Sambalpur (सम्बलपुर) is a city and district in the eastern state of Odisha in India.
Variants of name
Origin of name
Sambalpur derives its name from that of the Goddess Samaleswari, who is regarded as the reigning deity of the region. The region in which Sambalpur city is located was also known as Hirakhanda from ancient times. In history, it has also been known as 'Sambalaka'. Claudius Ptolemy has described the place as "Sambalak". According to Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the French traveller, and Edward Gibbon, the English historian, diamonds were exported to Rome from Sambalpur.
Sambalpur is one of the ancient places of India, which survived even in the prehistoric age and holds a very important place in the history of Odisha and India.
Tej Ram Sharma,  writes that Kosala (कोसल) has been mentioned in Allahabad Stone Pillar Inscription of Samudragupta (=A.D. 335-76) (No. I, L. 19). It is spelt both ways with the dental as well as with the palatal sibilant. It is included in the list of the Daksinapatha kingdoms whose kings were conquered but reinstated by Samudragupta. At that time Mahendra was its ruler. It has been identified with South Kosala corresponding to modern district of Raipur, Sambalpur and Bilaspur of M.P. and Orissa. Its old capital was Sripura (modern Sirpur), 40 miles north-east of Raipur.
Sambalpur is mentioned in the book of Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus) as Sambalaka on the left bank of river "Manada", now known as Mahanadi, other evidence are available from the records of Xuanzang, and in the writings of the celebrated King Indrabhuti of Sambalaka of Odra Desha or Oddiyan (oldest known king of Sambalpur), the founder of Vajrayana Buddhism and the Lama cult. He has written the book Jñānasiddhi.
French merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605–1689) in his travel account “Six Voyages en Turquie, en Perse et aux Indes (1676–77)” translated into English by Valentine Ball as “Travels in India” (2d ed., 2 vol., 1925) wrote about the numerous famous diamond mines of Sumelpur (Semelpur), the present day Sambalpur. He states that, 8,000 people were at work in these mines at the time of his visit, in the dry season at the beginning of February.
In 1540 A.D., the kingdom of Patna, ruled by the Chauhan dynasty was bifurcated. Southern portion of river Ang was ruled by "Narasingh Deb" and his brother "Balaram Deb" received northern part of the river, known as kingdom of "Huma". Balaram Deb established his new capital at Sambalpur. Sambalpur was ruled by the Chauhan dynasty till 1800. The kingdom of Sambalpur was also known as Hirakhand and Sambalpur was its capital.
Sambalpur came under the Bhonsle of Nagpur when the Maratha conquered Sambalpur in 1800. After the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1817, the British Government returned Sambalpur to the Chauhan king, Jayant Singh but his authority over the other princely states were taken out.
It is said that Sambalpur is mentioned in the book of Ptolemy (2nd century AD) as Sambalaka on the river Manada (the Mahanadi river). This gateway to the exotic charms of the western region of Orissa was the cradle of an ancient civilization and is an important landmark in India's cultural history.
Indrabhuti, the oldest known king of Sambalpur founded Vajrayana while his sister who was married to Yuvaraja Jalendra of Lankapuri (Suvarnapur) founded Sahajayana. These new Tantric cults of Buddhism introduced Mantra, Mudra and Mandala along with six Tantric Abhicharas (practices) such as Marana, Stambhana, Sammohana, Vidvesan, Uchchatana and Vajikarana. The Tantric Buddhist sects made efforts to raise the dignity of the lowest of the low of the society to a higher plane. It revived primitive beliefs and practices a simpler and less formal approach to the personal god, a liberal and respectful attitude towards women and denial of caste system.
From the seventh century A.D. onwards, many popular religious elements of heterogeneous nature were incorporated into Mahayana Buddhism which finally resulted in the origin of Vajrayana, Kalachakrayana and Sahajayana Tantric Buddhism. Tantric Buddhism first developed in Uddiyana, a country which was divided into two kingdoms Sambhala and Lankapuri. Sambhala has been identified with Sambalpur and Lankapuri with Subarnapura (Sonepur).
Kalki Avatar and Sambalpur
Kalachakra tantra was first taught by the Buddha to King Indrabhuti, the first dharmaraja of Shambhala. It is widely believed that the next Hindu Avatar known as Kalki will take birth at Sambalpur or Shambhala as this place was known in olden times. There are several mentions of the place Shambhala in different Hindu and Buddhist religious texts as the birthplace of Kalki. The Mahabharata (Vana Parva, 190.93-97) and Srimad-Bhagavatam Bhag.12.2.18 give reference of Shambhala as the birthplace.
The architecture in the district attracts people from all over because of its unique designs. The important historical relics in the district of Sambalpur are the temples built by the Chauhan rulers. The splendour of Odisha art and architecture had reached its climax in the 13th century, much before the advent of the Chauhans into Sambalpur region.
The Pataneswari temple of Sambalpur was built by Balaram Dev, the first Chauhan ruler of Sambalpur in the last part of the 16th century. It consists of a sanctum with an enclosed circular count. The Pataneswari Deity is the temple of Goddess Kali.
The Samaleswari temple in the town represents the finest Chauhan style of circumvallation round the sanctum. The image of Samalei is a unique sculpture and appears to be a primitive deity worshipped by the local people. However, Samalei or Samaleswari is the tutelary deity of Chauhan dynasty of this area (Pasayat, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008).
- Sambalpur – Jharsuguda, a new destination for industrial development in Odisha.
- [http://www.sheelatowers.com/abtsbp.html Discover Sambalpur:]
- Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions/Place-Names and their Suffixes, Concept Publishing Company Delhi, 1978 p. 258
- Tourist Places In Sambalpur
- Historical Sambalpur- a victim of State govt’s apathy.
- [http://www.sheelatowers.com/abtsbp.html Discover Sambalpur:]
- Official Website of Bargarh District
- Buddhist Remains in Western Odisha
- Kalki: The Next Avatar of God and the End of Kali-yuga by Stephen Knapp
- Sambalpur architecture
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