The Great Kanika Gada

By: Rusiraj Pattanayak

The Honourable His Highness Raja Rajendra Narayan BhanjaDeo, who was the present proprietor of the Estate during 1917 regarding to the History of Kanika, was the second son of the Raja of the adjoining area of Aul/ଆଳି.

He was born in 1881 and adopted into the Kanika family in 1896. During his minority the Estate was under the management of the Court of Wards. He was educated at the Government Collegiate School and College, Cuttack. He married in 1899 a daughter of the late Chief of Nayagarh. He assumed management of the Estate from the Court of Wards on attaining majority in 1902. In December 1906 he presided over the Utkal Samilanee held at Brahmapur, in the Ganjam District.

In 1907 he visited England and travelled in other parts of Europe. In 1908 he was nominated a member of the Bengal Advisory Fishery Board, and in the following year he was elected as the representative of the Landholders of Odisha and Chota-Nagpur to the Bengal Council.In 1910 He visited England again to join Lincoln’s Inn, and in 1911 he attended the Coronation ceremony of their Imperial Majesties at Westminster Abbey, in London. On his return to India, in December in the same year, he attended the Imperial Coronation Durbar at Delhi, and on the creation of the new Province of Bihar and Odisha in 1912 he was elected to the Provincial Council as the representative of the Landholders of Odisha. He was again elected to the Council of Behar and Odisha by the same constituency in 1916. He had since been elected as an additional member of the Council of the Viceroy and Governor General of India to represent the landholders of the entire Province of Bihar and Odisha. Raja Rajendra Narayan had always taken an active part in all matters before the Council, especially those relating to the interest of his constituents.

The most important measure affecting their interests, before both the Bengal and the Behar and Odisha Provincial Councils, during his term of office was the Orissa Tenancy Bill. He vigorously opposed the passing of the measure, doing his best to protect the interests of the landlords, and although the Bill was eventually passed into law, he was no doubt able to secure certain rights and privileges for them. The Raja had always taken a lively interest in every matter of public concern. He was President of the Odisha Landholders’ Association and one of the Vice-Presidents of the Bengal and the Bihar Landholders’ Associations. He was also a member of the Royal Asiatic Society, London. The Raja signalized the assumption of management of his Estate from the Court of Wards by providing the handsome “Lady Woodburn Female Ward,” which supplied a long-felt want in the General Hospital, Cuttack. On several occasions he spent large amounts in relieving distress among his tenantry, and his services in this respect were always recognized by Government.In connection with the famine relief measures of 1913, the Hon. Mr. McPherson, Chief Secretary to the Government, thus spoke at the Council Meeting on August 29, 1913: “Local relief funds had been opened, and in that connection Government desired to record their appreciation of the generosity of the Hon. Raja Rajendra Narayan Bhanja Deo of Kanika, who had contributed very largely to the fund and had taken effective steps to assist the tenantry of his estate.”

In reference to the same subject, at the Durbar held at Cuttack on November 28, 1913, His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor General of India thus observed :
“I am happy to think that on this occasion there was no loss of life in your district, and I trust that the prompt advances made by Government and the organization of relief funds, to which the Raja of Kanika so generously contributed, together with the repair of the irrigation channels, had done all that is humanly possible to minimize your losses, while some consolation is to be found in the anticipation of bumper rabi crops as the result of seasonable rainfall and the unusual amount of silt deposits.”The Raja had always taken great interest in the cause of education. He was a member of the Patna University Committee, and i a member of the Governing Body of the Ravenshaw College, as well as of the Managing Committee of the Ravenshaw Girls’ High English School, Cuttack. He had made provision for boys’ and girls’ schools on his estate, besides contributing liberally towards institutions outside. He maintained a High English School and several Upper and Lower Primary Schools, and there are, further, six tolls to teach Sanskrit for the Oriental Titles. The Raja maintained four charitable dispensaries within the estate, for free medical treatment of the tenantry as well as of the outside public. The Raja was an expert at billiards, tennis, and badminton, and was a great shikari and an admirable shot. In short, he possessed all the qualities and qualifications necessary for a refined nobleman of high and eminent order.

Raja Sailendra Narayan Bhanja Deo, born on September 29, 1908, was the son and heir of the Raja. He was a fine and fair-looking lad, and was being brought up in a manner consistent with his position in life. He was a fine scholar with B.A. Degree having the hobbies like shooting boat building ,sailing and reading. He had a special interest in Agriculture Land reclamation Hydro-Power Irrigation Floods and coastal errosion. Countries He visited were England, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Czechoslovia, Yugoslovia, Austria, Egypt and Hungary.
He won from the RAJNAGAR CONSTITUENCY as Member of Legislative Assembly of Odisha from (01/03/1967 to 23/01/1971). He was Elected Municipal Commissioner in 1932. He took active parts in Utkal Sammilanee Movement. He was elected from Rajnagar Mahakalpada to Cuttack District Board in 1934-37. He was elected as Independent Candidate from Landholders Constituency in 1946 and  elected Leader of Opposition 1946-51. He Undertook the ground water exploration in the Coastal and Saline areas in 1953. He was the Member of Odisha Jail Reforms Committee of 1954. He joined Congress in 1957 nominated as Speaker for a short period when the new constitution came into operation in 1952 from 1946-51 Chairman Public Accounts Committee remained in Opposition till 1956 joined Congress in 1957 and became Minister of works in the coalition ministry and took keen interest in Balimela and Talcher projects appointed Chairman of Flood Inquiry Committee.

The usual places of residence of the Raj family are Cuttack and RajKanika, and at each of these places there were suitable palatial buildings. The one at Cuttack, with its spacious lawns and large tank, is quite imposing, being the best in the town, while the ideal palace at Raj Kanika, richly fitted and furnished, with its beautiful and spacious compound finely laid out, was considered to be the best structure in Odisha.
Image Courtesy:, Charukala, Subhransu Bhusan Sutar, Md. Mahfooz Khan and Kishore Bit

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