The district of Balangir named after the headquarters town of Balangir is situated in the western part of Odisha and is one of the major commercial townships of Western Odisha. Balaram Deo, the brother of Narasimha Deo, the 19th Raja of Patna, is said to have established the town of Balangir. As Balaram Deo is known to have flourished in the middle of 16th century, the origin of the town has also been attributed to that period. However no recorded evidence to support this has been found.
Flanked by the Gandhamardan hill in the North-west and rock-infested Mahanadi in the North-east, the district is traversed by many hill streams. The district is one of the dreaded trio of the KBK region, considered to be one of the least developed region in the State. Ranipur-Jharial in Balangir district is one of the place of historical importance, which was known for its Tantra-Vidya throughout India.
The district of Bolangir lies between 20º 11′ North – 21º 05′ North Latitude and 82º 41′ East – 83º 40′ East Longtude. It is flanked in the North-west by the Gandhamardhan Hills, a name of Ramayan fame, the North- east by the rock infested Mahanadi. The district is bounded by Sonepur in the East, Nuapara in the West, Kalahandi in the South and Bargarh in the North. The district is situated in the valley of rivers like Ang & Tel. The important tributaries of Tel are Lanth, Sonegarh & Suktel.It is the nature’s cradle for tribes like Kutia, Khonds, Binjhals & Gands. The district is famous through centuries for the Bhulias & Kastias, master craftsmen who work excellent motifs on cotton & tassar fabrics.
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Like all the other districts of the State, Bolangir is also well connected by road & rail services with the other parts of the State and neighboring States. The nearest airport is at Raipur and Bhubaneswar, which are at a distance of 184.2 km and 263 km respectively.
The airway connection is available from Bhubaneswar & it is well connected by roadways.
The stations of Bolangir are important for the trains passing through Rayagada (Odisha) to Raipur, Rourkela & Hatia, Bolangir to Bhubaneswar, etc.
Roadways: Roadways are the most important transport facility of the district. The roads are connected with different places through National Highways, State Highways and local roads.
Where to stay?
Although the availability of big star hotels are negligent in the district, accommodation facilities in the district is at par with other districts of the State. A number of good hotels are available in the district.
- SivaratriBig fairs are held on the occasion and in some places it continues for 3 to 4 days. People from far and wide assemble at these places and observe the festival praying to lord Siva through out the night without sleeping.
- Patkhanda YatraVillage ‘Jarasingha’ is famous for the Patkhanda Jatra which takes place in the month of “Aswina” from 8 th to 10th day of the bright fortnight. A man locally called “Barua” becomes possessed by the spirit of Goddess “Patakhanda” and under that condition he is believed to bestow miraculous boons on devotees. People suffering from mental diseases are brought here for cure and barren women also come here in large numbers with the hope of getting a child by the blessing of Goddess Patkhanda.
- Nrusingha Chaturdasi MelaThis festival is observed on the 14th day of the bright fortnight of “Baisakh” at Harisankar. This festival is a synthesis of the cult of Hari and Sankar. Large number of pilgrims gather here on this day and take their bath in the perennial water fall. Near Harisankar there is a small village named Dhandamunda, where a festival is observed on this very day called Hariharabheta Jatra. It is a very popular festival in the district.
- Ratha YatraCar festival is also observed in this district in the month of “Asadha” at places like Balangir, Patnagarh and Baliamunda.
- Kandado YatraIt is observed by the Gonds of the district. Kandado Jatra is observed in the month of “Margasira”.
- NuakhaiThe Nuakhai ceremony is held some times during “Bhadra Pada” (August- September) when new paddy of the year ripens. This is observed in very Hindu home. People on this occasion offer preparation of the new crops to various Gods and to ancestors after which they take food in a ceremonious manner. Both rich and poor wear new clothes and enjoy the day.
- Puojiuntia and Bhaijiuntia The Puojiuntia and the Bhaijiuntia ceremonies are held on the day of the dark fortnight and on the 8th day of the bright fortnight in the month of “Aswina”. The former is celebrated by mothers and the later by sisters wishing long life and prosperity of their sons and brothers respectively. On the occasion of Puojiuntia all mothers fast for the whole day and night and worship the deity called “Dutibahana”. On the occasion of Bhaijiuntia the sisters worship goddess “Durga”. New clothes are presented by son to mother and also by brother to sister.
- Laxmi PujaLaxmi Puja is performed on every Thursday in the month of Margasira.
- Danda NataThis is mainly a ritual dance and is performed during the Chaitra parva festival in the month of April. Only men perform the dance. As it is a ritual dance there is no class distinction for participation. Dhol and a Mahuri are the only accompanying instruments in this dance.
- Ghoomra DanceGhoomra is a typical drum after which the dance is named. It is a clay pitcher, the mouth of which looks like a cylinder. The mouth is covered with the skin of the monitor lizard known as Godhi and it is played with both the hands. All the dancers play this drum while dancing. They hold it on the shoulder and fasten it tightly on the waist, so that during the dance it may not swing.
At the beginning, the dancers, who are all male play with the drum and walk happily in a circular pattern. In the middle two persons playing on big drums called Nisan and Khol conduct the spirit of the dance. After dancing for some time in different forms the dancers make circles and stand in a line after which a singer sing in praise of Saraswati and other Gods and Goddesses. During the dance songs, drums are not played. When the song is over, the dancers dance for sometime with various steps and movements. Stories from Ramayan, Mahabharata and other purans form the main theme of their song. The dancers bend forward the backward, some time in half squatting position and some time fully sitting on the ground.
- Dalkhai DanceSuch type of dance is performed mostly by group of teen aged girls who stand in a line or in semicircular form holding shoulder to shoulder and sing song which are commonly known as Dalkhai songs. They sing for a while and then dance by bending forward in a half squatting posture. The Dhol Nisan, Tanki, Tasa and Mahuri are the associated instruments of the dance.
- Keisabadi DanceOnly men can take part in Keisabadi dance. Some of them hold a stick two feet in length. They dance in different forms by striking the sticks according to the rhythms of the song they sing. The leader sings first and others follow him. They sing in local dialect and in every stanza they shout “Haido”. The main theme of the song is derived from the love story of Radha and Krishna.
The district which is famous for its natural beauty and the tribal establishment, is honored with a number of visiting places that charms the tourists. The places have their own appeal and are loved by the tourists for their relaxing atmosphere. Be it bathing and relaxing in the perennial stream, which trickles down the flank of famous Harishankar Temple, the opportunity of viewing both Lord Hari and Shankar in one shrine, the sight of numerous temples dotting the rocky outcrop of Ranipur-Jharial or the excavating, breathtaking sight of Patnagarh which nobody has the audacity to match in the State, the tourists here enjoy to the fullest. A drive to any place of tourist interest in the district always calls for passing through a forest cover. All the factors make Balangir a hot-spot for tourists.