Kosala existed as a geographical unit in ancient Odisha. The Atharvaveda’s Parisistha contains the earliest depiction of Kosala. Additionally, the Epics and Puranas shed light on its ancient history. It was named after an ancient people called Kosalas, similar to Kalinga, Utkala, and Odra. From the beginning, the kingdom of Kosala was divided into two units: Uttara (north) and Daksina (south). Kosala’s territory is said to have a mythical origin. Rama, the Prince of Kosala, was banished from Ayodhya along with his brother Laxmana and his wife Sita. They travelled south to Prayaga. Traveling south-west up the Narmada valley, he came to a location that is now part of modern Chhatisgarh. He spent at least a decade there. According to Pargiter, his extended stay in that region inspired the name Dakshina Kosala (South Kosala), after his native Kosala. According to the Ramayana, the kingdom of Kosala was divided following Rama’s death, with his two sons Lava and Kusa ruling over North and South Kosala, respectively. Sravasti was the epicentre of North Kosala’s political activities, while Kusavati or Kusthalipura, near the Vindhyas, was regarded as the citadel of political power in Southern Kosala.

Kosala is also mentioned in the Mahabharata’s “Vana Parva.” Of course, the great epic makes no mention of Uttara Kosala (North Kosala), the region that included Ayodhya. H. C. Raychaudhuri, on the other hand, places Dakshina Kosala within the modern districts of Bilaspur, Raipur, and undivided Sambalpur. Kosala is mentioned in Harisena’s Allahabad pillar inscription as one of the territories of Dakshinapatha that were subjugated by Samudragupta. Kosala, along with Mekala and Malava, formed the Vakataka empire, which fell to the Sarbapuriyas. Hiuen Tsang, who visited Kosala in 639 A.D., estimated the kingdom’s circumference to be 6000 li. According to the description, Kosala included the Madhya Pradesh districts of Bilaspur and Raipur, as well as the Odisha districts of Sundargarh, Sambalpur, and Bolangir. In the eighth-ninth centuries A.D., Kosala remained under the Somavamsis. When the Kalachuris of Dahala became a rival power to the Somavamsis in the early ninth century A.D., the latter were forced to relocate their political headquarters to Sripura, which was later captured by the Kalachuris. The Somavamsis were then forced to relocate to various locations in the Bolangir district, including Murasimakataka, Arama, and Vinitapura, which are identified with Murshing, Rampur, and Binaka, respectively.

Yajatinagara became the capital of Kosala following the annexation of Khinjali mandala. Around the middle of the eleventh century A. D., the formidable Somavamsi king Yajati II united Kosala and Utkala, establishing Suvarnapura (at the confluence of the Mahanadi and Tel) as the capital of Kosala and Yajatinagar (Viraja in Jajpur) as the capital of Utkala. When the Somavamsi power waned in the eleventh century A.D., the Telugu Chodas occupied Kosala. They were eventually driven away by the Kalachuris, who held sway over the region for a long period of time until the Gangas established their authority and ruled until the middle of the fourteenth century A.D. Outlasting them, the Chauhans rose to political prominence and established Sambalpur as the focal point of their political activities. They became the lords of eighteen states (Atharagarha), which encompassed almost the entirety of the Kosala country as described by the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang.

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