By: Shibashish Mahapatra
Odisha is surrounded by lush green forests, beautiful temples, amazing architecture and mind-blowing monuments. For Odisha and Odia, these things hold an important role. Historically and culturally, these are associated in the daily life of Odias. Back in history, many exciting events have taken place in all these areas, which still tremble in the body.
Bargarh district is known as the rice bowl of Odisha. Both from agricultural and historical points, this place is important. Today’s Bargarh district was a stronghold of the former state of Patna. All these forts were ruled by zamindars or Pattayat kings. In the past, there have been mass protests or rebellions against the British government in the region. The leader of one such rebellion was Vir Surendra Sai, the great freedom fighter of western Odisha.
The Papanga Hills, near the Bheden block in Bargarh district, are a blazing example of this. According to researchers and historians, the war hero Surendra Sai from this high mountain fought a guerrilla war against the British government. Its mute witness is the Surendra Sai Cave in the middle of the hill. Surendra Sai’s guerrilla warfare spread to Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The area was an impregnable fortress for the rebels because of its location and size.
One of Surendra Sai’s most trusted associates was the Veden zamindar. The Papanga hills were used because of the presence of this vein. In the tribal inhabited areas, steep hills rise and the thick forest helped those fighters to hide from the enemies. There is a triangular natural pond in the forest with all year round water.
The natural beauty of the Papanga Hills attract many people all year round and celebrates many festivals. Many tourists from outside Odisha, like from Chattisgarh, also come here for leisure. This is an important picnic spot on the tourist map of Odisha. The lush green zone is the main attraction along with the hill climbing experience.
There are some small temples on Papanga Hills. You have to climb a lot of cement steps to get in here. There are green trees and herbs on both sides of the road as well as steps. It seems like a difficult task without having prior experience of mountain climbing. The question that arises in my mind is how in the old days did the revolutionaries climb without step and proper way? After crossing the temple, the traditional footpath leads up the hill.
Among the temples here, the Ram temple is quite famous. These temples work as rest sheds for the climbers. Physical rest as well mental peace is required for climbing a hill and can be obtained from this temple. Drinking water and cold breeze are the important things one should experience here.
This can be very frustrating if you don’t have the habit of climbing hills. The temples and ponds in the woods are clearly visible from the top of the mountain. The surrounding area and the paddy fields look very beautiful. Cold winds over the mountains relieve the pain of climbing. The view is breathtaking with the calm cool breeze.
On the full moon day of Chaitra, the festival “Ban Bihar” is celebrated in the area. In addition, the Papanga Hills Festival is also celebrated annually by the state government’s Department of Culture. The deity worshiped in the area is “Budharaja“, located at the foot of the hill. Mother Samaleswari is also being worshiped here on the hill.
According to legend, Ma Samaleswari was established and worshiped by the hero Surendra Sai in the caves of the hill. The worship of Mother Samaleswari is still held at certain times of the year. According to locals, there are many miraculous, incredible and wonderful things happening here. Locals have many experiences and examples to share on such incidents.
In addition, the forest is rich in many medicinal plants. Many times a year, all these trees attract vine researchers and botanists. There is also a large mango orchard and other orchards at the foot of the hill. Many villages and settlements have been set up near. The people of the region are mainly dependent on agriculture.
The Papanga Hills is very important from the point of view of historical, scientific, tourism and research. Despite all these programs, the region would have developed if some additional arrangements had been made. Locals say the lights, drinking water, passenger restrooms and toilets are especially important along the all-day Pichu road. The local governments need to look into this.