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Parlakhemundi Oriya: ) is an ancient town and a municipality in Gajapati district in the Indian state of Odisha. The major languages spoken in this region is Oriya.
Krushna Chandra Gajapati Narayan Deo, Maharaja of Paralakhemundi was the direct descendant of the historic dynasty of the Eastern Ganga dynasty Gajapati kings that ruled Odisha for more than seven centuries. During the regime of these kings, the boundaries of Odisha extended from the Ganges in the north to Udoyagiri in Nellore district in the South. Kolahomee, one of the sons of Gajapati Kapilendra Dev, the Gajapati monarch in the later half of the 15th Century came to this part of Paralakhemundi (then in Ganjam district) and founded the Royal family of Paralakhemundi.
Paralakhemundi is an ancient Zamindari lying in the western corner of the southern portion of the Ganjam district, and it is bounded in the west by the district of Visakhapatnam and on the north by the Jeypore state and the eastern ghats which are called Maliyas or tribal agencies. The town of Paralakhemundi is: “a straggling town in plan much like the letter ‘L’ scattered around the foot of the well wooded hill which is the distinctive feature of the place. The horizontal portion of the ‘L’ faces south, and at the corner where the ‘L’ and the vertical portion join, is situated the palace, a most picturesque group of building”. This group of buildings was designed and built by Mr. Chisholm.Unfortunately 70% of the Paralakhemundi Zamindari area remained with Madras Presidency during Odisha State formation in the year 1936. Now these Oriya speaking areas lies in Andhra Pradesh.
Gajapati district has been named after Maharaja Sri Krushna Chandra Gajapati Narayan Dev, the Raja Sahib of Paralakhemundi estate (the 1st Chief Minister of Odisha state), who is remembered for his contribution in formation of a separate Odisha state and inclusion of Paralakhemundi estate in Odisha. Gajapati district came into being with effect from 2 October 1992. Prior to this it was a part (Sub-Division) of Ganjam district.
Paralakhemundi lies in the south-east of the east Indian state of Odisha. It is on the banks of Mahendratanaya river. Paralakhemundi boarders with a town called Pathapatnam of Andhra Pradesh. The town is located on a hilly terrain. The climate is subtropical with high humidity. The temperature varies between 18-48 degree Celsius. Summer is extremely hot with some thunderstorms and minor cyclones, which occasionally cause power outages. Paralakhemundi receives rainfall from the southwest monsoons and the wettest months are July, August and September.
The town is poorly industrialized. Paralakhemundi once housed a large number of handicraft like Horn work, Jaikhadi bag, cane & bamboo work. Now only a few artists are seen to practice the family tradition. The Chitrakar Sahi (Artists Street) is famous for its clay, stone sculptures and water paintings. However, some medium scale granite factories are housed in the surroundings of the town.
In Paralakhemundi,although Oriya culture is prominent, one can see the mixed culture of Oriya and Telugu as the town is adjacent to state of Andhra Pradesh. People are highly religious. Dasahara, Gamhapurnima, Rath yatra, Holi, Gajalakshmi Puja, Ganesh Puja, Kali Puja, Sankranti and Thakurani Yatra of Oriya Bhandari Street are major Hindu festivals observed in the town. ApartChristmas is celebrated very beautifully in the town. The town is famous for its Ratha Yatra and also for Gajamunha dance. The legendary mountain Mahendra Mountains is situated nearby.