The history of Jajpur dates back to the prehistoric times. The name Jajpur itself a testimony to this. Some scholars attribute it to the word Yajnapura , while others opine that the name originated from Jajatipura Sasanas in Jajpur area. Jajati is also said to have made Jajatipur as his capital and renamed the city as Jajapura. King Jajati, it is said, had organized a great yajna called Daswamedha at this place. For this, he brought 10,000 Brahmins from North India and got them settled in various localities later on.Preceding this event, Jajpur finds mention in ancient Indian mythology texts and the Puranic literatures alike where it is referred to as Viraja and Baitarini Tirtha, one of the most important tirthas of India. The place has also been described in the Kapilasamhita, Brahmanda Purana, Vayu Purana, Brahma Purana, Tantrachintamani, Astapithamahatmaya and Chaitanya Charitamrita. The place holds great significance among the Hindus as it is considered to be one of the Sakti Pithas where the amputated corpse of Sati, the consort of Shiva, fell having been chopped off by Lord Vishnu. Thus jajpur is referred to as Parvati Tirth sometimes. Jajpur has also been mentioned in the Mahabharat where it is started that, at the Viraja in the banks of Baitarini, the Pandava brothers had taken holy dip along with the saint Lomash.Historical anecdotes about the place can however be found only after 7th century A.D with the rise of the Bhaumkaras who ruled over Odisha with Guheswar Patak near Viraja as their Capital.
Earlier Jajpur was a breeding ground for both Buddhism and Jainsim. Accounts from Hieun Tsang in 639 A.D. go on to prove the existence of Puspagiri Vihar in the precincts of Jajpur. Tantrayan sprang upon the decadence of Buddhism towards the 8th century. The Kubija Tantra describes Viraja as the Maheswari of Uddiyan.
A great revival of Brahmanism in India and Odisha happened with the emergence of the imperial Guptas. Royal houses encouraged Brahminism by getting Brahmins en masse from Banaras and other north Indian township and making them settled in their provinces. Accordingly Kings were known to perform yajnas to preserve their strength and reputation. In all probability jajati keshari also performed the Daswamedha yajna under Brahmanical on the banks of the Baitarani river. He is in fact known to have performed a series of different yajnas on the banks of the river.
Virajakshetra is triangular. In each corner we find a Siva temple at equal distance. These are Bileswar, Khiltateswar and Baruneswar. The first two temples have received land grants from king Anangabhimadeva, as is evident from Madalapanji. Beautiful ancient Budhist and jaina images are found in the architectural programme of the temples. The Brahma Purana says that there were one less to one crore Sivalingas in jajpur area, which indicates the religious importance of the place.
King Anangabhimadeva of Ganga dynasty had built a Jagannath temple at jajpur, in imitation of the Jagannath Temple of puri, which was known to have been destroyed by the muslim invaders. Near Daswamedha ghat we find the images of Sapta matruka, namely Chamunda, Varahi, Indrani, Vaisnavi, Sivaduti, Kaumari and Maheswari. They are found seated on a lotus pedestal with their respective mounts.
Much of the architectural pomp of the place was destroyed in later periods as jajpur was subject to constant attacks by the muslim invaders. It was witness to many politically significant battles. One of the battles that changed the course of Odisha history by transferring power to the Afghans was also fought near Jajpur at Gohira Tikiri between the reigning king Mukundadeva Harichandan and Ramachandra bhanja.
Few people of Jajpur in Orissa know that the writer of the national song, Bankim Chandra Chaterjee was working as the Deputy Magistrate from1882 to 1884 in Jajpur. Bankim worked as a deputy magistrate in Jajpur for about two years during his three decade long stint as a deputy magistrate in Bengal and Orissa as during that period Orissa was under the Bengal province. Bankim Chandra joined as a deputy magistrate in 1859 and retired in 1891. Jajpur became a sub–division in 1859.The noted writer savoured the tranquility of the riverside in his official residence at Jajpur and penned ‘Devi Chaudharani’ based on a real story . It was published in 1884.
Earlier Jajpur was part of undivided Cuttack district. On 1st April 1993 it got its separate administrative identity. The district consists of 10 Blocks, 10 tahasils, 311 GPs, 4286 words. Now Jajpur is poised as country’s largest steel hub with many major units starting production and yet others are trying to find their place in its rich industrial scenario. Ever a land of fertile soil and rich mineral resources, Jajpur is also known as a melting pot of many religions, faiths and beliefs steadily holding in its rich mosaic the essence of fraternity and peace.
Since 2010 Jajpur district has been organizing Zilla Mahotsav. An informative and colourful souvenir titled JAJATI gets published to mark the occasion.Geographical Coordinates: 20’ 51’ 0’ ’ North, 86’ 20’ 0’ ’ East.