Sailors, merchants, farmers, scholars and artisans from this region travelled overseas, and established linkages with the people of South East Asia dating back to 4th Century BCE. The pioneers among them were the Sadhavas, the sailor-merchants of Kalinga, a powerful empire straddling the eastern sea coast of India. The great poet, Kalidasa, in 5th century CE described the King of Kalinga as Mahodadhipati, i.e. the Lord of the Oceans.
The Sadhavas acted as messengers of peace and couriers of culture between eastern India and the Indo-Pacific region. Kalinga has, therefore, been used as a metaphor for the historic ties that bind this wider region together.