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Kalahandi district
—  District  —

Kalahandi district is located in Orissa
Kalahandi district
Location in Orissa, India
Coordinates: 20°04′59″N 83°12′00″E / 20.083, 83.2Coordinates: 20°04′59″N 83°12′00″E / 20.083, 83.2
Country  India
State Orissa
Headquarters Bhawanipatna
 • Collector Gobind Chandra Sethi
 • Member of Parliament Bhakta Charan Das, INC
 • Total 7,920 km2 (3,060 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 1,573,054
 • Density 169/km2 (440/sq mi)
 • Official Oriya, Hindi, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 766 xxx
Vehicle registration OR-08
Sex ratio 0.999 /
Literacy 62.45%
Lok Sabha constituency Kalahandi
Vidhan Sabha constituency 5, 77-Lanjigarh, 78-Junagarh, 79-Dharmagarh, 80-Bhawanipatna, 81-Narla
Climate Aw (Köppen)

Kalahandi (Oriya: କଳାହାଣ୍ଡି, locally pronounced as Kalahani), is a district of Orissa in India. The region had a glorious past and great civilization in ancient time. Archaeological evidence of stone age and Iron Age human settlement has been recovered from the region.[2] Asurgarh offered an advanced, well civilized, cultured and urban human settlement about 2000 years ago in the region.[3] 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 (Manik), Garnet (red stone), Beruz, Neelam (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 Orissa 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 1980s, Kalahandi name became associated with backwardness and starvation death, which is known as "Kalahandi Syndrome".[4] Despite its backwardness its one of the rich region in terms of 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.



World's largest Celt axe of Stone Age found in Kalahandi


Six Headed Kartikeya of Medival Period in Dadpur, Kalahandi


Pre-historic painting from Gudahandi, Kalahandi

Kalahandi region had a glorious past and great civilization in ancient time. Archaeological record of Tel valley reveals the presence of the primates in its various zones during the Pleistocenephase. Paleolithic is being documented in Kalahandi, like Moter river basin in Dharamgarh region.[5] One of the largest size axe of late stone age culture has been recovered from Kalahandi.[6] Tel river civilization put light towards a great civilization existing in Kalahandi in the past that is recently getting explored.[7] The discovered archaeological wealth of Tel Valley suggest a well civilized, urbanized, cultured people inhabited on this land mass around 2000 years ago[8] and Asurgarh was its capital. Kalahandi along with Koraput and Bastar was part of Kantara referred in Ramayana and Mahabharata.[9] 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.[10] During the period of Maurya emperor Ashoka, Kalahandi along with Koraput and Bastar region was called Atavi Land.[11] This land was unconquered as per Ashokan record.[12] In the beginning of Christian era probably it was known as Mahavana.[13] In 4th Century A.D. Vyaghraraja was ruling over Mahakantara comprising Kalahandi, undivided Koraput and Bastar region.[14] Asurgarh was capital of Mahakantara.[15] After Vyaghraraja, the Nala kings like Bhavadatta Varman, Arthapati and Skanda Varman ruled over south part of this region up to about 500 A.D., the territory was known as Nalavadi-visaya[16] 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 headquarter was Talabhamraka near Belkhandi.[17] In the 6th century A.D. 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.[18] During Sarabapuriyas in 6th century A.D. Kalahandi lost its political entities and merged with eastern part of South Kosal or Kosal.[19] But this was also for a short period as in succeeding phase it assumed a distinct name Trikalinga. By 9th – 10th century A.D. the region including Western Orissa, Kalahandi, Koraput and Bastar was known as Trikalinga.[20] The Somavamsi king Mahabhavagupta I Janmejaya (925 A.D. 960 A.D.) assumed the title Trikalingadhipati.[21] Trikalinga was short lived and Chindakangas carved out a new kingdom called Chakrakota Mandala or Bramarakota Mandala,[22] which later one expanded to whole Kalahandi and Koraput. Nagas started ruling Kalahandi since 1006 AD. History of Naga dynasty of Kalahandi is the only dynasty in Orissa having a record of thousand years (1050 - 1948 AD). During 12th century AD Chkrakota Mandal was incorporated with the Ganga realm of Kalinga, and renamed "Kamala Mandala",[23] 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 Orissa in 1568 AD. According to tradition the Kalahandi kingdom commanded sovereign power over eighteen garhs. It was occupied by the Bhonslas of Nagpur in the middle of the 18th century AD but still it was a Gadajat under Nagas rule. In 1853 AD 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 January 1, 1948. On November 1, 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.


Kalahandi Syndrome[]

Kalahandi hits the headlines in newspapers for the repeated drought situation that has broken the economic backbone of the cultivators. A long history of drought covering more than a century in Kalahandi has occurred. Drought had occurred in Kalahandi in 1868, 1884 and 1897. The famine of 1899 is otherwise known as "Chhapan Salar Durbhikshya". The effect of the famine, according to the District Gazetteers, were of a magnitude unprecedented in any previous famine. This famine left a terrible socio-economic gloom in this area. In 1919-1920 another drought occurred followed by cholera, influenza and malnutrition due to lack of foodstuff. A series of drought in 1922-1923, 1925–1926, 1929–1930, 1954–1955 and 1955-56 occurred in Kalahandi. The terrible drought of 1965-66, which occurred in Kalahandi, totally broke down the economic backbone of the people. Due to lack of rain, three-fourth crop production failed. The effect of the drought continued to be felt in 1967. As regards this drought, the following description from the District Gazetteers is worth quoting.

“The bulk of the population which constituted the landless agricultural labourers became unemployed due to suspension of all sorts of agricultural operations. The worst sufferers were the landed gentry, who, because of the drought, could not reap a harvest nor could they take to manual labour to which they were not accustomed. The pastures lost the greenery and the bovine population therefore was equally starved. Everywhere there was an acute shortage of water.”

Again in 1974-75 and in 1985 drought occurred like the Human Census occurring once in ten years. After the severe drought of 1956 and 1966, the rich cultivators of this area came down to the status of middle class cultivators and the middle class cultivators into ordinary one. They all turned into Sukhbasis. The daily wage labourers and landless are generally called "Sukhbasi" in Kalahandi meaning those who live happily. A proverb for ‘Sukhbasi’ runs thus: ‘Gai nai goru, sukhe nid karu’ which means the men without cattle have happy sound sleep. Continuous occurrence of drought along with the irregular rainfall has resulted in crop failure and thus people became poorer to poorer. The Bureau of Statistics and Economics, Orissa has analyzed the rainfall of South Western Kalahandi and has reported that ‘there is a year of drought in every three or four years’. Along with the drought the problems such as rural unemployment, non-industrialization, growth of population and rapid deforestation are some of the major problems of Kalahandi. Hence being gripped both by nature and men, the rural inhabitant of Kalahandi has found no other way of survival. As a result either he has migrated from his motherland or lived in the wasteland as a crippled soldier. Kalahandi has been in the news since middle of 1980s when India Today[24] reported sale of a child by its parents due to financial crisis. That article led the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to pay a visit to the district and brought the district to the attention of the national stage for its acute poverty and famine. Subsequently similar reported cases of starvation deaths and sale of children have led to the announcement of a host of relief efforts and development projects. This backward phenomena despite richnees of Kalahandi was called Kalahandi Syndrome by social workers.[4] Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao announced the famous KBK project for backward undivided Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput districts in 1994. Nonetheless, Kalahandi has not been able to take off despite of hosts of programmes, largely because of lacuna at implementation stage. As the basic infrastructure is dismal state, the development progress is very slow.

Kalahandi is more often used a symbol of backwardness in popular media and among politicians or social workers. Use of Kalahandi in popular literature has been controversial. In a literary conference, "Rajya Stariya Lekhaka Sammilani" in 1994 at Bhawanipatna many invited speakers and local intellectuals pointed out that its not wise to use the name "Kalahandi" as synonym for starvation death as starvation death does not imply image of Kalahandi completely and by using Kalahandi name for starvation death other rich aspects of life in Kalahandi are being ignored. Stavation death was just one side of a coin, like poverty in Orissa or India. However, there are many writers, philosophers, social workers, journalists, politicians etc., particularly in India who are still continuing to use the name of district in literature, articles and reviews. The poem "Kalahandi" by Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan received critical acclaim following its publication in the Indian Literature in December 2007.[25] Kalahandi movie made by famous Indian film director Gautam Ghose received critical award.[26] Rahul Gandhi's comparison of Purulia with Kalahandi had brought political controversy in West Bengal.[27]

Political marginalization in recent times[]

Sabha Mandap, Bhawanipatna Palace

Politically, the district does not have much importance in state or national politics. Though in 2000 and 2004 elections Biju Janata Dal- Bharatiya Janata Party combined had won all the MLA and MP seats in Kalahandi, in 2009 election people opted for Indian National Congress except Dharamgarh MLA constituency, which is largely seen as ongoing political negligence to this region. Mr Bhaktacharan Das, sitting MP (Congress) and third time MP from the district has not received any Union Ministry in Manmohan Singh's Ministry. Mr Bhaktacharan Das, MP during the Chandrasekhar regime (1990–91), was part of the union ministry in the Railway and Sports department. No other MPs in last two decades have made it to any important post of national or state level. Mr Bhupinder Singh the seating MLA from Narla Constituency is leader of opposition of Orissa assembly. Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Jagannath Pattnaik and Mr Rasha Bihari Behera have been among the senior leaders of Congress Party. Despite trio of them being in an important ministry like Revenue and Tourism, Agriculture they failed to make it to limelight. Currently Sri Pushpendra Sing Deo sitting MLA of Dharamgarh MLA constituency is a state minister with independent charge in Naveen Patnaik Government in Orissa. Political disappointment in the region is raising. Separate State Movement for the creation of 'Kosal' state has been an issue in the region. The 'Kosal Mukti Rath'of Mr. Balgopal Mishra, a former MP7 MLA has been widely welcomed by the people of Kalahandi.

Kalahandi highlighted for stavation and poverty is often marginalized in Orissa state and Indian national politics. This discrimination is thought to be due to national politics. Immediately after independence Kalahandi Lok Sabha Constituency was represented by non-congress candidate for 30 years, the period India was ruled by Congress Party. Thus, Kalahandi Lok Sabha Constituency was neglected and left out of development initiatives when the Congress ruled at the Centre. Indira Gandhi visited Kalahandi in the early 1980s; Rajiv Gandhi visited in 1984; Sonia Gandhi visited in 2004, and Rahul Gandhi visited in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Since 1980, the Indian National Congress has been ruling for 20 years at the Centre. Despite late prime ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao, and present leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi etc. tall claims for developing Kalahandi, little was done for long term sustainable development in higher education, national highway, railway and industry during those leadership at Delhi. Few initiatives taken in post-independence of India for developing Kalahandi were only during non-congress rule in India such as Upper Indiravati Irrigation Project (during Moraji Desai as Prime Minister of India), Lanjigarh road - Jungarh (during Chandrasekhar as Prime Minister of India), National Highway 201 & 217 passing through Kalahandi (during Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister of India), all these projects are not yet fully accomplished.

The Central government of India has established two public sector facotries such as HAL factory and NALCO factory in the neighbouring Koraput district (part of KBK), a Lok Sabha constituency hold by congress party since independence, and an ordnance factory in Balangir district (part of KBK) leaving only Kalahhani among KBK for such development in the region. No public sector industrial investment has been taken place in Kalahandi since past 62 years. Local need in major infrastruture in railway, highways and demand for a railway factory and Central University is not yet addressed. In 2008, "India Today" surevy put Kalahandi among the bottom five Lok Sabha Constituency in Socio-economic and infrastructure development in India.

Struggle for irrigation project[]

During princely state Kalahandi, a major irrigation project was inititated on Indravati river by intellectuals and then Maharaja Prata Keshari Deo around 1946-47. However, in post independence period it took about 30 years until late Prime Minister Mr. Maraji Desai accepted Mr. Deo's proposal to construct the Indravati dam for hydroelectricity generation and irrigation purposes. Many people think such delay was due to Congress Party which was ruling India since independence and was not in a favor of development of a Lok Sabha Constituency which was represented by non-congress party. After late prime minister Moraji Desai's approval in 1978, the project took more than two decades to be realised and was alleged with various kinds of corrputions. However, the project is a major boost to agricultural development today known as Upper Indravati Hydroelectric and irrigation project. There are still concerns and lack for government funds to irrigate Koksara, Golamunda and Bhawanipatan blocks in Kalahandi through this projects as every year lots of water is released from the dam through Hati river without using for irrigation. Similarly water shades in Tel river for irrigation in Kalahandi is one of the basic demands of local farmers which is not getting Government support.

Struggle for a central university[]

Refer to video Part I,[28] II[29] and III[30] Kalahandi was struggling for a higher educational institution since independence. Earlier proposal to establish a Government Engineering College in Kalahandi or Koraput region in 1980s was later on shifted to some other part in Orissa for political reasons. A team visited by planning commission to Kalahandi Balangir Koraput (KBK) region had suggested to establish an agriculture college in the region. Since 1988 people of Kalahandi are seriously demanding a Central University in Kalahandi as it is located centrally to all KBK districts and have good railway connectivity to major cities in India from Kesinga railway station. In 1990s when state Government of Orissa proposed to establish a University in North Orissa, people of Kalahandi repeated their demand for such a University in Kalahandi as well. Then Chief Minister of Orissa Biju Patnaik while addressing publicly in Government College Bhawanipatna said Government could not establish University if people want to establish University in their neighbourhood. But Mr Giridhar Gomang, Chief Minister of Orissa later on 1999 agreed to establish two Universities in Baripada and Balasore due to public protest making people of Kalahandi highly disappointed. Through "Kalahandi Sikhya Bikash Parisad" and "Central University Kriya Committee" the struggle for a Central University in Kalahandi seriously continued since 2000. Many memorendum were submitted to both state and central Government in this regards during past 9 years. When Government of India announced to establish 12 Central Universities in various states not having any Central University across India which included Orissa, a delegation from Kalahandi consisting intellectuals, general people and politicians met Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in May 2008 to establish the Central University in Kalahandi.[31] Mr. Naveen Patnaik promised and asked them to find out land details for establishing it in Kalahandi. People of Kalahandi sent the land details through district of Collector of Kalahandi in July 2008. However, without studying it Orissa Chief Minister unilaterally announced to establish proposed Central University of Orissa in Koraput,[32] though it was expected to come up in Bhawanipatna.[33] After six months the chief minister announced to establish a Government Engineering and Agriculture Colleges in Bhawanipatna.[34] People of Kalahandi though welcome establishment of such the colleges, Kalahandi Sikhya Bikas Parisad and Central University Kriya Committee said its not a replacement for the Central University[35] as estmiated cost for the proposed Central University is 800 crores with an area of 500 acres (2.0 km2) of land, whereas both Engineering and Agriculture Colleges are estimated to be 10 crores as per Government announcement so far.

Struggle for a railway factory[]

Kalahandi and Nuapada districts has higher number of migrant workers to other states. Agriculture alone is not enough for employment generation for this region and needs industrial development. Local demands for a railway facotry is pending since last one and half decade. In the budget 2010-10 Indian railway has proposed a Wagon factory to be established in Bhubaneswar or Kalahandi.[36] Langigarh- Bhawanipatana section of Lanjigarh road - Junagarh railway line was completed in the year Dec, 2011. Passenger Service in this new railway line yet to be started. The surveyed railway line, Kantabanji (Balangir) -Jeypore (Koraput) via Nuapada, Kalahandi and Nabarangpur districts, needs approval, funding and immediate immplementation.



Nature in Kalahandi

Kalahandi lies in between 19.3 N and 21.5 N latitudes and 82.20 E and 83.47 E longitudes[37] and occupies the South Western portion of Orissa, bordered to the North by the Balangir district and Nuapada district, to the South by the Nabarangpur district, Koraput district and Rayagada district, and to the East by the Rayagada district, Kandhamal district and Boudh district. It has an area of 8,364.89 square kilometers and ranks 7th in area among the 30 districts of Orissa. The district headquarter is at Bhawanipatna which stands almost in the central location of the district. Bhawanipatna and Dharamgarh are two sub-divisions of Kalahandi. Junagarh, Jaipatna, Kesinga, Lanjigarh and Mukhiguda are other major towns in Kalahandi. Tel is the main river of Kalahandi. Other notably rivers are Indravati, Udanti, Hati, Utei, Sagada, Rahul, Nagabali, Mudra, etc. The topography of Kalahandi consists of plain land, hills & mountains. Kalahandi is surrounded by hills. Its border with Nabarangpur, Koraput, Rayagada and Kandhamal districts are hilly and mountainous. The district is primarily agricultural, with over one third of the district area covered with dense jungle forest. Industry is very limited, but bauxite and graphite deposits can be commercially exploited.


In 2006 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Kalahandi one of the country's 250 most backward districts (out of a total of 640).[38] It is one of the 19 districts in Orissa currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).[38]


Kalahandi is largely an agriculture based economy. During Bengal famine Kalahandi alone had sent 100,000 tons of rice. During 1930s princely state of Kalahandi had proposed to build upper Indravati project but subsequent merger of princely state with India delayed the project . It got approved in 1978 and yet to be fully completed. In the mean time drought occurred in 1960s and lately in 1980s. In 1980s Kalahandi become infamous for drought, child selling, malnutrition and starvation death and social worker referred it as 'Kalahandi Syndrome.[4] Though KBK[39] project was announced in 1990s by central Government specially for undivided Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput districts primarily keeping poverty, backwardness and starvation death in mind, undivided Kalahandi district continued to remain politically ignored for various reasons.

Indravati Dam, Mukhiguda, Kalahandi

Kalahandi also is an example of disparity /contrasts that exist in many part of developing/underdeveloped world. On the one side, this district is famous for famine and starvation deaths: this is the same district that is rich with agriculture. Dharamgarh sub-division was historical known for rice production in Orissa. Since 2000s the Indravati Water Project, second biggest in the state has changed the landscape of southern Kalahandi, leading to two crops in a year. Because of this, blocks like Kalampur, Jaipatna, Dharamgarh, Jungarh, Bhawanipatna etc. are witnessing rapid agricultural growth. This has boasted the Highest Number of Rice Mills in Kalahandi among districts in Orissa. The number of rice mills in the district was around 150 in the year 2004-05. More than 70% have been built in the five years after commissioning of the Indravati project.

Forest resources[]

Forest based products like Mahua, Kendu leaf, wood, timber and bamboos are also contribute local economy largely. Kalahandi supplied substantial raw materials to paper mills in neighboring Rayagada and Jeypore.

Gem stone[]

Kalahandi was famous for gemstone (Karonda Mandal)in ancient time. Its rich gemstone deposit included cat's eye, sapphire, ruby, garnet, crystal, topaz, moonstone, diamond, tourmoline, acquamarine, beryle and alexandrite etc. The distribution and occurrence of precious and semi-precious gemstones and other commercial commodities of the region have found place in accounts of Panini (5th century BC), Kautilya (3rd century BC), Ptolemy (2nd century AD), Wuang Chuang (7th century AD) and Travenier (19th century AD). Till recently Kalahandi along with Balangir supply gem stone for handicraft work that can be found in Delhi Haat. Jiligndara located near Junagarh of Kalahandi has one of the largest ruby deposit of Asia as per Geological Survey of India.[40]


Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL),[41] a subsidiary of Sterlite Industries, a major aluminium processor has made major investments by establishing an 1 MTPA Alumina Refinery and 75 MW Captive Power Plant at Lanjigarh. Though this project has received criticism from environmentalists, especially from outside groups; supporters of VAL claims it has brought significant changes in Socio-Economic scenario of Lanjigarh and Kalahandi. The Union Environment Ministry in August 2010, rejected earlier clearances granted to a joint venture led by the Vedanta Group company Sterlite Industries for mining bauxite from Niyamgiri hills[42] making the company to depend on bauxite from outside Orissa. The company's proposal for Expansion of the Refinery to 6 MTPA, which would have made it one of the largest refinery in the world, was halted by India's environment ministry.[43]


The nearest airport is located in Raipur (200–250 km) having daily flights to majority of the cities in India. Kalahandi can be reached from Raipur via Nuapada or Dharamgarh. Vishakhapatnam airport is located in 300 km and Bhubaneswar airport in 450 km. Kesinga is the gateway of Kalahandi for rail connectivity. It is directly linked with most of the major cities in India, such as Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Nagpur, Ahemadabad etc. by rail. A new railway station for Bhawanipatna has been opened for service and was inaugurated on Aug 11, 2012.[44][45] National Highway 201 and 217 pass through Kalahandi. Luxury night buses are available to Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Raipur, Visakhapatnam, Sambalpur and Rourkela from Kalahandi.


According to the 2011 census Kalahandi district has a population of 1,573,054,[1] roughly equal to the nation of Gabon[46] or the US state of Idaho.[47] This gives it a ranking of 317th in India (out of a total of 640).[1] The district has a population density of 199 inhabitants per square kilometre (520 /sq mi) .[1] Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 17.79%.[1] Kalahandi has a sex ratio of 1003 females for every 1000 males,[1] and a literacy rate of 60.22%.[1]

Language and literature[]

The language spoken by the people of Kalahandi is Kalahandia Language, locally known as Kalahandia . It is officially considered to be a dialect of Oriya language. Local weekly newspaper such as Arjji and Kalahandi Express publish articles in standard Oriya and Kalahandia Language. Hindi is the second preferable language after Oriya. Some of the known and recognized writers, poet and dramatists from the region are Chaitanya Das, Pataraja Padman Singh, Maharaja Udit Pratap, Maharani Asha Kumari Devi, Rama Chandra Raiguru, Brajaraj Singhdeo, Bira Bikram Deo, Lai Rudra Madhab Deo, Gadadhar Mishra, Parsuram Mund, Dr. Someswar Behera, Kaviraj Prayagdutta Joshi, Anup Singhde, Prof. Bhubaneswar Behera, Prafulla Kumar Rath, Akhila Nayak, Bharat Majhi, Parameswar Mund, Dr Dola Govinda Bisi, Dr Hare Krushna Meher, and others.

Other languages include Kui, Bhatri, Parji, Bhunjia, spoken by approximately 7000 Bhunjia Adivasis.[48][49]


Kalahandi is a rich land in terms of culture and festivals.[50] Since it is a melting point of South Orissa and Western Orissa with a substantial tribal population, those living in hills as well as plain land, their different culture, tradition, languages and belief along with main stream Hindu culture have made Kalahandi region rich with culture and festivals. The mixture of Aryan and tribal culture makes Kalahandi region rich in its culture and festivals. In pre-independence period Kalahandi was largely inspired to Saivaism, Vaishanivism and Shakti puja. Shakti Puja is largely accepted among tribal, perhaps due to which Kalahandi was well known for celebrating Shati Puja. However, affect induction of Kalahandi as part of Orissa state, dominance of coastal Orissa culture in the state is increasingly influencing the local culture. Celebration of Rathajatra and construction of Jaggannath temple in Kalahandi has been increasingly realized unlike in old days of Radha Krishna temple.

Local custom[]


Hotel Bhagirathi in Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi

The majority of the population are Hindu, a small minority being Christan, Muslim, Sikh, Budhist and Jain. 28% of the population are tribal people which has the majority of the impact on the local customaries and influenced the dialect.

Art & craft[]

Literally 'Kalahandi' means 'pot of arts'. This name has been possibly derived from "Gudahandi Caves" containing pre-historic painitings in red and black colors. Kalahandi is a rich land in terms of art and craft. Stone from Kalahandi is well known to make jewellery. Habasipuri pattern is well established in handloom Saree. Wood craft from Khaipadar is famous for export and domestic market.

Dance & music[]

Kalahandi has the wide varieties of dance forms comprising tribal and non-tribal dance. Among the districts level in Orissa, it has the maximum dance form. Overall Kalahandi life is associated with music and dance. Some of the dance found in Kalahandi such as Dalkhai, Jaiphula, Rasarkeli, Sajani etc. have similarities with the dance form in Balangir, Sambalpur, etc. regions[51] whereas Sari song, Pholia song, song related to nature etc. has similarities with Koraput region. However, Boria song, Nialimali, Kalakolik etc. mostly found in Kalahandi. On the other hand Ghumura, Madali, Dandari, Dhab, Bajasalia etc. folk form found in Kalahandi can be composed songs.


Ghumura Dance


Ghumura Folk Dance from Kalahandi

  • Ghumura Dance:

Ghumura Dance is the most sought folk dance in Kalahandi. It is classified as folk dance as the dress code of Ghumura resembles more like a tribal dance, but recent researchers argue[52] different mudra and dance form present in Ghumura bear more resemblance with other classical dance form of India. The timeline of Ghumura dance is not clear. Many researchers claim.[53] it was a War dance in ancient India and used by Ravana in Ramayana. Ghumura dance is depicted in Sun Temple of Konark confirming this dance form is since the medieval period. Ghumura dance has evolved from a war dance to a dance form for cultural and social activities. The dance is associated with social entertainment, relaxation, love, devotion and friendly brotherhood among all class, creed and religion in the present days. Traditionally this dance is also associated with Nuakhai and Dasahara celebration in Kalahandi and large parts of South Western Orissa. Ghumura dance is still hidden in the village level in South Western Orissa and some parts of bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Kalahandi region has taken a leading rule in popularizing and retaining its unique identity of Ghumura dance. Ghumura dance has got the opportunity to represent the nation in various international events Delhi, Moscow, and various other places.

  • Banabadi: A dance by Gouda (Jadav community) in Kalahandi. It is also known as Gaurbadi dance.
  • Bajasal:
  • Bhiasalia:
  • Shaman:
  • Dalkhai: Similar to popular Sambalpuri Dance, influence of Sambalpur-Balangir region
  • Dandari:
  • Dhanra:
  • Dhap: It is also known as Dhangra Dhangri dance
  • Dongria Kondh Dance: It is also found in borering Rayagda district of Orissa. Recently Dongria Kondh community drew the attention for controversial Vedanta project and Niyamgiri mining.

Dongria Kondh Dance from Kalahandi

  • Khotla:
  • Madali:
  • Paraja Dance: It is also found in Koraput, Rayagda, Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts of Orissa.
  • Rasarkeli: A typical Western Orissa folk dance. Other dance form includes Jaiphula, Sajani etc.
  • Ranapa: The dance has a different name in Kalahandi, it is a community dance by a particular caste in Ganjam, Gajapati, Kalahandi and various other districts in South and Western Orissa
  • Singhbaja:


Popular Hindu festivals[]

Chhatra Jatra in Bhawanipatna

  • Dasra (Dasara): Dasara or Durga Puja is celebrated among Hindu all over India, but it is very popular in Eastern part of India including West Bengal, Orissa, Assam etc. However, goddess Durga is known as Shaki (Energy) and most of the goddess based on tribal and Shaki is inspired from goddess Durga. The major goddess of Kalahandi including Manikeswari, Lankeswari, Denteswari, Khameswari, Bhandargharen etc. are seen as a reflection of goddess Durga and most of the major festivals like Chhatar Jatra, Kkandabasha, Budharaja Jatra, etc. are celebrated during Dusra. Dusra is significant in all the Skati Pitha in Kalahandi and is one of the popular festival in the region.
  • Diel or Deepawali: Also popularly known as Diwali is celebrated in Kalahandi. But this is getting popular due to immigrant business community mainly from Marwadi community, however, slowly it has entered the local stream.
  • Rathajatra: The festival of Rathjatra is inspired from Rathajatra in Puri. Since independence when Kalahandi became part of Orissa state the dominance of coastal Orissa culture in Orissa state has influenced Kalahandi. Number of new Jagganath temples have come over Kalahandi since 1950 and celebration of Rathajatra is increasing realized. This is also boosted by immigrant business community and Government officials from coastal Orissa and Berhampur region.
  • Shivaratri:
  • Holi:
  • Janmastami:
  • Ramnabami:

Local specials[]

Chhatar of Chhatra Jatra in Bhawanipatna

  • Chhatar Jatra: The festival is celebrated in Bhawanipatna
  • Khandabasa: The festival is celebrated in Junagarh in the Lankeswari Temple.
  • Nuakhai:

This is typically a local festival prevalent in Western Orissa including Kalahandi. It is inspired from harvesting of new crops and historically came from tribal. But now everybody irrespective of caste, creed and religion celebrate it. Many tribal converted Christian do celebrate Nuakhai in the region. There are many kinds of Nuakhai according to tribal culture, out of which Dhan (Rice) Nuakhai is most popularly celebrated.

  • Pora Uans:
  • Amnuan: This is Nuakhai celebration for Am (Mango).
  • Kandulnuan: This festival is meant for Nuakhai of Kandul (one kind of lentil)
  • Seminuan: This is Nuakhai celebration for Semi, one kind of beans.
  • Dumernuan: This Nuakhai resemblances that of a kind of forest fruit known as Dumer.
  • Kendunuan: This Nuakhai is meant for Kendu, another kind of forest fruit.
  • Kalahandi Utsav[54]: Along with the district administration this festival is celebrated in Bhawanipatna and Dharamgarh.

Kalahandi Utsav 2008

  • Paraja, Permanji: This is a private initiated festivals on tribal culture and life.
  • Chaitra or Chait Parab

Ghanta Jatra in Dharamgarh, Kalahandi

  • Bhejinta
  • Pojinta
  • Sasti Osha
  • Janhi Osha
  • Beljatra
  • Pusparab
  • Cherchera
  • Bihanchhina
  • Poel Uansh
  • Pora Uansh
  • Nagbom


File:Maus Kharda.JPG

Maus Kharda with Arsapitha from Kalahandi

  • Vegetable Curry: Alu Kubi, Alu Jhol, Goros Kobi Nada, Besar Kobi Nada, Semi, Uilmaga, Amrutmada tarkari, Alu-baigan, Began poda, Kardi, Hanua tarkari, badi takari, kardi bhaja, semi-baigan, Kanker mahur,
  • Soup: Jhunga, Kandul del, rehel del, Mung del, chana del, badi jhol,
  • Sour Vegetable: Main, Mula-main, Amil, Kakharu Sakra, Bhenikhata, Tamatokhata, Aam Chatney, Kakudi Sakra, piajkhata, patalghanta khata, amul jhol, tetel jhol, Aam khata,
  • Leaf Curry: Bhajisag, Bahalsag, Kulersag, Chenchsag, Kumdasag
  • Snack: Khudma, Chakel, telen pitha, poda pitha,
  • Sweet: Arsa Pitha, Podhpitha, Mada, Sujimada, Tilladu, Khaja, Khajaladu, Pheni, Bundiladu,
  • Fish Curry: Mach Purga, Main Mach, Besar Mach, Masla Mach
  • Meat Curry: Kukudamansh tarkari, Maus Kharda (Mutton/Lamb), Maus tarkari (Mutton/Lamb), Maus Bhaja, Hadbandu

Tourist attractions[]

Around Bhawanipatna[]


Manikeswari Temple in Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi

  • Bhawanipatna: Centuries old Manikeswari Temple, Royal Palace, Chhatar Jatra, Kalahandi Utsav
  • Asurgarg: An ancient fort about 2000 years old is 30 km from Bhawanipatna
  • Phurli Jharna: Water fall and scenic beauty is 15 km from Bhawanipatna
  • Karlapat: Wildlife sanctuary, natural beauty
  • Thuamul Rampur: Waterfall, hill & mountains, hiking area and tea plantation
  • Permanji: Hills and garden
  • Rabandarh: Water fall is 12 km from Bhawanipatna
  • Amthaguda: Amthagad fort of ancient Tel river civilisation
  • Belkhandi: Historical site
  • Lanjigarh: The village has some fortifications with a large moat around. It contains the temples of Gopinath and a female Deity called "Dokari" greatly revered in the area. The local Jhami Yatra or Jhamu Yatra in the month of Chaitra (March - April) is an occasion when thousands of people gathered and witness the walking on burning charcoal by a number of devotees,
  • Mohangiri: Shiva temple, hills and other natural beauty
  • Budhigarh: Historical site
  • Talguda fort: Historical site
  • Mardiguda
  • Kusurla and Sapagaranda: Religious Centers

Around Dharamgarh[]


Lankeswari Temple in Junagarh, Kalahandi

  • Junagarh: Lankeshwari temple, Dashibamana temple, Kanak durga temple, Khandabasha, historical site
  • Mukhiguda: Asias 2nd largest Power project, Indravati dam
  • Dharamgarh: Paradeswar temple, Bhimkhoj, Nagbom, Kalahandi Utsav, Chaitra
  • Ampani: Budharaja Temple, waterfall, natural beauty
  • Gudahandi: Historial site[55]
  • Dokrichanchra: Waterfall and scenic beauty
  • Chura Dangar: Hiking area and waterfalls
  • Khairpadar: Village of handicraft
  • Sri Aurobindo Relics Center, Dharamgarh
  • Koksara
  • Golamunda

Notable personalities[]


Pratab Keshari Deo, former MP and ex-Maharaja of Kalahandi

  • Rindo Majhi: Rindo Majhi[56] was a freedom fighter in Orissa, India who started Kondha revolution against British in 1853. Read more on Rindo Majhi
  • Pratap Keshari Deo: Pratab Keshari Deo was Maharaja of princely state Kalahandi and represented Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency from 1950 to 1979. He took inititaive for Upper Indravati Irrigation Project in Kalahandi.
  • Professor Bhubaneswar Behera: A known engineer, academic, administrator and author from Kalahandi region.[57]
  • Ram Chandra Patra, IAS (retd.): A known bureaucrat, social worker, and administrator from Kalahandi region who has been acknowledged for his simplicity.[58][59] Read more on Ram Chandra Patra.
  • Natyarashmi Prafulla Ratha: Prafulla Ratha has been bestowed with natyarashmi for his contribution to Oriya drama.[60]
  • Dayanidhi Naik: Dayanidhi Naik was a dalit leader and former minister from Kalahandi who became popular for his honesty, public service and road infrastructure development in the region[61]
  • Kishan Patnaik: One of the great socialist leaders of the nation [62][63] was born in 1930 into a lower-middle-class family in Kalahandi. Mr Patnaik worked in the youth wing of Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha and soon rose to become its National President. He was elected to Lok Sabha from Sambalpur at the age of 32 and was one of handful members who turned the Lok Sabha into a real forum to discuss matters of national importance. He was perhaps the first person to bring the issue of starvation death in Kalahandi to the Indian parliament. Mr. Patnaik never lost sight of this fundamental plight of rural India, and securing the right to livelihood for the people on the margin therefore always remained central to his politics and to his vision of development.[64]
  • Jayanta Kumar Behera: Jayata Kumar Behera is a social activist and artist. He is a Ghumura folk dance Guru and has been working for popularising Ghumura in the state, national and international level since decades. Recently he was bestowed with Sarala Samman.


Through WODC (Western Orissa Development Council) Orissa government has been intiated a private medical college with a tie up with one South India based organisation in Junagarh block of Kalahandi since 2004, which has not started yet. Orissa state Government has announced Government College of Engineering Kalahandi and Agriculture College at Bhawanipatna in 2009 but local demand for a Central University in Kalahandi has not been accomplished.

  • Government College of Engineering Kalahandi, Bhawanipatna
  • College of Agriculture, Bhawanipatna
  • Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna
  • Sardar Raja Medical College, Jaring (private), Under Construction
  • Agriculture College near Dharamgarh, proposed (private) by Sri Sri Ravishankar[65]


  • District Headquarters Hospital, Bhawanipatna
  • Sub-Divisional Hospital, Dharamgarh
  • Life Worth Hospital, Bhawanipatna
  • Khariar Evangelical Hospital, Khariar


  • All India Radio, Bhawanipatna[66]
  • A High Power (10 KW) TV transmitter with programme generation facility at Bhawanipatna
  • The Abhyutthanam (Monthly Oriya news magazine)


  • Upper Indravati Hydro-electricity Project, Mukhiguda
  • Vedanta Alumina Refinery, Lanjigarh (private)

See also[]

  • History of Kalahandi
  • Ghumura Dance
  • Kalahandia Oriya


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "District Census 2011". 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30. 
  2. ^ B.Mishra, J. Bengal Art, Vol.9&10, 2004-2005, 383-410
  3. ^ P.Mohanty, B. Mishra, Op. Cit,2000; C.R. Mishra, S. Pradhan, op. cit. 1989-1990, Infra, F.N.79
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ R.P.Prusty, 1992, Paleolithic Vestiges from Kalahandi, Orissa Historical Research Journal, XXXVII, no.1-5, pp.55-66, Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneswar
  6. ^ P.Mohanty, B. Mishra, Op. Cit,2001, p.47
  7. ^ "A tale of Tel valley civilization uncovered". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  8. ^ P.Mohanty, B. Mishra, Op. Cit,2000; C.R. Mishra, S. Pradhan, op. cit. 1989-1990, Infra, F.N.79
  9. ^ Mahabharata Sabhaparva, 31, sloka-11-16
  10. ^ Proceedings, Indian History Congress, 1947, 10th session, 178
  11. ^ H. C. Rayachoudhury, Political History of Ancient India, 538
  12. ^ B. Mishra, op.cit., 2003-2004
  13. ^ N. K. Sahu, 1964, op. cit.
  14. ^ N. K. Sahu, op.cit., 1964, p.200
  15. ^ ibid.7
  16. ^ N. K. Sahu, Utkal University, History of Orissa, 433
  17. ^ N. K. Sahu, 1964, op. cit.
  18. ^ S.P.Tiwari, Comprehensive History of Orissa, 95-96
  19. ^ J. P. Singh Deo, op.cit.
  20. ^ M.N.Das(Ed)Sidelight on History and Culture of Orissa, 36
  21. ^ Orissa District Gazetters, Kalahandi, 46-49
  22. ^ ibid.47
  23. ^ ibid.41
  24. ^
  25. ^ Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi's Bi-monthly Journal, Volume LI, No. 6, page 47-48. New Delhi ISSN 0019-5804.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ The New Indian Express, Bhubaneswar Edition, May 8, 2008
  32. ^ The Statesman, Bhubaneswar Edition, Aug 11, 2008
  33. ^
  34. ^ The Telegraph (Kolkata), Dec 29, 2008
  35. ^ The New Indian Express, Bhubaneswar Edition, 28 December 2008
  36. ^
  37. ^ Orissa District Gazetters, Kalahandi, 2
  38. ^ a b Ministry of Panchayati Raj (September 8, 2009). "A Note on the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme". National Institute of Rural Development. Retrieved September 27, 2011. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ P.Mohanty, B.Mishra, Environment and stone age culture of Kalahandi, Orissa in Peoples and Environment in India, edited by K.K.Mishra, M.L.K.Murty, p.42
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^,4,268
  46. ^ US Directorate of Intelligence. "Country Comparison:Population". Retrieved 2011-10-01. "Gabon 1,576,665" 
  47. ^ "2010 Resident Population Data". U. S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-09-30. "Idaho 1,567,582" 
  48. ^ M. Paul Lewis, ed (2009). "Bhunjia: A language of India". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (16th edition ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved 2011-09-30. 
  49. ^ Odia sahityaku kalahandira dana, by parameswar mund, published in sahitya akademi magazine}}
  50. ^ Kalahandi: Loka Anusthan, Edited by Jayanta Kumar Behera, Dr Dolagobinda Bisi, Parameswar Mund, Mahabir Sanskrutika Anusthan, 1998
  51. ^ C. Pasayat, (Ed.) (2008), Paschima Odisara Lokageeta (in Oriya), Bhubaneswar: Folklore Foundation
  52. ^ Loka Nutrya Ghumura, Edited by Parameswar Mund, Mahabir Sanskrutika Anusthan, June 2002
  53. ^ The Heroic Dance Ghumura, Edited by Sanjay Kumar, Mahabir Sanskrutika, 2002
  54. ^
  55. ^ "Places of interest in the district". 
  56. ^ D.K. Joshi, S. Mund, M.P.Mishra, The Kandha Revolution in Kalahandi, Orissa Review, Aug 2007
  57. ^
  58. ^ Samabad, 2000
  59. ^ Keun Mahatabanak Pain, Gana nath Das, The Prajatantra, Jan 2, 1988
  60. ^
  61. ^ Kalahandi Express, Sept, 2010
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^ "Kishan Patnaik remembered". The Hindu (Chennai, India). September 30, 2004. 
  65. ^
  66. ^

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