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Sambalpur (The Hand Loom City)

Sambalpur City
The biggest city in western Odisha Sambalpur is situated in Sambalpur district, about 325 kms West of the State capital Bhubaneswar. It is the headquater of Sambalpur district and the second largest city by population in Western Odisha. Sambalpur was established in the year 1528 by Raja Balaram Dev. It is situated in the bank of river Mahanadi and is enriched with natural surroundings. Sambalpur derives its name from its presiding deity Sambaleswari enshrined in a temple called Samalai Gudi on the banks of Mahanadi, erected by the Chauhans in the mid 16th century. The city is famous for Hirakud Dam, Sambalpuri Saree, Sambalpuri songs, Sambalpuri dance and the Sitalsasthi Carnival.

The history of Sambalpur, as depicted by eminent historians, is full of events including Indian freedom struggle representing the different sections of society. Since Sambalpur is one of the ancient places of India, which survived even in the prehistoric age and holds a very important place in the history of Odisha and India. The history of Sambalpur exhibits many evidences of its contribution towards the struggle for freedom of our country. Sambalpur lies on the bank of river Mahanadi. The river flows to the west of the city and separates Burla from Sambalpur and Hirakud. The Hirakud Dam lies upstream of Sambalpur. Budharaja is a small reserve forest located within the city.

The climate is generally very extreme, temperature raising to about 47°C in summer (From Mar - Jun) and about as low as 5°C in winter(From Oct - Feb). It gets heavy rainfall during the rainy season, very important for the region because non-irrigated area of the region depends on monsoon for agriculture. Sambalpur gets rainfall from South Western monsoon. 

Sambalpur city is governed by a Municipality which comes under Sambalpur Metropolitan Area. As of 2011 India census, Although Sambalpur city has population of 183,383 its urban/metropolitan population is 269,575 of which 138,826 are males and 130,749 are females which includes Burla and Hirakud. Sambalpur has an average literacy rate of 85.69% of which male and female literacy was 90.30 and 80.92 percent. The Sambalpuri language which is one of the form of traditional Odiya language, mixed up with the tribal touch in it. It is primarily known as Kosli language which is believed to be the Indo-Aryan language of Western Odisha. Sambalpuri Language (Kosli) is spoken at Sambalpur however Odia, Hindi, and English are used for education and official purposes.

The economy of Sambalpur is basically dependent on trade. Majority of the residents are either salaried or self-employed. The forest along Sambalpur and nearby places have contributed majorly to the growth and development of this city, promoting its economy.  The city is famous for handloom and other textile products. Apart from forest and agriculture, export is another area owing to which Sambalpur has furthered its economy. With industrialization, the economic channels for Sambalpur have spread to mineral based industries. Sambalpur channelizes its economy through textiles too. 

Sambalpur is having one of the best facilities for education in the state with many schools and universities. Sambalpur University, Veer Surendra Sai Medical College, Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology, Gangadhar Meher College, Government Women’s College, Odisha Medical College of Homeopathy has awarded Sambalpur the title of "Education Hub" in western Odisha. 

Sambalpur has a well connected transport facility for commercial and public transportation. Connecting buses are available for road transportation of the people. The two important national highways namely the NH6 and NH42 connect Sambalpur to Deogarh and Charmol respectively. Apart from this, the State Highway 10 also has a massive presence. Railways cover an important aspect of transport facilities. There are four railway stations in the Sambalpur district at major destinations like Sambalpur, Sambalpur Road, Hirakud and Sambalpur City. The railway station for Sambalpur City is routed along Bhubhaneshwar Jharsuguda line while the other three stations are routed along the Jharsuguda-Bargarh line. Sambalpur connects with all the major cities and metros of India through the railways. Mostly direct trains run along these major towns. There are no airports in Sambalpur. But, The nearest Airports are Swami Vivekananda Airport, Raipur (262 km), Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar (325 km) and is Jharsuguda (50 km).

Sambalpur is one of the chronicled spots of Odisha and is located deep in the lap of nature. The world famous Hirakud Dam built across the Mahanadi River, about 15 km from Sambalpur in 1956 is a major tourist attraction. The dam is the world's largest earthen dam  and is one of the longest dams in the world, about 26 km in length. The whole state of Odisha is said to be a state of Temples. Sambalpur additionally has several temples and religious spots placed in the city. Some of the most famous temples of Sambalpur are the Goddess Samalai temple, Brahampura temple, Liakhai Temple, Timini, Bariha, Madanmohan and many more. Leaning Temple of Huma, located about 25 km from Sambalpur, built in the 17th century. Samaleswari Temple is the main temple of Goddess Samaleswari, located on the banks of river Mahanadi. 

The language, festivals, songs and dances and everything is deeply connected with the cultural heritage of Sambalpur. The Sambalpuri dance is a folkloric dance form, which has its roots in the western part of Odisha. A dance form named Dhalkhai is performed by the young girls of several during Bhaijiuntia, Dussehra and several festive occasions. The folk music of Sambalpur and the nearby areas has an influence of the emotional eruption of the people. A cultural manifestation of the hidden age-old traditional performing art of a vast geographical area is possible through this annual celebration of the festival in the name of "Lok Mahotsav". The famous festivals of Sambalpur portray the vibrant culture of the western Odisha. Nuakhai is one of the most important festival of Western Odisha and Sambalpur. Some of the major festivals celebrate in Sambalpur are Sitalsasthi, Bhai-Juntia and Puo-Juntia.

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