(Last Updated on : 12-05-2012)
The Princely State of Sonepur was one of the 9 Gun Salute states of India
and was part of the Eastern States Agency
(Orissa States Agency) during the rule of the British Empire in India
. The territory covered a total area of 906 sq miles and was located in Chhattisgarh
. At present, Sonepur, alternatively known as Subarnapur, is a town and the headquarters of the Subarnapur district
. The population of the princely state in the year 1941 was 248,878. Sonepur is also well known for terracotta, handloom, silk, prawns etc. Sonepur state was bounded by the British district of Sambalpur
, Province of Orissa, in the north; by Rairakhol in the northeast; by Athmallik in the east; by Patna
in the west and by Baud in the south.
History of Princely State of Sonepur
The Chauhan Rajputs were the ruling family of the princely state. Originally the territory of Sonepur was subordinate to Patna, but around 1560, it was formed as a separate zamindari by the 4th ruler of Sambalpur. It was done for Madan Gopal, the grandson of the 4th ruler who seized the region from the Varman rulers. The zamindari of Sonpur was improved to the rank of a feudatory state in the year 1865. The ruling family held the princely state successively and the last ruler in 1947) was the 13th of his line. The Princely State of was appointed as one of the salute states of India with a gun salute of 9 guns. The ruler of the state held the title of Maharaja and he exercised the full powers of a ruling chief. There a total of eleven small zamindari estates in the state of Sonepur. In the year 1931, a partially elected advisory assembly was founded and later in 1942 a cabinet system of government was introduced.
The princely state of Sonepur was one of the original constituent members of the Chamber of Princes
, a number of smaller states indirectly represented by 12 princes who were elected periodically. In the year 1940, the Maharaja of the Sonepur state was admitted to the Chamber in his own right. Sonepur was under the indirect control of the British Empire in India
. However the native ruler of the state was given autonomous power to administer the internal issues of the state. Moreover the royal family maintained association and alliance with the British administration and provided various military and other supports to the British as well. The British administration in return provided security and protection to the ruler of the state from external forces.
After the India achieved independence and the withdrawal of British Government, the last ruler of the princely state of Sonepur acceded his state to the Dominion of India, also known as the Union of India
. Currently the district of Sonepur covers a total area of 2284.89 sq km and is called the second Varanasi of India, as there are several temples with architectural importance in the region.