There are indications that the 23rd Tirthankar, 'Parsvanath Swami', preached Jainism in Kalinga in the 7th century BC and King 'Karakanda' was converted by him. The king built 'Karakanda Vihar' for the propagation of Jainism and installed in it the image of the 2nd Tirthankar, 'Ajitnath'.
The Jain preacher 'Mahavira Swami' visited Kalinga to propagate the reformed version of Jainism and installed the 'Vijay Chakra' on the 'Kumari' ('Udaygiri') hill, which became a famous pilgrimage centre along with Pithunda Nagar where the image of Rishabhanath was installed after consecration.
Jainism seems, to have reached its high-water mark during the reign of Emperor Kharavela who made it the state religion. He, after his conquest of 'Magadha', brought back to Kalinga the 'Kalinga Jinasana' that had been carried away by 'Mahapadma Nanda' after his conquest of Orissa three hundred years before.
The Ancient Jain Monastries
Kharavela's patronage of Jainism is seen from the beautiful caves that he carved out from the rocks on the Udaygiri and 'Khandagiri' hills. The Khandagiri caves were used as places of worship while those on Udaygiri were used for the accommodation of saints, monks and ascetics. The 'Hati-gumpha' inscription bears testimony to this royal patronage as also to the liberalism of the emperor who, though himself of the 'Svetambara' sect, showed due honour and respect to the 'Digambar' sect.
The influence of Jainism on culture can be well imagined from the stress on such virtues as kindness and compassion, charity and service to humanity -- a stress that enlarged the humane aspects of religion in Kalinga. Jainism declined after Kharavala with a short spell of importance during the reign of the 'Murunda' rulers in 'Kalinga' especially under 'Dharmadamodar'.
The queen of the 'Sailodbhava' king 'Dharmaraja' II, 'Kalyani Devi' was a patron of Jainism. During the reigns of the 'Bhojas' and some Dynasties in the medieval period, Jainism seems to have revived for which the Khandagiri and Udaigiri caves were left intact.
The historical-cum-archaeological evidence that is available from different parts of the state, e.g. Anandpur (Keonjhar), Chhatia, Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri, Choudwar, Athgarh, Tigiria, Badamba, Banki and Jajpur (Cuttack), Khiching and its environs (Mayurbhanj), Kupari and Charampa (Balasore), Ghumsur (Ganjam) and Nawrangpur shows, that Jainism had a wide influence. As a result of this interaction, according to some scholars the throne of Jagannatha or Jagannath is probably the throne that had been taken away by Mahapadma Nanda and restored by Kharavela.