Cuttack the millennium city of Odisha is a city of rich heritage and culture. The city’s name, Cuttack, has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Kataka’, which means a military camp or a fort or a Government seat protected by an army. Standing at the apex of the delta formed by the rovers Mahanadi in the north and Kathjodi in the south it is also the commercial capital and the second largest city in Odisha. With its world famous silver filigree, ivory and brass works and textile of woven silk and cotton, Cuttack city is perhaps the grandest showroom of Odisha.
Cuttack was founded in 989 A.D. and was the capital of Odisha for almost nine centuries, before Bhubaneswar was made the capital city in 1948. It was established as a military settlement by Kind Nrupa Keshari of Keshari dynasty in 989 A.D.m as mentioned in Madalapanji, a chronicle of Jagannath temple of Puri. Later on Cuttack has witnessed the rule of Ganga dynasty and Solar dynasty until it passed into the hands of Muslim rules and later the Mughals after the death of Mukunda Deva.
During the 18th century, under Maratha Rule Cuttack prospered as a business center as it was a convenient point of contact between the Marathas of Nagpur and the English Merchants of Bengal. It was occupied by the British in 1803 and later became the capital of Odisha division in 1816. Even after Bhubaneswar was made the capital city, Cuttack an unplanned city, is characterized by a maze of streets, lanes and by lanes which has given it the nickname of a city with Baban Bazaar, Tappan Galee and i.e. 52 markets and 53 streets. In recent times the city has expanded across the river Kathjori and a new township has come up towards the head across the river kathjori and a new township has come up towards the head of the delta formed between the distributaties Kathjori and the Mahanadi.
The close interpersonal relationship, community living and the old world values make Cuttack a big village rather than a city. Cuttack is best known as a city of brotherhood or Bhai-Chara where people of all religious communities have been residing for centuries in harmony and co-operation.
The entire city comes to life with the advent of the festive season which starts with Ganesh Puja and continues upto Kartikeswar Puja. Although all the festival are celebrated with much fanfare the celebration of Dussehra Chaandi Medas or Solver Idols which means that during Dussehra the lifesize idols (medhas) of goddess Durga are decked up in silver filigree ornaments from head to toe. Now there is one Suna (golden) medha as we;; The historic Bali-Yatra fail held to commemorate the maritime trade relations of the Sadhavas of ancient Kalinga with Bali, Java, Sumatra and Borneo during Kartika Purnima is a festival unique to Cuttack. Oriya women peform the ritual of floating toy boats (Boita Bandaana) on the opening day of the yatra to recall the past.
Cuttack is full of temples like the Maa Katak Chandi temple at Katak Chandi, Sri raghunathjew temple at Telenga Bazar, Gadachandi temple in the Barabati fort premises and the Gadagadeswar temple on the banks of river Mahandi.
Apart from temples, the city of Cuttack has some old structures belonging to other faiths. The holy historical Sikh Shrine “The Gurdwara Daatan Sahib” is situated here. It is here that the first Sikh Guru, Shre Guru Nanak Dev halted on his way to Puri, way back in the 15th century.
During the passage of time numerous muslim monuments have been built at Cuttack prominent among which is the Qadam-I-Rasool built by Shujaddin khan.. It contains the footprint of the Prophet Mohammed engraved in a circular stone, The dome outside is adorned with a golden pinnacle
Although there are several churches in Cuttack, the church of Epiphany on the Cantonment Road built in the year 1865 is the oldest church.
There are many other monuments in Cuttack that loudly proclaim the past glory and importance of the city in Odisha history. The stone embankment encircling Cuttack was build by markata Keshari in 1006 A.D to protect the new capital from devastating flood. The remains of a 13th century fort called Barabati, surrounded by a moat on all sides, still exists in the heart of Cuttack. It is called barabati beacause it contains 12 battees or 240 bighas of land. The Ain-i-Akbari mentions that the barabati fort used to house a nine storey place built by Raja Mukunda Deo. The Marhatta barracks in Chauliaganj, presently used as headquarters of the 6th battalion of the Odisha State Armed police Force (OSAPF), were used as armoury both during the Marhatta and British rule. The Salt House built in 1847-48 used to function as the Collectorate. Now this building houses the office of the Sub-Collector and the Collectorate. Now this building houses the office of the Sub-Collector and the Courts of Sub- Divisional judicial Magistrates. In 1882 the East India Irrigation Company build an anicut (Jobra Anicut) (6349 ft. long) across the river Mahanadi near jobra and the Jobra Khunti (Pillar) to serve as a lighthouse to boats and cargo vessels passing through the river and canals. The Revenshaw University, one of the premier educational institutions of India was originally established in 1841 as a small school and was later upgraded to a College and then University,. It also used to house the odisha Legislative Assembly when Cuttack was the Capital of the State.
Cuttack is also the birthplace of the famous indian statesman and freedom fighter subhash chadra bose.His birth place known as Janakinath Bhawan in oriya bazaar has now been converted to a museum known as Netaji Birth place museum.During the course of freedom struggle,Swaraj Ashram of sahebazada bazar used top be the nerve center of the all national activities.
On the culinary side,the all time favorite among citizens of the cuttack is the 'Dahibara Aludum' a spicy blend of three dishes-dahibara or vedas soakedin seasoned yoghurt,”ghuguni” orcurried chickpeas and “alodum” or tiny while size potatoes cooked in a hot spicy gravy.The crispy and crunchy Bara and Piaji prepared from blackgram paste littered with sliced onions,Thunka-puri(huge-pooris) and chena tarkari(cottage cheese curry) and Chakuli-Pitha and Manssa Tarkarithat is pancakes with motton curry prepared especially during Baliyatra and Dussehra are an integral part of every kataki's memory.
Modern Cuttack boast of Barabati Stadium,an important venue for international cricket matches. The Centre Rice Research Institute,a foremost institute of rice research in the while of South Asia,the Shri Rama Chandra Bhanj(SCB) Medical College and Hospital and the Regional Spinal Injury Centre(RSIC) which provides rehabilitation measures to persons with spinal injury.
Cuttack is one of the finnest citties in Odisha with its multifaceted culture and heritage. It can rightly be considered a melting pot of traditional and modernity,unity and diversity.