Balangir is a city and municipality in Balangir district in the state of Odisha, India. It is also the headquarters of Balangir district. Balangir has a rich cultural heritage. It is also known as the cultural hub of Western Odisha. Balangir city has many cultural groups who are trying hard to preserve the dying down Kosali folk arts and dance. Balangir municipality is divided into twenty-one wards. Each ward consists of two three Units or sub-areas called "Pada" or "Para". Balangir city has nearly forty "Pada's". Some of the largest "Padas" of Balangir city are Rugudi Pada, Behera Pali Pada, Sud Pada, Maal Pada, Tikra Pada, Radharani Pada, Sagar Pada, Pratap Sagar pada, Talpali Pada, Jagannath Pada, Thikadar Pada, Palaceline, Gandhinagar Pada, Shanti Pada, Barpali Pada, Tulsinagar Pada, Kansari Pada, Teligoth Pada, Radharani para, Club para, Khadal para, Rameshwar Nagar, Rajendra para, A.B.S.S. road etc.
Balangir was an obscure village till 1871 when the Court of Ward's administration during the minority of the then ruler Ram Chandra Deo III shifted the capital from Patnagarh. Immediate steps were taken to build a planned township.
Patnagarh, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Patna for several centuries was considered unsuitable to be the state headquarters because of its unhealthy climate. The moats and the bamboo thickets which had long protected the place against enemies became the breeding ground of mosquitoes causing widespread malaria. The place was also not on the direct road from Bhawanipatna to Sambalpur. So, Balangir was selected to be the headquarters not only because of its climate but also for its admirable location on the route connecting the headquarters of Sambalpur with that of Kalahandi.
ROAD AND TRANSPORT:-
Bolangir is connected by road to the state capital Bhubaneswar which is 327 km in the west. It is also connected to Cuttack, Rourkela, Dhenkanal and other important cities in Odisha.
CULTURE AND TRADITION:-
The Playful child of this area composes verses of “Chhiollai”, “Humobauli” and “Dauligit”, the fleeting adolescence composes “Sajani”, “Chhata”, “Daika”, “Bhekani” : the eternal youth composes “Rasarkeli”, “Jaiphul”, “Maila Jada”, “Bayamana”, “Gunchikuta” and “Dalkhai”. The man who worships work composes “Karma” and “Jhumer” invigorating Lord Vishwakarma and the “Karamashani” goddess.
Sital Sasthi: It is the Marriage Ceremony of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. The festival is observed in the month of June with pomp and ceremony at Balangir and is extended for a week. Pilgrims from the neighbouring districts and States of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar also participate in the festival. Lakhs of people congregate in this week-long festival, mostly in the month of June every year.
Nuakhai: This is the most important social festival of Balangir as well as of whole western Odisha. Generally, it takes place during the month of August and September. Preliminary preparation of the festival starts 15 days before the occasion. The first grains of the paddy crop, cooked into various dishes are offered to the deities. Thereafter the eldest member of the family distributes new rice to the junior members of the family. All the household articles are cleaned. People greet each other. It is a community festival celebrated by every Hindu family low and high. Moreover, Nuakhai is the mass festival of the entire west of Odisha (Pasayat 2008: 253-262).during this festival all the member of the family they come to home & celebrate the festival of Nuakhai together.
Bhaijuntia: It is mostly known only in the region of western Odisha. Bhaijiutia festival is celebrated on the Mahastami Day of Durga Puja. It is a total fasting undertaken by women for the whole day and night to seek Goddess Durga’s blessing for the long life of their bhais (brothers).
Puajiuntia: It is another fasting Puja of similar austerity for women of the area. The Puajiuntia festival is observed by mothers to invoke the grace of Lord Dutibahana for the long life and prosperity of their sons.
Besides the above-listed festivals, other religious festivals are observed. These include Shiva Ratri, Dola Jatra, Durga Puja, Janmashtami, Dipavali, Ganesh Puja and Saraswati Puja.
Shiva Ratri Mela at Huma and Titilagarh attracts large numbers of devotees. Ratha Jatra is held at almost all central places of Balangir. There are other jatras like the Sulia Jatra and Patakhanda Jatra in Jarasingha etc. are held with great flavour.
Shrabana Purnima - during this time devotees of Lord Shiva travel long distance by walk to places like Harishankar, Belkhandi near Titilagarh to pray and offer the holy water to the god. People from other parts outside the state like Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh also takes part in such event.
The most popular festivals celebrated by Muslims are Id-Ul-Fitre, Id-Ul-Juha and Muharram. The Sikhs also celebrate the Birth Day of Guru Nanak.
There are hundred of temples in Balangir town. Each and every Pada has one or more temples. Following are some of the Most Popular and important temples of Balangir Town.
- Maa Pataneswari Temple (Pataneswari Gudi) - The presiding deity of Balangir District.
- Maa Samaleswari Temple (Samalei Gudi) - Second most visited Famous temple of Western Odisha after Samaleswari temple of Sambalpur. Dedicated to Maa Samalei.
- Gopaljee Temple - Oldest temple of Balangir town dedicated to Lord Krishna.
- Nursingha Temple - One of the earliest temples of Balangir dedicated to Lord Narasimha
- Santoshi Temple - Dedicated to Maa Santoshi
- Lokanath Baba Temple - Dedicated to Lord Shiva
- Sheetala Mata Temple - located inside the premises of Santoshi Temple.
- Bhagwat Temple - Dedicated to Lord Krishna, Garuda and Bhagwat Geeta. Located at Rugudi Pada
- Jagannath Temple - Dedicated to Lord Jagannath
- Mausi Maa Temple - Dedicated to Lord Jagannath. Lord Jagannath stays at this temple during Rath Yatra.
- Durga Temple - Dedicated to Lord Durga.
- Ramji Mandir - One of the oldest temple at Ramji Pada dedicated to Lord Rama
- Ram Temple - Located near the daily market is dedicated to Lord Ram, Seeta, Laxman and Hanuman.
- Shyama Kali Temple - Dedicated to Lord Kali. Located at Rugudi Pada
- Saibaba Temple - Located off Sambalpur Road, On the outskirt of Balangir town
- Sathya Sai Baba temple - Located at Rugudi Pada
- Laxmi Narayan Temple - One of the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Laxmi, located at Club Pada.
- Sabari Narayan Temple dedicated to Lord Sabari (Lord Ram) Located at Ichha pada, Balangir
- Shiridi Sai Temple-Located at Radharanipara
- There is Kandulbudha khala at Dangarpada village and temple at Antarla village of deogaon block.
Religious places of other religion/sects
- There is also a Gurudwara for Sikh community, located at Ramai Talkies Road
- There is one Sunni Masjid for the Muslim community, located at Tikrapara
- There are several churches in Balangir town. Prominent amongst them are Roman Catholic Church at Rugudi Pada and Protestant church at Adarsha Pada.
- There is one Jalaram temple for the Hindu-Gujarati Community
- There is one Jhulelal temple also for the Sidhi community
Jaya Mahadev: We learn from the Epics that Lord Shiva guzzled poison which trickled during the churning of the Deep using Mandara Hill as a shaft. For the welfare of the Universe, He drank the poison that coloured his neck blue. In order to remain cool and composed, he let the river Ganges descend from the feet of Lord Vishnu on his mat. So well called him Gangadhar. Since the moon which signifies coolness adorns his forehead. He is named as Chandrasekhar.
Jagannath: A village revived its old celebrity that it was a seat of religious activities during Savapuriya Dynasty before the advent of the Somavamsi Kesharies(8th Century). An open space surrounded by paddy fields presently houses three monolithic deities of Jagannath temple.
Patmeswari: The ancient capital of the kingdom of Patna, Patnagarh combines in happy synthesis its mythic past with the modern present. The temples of Patmeswari in Chalukyan style and that of Someswar Siva belonging to the 12th Century are the monuments of prominence.
Narasingh: It is a rustic village of aborigines. Yet accommodates magnificent images of Jagannath Cult, made of the neem tree. The village derives its name from Narasingh, the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu who is believed to have killed a demon named Mura who prayed the God to be remembered in association with the name of the Lord Narasingha. Though the village is yet to erect a proportionally big and decent temple for the deities, there is no let up in the rituals of these vishnevite idols at par with those of Puri.
Jogeswar: 25 Kms from Balangir and 7 Kms. from Loisingha, Jogisarda is noted for the Jogeswar Shiva Temple. One can reach Balangir by bus or train. From Balangir one can visit Patnagarh by bus or taxi.
Harisankar: An ancient shrine situated in the Balangir District, Harisankar Temple is one of the ancient temples of Orissa. It is on the southern slope of the Gandhamardan hills, which stand along Balangir-Sambalpur border.
GhaiKhai: A place of great scenic beauty, Gaikhai is surrounded by green capped hills on three sides. The water mass here dazzles with natural scenery and offers cool breeze to the visitors.
In 2006 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Balangir one of the country's 250 most backwards districts (out of a total of 640). It is one of the 19 districts in Odisha currently receiving funds from the Backwards Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).