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Kuiltas are an important caste of the Western Odisha region of India.They migrated from Kullu Velly Himachal Pradesh to MP, Chatishgarh and Western Orissa. Kuilta is synonymous with Kalita (but not same), a caste of north east India "Assam" and Kulata.They are Hindus and are of the Kshatriya/Kayastha caste system. Kulitas inhabited all areas of the plains of "Odisha" and, according to Sir Edward Gait, they were the numerically predominant caste of the province as well as its "enlightened and advanced community

History of Kuilta Caste[edit]

Like other Hindu social groups Kuilta/Kulata is a sub-branch of a major social group descending from north India(Kullu Velly, Himachal Pradesh). It has been clearly observed same type of culture and living style of people in kullu velly and UP,MP,Chatisgarh and Western Orissa. Raneswara Ramachandi is worshiped in Kullu Velly and in Western Orissa.

Due to geographical isolation and historical factors they developed their own social identity but rooted in greater Indian culture. They mixed with local tribes and derived their support in way of labour,land and social recognition to establish themselves They have greatest contribution in increasing the cultivable area of forest covered western part of Orissa and Chhatishgarh . Because of natural barrier like Mahanadi they have been separated from Chasa Kulata. For their peace loving nature some writers opine that Kulta might have followed Buddhism in the past.

Oral Tradition[edit]

It is said that during his exile, Lord Rama Chandra was wandering in the forests of Sambalpur region. Once, he met three brothers and asked them for water. Out of these brothers, one brought water in a clean brass pot and as such was called Sudh, meaning pure. The second brother made a dana (cup of leaves) and drew water from a well with a rope. Hence, he was known as Dumal, from the word for a coil of rope. The third brother is said to have brought water in a hollow gourd. So, he was named Kuilta, which is derived from the word Kurita, which means gourd. This narrative suggests that the Kuiltas, Sudhs and Dumal are connected Jātis (communities) in west Odisha.

According to another oral tradition, The Kuiltas migrated from Ayodhya to Boudh. Their ancestors were employed in the royal household of Dasharatha. They accompanied Rama Chandra, Lakshman and Sita in their exile and settled in Boudh. Sarsara and Jagati[disambiguation needed] of Boudh are considered to be the main centres of the Kuiltas.

Establishment in Odisha[edit]

The area of Boudh is regarded as the ancestral home of the Kuiltas. From there they migrated and settled in different parts of Odisha. The writings of Cobden Ramsay about the Kuiltas substantiate this contention. He writes that the Kultas worship the goddess Ramachandi, whose principal shrine is situated at Sarsara.

The Raja of Boudh provided a group of agriculturists to help alleviate the agricultural situation and brought food relief to Patnagarh.

Some Kuiltas might have migrated from Patnagarh to Bargarh Gaisama area during the last phase of the reign of Raja Ajit Singh of Sambalpur (1725–1766); but some of them migrated much earlier, in the first half of the sixteenth century AD during the reign of Raja Balaram Dev who constructed a fort in Bargarh and made it for some time his headquarters. There is a Kuilta dominated village named Kamgaon situated 13 km north of Bargarh. This village is a very old one and is said to have been established by the Kuiltas, when they migrated to this part of Bargarh from Boudh in around the first part of the sixteenth century AD. It contains a temple of Ramachandi, which is held in great veneration by the Kuiltas. Their chief families, the Bhois and the Pradhans, are its priests.

One Kuilta gauntia (village headman) of Patnagarh fled away with his men and property, crossed the border, which was the Ong River, and entered into the territory of Sambalpur. Thereafter, they marched further and reached Gaisama, situated 13 km southeast of Bargarh, and settled there. Bargarh was than an important seat of power and one of the eighteen garhas (forts) of Odisha. It was a flourishing centre of trade and commerce. It is known that Kuiltas were living in large numbers in the Bargarh area in the basins of the rivers, namely the Mahanadi, the Jira, the Ong and the Tel.

Regarding migration of Kuiltas to Gaisama/ Gaisima we find an interesting narrative. As per the tradition, there was a Kuilta gauntia family in Patnagarh in the reign of Raja Raisingh Dev as mentioned earlier. The surname of this family was Sahu. The gauntia had two sons named Kuvera Sahu and Amar Sahu and also a beautiful daughter. An influential noble of the royal family of Patnagarh was smitten with surpassing beauty of his only daughter and wanted her hand; but the proposal was not readily acceptable to the reigning beauty and her family. Apprehending trouble, one night the old gauntia left the territory of Patnagarh with his family and belongings loaded in one hundred carts and a thousand cows and bullocks. When exactly they left is difficult to say due to want of evidence. However, the Sahu family marched relentlessly throughout the whole night and crossed the river Ang/Ong. Reaching the territory of Sambalpur kingdom early in the morning, they heaved a sigh of relief. The old gauntia stood there and pointing his right hand towards the rising sun, took an oath that in future he or his descendant would never cross the river Ang/Ong. Thereafter, they proceeded further north, passed through Barpali, crossed the river Jira and spent the night on the northern bank of the river. At that time, Sambalpur was also passing through a phase of political turmoil. Raja Ajit Singh (1725-1766) the ruler of Sambalpur was an indolent and weak ruler. He was completely under the evil influence of his Dewan who was virtually ruling over Sambalpur kingdom. The ruler was taking very little interest in the administration of Sambalpur and his authority was grossly misused by the wicked and corrupt Dewan whose integrity was always doubted. From this, it can be inferred that the Kuiltas did not want to proceed further and finally decided to settle down there on the northern bank of the river Jira. In order to justify and legitimize their decision and for the concurrence of their ideas and opinions, probably the Kuiltas manufactured a myth which may be narrated in the following manner. At night, the old gauntia had a strange dream. A female deity appeared and told him not to proceed further. She told the old gauntia to settle down there with the lands as far as his cows and bullocks were then taking rest. Consequently, a new human settlement started at that place. Since the limits of this settlement were determined by the presence of the cows it was popularly called Gai-sima - Gai means cow and sima refers to boundary. Later on, Gaisama came to be known as Gaisama. The place Gaisama was named either after the creation of the myth or the myth might have been created so after the name of this place Gaisima/Gaisama. Subsequently, other sections of Kuiltas probably migrated to Bargarh area. Thus, it is known from history that the Kuiltas have been living in large number in Bargarh areas. The myth, however, is most important one and throws significant light on the socio-economic and political history as well as culture of Kosal region during the eighteenth century AD.

Kuiltas in Bargarh[edit]

As told in oral history, a year-long effort and struggle of the Kuiltas brought dramatic changes. They excavated some thirteen tanks round about their new settlement. The digging of tanks was meant for conservation of water for multiple purposes; but the Kuiltas utilized these tanks mainly for agricultural purposes during scanty rainfall and thereby cultivated the fertile lands successfully. In that area water is a far more important factor than soil to farmers. Artificial irrigation is absolutely necessary and is a matter of vital importance when the amount of rainfall is insufficient. The then British Political Agent, Cobden Ramsay, wrote that the Kulitas were excellent cultivators, very industrious and very skillful in irrigation.

Later on, some Kuiltas migrated to Kalahandi district from Sambalpur, most probably from Bargarh area, about the year 1867 to participate in the agricultural development of Kalahandi. In this context, it would not be unwise to mention the significant contribution of Raja Udit Pratap Deo (1853-1881 AD) of Kalahandi made towards the improvement of agriculture in his state. He was married to Asha Kumari Devi, the only issue of Maharaja Narayan Singh, the last ruler of Sambalpur.

The Kuiltas have the reputation of being very good cultivators (chasi) in west Odisha. In the past, irrigation was done mostly by tanks called kata, munda, or bandh. The very existence of villages over a large portion of the area is dependent on the tanks which have been constructed near them. Accumulated agricultural acumen of Kuiltas over the years has had a significant contribution towards the agricultural development of the region where they have settled. Today, agriculture is the key sector of this region's economy and bulk of its population primarily depend on agriculture for occupation and livelihood.Kuiltas had made a whole cycle of environment friendly economy. They are not only farmers but also the hub of economic,social,cultural & religious activities of the area they were living. With the advent of so-called advanced agriculture using dangerous pesticides and inorganic fertilizer we are producing more but is destroying the land, water, flora and fauna of the area and ultimately our civilization. The land is now addicted to pesticides and fertilizers and we are now forced to eat the foods produced in this polluted land and water. This has totally ruined the economy of the Kuilta and other farmers and has also ruined the future of our children. However Kuiltas & other farmers have understood it and have started green farming by using Vermi compost, Neem oil & other such environment friendly fertilizer, pesticides and management of water resources for better farming.

Religious traditions[edit]

Jagati and Sarsara have been a seat of Vaishnavism and Saivism from ancient times. Near the village Jagati at Gandharadi is situated the famous twin temples of Lord Nilamadhaba and Lord Siddheswara. The significance of the Gandharadi temples lies in the fact that they represent the harmonious co-existence of the two major religious faiths of West Odisha during that period. This type of twin temple constructed on a common platform are seen nowhere in the medieval period. Nilamadhaba temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu whereas Siddheswara temple is dedicated to Lord Siva. On the basis of the detailed analysis of structural and sculptural features, the temples have been dated to the later half of the eighth or first half of the ninth century AD (Senapati and Kuanr, 1983:379-80; Panda, 2004:22).

Thus, historically speaking, Kuiltas have been associated with a glorious religion-cultural tradition although their principal deity is Ramachandi. It was the period when Lord Vishnu elicited great reverence like Lord Siva in Jagati. The above analysis suggests that in Jagati a great civilization flourished since at least eighth century AD (Sahu and others, 1981:131; Senapati and Kuanr, 1983:33, 134, 379-80; Behera, 1991:310-11; Panda, 2004:22).

Surnames of Kuilta Caste[edit]

There are 120 surnames in Kuilta Caste.

  • Badhai {Bad Paria}, Badhei {Deshi},
  • Barik {Ganbahalia}, Barik {Gavnia}, Barik {Thukria}
  • Behera {Budha}, Behera {Gandharatia}, Behera {Ghusha}, Behera {Sudha}
  • Bhoi {Bad}, Bhoi {Jayetkara}, Bhoi {Mad Kurkria}
  • Bishal {Dahi}, Bishal {Goras}, Bishal {Gupta Payen Ana}, Bishal {Mahi}
  • Bishi {Bishipalia}, Bishi {Satria}
  • Budhia
  • Dehury {Bag}
  • Gadtia {Barpalia}, Gadtia {Bijepuria}, Gadtia {Guchar Singhia}
  • Gupta {Gandhardia}
  • Khamari {Jadu}, Khamari {Santria}, Khamari {Turia}
  • Kuilta {Bileigadia}, Kuilta {Debendra}, Kuilta {Kahalia}, Kuilta {Khura}, Kuilta {Raigadia }
  • Majhi {Bad}, Majhi {Mutha Maria}
  • Matha
  • Naik {Bana}, Naik {Dhanuka}, Naik {Kamria}, Nayak {Kundakhia}, Naik {Mud Katia}, Naik {Sambhari}, Naik {Sani}
  • Negi


  • Padhan (a){Turesinghia} (b){Panidia} (c) Padhan {Agalpuria} Padhan {Amudia} Padhan {Banjitalia} Padhan {Baragurlia}
  • Padhan {Barangpalia} Padhan {Baudia} Padhan {Bilasinghia} Padhan {Bilasinghia} Padhan {Chaklia} Padhan {Dhangadia}
  • Padhan {Dhangudia} Padhan {Gajarat} Padhan {Gandhardia} Padhan {Gudesingha} Padhan {Janakpuria} Padhan {Jatesinghia}
  • Padhan {Jatikara (Gajaraj)} Padhan {Jhupursinghia} Padhan {Kalamatia} Padhan {Katarbagia} Padhan {Khukhulia}
  • Padhan {Kirtania} Padhan {Kumelsinghia} Padhan {Landia} Padhan {Matesaria} Padhan {Raghunathpuria} Padhan {Rampuria}
  • Padhan {Ratanpuria} Padhan {Remendia} Padhan {Samasinghia} Padhan {Santria} Padhan {Sarsaria} Padhan {Sarsaria (san)}
  • Padhan {Tankdia} Padhan {Tapranga} Padhan {Tato Singh} Padhan {Thunthunia} Padhan {Thutrasia}
  • Patra {Deshi} Patra {Latasinghia} Patra {Raghunathpalia}
  • Raut {Duan} Raut {Kshetria}


  • Sahu {Agalpuria} Sahu {Ayodhya} Sahu {Banjitalia} Sahu {Barlasinghia} Sahu {Bhitiria} Sahu {Budhia}
  • Sahu {Chakapanjia} Sahu {Duan} Sahu {Ghurlipalia} Sahu {Gulmalia} Sahu {Hemgiria} Sahu {Jatikara}
  • Sahoo(nuapalia} Sahoo{Kamgia} Sahoo{Kumria} Sahoo{Lapangia} Sahoo {Mithila} Sahoo{Param keria}
  • Sahu {Patnia} Sahu {Pipingia} Sahu {Sadabartia} Sahu {Santria} Sahu {Sree Puria} Sahu {Takria}
  • Sahu {Tamia} Sahu {Taparkalia} Sahu {Tarijania} Sahu {Tasa} Sahu {Turia}
  • Samal {Banji} Samal {Lain} Samal {Sanji/Swain}
  • Raneswar {Ramachandi} /Baba

External links[edit]