The origin and early history of the land, known as Kalinga in ancient times, is lost in dim past, though it is mentioned in ancient Indian epics and other texts. In the beginning Orissa formed a part of the might Kalinga Kingdom. In 260 B. C. Ashoka, the gradson of Chandragupta Maurya, defeated the King of Kalinga. But soon the ashen taste of victory, following the bloody battle, filled Asoka with remorse and he renounced war and violence for ever and embraced Budddhism, the path of peace, picy, compassion and non-violence. Some of the Ashokan edicts found at Dhauli, near Bhubaneswar, reflect his change of heart and concern for the suffering masses. Soon after Ashoks's death Buddhism in Orissa declined and Jainism had the sway under the mighty arm of Kharvela until Budhism again became a popular faith in 2nd century B. C. Under Kharvela Orissa attained new heights in art, culture trade and commerce.
The coming of the Kesari and Ganga Kings marks the culmination of Orissa art and culture. These kings were very powerful and ambitious builders and Shaivas and Vaishnavas by faith. It was during their reign that the famous golden triangle of Orissan temples of Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark was created (712-1200 A. D.). Till the middle of the 16th century Orissa could somehow maintain its independence on spite of continued Muslim incursions, but then in 1568 its last Hindus ruler was over-thrown by a Muslim general and finally Orissa was annexed by Akbar in 1592. The bogoted Muslim invaders destroyed hundreds of Hindu and Jain temples. In 1803 Orissa came into the British possession, Following India's independence, the 26 princely state were merged into modern state of Orissa and a stage was set for its speedy economic and industrial development.