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Sambalpur serves as the gateway to the bewitching western zone of Odisha, abounding in lush green forests, colorful wild-life, exquisite array of hills and waterfalls, folk songs and dances and a number of monuments. Sambalpur has its own contribution to the cultural diversity of our country.

Referred to as 'Sambalak' by the Greek Geographer Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD and 'Sambhal' in the medieval Tibetan literature, Sambalpur is one of the oldest cities of India. In the 8th century A.D, Sambalpur led the world by founding Vajrayan Buddhism by its King Indrabhuti, one of the 84 traditional Siddhas of India. Once a part of South Koshal, Sambalpur was a fortified town during the Chouhan rule. During the British rule also Sambalpur was a major centre of political activities. It was annexed to the British empire under the "Doctrine of lapse" in 1849 after Raja Narayan Singh died issueless. Veer Surendsra Sai, a scion of the royal dynasty rose in revolt and gave the Britishers sleepless nights during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. He continued his struggle long after the Mutiny had collapsed in the rest of India. Following his footsteps, Sambalpur played an important role in the freedom movement later. Gangadhar Meher the famous Oriya poet of nature has brought laurels for the locality by his immortal writings .

Sambalpur had the tradition of producing diamonds extracted from the sands of the river Mahanadi at Hirakud, literally meaning 'Diamond Island'. The cultivated plains yield numerous varieties of paddy, some of which are the finest in the country.

Sambalpur with its vicinity has earned international fame for the traditional handloom fabrics, popularly called the Sambalpuri textiles. The products exhibit considerable taste in harmonious blending of colours and elaborate richness of pattern and designs. It covers a wide variety of products - from furnishings to dress materials and tapestry. But the most popular among them is the colourful saree which has almost become synonymous with the whole range of products.

The region is rich in folk art and culture. The rhythmic Sambalpuri dances accompanied by lyrical music in various forms are vigorous and inspiring.

Sambalpur is endowed with natural splendor unspoiled by modern commercial development. It is fascinating to be in the midst of nature in all its glory.