Madala Panji (Oriya: ମାଦଳା ପାଞ୍ଜି; mādaḷā pāñji) is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Odisha state, India. It describes the historical events of Odisha related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or the 14th century AD. The book is a classic and literary master piece of the Oriya language first order, parallel to which very few vernacular of India possess. It can be compared with Rajvansham of Sri Lanka, Rajtarangini of Kashmir or Burunji of Assam. The earliest use of prose can be found in the Madala Panji or the Palm-leaf Chronicles of the Jagannatha temple at Puri, which date back to the 12th century.
Madla Panji's role in Oriya history
While writing Oriya history, historians like Sir W.W.Hunter  and Andrew Stirling considered the facts related in Madala Panji as base. The Madala Panji was traditionally written on a year-to-year basis. On Vijaya-Dashami day, the Karanas (official history writers of Puri, a caste of Odisha, involved in keeping the chronicle. This ritual is cited as a proof that the tradition of keeping this chronicle began with Oriya king Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev (1078–1150) himself. There are some, like Dr. Harekrushna Mahatab, Dr.Nilakantha Dash and Dr. Krushna Chandra Panigrahi who hold that the Panji dates from the reign of Ramachandra Deva I who re-established the worship of Lord Jagannath after Kalapahad said to have destroyed it.The arguments are complex, but it is likely that much of the early record was indeed lost in the period that followed Kala Pahar and was rewritten in a fashion that mixed legend with history.
Writers of Panji
According to the tradition, Chodaganga created 24 families of Karanas to preserve the temple records. Of these, five were entrusted with the writing and preservation of the Madala Panji. They are:
- Panjia Karan—preserves the Madala Panji
- Tadau Karan—writes the Madala Panji
- Deula Karan—enforces the Madala
- Kotha Karan—the main compiler
- Baithi Karan – assistant
In subsequent stage, due to the bulky size of Madala Panji, its content covering different dimensions related to temple management, it was divided into four parts:
- Bhandara Khanja Madala (maintained by Pattajoshi Mohapatra)
- Deula Madala / Karmangi Madala (maintained by Deula Karana)
- Deshapanji Madala (prepared by Deula Karana)
- Rajakhanja Madala (prepared and maintained by Tadhau Karana),
Types of Panjis
There are also five different categories of Panjis. No one has seen them all.
- Raja Khanja—important events of the Rajas. Read on Paush Purnima (Pushyabhishek). Kept by Tadau Karan.
- Desh Khanja—Records gifts of land and money and occasions when the Jagannath temple was plundered. Kept by Kotha Karan.
- Karmangi. Daily rituals. Important events related to the rituals recorded. Announced daily at the Beherana.
- Dina Panji—The daily almanac read by the temple astrologer at the time of the Avakash. These were prepared annually and finalized on Vishuva Sankranti.
Besides the Madala, there were other Karans who wrote regional chronicles, known as Chakadas. "All the Kadatas and Chakadas taken together will be about a cartload."
Madala Panji in recent years
Madala Panji language is Oriya and was recorded in Oriya and Telugu script, preserved in the Manuscript Library in Madras, which speaks about the story regarding image of Nila Madhaba or Lord Jagannath of Udra desa, as Odisha was known in Middle Ages. It seems to have re-written during 16th century when the king of Khurda had newly installed the images after destruction made by Kalapahad, Muslim general of Nawab of Bangal.
A thorough study of the Madala Panji using all the different source materials has apparently not yet been done.