Gunupur is the most easterly talak in the district and the richest in the Jeypore zamindari. It consists of a portion of the valley of the Vamsadhara and of the hills which enclose this. The valley is quite level (the western side of it most monotonously so) and in it is grown paddy which is the best in the district and is favourably known even in distant Calcutta. The outlet for this and other products is at present through the Parlakimedi zamindari of Ganjam to Chicacole, but when the line is opened to Parvatipur it will doubtless travel thither via Kurupam.
The hills on the west are called the Kailasakota hills and consist of a range averaging 2,500 feet high which divides the watersheds of the Vamsadhara and Langulya and near the top of which is an undulating plateau. They once contained quantities of sal, but little is left now. The hills on the eastern frontier are mainly inhabited by the Savaras (38 per cent, of the people of the taluk speak that language) and in them dwell the only remnants of the real hill Savaras who survive in this district.
These people have been referred to on p. 95 above. They are known for the industry with which they cultivate. They terrace the steep hill-sides with great revetments of stone, often fifteen feet deep ; grow splendid cholam twelve or fourteen feet high on the slopes; preserve every pound of fodder by cutting the crops close to the ground and storing the straw on platforms or up trees to save it from damp; and utilize for irrigation every rill in the country. Their well-kept fields, with the numerous ippa trees scattered about them, have been likened to Italian homesteads surrounded with their dark olives.
At the end of the eighteenth century the taluk was taken by force 1 from Jeypore by Narayana Deo of Kimedi. He gave it to his brother, Pratapa Deo, but the latter was eventually driven out by Sitarama Razu, diwan of Vizianagram, with the help of the Company's troops. Finding himself unable to manage it, Sitarama Eazu gave it back to Jeypore after he had held it three years. In 1803 Mr. Alexander reported that it was a kind of liereditary farm belonging to the family of a former patro or diwan, then represented by one Narayana Patro, who paid a rent of Rs. 15,000 for it. The attachments of this and the neighbouring tanas of Jeypore which were necessitated by the disturbances of 1849—50 and 1855-56 are referred to on pp. 268-9 below.
In July 1864 trouble occurred with the Savaras. One of their headmen having been improperly arrested hf the police of Pottasingi they effected a rescue, killed the Inspector and four constables, and burnt down the station-house. The Raja of Jeypore was requested to use his influence to procure the arrest of the offenders, and eventually twenty-four were captured, of whom nine were transported for life and five were sentenced to death and hanged at Jalteru, at the foot of the ghat to Pottasingi. Government presented the Raja with a rifle and other gifts in acknowledgement of his assistance. The country did not immediately calm down, however, and in 1865 a body of police who were sent to establish a post in the hills were attacked and forced to beat a retreat down the ghat. A large force was then assembled, and after a brief but harassing campaign the post was firmly occupied in January 1866. Three of the ringleaders of this rising were transported for life. The hill Savaras remained timid and suspicious for some years afterwards, and as late as 1874 the reports mention it as a notable fact that they were beginning to frequent markets on the plains and that the low country people no longer feared to trust themselves above the ghats.
The only places of interest in Gunupur taluk are the following : —
Gudari : Eighteen miles north of Gunupur, on the bank of the Vamsadhdra; the second largest village in the taluk (population 2,250) and the head-quarters of an amin of the Jeypore zamindari. The Gudari tana forms part of the estate of Naurangpur referred to in the account of the latter village below. Colonel Campbell, of the Meriah agency, was the first European to visit the place (in 1851) and he built a guard-house and small bungalow in it and left a guard of sibbandis there.
The town is healthy and is a centre for the trade in the produce of the country, especially sal wood, its inhabitants are largely immigrants from the plains.
Gunupur, the head-quarters of the deputy tahsildar and of an amin of Jeypore estate, contains (including its suburb Kapuguda) 5,187 inhabitants. The public buildings stand in Kapuguda and include the deputy tahsildar's cutcherry, built in 1900, a hospital (1890), school (1893) and travellers' bungalow. The place is picturesquely situated on the bank of the Vamsadhara and, though irregularly built, has a bright and busy appearance. It originally stood on the right (western) bank of the Vamsadhara, but one fine day the river turned to the south-west and flowed on the other side of it, and the village is now perched on a sort of island on the left (eastern) bank, with the old bed of the river to the east of it. In flood time this fact and the presence of several big channels on its southern side make the place almost inaccessible.
The Balaji math here contains a granite temple which is designed on generous lines and contains some excellent carving, but is only partly finished. It was begun by Balarama Das, the late mahant of the math, but before he could complete it he was turned out of his post in virtue of a decree of the courts obtained against him by the present Jeypore Maharaja, who himself claimed the position of dharmakarta. North of this temple are the remains of an extensive mud fort which is supposed to have been built by the Rajas of Kimedi. Within it, near a tamarind, is pointed out the spot where the wives of the renter Narayana Patro mentioned above committed sati on his death.
Jagamanda : Lies about thirteen miles north-east of Gunupur. On a small hillock near it is a little shrine to Mallikesvara svami which is known throughout the taluk. It is built in an uncommon fashion of big blocks of stone without the use of mortar; and the people believe that individuals afflicted with leprosy and similar diseases will be cured if they live in it for a fortnight or so and offer small pieces of their person as sacrifices to the deity.
- 1 See Proceedings of the Committee ot Circuit, dated 12th September 1784.