Gangpur Princely State


The story of Odisha says a history of some thousand years ago. It has experienced a wide narration of valiant warfare, adoption of variant dynasties, insertion of public representation in monarchy and many more. Even during the English period the Feudatory system has gained an important role that has also put pressure in obtaining rights for its indigenous people. The post independent era has also witnessed a fair participation of royal family members i.e., kings, queens,  Pattayats, Chhotrays, Deewans and more in democracy. The infrastructures built during state time are still act as core houses for implementing development activities in our state. This article will focus on the establishment of Gangpur feudatory state and its role during the statehood and also re visit the infrastructures of that time. But many of them are still in a miserable condition. This attention may put a beam of light on them to spread our culture, conservation of history and promotion of participatory tourism.



It is a story of more than a thousand years ago, when the entire Kalinga, Udra and Koshala were under the rule of Somavamshi kings. The ruler at Jajnagar of the entire empire Janmejay-II falls into trouble by the Gangas, Chhindaka-Nagas and Kalachuri kings. They disturbed the Somavamshi Keshari kings through repeated attacks and conspiracy. Janmejay and his allies became unable to control the disturbances; as a result they witnessed the decline in their empirical power gradually.  

Janmejay’s contemporary Kalchuri king, Prthvideva I [i]assumed the title of Sakala-Kosaladhipati,  which suggests that he has seized Kosala region. Similarly the Ganga king Rajaraja-I Devendravarman  and his son claimed to have defeated the kings of Utkala and Kosala, Chindaka-Naga chief Someshvara I also declared to have defeated the Udra chief and captured six lakhs and ninety-six villages of Kosala. Some time it is said that after the arrival of Gangas the BhanuGangaIII has sheltered himself here at the Sundargarh region. Different epigraphs found in several places of western Odisha suggested so.

But these evidences never confirmed that the rulers of Keshari dynasties were completely wiped out. In some places they remained as chieftains under the supremacy of the Gangas, Kalachuri and Chindaka Nagas. From among such kingdoms Gangpur presently known as Sundargad was one of the most discussed states that kept its existence till Indian independence. The cave paintings, lithics and copper plates excavated from different places of western Odisha have recalled the stories of Keshari kings here.
But the Present royal family members of Gangpur don’t bear the blood of the Somakula or Keshari dynasty. They claimed themselves as Sekhar Vamshis. This Sekhar dynasty again a foreign entity came from Singhbhum. Several stories are there narrating the beginning of Sekhar raj in Gangpur.

One of such stories can be mentioned here to understand the socio-political situation during emergence of Sekhars in Gangpur.  When the Keshari or lion line died out, the tribes or aboriginal people of the land called as Bhuyans searched for a king to rule over them. As the tradition of tribal ruling was not in prevailed earlier and the Bhuyans used to act as chieftains under the empirical rulers like Kesharis or Gangas. The old Zamindaries of Gangpur named Sarapgarh, Sargipalli Hemgiri, Nagra, Hatibari also witnessed Bhuyan chieftains as their revenue and administrative heads.

During this search of a king, some of the influential Bhuyans stole a child from the Sekhar family of Singhbhum or Panchet and elected him as the Chief[ii]. Since the Bhuyans investiture the boy and started the acting as guardian they were regarded as 2nd decision maker next to the king. And they used to coronate the new King each time after the loss of the ruler. This tradition is still continuing at Gangpur palace as a token of Royal custom.

Folklore of Gangpur says that the Bhuyans after coronation or Tilak ceremony named the stolen child as Gangadhar sekhar Deo and he is believed as the founder of Sekhar dynasty at Gangpur. After him not less than 20 kings of this linage have ruled over Gangpur. This has got a princely state status during the British. A unique story of rule of queen as regent is seen here. During the queen rule under Rani Janakirantna Devi Gangpur has achieved milestones in modern administration and education under British patron.

This Sekhar Vamshi kings have also took asylum of the Chauhans of Patnagarh during Raja Prithwi Singh of Patnagarh. According to the then British Commissioner HB Imphey, Prithwisingh Dev was the 4th king of Patnagarh in Chauhan rule and he included Bonai, Gangpur, Bamanda and Suraguda in his kingdom. [iii]

The state was under the suzerainty of  Sambalpur, which formed part of the dominions of Maratha Rajas of Nagpur. It was ceded to British East India Company in 1803 by the treaty of Deogaon with Maratha king Raghuji Bhonsla. In 1821 the feudal supremacy of Sambalpur over Gangpur was cancelled and the chief of Gangpur was given with a Sanand to rule over Gangpur under the Britist direction. The state was transferred to Odisha division from Chhotnagpur Division in 1905.

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