Cuttack, one of the oldest towns in Orissa, is famous all over the country for its exquisite and delicate filigree works, its artistic horn works and colourful textiles. It is located at the apex of delta formed by the rivers Mahanadi in the north and Kathajodi in the south. The city got its name from a military camp 'Kataka' that was set up here by Keshari dynasty. It is also called the city of Fort due to the Barabati Fort that dominates the Cuttack landscape. It served as the capital of Orissa for more than nine centuries. The city is famous for many things ranging from brass works to textile like woven silks and cotton. But what stands out are the filigree and silverware.
The oldest city in Orissa and the former capital of the state, Cuttack was founded in the 10th century by Nripati Keshari. The History of Cuttack is a checkered and eventful one. The city has been under various rulers since its foundation and thus boasts of a rich history.
Early History of Cuttack begins with its association with the Keshari dynasty. Eminent historian A. Sterling stated that present-day Cuttack was founded as a military cantonment by King Nripati Keshari of Keshari dynasty in 989 A.D. This statement was based on Madalapanji, a chronicle of Puri's Lord Jagannath Temple. During the illustrious reign of Markata Keshari, he built a stone embankment to protect the new capital from flood in 1002 A.D.
The History of Cuttack also suggests that in 1211 AD, Cuttack became capital of a kingdom founded by Anangabhimadeva of Ganga dynasty. At the end of Ganga rule, Orissa came under the rule of the Gajapati Kings (1435-1541 A.D.) of Solar dynasty. Cuttack continued to be the capital of Orissa even under the Gajapati rulers. It was after the death of Mukunda deva - the last Hindu king of Orissa that Cuttack came under Muslim rule and later under the Mughals.
According to the History of Cuttack India, the town came under the Maratha rule by 1750, and flourished greatly as a business center. It served as a convenient point of contact between the Marathas of Nagpur and the English Merchants of Bengal. It was in 1803 that the British occupied Cuttack and made it the capital of Orissa division in 1816. In 1948 the capital was shifted to Bhubaneswar, But Cuttack continued as the administrative headquarters of Orissa.
Cuttack history also states that the Holy Historical Sikh Shrine 'The Gurdwara Daatan Sahib' in Cuttack marks the place where the first Sikh Guru, Shree Guru Nanak halted on his way to Puri. People believe that a tree planted by Guru Nanak after using it as a Tooth Cleaner (Daatan) still exists, hence the name Daatan Sahib.
Air: The nearest airport to Cuttack is the Biju Patnaik Airport of Bhubaneswar, which is about 25 km away from the heart of the city. This airport is well connected to the major cities of India like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad. The taxi fare to the airport from the city is around Rs 300.
Rail: The railhead in Cuttack lies on the Chennai-Kolkata rail line. This station is pretty well-connected to the cities in and around Orissa.
Road: State owned public transport buses operate from Bhubaneswar (25 km) and Puri (90 km) to Cuttack. The tariff per seat is about Rs 50 to Bhubaneswar and Rs 200 to Puri. Private luxury buses are also available from Cuttack to nearby cities.
Cuttack is one of the best places in Orissa for shopping. The famous silver filigree work, horn and brass products, tie and dye textiles from Maniabandha and Sambalpur, and the stone works of Puri are loved by most tourists.
Any trip to Cuttack is incomplete without some shopping. In fact, the city is the major shopping centre of Orissa and you can not return back without doing some shopping. Cuttack is dotted with a number of government emporium and private shops, which offer a variety of items. Some of the must buy include the handicrafts and textiles of the Cuttack region, both in silk and cotton. Cuttack is noted for exquisite silver filigree work, from which jewelry, utensils, and decorative items are prepared.
Cuttack is the shopping hub of Orissa. The shopping places in the city are stocked with distinctive kinds of handicrafts and textiles. They have something or the other for everyone, be of any age group. Infact, there are so many things in Cuttack that are worth buying that you will be forced to think what to buy and what not to buy. The city is famous for its silver filigree work, which is used in making exquisite jewelry.
You can also check out other decorative items made of fine quality silver. For those who want to buy traditional fabrics, the best option is the Government-run state emporia, where one can see an amazing variety of cotton and silk fabrics. Lacquer work is also very much in demand in Cuttack. After applying several coats of lacquer, the surface of the material is embellished with delicate motifs, depicting different aspects of nature.
This work is usually found on the colorful boxes made by tribal people residing around the city. Among the other shopping items available in Cuttack, the more popular ones are brass and metal ware, including fashionable ornaments made from brass and metal that are a favorite amongst the women. For men, there are the lovely brass made tiepins and cufflinks. Stone carvings of the city can also make extremely good souvenirs to take back home.
Shopping in Cuttack Orissa starts with the handloom saris produced in the districts of Sambalpur and Sonepur which are popularly called sambalpuri and sonepuri gharana of handloom fabrics.
Shopping in Cuttack Orissa is a non starter without venturing out to the Silver Filigree or "Tarakashi" one of the places which produce good silver crafts. Here you get items like necklaces, ear pendants, brooches, anklets, hairpins, bangles and those worn by the Odissi dancers. The beauty of Shopping in Cuttack In India is that you can buy showpieces, Puja items and utensils at best bargain prices.
Plenty of accommodation options are available in Cuttack. You need not to worry about your budget, as the hotels are available rates. Equipped with contemporary facilities, the hotels of Cuttack provide a pleasant stay. Some of the famous hotels of Cuttack are Pantanivas, Hotel Akbari Continental, Hotel Bombay, Hotel Dwarka, Hotel Ashoka, Hotel Monalisa, Hotel Lords, Hotel Roxy and Hotel Blue Lagoon.
Bali Yatra is a very well known festivity that takes place on the banks of river Mahanadi in Cuttack city of Orissa. It usually falls on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Karthik (November-December). The yatra is also popularly known as Karthik Purnima and is celebrated to commemorate the glorious past of voyages that were organized to the islands of Bali, Sumatra and Java for commercial purposes. During this festive period, the idols of "Kartikeswar" are constructed and worshipped. Bali Yatra lasts for a period of three to four days.
On this great occasion, a fair is organized on a very large scale, where myriad varieties of goods are displayed for buying and selling. For entertainment purposes, there are boating facilities, which can be enjoyed in the moonlight. As a part of the celebrations of Bali Yatra, the people of Orissa float small boats, which are made up of cork, paper and banana tree barks, in the river and water tanks. Some of them also place lit lamps in the hollow of the boat and this ritual is known as Boita Bandana.
On the day of Bali Yatra, the images of Lord Karthikeswar are worshipped and then immersed, amidst huge fanfare, in the waters of Mahanadi River. The immersion serves to mark the conclusion of the holy month of Karthik. Thousands of enthusiasts from different parts of India come to Cuttack to take part in this yatra. This is the perfect time to explore the cultural heritage of the rich state of Orissa and indulge in some fun too.