Cuttack (derived from the Sanskrit word 'Kataka', which signifies a military camp or a fort or a Government seat protected by an army) is one of the oldest cities in India and the Business Capital of Orissa. It is situated in a tongue of land formed by the Mahanadi River and its main branch the Kathajodi River at their points of bifurcation in 20.28° N 85.52° E. Its actual pronunciation is 'Katak'.
Cuttack is also the headquarters of Cuttack District. It lies near Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark. It is more than a thousand years old, and was the capital of Orissa for almost nine centuries, before Bhubaneswar was made the capital city. With its world famous unique filigree works in silver, ivory and brass works and textiles of woven silk and cotton, Cuttack is perhaps the grandest showroom of Orissa.
Early history of Cuttack is associated with the Keshari dynasty. As stated by the distinguished historian A. Stirling, present-day Cuttack was established as a military cantonment by king Nrupa Keshari of Keshari dynasty in 989 A.D. Stirling based his opinion on Madalapanji, a chronicle of lord Jagannath temple of Puri. The reign of Markata Keshari was distinguished for the stone embank built to protect the new capital from flood in 1002 A.D.
Historical evidence suggests Cuttack becoming capital of a Kingdom founded by Anangabhimadeva of Ganga dynasty in 1211 A.D. After the end of Ganga rule, Orissa passed to the hands of the Gajapati Kings (1435-1541 A.D.) of Solar dynasty under whom Cuttack continued to be the capital of Orissa. After the death of Mukunda deva, the last Hindu king of Orissa, Cuttack first came under Muslim rules and later under Mughals.
By 1750, Cuttack came under Maratha rules and it grew fast as a business center being the convenient point of contact between the Marathas of Nagpur and the English Merchants of Bengal. It was occupied by the British in 1803 and later became the capital of Orissa division in 1816. From 1948 onwards, when the capital was shifted to Bhubaneswar, the city remained the administrative headquarters of Orissa.
Remnants of an old fort called Barabati still exist in the heart of Cuttack with the moat around the fort. Nearby is a modern stadium called the Barabati Stadium, host to many national and international matches. Recent growth of the city has resulted in expansion across the river Kathjori and a newer township towards the head of the delta formed between the distributary Kathjori river and the Mahanadi. Cuttack is referred to as a city with Babaan Bazaaar,Thepan gaali i.e. a city having 52 markets and 53 streets.
Cuttack is located at 20.5° N 85.83° E. It has an average elevation of 37 metres (121 feet). Cuttack is located at the apex of delta formed by the rivers Mahanadi in the north and Kathajodi in the south. The city experiences a hot and humid climate in Summer, characterized by temperature going up as high as above 40 °C and a dry and cold climate in Winter, with mercury dipping to as low as below 10 °C. Summer starts at the end of March, the effect of which is felt till the middle of June when monsoon sets in. Monsoon rains lash the city during September to middle of October and supply most of the city's annual average rainfall of 144.39 cm.
Winter season, between November and beginning of January is characterized by wind chill from north and long nights when sun sets in around 5:30 p.m. IST in December. People wear heavy wollen clothes at night to beat the Winter.
Between middle of January to the middle of March, the climate is pleasant with temperatures ranging a minimum of 22.2 °C and a maximum of 33.4 °C, which is ideal to visit the city.