It is a district situated in the western region of Odisha.
Origin of name
Balaram Deo, the 19th Raja of Patna (princely state), founded a town called Balramgarh and shifted the capital of Patna state from Patnagarh to Balramgarh in the early 16th century. Subsequently the town was renamed as Balangir from Balramgarh. After around 8 years of rule in Patna state, he was awarded the land from river Ang till the boundary of Bamra kingdom by his mother. Subsequently he founded a kingdom named Sambalpur, which went on to become a strong kingdom.
The territory comprising the present district of Balangir was in ancient times a part of the South Kosala. According to tradition, the origin of South Kosala dates back to the time of Rama and scholars like Pargiter believe that Rama's long stay in that region gave rise to the name of South Kosala after his original homeland Kosala. According to Padmapurana, the kingdom of Kosala, after Rama, was divided between Lava and Kusa, his two son. Later Kusa founded the city of Kusasthalipura and ruled over the southern half of Kosala (that included modern day Western Odisha and Chhattisgarh State).
During the time of Grammarian Panini (5th Century B.C), a territory named Taitila Janapada flourished to the west of Kalinga and that territory has been associated by historians with the modern town of Titlagarh in Balangir district. Taitala Janapada was famous for trade in some commodities described by the Grammarian as "Kadru" the meaning of which may be either horse or cotton fabrics.
According to Chetiya Jataka, the capital of the Chedi country was Sothivatinagara which is the same as Suktimatipuri of Harivamsa and Suktisahvaya of the Mahabharata (Vana Parva). The epic (Adi Parva) also states that the capital of the Chedis was situated on the bank of river Suktimati which is the Sukhtel river of Balangir district.
Thus the ancestors of famous King of Kalinga Kharavela were from the Balangir district as they were ruling over the territory drained by the Sukhtel river in Balangir, wherefrom they advanced towards the east and became the master of Kalinga by the 1st Century B.C. In the Hathigumpha inscription, Kharavela refers to one Rajashri Vasu as his ancestor, who is probably the same as Vasu, the son of Abhichandra, the founder of Chedi Kingdom. This Vasu may also be identified with Uparichara Vasu of the Mahabharata (Adi Parva) where he is described as the King of the Chedis who were ruling in the modern district of Balangir and Subarnapur.
Balangir region continued to be under the rule of Chedis during the 1st Century AD but in the 2nd century it came under the possession of the Satavahanas, whose king was Gautamiputra Satakarni. He is said to have built a magnificent vihara for his philosopher friend Nagarjuna on the Po Lo Mo Lo Ki Li or Parimalagiri identified with the modern Gandhamadana hills.
Early History: The earliest noted history of Balangir district dates back to the third century BC. The earliest introduction and spread of Aryan religious practice in Dakhin Kosala came with the initial incursion of the Jain religion. According to Bhagavati Sutra and Harivamsha Purana, Mahavir started his earliest preaching of Dharma at Nalanda, Rajgriha, Paniya Bhumi and Siddharthagrama.
According to some scholars, (D. C. Sircar) Punita Bhumi is a synonym of Paniya Bhumi as per Odra-Magadhi language. It is the same as Paniya Bhumi or Nagoloka, the present Nagpur, and it is further identified as Bhogapura, the modern Bastar, region of Chhattisgarh, Koraput, Kalahandi and Balangir district of Odisha.
The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang visited Po Lo Mo Lo Ki Li monastery at modern Paikmal in the 7th Century AD. It was then having cloisters and lofty halls and those halls were arranged in five tiers each with four courts with temples containing life-size gold images of Buddha. 
Utkal University Archaeology Prof. Dr. Sadasiva Pradhan excavated the Gumagad site under Gudvela block near the Tel river valley in Balangir district, where he found that a strategic military hub existed in the 1st century BC. It was set up by a king contemporary to king Kharavela. Four copper plates were also found at Terssingha village which speaks of the Tel valley civilisation. Those plates had information regarding the two capitals – Udayapur and Parbatadwaraka – which were under the rule of Rashtrakutas and local chieftains belonging to different clans. The Udayapur area, the capital of Rashtrakuta kings, who ruled in the valley, still does have standing structures and also the ruins. These are mostly found at Amathgad. Ruins of a medieval fort is also found there.
According to eminent historian and pigraphist Sadananda Agrawal, copper plates were recently found in Kapsila village near Balangir. The found materials were three copper plates tied together by a circular ring and issued by a king named Khadgasimha. It has been dated to the 8th century AD and it informs about new rulers and history of the Tel valley civilization.
- Orissa District Gazetteers: Balangir, Printed by the Superintendent, Orissa Government Press, 1966
- Panini's Ashtadyayi VI. 2. 42
- D. C. Sircar Ancient Geography of India Pg.55
- D. C. Sircar Ancient Geography of India
- D. C. Sircar, Inscription of Orissa, Pg. 263
- Yuan Chawng 'Journey of the West'
- "Riverside kingdom traced in copper plates". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India
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