Mayurbhanj district is one of the 30 districts in Odisha state in eastern India. Baripada city is its headquarters. As of 2011, it is the third-most-populous district of Odisha (out of 30), after Ganjam and Cuttack. Mayurbhanj is land-locked with a geographical area of 10,418 km2 (4,022 sq mi) and is in the northern boundary of the state. It is bounded in the northeast by Jhargram district of West Bengal, Singhbhum district of Jharkhand in the northwest, Baleshwar district in the southeast and by Kendujhar in the southwest.
According to the 2011 census Mayurbhanj district has a population of 2,513,895, roughly equal to the nation of Kuwait or the US state of Nevada. This gives it a ranking of 171st in India (out of a total of 640). The district has a population density of 241 inhabitants per square kilometre (620/sq mi). Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 13.06%. Mayurbhanj has a sex ratio of 1006 females for every 1000 males and a literacy rate of 63.98%.
History of Mayurbhanj State
Mayurbhanj State was one of the princely states of India during the period of the British Raj. It was one of the largest states of the Eastern States Agency and one of the three states of the Bengal States Agency. The emblem of the state were two peacocks for according to legend the ancestors of the ancient rulers originated from a peafowl’s eyes.
The state included a vast mountainous area inhabited by many different people groups such as the Santal, Ho and Kisan people. Its former territory lies in the present-day state of Odisha, bordering West Bengal. The capital of the state was the town of Baripada since the 15th century and Daspur was another important town. Large tracts of Mayurbhanj State were covered with forest.
According to tradition the kings of Khijjinga Mandala, the predecessor state, had ruled in unbroken succession since about the 9th century AD. The state had been named after its capital, Khijjinga Kotta, today Khiching. Copper plate inscriptions issued by the ancient rulers indicate that Khijjinga Mandala was an extensive territory comprising the present Mayurbhanj and Kendujhar districts as well as parts of Singhbhum district in Bihar and Midnapore district in West Bengal. During the Mughal period, the territory of the Bhanja rulers extended as far as the Bay of Bengal. By that time, the capital had shifted from Khijjinga Kotta to Haripur. The ruins of the temples and palaces built then can be found at Haripur about 16 km southeast of Baripada. Among the ruins, the Rasikaraya temple and the Durbar hall of the Bhanj kings are the most significant.
The rulers were Rajputs of the Bhanj dynasty, tradition saying that since the mythical founder Sila Bhanja Angaddi they were the longest reigning clan of monarchs in the area. Since they very good relations with the Mayur kings of Kendujhar, the Mayurs and the Bhanjas joined and gave origin to the name of the state.
The Bhanj rulers were promoters of art, architecture and culture. The Hari Baladev Jiu Temple, the Khichhing temple and other architecture in and around the district stand testimony to this. Also the royal family was responsible for the development and promotion of the Chhau dance form which integrates martial, tribal and classical elements.
Mayurbhanj State had been under Maratha rule during the 18th century and became a British protectorate in 1829, many years after the Third Anglo-Maratha War. During the British Raj the kings of Mayurbhanj pioneered the upliftment of the region. Under their enlightened rule Mayurbhanj became one of the most progressive areas. The Bhanj kings established the first medical college of the state in Cuttack, donating funds and land for the establishment of higher education institutions such as Ravenshaw College and welfare schemes, such as the one undertaken by the Evangelical Missionary Society of Mayurbhanj (EMSM), established in 1895 at the instance of Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo. Mayurbhanj Palace was built by Maharani Sumitra Devi Bhanj Deo in 1804.
The Mayurbhanj State Railway was started by the erstwhile ruler of Mayurbhanj Maharaja Shri Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo. The first section of 52 km from Rupsa to Baripada railway station being opened for traffic on 20 January 1905.
The last ruler of this princely state signed the accession to the Indian Union on 1 January 1949. After the independence of India, Mayurbhanj state under Maharaja Pratap Chandra Bhanjdeo acceded to the Indian Union on 1 January 1949 and was merged with Orissa Province, which became later the state of Odisha.
Famous Religious Places
Kichakeswari Temple, Khiching: The ancient capital of the Bhanja rules, Khiching lies about 205 Km away from Balasore and 150 km from Baripada. Scores of temples dominate the place, some of which are still in active worship. The predominant deity of Khiching is Kichakeswari, the most scared Goddess of the Mayurbhanj chiefs. The temple dedicated to her is built entirely of chlorite slabs and unique of it kind in India. The sculptures are beautiful. A small museum here boasts of highly important historical specimens of sculpture and art.
Jagannatha Temple Baripada: Sri Jagannath Temple is a famous Hindu temple located in Baripada, Mayurbhanj district, in the state of Odisha, India. The name Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat (Universe) and Nath (Lord of). The shikhara is a pancharatha one. This temple is known as the second Srikhetra of Orissa. The Jagannath temple of Baripada is one of the oldest temples of Orissa. Its Rathayatra is the oldest one after Puri and second biggest after Puri ratha yatra. It is being celebrated for last 500+ years. The rituals of Baripada Rathayatra are special. It gives priority to the female devotees to pull Maa Subhadra’s ratha, which is unique and attracts female devotees from the neighbouring states also.
Jwalamukhi Temple Baripada: This is one of the points of interest in Baripada. The temple is small and located just over a huge pond. Though the pond is not maintained at all. Also when we went to the temple, there was hardly any devotee except us. Though a famous and historic temple, but looks like its visited by a very few visitors. The temple compound is clean and well maintained and definitely a good to visit if you are travelling to Baripada. This temple has a burning blue flame coming out of a rock chamber, which is prayed as a sign of the deity. Though one of the most sacred Hindu temples, Jwalamukhi temple has a dome made of gold that was gifted by Akbar, the Mughal Emperor. The best time for tourists to be there is from beginning of April- middle of October, which is during the Navratri festival.
Rani Sati Mandir, Karanjia: Rani Sati Temple is located in the heart of the town of Karanjia. The temple signifies the glory of intricate artistry on each and every corner of the premises. Rani Sati, believed to be the incarnation of Goddess Durga, is the presiding deity of the temple. Rani Sati Dadi is the main deity of all the Marwari families in India. The temple is a landmark of Karanjia. The temple enshrines other deities like Ganesha, Shiva, Hanuman, Ram and Sita along with thirteen other Satis. There is an arrangement for a meal as well which is available on payment basis. Rani Sati Temple is visited by many Marwari devotees from all across the country and is the must-see attraction of Karanjia.
Barehipani Falls: Barehipani Falls is a two tiered waterfall located in Simlipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha. It is one of the highest waterfalls in India. The waterfall is situated at 21.932759N 86.380145E on the Budhabalanga River flowing over the Meghasuni mountain. The nearest railway station is at Baripada. The Joranda Falls is located nearby. It is 120km far from a small town Jashipur. The Barehipani Falls has a total height of 399 metres (1,309 ft).It is tiered waterfall with two drops. The tallest single drop is 259 metres (850 ft). Barehipani is India’s 2nd highest and orissa’s highest waterfall.
Sitakund Waterfalls: The Sitakund waterfall is located at Mayurbhanj district of Odisha and it is the part of the Simlipal National Park. This place is much more importance for Hinduism and also the natural waterfall beauty attracting the tourist. Mostly the natural beauty of this place is really amazing to visit this place. Also this place also getting popularity for best picnic spot in Odisha. It one of the best waterfall of mayurbhanj, Odisha , and it is the part of the similipal national park , sitakund natural waterfall is creating beautiful surrounding hill and Jungle area , and also an beautiful place of atraction sitakund that is the name of hindu Goddess maa sita devi , sitakund waterfall is the place of scenic beauti and this place is really amazing to visit this place, this place getting popularity for best picnic sport of Odisha.
Devkund: Devkund is a very beautiful religious and tourist place in Odisha. It is located in the district Mayurbhanj. Devkund is famous for its water fall that falls from the top of the hill. Devkund means the bathtub of Gods and Goddesses. So this place is very important for Hindu culture peoples, as they believe that it the bathing place of their Gods and Goddess, so by touching this water they get blessings of their god and goddess. The height of the water fall is 50 fit from the ground, so is very big and provides a beautiful view when water falls from such height. The water is very cold and clean that is suitable for bathing of tourist, they can enjoy a lot on this water. A small temple dedicated to Maa Ambika is also present on the top of the hill. This temple is known as Shakti Pitha. The temple is built by the king of Mayurbhanj in the year of 1940. This small temple is increase the beauty of the Devkund.
Bhimkund: About 40 Kms.from Karanjia, near Booring village in Thakurmunda P.S. is the sacred pool BHIMKUND” in the river Vaitarani. The legend reveals that Bhima, the second Pandava used to take his bath in this pool when the Pandavas were passing their incognito life in Birat Nagar, said to be the present Kaptipada. Here river Vaitarani flows through a gorge in steps forming a series of picturesque rapids until it settles down in the pool called “BHIMKUND”. It is encircled by precipitous stone wall. During Makar Festival in the month of January thousands of people gather here to take their holy dip. The place can also be approached from Dhenkikote (20 Kms.) on S.H. No 11 connecting Keonjhar and Panikoili. The place is ideal for picnickers.
Similipal National Park: Simlipal National Park is a national park and a tiger reserve in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha. It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes three protected areas — Similipal Tiger Reserve (2750.00 km2), Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary (191.06 km2) and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary (272.75 km2)). Simlipal National Park derives its name from the abundance of semul (red silk cotton trees) that bloom here. It was the second largest national park in India. The park has a protected area of 845.70 square kilometres (326.53 sq mi) and has some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani. Simlipal is home to 99 royal Bengal tigers and 432 wild elephants. Besides Simlipal is famous for gaurs (Indian bison), chausingha, as well as an orchidarium. One can enter Similipal through Pithabata (22 kilometres (14 mi) from Baripada) and 98 km via Jashipur. Entry permits can be obtained from the Range Officer, Pithabata check gate upon paying prescribed fees. Day visitors can enter between 6 AM and 12 noon and visitors with reservation between 6 AM and 9 AM. Similipal National Park is open from 1 November to 15 June. This reserve is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009.
Places of Historical Importance:
Khiching Museum: It is the second oldest museum in the state of Odisha. As the erstwhile rulers of the districts were fond of archaeology and documenting the rich historical tradition of the region, the Khiching Museum was established under the Mayurbhanj State Archaeology in 1922 after the establishment of the Baripada Museum in 1903. These two museums, in fact, laid the foundation stone for the archaeological documentation for the first time in Odisha, which was then under the British rule.
Hundreds of ancient relics of the tenth century, excavated from the area, are lying outside in the open and need immediate preservation. These relics are mostly stone engravings and human figurines which were excavated at Kichakgada and Viratgada near Khiching, the erstwhile capital of the Mayurbhanj kings in the medieval period.
The area outside the museum where the artefacts are kept is covered with bushes and plants. The museum has does not have a boundary and there is no electricity connection. The museum housed in the temple compound of the Kichakeshwari temple contains several valuable relics like copper plate inscriptions, coins of Gupta and Kusan period, palm leaf inscriptions, ancient idols. But, the museum has appointed two people- a peon and a watchman, to safeguard these valuable items.
How to Reach Mayurbhanj?
Access by Air : Nearest airport is Bhubaneswar 191 km.
Access by Rail : The nearest broad gauge railway station is at Baripada the headquarter of the district
Access by Road :
Almost each and every part of the state is linked by roads. The OSRTC is running its buses covering the whole state. There is huge network of OSRTC to cater the needs of the people.
Bhubaneswar (250km), Kolkata (222km), Sambalpur (481km), Keonjhar (169km), Ranchi (266km)
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