In a petition to the State Culture Department, senior journalist Pradyumna Prasad Rath and social activist Bharat Das, president and secretary of Dhenkanal District Sakriya Nagarika Parishad respectively, have emphasised that the State Government take suitable steps for remembering the immortal contributions and sacrifices of some of the luminaries of Dhenkanal, including a few popular kings, to the development of the district, as they have gone unsung so far.
“Meanwhile we reportedly have forgotten to create awareness among our people on the origin of Dhenkanal and what was its status 1,500 years back. Similarly, many erstwhile kings, though have done a number of developmental works for Dhenkanal, but they have gone unsung. Only their faded photos are seen hung on the wall of ‘Rangmahal’ , a chamber in the royal palace of Dhenkanal. The Culture Department never thought of installing statues of those kings at public places,” they said, adding that thanks to Dhenkanal Municipality, though late, a statue of late Chief Minister Nandini Satpathy was installed at the Stadium Ground last year.
The book ‘Sahitya Darpana Re Dhenkanal Itihas’ written by late Surendra Mishra reveals that Dhenkanal was a dense forest thousand years back ruled by a tribal King Dhenka Sabara. The district has been named after him.
Dhenka Sabar was a powerful king and no one could defeat him as he was blessed by Goddess Bramhani Devi and possessed a divine bow and arrow that made him unbeatable. King of Besalia, Shreedhar Bhanja, however, nabbed Dhenka Sabar in a cowardly manner taking the help of a woman, selling curd to Dhenka. When the tribal chieftain came out of his den without his divine bow and arrow to fetch curd from the milk maid, the soldiers of Shreedhara Bhanja who were hiding earlier nabbed the tribal warrior and ultimately killed him.
Hari Singh Vidyadhar, the first king of the royal dynasty, was the general of Gajapati Maharaj Puri. Puri Gajapati, being pleased with his loyalty, adorned Hari Singh as king of villages Kabera and Karmul. In the process of expanding his kingdom, Hari Singh became the king of Dhenkanal defeating Shreedhara Bhanja. He chose the Paniohala hill range to build his palace, because he saw a rare event where a dove had overpowered a vulture. Hari Singh selected the place as his capital and renamed Dhenkanal as Garh Dhenkanal in 1580. One of his progeny Nrusingha Bhramarabar Ray founded the Sidha Balaram temple on the foothill of Paniohala and worshipped Lord Sidha Balaram installing the idol of the deity in it.
According to Prof Rama Chandra Das, Khurda Gajapati, when was planning to attack Dhenkanal kingdom, Lord Jagannath prevented him in a divine dream saying His elder brother Balaram is the presiding deity of Dhenkanal. So, the Gajapati made friendship with the Dhenkanal king and presented the Minaketan Dhanda. According to the ‘Samara Taranga’ written by famous poet of Dhenkanal Brajanath Badajena, Trilochan Mahindra Bahadur defeated Bada Sathia Batua. He was known as Vikash Purusa Bhagirath Mahindra Bahadur as he had founded a hospital, a post office, the Bhagirath Sagar Road, many educational institutions and settled agricultural lands among his subjects. King Sura Pratap constructed the Kashi Vishwanath temple, installed the Narayan idol and the Bhoga Mandap at Kapilash. King Sankar Pratap generated electricity in a power house near his palace and electrified nearby areas.
The District Sakriya Nagarika Parishad alleged that even though they have filed several petitions for remembering the kings and leaders of Dhenkanal, the authority has paid a deaf ear. Not a single statue of any of the kings has been installed in Dhenkanal, they lamented. Nor is any event celebrated officially to memorise them.