Odisha, as the name now stands has had different names in different periods: Kalinga, Utkal or Odradesha. Its history dating back to more than two thousand years, speaks of its rise and fall and the ultimate rise to become a cultural trove of India.
Kalinga that was mentioned in ancient texts like Mahabharata, Vayu Purana and MahagovindaSuttanta talks about the presence of Shabar tradition than Vedic ones. In 261 B.C Ashoka, the Great invaded Kalinga but unnerved by the terrible bloodshed on the banks of the river Daya, embraced Buddhism and preached peace and goodwill for the rest of his life. Thus Kalinga started getting influenced by Buddhist religion and traditions. The Kalingan Empire reached the pinnacle of glory during the reign of Emperor Kharavela who even pursued the Greek King Demetrius out of India. The inscriptions on HatiGumpha (Elephant Cave) on the Udayagiri Hill in Bhubaneswar record the story of his reign. Sometime during the end of the 8th century saw the emergence of Jajpur-on-Baitarani as an epicentre of Brahminical religion. Thus Buddhism and Jainism took a back seat for Hinduism.
Trading had started as early as the 4th and 5th centuries B.C., when the Sadhabs(Odiaseafaring merchants) went to the islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Bali with their merchandise. However, all throughout the Ashokan rule and thereafter, Kalinga maintained its trade links with overseas countries during the first three centuries of the Christian era but the kingdom itself was divided into a number of principalities.
Orissa started changing hands from Emporer Kharavela to Monarchs like Samudragupta, Kings of Somavamsi dynasty and finally shifting into the rules of Mughals in 1568 A.D. Subsequently, Odisha came under the Moghuls and the Marathas and finally in 1803 A.D., under the British. Odisha formed a part of greater Bengal but didnt lose its own separate cultural identity. The political capital shifted to Patna when the state of Bihar-Odisha was carved out of Bengal. Odisha became a separate province in 1936 A.D. with Cuttack as its capital. The new capital was built in Bhubaneswar after independence. However, the state took its present shape only in 1949 with the merger of 27 princely states.