History & Legend
Sambalpur was under the rule of Patnagarh
kingdom. Patnagarh kingdom was handed over to the king of Vizianagaram by
Prataprudra Dev who was defeated in a war. When Vizianagaram kingdom became
weak and was nearing its fall, Narasingh Dev declared Patnagarh as an
independent kingdom with the help of his great warrior brother Balaram
The independent kingdom of Patna was ruled
by Narasingh Dev between 1540 A.D. to 1547 A.D. The capital of the kingodm
was near the present Patnagarh town on the bank of the river Mayabati. It is
said that in the midnight of the dark fortnight of sravana in the
rainy season the queen of king Narasingh Dev suffered from intense labour
pain and her life was in danger. A traditional mid-wife, expert in
delivering children, lived in a village on the other side of the river
Mayabati. But the river was in full spate with swift current. Balaram Dev
swam across the flooded river and brought the mid-wife from her village on
his shoulder. With the care and treatment offered by the mid-wife the queen
delivered a son who was named Hamir Dev. King Narsingh Dev was greatly
pleased by the valour of his younger brother Balaram Dev and granted the
large tract of land in his favour which later became the kindgom Huma Desh
and later came to be widely known as the independent kingdom of Sambalpur.
Some years later, the queen-mother asked
her son Narasingh Dev and Balaram Dev to accompany her to a place known as
Kalapathar on the bank of the river Anga. Standing at a vantage point she
faced towards the kingdom of Patna and pointing out the territory to king
Narasingh Dev said that he would be the independent king of Patna state. She
again faced towards Huma Desh and indicating the vast territory, told her
younger son Balaram Dev that he would be the independent king thereof. Thus
was born the kingdom Huma Desh later known as the kingom of Sambalpur.
Balaram Dev ruled Samablpur some time between 1540 A.D. to 1557 A.D.
Chowhan Dynasty in Huma Desh
King Balaram Dev established the Chowhan
dynasty in Huma Desh with the capital at Bargarh (near the mordern town of
Bargarh) on the left bank of the river Jira. For military reasons or for
smooth governance of the vast territory, later on he shifted the capital to
Nuagarh, near the Barapahar range of mountain and then camped at Chaunrpur
on the right bank of Mahanadi (near the existing Chaunrpur village) to
select a new place as his capital. Balaram Dev, besides being a great
warrior was also a keen hunter.
Hounds and Rabbits
It is said that on a particular day he
crossed river Mahanadi and came to the right bank with his hounds for
hunting. While hunting, he noticed a miracle. He saw that his hounds,
instead of chasing a small rabbit, were being hotly chased by the rabbit
itself. It seemed his hounds were in mortal fear of the rabbit. The king
stood stunned and later noticed that the rabbit returned to the foot of a
huge simili tree on the left bank of Mahanadi and disappeared.
Balaram Dev returned to his camp and had a strange dream at night. Goddess
Samaleswari manifested herself before him and said that she was residing in
gumadarha inside the river and that he should establish her at the
foot of the simili tree and build a temple. She blessed the king and
vanished. Next morning Balaram Dev made up his mind and considering the
importance of the left bank of Mahanadi on the ground of religion and
administration he established his fort. He installed Goddess Samaleswari
under the simili tree and built a temple. Sambalpur was a small
village at that time. Samaleswari temple was built some time in the middle
of 16th century. It was rebuilt by the 7th independent king of Sambalpur
namely Chhatra Sai Deo who reigned during 1657 to 1665 AD. and endowed vast
landed property for seva and Puja of the deity to a group of sevayats. Some
historians say that, the idol of goddess Samaleswari under the simili
tree was worshipped by tribals since third century A.D. till the temple was
built by Balaram Dev.
Legend of Kalapahar
According to legend Kalapahar, military
commander of the nawab of Bengal, in course of one of his visits to
Sambalpur camped with a huge army at a place near Durgapali on the bank of
Mahanadi beyond the temple Samaleswari. He had a huge drum made of cow hide
and had oversized bells (Hulgulas). It is said that with the beating of the
drum and the confusing noise made by the bells (Hulgulas), the limbs of
deities of the temple automatically disappeared. The intention of Kalapahar
was to destroy the temple of Samaleswari and other temples in the historic
town of Sambalpur and deities installed therein. Before Kalapahar could
start the depredation, in a fine evening, a beautiful milk-maid dressed up
in gold jewellery with a basket of milk, curd and cheese on her head,
reached the camp of Kalapahar. She sold the articles to Kalapahar and his
army. Next morning it is said that the entire army including Kalapahar
suffered rom cholera and other allied diseases causing total chaos.
Kalapahar abandoned invasion of the temple and left the territory with
surviviors of his army leaving most of his armoury, the huge drum and the
brass bells (Hulgullas). It is believed that the Goddess Samaleswari
manifested hereself in the form of a milk-maid and caused devastation in the
army of Kalapahar. Whether this is a fact or fiction no one can say, but for
many years, a huge drum and a large number of bells used to be kept at the
Mukhashala of the Samaleswari temple. Even a large number of tombs believed
to be those of the dead soldiers of Kalapahar are found in a mango grove
near Samaleswari College building on the bank of river Mahanadi.
There are many legends in connection with
the temple and in reality the devotees feel the presence of such power in
the day to day affairs.
It is konwn that one person namely
Krupasindhu Panigrahi and his wife were buried in the foundation of the
temple during construction. In course of time human sacrifice was
discontinued and the practice of sacrificing buffalo was adpoted. Again in
course of time this practice was also abandoned. The last buffalo sacrifice
in the temple was within a couple of decades which is in public memory. It
is heard that in ancient times human sacrifice was offered once in a year.
Human sacrifice was stopped following miracle of Maa Samaleswari with a
saint from Amritsar, who became the Mahanta of Gopaljee Math later on.
Maa Samaleswari has a very special place
in the hearts of the people of Western Orissa and Chhattisgarh.