A comprehensive study was carried out to determine the radioactivity concentration of soil samples from different sites of a high background radiation area in the eastern coast of India, Odisha state. The dose rate measured in situ varied from 0.25 to 1.2 µSv h−1. The gamma spectrometry measurements indicated Th series elements as the main contributors to the enhanced level of radiation and allowed the authors to find the mean level of the activity concentration (±SD) for 226Ra, 228Th and 40K as 130±97, 1110±890 and 360±140 Bq kg−1, respectively. Human exposure from radionuclides occurring outdoor was estimated based on the effective dose rate, which ranged from 0.14±0.02 to 2.15±0.26 mSv and was higher than the UNSCEAR annual worldwide average value 0.07 mSv. Additionally, X-ray fluorescence analysis provided information about the content of major elements in samples and indicated the significant amount of Ti (7.4±4.9 %) in soils.