Extent of Odisha on account of Huan Tsang

Huan Tsang the contemporary Chinese traveler of Harshavardhana of Kanauja mentioned Odisha as U-cha or Oda. He states that the U-cha country was more than 1400miles in circuit.

Odisha on account of Huan Tsang

Based on his description Sir Alexander Cunnigham described the extent of Odisha as follows:

The kingdom of U-cha or Oda, corresponds exactly with the modern state of Odisha (during British period). By a reference to the “Biography of Huan Tsang”, it would appear that the capital of Odra was 700li to the south-west of Tamralipti, and as this bearing and distance agree with the position of Jajipura (Modern Jajpur), I think that pilgrim must have returned to Tamluk from Kirna Suvarna (Karna Suvarna) before proceeding to Odra. In the travels of the pilgrim, the bearing and distance are taken from Karna Suvarna; but this is perhaps a mistake, as they are ususlly referred to the capital, which, whether we place it at Jajpur or at Katak (Modern Katak), is due south of Karna Suvarna.

The province was 7000li or 1167miles, in circuit, and was bounded by the great sea on the south-east, where there was a famous sea port town named Che-li-is-ching, or Charitrapura, i.e. the town of embarkment or departure. this was probably the present town of Puri or “the city”, near which stands the famous temple of Jagannath. Outside the town there were five contiguous stupas with towers and pavilions og great height. I presume that it is one of these which is now dedicated to Lord Jagannatha. The three shapeless figures of this god and his brother and sister, Baladeva and Subhadra are simple copies of the symbolical figures of the Buddhist triad Buddha, Dhrma and Sangha of which the second is always represented as female. The Buddhist origin of the Jagannatha figures is proved beyond all doubt by the adoption as the representative of the Brahmanical Avatar of Buddha in the annual almances of Mathura and Banaras.

The political limits of Odisha, under its most powerful kings, are said to have extended to the Hughli and Damuda rivers on the north, and to Gadavari on the south. But the ancient Province of Odradesa or Ordesa was limited to the valley of Mahanadi and to the lower course of the Suvarnarekha river. It comprised the whole of the present districts of Katak (Cuttack) and Sambalpur, and a portion of Medinipur. It was bounded on the west by Gondwana, on the north by the wild hill-states of Jashpur and Singhbhum, on the east by sea, and on the south by Ganjam. These also must have been the limits in the time of Huan Tsang, as the measured circuit agrees with his estimate.

1. Ancient Geography of India by Sir Alexander Cunnigham
2. History of Orissa by Sahu, Sahu and Mishra