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Geography of Odisha

The state of Odisha lies within the latitudes 17.780 & 22.730 and longitudes 81.37 E and 87.53E.Geographically the state is bounded by the states of West Bengal on the North East, Jharkhand, on the North, Chhatisgarh on the west, and the Andhra Pradesh on the South, the Bay of Bengal on the east. The state has costal line of about 450kms the state extends over an area of 155,707 sq. kms. which accounts about 4.87% of total area of India. According to 2001 census, the state has total population of 36,706,920 out of which 18,612,340 are male and 18,094,580 are female.


There are four meteorological seasons are felt in Odisha namely:

  1. Winter season (January-February)
  2. Pre-monsoon season (March-May)
  3. South west monsoon season (June-September)
  4. Post monsoon or north east monsoon season (October-December)

Besides descriptions made above particularly three seasons are mainly experienced in Odisha: Summer, Monsoon, Winter. However in Odisha locally there are six seasons: Grishma, Barsha, Sarata, Hemanta, Sisira, Basanta which cover the whole year.

Morphology of Odisha

Morphologically the state of Odisha can be divided into five parts:

  1. The coastal plains
  2. The middle mountainous country
  3. The rolling upland
  4. River valleys
  5. Subdued plateaus

The coastal plains

The coastal plains of Odisha stretch from Subarnarekha in the North to Rusikulya in the South. They are narrow in the north, widest in the middle, narrowest in the lake Chilika coast and broad in the south. The coastal plains are the gift of six major rivers, which bring silt from their catchments, has reclaimed this area from the depths of the Bay of Bengal. The rivers from north to south are the Subarnarekha, the Budhabalanga, the Baitarani, the Brahamani, the Mahanadi and the Rushikulya. The coastal plains can be termed as a land of "Six deltas". These deltas include the Subernarekha, the Budha Balanga, the middle coastal plain, the combine deltas of the Baitarani, the Brahamani, the Mahanadi and the south coastal plains (The Rusikulya plains).

The mountainous region

The mountainous region of Odisha covers about ¾ of the area of the state. The region is a part of Indian peninsula. Here deep and broad valleys are cut by the Baitarani, the Brahamani, the Mohanadi, the Rusikulya, the Bansadhara and the Nagavali rivers. They are fertile, well drained and thickly populated. Morphologically this region can be divided in to the following units.

  1. The Simulia and meghasana mountains
  2. The Baitarani and the Brahamani interfluous
  3. The water shed between the Brahmani and the Mahanadi
  4. The water shed of Rusikulya and Vansadhara. The elevation ranges from 6102-1068 meters

The rolling uplands

The rolling uplands are lower in elevation than the plateaus. They vary from 153m-305m. They are the products of continued river action, are rich in soil nutrients, and are situated in the koelsankh basin of the upper Brahamani in the IB, the Suktel and the tell of the middle Mohanadi and the Sabari basins. The rolling uplands may be grouped as follows: the Rajgangpur uplands, the Jharsuguda uplands, the Bhawani pattna uplands, the Bargarh uplands, the Balangir–Titlagarh uplands-the Patnagarh uplands, the Malkanigir uplands and the Rairangapur uplands.

The river valleys

The river valleys are net product of the action of rivers. They are fertile and times present and undulating topography. The major river valleys of Odisha are associated with the Brahamani, the Mahanadi and the Vansadhara rivers.

The subdued plateaus

The subdued plateaus (305-601m) revel all the peculiarities of peninsular tablelands. They are almost flat and the monotony of geography is interrupted by the river valleys. These features are commonly met with in the upper Baitarani and the Sabari basins of the Keonjhar and Koraput Districts, respectively. In these uplands sheet erosion is most common while gullying is confined to the river valleys. These plateaus can be divided in to the Panposh–Keonjhar–Pallahara plateaus and the Nawrangpur- Jeypore plateaus.

Natural Resource of Odisha


There are four groups of rivers which flow through Odisha into the Bay of Bengal. They are:

  • Rivers that have a source outside the state (the Subarnarekha, the Brahmani and the Mahanadi)
  • Rivers having a source inside the state (the Budhabalanga, the Baitarani, the salandi, and the Rusikulya)
  • Rivers having a source inside the Odisha flow through other states (the Bahudu the Vansadhara, and the Nagavali)
  • Rivers having a source inside Odisha, but tributary to rivers which flow through other states (the Machkund, the sileru, the Kolab and the Indravati)
River Mahanadi

It is the major river of Odisha and sixth largest river in India. It originates from the Amarkantak hills of the Bastar plateau in Raipur district of Chhatisgarh. It is about 857 kms. Long (494 kms in Odisha) and its catchment area spreads over 141,600 (65,580 sq.kms) in Odisha. The river carries average about 92,600 million m. of water.

The Brahmani

It is the second largest river in Odisha. It originates two major rivers like the Sankh and the Koel from the Chhotangpur Plateau of Bihar and both join at Veda Vyasa near Rourkela of Sundergarh district of Odisha forming the major River Brahmani. It flows through the Eastern Ghats in Sundargarh, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Cuttack and Jajpur districts in to the coastal plains and enters into the Bay of Bengal along with a combined mouth with the Mahanadi known as the Dhamra. The Brahmani is 799 kms. Long (541kms In Odisha) and its catchment area spreads over 39,033 sq. kms in Odisha).

The Baitarani

It originates from the Gonasika hills of the keonjhar district. It is 365 kms. long and its catchment area spreads over 12,790 sq. kms. It enters into the Bay of Bengal after joining of the Brahmani at Dhamra mouth near chandabali Subarnrekha.


It originates from Chhotnagpur plateau of Bihar. It is 433 kms. (70 kms. in Odisha) and has a catchment area of 19,500 kms. (3,200 kms. in Odisha) with a mean annual flow of 7,900 million.

The Budhabalanga

It originates from the eastern sloops of the Similipala massif. It is about 175 kms. long having a total catchment area of 4840 sq. kms with an annual flow of 2177 million m. Its major tributaries are the Sone, the Gangadhar, the Catra etc.

The Rushikulya

It originates from Rushikulya hills of the Eastern Ghats in Phulbani district. It is 165 kms. long with 8900 sq.kms of catchment areas. Its tributaries are the Baghua the Dhanei Badanadi etc. It has no delta at its mouth.

The Bahuda

It originates from the Ramgiri hills of the Eastern Ghats in Gajapati district and joins the Bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh. Its length 73 kms. having a catchment area of 1250 kms.

The Bansadhara

It originates from the flanks of the Durgakangar hills (Lingaraj hills) of the Eastern Ghats in Kalahandi districts. It is 230 kms. out of which only 150 kms. in Odisha. It enters in to Bay of Bengal at Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. It has a catchment area of 1150 sq. kms.

The Nagabali

It originates from the Bijipur hills of the Eastern Ghats near Lnjigarh. It is 210 kms. long out of which 100kms is in Odisha. It has a total catchment area of about 9410sq.kms.

The Salandi

It originates from the Meghasan hills of the Similipala massif in Keonjhar district. It is 144kms long with catchment areas of 1793 sq.kms.

The Indrabati

It originates from the Eastern Ghats in Kalahandi district. It is 530 kms. long with a catchment area of 4170 sq. kms. as a tributary it flows into the Godabari River.

The Kolab

It originates from the Sinkarn hills of the Eastern Ghats in Koraput district. It has catchment areas of 20400 sq. kms.


Most of the rivers, either at the point of origin or over the mountainous bed, have waterfalls. The Barehipani and Joranda (Similipal) in Myurbhanja district Sanaghagara and Badaghagara in Keonjhar district. Padhanpuri in Deogarh district khandadhar (Banei) in Sundargarh district Phurliharan, Khandabaladhar, and Rabandhar in kalahandi district Kentamari and putudi in Boudh and Phulbani district DumDuma in Malkangiri district and Bogra in Koraput district are some of the major waterfalls of Odisha.


The Chillika Lake is blackish water lagon located in the southern part of the Odisha coastal plane. It salinity decleans to a minimum during the monsoon. But in winter due to the overflow of the tidal water through the narrow opening from the Bay of Bengal, it is maximum.

Ansupa is a sweet water lake located in Banki of Cuttack district. It is 3 kms. in length and 1.5 kms. in breadth. Sara in another sweet water lake located near puri. It is 5 kms. in length and 3 kms. in breadth. Kanjia is another sweet water lake with about 134 acres of area located in Nandankanan of Cuttack district near Bhubaneswar.

Name of the springs Rivers /tributary etc. Location /District
1. Bada Ghagra Ghagaras, a tributary to the Baitarani Kendujhar district
2. San Ghagra San Ghagaras a tributary to Baitarani Ditto
3. Kapilas A tributary to the Brahmani Dhenkanal District
4. Chandikhol A tributary to Mahanadi Cuttack District
5. Mahavinayak - -
6. Barunei Tributary to the Daya Near Khurda of khurda district
7. Narayani Draining to lake Chilika Puri district
8. Nirmal Jhar Draining to lake Chilika Near Khalikot in Ganjam District
9. Pradhanpat A tributary to the Brahamani Near Deogarh of Deogarh district
10. Phurligharan A tributary to the Indravati Near Bhawanipatna of Kalahandi district
11. Khandadhar A tributary to the Brahamani Near Bonei of Sundargarh district
12. Nurshingh Nath A tributary to the Tel Balangir district
13. Harishankar Jira river, a tributary to Tel Balangir district
14. Gosinga Jhar Kuaria Nala, a tributary to the Mahanadi Near Kantilo of puri district
15. Koiliharan A tributary to the Mahanadi Near Jharsuguda of Jharsuguda district.
16. Jharbada Mankada river a tributary to the Brahamani Near Malaygiri in Dhenkanal district.

Hot Springs

There are only three hot springs which drain out mineral water, containing a very high percentage of sulphur. One of them is at Deulijhara near Athamallik on the flood plains of the Mahanadi. The second one is at Atri near Khurda. The third is located on the eastern slopes of the Eastern Ghats at Taptapani of Ganjam district.

Tidal Rivers

The tidal sections of the rivers and their distributaries are confined to the lower reaches of the rivers in the Odisha coastal plain. They vary as per the shape of the mouth, depth of the channel, and extension of the sand bars in the river mouths. The tidal channels vary from a maximum of 90 km. in Brahmani to a minimum of 5km in case of Baghuni from their respective mouths. The mahanadi is tidal for about 35km whereas the Devi, a distributary of the Mahanadi, is tidal 45km. following table gives a picture of the tidal channels in Odisha.

Scenic Wild Life

One of the greatest benefits of Odisha's vast expanses of unspoilt natural landscape has been its ability to offer a protected yet natural habitat to the state's incredible wildlife.


A short distance from the capital city, Bhubaneswar. The Nandanakanan zoo lies in the splendid environs of the Chandaka forest, along the rippling waters of the Kanjia lake. It also contains a botanical garden and part of it has been declared as sanctuary.

Famous for its white tiger population, Nandanakanan or the Garden of Gods has become a hot favourite, with visitors getting an excellent opportunity to enjoy seeing these regal animals in their natural glory-in an environment conductive to their growth. Over 67 kinds of mammals, 18 varieties of reptiles and 81 species of birds coexist in this deeply forested boundaries.

The zoo enjoys an excellent reputation internationally, for successfully breeding back panthers, Gharial crocodiles and white tigers in captivity.

White Tiger Breeding

One of the rarest creatures in the world the regal white tiger received a new lease of life with the important research and concentrated efforts initiated to try and breed them in the natural environs of Nandankanan.

In 1980 on a day full of excitement and jubilation the first litter of white tigers were born to Deepak and Ganga, two normal tawny tigers.

Subsequent litters of white tigers have been distributed to zoos both at home and aboard. Currently Nandanakanan is home to over 34 white tigers.

Endangered species such as the Asiatic lion, 3 Indian crocodiles, Shanghai lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, India Panogolin, mouse, deer and countless birds, reptiles and fish have been breeding successfully at Nandankanan.

Some of the other attractions of Nandankanan are the 34 aquaria which are home to large variety of fresh water fishes. The reptile parks cave-like entrance is guarded by a lifesize dinosaur, inside, numerous species of crocodiles, lizard's turtles and snakes share the park with natural ease.

The rope way connecting the zoo with the botanical garden over the lake, the boating facilities and the toy train for children have added new features.


Apart from Nandankana Similipala is a national park of national reputation, which belongs to Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. In this sanctuary the visitors have liberty to have glanced the movements of wild animals from a safety distance, arranged by the authority. During winter a number of visitors visit this park. This park is well connected with road ways. The guest houses of OTDC make smooth arrangements for staying of visitors.

Gharial Breeding

For the first time ever, a captive breeding centre was created for Gharial crocodiles. This important task was also facilitated by the gift of an adult male from the Frankfurt zoo.


The white tiger Safari established in 1991 offers visitors the heady excitement of viewing the rare white tigers from specially designed protected buses.

The lion safari offers an adventurous zing to the trip to Nadankana.

The Chandaka Elephant Reserve

Only one of its kind. It is perfect for eco-tourism activities. Apart from the fabulous Elephants, Cheetah, Bear, Peafowl, Sambar and numerous other animals roam around doing their business unhampered.


Bhitarakanika wild life sanctuary is in north eastern coastal plain of newly found Kendrapada district. It covers on the area of about 650sq.kms (anonymous, 1986) of which approximately 380 sq.kms is under forest cover (map No.2). However, the core area of Bhitarakanika is 141.44 sq. which includes 115.5 sq.kms of mangrove forest. It is bounded by the river Dhamra (Confluence of Brahamni and Baitarani), Brahmani and about 35 kms long stretch of sea shore. It is indeed a treat to visit Bhitarakanika either through Chandbali or through Rajnagar/ Gupti, from where one has to take a motor launch ride to visit this many splendoured estuary.

The music of streams flowing from mud flats after the tide, as one navigates through the creeks, particularly in summer months is indeed breath taking. Unlike many protected areas one can visit this park round the year, except for short periods, when it is closed to visitors for census operation or for nesting etc. The fauna includes estuarine crocodile, fishing cat, Cheetah, Sambar, water monitor lizard, python, king cobra, dolphin and many species of resident and migratory birds, like white bellied sea eagle, Brhaminy and Pariah kites, vulture, cormorant , darter, king fishers, open billed stork, white ibis, painted stork, whistling teals, Brahamini duck, pochards, bar headed geese, herons, and egrets.


It is close to Bhitarkanika. The list shall remain incomplete if mention is not made of Gahirmatha rookery of olive Ridley sea turtles which have made this the largest nesting ground of the species in the world where up to 6, 00,000 female turtle nest. It is fascinating experience to cruise through the estuarine rivers flanked by dense mangrove vegetation and stay in a forest Rest Houses at Dangmal, Ekaula, Habelikhati or Gupti.

Satakosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary

Satakosia Gorge wildlife in heart of Odisha has the potential of becoming one of the finest protected areas in the country but so far not much support has been given to this. This sanctuary alongwith Baisipalli spread on either side of Mahanadi boasts of Tiger, Leopard, Elephant gaur, Sambar, Cheetal, Barking deer, Malabar giant squirrel, Gharial, Mugger, Python, King cobra, Pea fowl, Red jungle fowl, Hornbills, hill myna migratory birds in the rivers etc. A gharial research center and interpretation centre are located close to the forest Rest House at Tikarapada. A cruise through the Satakosia Gorge is an unforgettable experience.

Large Forest Coverage

The total forest in the state in 1981 was 59, constituting about 38% of the total geographical area. In 1989, it stood at about 30%; but according to 2001 census, the coverage of forest area is 37% of the total land area.

Based on the relief, rainfall and vegetation types, the forest of Odisha are divided in to the following types:

  1. Northern Tropical Semi-evergreen forests:

    These occur in the lower hills and valleys above 600m elevation in the forest divisions of Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal, Athagarh, Puri, Nayagarh Parlakhemundi, Koraput nd Kalahandi. While the top storey trees are deciduous and remain leafless for a short lime, the second storey is evergreen. The important tree species are: Arjun, Mango, Makar kendu (Diospyros embryopteris), champak, Rai, manda and Nageswa.

  2. Tropical moist deciduous forests also known as Monsoon forests:

    These occur in the lower elevations in Mayurabhanj and Keonjhar districts and the districts bordering of Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The top canopy is formed by sal (Shorea robust) and its allies Asan, piasal, Kurum, Kangra and Dhawra and daba bamboo (Bamboosa arundinacea)

  3. Tropical Dry Deciduous forests:

    They occur in the drier central and western areas in parts of Balangir, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Khariar, Deogarh and Gobindpur divisions. Teak instead of sal, and salia bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus) instead of Daba bamboo predominate in these forests.

  4. Tidal Mangrove forests:

    These are limited in extent scattered and confined to the seacoast, especially in Bhitarkanika (Balasore) and the mahanadi delta. The characteristic tree species are karika (Bruquiera), Sundari (Heritiera) , Bani (Avicennia) , Rai (Rhizophora),Guan (Expcaria, etc. As Hental (Phoenix Paludosa) grows here abundantly in clusters, the mangrove forests are locally called Mental van or Hental forests.

Forest are a major constituent of the natural resources in the form of timber, firewood and a large number of profitable forest products like Sabai grass, lac, resin, catechu, tassar silk, honey, natural dyes, etc. The valuable timber species are teak seasum or Rose wood, piasal, kassi, kurum, Arjun, Gambhari, Giringa, and such other varieties of polishable wood that are used for furniture, and Sal, Asam, Dhau, Bandhan, Kangra, etc. which are hard and utilized in various construction works. Kendu (Diospyros Xylocarpus) leaves which are used for wrapping bidi constitute a profitable source of revenue as they are largely in demand all over the country. Bamboo is of extensive utility not only in the life of the common man but also essential raw material for paper industry. It is used in the paper mills of the state and supplied outside, especially to west Bengal. Sabai Grass is also used for making paper pulp, but mostly for rope making. Sericulture, undertaken in the forest areas, provides a good source of income to the people. Certain parts of the forest, for example the Gandhamardan hill in Balangir, abound in medicinal plants and herbs. Nux vomica which grows widely in most forests and rauwolfia serpentira,which grows in the jungles of the south, are common examples.

Abundant Mineral Resources

The state is endowed with vast mineral deposits like Coal, iron-ore, Manganese-ore, Bauxite, Chromite, Dolomite, Limestone, graphite, etc. Besides that other important mineral resources are also available abundantly in Odisha.

The main exported minerals of the state are Chromite, Coal, Dolomite, Iron-ore, Manganese and Bauxite. The value of mineral production of Odisha 2000-2001 (provisional) was 2 ,776.15 crore rupees and 5.23% share to all India value. The total production of minerals and ores in the state during 2000 -2001 registering an increase of 8.79% in quantity and 4.84% in value.

Vast Coast Line

India has a long coastline of 6200kms. The state of Odisha apart from other states of India is endowed with a long coast line of 480kms along the Bay of Bengal, interspersed with numerous ports like Paradeep, Gopalpur, Dhamra, (Chandbali), Bahabalapur, etc. The coast line of Odisha covers the distance of Chandaneswar to Gopalpur.

Beautiful Beaches

All the sea beaches of Odisha are rated best in the country among all other beaches. All the beaches are spotlessly clean, absolutely quiet, with hardly any crowd. The beaches give a lot of opportunity to the visitors for swimming, bathing, strolling etc. All the sea beaches of Odisha are attractive round the year. The beautiful beaches of Odisha include Puri, Chandrabhaga near Konark, Balighai and Ramachandi (8 kms. from puri), Gopalpur near (Berhampur of Ganjam District) Chandipur (Bhadrak district) Chandaneswara (88 kms. from Balasore) etc.

Source: IT Department, Government of Odisha