By: Shibashish Mahapatra
Heritage Buildings Of Sonepur Princely State. The present Subarnapur town is regarded as one of the oldest cities in Odisha. The chronological history of Subarnapur district can be dated from 8th century AD, when it was known as Swarnapur and was a part of Khinjali Mandal, ruled by the Bhanjas as the feudatory of the Bhaumakaras of Toshali. The District was ruled by many dynasties from its past. Madan Gopal, who laid the foundation of the Chouhan kingdom of Sonepur in AD 1640. Since then the Chouhans ruled over Sonepur Princely State kingdom till its merger with the Orissa province on 1st January 1948 and became a Sub–Division under Bolangir District.
(Sonepur College Building in Mitrodaya House)
The region of Bir Mitrodaya Singh Deo (AD 1902–1937) was regarded as the golden age for the all-round development of the kingdom. The British Govt. highly praised his sound administration and gave him the title of Maharaja. During his rule in 1905, Subarnapur kingdom was transferred from central provinces and was placed with the commissioner of Odisha division under West Bengal. Bir Mitradaya Singh Deo rendered a lot of help to the British Government during the First World War and for this help, he was rewarded with the title of K.C.I.E. and the title of Maharaja was made hereditary. He consolidated the Revenue laws and Rule of the kingdom and codified them in a book called “Bhumi Bidhi”. For financial support to different institutions and for the development of the state, the Subarnapur state Trust Funds was established in 1925. The Subarnapur chair in English at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack and the Subarnapur chair in Oriya at Calcutta University were established by his liberal donations. Maharaja B.M.Singh Deo had patronised a number of eminent scholars in his Durbar and published a large number of rare books. During his era, he built many buildings in his kingdom which were used as schools official buildings.
(H.H. Maharaja K.C.I.E Bir Mitrodaya Singhdeo Bahadur)
During his era, he made many schools, hospitals, roads and buildings. The palace on the bank of the river Mahanadi has a beautiful view. The building of the current police station was built by him during 1907. Apart from this, he has shown his interest in building Statue House, Mitrodaya Building, Engine House, Victoria Buildings etc. He was a visionary leader and during his time the region was well cultivated. He himself made many warehouses in his kingdom. These warehouses were in Binka, Rampur, Dunguripali, Saradhapali, Chadhepank, Tarbha, Arjunpur, Ulunda, Jaloe, Subalaya, Birmaharajpur etc. During the king’s visit, these places were used as royal rest houses. Many palaces were made in Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Cuttack and Puri by the king.
(Upper part of Royal Statue House)
The Statue house was a building of marvellous masonry workmanship with three giant statues of feudatory kings of Sonepur. After the statues were removed for auction in 1980, it served as a co-operative building. Subsequently it was demolished later on. The statues had original robes with gold and silver embroidery. A scared king auctioned everything before fleeing to Calcutta. He was apprehensive about his life. Apart from this, a part of the Sonepur Palace is now being used as the Cinema Hall. As there was no control the people from Sonepur looted everything from these places in the broad daylight.
(Arjunpur Royal Rest House)
Now many buildings from this Sonepur Princely State have lost their identity. The Mitrodaya house is where the Sonepur Raj College and the Sonepur Police station stand on the Police Station Statue House of the ancient kingdom. After the death of K.C.I.E Biromitrodaya Singh Deo all his efforts collapsed. During his son’s period, the Sonepur Kingdom was merged with Odisha. The next generation as well the government failed to store such beautiful and heritage buildings. The Government took interest in demolishing many buildings rather than maintaining them. The Dilbahalipur royal building which was once used as the prison for Praja Mandala Movement and the Royal Leprosy Building is going to lose its identity. The Royal Building in Arjunpur is waiting for its turn to be demolished.
(Rampur Rest House cum Warehouse)
We still have some buildings which can be maintained. The Rani Bakhri of Sambalpur got a new identity. Likewise, these buildings in Sonepur should get its old charm. The Kalapani in Andaman and the buildings of Ghens Zamindar are now historical monuments. The local government as well as the public should take some steps in the upbringing of these historical ancient buildings of Sonepur Princely State.
(The Sonepur Royal Palace)