History of Chhattisgarh

According to a mythological legend, Ram, during his Vanvas stayed in Dakshin Kosala. Which is modern day Chhattisgarh. The unbroken history of Chhattisgarh or of South Kosala can be traced back to fourth century AD and its mythological history goes back as far back as the Mahabarata and the Ramayana. About the history of the region the famous historian C.W.Wills writes, ‘in the 10th century AD a powerful Rajput family ruled at Tripuri near Jabalpur, Issuing from this kingdom of Chedi (also known as Kalchuri dynasty) a scion of the royal house by the name Kalingraja, settled about the year 1000AD, at Tuman, a site at present marked only by a few ruins in the north east of the erstwhile Laphazamidari of The Bilaspur district. His grandson Ratanraja founded Ratanpur Which continued as the capital of a large part of the country now known as Chhattisgarh. This Rajput family called themselves the Haihaya dyanasty. This dynasty continued ruling Chhattisgarh for six centuries about the 14th century it split into parts, the elder branch continued at Ratanpur, while the younger settled in semi-independent state at Raipur. At the end of 16th century it acknowledged the suzerainty of the Mughals, In Bastar, in the middle ages, Chalukya dynasty established its rule. The first Chalukya ruler was Annmdev, who established the dynasty in Bastar in 1320.

The Marathas attacked Chhattisgarh in 1741 and destroyed the Haihaya power. In 1745 AD after conquering the region, they deposed Raghunathsinghji, the last surviving member of the Ratanpur house. In 1758, the Maraths finally annexed Chhattisgarh, it came directly under Maratha rule and Bimbaji Bhonsle, was appointed the rule. After death of Bimbaji Bhonsle, the Marathas adopted the Suba system. The Maratha rule was a period of unrest and misrule. There was large-scale loot and plunder by the Maratha army. The Maratha officials were openly surrendering the interests of the region to the British. As a result of this, the region became extremely poor and the people began resenting the Maratha rule. Only the Gonds continued to resist and challenge the advances of the Marathas and this led to several conflicts and much animosity between the Gonds and the Marathas (Captain Blunt, 1975). The Pindaris also attacked and plundered the region in the beginning of the Nineteenth Century.

In 1818 Chhattisgarh came under some sort of British control for the first time. In 1854, when the province of Nagpur lapsed to the British government, Chhattisgarh was formed into a deputy commissionership with its headquarters at Raipur. Historian C.W. Wills, writing about Chhattisgarh says, Chhattisgarh presents the remarkable picture of a Hindu government continuing till modern times outside the sphere of direct Mohammedancontrol. The British made certain changes in the administrative and revenue systems of Chhattisgarh, which adversely affected the people of Chhattisgarh. The intrusion of the British was resisted strongly in Bastar by the tribals and the Halba rebellion which lasted nearly five year (1774-1779) was the first documented rebellion against the British and Marathas in Bastar.

The First war of independence in 1857 was spearheaded in Chhattisgarh by Vir Narain Singh who was a benevolent jamindar of Sonakhan. The British arrested him in 1856 for looting a trader’s grain stocks and distributing it amongst the poor in a severe famine year. In 1857 with the help of the solders of the British Army at Raipur, Vir Narain Singh escaped form prison. He reached Sonakhan and formed an army of 500 men. Under the leadership of Smith, a powerful British army was dispatched to crush the Sonakhan army. The British succeeded after a prolonged battle and Vir Narain Singh was arrested and later hanged on the 10th December, 1857. He became the first martyr from Chhattisgarh in the War of Independence. Vir Narain Singh’s martyrdom has been resurrected in the 1980’s and he has become a potent symbol of Chhattisgarhi pride.