Vizagapatam/Gazetteer/Naurangpur Taluk

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NAURANGPUR TALUK.


This comprises the north- western most corner of the district, and its southern boundary is the Indrávati river. After Malkanagiri, it is the largest taluk in the Presidency. It consists of a level plain, without hills of note, which lies about 2,000 feet above the sea and in the north falls gradually away to the valley of the Tél. The southern portion of it, round about the Indrávati, contains some of the most fertile land in all the district — wide expanses of paddy, fed by the heavy rainfall and dotted with patches of sugar-cane, wheat and Bengal gram, extending in every direction. The Mális, who are noted for their skill in cultivation, hold much of the best land. Further north the country is equally rich, but is very sparsely populated, hundreds of square miles crying aloud for exploitation. It consists of miles and miles of beautiful jungle, mostly sál, hidden among which are many little swampy glades in which paddy is grown. The road northwards alternately emerges into one of these glades and then buries itself again in the jungle.

About 1880 a number of people immigrated to this country from Kálahandi, because the umbrella-tax and other vexatious imposts had been laid upon them there; but in the decade 1891-1901 the population declined again considerably. Four-fifths of the inhabitants speak Uriya, but in the Tél valley the people resemble those of Kálahandi, being Gónds or Central Provinces traders with their attendant Brinjáris. These Brinjáris are found in this part in great numbers, and many villages are almost entirely occupied by them. From here come the gangs which trade with Sálúr. Two places of interest in the taluk are the following: —

Naurangpur is the station of the deputy tahsildar and of an ámin of the Jeypore estate. Population 3,203; height above the sea, 1,918 feet. It consists of one broad street, in which are the public offices and the residence of the ráni referred to below, with a few lanes on either side. The place is a great centre for the export of grain, and is known for the lac toys (see p. 129) which are made in it and for its splendid avenues and topes, one of which consists of a quadruple row of trees two miles long. It was once a centre for the reeling and weaving of tassar silk. The tána of Naurangpur (with that of Gudári in the Gunupur taluk) was granted by Rámachandra Deo II of Jeypore in 1820 to his nephew Krishna Deo and his brother Narasimha Deo jointly. The line of the former soon afterwards died out and the property descended to Chaitono Deo, the son of the latter. He was a loyal old gentleman and managed his property excellently. Most of the avenues and topes in Naurangpur were planted by him, and it was said that he insisted on there being a tank, a well and a tope in every one of his villages.

On his death in 1876 his three widows, usually known as the Naurangpur Ránis, retained possession of the estate, but in 1896 the present Mahárája resumed it. In 1900 two of the Ránis (the third had died) brought a suit in the Agent's Court for the recovery of the property and won their case. The Mahárája appealed to the High Court, but eventually (in 1904) a compromise was effected by which the estate (exclusive of its forests)was handed over for her life to the then surviving ráni, Sulóchana Patta Mahádévi, who now administers it, with the help of a díwán, independently of the Mahárája.

Pappadahandi: Eight miles north of Naurangpur at the point where the road to Maidalpur and Bhavánipatnam branches off from the main track to the Central Provinces; population 432; height above the sea, 1,922 feet. Contains a fine tope and good water, the remains of an old fort overgrown with jungle, and some magnificent banyan trees. The Déva Saras, or 'holy tank,' in it is well known. According to current tradition, whenever the wooden posts which represent the deity in the temples to Bhairavasvámi in this village and at Naurangpur become rotten, a new one miraculously appears in this tank. If it leans north it is assigned to the Pappadahandi shrine; if south, to that at Naurangpur. In either case it is taken from the tank with much ceremony. A new cloth is tied round it; silver eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc., are affixed to the upper end of it to cause it to resemble the deity; it is smeared with saffron; sacrifices are made to it; and it is taken in procession through eager crowds to the shrine for which it is destined, where yet more sacrifices accompany its formal installation.