English Barbarism and the Kondhs of Ghumsur (Bhanjanagar)

Dr. Rabi Nayayan Dash

    The present Bhanjnagar was known earlier as Ghumsur. Still earlier it was an unit of Khiujadhi Mandala or Ubhaya Khiyjali Mandala,Banjulbaka was the Capital of Ghumsur and Dhrutipura was the Capital of the Bauda area,(Mhapatra 2004:85), even it is noted that portion the Banpur area was included in Ghumsur (Behera 2004:49) Behera includes the entire north-west Bhanjanagar revenue division in this; and speaks that the area is 60 miles long and 48 miles wide one and along with this the entire modern Phulabani district, the north-east of Baud, Baliguda, koraput and the Kalahandi district inthe South west are also in rehabited by the Kondh community, situated on the Eastern Ghat mountain ranges. The entire natural region is 1350 square miles out of which 500 square miles belong to hill land and 850 square miles constitute the sandy-clay plain area. According to the 1881 cencus, i e. After 45 years of the English victory (1835-37A.D.), the population of this area was 1,81,390 out of which the Kondhas alone were 1,12, 116 in numbers and the ratio of the kondhs and non-Kondhs can respectively we noted as 2:1. There were 24 muthas a mutha was formed by a cluster of villages) consisting of 433 villages (Behera 2004:49). The Bhanja kings were the usual rulers continuing from the ancient times recognised by the Kondh community through the marriage of a Kondh woman during cornation(as in practised in Kalahandi). The kondhs also consider the Bhanja kings as their protector and in turn thing help the Bhanjja rulers whenever necessary. The king appointed a person to look into the kondh affair and he is usually known as Dora-Bisoi. There were other subordinate Bisois heading each mutha and the village heads under each mutha go by the name of Malik Later on the Nijam took the region of Bhanjnagar by the defeating the Orissa paramount ruler they tried to collect taxes failing which the Nijam handed over revenue Zamindari to the French following which they faught with the king of Ghoomsur or Bhanjanagar. But they could not suceed in introducing the king or the Kondha came in contact with the tribals. The french general Busy could not make any head-way in the jungle warfare. As a result the Nijam handed over the estate to the English in 1766 A.D. Coming into the possession the English tried to establish their right over the Bhanja kings and the Ghumsur region and this dragged then into the conflict. In fact it was not the war between the king and the English lent between the Kondh residents and the English form. They well equipped and trained English army was far superior with modern fire arms than the numerous ill-equipped Kondh villagers who were fighting with their primitive axe, bow and arrow. This was an one sided w ar in which the English won in two years. The Kondhs on the other hand did not go to England to fight with the English and builds empire. The English men were fighting for supremacy but the Kondh people were fighting to save their motherland from mighty invaders came to rule over then and enjoy their motherlands produce and collect revenue debaring from their rightful claim to property. The english when found them prevented in their goal bearluarous by killed the men-massee village to village and unleashed reign of terror. An English school at felix Padel has given the picture of this brutal killings recovering information from the secret service records and communications of the revenue legot. And East India Company the role of the padrees of baptist mission who were provides information about the location hiduants and the preserved graineries which were wither looted or leuent down by the English force. Even the padress were victimising the execution of the innocent Kondh villagers irrespective of age and sex to witness there executions.

    In the name of Ghumsur conqest the English learnt hundreds of villages, prevented the kondhs learnt hundreds of villages prevented the kondhs to harvest the produce form the field and by gunning down several kondhs in the act of harvesting in which women and children were ruthlessly killed. Hundreds and thousands of kondhs were imprisoned to be rest as forced labourers to carry under the English army. A number of kondhs were also deported to the middle east to work as animals in carryings war goods. The English areas of the Assam tea gardens and the Kondhs a low paid coolies with heavynon-stop work. Most of the imprisooned kondh freedom fighters were taken the distant Madras (now Tamil Nadu) province and kept with , fut and weiswt in with the snow of great menlines and at ther cost of their life. Barbara Boal write about the forced acceptance of Christianity by trhe Kondhs through the hyparactive missionaries.

    After 44 years after the Ghumesur battle the 1881 census took place. It was recorded that there were 18 muthas and 80 villages in the area. The total numbers of as per their Census was 32,401 And Kamal Lochan Dora Bisoyi was there appointed to inform the king about the Kondh affairs helped by 18 Bisoi’s heading each mutha. The war ended on 17th January 1837. A list of the operation and the result in each attach can be given in a tabular form in which the British generals were involved although this report is only one sided collected from the English reports.



General commanding


With whom and Where

The outcome of the war.




The English was ehaaged in the war with Dhononjaya Bhanja




Lt.Colonel Hagson

25thSept 1835

Joined with Stevenson

Won Ghumsur and Kalad and in November Ghumsur was brought under the direct control administer of the English


On 9th November the English army entered the Kondh hills.

They went up to Durga Prasad and destroyed it.

In this operation 1 Kondh was killed and 16 others were injured.




Joined the English forces in November 1835 carrying thousands of soldiers and camp bearers with him.

Not a single opposition group came to the aid of the British troops.



Russel came from the Madras Revenue Board on 11Jan.1836

Conquared the Ragouma Fort

The Kondh leader Hathiram was captured and was later executed.


January 1836

Russel came with 2000 soldiers and a small group of British officers

They were placed in 12 forntier position.



Many infantry, cavalry large Canons and a number of servants, camp followers, elephants camels bullocks tents gunpowder were sent for the war

The Kondh hills was attacked from four fronts this party attacked the Kondhs under the guidance of four officers.

Captain Botlor


Attacked Udaygiri

But the Kondh retaliate this attack in which a camp followers and two camels were killed. Kondhs looted rice and the tent




Campbell led the second batallion




Russel went on 22.2.1836 to help Campbell

The son of the king of Suruda, Sundar Singh helped him as the guide since the king of Suruda and enemity with the king Ghumsur.



Lt. Hill and other British officers


Although the kondhs blocked their movement at Hudgrah (=Huzzaguda) yet they did not let them know anything about their Leader.


Capt. Batler


Captured elephants of the Ghoomsur king, two women from the king’s family and many other prisoners and brought then to Udaygiri

Russel Declared reward Rs. 500 to1000 rupees to get information about The Dera Bissoyi and 5000 rupees for Brundaban Bhanaja


Ensign Wapshine


Attacked Udaygiri and led the 3rd regiment of soldiers for the same.

A Hindu leader Uttam Singh was captured in this attacked.


2nd Lt.Gibelon and another British Officer


Gibbon returned from Durgaprasad

They were attacked by 2000 Kondhs and were killed. The kondhs killed 13 out of 30 soldiers, 4 queen, many servants of Russel and some others.


Capt. Wite

5.3. 1836

From among him party to soldiers and 4 inprisoned queens were killed by the Kondhs.



Maj. Law


Commanded the 3rd regiment of soldiers



Lt.Gl. Muriel commanded the Keppleton regiment


He also puraded the Udaygiri regiment and fired the kondhs with small artilery.

A number of 50 soldiers were also killed by the retaliatory attack by the Kondhs.




Lead a revengeful attack against the Kondhs. With him there with half a dozen horse-men and he took with him small arttilery with long firing range and a few soldiers

A number of 2000 kondhs surrounded wap shine for 3 days and harashed. Both Campabell and Wapsshire killed 11 Kondhs.They became ruthless




He reached Udaygiri and commanded 250 soldiers of Muriel along with his own regiment he went to for hilly low land and reached at the Poldura (posera) and Guleri forests.

On 7th February Brundaban Bhauja was taken captive and the English opined that one of the great Hindu leader was captured.


Maj. Ligate and Lt. Alloun


Attacked the hide out place of the kondhs at sorousumalo and killed 5 to 6 persons.

Ligate captured cl.sundar Ray another leader of the Hindus.


Maj. Walter


Attacked the kondh hide outs from Guleri in the night



Maj. Donaldson


Commamded 100 soldiers to attack the Kondhs

All the places were torched there and was returned to the earlier a number of large granneries were also set to fire.


Lt.Cornel Anderson


He went to war while Asst.surgon codeuhead took change of the kondh affairs. They attacked Ambajhada village

This village was also set on fire


Capt. Buffer Warth


It was not known where he was engaged in war



Asst. Quarter Master General Hamson


He used elephants in the war



Capt. Botler


He went riding a horse accompained by 4 British officers.

They killed 10 Kondhs out which 2 were killed by beyonent and many were taken prison.They set fire to the village ad took away 200 cattle and other articles.


On the 2nd part of May 1836

Capt. Botler ordered attack on Sarananghar


On 28th May 1836

They captured Naugan and destroyed many Kondh villages.

Many people from both the sides were killed and injured.


Capt. Morgan


In his group 19 soldiers were present and they killed many kondhs ..

Many Kondh villagers were set on fire by Russel.


Capt. Bortler, Gailes and Camebell under Russel


They arranged execution of the Kondh leaders the leader Baungo Mallik (or Benga Mallik) was hanged at Kormingia 22nd june 1836 under the suppervision of Capt.Todd.They to took 19 kondhs as prison among which 5 men, 6 women and 7 children.

In the Ghumsur war this was the 23rd instance of Kondh hanged to death


The Russel Report


Russel tried Sam Bissoyi and executed him. In his report for the first time there was mention aabout the human sacrifice of the Kondhs and their girl infanticide.

The British acquired all the treasuries of the royal houses and the amount was 18, 544 rupees and 5 annas.




Led an unit of the soldiers

He denied the Kondhs their right to harvest .


Russel, Tailor, Col. Elvous, Capt. Campbell, Capt. Roberts & Lt. Lugards


Campaigned together accompanied by 1000 soldiers . They destroyed 4 hiding places of the Kondhs and destroyed many food grains.

One of the Kondhs killed cast Roberts and the British soldiers indiscriminately killed Kondhs.


Capt. Bayam


He took with him 20 cavalary and 20 infantry soldiers.

He killed Baura or Bouri Naik and others . They also captured Dadhia Naik and later executed him.



They attacked another Kondh hide out

They killed Kondh leader Braj Mallik. And five of his friends. They also took 4 others as prisoners.




The peons of Guleri captured 2 leaders . They were: -

Suniar Singh

Baliar Singh

For their capture Sangram Singhthe foremost and he was rewarded with 500 rupees.




He declared the end of Ghumsur war

The elder brother of Dora Bisoyi died. A heroic death . The execution of the Kondh leaders were made before Rev.William Brown,the Baptist Missionary.


    Though a rough idea about the events could be assessed yet it is not complete. It is very difficult to know how many Kondhs from which village were executed and how many were executed and how many Kondhs were and taken away as coolies in the Assam tea gardens and forced labours in the middle east battle fields, it is difficult to understand. (In spite of all it was an uncommon daring unequall fight between the Kondhs equipped with primitive weapons and English armed with modern artilary, gun, pistol etc. Which indicate the highest manliness of the Kondh community) The hills of Ghumsur area still stand as mute witness of the heroic tale of numerous kondh men and women who stood up against barbaric invaders of their home land. The Ghumsur battle was not an insurgency but an automatic resistance to oppresive aliens not known to the people. The English men tried to usurp the independence of these half-naked hill dwellers with brutal force. They never imagined that love for the motherland could unite socially fragmented groups under local leaders who never hesitated to lay down their lives for upholding greater cause. The spawn of greater nationalism lies in such type of indigeneous movements. Which is still relevant in contemporary perspective.

Select Bibilography


Behera D.; 2004;

Ghumsur Uprising: First Phase, in freedom struggle in Orissa, Vol I, Orissa State Archieves, ed. A.C. Pradhan etal, BBSR.


Boul, Barbara M.:1982,

The Kondhs (Human sacrifice and religion change) England.


Padel, F: 2000

The Sacrifice of human feelings (Britisssh rule and the Konds of Orissa) Oxford University.Press, New Delhi.