“The dust settled on the ruins shroud the resplendent bravery of the men who once called it their citadel”.
The ruins of the fort pales in comparison with the magnificence of gigantic forts found elsewhere in India. But this fort served its purpose, defended the territory to the last stone of its foundation and to the last man. That's why we recommend this place as a must visit.
The fort was built by King Divyasingh Dev in the 16th Century. The fort was well protected from two sides by the Barunei hills and the dense forest on the other.
Khurda served as the capital of Utkal from 1568 to 1803 AD. The kingdom of Khurda has the distinction of being the last independent kingdom of the country. Even though Kalinga fell to Afghans, Mughals and later the Marathas, they couldn’t annex the kingdom of Khurda despite many attempts.
The kingdom fought a pitched battle with the Britisher’s from 23 years until its annexation in 1827- when the Britishers could finally establish firm hold on Khurda.
Legend of Jayee Rajguru
Khurda went to war with the Britishers as early as 1804.The leader was Jaykrushna Rajguru Mohapatra popularly known as Jayee Rajguru.
Rajguru was a title bestowed on his family for their role in advisory capacity to the King of Khurda. Jayee Rajguru was the chief adviser to King Mukunda Deva II.
Disowning the letter of subjugation issued by the British, Rajguru assembled the army of Khurda comprising of Paikas and fought the British army first on the banks of Mahanadi river and defeated them.
The second battle was fought on the foothills of Barunei, even though the British army had reinforcements from Chennai and numbered around 7000, they still tasted defeat.
However as was the case in most such instances in Indian history, the British employed their most potent weapon -"the divide and rule policy" and it worked for them. With the help of traitors, the Britishers were able to capture Rajguru but not before he helped the King escape.
After a prolonged trial, Rajguru was declared guilty and given capital punishment. On 6th Dec 1806, Rajguru was killed in a brutal manner with his legs tied to two branches of a banyan tree and the branches let off, splitting his body into two.
The Paika uprising is intrinsically linked with the Khurdagarh fort and in some ways met a similar fate- the bravery of the Paikas and the significance of the Fort are lost in the pages of history .
The bravery of the Paikas is aptly described in the book - “A sketch of the history of Orissa 1803-1828” by British Historian George Toynbee - “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 Khurda."
The Paika uprising of 1817 which spread across most of Odisha ,was the first mass uprising against the colonial imperialism of the Britishers, some forty years before what is regarded as India’s first war of Independence, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857
After the Britishers took over Odisha from the Maratha's in 1803, they followed a systematic process of marginalising the Odia people of their fundamental rights. The language was not accorded official status and instead Hindi, Persian and Bengali languages were enforced. Alien to these new linguistic jargons, the Odia's lost ground to their counterparts. The last straw was when they were denied to manufacture salt and the new land reform took away the lands of the Paikas.
Paikas took to farming and policing during peace times. In return they were given land by the princely states to earn their livelihood.
The General of King Mukunda Deva II of Khurda was Paika Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mahapatra Bhramarbar Ray, popularly known as Buxi Jagabandhu. When the land reforms set in, Buxi Jagabandhu found that all his landed property was seized with immediate effect and he was reduced to survive on alms given by locals.
Feeling insulted Buxi Jagabandhu was looking for an opportunity to strike back and it came when some four hundred Kandhas of Ghumusar owing their allegiance to King Srikar Bhanja marched towards Khurda and declared rebellion against the British Rule as they had imprisoned their King Srikar Bhanja.
Buxi Jagabandhu ably supported by his trusted lieutenant Mir Haider Ali - the Dalabehera of Duduma (a colony in present day Bhubaneswar) - vent his fury against the sinister design of British Imperialism. All the Daleis, Dalebheras and Paika Sardars joined Buxi Jagabandhu in his fight against the British.
Buxi Jagabandhu captured Khurda and marched towards Puri, after overthrowing the British resistance, they proclaimed Mukunda Deva II as the King of Kalinga and declared and all out war against the British Colonialism
That the Paika’s were largely an assembled army with scarce resources and archaic weapons plus the traitors as is the case often in Indian history- proved to be their major undoing to fight a sustained war against the well oiled British army. Soon the tables turned and the Britishers were able to reestablish their hold on Orissa.
After Jagabandhu’s surrender in 1825, the rebellion was carried forward by Krutibas Patasani. Krutibas Patasani was the Dalabehera of Arang who led the Banapur rebellion. He was captured and given death sentence in 1836,which brought an end to the Paika uprising against the British Colonialism in Odisha.
Fall out of the Paika Uprising
Though the Paika rebellion was crushed by the Britishers, it made the later realise its faulty administrative policies and ushered in a slew of welfare schemes and the faulty land reforms abolished.
The Britisher's also opened the doors for Odia’s in administrative jobs and included Odia language in their official communications.
Though the new administrative policies of the Britisher's weren't substantial as it was proved in the long run but atleast a beginning was made.