Balasore District, also known as Baleswar District or Baleshwar District, is an administrative district of Orissa state in eastern India. The lingua franca is Oriya. The coastal district is known for its beautiful mountains and famous temples. Balasore is a place of scenic beauty and a major tourist attraction, also because of its historical monuments and temples. There are a few hill ranges in the region too.
It is now a launch station for sounding rockets on the east coast of India in Orissa state at 21°18' N and 86°36' E. Balasore has been in use since 1989, but unlike Sriharikota, it is not used for launching satellites. The rocket launching site at Balasore is situated in a place called Chandipur located on the Bay of Bengal. The Interim Test Range in Chandipur, Balasore is responsible for carrying out tests for various missiles such as Agni, Prithvi, Trishul etc.
Balasore Railway Station falls en route on the main line connecting Chennai to Kolkata. Road connectivity wise, National Highway-5 runs through Balasore. It is 212 km north-east of Bhubaneswar by road. Chandipur-on-sea is a sea resort famous for its mile long shallow beaches. Chandipur on sea is one of the shallowest sea beaches in the world. It is a unique beach, the tide comes to the shore only four times a day, at determined intervals. Among other tourist attractions is the 18th century kshirochora-gopinath temple, famous for its mythological story, how the temple was built there.
Birth place of linguist and novelist Fakir Mohan Senapati,considered to be the saviour of modern oriya language and an eminent freedom fighter. Also birth place of famous oriya poet Kabibar Radhanath Roy.
Balasore as a separate district was created in October 1828 while it was in the Bengal Presidency. With the creation of Bihar province, Orissa was diverted along with Balasore district from Bengal to Bihar. With the creation of Orissa as a separate State on 1st April 1936, Balasore became an integral part of Orissa State. The national movement of independence surged ahead with the visit of Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. Inchudi Salt Revolution (Lavana Satyagrah) and Srijang Satyagrah for non-payment of Revenue Tax are famous as part of the struggle for freedom movement. Praja Andolan was initiated against the ruler of Nilagiri State. In January 1948, the state of Nilagiri was merged with the state of Orissa and became a part of Balasore district. On 3rd April 1993, Bhadrak Sub-division became a separate district.
In the early 17th century, Balasore was an important trading destination in the eastern coastline of India. Inhabitants of the place sailed to distant ports in south-east asia, especially to Lacadive and Maldives islands for trade and culture. Copper coins excavated from Bhograi and statues of Lord Buddha unearthed from places like Avana, Kupari, Basta & Ajodhya signify the existence of Buddhism in Balasore which was popular during the rule of Bhoumakar dynasty. The statues of Lord Mahavira found at Jaleswar, Balasore & Avana date back to the 10-11th century and show the existence of Jainism in the region.
Broadly the district can be divided into three geographical regions, namely, the Coastal belt, the inner alluvial plain and the North-Western hills. The coastal belt is about 81 km wide and shaped like a strip. In this region, sand dunes are noticed along the coast with some ridges. This region is mostly flooded with brackish water of estuarine rivers which is unsuitable for cultivation. Presently this area is utilized for coconut and betel cultivation. Shrimp culture and salt manufacturing units are also developing in this area recently. The second contiguous geographical region is deltaic alluvial plain. It is a wide stretch of highly fertile and irrigated land. This area is highly populous and devoid of any jungle. The third region, north-western hilly region covers most of Nilgiri Sub-division. It is mostly hilly terrain and vegetated with tropical semi-ever green forests. The Hills of Nilgiri has the highest peak of 543 metre above the sea level. The scheduled tribes of the district are mostly seen in this region of valuable forest resources and stone quarries.
Balasore, the coastal district of Orissa is crisscrossed with perennial and estuarine rivers because of its proximity to the sea. Two important rivers of Orissa, namely :- Budhabalanga and Subarnarekha pass through this district from west to east before surging into the Bay of Bengal. The irrigation system in Balasore district is very much widespread.
The soil of Balasore district is mostly alluvial laterite. The soil of Central region is mostly clay, clay loam and sandy loam which is very fertile for paddy and other farm produces. Nilgiri Sub-division is mostly gravelly and lateritic soil, which is less fertile. A small strip of saline soil is also seen along the extreme coastal part of the district.
The religious centers at Remuna, Chandaneswar, Panchalingeswar, Sajanagarh, Ayodya, Maninageswar Temple at Bardhanpur are popular among the devotees and form major attraction for the tourists. The district also hosts as a paradise for nature lovers to explore the rich diversity availed by the hills, sea and forests. The beaches of Chandipur, Kashapal, Chaumukh, Kharasahapur and Talsari are some of the most peaceful beaches which provide quite a distinct experience from the spoils of civilization. The Similapal Forest reserve and Nilgiri reserves provide nature lovers a natural abode for vacations.
The fort of Raibania and the deshuan pokhari are among locations which are historically significant.
Balasore is the district headquarters.
The district is further divided into 2 subdivisions, 12 blocks for undertaking developmental works in the rural areas, 7 tehsils for revenue and administrative purposes and 289 (257 old + 32 new) Gram Panchayats . Besides there are 4 towns consisting of 1 municipality and 3 NACs(Notified Area Councils). These local bodies look into civic aspects of urban areas. Also, there are 2971 villages, out of which 2602 are inhabited.
The district has 1 Loksabha constituency and 7 vidhan sabha constituencies.