Based on Natya Shastra, Odissi is regarded as one of the oldest surviving dance forms of India, with well preserved archaeological evidence. It has originated from Orissa and its history can be traced back to the 2nd century BC. The dance form has been extensively depicted in the sculptures of Brahmeswara temple and Sun Temple at Konark. Kelucharan Mohapatra, an erstwhile Goti Pua, is the greatest exponent and guru of Odissi. Some of the other exponents of this dance form are Indrani Rehman, Sonal Mansingh, Sanjukta Panigrahi, Protima Gauri Bedi, Madhavi Mudgal, Guru Mayadhar Raut, Guru Deva Prasad Das and Guru Durga Charan Das.
The form of Odissi that exists today is the result of a long process of renovation from various dance traditions of Orissa, which includes the Maharis, the Goti puas and the Bhandanritya traditions. Maharis were the counterparts of the Devadasis of the South, who danced in temples. Goti puas were men, who dressed as female dancers and danced like the Maharis. These artistes were not allowed to dance in temples after reaching adulthood. After 17th century, the popularity of Odissi declined largely, because dancers came to be considered as shameless creatures. Thus, there was no one ready to learn the dance form.
With the passing time and the modernization of the thinking of the Indian society, Odissi was brought back to the attention of the public and started gaining back the lost popularity. Kalicharan Pattanayaka is accredited with the revival of Odissi. He presented the Odissi artists to perform on stage and motivated others to follow the suit. In the 1950s, the entire dance form was revitalized by Abhinaya Chandrika, by taking assistance from the sculpted dance poses that already existed in temples.