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Kalahandi district,Odisha

Kalahandi (locally pronounced Kalahani) is a district of Odisha in India. The region had a glorious past and great civilisation in ancient time. Archaeological evidence of stone age and Iron Age human settlement has been recovered from the region.Asurgarh offered an advanced, well civilised, cultured and urban human settlement about 2000 years ago in the region.In South Asia it is believed that the lands of Kalahandi district and Koraput district were the ancient places where people started cultivation of paddy. In ancient time it was known as Mahakantara (meaning Great Forest) and Karunda Mandal, which means treasure of precious stones like karandam (Corundum/Manik), Garnet (red stone), Beruz, Neelam (Sapphire/blue stone), and Alexandra etc. Manikeswari (the goddess of Manikya or Karandam) is the clan deity of Kalahandi may also signify its historical name.

It was a princely state in British India and in post independence period it merged with Odisha state in India as Kalahandi district comprising current Kalahandi district and Nuapada district. In 1967, Kashipur block from Kalahandi district was transferred to Rayagada district for administrative reason. In the 1980s, Kalahandi’s name became associated with backwardness and starvation death, which is known as “Kalahandi Syndrome”. Despite its backwardness it is one of the rich regions in history, agriculture, forest resources, gemstone, bauxite, folk dance, folk music, folklore, handicrafts and arts. In 1993, Nuapada sub-division was carved out as a separate district, but Kalahandi (Lok Sabha constituency) continues to constitute present Kalahandi district and Nuapada district together.

History of Kalahandi district,Odisha

Kalahandi region had a glorious past and great civilisation in ancient time. Archaeological record of ‘Tel valley’ reveals the presence of the primates in its zones during the Pleistocenephase. Paleolithic is being documented in Kalahandi, like Moter river basin in Dharamgarh region.One of the largest size axe of late stone age culture has been recovered from Kalahandi.Tel river civilisation put light towards a great civilisation existing in Kalahandi in the past that is recently getting explored.The discovered archaeological wealth of Tel Valley suggest a well civilised, urbanised, cultured people inhabited on this land mass around 2000 years agoand Asurgarh was its capital. Kalahandi along with Koraput and Bastar was part of Kantara referred in Ramayana and Mahabharata.In 4th century B.C. Kalahandi region was known as Indravana from where precious gem-stones and diamond were collected for the imperial Maurya treasury.During the period of Maurya emperor Ashoka, Kalahandi along with Koraput and Bastar region was called Atavi Land.This land was unconquered as per Ashokan record.In the beginning of Christian era probably it was known as Mahavana.In 4th Century A.D. Vyaghraraja was ruling over Mahakantara comprising Kalahandi, undivided Koraput and Bastar region.Asurgarh was capital of Mahakantara.After Vyaghraraja, the Nala kings like Bhavadatta Varman, Arthapati and Skanda Varman ruled over south part of this region up to about 500, the territory was known as Nalavadi-visaya and rest of Mahakantara, lower part of Tel river valley was ruled by king Tastikara and his scions, the kingdom was known as Parvatad-waraka, whose headquarters was Talabhamraka near Belkhandi.In the 6th century a new kingdom developed in the Kalahandi tract under King Tustikara, but very little is known about other kings of his family. Maraguda valley was identified as capital of Sarabapuriyas.During Sarabapuriyas in the 6th century, Kalahandi lost its political entities and merged with eastern part of South Kosal or Kosal.But this was also for a short period as in succeeding phase it assumed a distinct name Trikalinga. By the 9th–10th centuries the region including Western Odisha, Kalahandi, Koraput and Bastar was known as Trikalinga.The Somavamsi king Mahabhavagupta I Janmejaya (925 – 960) assumed the title Trikalingadhipati.Trikalinga was short lived and Chindakangas carved out a new kingdom called Chakrakota Mandala or Bramarakota Mandala,which later one expanded to whole Kalahandi and Koraput.

The Naga dynasty started ruling Kalahandi in 1006. The Nagas of Kalahandi are the only dynasty in Odisha having a record of thousand years (1050–1948). During the 12th century Chkrakota Mandal was incorporated with the Ganga realm of Kalinga, and renamed “Kamala Mandala”,thus Kalahandi region became part of Kalinga as a feudatory of the Eastern Gangas under Nagas rules and continued till 14th century. After 14th century Nagas owed allegiance from Eastern Gangas to the Suryavamsi Gajapatis. This territory assumed independence after the downfall of the Gajapatis of Odisha in 1568. According to tradition the Kalahandi kingdom commanded sovereign power over eighteen garbs. It was occupied by the Bhonslas of Nagpur in the middle of the 18th century but still it was a Gadajat under Nagas rule. In 1853 the Nagpur state lapsed to the British Crown as Raghujee III died without an heir. Then Kalahandi became a princely state under British and known as Karonda Mandal. Maharaja Pratap Keshari Deo, the Ex-Maharaja of Kalahandi, in one of his articles expressed his view that the historical significance of naming Kalahandi as Karunda Mandala is based on the availability of Corundum in this region. Manikeswari (the goddess of Manikya), the clan deity of the Naga kings of Kalahandi may have also necessitated the adoption of the name.

After Indian independence, Kalahandi joined with the Union of India on 1 January 1948. On 1 November 1949, Patna Balangir district and Subarnapur district together constituted a separate district and the Nuapada sub-division of Sambalpur was added to the Kalahandi district. In 1967, Kashipur block of Kalahandi district was transferred to Rayagada division for administrative purpose. In 1993, Nuapada sub-division was carved out as a separate district, but Kalahandi (Lok Sabha constituency) continues to constitute present Kalahandi district and Nuapada district together.