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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 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 Dev. Patnagarh Kingdom 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 the 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 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 drumand 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. Akhada Hanuman, Bhairva and Mauli Devi are worshipped in separate temples while Sitala Thakurani is worshipped in "Sangudi" or Mandap Mandir.

A large size Bahana Singha Bigraha has been installed in recent years in the middle of the temple premises which is supposed to be the biggest astadhatu Bahana Singha Bigraha in Asia.

The Bhumi Puja of the said place was performed by his holiness Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Goverdhanmath, Puri, namely Swami Nischalananda Saraswati. Almost all towns and villages of this region have a temple of Maa Samaleswari. In modern Orissa no single goddess has sway over a large territory after Lord Jagganath. The main temple of Goddess Samaleswari at Sambalpur is the source of inspiration.


Ray Pada, Khetrajpur, Sambalpur, Odisha 768003




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