Geography of Orissa

A study of the geography of Orissa reveals to us the topographical features that are unique to the state. The geographical study of Orissa will enlighten us on the location and the relief features that mark the state.

The state of Orissa is situated between the geographical coordinates of 81.27'E and 87.29'East longitude and 17.49'N and 22.34'North latitude. The state occupies a total area of 155,707 square kilometers. It is bound on the east by the 450 kilometer coastline of the Bay of Bengal. In the south, the state is bordered by Andhra Pradesh. The state of Madhya Pradesh lies to the west of Orissa while the West Bengal lies to the north. The state projects distinct yet homogeneous features of topography. With a blend of several physiographical features in Orissa, the state is divided into five morphological units. These five units are listed below:
  • Mountainous and Highlands Region
  • Coastal Plains
  • Western Rolling Uplands
  • Central Plateaus
  • Flood Plains
The state of Orissa is watered by several rivers and their tributaries. Some of the rivers which have their mouth in the Bay of Bengal flow through the state of Orissa. The rivers of the state are categorized according to their place of origination. River Mahanadi and Brahmani have their sources in another state of the country but form a big catchment area in Orissa before opening its mouth into the Bay of Bengal. The brackish lagoon called the Chilka along with the other waterworks is also part of the physiographic features of Orissa.


One of the major sources of water in the state of Orissa is the River Mahanadi. The river has its origin in the state of Chattisgarh and flows through several districts of Orissa to meet the waters of the Bay of Bengal. The river forms its delta on the eastern fringe of the state of Orissa.

The Mahanadi river waters several districts of the state of Orissa. The river has its tributaries, Tel and Hasdo that also flow in the state. The river is a major source of electricity in Orissa. The Hirakud Dam, built in the year 1956, is situated at Sambalpur and stretches over a length of 55 kilometers. The dam restrains the flow of the river and generates a high power of electricity. The Mahanadi river has a huge catchment area in the state depositing rich alluvial silt that facilitates agriculture in Orissa. The waters of the river drains an area of 132,100 square kilometers.

The Brahmani

One of the primary rivers that water the state of Orissa is the Brahmani. The river originates in the state of Bihar. It flows through several districts of Orissa forming a large catchment area before it meets the Bay of Bengal.

The Brahmani has its source in the Chhotanagpur Plateau which is the predominant physiographic feature of the state of Bihar. The Sankh and the Koel are the two rivers that are formed in the origin of the Brahmani. The confluence of the two rivers leads the formation of the Brahmani at Rourkela in the district of Sundargarh in Orissa. The river then passes through the districts of Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Kendujhar, Jajpur and Sundargarh in the state of Orissa. Before opening into the Bay of Bengal, River Brahmani blends with the Mahandi to form the delta known as the Dhamra.

Chilka Lake

One of the largest inland lagoons of the continent, the Chilka Lake is reputed for the rich flora and fauna that abounds in the region. The brackish salt water of the inland lagoon supports a huge marine and aquatic life.

The estuarine lagoon is formed in the mouth of the River Mahanadi that opens itself in the Bay of Bengal. The lake is home to a number of endangered and rare species of aquatic plants and animals. Chilka Lake is home to a variety of 225 species of fishes. The lake supports a huge number of fisher folk who derive their source of sustenance from fishing in the Chilka Lake. The brackish waters of the lake is also the breeding place for the mackerel, prawn and crabs. The region is also rich in fauna with the growth of endangered species of the Barakudia limbless skink. The Nalaban Bird Sanctuary is located in the island nestled in the midst of the lake. The island is visited by rare migratory birds specially in the winter months. Devotees flock the region in the month of January during the festive season of the Makar Mela to offer prayers to the Goddess Kalijai.

Climate of Orissa

The climate of Orissa, an east Indian state that hugs the coast of the Bay of Bengal is represented by a tropical monsoon weather. Searing hot summers with considerably high monsoon downpours and cool and pleasant winters mark the Orissa climate.

The climate of Orissa is distinctly related to the geography of Orissa. Broadly speaking the weather of Orissa can be classified under three heads namely, summer, monsoon and winter. The state is also endowed with relatively short stints of the refreshing spring and the mellow autumn.

The scorching heat of the Orissa summer makes the mercury soars to unbearable heights. However, Monsoon soon creeps in to offer a welcome break. During monsoon, the cumulonimbus clouds unfold with driving rains that wash the terrains and unfold a rich blue sky. The average rainfall recorded by the state's meteorological department is 200 cm of rainfall. By early June, the southwest monsoon announces its arrival in the state and departs by the middle of October. The rains also play a pivotal role in agriculture, the principal source of livelihood of the populace of Orissa.

Cyclone in Orissa

The proximity to the Bay of Bengal has ensured that cyclone in Orissa is a rather frequent in occurrence. Strong winds and gales followed by heavy thundershowers are known to have caused wanton destruction in the coastal state.

Orissa happens to be one of the few Indian states that is subjected to the devastating cyclones and tornadoes. Their periodic occurrence has ensured that they are no longer a bolt from the blue and the local inhabitants of the coastal terrains are armed with adequate preventive measures in order to preclude any catastrophic event. Today cyclones in Orissa are as frequent as the cataclysmic floods caused by the overflowing of rivers or breakage of dams in the monsoon.

Orissa Topography

Orissa Topography is closely related to the Geography of Orissa. The east Indian state that encompasses a net area of 1,55,707 Sq. Km hugs the voluminous shores of the Bay of Bengal with a coastline that stretches for about 450 km. The state is enclosed between the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar and stretches across the latitudinal parallels extending between 17°49' North and 22°34' North and the longitudinal meridian that spans between f 81°27' East and 87°29' East.

The region is subject to a tropical climate that is depicted by searing hot summers, pouring monsoon rains and pleasant winters. The voluminous seas and the and the hilly terrains of the Eastern Ghats play a pivotal role in shaping the weather of Orissa. Consequently, the coastal zone is subjected to mild and pleasant climatic conditions while the Eastern Ghats are much cooler.

Last Updated on : 2 July 2013