Kalinga (India)

This article is about the ancient Indian kingdom. For other uses, see Kalinga.
3rd century BCE
Kalinga c. 261 BCE
Kalinga c. 261 BCE
Capital Not specified
Languages Sanskrit, Odia
Government Not specified
   Established 3rd century BCE
   Disestablished 3rd century BCE
Today part of  India

Kalinga was an early kingdom in central East India that comprised almost whole Odisha and also some parts of Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh.[1][2][3] It was a rich and fertile land that extended from the Damodar River/Ganges to the Godavari River and from Bay of Bengal to the Amarkantak range in the west.[4] The region was scene of the bloody Kalinga War fought by Ashoka of the Maurya Empire approximately 265 BCE.[5]


The Kalingas occupied the extensive territory stretching from river Vaitarani in Odisha to the Varahanandi in the Visakhapatnam district.[6] Its capital in the ancient times was the city of Dantakura or Dantapura (now Dantavaktra fort near Chicacole in the Ganjam district, washed by the river Languliya or Langulini).[6]

The core area of the historical Kalinga now forms the sea shore of Orissa and Andhra region of Andhra Pradesh, up to river Godavari state in India.

Kalinga is mentioned as "Calingae" in Megasthenes' Indica:

The Prinas and the Cainas (a tributary of the Ganges) are both navigable rivers. The tribes which dwell by the Ganges are the Calingae, nearest the sea, and higher up the Mandei, also the Malli, among whom is Mount Mallus, the boundary of all that region being the Ganges.
Megasthenes fragm. XX.B. in Pliny. Hist. Nat. V1. 21.9–22. 1.[7]
The royal city of the Calingae is called Parthalis. Over their king 60,000 foot-soldiers, 1,000 horsemen, 700 elephants keep watch and ward in "procinct of war."
Megasthenes fragm. LVI. in Plin. Hist. Nat. VI. 21. 8–23. 11.[7]

The Kalinga alphabet[8] derived from Brahmi was used for writing.

Kalinga was a powerful kingdom during the Mauryan era. The kingdom fell when emperor Ashoka led a war against the kingdom, leading to its bloody defeat in the Kalinga War. It seems to have gained independence soon by the time of king Kharavela.[9]


Mahapadma Nanda the ruler of Magadha is presumed to have conquered Kalinga during his reign around c. 350 BCE. The Hathigumpha inscriptions mentions the suzerainty of the Nandas in the Kalinga region.[10] The inscriptions also mention irrigation projects undertaken by the Nanda kings in the state during their reign.[11]

In Asurgarh, beads and punched coins belonging to an unknown king dating to the pre-Mauryan period have been discovered.[12]

Ashoka's conquest

Main article: Kalinga War

Ashoka campaigned against the Kalingans and routed them in about 260 BC.[13] He defeated Raja Anantha Padmanabhan in the war resulting in the conquest of Kalinga and its incorporation into Maurya Empire.

Anantavarman Chodaganga

In the twelfth century, one of the most important ruler of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, King Anantavarman Chodaganga, decided to erect a temple for Purrushotama Jagannatha at Puri. Subsequently, in 1230 AD, King Anangabhima III dedicated his kingdom to the deity and proclaimed himself as the "deputy" of the God. As the temple gained in importance as a center of pilgrimage, its authority in social and political matters also increased. All those who conquered Kalinga(Odisha), such as the Mughals, the Marathas and the English East India Company,attempted to gain control over the temple. They felt that this would make their rule acceptable to the local people.

In Mahabharata

Main article: Kalinga Kingdom

Kalinga is mentioned in the legendary epic Mahabharata, along with the Vodhas and again along with the Kiratas residing in the east, at (6,9). Kalinga King Srutayu is stated to have fought the Mahabharata war for the Kauravas. Kuru king Duryodhana's wife was from Kalinga. Kalingas sided with Duryodhana in the Kurukshetra War. The founders of five eastern kingdoms, which included: Angas (east, central Bihar), Vangas (southern West Bengal and Bangladesh), Kalingas (Sea shore of Orissa), Pundras (western Bangladesh and West Bengal, India), Suhmas (north-western Bangladesh and West Bengal) shared common ancestry. Two capitals (Dantapura and Rajapura) of Kalinga were mentioned in Mahabharata, probably there were many Kalinga kings, ruling different territories of Kalinga.

See also

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  1. An Advanced History of India by R. C. Majumdar, H. C. Raychaudhuri, and Kaukinkar Datta. 1946. London: Macmillan
  2. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/310196/Kalinga
  3. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-12-02/visakhapatnam/35547536_1_jagannath-temple-kalinga-lord-jagannath
  4. An Advanced History of India. By R. C. Majumdar, H. C. Raychaudhuri, and Kaukinkar Datta. 1946. London: Macmillan
  5. Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, 1961 (revision 1998); Oxford University Press
  6. 1 2 Sastri 1988, p. 18.
  7. 1 2 Megasthenes Indica
  8. "[Omnigator] Kalinga". Ontopia.net. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  9. Agrawal, Sadananda (2000): Śrī Khāravela, Sri Digambar Jain Samaj, Cuttack, Odisha
  10. K. Krishna Reddy. Indian History. Tata McGraw-Hill Education. pp. A–149, C–39. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  11. "Hathigumpha Inscription of Kharavela of Kalinga" (PDF). Epigraphia Indica. XX: 86–89. 1933. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  12. Prabhas Kumar Singh. "Asurgarh – An Early Urban Centre Of Orissa" (PDF). Orissa Historical Research Journal. 3 (XLVII). Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  13. Thapar 2003, p. 180.


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