Kalahandi, ,is a district of Orissa in India. The region had a glorious past and great civilization in ancient time. Archaeological evidence of stone age and Iron Age human settlement has been recovered from the region. Asurgarh offered an advanced, well civilized, cultured and urban human settlement about 2000 years ago in the region. In South - Asia it is believed that the lands of Kalahandi district and Koraput district were the ancient places where people started cultivation of paddy. In ancient time it was known as Mahakantara (meaning Great Forest) and Karunda Mandal, which means treasure of precious stones like karandam (Manik), Garnet (red stone), Beruz, Neelam (blue stone), and Alexandra etc.
Kalahandi region had a glorious past and great civilization in ancient time. Archaeological record of Tel valley reveals the presence of the primates in its various zones during the Pleistocenephase. Paleolithic is being documented in Kalahandi, like Moter river basin in Dharamgarh region. One of the largest size axe of late stone age culture has been recovered from Kalahandi. Tel river civilization put light towards a great civilization existing in Kalahandi in the past that is recently getting explored. The discovered archaeological wealth of Tel Valley suggest a well civilized, urbanized, cultured people inhabited on this land mass around 2000 years ago and Asurgarh was its capital
Six Headed Kartikeya of Medival Period in Dadpur,Kalahandi
Worlds largest Celtaxe of Stone Agefound in Kalahandi
Pre-historic painting from Gudahandi, Kalahandi
Kalahandi lies in between 19.3 N and 21.5 N latitudes and 82.20 E and 83.47 E longitudes and occupies the South Western portion of Orissa, bordered to the North by the Balangir district and Nuapada district, to the South by the Nabarangpur district, Koraput district and Rayagada district, and to the East by the Rayagada district, Kandhamal district and Boudh district. It has an area of 8,364.89 square kilometers and ranks 7th in area among the 30 districts of Orissa. The district headquarter is at Bhawanipatna which stands almost in the central location of the district. Bhawanipatna and Dharamgarh are two sub- divisions of Kalahandi. Junagarh, Jaipatna, Kesinga, Lanjigarh and Mukhiguda are other major towns in Kalahandi.
In 2006 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Kalahandi one of the countrys 250 most backward districts (out of a total of 640). It is one of the 19 districts in Orissa currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).
Kalahandi is largely an agriculture based economy. During Bengal famine Kalahandi alone had sent 100,000 tons of rice. During 1930s princely state of Kalahandi had proposed to build upper Indravati project but subsequent merger of princely state with India delayed the project . It got approved in 1978 and yet to be fully completed. In the mean time drought occurred in 1960s and lately in 1980s.In 1980s Kalahandi become infamous for drought, child selling, malnutrition and starvation death and social worker referred it as Kalahandi Syndrome Though KBK project was announced in 1990s by central Government specially for undivided Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput districts primarily keeping poverty, backwardness and starvation death in mind, undivided Kalahandi district continued to remain politically ignored for various reasons.
Forest based products like Mahua, Kendu leaf, wood, timber and bamboos are also contribute local economy largely. Kalahandi supplied substantial raw materials to paper mills in neighboring Rayagada and Jeypore.
Kalahandi was famous for gemstone (Karonda Mandal)in ancient time. Its rich gemstone deposit included cats eye, sapphire, ruby, garnet, crystal, topaz, moonstone, diamond, tourmoline, acquamarine, beryle and alexandrite etc. The distribution and occurrence of precious and semi- precious gemstones and other commercial commodities of the region have found place in accounts of Panini (5th century BC), Kautilya (3rd century BC), Ptolemy (2nd century AD), Wuang Chuang (7th century AD) and Travenier (19th century AD). Till recently Kalahandi along with Balangir supply gem stone for handicraft work that can be found in Delhi Haat. Jiligndara located near Junagarh of Kalahandi has one of the largest ruby deposit of Asia as per Geological Survey of India.
Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL), a subsidiary of Sterlite Industries, a major aluminium processor has made major investments by establishing an 1 MTPA Alumina Refinery and 75 MW Captive Power Plant at Lanjigarh. Though this project has received criticism from environmentalists, especially from outside groups; supporters of VAL claims it has brought significant changes in Socio-Economic scenario of Lanjigarh and Kalahandi. The Union Environment Ministry in August 2010, rejected earlier clearances granted to a joint venture led by the Vedanta Group company Sterlite Industries for mining bauxite from Niyamgiri hills making the company to depend on bauxite from outside Orissa. The companys proposal for Expansion of the Refinery to 6 MTPA, which would have made it one of the largest refinery in the world, was halted by Indias environment ministry.
The nearest airport is located in Raipur (200–250 km) having daily flights to majority of the cities in India. Kalahandi can be reached from Raipur via Nuapada or Dharamgarh. Vishakhapatnam airport is located in 300 km and Bhubaneswar airport in 450 km. Kesinga is the gateway of Kalahandi for rail connectivity. It is directly linked with most of the major cities in India, such as Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Nagpur, Ahemadabad etc. by rail.National Highway 201 and 217 pass though Kalahandi. Luxury night buses are available to Bhubaneswar, Katak, Raipur, Visakhapatnam, Sambalpur and Rourkela from Kalahandi.
According to the 2011 census Kalahandi district has a population of 1,573,054 , roughly equal to the nation of Gabon or the US state of Idaho This gives it a ranking of 317th in India (out of a total of 640). The district has a population density of 199 inhabitants per square kilometre (520 /sq mi) . Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 17.79 %. Kalahandi has a sex ratio of 1003 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 60.22 %.
The language spoken by the people of Kalahandi is Kalahandia Language, locally known as Kalahandia . It is officially considered to be a dialect of Oriya language. Local weekly newspaper such as Arjji and Kalahandi Express publish articles in standard Oriya and Kalahandia Language. Hindi is the second preferable language after Oriya. Some of the known and recognized writers, poet and dramatists from the region are Chaitanya Das, Pataraja Padman Singh, Maharaja Udit Pratap, Maharani Asha Kumari Devi, Rama Chandra Raiguru, Brajaraj Singhdeo, Bira Bikram Deo, Lai Rudra Madhab Deo, Gadadhar Mishra, Parsuram Mund, Dr. Someswar Behera, Kaviraj Prayagdutta Joshi, Anup Singhde, Prof. Bhubaneswar Behera, Prafulla Kumar Rath, Akhila Nayak, Bharat Majhi, Parameswar Mund, Dr Dola Govinda Bisi, Dr Hare Krushna Meher,and others. Other languages include Kui, Bhatri, Parji, Bhunjia, spoken by approximately 7000 Bhunjia Adivasis.
Kalahandi is a rich land in terms of culture and festivals. Since it is a melting point of South Orissa and Western Orissa with a substantial tribal population, those living in hills as well as plain land, their different culture, tradition, languages and belief along with main stream Hindu culture have made Kalahandi region rich with culture and festivals. The mixture of Aryan and tribal culture makes Kalahandi region rich in its culture and festivals. In pre-independence period Kalahandi was largely inspired to Saivaism, Vaishanivism and Shakti puja. Shakti Puja is largely accepted among tribal, perhaps due to which Kalahandi was well known for celebrating Shati Puja. However, affect induction of Kalahandi as part of Orissa state, dominance of coastal Orissa culture in the state is increasingly influencing the local culture. Celebration of Rathajatra and construction of Jaggannath temple in Kalahandi has been increasingly realized unlike in old days of Radha Krishna temple.
The majority of the population are Hindu, a small minority being Christan, Muslim, Sikh, Budhist and Jain. 28% of the population are tribal people which has the majority of the impact on the local customaries and influenced the dialect.
Literally Kalahandi means pot of arts. This name has been possibly derived from "Gudahandi Caves" containing pre-historic painitings in red and black colors. Kalahandi is a rich land in terms of art and craft. Stone from Kalahandi is well known to make jewellery. Habasipuri pattern is well established in handloom Saree. Wood craft from Khaipadar is famous for export and domestic market.
Kalahandi has the wide varieties of dance forms comprising tribal and non-tribal dance. Among the districts level in Orissa, it has the maximum dance form. Overall Kalahandi life is associated with music and dance. Some of the dance found in Kalahandi such as Dalkhai, Jaiphula, Rasarkeli, Sajani etc. have similarities with the dance form in Balangir, Sambalpur, etc. regions whereas Sari song, Pholia song, song related to nature etc. has similarities with Koraput region. However, Boria song, Nialimali, Kalakolik etc. mostly found in Kalahandi. On the other hand Ghumura, Madali, Dandari, Dhab, Bajasalia etc. folk form found in Kalahandi can be composed songs.
Vegetable Curry: Alu Kubi, Alu Jhol, Goros Kobi Nada, Besar Kobi Nada, Semi, Uilmaga, Amrutmada tarkari, Alu-baigan, Began poda, Kardi, Hanua tarkari, badi takari, kardi bhaja, semi-baigan, Kanker mahur, Soup: Jhunga, Kandul del, rehel del, Mung del, chana del, badi jhol, Sour Vegetable: Main, Mula-main, Amil, Kakharu Sakra, Bhenikhata, Tamatokhata, Aam Chatney, Kakudi Sakra, piajkhata, patalghanta khata, amul jhol, tetel jhol, Aam khata, Leaf Curry: Bhajisag, Bahalsag, Kulersag, Chenchsag, Kumdasag Snack: Khudma, Chakel, telen pitha, poda pitha, Sweet: Arsa Pitha, Podhpitha, Mada, Sujimada, Tilladu, Khaja, Khajaladu, Pheni, Bundiladu, Fish Curry: Mach Purga, Main Mach, Besar Mach, Masla Mach Meat Curry: Kukudamansh tarkari, Maus Kharda (Mutton/Lamb), Maus tarkari (Mutton/Lamb), Maus Bhaja, Hadbandu
Through WODC (Western Orissa Development Council) Orissa government has been intiated a private medical college with a tie up with one South India based organisation in Junagarh block of Kalahandi since 2004, which has not started yet. Orissa state Government has announced Government College of Engineering Kalahandi and Agriculture College at Bhawanipatna in 2009 but local demand for a Central University in Kalahandi has not been accomplished. Government College of Engineering Kalahandi, Bhawanipatna College of Agriculture, Bhawanipatna Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna Sardar Raja Medical College, Jaring (private), Under Construction Agriculture College near Dharamgarh, proposed (private) by Sri Sri Ravishankar
District Headquarters Hospital, Bhawanipatna Life Worth Hospital, Bhawanipatna
All India Radio, Bhawanipatna A High Power (10 KW) TV transmitter with programme generation facility at Bhawanipatna