The Brief History of Kanika Gada (Part I)

By: Rusiraj Pattanayak

Kanika is a town in the Province of Odisha, in the district of Cuttack, 80miles north-east from the town Cuttack. This was the capital of one of the Tributary States in Cuttack (subject to the British regulations), the exact limits of which had never been ascertained, but which had been roughly estimated at 75miles from north to south by 50 from east to west.

Prior to the acquisitor of Cuttack by the British, the Raja of Kanika, who possessed this inundated & unhealthy tract of country, had long baffled the Marhatta generals in all their attempts to subdue him. The Marhattas had been accustomed to embark troops & artillery on large, unwieldy flat- bottomed boats, unmanageable in large streams or near the sea, in consequence of which their ill-constructed fleets always fell a prey to the Raja’s light-armed vessels, which were long, narrow, with barricades to cover the men, & some of them having too paddles or oars. When these squadrons met, the Odia boats moved quickly round the heavy Marhatta armada & picked off the men with their matchlocks, until the remainder were compelled to surrender, when they were carried into a captivity from whence they seldom returned, the pernicious atmosphere of these wet grounds permitting none to live but the aborigines.

The following extracts from Government publications will throw a light on the status of the Killa and the history of this ancient dynasty and Raj family:
“The ancestors of the present Raja of Kujanga & Kanika were barons of the land,created by the Gajapati Kings of Orissa.”(6)”Aul/Ali, Patamundai & Tirtol were for centuries under the influence of native Chiefs & the Rajas of Kujanga, Kanika & Aali (ଆଳି) long exercised considerable power in the south-eastern and north-eastern parts of the district.”

“When the English conquered the Province they found a few land owners of a superior class, descendants of noble families or high officials to whom larger States had been assigned for maintenance, subject only to the payment of a quit rent. Such were the Rajas of Kanika & Kujang, who were originally members of the Royal Family of Mayurbhanj, the unfathomed land, and were established in their possession about the 13th century, AD. “On the British occupation of the Province in 1803, treaty engagements were exchanged between the then representatives of the British Government appointed by the Marquis of Wellesley and the then Chief of Kanika. Both of these documents are re-produced below:
I, Raja Balabhadra Bhanja, Raja of Kanika, in the Soobah of Odisha, engage faithfully and correctly to, abide by this engagement, entered into by me with the Honourable East India Company, as contained in the following clauses, to wit.

Clause 1: I will always hold myself in submission and loyal obedience to the Honourable East India Company aforesaid.

Clause 2: I will continue to pay, without demur, to the said Government, as my annual peshkus or tribute, 84,840 kajhanas of cowries, in three installments, as specified herein below.

Clause 3: I will, on demand to that effect, cause any person who is an inhabitant of the Soobah appertaining to the Honourable Company aforesaid, and who may have fled and come into my territory, to be forthwith arrested and delivered over to the Government.

Clause 4: Should any person, who is a resident in my territories, commit a crime within the limits of the Mogulbundi, I hereby engage, on demand to that effect, to cause such person to be arrested and delivered over for trial to the Government Authority. Moreover, I further bind myself, in cases where I may possess any claim or demand on one who is an inhabitant of the Mogulbandi, not of my own authority to enforce such claim; but I will notify the same to the constituted authority and will act in accordance with such orders as may issue from him.

Clause 5: I engage that whenever the troops of the Honourable Company’s Government shall pass through my territories, I will direct the people of my Killa (kingdom) to supply, to the extent of their capability, all Russ and supplies, which shall be sold at fair prices. Further, I will, on no manner of pretext whatever, ever stop, or detain, or offer any let or hindrance to, any subject of the Honourable Company’s Government, or to any other person whatever, who may be proceeding by land or water, with goods or orders, or with any perwannah on the part of the Government, through my boundaries, and will rather take care that no loss or mischief shall befall such parties in life or goods.

Clause 6. In case any neighbouring Raja or any other person whatever shall disobey the said Government, I engage, on demand and without demur, to depute a contingent force of my own troops with the forces of Government for the purpose bringing him under the subjection of the aforesaid Government. Such contingent to receive only rations agreeably to the previously Current practice, so long as they shall be present. These shall be the installments of my peshkus, to be paid :— In the month of Chaitra, kajhanas 28,840; Jeysta, 28,000; and Ashadha, 28,000; total, 84,840. Dated the 22nd November, 1803.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top