Home Culture 75th Foundation Day of Bhubaneswar

75th Foundation Day of Bhubaneswar

by Nita Mishra

Today, on the 76th Foundation Day of Bhubaneswar, we celebrate not just the birth of a modern capital, but also the rich tapestry of history woven into its streets. From ancient empires to colonial rule, Bhubaneswar’s journey reflects the resilience and evolution of a city that stands as a testament to Odisha’s cultural and architectural heritage. As we explore its diverse neighborhoods, vibrant markets, and serene parks, let us remember the legacy of those who shaped Bhubaneswar into the thriving metropolis it is today

The Mauryan Era and Ashoka’s Impact

In a significant chapter of its past, Dhauli, a site close to Bhubaneswar, witnessed the Kalinga War around 262-261 BCE. This war saw the mighty Mauryan emperor Ashoka’s conquest of Kalinga, an event that eventually led to a pivotal moment of change for Ashoka himself. The remnants of this era are etched into the rocks about 8 kilometers southwest of the present-day city, in the form of one of Emperor Ashoka’s comprehensive edicts dating back to 272-236 BCE.

The Mahameghavahana Dynasty and Kharavela’s Legacy

Following the decline of the Mauryan Empire, the Mahameghavahana dynasty rose to power in the region, with Kharavela being one of its notable rulers. Kharavela’s legacy lives on through the Hathigumpha inscription, found in the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves near Bhubaneswar. Over the centuries, the city witnessed the rule of various dynasties like the Satavahanas, Guptas, Matharas, and Shailodbhavas.

The Somavamshi and Eastern Gangas: Temple Builders of Bhubaneswar

In the 7th century, the Somavamshi or Keshari dynasty left its mark on the land, constructing numerous temples that still stand today. They were succeeded by the Eastern Gangas, who ruled the Kalinga region until the 14th century, with their capital, Kalinga Nagara, situated in what is now Bhubaneswar. Subsequently, Mukunda Deva of the Bhoi Dynasty, the last Hindu ruler before the Marathas, contributed to the city’s religious landscape with the construction of several significant religious structures.

Temple Heritage: The Shaiva Influence

Most of the older temples that grace Bhubaneswar’s skyline today were built between the 8th and 12th centuries, heavily influenced by Shaivism. Among these, the Ananta Vasudeva Temple stands as a testament to the city’s rich religious heritage. However, the 16th century brought tumultuous times with the Karrani dynasty, of Afghan origin, taking control. Their rule was marked by the destruction and disfigurement of many temples and structures that once adorned the city.

Transition to Mughal and Maratha Rule

By the 16th century, Bhubaneswar found itself under Mughal influence, later transitioning to Maratha rule in the mid-18th century. The Marathas, keen on promoting pilgrimage, encouraged religious activities in the region. It wasn’t until 1803 that the city came under British colonial rule, initially as part of the Bengal Presidency. This continued until 1912 when it became a part of the Bihar and Orissa Province, and later just the Orissa Province from 1936 to 1947.

The Birth of a Modern Capital

However, it was on the 30th of September, 1946, that a proposal was introduced in the Legislative Assembly of the Odisha Province to move the capital to a new location. This marked the beginning of the journey towards establishing a modern capital, with the foundation stone laid by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on April 13, 1948.

Geographical Features and Urban Structure

Geographical Setting

Bhubaneswar lies within the Khordha district of Odisha, situated amidst the eastern coastal plains, with the Eastern Ghats mountains as its backdrop. The city’s average altitude hovers around 45 meters above sea level. To its southwest flows the Mahanadi River, defining the northern boundary of the Bhubaneswar metropolitan area, while the Daya River and the Kuakhai River mark its southern and eastern boundaries, respectively.

Topography and Natural Features

The city’s topography presents a division into western uplands and eastern lowlands, with hillocks gracing the western and northern regions. Notable natural features include the Kanjia Lake, a vital wetland of national importance, located on the northern outskirts.

Soil Composition and Seismic Risk

Bhubaneswar’s soil composition comprises 65% laterite, 25% alluvial, and 10% sandstone, creating a diverse landscape. Being in seismic zone III as per the Bureau of Indian Standards, the city faces a moderate risk of earthquakes. Additionally, the United Nations Development Programme has identified a “very high damage risk” from winds and cyclones, evidenced by the devastating impact of the 1999 Odisha cyclone.

Urban Structure and Development

Bhubaneswar’s urban development spans the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation area, encompassing 173 revenue villages and two other municipalities, spread over 1,110 square kilometers. Within the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation’s jurisdiction lies an area covering 186 square kilometers.

The Old Town and Temple Architecture

The city’s urban landscape can be divided into several parts, each with its unique characteristics. The old town, often referred to as the “Temple Town,” is the ancient heart of the city, adorned with revered temples like Lingaraja, Nilakantha Siva, and Muktesvara. These temples stand as architectural marvels, surrounded by residential neighborhoods such as Rajarani Colony and Brahmeswara Bagh.

The Planned City and Modern Developments

The planned city, designed in 1948 to house the capital, is divided into units, each equipped with essential amenities like schools, shopping centers, and medical facilities. Notable areas within this planned city include Unit V, home to administrative buildings like the State Secretariat and Assembly, and Saheed Nagar and Satya Nagar, developed later for private residences and commercial establishments.

Added Areas and Peripheral Developments

Added areas to the city’s north, including Nayapalli, Jayadev Vihar, and Chandrasekharpur, were developed by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority to accommodate the growing population. These areas, along with Chandrasekharpur, have contributed to dividing the city into North (newer areas) and South Bhubaneswar (older areas), delineated by the NH-5 highway.

The peripheral areas, extending beyond the municipal boundaries, such as Tomando, Patia, and Raghunathpur, have seen haphazard development over the years. Efforts to streamline this growth include the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) of 2010 by the Master Planning Branch of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority.

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