandala before the Tungas, he was not a member of the Tunga dynasty.

It is not clearly known if Apsara Deva belonged to the Tunga family or not.

Nandodbhavas of Airavatta Mandala

This region extended over the territory comprising southern part of Dhenkanal district, some western portion of Cuttack district and almost the entire Nayagarh district.

Mayuras of Banei Mandala

This region roughly comprised the modern-day Banei sub-division and parts of Panposh subdivision of Sundergarh district.

Gangas of Svetaka Mandala

The capital of Svetaka known as Svetakapura has been identified with modern Chikiti.

Somvanshi Dynasty

Main article: Somavaṃśī dynasty

The Soma or Kesari Dynasty originates in South Kosala, but by the reign of Yayati I, they controlled most of modern Orissa.[26]

Janmejaya, the predecessor of Karnadeva and the son of Janmejaya II,[citation needed] was not considered a ruler by his successors, as he captured the throne in a violent coup and soon-after lost it.[27]

Early Medieval period

Chindaka Naga Dynasty

The Chindaka Nagas are believed by certain historians to have arrived in the Chakrakota Mandala region (Bastar and Koraput) with the expedition of Rajendra Chola. The Telugu Chodas who invaded the region later, settled as their feudal rulers. This dynasty continued to rule the region till the thirteenth century with not many details known about their rulers excepting a few.[28]

Eastern Ganga Dynasty

Narasimhadeva I built the Konark temple

Indravarman I is earliest known independent king of the dynasty. He is known from the Jirjingi copper plate grant.[11][16]

Gudari Kataka Eastern Ganga rulers

According to Gangavansucharitam written in sixteenth or seventeenth century, Bhanu Deva IV also known as Kajjala Bhanu founded a new small princedom in southern Odisha at Gudari in modern Rayagada district after he was toppled from power by his general Kapilendra Deva.[29]

Parlakhemundi Ganga rulers

Parlakhemundi state rulers were the direct descendants of the Eastern Ganga dynasty rulers of Odisha.[30]

Chikiti Ganga rulers

Historians conclude that the rulers of Chikiti were from the line of Ganga ruler Hastivarman.[31][32]

Naga Dynasty of Kalahandi

Main article: Kalahandi State

Early Chauhan rulers

This Rajput dynasty had arrived from Mainpuri or Garh Sambhor amidst a conflict with the Muslim rulers of Delhi around 13th or 14th century. The founder Ramai Deva was still in the womb of his mother when his father was murdered by the Yavanas and she fled to the hilly and forest terrains of western Odisha to seek refuge. The early 17th-century works by the Poet Gangadhar Mishra (a descendant of the famous Sanskrit poet Sambhukara from Puri) known as Kosalananda and early 18th-century work by the Chauhan king Vaijala Deva known as Probodha Chandrika and Jayachandrika give detailed descriptions about their origins and foundation of the state first at Patna and then Sambalpur.[33]

Ramai Deva was first adopted by a local priest or Brahmin chief known as Chakradhara Panigrahi who provided shelter and refuge to his fleeing mother during her pregnancy. Ramai Deva later won over other local chiefs and established the Patna state. He married the daughter of the Eastern Ganga King Bhanudeva III

Patna (Bolangir)

Main article: Patna (princely state)


Main article: Sambalpur State

Medieval period and after

Gajapati Dynasty

Govinda Vidyadhara, the general of Prataparudra, killed Prataparudra's remaining sons in c. 1541 and began the Bhoi Dynasty.[34][27]

Silavamshi rulers of Nandapur, Koraput

Silavamshi rulers are said to be the descendants of the Saila Vanshi rulers from Nadivardhana region near today's Nagpur.[35]

Suryavansh dynasty of Jeypore

The Suryavanshi rulers are said to be the descendant of Kanakasena. Vinayak Dev, a junior prince of a small kingdom in Kashmir migrated to Varanasi and later to Kalinga. He married the daughter of the last Silavanshi ruler of Nandapur Pratap Ganga Raj and became an heir to the throne. The last independent king to have ruled over the Utkala and Kalinga region Vishwanath Dev Gajapati was also born in this dynasty. At the time of his death, Ibrahim Qutb Shah led the invasion of Kalinga and defeated his son Balaram Dev.[36] As a result, Balaram Dev and his next four successors ruled as tributary rulers under Golconda Qutb Shahi. However, Vishwambhar Dev inherited the kingdom in 1672 and defeated the foujdar of Chicacole in 1675 thus claiming the integral parts of Kalinga (South Odisha and North Andhra Pradesh). The Suryavanshi rulers were referred to as the Maharajah of Kalinga until the early 18th century. In 1711, due to interior conflicts and maladministration both within and outside the kingdom, the Suryavanshis of Jeypore suffered a major backlash as they saw their northern and eastern feudatories claiming independence with the help of Marathas and Viziaram Raz who was the former minister of the kingdom and later the founder of Vizianagaram estate. [37]

Bhanja rulers of Middle Princely States

The palm leaf manuscripts like Bhaja Vansa Malika and Rayakula Vamsanu give the details about the first Bhanja king Adi Bhanja of Hariharpur state comprising both erstwhile Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar princely states.


Main article: Keonjhar State


Main article: Mayurbhanj State


Main article: Nilgiri State


Main article: Baudh State

The Baudh princely state had gradually become a small state after it had ceded away large sways of territories in the west and south to the Chauhans of Sambalpur and Daspalla region in Nayagarh which became a separate Bhanja princely state later.[38]


Main article: Daspalla State

The Daspalla Bhanja state was established by Sal Bhanja from the territories gifted to his father Narayan Bhanja Deo by his brother, the ruler of Baudh.[39]

Early Bhoi Dynasty

Bhoi dynasty was short-lived but during their reign, Orissa came into conflicts with the invaders from Golconda. After being deposed by Mukunda Deva, the dynasty shifts its power centre to Khurda where they continue as Rajas of Khurda.

Mukunda Deva

Mukunda Deva come to throne by a bloody coup but his reign was cut short by the armies of Sulaiman Khan Karrani which were led by Kalapahad.

Karranis of Bengal

Instigated by Mukunda Deva's alliance with Akbar, Sulaiman's army led by Kalapahad and Bayazid invaded Orissa in 1568.

During the reigns of these leaders, Ismail Khan Lodhi of Prithimpassa was made the Governor of Orissa. In the Battle of Tukaroi, which took place in modern-day Balasore, Daud was defeated and retreated deep into Orissa. The battle led to the Treaty of Katak in which Daud ceded the whole of Bengal and Bihar, retaining only Orissa.[42] The treaty eventually failed after the death of Munim Khan (governor of Bengal and Bihar) who died at the age of 80. Sultan Daud Khan took the opportunity and invaded Bengal. This would lead to the Battle of Raj Mahal in 1576.[42][43]

Mughal Empire

Man Singh I attacked Nasir Khan when the later broke a treaty by attacking the temple town of Puri. Orissa was annexed into the Bengal subah (province).

The Mughal rule was weak in the region, this allowed local chieftains to somewhat enjoy a semi-independence.

Subahdars of Orissa

Under Jahangir, Orissa was made into a separate subah.[44]

The later part of the Mughal empire was frequently marred with rebellions from local chieftains. The neighbouring subahs also encroached areas from Orissa.[11]


The Tarapur/Tarakote state was established in the 1680s in Korai by the Mughal general Syed Habibullah Ali Mirja, from the territories presented to him by Abu Nasar, the deputy of the Mughal prince Muhammad Azam, who was then the Mughal Subedar of Odisha. He styled himself as Raja Miyan after acquring the jaagirs. The Tarakote rulers had shown extreme resistance and had fought back the Marathas from Odisha in the battle of Kanthajharigada. However, after Odisha was handed over to the Marathas by the Mughals, The former reduced it to a Zamindari state.

Tarakote gets reduced to a Quasi princely Zamindari state by the Marathas.

After the British acquisition of the state, the British changed its name to Tarakot from Tarapur, as they considered it too small a state to be called "pur".

Titular rulers

Later Chauhan rulers


Main article: Sonepur State

The territory of Sonepur was procured by the Chauhans of Sambalpur from the Bhanja kings of Baudh.

Raj Khariar

The third branch of Chauhan rulers descended in the line of Patna's Ramai Deva started their separate rule from Raj Khariar in the seventeenth century.[47]

Later Bhoi Dynasty


After 1590, with the advent of Mughal rule, the centre of power of Bhoi dynasty had shifted from Cuttack to Khurda. They continue to remain as vassals under the Mughal, Maratha and eventually until they were ceded to the British empire under the British East Indian Company.[44][48][49][50][51]

The Rajas of Khurda continued to rule the region well into the 1800s but by then their power had diminished. Then the Raja of Khurda along with other local chieftain led a series of rebellions against the British which was suppressed and the Raja of Khurda was later exiled to Puri.


Maratha Empire

Maratha general, Raghoji I Bhonsle signed a treaty with Alivardi Khan, in 1751, ceding the perpetuity of Cuttack up to the river Suvarnarekha to the Marathas.[11]

Maratha administrators

British colonial period

Mukundeva Deva II was discontent under Maratha rule, so he agreed to help British troops to march through his territory without resistance.[44] In 1803, Maratha ceded Orissa to the British empire. The Rajas and other local chieftains lead a series of rebellions against the British. Notable among the rebellions is that of Surendra Sai.[11]

Odia speaking people at this time were placed in different provinces. Around 1870, a movement was started to unify the Oriya-speaking within a state. In 1936, the new state of Orissa was formed. About 25 princely states, remained independent but they were later integrated by 1947, except Saraikela, Kharsawan, Bastar, Parlakhemundi Zamindari (rest of today's Vijayanagaram).

See: List of Governors of Bihar and Orissa
See: Prime Minister of Orissa

Post Independence

See: List of Governors of Orissa
See: List of Chief Ministers of Orissa

See also


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