Orissa was once a part of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga. Ports flourished in this area as early as 5th and 4th centuries BC. The sea-route between ports of Orissa and Bali were very active at that time. By the beginning of Christian era merchants from Orissa established cultural and trade relationship with Indonesia, Malaysia and Orissa. The adventure filled journeys conducted by the ancient sailors and merchants of Kalinga are still preserved through the Bali Yatra Festival.
Bali Yatra festival is observed on Karthik Purnima Day every year in Orissa. The festival is reminiscent of Orissa’s maritime links with Suvarna Dwipa of by-gone days of which island of Bali is a part. On the day, colorful paper boats are floated in tanks, rivers or sea reminding the present generations of hundreds of Kalinga merchants who used to sail on high seas in pursuit of maritime glory. Kalidas in his Raghuvamsa referred to the king of Kalinga as ‘The Lord of the Sea’, as a testimony to his fame and glory. The now Bay of Bengal was then the Kalinga Sea and was dominated by the ships of Kalinga.
Sreevijaya monarchs of Indonesia had intimate cultural and trade relationship with Kalinga. The journey from Kalinga to Bali took about 40 days during that time. With the decline of Brahmanical and Buddhist dynasties in Indonesia and Malaysia, their maritime links with Kalinga coast gradually diminished.
Measures Taken to Publicise Kalinga-Bali Yatra
Orissa government did a lot of promotional activities to publicise the journey. It was widely publicized through advertisements, press releases, brochures, leaflets etc. The media coverage from the part of Indian and Indonesian media for the Yatra was very good. The progress of the journey was regularly reported by Indian newspapers. A number of features and articles were carried to highlight the whole event.
The department of tourism also published a number of brochures, folders and posters on the occasion of Kalinga Bali Yatra festival. All the poster works and folders were of international standards.
Promotional works included
· Poster with a painting of Late Gopal Kanungo
· Poster with Kalinga Bali Yatra logo taken from a maritime panel of Bhoga Mandap of Puri Jagannath Temple
· Folder on Kalinga Bali Yatra highlighting the cultural synthesis of Kalinga Bali Yatra
· Catalogue on Kalinga Bali Classical Art exhibition highlighting the selected cultural items of the exhibition
· Booklet on Kalinga Nrityayana with the detailed account of the dance repertoire,
· The sticker with Kalinga Bali Yatra Logo
· A portfolio reproduction of Dasabatar Pata-painting
· A guide to Orissa written by Moureen Libel
· Reprint o special features of Orissa
· Booklet on Orissa published by Department of tourism, Government of India and reprinted by Department of Tourism, Govt. of Orissa
· The programme card with details of the progrramme of the entire Kalinga Bali Yatra Festival
· An Eye to Orissa published by Information Department giving exhaustive account of the history, culture, present day status of modern Orissa State
· A pouch folder with Bomkei textile models had been reproduced for presentation of tourist literature.
Additionally mementoes like coat pins and lockets with Bali Yatra Logo were also produced for presentation to dignitaries at Bali.