The word “Katak” etymologically means army cantonment and also the capital city. The history of Cuttack amply justifies its name.
The city of Cuttack started as a military cantonment because of its impregnable situation that further devolped into the capital of the state of Odisha (Formerly Orissa). Inscriptions of Anangabhimadeva lll fefers the orginal city as Abhinab-Baranasi-Katak.Like the city of Baranasi situated in between Baruna and Asi,Cuttack is situated between the rivers Mahanadi and Kathajodi and was therefore named as Abhinab Baranasi (Newtype of Baranasi).Cuttack developed into a city out of fivevillage viz.Choudwar Katak,Saranasi Katak,Sarangagarh Katak, Viraja Katak and Amaravati Katak.
In the remote past Cuttack was connected both by land routes and waterways with the renowned medieval ports like Chelitalo,Palur and Tarmalipti.Although politically Cuttack was not that significant before the eight century A.D>,but it was a flourishing mart of Eastern trade.However,Cuttack became a capital city as the end of the 10th centuary A.D.during the reign of somavanansi dynasty of Odisha (Formerly Orissa).
The importance of Cuttack rapidly increased after the occupation of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) by Chohagangadeva early in the 12th century A.D.Chodaganga transferred his capital from Kalinganagar to Katak which was more centrally located.The famous Barabati Fort was constructed in 1229A.D.by the famous Ganga ruler Anangabhimadeva lll.
After the Ganges,Odisha (Formerly Orissa) passed intothe hands of the Gajapati under whom Cuttack continued to be the capital of the state.The reference from Ain-i-Akbari clearly denotes That Cuttack was a flourishing capital city during the time of Mukunda Deva.On the eve of Afghan occupation,Cuttack was found a well guarded and heavily fortified capital.
The Afghans however were not destined to rule Odisha (Formerly Orissa) and they were soon ousted by the Imperial Mughals.Cuttack continued to be the capital of Mughal Odisha (Formerly Orissa) and Abul Fazl celearly mentions that Mughal Governor was residing in that city.
During the rule of Marathas,Cuttack greatly prospered as an emporium of trade and commerce and became a central market of exchange between the Marathas of Nagpur and the English merchants of Bengal and Northen Circar.
As per the treaty of deogaon,Cuttack came under British occupation in 1803 and the Enhlish set themselves to the task of consolidation and land revenue administration.As an after effect of the devastating famine of 1866,the government gave serious consideration to remove the isolation of Cuttack from the outsite world and at the same time to prevent the recurrence of such calamities in future. Along with several water ways,roads were also opened during the tater part of the 19th century toprovide Cuttack with internal communication. Then towords the last decade of the 19th century railway line of BNR connected Cuttack directly with Madras and Calcutta.
The first Newspaper of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) “UtkalDipika” was publish by the Cuttack printing Company due to the efforts of Gourisankar Ray in 1866.There was a great change in the educational scenario of Cuttack after British occupation with the establishment of first Government English school in 1841 and it slowly progressed as the Higher English school unitil the famine of 1886.Then the school was converted into a college with intermediate teaching in 1868 which in due course of time took the name of Ravenshaw college. Ravenshaw college was coverted to Ravenshaw University on 15th November 2006.Odisha (Formerly Orissa) Medical was established in 1875 following the establishment of Cuttack general hospital in 1874.The Cuttack Municipality came into existence in 1876.In 1923 two new educational insituions were opened in Cuttack.One was Cuttack Training College and the other wos Odisha (Formerly Orissa) School of Engineering,which developed out of the old survey school separated from the Ravenshaw College in 1915 and from the Government workshop located at jobra.
During Freedom Struggle,Swaraj Ashram of Sahebazada Bazar was the center of all nationalist activities. The Ashram is place of pilgrimage for all Gandhites as Gandhiji indoctrinated the youths of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) with the mantra of truth and nonviolence.
Cuttack has been enjoying all along the unique privilege of being the administrative and commercial nerve center of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) .It was the seat of the commissioner of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) Division till 1936 and with the formation of the province of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) in that year it was exalted to be the head quarter ofthenew province.the historic Lalbagh place which was being occupied by the commissinor became the Governor House.Now it was been converted to children,s hospital called “Sishu Bhawan “A stadium know as the Barabiti Stadium has been built on the famous Killa Maidan near the Barabati fort.The High court came into existence in 1948 and its building is another impressive structure of indo-European style.In 1948 Akasvani (All India Radio)was established in the old Madhupur building of Cuttack.
The city is reputed all over the country for its exquisite and delicate filigree works,artistic horn works, fine and multi-coloured textile products.
The state government finally selected Bhubaneswar situated at a diatance of eighteen miles from Cuttack as its new capital in accordance with the plan of grater Cuttack.Though Bhubaneswer has been made the new capital of Odisha (Formerly Orissa),still then ,Cuttack acts as bridge linking the past ,present and future of state’s History and Heritage.Till the date is ranked sa one of the old cities of India with her life spread over more than thousand years being famous as the :Millennium City”.