Kandha Rising under Chakra Bisoi

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Chakra Bisoi
Credit: Sambhunath Mahanta, Keonjhar

The Kandha rebellion did not stop after Dora‟s imprisonment and death. His nephew, Chakra Bisoi, took Dora‟s place and resolved to take revenge for his uncle‟s imprisonment and death. He posed a great threat to the British authority.

Factors responsible for the rebellion under Chakra

The Kandhas under Chakra Bisoi were instigated to make rebellion against the British Raj. The following factors were responsible for this rebellion.

1. The death of Dora Bisoi, had left a scar in the mind of Chakra. He wanted to take revenge of the death of his uncle Dora Bisoi.

2. The actions of S.C. Macpherson, the Meriah Agent disturbed the Kandhas a lot as he had interfered in the religion of the Kandhas. He rescued Meriahs and threatened the Kandhas of dire consequences who violated the law regarding Meriah. Further, he punished the Kandhas mercilessly.

3. On the other hand, Captain Macpherson was humiliated in his camp at Bisipara in 1846. He was forced by the Kandha revolutionaries to surrender the Meriahs whom he had rescued from the Kandha area. Otherwise the Kandhas would have killed him. This achievement of the Kandhas under the leadership of Chakra made them courageous. Finally, the Kandhas installed Pitambar, the minor son of Dhananjay Bhanja as the king of Ghumsur. This emboldened them and being surcharged with enthusiasm, they looted the British camp. The above factors forced the British Government to plan to supress the rebellion of the Kandhas under Chakra Bisoi.

British plan to capture Chakra Bisoi

Looking into the above factors, Macpherson did not follow the policy of appeasement with the Kandhas. The British Government realized that his presence as a Meriah agent was detrimental to the smooth functioning of British administration at Ghumsur. In order to bring the situation under control, the Madras Presidency appointed Lt. Col. Campbell as the Meriah Agent who succeeded Macpherson. However, Campbell was a man of different attitude. He followed a convincing policy and tried to win over the Kandhas of Ghumsur. So, the Kandhas promised to abstain from Meriah sacrifice. In this way trial was made to persuade the Kandhas and to make unfriendly with Chakra Bisoi.

Role of Somnath Singh in the rebellion

By his strategy Campbell won most of the Kandhas to his side. However, Chakra Bisoi did not come under the influence of the British authority. He organized rebellions of the Kandhas against the British forces. It was alleged that Chakra Bisoi and Nabghan Konhoro were assisted by Somnath Singh, the King of Angul. After this, the British Government followed a new policy towards the rebellion. He pardoned both Chakra and Nabghan in order to suppress the rebellion. The policy bore fruit and Nabghan surrendered. However, Dora did not surrender to the British authority. This made the British authority to become skeptic about Somnath Singh and wanted to take severe actions against Somanath Singh of Angul. As a result of which Somnath picked up his quarrel with the British in 1846. He forcibly took possession of a village of Hindol. For that offence he was fined Rs. 3,000/-. The King tried to protest but he could not get success. On the other hand, Lt. Col. Campbellwas authorized to march towards Angul to suppress Somnath Singh. In 1848, Angul was confiscated and Somnath Singh was sent as a prisoner to the Hazaribagh Jail. He had to pay heavy price for supporting Chakra Bisoi in the rebellion against the British authority.

British attempt to Capture Chakra

Then the British made many attempts to capture Chakra Bisoi. The capture of Rendo Majhi, the leader of the Borikiya Kandhas of Kalahandi and the successive attack on the camp of A.C. Mac Neill who succeed Campbell as Meriah Agent led British to conclude that Chakra Bisoi was behind the attack. Meanwhile G.F. Cockburn who succeeded Samuells as the Superintendent of the Tributary Mahals wanted to take steps against Chakra. In the meanwhile, the Zamindar of Madanpur was accused of giving shelter to Chakra. So, he was removed from his zamindary. Although, R.M. Macdonald sent troop to capture Dharam Singh Mandhata of Athagaon who had given shelter to Chakra, was arrested.

Chakra’s strategy

Looking at the strategy of the British forces, Chakra never stopped in his mission against the British. He could know that the Savaras of Parlakhemundi were rising against the British under the leadership of Dandasena of Gaiba. Taking this opportunity, Chakra united the Savaras and Kandhas and instigated them to set fire and plunder those villages which did not support Dandasena. Captain Wilson moved to suppress this rebellion and captured Dandasena who wascaptured and hanged. After that Chakra moved from Parlakhemundi to the area of Tel valley. Looking at the threat of the British authority, the king of Patna could not help Chakra Bisoi. So, in order to save himself, Chakra entered into the forests of Kandhamal. The Govt. of Bengal learnt the connection of Baud and ordered for the annexation of Kandhamal into the British territory in 1855. From that time nothing was known about Chakra Bisoi. He was never captured. He died in 1856. However, in 1857 G.F. Cockburn, the Commissioner of Odisha wrote to the Government regarding Chakra that perhaps he has abandoned this country. For a decade from 1846 to 1856, the activities of Chakra became a severe headache to the British authority.


The Kandha rebellion under Dora Bisoi and Chakra Bisoi is significant in the history of Odisha in particular and India in general. The role played by both Dora Bisoi and Chakra Bisoi in this Tribal uprising was commendable. The British failed to capture him even though efforts were made to capture Chakra Bisoi. However, it is beyond doubt that this tribal rebellion under the Kandha leaders like Dora Bisoi and Chakra Bisoi had given a tough challenge to the British authority in the early part of the British administration in Odisha. Although, the rebellion could not bring much result, but it had the shaken the British authority in Odisha.

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