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    Orissa
Profile of Orissa
Bounded on the west by the thickly forested hills of the Eastern Ghats and on the east by nearly 500 km coastline of the Bay of Bengal, Orissa is a beautiful state covering an area of 156, 000 sq. kms. Referred to as “The Soul of India,” Orissa’s history is over 2000 years old, dating back to the Kalinga and Utkal tribes. During British rule, the state served as a crucial port as early as 1633, when the colonialists established a trade centre at Hariharpur and subsequently Baleshwar (or Balasore). These flourishing centers of trade and power were the basis for the future greatness of the British in Bengal, according to English historian, William Wilson Hunter. Presently, Orissa is a land where the past and modern day are intertwined through awe inspiring monuments, thousands of master craftsmen and artisans, numerous wildlife sanctuaries, stunning natural landscapes, and burgeoning IT outsourcing and industrial sectors.
Crafts of Orissa
The marvels of the Konark (Sun temple), the Sanctum Sanctorum at Puri, the Aquatic Habitat at Chilka and the art of Oddisi dance, illustrate the exemplary and varied socio-cultural traditions of Orissa. Excelling in rural craftsmanship, Orissan artisans carve traditional stone and wood sculptures, fashion figurines through tribal metal crafts, weave golden grass from the marshlands into intricate baskets, etch palm leaves with ornate sacred designs, and paint elaborate canvases with scenes from the ancient Indian epics.

 



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Profile of India

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. With a population now exceeding 1 billion people, the diversity of India’s society is marked by complex structures, diverse groups, and strong religious beliefs. Covering an area of 32,87,263 square km, the country has an equally varied and vibrant landscape - extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south. As the seventh largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off by high mountains and surrounded by the sea, this country exists as a distinct geographical entity.

Crafts in India

Dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization period of 3000 BC to 1700 BC, the history of Indian crafts is one of the most established civilizations of the globe. From ancient times, the rich crafts tradition in India has spun around religious values, cultural traditions and the confined needs of commoners as well as the special needs of elite clientele and royalty, including those from overseas as well as domestic. Traditionally, Indian handicrafts were created for basic day-to-day use, but the yearning for aesthetic application and artistic expression soon created a flood of designs and motifs. The incalculable artistry and richness of ethnicities, cultures and religious denominations across India has enabled a fusion of motifs, techniques and crafts to emerge from India – a phenomenon unparalleled elsewhere in the world.

 
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