Orissa is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of ancient republican nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC, that led to a turning point in the Emperor's life when deeply saddened by the bloodshed he embraced Buddhism in search of inner peace.The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April 1936 as a province in British India, and consists, predominantly of Oriya speakers. 1 April is therefore celebrated as Utkal Divas (Orissa Day).
Orissa is the ninth largest state by area in India, and the eleventh largest by population. Oriya is the official and most widely spoken language. Orissa has a relatively unindented coastline (about 480 km long) and lacks good ports, except for the deepwater facility at Paradip. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi River delta supports the bulk of the population. The interior of the state is mountainous and sparsely populated. Deomali at 1672 m is the highest point of the state.
Orissa is subject to intense cyclones. The most intense one, in October 1999, Tropical Cyclone 05B caused severe damage and some 10,000 deaths.
Orissa is home to the Hirakud Dam, one of the longest dams in the world. Orissa has several popular tourist destinations. Puri, with the Jagannatha's temple near the sea (famous for Rath Yatra or the Car Festival), and Konark, with the Sun Temple, are visited by thousands of tourists every year. The Jagannatha Temple of Puri, The Sun Temple of Konarka, The Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar, and the Barabati Fort of Cuttack are important in the archaeological history of India.