Cuttack – The Silver City of Odisha
“It’s not necessary to go far and wide. I mean, you can really find exciting and inspiring things within your hometown” – said Daryl Hannah. We all say “Home sweet home” but those who are away from their native lands are the ones who can truly fathom the depth of this quote. Pursuing the prospects of a bright future away from your hometown can make one nostalgic. But at the end it is the memories that dance before our eyes just like a live movie. Here is a tribute to my hometown, the place I love the most.
Sitting at the central point of four rivers ( Mahanadi, Kathojodi, Kuakhai and Birupa) is Cuttack, the Silver city of Odisha. Stretching from Phulnakhara across river Kathojodi in the south to Choudwar across river Birupa in the north, and Kandarpur in the east to Naraj in the west. It covers an area of 192.5 sq.km and is the most old and important part of the city is centered on a split of land between river Kathajodi and river Mahanadi. It is bounded on the south east by Old Jagannath Road. It is the second largest city in Odisha and has been categorized as Tier-II city as per the ranking system used by the Government of India.
River Mahanadi runs in the northern part of the state separating the main city from Jagatpur Industrial Area. River Kathajodi forms a riverine island of Bayalis Mouza , after separating the main city from Gopalpur. River Kuakhai separates the southern part of the city into two halves, namely Pratap Nagari and the new town of Naranpur. River Birupa runs through the north of the Jagatpur Industrial Area separating it from Choudwar. There are numerous ponds in the city that stores water. River Mahanadi provides much of the drinking water to the city.
The name Cuttack is anglicized from the Sanskrit word “katak” which means military establishment or a cantonment. Earlier the city was known as Bidanasi Cuttack at the time Barabati Fort was in existence. Established in 989 CE, Cuttack was the seat of government in Odisha for close to 1000 years before its burgeoning size forced the creation of a new capital, Bhubaneshwar in 1948.
The earliest written history of Cuttack dates back to Keshari Dynasty when it was established as a military cantonment by king Nrupa Keshari in 989 CE. By 1750, it came under the control of the Maratha rule. Being the convenient point of contact between the Marathas of Nagpur and the English merchants of Bengal, it became the blooming business centre. Being occupied by the british in 1803, it became the capital of Odisha division in 1816. The capital wa shifted to Bhubaneshwar in 1948 . From then it has remained the administrative, judicial (because of the High Court) and commercial capital of Odisha.
There are a number of piligrimage sites in Cuttack. One of them is the temple of Cuttack Chandi, which is probably the most famous religious establishment of the city. The temple is erected in devotion to Goddess Chandi, the presiding deity of the city. The temple is located in proximity to river Mahandi. The temple is mostly famous for Durga puja and Kali puja celebrations. The Gada Chandi temple is equally famous where Gada Chandi, the living goddess, resides. It is situated in the historic Barabati Fort.
The Dhabaleshwar temple is situated on an exotic island in river Mahanadi and is embellished and adorned with stone carvings that dates back to the early 10th and 11th century. The tranquil aura, in which the temple is situated, emboldens the spiritual feeling among the devotees. The island is connected to the mainland via a suspension bridge which is the first and only of its kind in the state. Qadam Rasul is a very famous pious site for the Muslims of the State. It is believed to be a type of veneration to Muhammad. It revolves around the belief that when Muhammad stepped on a rock his footprint left an imprint. The oldest and biggest masjid of Cuttack is the Jama Masjid, which was built during the Mughal era. A holy historical Sikh shrine, the Daatan Sahib Gurdwara, is where the first Sikh guru, Shree Guru Nanak Dev, halted on his way to Puri. It is believed that a tree branch planted by him after using it as a tooth cleaner still flourishes here.
Being the aesthetic capital of Odisha, Cuttack celebrates its festivals in an exalt manner. Durga puja is a sumptuous celebration in the Silver city. Nearly 200 earthern idols of Goddess Durga are prepared by different puja committees of the city. The most famous and well known attraction is the Chandi and Suna Medhas in which the idols are adorned profusely with gold and silver ornaments. A throng of people jostle against eachother to get a glance of the idols. The police forces are actively functional during this time. The localities even compete against each other to make that palatial idol that would allure the most people.
Boita Bandana is another festival to be commemorated. It is observed on the last day of the holy Hindu month of Kartik. In this festival, people flow miniature model boats in river Mahanadi and river Kathajodi paying homage to the ancient merchants of Kalinga kingdom. This festival marks the beginning of the Bali Jatra fair. It is the second largest trade festival in Asia and the largest in India. The name Bali Jatra means “The Voyage to Bali”. It is celebrated in remembrance of those traders who used to trade with the South-East Asian Islands of Bali, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. They used to trade Odisha goods and bring exotic items of the foreign land in return. People from different parts of the state and beyond used to come to buy these goods. This fair is held in continuation to the ancient tradition. It is held on the banks of river Mahanadi every year in November. Stalls of different companies with a variety of products are set up. Nearly one lakh people visit it at a go. The fair is held for a week. Traders, merchants, craftsman and shopkeepers from different parts of Odisha come here to expand their business. The other festivals celebrated are Kali puja, Kartikeshwar puja ,Makar Sankranti (the kite flying festival), Ratha Yatra (the Cart Wheel Festival), Raja, Ganesh Chaturthi, Vasant Panchami, Holi, Diwali, Id , Good Friday etc.
Cuttack holds the fort in the educational sector as well. It has the Ravenshaw University, one of the oldest universities of India and the oldest college in State, founded by Thomas Edward Ravenshaw. It also has the National Law University, Odisha and the SCB Medical College, the largest medical college of the State. Further it has Asia’s largest rice research Institute i.e the Central Rice Research Institute. It even has Acharya Harihar Regional Cancer Centre , the only one of its kind in eastern India that carries out high end research and treatment in cancer.
Other places of interest in the city includes Barabati Fort, Netaji Birthplace Museum, Freedom Fighter’s Memorial, Nauka Vihar, Maritime State Museum, Water Park, Deer Park, Barabati Stadium. Beautiful scenic view can be fathomed from the Riverside view, Sunshine Point and Jobra Annicut Bridge. Also known as the Millennium City of the state, it radiates the rich cultural heritage of Odisha.
About the Author
Pursuing her law degree in National Law University, Assam , Toshali seeks to explore the dimensions of a bright future career. She has keen interest in Indian art, architecture, culture, history and heritage. Being a vigilant observer, she analyses small incidences of her life as well as the people around her, and extracts experience from the same. She loves travelling, especially with her family. Though she prefers company, the prospect of being alone never haunts her down. An ardent believer of optimism, she believes in scaling the highs and lows of life to become the achiever.