The Kandhamal in the present state constituted w.e.f 1st Jan. 1994. It is located in the heart of Orissa stretching between 19’34 & 20’36 north latitude and 83’34 & 84’34 east longitude with an area of 7649 sq.km. Administratively it constitute with 2 sub-divisions , 12 CDB, 2 ULB, 153 GPs and 2515 villages. Physiographically the entire district lies with high altitude zone with interspersing inaccessible terrain of hilly ranges and narrow valley tracts which guide the socio-economic conditions of people and development of the district. More than 50% of the population constitute ST community of aboriginal tribal races. Overall, the district is rank as a backwards district in the state of Orissa (India).
The Kandhamal district was created on 1 January 1994 from the former Boudh-Kandhamal district as a result of district reorganisation in the state of Odisha. Before that, the district was known as Phulbani.
ROAD AND TRANSPORT:-
The nearest railway station is Rairakhol, on the Sambalpur – Bhubaneshwar line, which is 99 km from Phulbani. However, Berhampur 165 km (103 mi) away from Phulbani is another convenient rail link. One could conveniently make Phulbani the district headquarters/ Balliguda, the sub-divisional headquarters as the base for visiting the places of interest.
By road, Kandhamal can be approached from Sambalpur via Baudh (170 km, 106 miles) and Berhampur (165 km) as well as from Bhubaneshwar via Nayagarh (210 km, 130 miles). It is 170 km (110 mi) away from Bolangir.
While there are no dedicated tourist buses to the places of interest in the district, taxis may be hired at Phulbani or Balliguda. There is no Railway route.
CULTURE AND TRADITION:-
The people of Kandhamal celebrate all the Hindu Oriya festivals. The Danda Nach is celebrated in the district mainly by tribals, especially Kondha and Gond tribe. They observe this for thirteen days with sanctity. People go fasting for all the thirteen days who viewed for the particular boon or for grace. The festival starts from first April and closes on the thirteenth day. The closing ceremony is called as "Meru". In the month of January Kondhas do Puja after harvesting in the villages as per their own convenience. This puja is called "Sisaa Laka". In the month of March, they perform puja to get blessings from the village deity (Darni Penu) and "Saaru Penu" mountain deity to collect the mohula flower and green mangoes as well as the forest products. After offering to the deity only they collect the product as their food etc. In the month of April/may the offer the mohula flower in the form of cakes to village deity, this is called "Maranga Laka". On special occasions "Kedu Laka" is done depending on the requirement of the mother earth, which is decided by the village priest Locally called "Kuta Gatanju"."Kedu Laka"is one of the main occasion among Kandha tribes in Raikia block, they do Kedu Laka to eat Mangoes of the village. After the sowing of the crops, to appease the mother earth puja is performed for good crop at the village deity by the priest called "Jakera". This Puja is called "Bora Laka". This puja is done in the month of September/October. In the month of November/December new crop is collected and out of which Chuda and rice are prepared and made Khiri which is offered to village deity and the villagers eat the new food. This same is celebrated as Nua Khai in the western part of Odisha.
The beautiful hill station Daring Badi is situated in the highland area of Dense Forest of Daringabadi Kandhamal Dist. of Odisha. It is situated at an average height of 3000ft or 915m above sea level. It is the only place in Odisha, where one can experience snowfall during winter. The temperature level of Daringbadi has often recorded below the Frozen level and sometimes in minus. Because of its natural beauty and snowfall, it is popularly known as Kashmir Of Odisha. As Kashmir is divine for India, similarly DaringBadi is for Odisha.
Putudi waterfall is situated at a distance of just 15 km from the place of Phulbani. It is one of the prominent waterfalls in Orissa. The water of Putudi fall merges into River of Bada Saluki. The surrounding area of the waterfall is covered by forest providing the place for the picnic.
Gifted with ample scenic beauty, Belghar presents a panoramic view of lush and rolling hills. It is inhabited by Kutia Kondha tribe, who follow the age old tradition of food gathering and hut dwelling. They are very friendly and hospitable. More to be seen and encountered is a wild life especially elephants.
The abode of Lord Birupakshya, on the bank of river Burtunga, commands a panoramic view of nature. This place is famous as an important centre of Saivism. Lord Siva is worshipped here as Birupakshya, Anandeswara and Jageswara with great veneration and reverence in three different magnificent temples. The striking features of this place are that the trees around it and Siva linga inside, lean towards the south.
The beautiful place in the lap of nature is famous for the Goddess BARALA DEVI who is believed to be the saviour of the world. The people of this area visit the Goddess frequently on many occasions, particularly on Dashahara.