Orissa is bounded on the north by Jharkhand, on the north-east by West Bengal, on the east by the Bay of Bengal, on the south byAndhra Pradesh and on the west by Chhattisgarh.
The relatively unindented coastline (c.200 mi/320 km long) lacks good ports, except for the deepwater facility at Paradip. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi River delta, is exceedingly fertile. Rainfall is heavy and regular, and two crops of rice (by far the most important cereal) are grown annually. The state is known for its temples, especially in the cities of Konark, Puri, and Bhubaneswar.
Orissa has several popular tourist destinations. Puri, with the Jagannatha&39s temple near the sea, and Konark, with the Sun Temple, are visited by thousands of tourists from the West every year. Along with the Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar, the Jagannatha Temple and the Sun Temple of Konark are important in the archaeological history of India.
The dense population, concentrated on the coastal alluvial plain, is inhabited by the non-tribal speakers of the Oriya language. The interior, inhabited largely by the indigenous people known as Adivasis is hilly and mountainous. Orissa is subject to intense cyclones; in October 1999, Tropical Cyclone 05B caused severe damage and some 10,000 deaths.
Orissa is a littoral state with a long coastline and a storehouse of mineral wealth. Because of its mineral wealth and strategic location it attracts foreign investment in steel, aluminum, power, refineries, and infrastructure. Orissa is also emerging as a player in the outsourcing IT (Information Technology) and IT services industry. The total planned investment in the state is to the tune of 90 billion US dollars. However, there are environmental concerns and land acquisition for some of these projects have been opposed by the local people.
The capital of Orissa is Bhubaneswar. It is famed for its magnificent temples, numbering around a thousand. The city of Puri is nearby, at a distance of around sixty kilometers on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Puri is a famous holy city and the site of the annual festival of the deity Jagannath and is one of the four Dhams (holy places) of Hinduism.
The Chota Nagpur plateau occupy the western and northern portions of the state, while fertile alluvial plains occupy the coastal plain and the valleys of the Mahanadi, Brahmani, and Baitarani rivers, which empty into the Bay of Bengal. These alluvial plains are home to intensive rice cultivation.
Although Orissa&39s forest cover has been denuded lately, one of the greatest benefits of Orissa is its still vast expanses of unspoilt natural landscape, that offers a protected yet natural habitat to the state’s incredible wildlife. There are many wildlife sancturies in Orissa. The Similipal Tiger Reserve is a vast expanse of lush green forest with waterfalls, inhabited by tigers, elephants, and other wildlife. The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary has been protecting estuarine crocodiles since 1975.
Chilka Lake, a brackish water coastal lake on the Bay of Bengal, south of the mouth of the Mahanadi River, is the largest coastal lake in India. It is protected by the Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary, which harbors over 150 migratory and resident species of birds.