Of all the regional cultures, Odisha or the ancient Kalinga played a very conspicuous and vital role in the cultural matrix of Indian civilization. Situated on the eastern coast of India,it imbibed the quintessence of cultural traditions of both Northern India and Southern India,yet it succeeded in developing a distnict identity of its own in the realms of creative arts. The Odisha culture has a three tiered structure with interfaces and interpolation, the tribal/ethnic, the folk/peasant and the urban/classical which existed side by side enriching and enlarging the cultural dimensions. The cultural heritage of Odisha is one of the oldest,embracing a period of about three thousand years.
In ancient times the long sea-coast line extending from the mouth of the river Ganga to the river Godavari with prosperous ports of Tamralipti, Dantapura, Palur, Kalinganagara, which harboured large boats and ships, had opened up channels of oversea trade and cultural exchanges with the countries of South East Asia, like Bali, Java, Sumatra and Suvarnadipa etc.
Odisha has its distinct styles of architecture, sculpture, painting, song, dance and literature. It has some of the World’s renowned temples, like the Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneswar, Jagannatha temple at Puri and the Sun temple at Konark, which is included in the World Heritage list. Similarly, the Jaina caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri and the Buddhist viharas and stupas of Lalitagiri, Udayagiri and Ratnagiri are the unique landmarks of Odisha architectural and artistic achievements.
The Odisha culture stands for its religious catholicity and tolerance resulting in the assimilation of the tenets of all main stream of Indian religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Saivism, Tantricism and Vaisanvism in to the ecletic cult of Lord Jagannatha, who came to be recognised as the presiding deity of the State.