Orissa was famous as Kalinga, Kosala, Odra and Utkala during ancient days. All these independent regions came under one administrative control which was known as Utkala and subsequently Orissa.
The name of Utkala has been mentioned in Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas, and the existence of Utkala as a kingdom is found in Kalidas’s Raghuvamsa. It is stated that King Raghu, after having crossed the river Kapisa, reached the Utkala country and finally went to Kalinga.
The earliest epigraphic evidence to Utakaladesa is found from the Midnapur plate of Somdatta which includes Dandabhukti within its jurisdiction. The plates record that while Sasanka was ruling the earth, his feudatory Maharaja Somadatta was governing the province of Dandabhukti, adjoining the Utkaladesa. The object of the epigraph is to register the gift of the village Kumbharapadraka to a Brahmana named Bhattesvara. The localities mentioned in the inscription Dandabhukti are well known during this period. Pragiter distinguished the Utkala country from Odra. According to him, the former comprised the Southern portion of Chotanagpur, the Northern Tributary states of Orissa and the Balasore district.
The Chaurasi grant of Sivakara of Bhaumakara describes Subhakaradeva as “Mahan-Utkalendra” or the great lord of Utkala and states that the Bhaumas belonging to the Utkala rulers or Utkala-Kula.
The Brahma Purana uses the term Utkala in the sense of the extensive coastal region of Orissa, which is extolled as a holy country which could boast of the sacred cities of Virajakshetra and Purushottama Kshetra. Viraja Kshetra is undoubtedly modern Jajpur, the capital of the Bhaumakara kings and Purushottama Kshetra is Puri.
The Dirghasi stone inscription dated 1075A.D. uses the term Utkala in Sanskrit and Odda or Odra in the Telgu portion in the list of the countries conquered by Vanapati. The Ratnagiri plate of Somavamsi Karna which was issued fromYayatinagara, describes the grant of the village of Kona which was within the Brahmo-Atthavisa Khanda (Sub-division) of Uttara Tosali to Ranikarpurasri. She hailed from the Mahavihara of Solanapura in Utkaladesawhich seems to have been a Buddhist monastery.
The Somavamsi king Yayati, who was the father of the Udyota Kesari established his rule over Kosala and Utkala countries, although his predecessors were probably the rulers of Kosala only. When the early Somavamsis were ruling over Kosala, Utkala was under the rulers of the Bhaumakaras. The Bhaumakara queen Dandi- Mahadevi was ruling over Utkala in 923 A.D. and she is known to have been succeeded the throne by two other rulers, her step mother Vakula-Mahadevi and aunt Dharmamahadevi, one of the predecessors of Dandi-Mahadevi was Prithivi-Mahadevi who was the daughter of the Somavamsi king Svabhavatunga of Kosala.
The Kelga plate indicates that Udyotakesari’s son and successors of Yayati ruled about the 3rd quarter of eleventh century, made over Kosala to prince named Abhimanyu and was himself ruling over Utkala, while the inscriptions of the Telgu-Chodas indicate that the successors of Udyatokesari in Utkala had nothing to do with Kosala which passed into the possession of the rulers of the Telgu-Choda dynasty. Karna, the grandson of Udyotakesari seems to have ended his rule over Utkala before the conquest of that country by the Ganga king Anantavarma Chodagangadeva.
The issue of the present charter from Yayatinagara is interesting. The city of Yayatinagara built by and named after Yayati I was originally the capital of the Somavamsis of Kosala. It appears that after the expansion of Somavamsi power over Utkala, their capital in Utkala was also given the name Yayatinagara or Yayatipura. This new city ofYayatinagara seems to be Jajpur which was previously the capital of the Bhaumakaras, the predecessors of the Somavamsis in Utkala.
Besides these epigraphs, many other records of different dynasties, we find the name of Utkala. In the Gaharwa plate of Karnadeva records that Gangeyadeva, the Kalachuri ruler conqueror of the kings of Kira, Anga, Kuntala and Utkala.
The Madalapanji or the Jagannath temple chronicle states that Chodaganga defeated the last king of the Kesari dynasty named Suvarna Kesari with the help of his minister Vasudeva Bahinipati, succeeded the Utkala kingdom and transferred his capital to Kataka.
The emperor Korni and Vizag plate states that he first replaced the fallen Lord of Utkala in the Eastern region and then warned the Lord of Vengi of the western region and restored their fortunes.
In another grants of Chodaganga, he decorated himself with the rank of the entire sovereignty over the whole of Utkala. Verse 26 of the Nagari plates of Anangabhima describes Gangesvara (Chodaganga) victory over the king of Utkala. The Utkala king defeated by Chodaganga was probably a successor of the Somavamsi ruler Uddyotakesari. According to this epigraphs that Chodaganga built a temple for the great god Purushottama on the sea shore. Earlier this Ganga king like his predecessors was at first a Saiva, but later became a Vaishnava and the annexation of the Puri region to his empire may have had some impact to change his religious faith. The identification of this deity with Vishnu is however apparently earlier than the beginning of the twelfth century when Chodaganga conquered the Utkala country.
The Chattesvara temple inscription states that Anangabhima III, the great warrior defeated the king of Tumana and kept his kingdom in constant vigilance and war-preparedness, for ensuring safety and security to the empire Utkala. The Bhubaneswar temple inscription of Chandrikadevi describes that Chodaganga, whose empire extended from the Godavari to the Ganges and his descendant Anangabhima, who defeated a Yavana enemy, followed by praises of Anagabhima’s daughter Chandrika and of the valiant Haihaya prince Paramadideva who married her.
The land of Utkala comprising the sanctuary of Ekamra, the modern Bhubaneswar with a description of the lake Bindusaras. The warrangal inscription of Raghudeva states that Kapilesvara became the lord of Utkala country at the command of the illustrious Purushottama, Lord Jagannatha Himself.