Nabarangpur District, also known as Nabarangapur District and Nawarangpur District, is a district of Odisha, India. The city of Nabarangpur is the district headquarters. Most of its population is tribal, and most of the land is forested. Situated in the southwest corner of Odisha, it borders Koraput District. Nabarangpur district is situated at 19.14’ latitude and 82.32’ longitude at an average elevation of 1,876 feet (572 m).
Nabarangpur district was created on 2 October 1992 out of a previous subdivision of Koraput District. Until then Koraput District had been the second largest district in India. The history of Nabarangpur is inextricably interlinked with that of Koraput District, with which it shares its language, lifestyle, heritage, flora and fauna and climate.
Koraput belonged to the Atavikas, a feudatory of the powerful Kalinga Empire (Ancient Odisha) who valiantly fought the Kalinga War in the 3rd century BCE. Kalinga regained its former glory during the Mahameghabahan Dynasty in the first century BCE. The third king of this dynasty Kharavela made the Kalinga empire and the Atavika land was very strong under his rule. The successive dynasties – the Satavahanas (2nd century CE), Ikshvakus (3rd century CE) had headquarters at Pushkari, near the modern town of Umerkote. The Kesaribeda excavations bear testimony to the rule of King Bhabadatta Varma and King Arathapati. The inscriptions of Podagarh refer to king Skandavarma. The overlord Nala kings are traced to the kings who ruled from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. Their rapid growth landed them in the Odia regions of Bastar and Koraput. Around the 10th century CE a Nala king Bhimesen was ruling over a region now located in Koraput and Ganjam District.
The Koraput area including present-day Narabangpur District was a small principality of Tri Kalinga under the Ganga era of the 5th century CE. The patches of Utkala, Kalinga and Kosala were brought under the control of the Ganga kings of Odisha. This dynasty became prominent during the 11th century CE with the rise of Somanakshi. Their suzerainty extended from the modern Sambalpur, Sonepur to the Bastar and Koraput regions and they enjoyed control until the beginning of the 14th century CE.
The Matsya family ruling over the Oddadi region of modern Jeypore dominated the next generation. The best known kings included Bhanudeva and Narasingha Dev, as is known from the Odia inscription of Simhachalam in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.
The next dynasty belonged to the Sailavansis, who ruled over Vindhya during the 14th century CE. The earliest king Ganga Raju was ruling over Nandapur, a former capital of the Maharaja of Jeypore. Nandapur is famous for the throne of 32 steps erected in the line of king Vikramaditya of Ujjain. Jainism and Shaktism grew side by side in the kingdom of Nandapur.
The last king of Sailavansa, Pratap Ganga Raju was succeeded by Vinayak Dev of Surya Vansa which lasted until the time of the British Empire. Vinayak Dev was said to be married to the daughter of the last ruler of Silavansi Paratap Ganga Raju. He and his six succeeding generation of kings had only one son each and on advice from astrologers the headquarters of the kingdom was switched from Nandapur to Jeypore.
During the Anglo-French conflict, Vikram Dev I (1758–1781 CE) was successful in driving out the French from Malkangiri area and the Marathas from the Umerkote belt. They were succeeded by the brave Odia king Ramachandra Dev II (1781–1825) while his other two sons Jagannath and Narasingh Dev were placed in charge of Nabarangpur and Gudari regions. Jagannath Dev’s son Arjun Dev and Narasingha Dev’s son Chaitanya Dev were issueless. Hence, Nabarangpur and Gudari were remerged to Jeypore kingdom.
During the 20th century Ramachandra Dev IV (1920–31) was an honourable lieutenant in World War I. He was issueless and was succeeded by a benevolent, aged, scholar king Vikram Dev IV, the son of Krishna Chandra Dev. During this period the Boundary Commission headed by Sir O’Donnel was entrusted with the task of writing the different Oriya speaking tracts. The Commission went round Jeypore, Paralakhumendi, Ganjam, and Visakhapatnam before finalizing its decision. The state of Orissa was formed on 1 April 1936 with Koraput as one of the six districts. In 1951 Vikram Dev IV died at 82 and the Estate Abolition Act was passed the next year. The Estate of Jeypore was taken over by the Government of Odisha.
The district is currently a part of the Red Corridor.
In the 1940s opposition to colonial rule gained momentum. Under the direction of local Indian National Congress leaders, the adivasis of what was then the undivided Koraput district rallied to the movement and suffered imprisonment. Mahatma Gandhi called the Quit India Movement in August, 1942 which found its echo in Nabarangpur, Koraput and Malkangiri. Tribal-dominated Nabarangpur District played an important role in this nationwide movement. A tribal leader of Tentuligumma in Malkangiri subdivision was falsely implicated in a murder case when he was leading a non-violent procession. He was Laxman Nayak, a feared revolutionary of the time. Without a fair trial, he was hanged in Berhampur central jail on 29 August 1943.
On 24 August 1942, a gathering of about 6,000 people mostly adivasis under the leadership of Madhav Pradhani, of village Gummaguda, were proceeding to Dabugam to decide their future course of action following the arrest of the leaders of the district. The crowd was intercepted at a river bridge near Papadahandi. Unable to escape the unprovoked lathi charge and firing by the police, many jumped into the flooded river. Nineteen people were killed and many arrested. The Koraput jail was occupied at three to four times its capacity. The unhygienic condition of the jail and other harassment by officials took a toll of many activists. During the Quit India Movement many woman freedom fighters were raped by the police and forest personnel in the district. Some of them were murdered by the police, while others committed suicide.
The days of the independence struggle saw the new emergence of leaders: R.K. Biswasray, R.K. Sahu and Sadashiva Tripathy. Tripathy, from Nabarangpur town, went on to become the Chief Minister of Odisha.