History of Jharkhand

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The name Jharkhand refers to the current state in India. But in the different era the region and parts of the region were known by different names. It was carved out of the southern part of Bihar on 15 November 2000. According to some writers like Gautam Kumar Bera, there was already a distinct geo-political, cultural entity called Jharkhand even before the period of Magadha Empire. The Shah Deo's were the erstwhile rulers of Jharkhand. They came to power in the 2nd century after the Munda kings handed over the throne. Their palace still exists at Ratu, 11 km from the current Capital of Ranchi. Their first capital was at Sutiyambe near Ranchi. Remains of the period are still there for all to see. The first Ruler was Maharaja Phanimukut Rai. His descendents ruled over Jharkhand for around 2000 years till India's independence from the British rule. The good tribal rulers continued to thrive and were known as the Munda Rajas, and exist to this day. (These are regions which are still semi- autonomous, the degree of autonomy depending on the size of each specific Munda Raja's domain.) Later, during the Mughal period, the Jharkhand area was known as Kukara. After the year 1765, it came under the control of the British Empire and became formally known under its present title, "Jharkhand" - the Land of "Jungles" (forests) and "Jharis" (bushes). Located on Chhota Nagpur Plateau and Santhal Parganas, has evergreen forests, rolling hills and rocky plateaus with many places of keen beauty like Lodh Falls. The subjugation and colonization of Jharkhand region by the British East India Company resulted in spontaneous resistance from the local people. Almost one hundred years before India’s First War of Independence (1857), Adivasis of Jharkhand were already beginning what would become a series of repeated revolts against the British colonial rule.

Pre-historic civilisations[edit]

Jharkhand's shared historical essence is as old as pre historic civilization that may even pre-date the legendary Harappa. An abundance of fossil remains and prehistoric artefacts in some places of Jharkhand point to the possibility that the transformation of homo erectus to homo sapiens took place in the Chotanagpur region.[1] This claim is based on the findings of hand axes and blades that are strewn here in the region of Pathalgarwa and number of stone weapons and tools such as axes, hammers, arrow-leads or agricultural implements found in the Godda district and pre-historic stone tools found in the river bed of Chila near Maluti, Dumka.[2] Archaeologists have also discovered certain remains of the Upper Palaeolithic(Stone-age civilisation) in Jharkhand.[3] Several remains of the stone-age civilization like Harappaan pottery have been found near Hazaribagh. According to some scholars, the language used by tribes in Jharkhand is nearer to the one used by Harappa people.[4]

Stones found in Maluti, Dumka

The epics period[edit]

Even before the period of Magadha Empire, there was already a distinct geo-political, cultural entity called Jharkhand.[4] In epic period, Jharkhand became the site of cultural development, which affects Indian and nearby regions. Jharkhand witnessed the growth of present concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sarnaism. Different portions of nowadays Jharkhand was tributary to Anga, Magadha, Kalinga and Kikat kingdoms at Mahabharat period.


Districts of Santhal Parganas along with the parts of Bhagalpur division of Bihar was part of Anga at Mahabharat period. Anga was counted among the "sixteen great nations" (solas Mahajanapadas) of India.

Main article: Anga
Anga pradesh in Bihar and Jharkhand
Manjusha Art of Anga region
Ancient Shiva Jyotirlinga temple at Deogarh

Kikat Pradesh[edit]

Kikat Pradesh of Mahabharat epic era was located at the region around Giridih district.[1] Later this region became one of the most important site of Jainism. Parasnath hill (Shikharji) of Giridih district was the jain pilgrim site, where concepts of 'Jainism' grown. It is believed that here twenty out of total twenty-four Tirthankaras ( propagators) of Jainism attained Nirvana, a state of mokṣa through meditative concentration. The word Parasnath is derived from Parshvanatha, the twenty-third Tirthankara to attain nirvana at the site.

Shrines at Parasnath hill (Shikharji)

Nagvanshis of Chotanagpur[edit]

The name Nagpur is probably taken from Nagavanshis, who ruled in this part. Chota (Hindi-छोटा) is a corruption of the word Chhutia (Hindi-छूटिया), a village in the outskirts of Ranchi, which has the remains of an old fort belonging to the Nagavanshis.[5] The first Nagvanshi ruler was Phani Mukut Rai born in 64 AD.[6] He was the adopted son of Madra Munda, the Partha Raja of Sutiambe. It is said that when Phani Mukut Rai was found near a tank as a newborn, a hooded kobra (Nag) was protecting him. Perhaps this was the reason why he and his successors were called the Nagvanshis. Phani Mukut Rai ruled from 83AD to 162 AD. Nagvanshis ruled over Chhotanagpur plateau in India for close to two thousand years, from the 1st century to 1951 when the Zamindari was abolished.This would put the Nagvanshis among the top dynasties that ruled the longest in the world, which include the Dulo clan in Bulgaria, The Imperial House of Japan and Hong Bang dynasty of Korea.

Mughal period[edit]

In ‘Akbarnama’ the region of Chhotanagpur is described as Jharkhand (Jangal Pradesh). The Jharkhand region was famous by another name Khukhra during the Mughal period which was famous for its Diamonds. Akbar was informed of a rebel Afghan sardar, Junaid Kararani, was taking shelter in Chotanagpur. Besides, the emperor also got information of diamonds being found in this area. Consequently, Akbar ordered Shahbaz Khan Turbani to attack Kokhra (the then seat of Nagvanshi kings and capital of Chotanagpur). At that time Raja Madhu Singh, the 42nd Nagvanshi king was ruling at Kokhra. Consequently Kokhra was subdued by the armies of Akbar and a sum of rupees six thousand was fixed as its annual revenues payable to the Mughals. Till the reign of Akbar, Chotanagpur had not come under the suzerainty of the Mughals and the Nagvanshi rulers had been ruling over this region as independent rulers.

By the advent of the reign of Jahangir, Nagvanshi Raja Durjan Sal had come to power in Chotanagpur. He refused to pay the rent fixed by the Emperor Akbar. Jahangir ordered Ibrahim Khan (governor of Bihar) to attack Kokhra.[7] The details of this invasion are mentioned in Jahangir’s memoirs, Tuzk-e-Jahangiri. There was also another reason behind the invasion. This was the acquisition of the diamonds found in the bed of the river Sankh in the region. Due to its diamonds Chotanagpur was also known as Heera Nagpur and its Raja Durjan Sal, being an expert of diamonds, was known as Heera Raja among the people. Thus to subdue the Raja of Chotanagpur and to acquire valuable diamonds, Jahangir decided to invade chotanagpur. On getting orders from the emperor, Ibrahim Khan marched against Kokhra in 1615 AD. He entered the Nagvanshi territories easily with the help of his guides. The Nagvanshi Raja Durjan Sal found himself beleaguered himself within the hills and vales. He fled and was at last found in a cave with some of his family members. He was arrested and all diamonds which were in the possession of Durjan Sal and his family were captured by Ibrahim Khan. Twenty four elephants also fell into the hands of Ibrahim Khan. After this, Kokhara was subdued and the diamonds found there were sent to the Imperial court. After his defeat and arrest, Durjan Sal offered as ransom jewels, gold and silver to the value of crores of rupees, but Ibrahim Khan did not release him and took him as a captive to Patna. From there he was sent to the Imperial court and subsequently imprisoned in the fort of Gwalior. According to Nagvanshi traditions and Col. Dalton, Raja Durjan Sal’s confinement lasted twelve years. Ultimately, the very diamonds which had caused the misfortune of Durjan Sal secured him his release and former prosperity. It so happened that from some place, two very large diamonds were brought to Emperor Jahangir’s court. A doubt arose in the mind of the Emperor over the genuineness of one of them. As no one in his court was able to confirm or relieve his suspicion, the Heera Raja was brought to the Imperial court from his incarceration. When the two diamonds were brought before him, he without any hesitation pointed out the fake one. To prove it to the court and the Emperor, he requested two rams to be brought to the court. He then tied the two diamonds on the horns of the two rams and made them fight each other. As a result of the fight, the fake diamond shattered but there was no scratch on the pure one. The Emperor was so impressed and pleased with Durjan Sal that he not only released him but also restored the prosperity taken from him in addition to his kingdom. The generous Durjan Sal further begged the Emperor to release the other Rajas who had been his companions in prison and his prayer was granted. Being pleased with Durjan Sal, Jahangir conferred the title of ‘Shah’ on the Kokhra ruler. On his return to Chotanagpur, Durjan Sal assumed the title of Maharaja and changed his surname. Most probably from that time ‘Shah’ was added with the names of the Nagvanshi kings. The reign of Durjan Sal lasted for about thirteen years. He died in 1639 or 1640 AD.


In 1595, Subehdar (Governor) Man Singh laid the foundations of a new capital of Bengal Subah at Rajmahal of district Sahebganj, Jharkhand[8] It is an historic town situated on the west bank of the Ganges, and located in the hills known as Daman-i-Khoh (now Rajmahl hills) during the Muslim rule. It appears to have been chosen as the site of the capital on account of its central position with reference to Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand and for its command of both the river Ganges and the pass of Teliagarhi. Man Singh built a palace there, a fort, and also a Jama-i-Masjid (known as Hadafe Mosque).

Later Shah Shuja was appointed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as the Subahdar of Bengal Subah.[9][10] He was the second son and child of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his queen Mumtaz Mahal. In 1639, Shah Shuja set up his capital again at Rajmahal. The prince built the famous palace called Sang-i-dalan (Stone Palace) for his own residence with an attached Diwan khana (audience hall).

Jungle Terai[edit]

The entire Santhal Parganas along with portions of the present Hazaribagh and Munger, Jamui, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Saharsa, a part of Purnia and Bhagalpur, districts was termed as “Jungle Terai” by the English on assumption of Diwani in Sept. 1763 from Shah Alam II at Allahabad after the Allahabad Treaty.

Santhal rebellion[edit]

Attack by 600 Santhals upon a party of 50 sepoys, 40th regiment native infantry

The Santhal rebellion (Santhal Hool) was a native rebellion in present day Santhal Parganas, Jharkhand against both the British colonial authority and zamindari system by the Santhal people. The first spark of the revolt was ignited at Littipara, Pakur.[11] Kena Ram Bhagat was a leading merchant and moneylender of Amrapara, Pakur. The altercation, which took place, led to the arrest of Baijai Manjhi, who was sent to Bhagalpur jail where he died shortly after without any trial. His son Singrai raised the banner of revolt who was also hanged in Barhait, Sahebganj district after summary trial. Santhal hul started on June 30, 1855 and on November 10, 1855 martial law was proclaimed which lasted until January 3, 1856 when martial law was suspended and the movement was brutally ended by troops loyal to the British Raj. The rebellion was led by the four Murmu Brothers - Sidho, Kanhu, Chand and Bhairav. Sidhu Murmu had accumulated about ten thousands Santhal to run parallel government against British rule. On 30th June 1855, a large number of Santals assembled in a field in Bhognadih village(near Barharwa town) of Santhal Parganas, They declared themselves as free and took oath under the leadership of Sido Murmu and Kanhu Murmu to fight unto the last against the British rulers as well as their agents. The basic purpose was to collect taxes by making his own rule. Soon after the declaration the Santals took to arms. Many moneylenders and native agents of the Company were killed. Local British administrators took shelter in the Pakur Fort to save their life. At the outset, Santal rebels, led by Sido and Kanhu, made tremendous gains and captured control over a large tract of the country extending from Rajmahal hills in Bhagalpur district to Sainthia in Birbhum district. The primitive weapons of the Santals, weren't a match against the musket and cannon firepower of the British. Elephants supplied by the Nawab of Murshidabad were used to demolish Santal huts and likewise profound atrocities were committed by the British army in quenching the Rebellion. British Government had announced an award of Rs. 10,000 to arrest Sidhu and his brother Kanhu Murmu. It is believed that Sido was captured by the British forces through treachery and Kanhu through an encounter at Uparbanda. And was subsequently killed in captivity. Of the 60,000-odd tribesmen who had been mobilised in the rebellion, over 15,000 were killed, and tens of villages were destroyed.[12] The legend of the Santal Rebellion lives on as a turning point in Santal pride and identity.

Main article: Santhal rebellion

Jharkhand Statehood[edit]

Jharkhand state was formed on 15 November 2000 after almost half a century of people's movements to evolve a Jharkhandi identity, which disadvantaged societal groups articulated to augment political resources and influence the policy process in their favour. It is the 28th state of India. The Jharkhandi identity and the demand for autonomy was not premised solely on the uniqueness of its tribal cultural heritage but was essentially a fallout of the failure of development policy to intervene in socio-economic conditions of the adivasis and non-adivasis in the region.

The dynamics of resources and the politics of development still influence the socio-economic structures in Jharkhand, which was carved out of the relatively under developed southern part of Bihar. According to the 1991 census, the state has a population of over 20 million out of which 28% is tribal while 12% of the people belong to scheduled castes.

Timeline for Jharkhand[edit]

Ancient Jharkhand[edit]

  • 3000 BCE: Mahabharata period, portions of Jharkhand was tributary to Anga, Magadha, Kalinga and Kikat kingdoms
  • 777 BCE: Parshvanatha (twenty-third Tirthankara of Jainism) achieved mokṣa at Shikharji, Giridih district
  • 500 BCE: The age of Mahajanpadas (the emergence of 16 large states that controlled the entire Indian subcontinent), the northern portion of Jharkhand state was a tributary to Magadha (ancient Bihar) Empire and southern part was a tributary to Kalinga (ancient Orissa) Empire.
  • 83:Establishment of Nagavanshi kingdom at Chotanagpur
  • 1200: around 13th century, Raja Jai Singh Deo of Orissa had declared himself the ruler of Jharkhand.

Muslim rule[edit]

British rule[edit]

  • 1757–1857: The British East India Company expands it rule into Bihar and Jharkhand from Bengal
  • 1772-1780: Paharia revolt
  • 1780-1785: Tilka Manjhi led the tribal revolt and managed to injure the British army Chief. In 1785, Tilka Manjhi was hanged to death in Bhagalpur
  • 1795-1800: Tamar revolt
  • 1795-1800: Munda revolt under the leadership of Vishnu Manaki
  • 1800-1802: Munda revolt under the stewardship of Dukhan Manaki of Tamar
  • 1819-1820: Munda revolt in Palamu under the leadership of Bhukan Singh
  • 1832-1833: Khewar revolt under the leadership of Bhagirath, Dubai Gosai and Patel Singh
  • 1833-1834: Bhumji revolt under the leadership of Ganga Narain of Birbhum
  • 1855: Santhals waged war against the permanent settlement of Lord Cornwallis
  • 1855-1860: During the late 1850s Sidhu Murmu had accumulated about ten thousands Santhal to run parallel government against British rule. The basic purpose was to collect taxes by making his own laws. British Government had announced an award of Rs. 10,000 to arrest Sidhu and his brother Kanhu Murmu
  • 1856-1857: Martyr Sahid Lal, Vishwanath Shahdeo, Sheikh Bhikhari, Ganpatrai and Budhu Veer led a movement against the British Government during India’s First War of Independence, 1857, also called Sepoy Mutiny
  • 1874: Kherwar Movement shot into fame under the leadership of Bhagirathi Manjhi
  • 1875:15 Nov., Birth Day of Birsa Munda, (Birth Place - Ulihatu, Ranch)i
  • 1895-1900: Movement against the British raj led by Birsa Munda
  • 1900:9 June., Death of Birsa Munda in Ranchi Jail, due to Cholera, according to records of the British colonial government.
  • 1912: Province of undivided Bihar and Orissa separated from Bengal
  • 1914: The Tana Bhagat resistance movement started, which gained the participation of more than 26,000 adivasis, and eventually merged with Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha and Civil Disobedience movement.
  • 1929: Simon commission presented with a memorandum which demanded the information of Jharkhand state


  • 1947: 15 August, Indian Independence; Bihar (including Jharkhand as southern part of Bihar) becomes a state in the new Dominion of India. Religious violence leads to the migration of millions of Muslims to the new Pakistani states of Sindh and East Pakistan (East Pakistan known as Bangladesh since 1971).
  • 1947: In Dec. 28 All India Jharkhand Party lead by Indian hockey captain and Oxford-returnedJaipal Singh came into inception.
  • 1950: Enactment of Land Reforms bill in Bihar, and abolishment of Zamindari system
  • 1951: Jharkhand party was elected to Vidhan Sabha as a main opposition party.
  • 1955: The Birla Institute of Technology is established at Mesra, Ranchi
  • 1956.: An area in the south-east, predominantly Purulia district, was separated from Bihar and incorporated into West Bengal as part of the Linguistic Reorganization of Indian States.
  • 1969: Shibu Soren founded the Sonat Santhal Samaj
  • 1977: Jharkhand party proposed for separate Jharkhand state which included not only Chotanagpur and Santhal Parganas of Bihar but adjoining area of Bengal.
  • 1986: September 25, All Jharkhand Students Union gave its first call for Jharkhand bandh, it was a huge success.
  • 1995: Jharkhand area autonomous council was formed which comprised 18 districts of Santhal Pargana and Chotnagpur and Shibu Soren, the leader of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was nominated as the Chairman.
  • 1997: July, Shibu Soren offered support to minority government of Laloo Prasad Yadav with a condition of a separate Jharkhand bill in the assembly

Jharkhand statehood[edit]

  • 2000: August 2, Parliament of India passed the Bihar Reorganization Bill to create the state of Jharkhand, carving 18 districts out of Bihar to form Jharkhand state on 15 November 2000.
  • 2000: 15 November, Jharkhand becomes a 28th state of India. Bihar divided into two states by NDA central government - The northern part retains the name Bihar, whilst southern (and more industralised region) becomes the State of Jharkhand.
  • 2001: The Jharkhand Government formed four more districts- Simdega, Latehar, Saraikela, and Jamtara.
  • 2003: On 22 December Santhali language belongs to Jharkhand included in 8th schedule of Indian constitution, thus Santhali become the first tribal language which got place in Indian constitution.
  • 2012: The Jharkhand government announced a ban on the manufacturing, storage, distribution or sale of gutka, pan masala, zarda and other chewable products containing tobacco and nicotine.
  • 2013: Jharkhand received silver medal at the National e-Governance Awards 2012-13 under Exemplary Reuse of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) category[13]
  • 2014: December 28, Raghubar Das, belongs to Bharatiya Janata Party became first non-tribal Chief Minister of Jharkhand

See also[edit]