Utkala’s territory has been described in numerous Puranas. Utkala is mentioned in the Mahabharata in connection with the Odras, Mekala, Kalinga, Darsana, and Andhras countries. The origins of Utkala are attributed to Vaivasvata Manu, who is mentioned among India’s kings. Ila-Sudyumna, one of Manu’s ten sons who alternated between male and female forms, is said to have given birth to Utkala, Gaya, Vinitasva, and Puru. He divided the territory he received from Manu among his sons, and the land he ruled became known as Utkala. This geographical name is also mentioned in the Ramayana, and some scholars believe it is older than Kalinga. Utkala is mentioned as a neighbouring kingdom of Kalinga in Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsam. The earliest epigraphic evidence for Utkala’s extent comes from Somadatta’s Midnapur Plates, a feudatory of Sasanka. For a long period of time, the name Utkala is absent from epigraphic records.

The name Utkala first appears in the Adhabhara plates of Mahanannararaja of Sasivamsa in the final quarter of the seventh century A.D., which includes Utkala in the early Somavamsi Kindgom of Kosala. This geographical name also appears on copper plate grants dating all the way back to the time of the Odisha’s Gangas and Bengal’s Palas. The entire territory now known as Odisha appears to have been designated as Utkala during the reigns of Ramapala of the Pala dynasty and Chodaganga of the Ganga dynasty. According to these kings’ records, Karnadeva, the last Somavamsi king, was deposed from his throne by Jayasimha, a Ramapala lieutenant, but was reinstated by Chodaganga. Even today, the name Utkala is used to refer to the entire state of Odisha. Viraja was Utkala’s first capital, as evidenced by the Soro Copper Plates. This location has been identified as Jajpur, which retains the Viraja shrine. Viraja is also mentioned in the grants of Bhauma copper plates. Guhadeva Pataka or Gudhesvara Pataka, mentioned as the Bhaumas’ capital, was located nearby.

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