The history of Orissa can be divided into ancient, medieval and modern history. Orissa was known as Kalinga during the ancient period. Kalinga had been the cradle of civilization of different dynasties of rulers.

Odisha in pre-historic age

In the third century BC, in the eastern part of Odisha Kalinga flourished as a powerful empire under the Jaina emperor, Kharavela. He ruled all the way down south to include parts of the Tamil country. He built the superb monastic caves at Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves. Subsequently, the region was ruled under various monarchs, such as Samudragupta and Shashanka. It also was a part of Harsha's empire. In 795 AD, the king Yayati Kesari I of Kesari or Soma dynasty of Kosala united Kosala and Utkala into a single empire. He is also supposed to have built the first Jagannath Temple at Puri, although the current structure of the temple is entirely different and was built by Kings Choda Gangadeva and Ananga Bhimadeva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty in the 12th century. The famous Lingaraja temple in Bhubaneshwar was started by Keshari dynasty king Yayati Keshari III and completed by his son Lalatendu Keshari in the 10th century.