Bargarh, is a town and a municipality in Bargarh district in the state of Orissa, India. It is the administrative headquarters of Bargarh District.
Bargarh is located in western Orissa, close to the border of neighboring state of Chattisgarh. It is positioned at 21.33°N 83.62°E with an average elevation of 171 meter (561 feet). The whole of Bargarh district lies in the Deccan plateau with Eastern Ghats running close to the town. As per the earthquake zoning of India, Bargarh falls in the zone 2 category, the least earthquake prone zone
Bargarh is one of the many forts built by the Chouhan dynasty. Although no clear data is available about the settlement, the old fort walls can be traced near the 'Jira' river towards the plains of Ambapali. Unconfirmed literature claims that the name Bargarh has been derived from Balaramgarh, other sources claim that the name is so because Bargarh was the best of the cluster of forts (Garhs). The other subdivision of the district, Padampur has a feudal history with a tribal leader.
Buddhism played a significant role in defining the lifestyle of the people for a short period of time. Some ancient buddhist monasteries and sculptures can be seen along a belt starting from Bijepur block (Ganiapali) to the Paikamal block (Nrusinghanath), which has a clear mention in Huen-Tsang's literature as Po-Li-Mo-Lo-Ki-Li (Parimalagiri) (Pasayat,2007, 2008).
The legendary hero Veer Surendra Sai led his war against the British from Debrigarh, which is a peak on the Barapahad Range. His fight against the British Raj particularly after the First War of Independence in 1857 was remarkable in the history of freedom struggle in India (Pasayat and Singh, 2009; Panda and Pasayat, 2009). Debrigarh today is a tiger sanctuary. Barabakhra (12 caves) used to be a secret meeting place during this period.
Bargarh was a subdivision of old Sambalpur district until April 1992, when the then Chief minister, Mr. Biju Patnaik declared it as the headquarter of the newly formed district by the same name.
As of 2001 India census, Bargarh had a population of 63,651. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Bargarh has an average literacy rate of 72%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with 57% of the males and 43% of females literate. 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Other than the native Sambalpuri speaking people who forms the majority, the town has a significant Marwari community who have migrated and settled down. Within the Sambalpuri speaking population, the major communities are Kuiltas, Dumals, Agharias, Bhulias/Mehers (the weavers), Brahmins etc. Kuiltas and Dumals are presumed to be an offshoot of the original Chasa(agrarian) community and is synonymous with the Khandayats of the coastal region. This is evident by the striking similarity of rituals and the gods they pray. Bhulias were migrated to and settled in this region by some rulers, but the exact time period is controversial. Agharias were migrated from the mughal empire of Agra for establishing a cultivator community during war when Kuiltas were assigned the duty of part time Kshatriyas.
Mother tongue of the people of Bargarh region is Sambalpuri. Hindi is treated as the second language for communication. People speak Hindi more fluently and correctly than Oriya. English is used for official purposes and for higher education. Being a part of Orissa, Oriya is used as medium of education in most of the schools.
Bargarh is known for the annual festival, Dhanu Jatra which attracts lot of tourists. Dhanu Jatra,celebrated every winter, is an open stage dramatization of Krishna Leela with virtually the whole town as a stage. Spanning over a period of 10 days and a radius of 5 km, with the universal theme of ‘triumph of good over evil’, it depicts the mythological story of Krishna starting from marriage of his parents till the death of Kansa, the evil king. For this whole period, the town turns into the mythological city of Mathura with Kansa (played by a theater artist) ‘ruling’ over it. The natives of the town claim this festival to be the world largest open stage play.
Nrusinghanath Jatra is another major festival of the district, celebrated in the religious site of Nrusinghanath where Lord Vishnu is worhipped in the form of Marjarakesari. Nrusinghanath is also a historical site which attests the religious synthesis of tribal people and non-tribal people; and among Saivism, Vaishnavism, Tantrism and Buddhism(Pasayat,2005:12-25).
Niranjanananda Yoga Sansthan, a yoga ashram associated with the yoga teaching institution Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, was established in the town in 2010. It conducts daily yoga sessions in mornings along with evening programs of chanting and meditation.
Bargarh has many shopping places in town. Beauty Collection is famous for its retail garment section. Weekly market on Fridays witnesses a large number of people for shopping . Piplanis is famous for sweets and namkeens.
One will find garments for quite reasonable price in Bargarh market. Bargarh is the birthplace of sambalpuri clothes, which is famous worldwide. Chaulbara (rice pakoda) is a delicious dish, available only in Bargarh. On roadsides, yummy chat, panipuri, samosa is always available.
The economy of Bargarh is largely dependent on agricultural products. There is also a cement factory along with a sugar mill and a thread mill in the town to provide further boost to the economy. A part of the district is well irrigated with a network of canals originating from river Mahanadi, ensuring a good crop. The daily vegetable market of Painchhatar is claimed to be the largest vegetable origin wholesale market in the state. Attabira block is known as the rice bowl of Orissa because of its exemplary paddy production. Production of Paddy in the district of Bargarh is about 6,00,000.00 MT per annum which is the largest in Orissa. Multiple rice mills are scattered over the district to support the paddy production.
Bargarh is also called a business hub of western Orissa. "SAMBALPURI SAREES" originated from Bargarh district itself. Ikkat Hand wooven sarees and other Sambalpuri clothes are made in Bargarh district.
Sanjay Bhoi of INC is the newly elected MP from Bargarh Loksabha. Sadhu Nepak is MLA from Bargarh assembly . Previous MLA from Bargarh Assembly Constituency is Ananda Acharya of BJD, who won the seat in State elections of 2004. He also won as BJD candidate in 2000. Prasanna Acharya of JD won this seat in 1995 and in 1990. Jadumani Pradhan of INC had won in 1985, and also as INC(I) candidate in 1980. Nabin Kumar Pradhan of JNP was MLA from this seat in 1977.
Bargarh was a part of Sambalpur (Lok Sabha constituency).
But after the delimination exercise in 2009, Bargarh is a lok sabha constituency and Sanjay Bhoi is the newly elected MP from Bargarh Loksabha. Sadhu Nepak is MLA from Bargarh assembly .