Kendujhar District or Keonjhar District is one of the administrative districts of Orissa and has its headquarters located at Kendujhar town. Keonjhar District has the distinction of containing one of the oldest rocks of the world, around 38,000 million years old covering an area of 100 sq kms at Asanpat. It has also the oldest stone inscription of Orissa paleontologically belonging to the Gupta period. In Sitabinj, one finds the fresco paintings in the cave shelter of Ravana Chhaya dating back to 5th Century A.D. Kendujhar District is a land locked district with an area of 8240 sq km. As a sequel to the integration of the feudatory states with Orissa on 1st of January, 1948, the erstwhile princely state of Keonjhar emerged as one of its districts with its head-quarters at Keonjhargarh and since then it has been continuing as such.
Location of Kendujhar District
Kendujhar District is situated in the northern part of Orissa. It is lying between 21 degree 1 minute north and 22 degree 10 minutes north latitude and 85 degree 11 minutes east to 86 degree 22 minutes east longitude and it presents a panorama of millennia, both from the geographical and anthropological point of view. Kendujhar District is surrounded by Singhbhum district of Jharkhand
in the north, Jajpur District
in the south, Dhenkanal District
and Sundargarh district in the west and Mayurbhanj District
and Bhadrak District
in the east. This district is lying at an altitude of 480 metres altitude.
History of Kendujhar District
The entire district of Keonjhar was a princely state before its merger with Orissa. The early history of the region is not adequately known. It was most probably a part of the old Khijjinga territory with headquarters at Khijjinga Kota, identified with modern Khiching. It became a separate state with Jyoti Bhanja as its ruling chief sometime during the first half of the 12th century A.D. The then state of Keonjhar comprised only the northern half of the modern district for a long time prior to the installation of Jyoti Bhanja as King. During the latter part of the 15th century the southern half was occupied by King Govinda Bhanja under whose rule Keonjhar was extended from Singbhum in the north to Sukinda (a Zamindari in Cuttack district) in the south and from Mayurbhanj in the east to the borders of the regions of Bonai, Pallahara and Angul District
in the west. During the rule of Pratap Balabhadra Bhanja (1764-1792 A.D.) two small areas of Tillo and Jujhpada were purchased from the Zamindar of Kantajhari and were added to the state. These were recognised as parts of Keonjhar in the Sanad granted by the East India Company to Raja Janardan Bhanj in the year 1804. Since then there had been no territorial changes of the state till its merger with the province of Orissa. But after amalgamation largely for the reasons of administrative expediency the areas of Tillo and Jujhpada were transferred to Balasore District
and Cuttack District
respectively, and further a number of villages of Balasore district were added to Keonjhar district.
Geography of Kendujhar District
Kendujhar District consists of a compact area and its extreme length from north to south is nearly 145 km. The average breadth from east to west is about 65 km. It is divided into two widely dissimilar tracts the lower Kendujhar and the upper Kendujhar. The former is a region of valleys and low lands, while the latter includes mountainous highlands with a general slope from north to south. The highlands consisting of clusters of rugged crags afford a safe retreat to its inhabitants in troubled times. The mountaintops have extensive tablelands on their summits, fit both for pasture and for tillage. The average elevation in its central part is about 500 metres. At places, isolated hills rise abruptly from the plains. But most of the areas have a general elevation of over 600 metres, which forms the watershed of some rivers. The Baitarani River takes its rise in the hilly north western division. About half of the area of this district spreading about 4043 sq kms is covered by forests of northern tropical moist deciduous type and contains Sal, Asan, Piasal, etc. The river Baitarani comes out of Gonasika Hills and flows to the north touching the border of Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. The soil is mostly red throughout the district and in the south there is a small patch of black cotton soil. The important minerals available in huge quantity in the district are Iron-ore, Manganese
The climate of the district includes oppressively hot summer with high humidity. Summer generally commences in the month of March. Temperature begins to rise rapidly attaining the maximum in the month of May. During the summer maximum temperature recorded is around 38 degree Celsius. The temperature in the month of December is lowest that is near about 11 degree Celsius. Sometimes it even drops down to 7 degree Celsius. The average annual rainfall is 1534.5 mms.
Demography of Kendujhar District
According to 2001 Census, total population of Kendujhar District is 15,61,990, of which male population is 7,90,036 and female population is 7,71,954. Further, there are 2067 inhabited and uninhabited villages in Keonjhar district. The rural population is 11,70,152 (5,83,129 Males and 5,82,023 females) giving an average of 571 per inhabited villages.
Administration of Kendujhar District
Administration of Kendujhar District includes three sub divisions namely Anandapur, Champua and Kendujhar. There are 10 tehsils in Kendujhar District and 13 development blocks. Further, administrative set up of Kendujhar District includes 50 Revenue Circles and 286 Gram Panchayats.
Economy of Kendujhar District
The district of Keonjhar is highly rich in mineral resources and has vast deposits of Iron, Manganese and Chrome Ores. About 30 percent of its total area is covered with tracts of dense forests. But the district, in spite of its immense mineral and forest wealth, still remaining economically backward. Kendujhar District is one of the premier mineral producing districts in Orissa. The district occupies a prominent place in the mineral map of the country. Iron ore formations occupy most part of the district which can be traced from Bihar border in the north to Jajpur border in the south. Good deposits of Chromite, an important and strategic mineral are found in Boula area near village Nuasahi of Anandapur sub-division. There are also some other mineral deposits in the district such as Quartzite, Bauxite
, and Lime stone. The two important mineral based industries in the district are the `Kalinga Iron Works` Barbil and the `Ferro-Manganese Plant`, Joda.
The two main tribes of Kendujhar District namely the Juangs and the Bhuyans carry a distinct and primitive past.