Balasore city, one of the districts in Orissa is a beach lover’s delight. On the map Balasore is located to the north of Orissa, 21 degree 03’ to 21 degree 59’ North Latitude and 86 degree 20’ to 87 degree 29’ East Longitude. The geographical area of the district is 3,634 sq. km. Balasore is surrounded by Midnapore district of West Bengal on the North, the Bay of Bengal to its east, Bhadrak to the South and Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts to its west.
The name Balasore is actually a corrupted version of Baleshwar. Baleshwar is an ancient name with many records and stories floating around it. Legend goes that at one point of time it was the capital city of the demon king Baneshwar. Mythology stories abound on the naming of the town. One interesting story about it is that Lord Vishnu in his avatar as the "Baman" asked king Mahabali for tri-feet or the (Tripada) gift and got the whole universe under his feet. As a result King Mahabali’s son, king Bata requested the Lord of the sea Varun for help. Taking pity Lord Varun gifted him a small plot beside the sea and king Bata canceled the sea in his land, due to which it got filled with enormous sand. Thus, it was named Balasore or the city of sand. Some say that the name was derived from Lord Baneshwar or Lord Shiva. But during the Mughal rule the name of its largest town underwent a change to Balasore that is recognized from the Persian word Bala-e-shore meaning “town-on-the-sea”.
The district under which the city of Balasore exists can be divided into three geographical regions, namely, the coastal belt, the inner alluvial plain and the north-western hills. The coastal belt is about 26 kms wide and shaped like a strip. The hills of Nilgiri dotting Balasore city have the highest peak measuring 1783 ft. above the sea level. Balasore, one of the coastal cities of Orissa is well inundated with perennial and estuarine rivers due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal. The climate of this city is mostly hot and humid. But Balasore experiences cyclonic storms due to its strategic location near the Bay of Bengal.
There are tourists who specifically visit Balasore for sampling its specialty called “Chandini” a typical Oriya dish that is only available in Balasore. People visiting Balasore should try this dish in any of the good restaurants available in the town. Visitors can also try the Kashmiri naan and “chena podo /chena muri” one of the authentic deserts that is unique to Orissa and Balasore in particular.
Balasore is also famous for its various Hindu, Muslim and Christian festivals that are celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm by all its communities. Tourists throng Balasore during Durga Puja when “Akhada” the enjoyable sport is played by Hindus & during Moharrum by Muslims. Balasore has its own distinction in the field of art and culture. Balasore has also achieved high repute in the field of drama, theatre, music & literature. The Radha Govinda Theatre, Bharati Theatre, Sunhat Theatre & Juvenile Theatre were highly reputed before Independence and institutions like Srashtha, Fakir Mohan Natya Parishad, Fakir Mohan Sahitya Parishad, Chadrabhaga, Nrutya Sangeeta Kala Mandir, Sai Kala Mandir etc. after Independence are said to be achieving great heights in the field of culture. But Balasore’s pride rests in its unique sea beach Chandipur and in its Integrated Test Range. Chandipur is one of the unique beaches in India where the sea water recedes five kms rhythmically at a regular interval.
Balasore is one of the most important districts of Orissa which finds mention not only on the national map but also on the international map for its history, geography, culture, marine development and for sensitive but important institutions like the Proof and Experimental establishment and the Interim Test Range. 18 km. south of Balasore is the important site of the Indian Ballistic Missile Defense Program's Integrated Test Range. The Defense Research and Development Organization developed many different missiles such as Nag, Brahmos, Agni missile among others here. As the coastal district on the north eastern sea board Balasore is also called the “Granary of Orissa”.