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History of Orissa in the Medieval Period

Orissa from 1568 to 1866

The year 1568 is regarded as the split line between the glorious period of Orissa history and the gloomy times that fell thereafter.Orissa had maintained her political vitality intact for centuries with many powerful rulers and had in the process developed a distinction of her own.She had been hugely successful in achieving milestones in the field of art, architecture, religion, philosophy and literature. She had been able to not only maintain her independence but register an increase in political strength at a time when the entire nation had given up in its fight to the Muslim rule.

Orissa’s political strength was so spectacular even so late as 15 th century A.D. that during the rule of Kapilendradeva (1435-1466 A.D.) the Oriya armies threatened and attacked most powerful kingdom in the neighbouring regions as well as in the far south and established political supremacy over a vast territory outside the limits of geographical Orissa. Kapilendra ruled from Ganges in the north-east to Arcot in the south. His successors Purushottamdeva and Prataprudradeva, though not very powerful, retained their hold over an extensive territory, and during the rule of the latter from 1497 A.D. to 1541 A.D. his kingdom extended from the Hooghly and Midnapore districts of West Bengtal to the Guntur district of Tamil Nadu.

 Political decline came soon after the Muslim ruler of Bengal, Suleiman Karrani succeeded in conquering the land in 1568, ending thereby the independence of this powerful Hindu kingdom which had resisted Muslim invasions successfully for three centuries. Orissa was one of the last of the Indian territories to succumb to the Muslim invasion though most part of the sub-continent had come under the Muslim rule much earlier.

Afghan Rule

With the victory of Karrani, Orissa came under the rule of the Afghans. But the new rulers could not establish their authority in the effective manner. In areas those were inaccessible, the local chiefs declared themselves independent. Suleiman Karrani died in 1572 leading to a downfall of the Afghan rule. His son and successor Bayazid was murdered in no time, and Daud Karrani, his younger brother ascended the throne as the ruler of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

At this time,Akbar thought of subjugating the entire of Orissa,Bihar and Bengal to his kingdom.Though the Afghan rulers of Bengal had earlier acknowledged the suzerainty of the Mughals, Daud Karrani assumed the role of an independent sovereign thus defying Akbar. This led to the inevitable conflict between the Mughals and the Afghans in which Orissa became an arena for their battles. With the Mughal victory in Bengal, the Afghan forces withdrew into Orissa to fight for their survival. Akbar’s General, Raja Mansingh proceeded to Orissa to destroy the Afghan resistance. The operation continued from 1590 to 1595 resulting in the complete defeat of the Afghans. Orissa thus was acquired for the Mughal Empire and was governed as a part of the Bengal Subah for sometime.

Mughal RuleAkbar the great, completed the conquest of Orissa

Though Orissa came under the direct rule of the Mughals, large parts of it remained free. Akbar was satisfied that the territory had been conquered from the Afghans and brought under the suzerainty, but he did not try to destroy the local Hindu chiefs who ruled in various places in their hill and remote regions.Akbar didn’t have any contention with the local rulers and let them enjoy their autonomous authority .He, paid adequate respect to Raja Ramachandra Deva-I of Khordha, permitting him to enjoy the dignified position of a subordinate king. In matters of general administration, most of the indigenous systems were permitted to continue and the land and revenue systems of Raja Todar Mal were introduced in conformity with the prevailing local practices.

During the rule of Akbar’s son and successor, Jahangir, Orissa was constituted into a separate province in 1607, with Cuttack as capital and placed under a Subahdar. This arrangement continued till the end of the rule of the Great Mughals.

The process of the disintegration of Orissa in fact, began from the Mughal Period. The Mughals did not try for political consolidation of the conquered territory. Akbar’s leniency towards Orissa princes gave them a semi-independent status.This resulted in further disintegration of the state. The worst thing to happen was the the negligence of the border territories of Orissa. The Qutub Shahis of Golkonda extended their power as far as Lake Chilika during the first phase of the Mughal rule, and when their power was finally destroyed by Aurangzeb, the Mughals did not try to incorporate these southern areas into Orissa mainland.

Similarly, the Mughals did not attempt to exercise their authority over a large portion of western Orissa including Sambalpur. During the closing years of Aurangzeb’s rule, when Murshid Quli Khan-I governed as the Subedar, a bigger portion of Midnapore district was taken away from the Jaleshwar Sarkar of Orissa and placed under the direct administration of the Bengal Subahder. In subsequent years, the river Subarnarekha was made the southern boundary of Bengal. A large portion of Orissa’s territory was thus detatched from the main land in the north-east. In the far south, the Sarkars of Rajmahendri of Kalinga Dandapat got separated from Orissa.

Within their own jurisdiction, the Mughal authorities’ couldnot exercise full control as there were frequent revolts by Orissa princes. The rulers of Mayurbhanj, Kendujhar, Kanika, Khordha, and Khalikot, among others, did not consider the Mughals as their legitimate suzerain and defied the Subedars whenever opportunity arose. The kings of Khordha, at the core of Orissa, were in continuous hostility towards the Mughal Governors, making the latter’s administration shaky and uncertain. The Mughal period of nearly two hundred years in Orissa was, thus, a period of confusions and chaos, affecting adversely the stability and prosperity of the land.

But it was during this period that the Oriya merchants carried on their brisk overseas trade and commerce as in earlier days and helped to maintain the prosperous economy of the country as before. Lured by Orissa’s economic potentiality the European traders in large numbers came for their trade settlements on the coasts of Orissa. The Portuguese, the Danish, the Dutch, the English, and the French found plentiful of commodities for markets outside. The Mughal administration permitted the Europeans for their commercial enterprise and activities. A number of sea ports like Baleshwar and Pipli flourished during the time as the centres of external trade.

Another notable thing about the Mughal rule in Orissa was that unlike other parts of the country where people were forced into conversions to muslim,Orissa was left untouched.The reason being, the delayed beginning of Muslim rule which had subsided the earlier zeal for conversion. Secondly, the medieval Bhakti Movement had taken so deep a root in the Oriya mind that the new religious upsurge around the cult of Jagannath did not permit any external impact to a perceptible extent.

Islam had, however, succeeded in making an impact in the Oriya culture as a whole as it got embedded into the Oriya literature.Hundreds of Arabic, Persian and Urdu words made their way into local dialect. The cult of Satyapir appealed to the popular imagination and rather became a widely prevailing faith. The famous Muslim poet, Sal Baig, composed numerous devotional poems resulting in an unprecedented cultural synthesis. Some of the famous Muslim shrines like the Quadam-I-Rasul and the Bokhari Sahib of Kaipadar attracted both Hindus and Muslims for devotional purpose. Places like Bhadrak assumed importance because of Muslim festivities like the Mughal Tamasha.Subsequently people of both the sect learnt to accept each others tradition and live in perfect cordiality.

Under a declining state of influence during the later part of Aurangzeb’s rule, the noble of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Aliverdi Khan, became virtually independent. But he fell prey to the rising might of Marathas who after long drawn battle with him were able to acquire the province of Orissa.

Maratha Rule

The Maratha administration of Orissa effectively began from the year 1751. Raghuji Bhonsle-I became the new master of the territory and a new system of government was put into operation. The Marathas divided Orissa into two broad political divisions: the Mughalbandi and the Garhjat.

The Mughalbandi, comprised of the coastal districts and was divided into 150 Parganas and placed under 32 Revenue Commissioners or Amils. Each Pargana was divided into several Mahalas. For a systematic and better collection of revenue, hereditary revenue collectors titled as Talukdars, Kanungos and Chaudhuris were appointed. Attempts were also made to collect the revenue directly from the raiyats or through the village headmen. The administration paid attention to the welfare of the peasants in particular. While embankments were constructed to protect extensive cultivable lands against flood, the peasants were given at times remission from payment of land revenue when there was crop failure due to flood or drought.Marthas were responsible for popularising rath yatra

The Garhjat region covered the hill tracts of Orissa was allowed to be ruled by 24 tributary chiefs, who paid light tributes to the Maratha Government. The chiefs were bound by engagements that permitted their autonomy. They administered their respective areas, maintained their forces and enjoyed princeship by status, but side by side, they had to respect the Maratha Raja of Nagpur as their overlord. Against possible rebellions from their side, the Marathas maintained a big force at Cuttack. The Marathas relation with the Orissa chiefs was more effective and purposeful than that of the Mughals.

They realized the importance of indirect taxes and for the first time in the history of the state introduced the Pilgrimage tax that was charged from the visiting tourists. Thus pilgrimage to Orissa, particularly to the Jagannath temple of Puri, from other parts of India was encouraged by the Marathas. Extra attention was paid to uphold the sanctity of religious places and shrines. Grants were allotted for repair of temples. The temple of Jagannath was brought under direct management of the Government with special attention paid for its preservation and maintenance. The great festivals of Puri received total government patronage. All major temples, monasteries and Mathas of the state received help from the Maratha Government.

In brief, the Maratha regime, distinguished itself for making Orissa a centre of attraction for numerous people of India. It goes further to the credit of the Marathas that they granted lands and paid financial help to some of the noted Muslim shrines in Orissa.

Oriya literature also found its expression under the Marathas, due to local patronization of the princely chiefs and of the Maratha rulers. The Kavya and Padya literature, prose and biographical literature, Puranic and historical writings, besides devotional poetry, made great headway. Chaitanya Bhagavat of Ishwar Das, Chaitanya Mangal of Sadananda, Samara Taranga of Brajanath Bada Jena, and Kanchi Kaveri of Purushottamdeva were some of the notable works of the period. A number of Sanskrit works were also translated into Oriya by such literary figures as Krishna Singh, Kavi Gopal, Jaya Singh, Madhusudan Jayadev, Balabhadra Mangaraj and Keshav Charan Patnaik. Notable works were also written in Sanskrit. Naishadhiya Maha Kavyam and Usha Anirudha Natakam of Chaini Chandra Sekhar Rajguru, Gangavamsanucharitam of Rajguru Vasudeva Rath, commentary on Mrichha Katikam and Meghadutam of Maha Mohapadhyaya Narahari Panda, Bhanja Mahodaya Kavyam of Kavivara Nilakantha Misra and Braja Yuba Vilasa and Bhagavat Lila Chintamani of Kavi Bhusan Kamalalochan Khadgaraya were among the worthy Sanskrit works of the time. The economic misfortunes of Orissa however began under the Maratha due to rapid decline of her external trade. With the rise of the British power in Bengal and with their simultaneous control of sea trade, the export of grains and other commodities from Orissa that had been carried on by Orissa merchants for a long, declined sharply. The Maratha could not do anything to safeguard the maritime trade of Orissa. However the internal trade of the land was in a good condition as the Maratha Government’ took proper care for roads and canals.

Apart from this the Marathas were also responsible for providing facilities to travelers by constructing roads, planting trees, digging ponds and erecting rest houses and also experimenting with the postal service. The Maratha rule lasted in Orissa for a brief period of half a century only. This period coincided with the rise of the British power in Bengtal. In the middle of 17th century A.D Bengal fell to the British and it was all too natural that Orissa with her strategic location was going to be a main menu in their list of things.In 1803, following the second Martha war, Orissa was annexed to the British Indian Mainland.

British Rule on Orissa

The Britishers had established a trade centre at Hariharpur, as early as 1633. Their subsequent establishment at Baleshwar on river Burhabalanga and at Pipili on river Subarnarekha developed into flourishing centres of trade as well as of power.

Lord Clive accquired the deewani of Orissa,Bengal and BiharHowever it was the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and Buxar in 1764 , that gave expression to the ambitions of the British traders to rule over the entire Indian subcontinent. Orissa being so near to Bengal automatically came under the orbit of that design, once Bengal had fell.

When Lord Clive acquired the Dewani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa from the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II on the 12 th August, 1765, the ‘Orissa’ of that transaction meant only the district of Midnapore. Most of the state still remained under the possession of the Marathas and Lord Clive was quick to realize the strategic importance of this land as a link between Bengal and Madras.He therefore opened a negotiation with the Marathas to get possession of the land by peaceful means. He sent his emissary, Thomas Motte to meet Bhawani Pandit, the Maratha Subedar at Cuttack with a message that exchange of adequate money, the Bhonsle Raja Janoji should handover Orissa to the East India Company. The Maratha obviously, didn’t pay any heed to this.

Clive’s successor in Bengal, Warren Hastings tried to persuade Janoji’s successor Madhoji Bhonslae to reconsider the issue without success once again although the Maratha ruler permitted the movement of the British troops through Orissa towards the south, under the command of Colonel Pearse. Lord Cornwallis adopted the same policy of persuasion, but achieved no result. Madhoji’s successor, Raghuji Bhonsle II, however, was made to agree to permit the British troops to pass through Orissa once again during the Third Mysore War. The British failed to get Orissa through diplomacy, but their soldiers could see and know Orissa during their movements for future need. His successor, Lord Wellesley, however adopted an aggressive stand by deciding to acquire Orissa by war. The conquest of Orissa was completed in 1803 without much difficulty. With their previous knowledge of the topography of the land and finding no effective resistance from the Maratha army, the British took only a month’s time from 14 September to 14 October, to complete their work of conquest.

It is however commendable that unlike the previous Muslim marauders, the British army adopted a conciliatory approach towards the religious sentiments of people by not engaing in any sort of desecration of any religious institutions.The British Generals who were placed in charge of the operation were strictly instructed by Wellesley to adopt a friendly attitude towards the people so as not to arouse popular antipathy against the foreigners. Aware of the significance of the temple of Jagannath and its religious sway on the popular mind, as well as of the deep attachment of the Oriya people towards their religious institutions, the Governor-General ordered, ‘You will understand that no part of the property, treasure or valuable articles of any kind, contained in the pagoda of Jaggernaut or in any religious edifice, or possessed by any of the priests and Brahmins, or persons of any description attached to the temples of religious institutions is to be considered as prize to the army. All such property must be respected as being consecrated to religious use by the customs or prejudices of the Hindus”. Wellesley further instructed the invading Generals not to demand total submission from the semi-independent tributary chiefs and to try to win over the zamindars who were not happy with the Marathas. The policy worked well. Puri was occupied without bloodshed. Cuttack with the fort of Barabati fell to the invaders without any determined resistance from the Maratha forces.Lord Wellsely completed the conquest of Orissa

The treaty of Deogarh, signed on 17 December 1803, ended the Maratha rule on Orissa and formally laid the foundations of the British Rule in Orissa. Raghuji Bhonsle surrendered to the British the province of Cuttack including the port district of Balasore.’ The 16 Garhjats, termed as the Tributary Mahals of Orissa, also came under the company’s authority. Orissa in fact had been much truncated and reduced in size and population when the British rule began. It contained only the three coastal districts of Baleshwar, Cuttack and Puri, and the sixteen Tributary Mahals (the number increased to 18 in 1837) in the hill tracts. The total area of Company’s Orissa was 61916.7393 sq.km. (23,907 square miles) of which the Tributary Mahals covered an area of 41914.9416 sq. km. (16,184 square miles). Several Oriya -speaking religions lay outside on the immediate borders of British Orissa. The economy of this linguistic separation can be realized from an estimate of G.A. Grierson who wrote in his famous work, the Linguistic Survey of India, at the close of 19 th century that Oriya is the language of Orissa proper and of the surrounding country extending over an approximate area of 212371.8 sq. km. (82,000 square miles)”. Though the British conquest of Orissa proved to be an easy affair, the consolidation of the territory proved very difficult .Within a few years, there broke out a rebellion against the British, famous as the Paik Rebellion of 1817.

Paika Rebellion of Orissa: The First War of Independence in Indian History

The rebellion of 1817 in Orissa that broke out in Khurda and its adjoining area is regarded by many scholars as the first war of independence in Indian history. The revolt of 1817 was the first direct challenge to the Britishers given by anybody from within the general ruled class. The heroic incident had happened forty years before the historic mutuny of 1857 was in many ways responsible for creating political consciousness among the people of Orissa in large.

The Paika rebellionof 1817 was originally a revolt of Paikas under theleadership of Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bhramarabar Ray, popularly known as Buxi Jaga Bandhu. Bakshi and his followers had been hit hard by the land settlement after the British conquest which abolished the land grants made to the Paikas by the earler rulers. The Paikas formed the warrior class of the Orissa society since time immemorial and enjoyed rent free land tenures for their military service on a hereditary basis. Those service lands were confiscated by Major Fletcher since the government no longer needed their service. The land revenue policy of the British also affected the zamindars as well as ryots. Raise on the salt price is another main cause for that great event. Salt is an important constituent of dietary habits of the Oriya people and with the heavy prices set, common people were unable to buy it. The depreciation and abolition of Cowrie currency was another causes of the popular discontent.

The Paikas of Khurda region had been the worst sufferers in the hands of the Britishers.They thus played the most vital role in the outbreak of the revolt by supporting Buxi Jagabandhu.Soon as the movement gathered force; it drew large support from the feudal chiefs, Zamindars and even the common people. The tribals of Banapur and Ghumsur had accepted Bakshi Jagabandhu as their leader and they bravely marched towards Khurda to fightagainst colonial power with high ambition. Allsupporting forts of Khurda had come forward to support the rebels. Paikas aswell as common people of remote places like Kanika, Kujanga and Pattamundai also had taken part in that revolt.

The Paika revolt of 1817 had started from Banapur and Khurda but later it spread to otherareas like Puri, Pipili, Cuttack and remote villages. The Paika decided to overthrow the British establishment in khurda and then they had to move to puri.They invaded police stations,treasuries,government buildings and attacked Govt officers in Khurda.The rebellion intensified further with the arrival of 400 kandha Chauras from Ghumusar.The rebels killed Sarbankar charan Pattnaik,the traitor who had hatched a plot against the Buxi.Soon the rebellion spread to Tiran,Rupsa,Astranga,Bankud,Harihrapur,Gop,Pipili,Nimapada and Talapada.The Government establishments, police-stations, and treasuries were attacked, plundered and destroyed.The British troops which had not anticipated any such rebellion in the onset, suffered some initial reverses with one of their Commanders, Lieutenant Faris, captured and killed. The rebel forces reached Puri on 12 th April, 1817 and caused considerable destruction to official property, driving out the Government troops and officers. The success of the rebellion inspired confidence in the discontented elements at other places.

The Rajas of Kujang and Kanika later supported these rebels.One of the notable things of the rebellion was the role of the common people.The rebellion in itself would not have been successful without any local support. The Paika rebellion of 1817 of Khurda was thus a mass movement that could muster the help of common people into nationalistic struggle to a large extent. In the course of rebellion the general people had provided food, shelter andother helps to the rebellious Paiks. The revolt thus had an inception in Banapur and Khurda but later it spread to other areas like Puri, Pipili, Cuttack and remote villages. Apart from the Rajas, Zamindars and the people at large,Buxi Jaga Bandhu was successful in getting the support of Muslim population.One of Buxi,s trusted general was a muslim by name Dumuduma Dalabehera Mir Haidar Alli who lived in Jadupur. Other leaders of the rebellion were Bamdev Pattajoshi,Narayan paramguru,Madhusudan Sendha,Padmanav Chhotray,Pinaki Bahubalendra,Birendra pattnaik,Loka Paika,Nath pradhan and Madhu Bisoi.

The Paika rebellion of 1817 of Khurda was thus a national movement. The rebellion of 1817 was a preplanned and well organised event. The zamindars of Karipur, Mrichpur, Golra, Balarampur, Budnakera and Rupasa joined handwith Paiks and had organized systematic attacks on the Government and its provisions even succeeding in flushing them out in many regions.The British historian Toynbee opined about the great rebellion ofKhurda of 1817 saying "It was not long however before we had to encounter a storm, which burst with such sudden fury as to threaten our expulsion if not form the whole of Orissa at least from territory of Orissa." Another British officer named W.Ker,states that the Rebellion of 1817 of Khurda was a freedom movement in following words "Jagabandhu has given a lead in organizing a movement, no matter in how haphazard manner for ousting the newly established English from Orissa, he expected that other people who (were)also hit hard by the mal-administration under theEnglish and the Orissa chiefs who had been deprived of all their freedom would follow up the lead to make a common cause with him forthe purpose of liberating their motherland fromforeign yoke."

Though initially shocked,the British government responded with dazzling speed sending military support to reconquer the lost places.And Once additional forces arrived under Le Fevre,Major Hamilton,captain Wellington and Captain Kennel suppresed the rebellion with iron hand arresting 268 rebels.The Maharaj of Kujang who had supported the rebellions openly was besieged.Zamindars who had shown allegiance to the rebels were captured and terminated.And lost places were quickly reconquered and restored. When the attempts to further continue the rebellion were foiled, the rebels surrendered gradually.However Buxi Jagbandhu remained free .The British Govt. declared a general amnesty for him.He ultimately surrendered in 27th May 1825 and was kept in house arrest in Cuttack.The place today is known as Buxi Bazar.He was given a pension of Rs. 1200/year.Four years after staying in house arrest ,he died.The rebellion ended by the end of October 1817 although its leader, Buxi Jagabandhu evaded arrest.

Gopal Chhotray,Vishnu Paikray,Rama Singh, Nath Pradhan,Sachidanand pattnaik,Raghuram Nayak were sentenced to be hanged.Thus the first rebellion agianst the British Govt was ruthlessely suppressed.

The Paika rebellion of 1817 shook to the British Governement out of slumber and they were forced to initiate some development work in Orissa.The economic vitality of the state had taken a severe beating with the British rule as the Government paid scant attention to the condition of the people.Worse still, the people of the princely states were left to fend for themselves and suffer in their separated existence.The coastal belt under the direct rule was regarded chiefly as a land route between the two presidencies of Bengal and Madras, and didn’t warrant any special attention for developments.

Apart from this, the Paika  rebellion of 1817 became a source of inspiration of nationalist leaders. The impact of the rebellion of 1817 was far reaching.The heroic performance of Paikas during the time of great rebellion created national awareness among the common people and was instrumental in kindling the Oriya Consiousness among the people in large for the future generation.

Sepoy mutiny of 1857 And its Impact on Orissa

The Sepoy mutiny of 1857 brought all the princely states within the country as one unit to fight against the maladministration of the Britishers.However the Princely order of Orissa couldnot join in any effective way. The sepoy mutiny of 1857 flickered in a section of Indian Millitary in the barrack of Calcutta but it spread like wild fire and soon consumed the entire nation.Surendra Sai and Chaki Khuntia figure prominiently in the fight for independence along with Dora Bisoi and Chakra Bisoi of Bhanjanagar.

Surendra Sai

Veer Surendra Sai led the sepoy mutiny in OrissaThe Sambalpur region showed a spectacular upsurge under Surendra Sai to shake the British rule in western Orissa. Sureneder Sai had taken on the British forces as early as 1833 and had been sentenced to life imprisionment.36 years before the Sepoy mutiny started due to resistance by the Indian princely States on the issue of transter of legacy to Britishers on the event of absence of a male heir apparent to the throne,Surendra Sai had Challenged the motives of the British Government on the same grounds.When the Sepoy Mutiny begun he was languishing in the Hajaribagh jail.He broke free in 1857 and continued with the revolt.

Surendra Sai was born in a small town Khinda about 21miles away from Sambalpur and belonged to the Royal Chowhans of Ajmer who had come to Sambalpur to rule long ago. Sai’s family ruled over Sambalpur for a long period. In the year 1827 King Maharaja Singh died without any child and successor. The British made the widow of the King Maharaja Singh to rule over the throne. Later in the year 1833, Surendra Sai, who was the legal heir apparent to the throne, had been sidelined by the Britishers in having another person Narayan Singh sit on the throne as the successor. The Jamindar’s and Gontiyas of Sambalpur did not accept this.Led by Surendra Sai, they revolted against the King. He was only eighteen years in 1827 when he revolted against the British. The British had to fight hard for 13 long years till 1840 until they could arrested him and sentenced him alongwith Balaram Sai and Bhajanta Sai to life imprisonment.

Surendra Sai  was still in the jail in Hazaribag when the Sepoy mutiny broke out in 1857.He sensed his chance and broke out of the jail. And revolted against the British. He was well versed in “Gorilla Warfare”. It goes to the credit of the remarkable hero and his daring followers that while the revolt everywhere in India subsided within a brief period, it continued to linger in inaccessible areas of western Orissa for He was not given sufficient support from others as a result he surrendered on 16th May 1862.

 After that he was released for sometime but he was once again sentenced to jail in January 1864 in Asirgad jail.He had spent thirty-six years of his life in jail out of his 75 years life span.

Chandan Hajuri

Chandan hazuri: The great freedom fighter from OrissaChandan Hajuri, a Panda at Puri became a known name during the Sepoy Mutiny among the Sepoys.Known for his mastery of the scriptures,the cunning Brahmin who was quite close to the royal places of Jhansi and advisor to Rani Laxmibai, assumed the role of spreading the message of revolution among the Sepoys and thereby igniting the patriotic fervour in them.With considerable influence on the sepoys, this priestly messenger of the revolution carried his secret mission to create dissatisfaction against the Government. The daring activities of Chandan Hajuri, called for a good deal of alertness from the Government to prevent the revolutionary movements in Orissa.He was arrested in Bihar, and was released after the declaration of amnesty by Queen Victoria in November, 1858. He was however dissuaded from making any moments outside his hometown Puri where he died in the year 1870.

Dora Bisoi and Chakra Bisoi

The rebellion of the tribals was led by Dora Bioi and his nephew Chakra Bisoi.Disgruntled with the British administration, they fought for independence a decade before the uprising of the first war of independence.Both of them were able to create awkening among the triblas residing on far flung places and. The suppression of Mariah sacrifice by the British Rule, had hurt the pride of the local khonds in the Mariah Agency and the discontent among the khonds spread like a conflagration.Dora Bisoi and his nephew Chkara Bisoi were able to mobilize the tribals into a guerilla warfare that continued for over a decade. Chakra Bisoi was captured by deceit and finally hanged Dora however remained fugitive and evaded arrest.

Ramakrushna Samantasinghar

Ramakrushna Samanta Singhar, the heir of great poet Abhimanyu Samanta Singhar was born in Burran Paragana under Jajpur Police station of Cuttack District. He happened to be the Ex-Zamindar of Balia. On account of the Sunset Law introduced by Lord Cornwallis, he along with many Zamindars was deprived of Zamindari. So in August 1857, he organized the Khandayats under his banner to rise against the British.Dinabandhu Mahapatra and Upendra Jena were two other leaders. Bombs and swords were seized from them and police oppression was carried out.They were arrested and Ramakrushna and his allies were sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment. After the declaration of amnestyby the Brirish Government in November, 1858

Period after the Mutiny

The mutiny was dealt with an iron hand by the Govt and was subsequently suppressed.But it was instrumental in making the voices of indians heard to the rulers.This led to an end to the East Indian Company's rule over India.Powers were transferred to the British Queen and The Parliament.The designation of Governor General was discontinued and Viceroys were apapointed in their place.In the process, Lord Canning became the first Viceroy of India.

The Britishers had neglected Orissa for most part of their rule.They had rendered colossal loss to the life and property, destroyed a once booming economy, its maritime trade and inflicted sever blows on the marl of the people. For their administrative suitability they had divided Orissa into terretorial segments and tagged them with different cultural units.Cuttack,Puri and Balasore were tagged to the Bengal Presidency, Sambalpur placed under Central Province administration while Ganjam ,Phulbani and Koraput placed under the Madras Presidency. Apart from this,there were 26 different feudatory states that were ruled by local king who was supervised by a British Politacal Agent.Thus Orissa had completely lost its identity under the British rule. Worse still the Oriya language lost its identity in these regions as Persian, Bengali, Hindi, Telugu and tamil were the languages those were in prevalenec in these sta6tes.As such all the official transactions were carried on in these languages, ignoring the Oriya Language.Also there were deliberate attempts to obliterarte the Oriya language in Orissa by Non-Oriya bureaucrats.

Na’anka Famine of 1866-67

Eight years after the transfer of power from the East India Company to the British Crown, Orissa was hit hard by one of the severest natural calamity in the history of mankind.Known as Na’anka Famine of 1866-67, the disaster wiped out almost one third of its population killing as many as half a million people. The great calamity that had no parallel in the history of mankind occurred in the 9th anka or the 9th reining year of the Gajapati of Puri, King Divyasimbadeva.

The famine was preceded by a drought. A failure of rain in 1865 resulted in the loss of usual crops. The population of the region depended on the rice crop of the winter season for their sustenance; however, the monsoon of 1865 was scanty and stopped prematurely.This was compounded by administrative failure and economic neglect of the state.The Bengal Board of Revenue made incorrect estimates of the number of people who would need help and was misled by fictitious price lists. Consequently, the food reserves began to dwindle and more and more people hungry in want of food.

Compounding to this neglect was the treacherous road condition that existed in the state.During its fifty five years of misrule in the state, the Britishers had done almost nothing to improve the communication sysytem in the territory.The only road that connected Orissa with Calcutta remained unmetalled and unbridged through several large rivers and kept the region flooded for months in every year. Whatever communication the people of Orissa had developed in the earler periods had been totally destroyed by the British. Orissa remained aloof, virtually isolated from the rest of the country. So whatever helps the government sent reached to a very small segment of people; only the ones living within the peripehrial distance of Government mercenaries.The rest were left dying in anticipation of food and help from government quarters. Indifference of the officers, failure to procure food,wrong conclusions regarding the nature of the impeding calamity and above all faulty distribution systems led to disastrous consequences all too suddenly. The actual area of the famine was not too large. Neither did the period of famine drag beyond 8 months but the severity and intensity of the drought was such that nearly one in every three man died in Orissa.

The magnitude of loss of life from Na’anka Famine of 1866-67  shocked the British officials out of slumber.And for the first time in the history of British rule a commission was set up to evaluate the causes and preventionof any such future calamities. Known as “The Famine Commision”, it reported – “The famine in Orissa stands almost alone in this, there was almost no importation and the people shut up in a narrow province between pathless jungles and an impracticable sea, were in the condition of passengers in a ship without provision which could have been met with successfully had there been facilities for transportation.”

To guard against the failure, the President of the Famine Commission Sir George Campbell recommended improving communication as, “the best means of prevention”, alongwith security of tenures for cultivators, and irrigation within reasonable limits’. The Orissa Famine of 1866 worked as a lesion to the British to think of the Indian famines in a wider perspective and find out ways and means how to meet the challenge whenever they occurred anywhere in the sub-continent.