Historical Geography of Odisha

To conduct a scientific study on the history of any land, a thorough understanding of its geography is required. It will undoubtedly be difficult for a historian to investigate the course of events unless he has accurate information about the precise locations of various locations that appear prominently in the narrative. On the other hand, no historian of a state can ignore the enormous influence of the state’s physical features, which shape the character of its people and their socioeconomic and political circumstances.

Geographical significance in relation to historical significance gives rise to the concept of ‘historical geography.’ Historical geography is primarily concerned with reconstructing the geography of a region from a bygone era. By piecing together fragments of scattered evidence, all facets of that period’s geography can be reconstructed. The historical geography of ancient Odisha deserves special attention in this context. In ancient times, the region now known as Odisha was known by a variety of names, the most notable of which were Kalinga, Utkala, Odra, Tosali, Kangoda, and Kosala. To gain an understanding of Odisha’s ancient geography, one must first gain an understanding of the antiquity and extent of the major ancient geographical units. Each of them has been mentioned in various sources throughout its historical existence, providing fascinating details about it. The following are the ancient geographical units:

1. Kalinga
2. Utkala
3. Odra
4. Tosali
5. Kangoda
6. Kosala

All of these geographical units contributed to the enrichment of Odisha’s political and cultural history. As previously stated, Kalinga, Utkala, Odra, Tosali, Kongoda, and Kosala were distinct territories with their own distinct boundaries that changed from time to time during the ancient and early mediaeval periods. Occasionally, it is noted that some of these terms were used interchangeably, for example, Odra was referred to as Tosali during the Bhaumakara. At the beginning of the fifteenth century A.D., poet Sarala Dasa equated Udisa or Odisha with Odrarastra, which later became Odisha rajya during the reign of the great Gajapatis. Odisha has been the name of this empire land of the Odia speaking people since the days of Kapilendradeva (1435-1467 A.D.).

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