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.



After the cancellation of dominion of Sambalpur over Gangpur the state was demarcated with an area of 2492 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Jashpur state and Ranchi district of British dominion. On the south by Sambalpur and Bonai & Bamra states; On the west by Raigarh state of Central provinces.

River Ib is considered as the lifeline for Gangpur state. It enters to the state from Jashpur. In Sambalpur it joins with Mahanadi and latter at Panposh it joins with Sankh and koel. This river system controls the entire agriculture production of the state. Depending upon the river courses we found habitats on each side. Beside agriculture River Ib is considered as the main dependant transport system. It is said that dimonds have occasionally found in the sands of Ib. Some group of people identified as Jhorias seach for diamond and gold in the flowing water and beds of the river.

The Union of Sankh and Koel near Panposh have created a scenic beauty for the Gangpur state. It has attracted the British and tourists also.  In the Hindu mythology Sage Parasar was attracted to this beauty and then to the amour of a fisherman’s daughter named Matshagandha. The relationship with Matshagandha gave birth to Sage Vyasha, who compiled the Mahabharata. As Vyasa was born at this place this site is named after him as Vedavyasa and is also acting as a major tourist spot in Sundargarh. Locales have made an ornamental image of sage Vyasa here to narrate and remember the mythological event.

Gangpur during British administration:

The East India Company 1821 granted first Sanand in favor of Raja Indra Sekhar Deo of Gangpur. It was revised in 1827 after the permanent cession for a term of five years. At that time Parsuram Sekhar Deo was the raja.  This was allowed till 1875. The queen granted Sanand in 1899 and when Gangpur separated from Chhotnagpur a fresh Sanand was issued in 1905[iv]. By this Sanand the chief of Gangpur enjoyed powers on behalf of the British crown.

A stability of administration is observed during the British raj and new state buildings were also made during this period.

There are three Palaces in Gangpur built in a very close proximity. The oldest building is in a ruined condition and the 2nd one is used as the residence of the royal family members. The most important House for the then administration was considered as the Kishore Bhaban situated on bank of River Ib. Now also it is identified as the royal palace of Gangpur. 18th king Raghunath sekhar Deo is believed to have built the palace in 1915, when more place for royal families were in need. The Palace is named after Yubraj Birkishore Deo who was deceased in a very young age.

Raja Raghunath Sekhar Deo succeeded the Gaadi in November 1858. At that time he was a minor. His uncle and brother of late raja Janardan sekhar deo, Lal Giriraj Sekhar deva was appointed as the Sarbarahkar during his minority. In 1865 Raghunath took the charge of administration.

Raghunath Sekhar Deo was trained to administer the state by the British during his minority. Therefore he has a great inclination to the English men. He adopted many welfare activities in the state. He started a population census and  new settlement methods, suppressed the long time continued disturbance among the Gaontias and Naiks, and also put the foundation stone for modern education with the help of the English officers. His attitude and respect for British administration has made the English Officers to offer him the title of Maharaja.

But at the early age of his regime he was also punished by the crown because of promoting witchcraft. In 1875 he was arrested and put behind the bars at Ranchi.

During his period first time the British Govt has appointed one Diwan or chief executive for smooth running of the administration. After him Bhabani Shankar his grandson became the ruler. He shifted the King’s residence to the newly built kishore Mahal. From his period the ruler used to stay at the Kishore Mahal with their families.

Kishore Mahal is a two storied building with Anglo-Indian style of architecture built.  The entire palace is divided into three parts. Court yards are there to provide a well ventilated atmosphere inside the rooms. 1st part was dedicated to centries and security personnel. The second part was residence of the raja and his family. Third part was for the servants or Poilis.  In the second courtyard two beautifully carved Mandaps are found. These two are made by Maharaja Raghunath for the thread ceremony of his grandsons.

Maharaja Raghunath sekhar deo built the Jagannath temple in the year 1916. Probably it is the last temple made during state hood of Gangpur. Now it stands as a symbol of Utkalian culture and tradition. A marble piece at the entrance of the temple establishes the foundation date of the temple. This temple is managed by a separate trust board.

Bhabani sankar acquire the Gaadi in 1919 and remained as Raja for only 11 years. He passed away in a very young age of 32 only. He was a very well behaved and benevolent ruler. Sometimes he took decisions but couldn’t stick on that so he again returned to the old policy. This was because of his immaturity in administration as told by the historians.

Rani JanakiRathnayamarjee:

Bhabanishankar’s death has turned the Gangpur administration to a new direction. Queen Janakirathnayamarjee assumed the charge of the state as the Regent Rani sahiba. She was a learned woman with wide vision and determination. She belonged to the Royal family of,    Kurupam, situate in Modern Visakhapatanam of Andhra Pradesh.  Her father was Raja Vyiricharia Virbhadra Raju Bahadur Garu and mother was Rani Sahiba Narasayamma Patta Mahadevi Garu During the study at Mayo College of Ajmer  Bhabanishankar visited the city and fell in love with Janakirathnayamarjee. Then they got married and settled at Gangpur. After assuming power she devoted her time to reconstruct Gangpur. First of all she requested the British Govt to appoint one talented officer as Diwan for her state. With her request Khan Bahadur Abdul Khan was appointed as the Diwan replacing HD Christian. She established modern systems for collecting revenue and extending developmental administration. With a new mind and broad ideas she started imparting English education in the state and involving people in the administration. So a new council building was made aside the main palace in 1944. She acted as the president of the council and to help her in administration two ministers were nominated from among the Prajas. This may be due to the pressure raised by the British rulers on the princely states to suppress the people’s agitation at different parts.  Now this council building was sold to some third party and not in the possession of the Royal family.

Different departments were made during her period. About 7 UP schools and 19 LP schools were established. Jail, police, court buildings were built during her period. When the 2nd world war was broke out Rani Janakiratna helped the British force both by money and manpower. She has donated 20thousand rupees to Imperial relief fund. Respecting the request of the English administration she bought war bonds and also sent soldiers to France.[v]

The British officers were impressed by her skill of administration and awarded her with prestigious  CEB title in1945. At that time she staged her son Udit pratap sekhardeo was the ruler. He was the last ruler and signed the merger treaty with India.

Society and people:

Beside Bhuyans other five types of tribes like Gonda, Oraons, Khonds, Majhis and Agarias lived here in Gangpur state, The tribal dominated Gangpur was based upon many superstitions. Colonel Dalton admitted that Human sacrifice was a regular tradition at the shrine of Kali in Sundargarh. 

The girls betrothed at a very early age but remain in their father’s house till they grew up to women. This indicates that the child marriage tradition was little bit improved and modified. Widow marriage and re marriage were also allowed in this system.

Beside agriculture, business like importing sugar, salt, exporting articles like cotton, sesamum, lac, honey arrowroot, wax and catechu to other places by road and waterways continued during the royal administration.

Royals Family



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