Tosala or Tosali formed an important political unit in ancient Odisha. It has been described frequently in ancient Indian texts. It is mentioned in the ‘Parisistha’ of Atharva Veda along with Kosala and the Puranas have associated the people of this territory with Kotalas, Nisadas, Traipuras, Tumuras, Valdisas etc. The Jaina text Avasyaka Niryukti mentions about this land as follows: “Lord Mahavira, in the eleventh year of his monkship, came to Tosali where he was taken to be a robber and hit hard. From here, the venerable teacher went to Masoli, where too he was taken to be a robber, was arrested and brought to the king’s court, but was released as the king was a friend of Mahavir’s father. On his return jurney from Masoli Mahavira again came to Tosali. Here, again, he was caused great troubles and was on the point of being hanged when he was rescued through the timely interference of the Tosali-Kshatriyas.
In Asoka’s inscription at Dhauli, Tosali has found mention as a city which has been identified by some scholars with modern Sisupalagarh, but Tosali or Tosala as the name of a territory also occurs in the subsequent literature and epigraphic records. In the Gandavyuha, a part of the Buddhist Avatamsaka, there is the mention of a country named Amita Tosala, the chief city of which was Tosala. Tosali as a territory has found mention in the copper plate records of Sambhuyasa and Lokavigraha and it also occurs in the Bhauma copper plate grants. From these references it appears that Tosali was divided into two parts, northern and southern. With regard to the extent of these divisions. N. K. Sahu observes that “the extent of the territories of both the Tosalis can be tentatively known from the Soro, Patiakela, Midnapore and Kanasa Copper Plates. The modern Midnapore, Mayurbhanj and Balasore districts as well as the northern part of the Kataka (Cuttack) district may be said to have formed the kingdom of Uttara Tosali, while Daksina Tosali comprised roughly the modern Puri district and parts of Cuttack and Ganjam districts upto the river Rishikulya and the river Mahanadi appears to be the dividing line between the two territories.”