The history of Malkangiri seems to be in no way less thrilling and adventurous than any other place of India. The land of dense inaccessible forest, small but beautiful rivers, undulating plateaus and splendorous rich tribal culture. Malkangiri has its history of human civilization enrooted as long as 2500 years back. Prior to the modern civilization, many mythological episodes took place in and around Malkangiri.
During the reign of Lord Ramachandra, Malkangiri occupied an important place in the entire "The Ramayana". It was the holy river "The Tamasa" and its environs which encouraged Saint Balmiki to express his internal feelings in the form of The Ramayana, the holiest book of Hindus. This place was known as "Malyavantagiri" in the Ramayana. River the Tamasa flowing out of a cave has derived its name from a tribal word "TANSA", which means cave. Banks of this river witnessed the creation of the largest mythological the Ramayana. The scenic beauty if this Malyavantagiri has found an important place in the "Dandi Ramayana" of Balaram Das. The belief of a visit of Lord Ramachandra is further strengthen by the existance of "Sitakunda" the bath place of Godess Sita near Mudulipada. Also during the period of the Mahabharata, this place became the point of attraction for the Pandavas. They spent their "Angyatvasa"(exile) for a period of one year in the dense forest of Malkangiri. In the villages of Koyas, "PANDABOERU"(Pond) are found which they believe to be used by the Pandavas. Even during the month of January, "PATAKHANDA PARVA" is celebrated by the Koyas, a primitive tribal community in which a sword is worshiped. People believe that this sword belongs to the Pandavas. Also they celebrate the "Bhimudu Parva" during January in which "Bhima", the middle Pandava is worshiped and the Koyas believe the Bhima will save their families. Kanamraju (Lord KRISHNA), Balaraju (ARJUNA) and Poturaju (BHIMA) are three famous Lords of this area, who are being worshiped by the people. In every alternative year, Badayatra, the festival of these Lords is celebrated throughout the district.
During the period of Indus valley civilization, a rich civilization was florished along the bank of river the Tamasa. In the year 1995, some ancient monuments were discovered from the same place signifying the above face. Also a big "Shiva Linga" was discovered from beneath the ground, enlighting a linkage of this civilization with that of Indus valley. The ancient kings of this place during the early vedic and later vedic period, worshiped Lord Mallikeshwar after whom they named their kingdom as "Mallika Nagari". This Mallika Nagari gradually became Malkangiri in the modern times.
One ancient Shiva Temple now submerged in the Chitrakonda Reservoir was known as Second Lingaraj of Orissa. This famous Shiva Temple was visited by Sri Chaitanya Deva during his visit to Nandapur. Existance of a number of Shiva Temples in and around Malkangiri signifies the fact that the ancient kings were shiviests.
The founder ruler of Jeypore State King Vinayaka Dev came from Kashmir and got married to Lilabati, the Princess of Nandapur. In the path of establishing the kingdom, he faced a lot of hardship and revolts. Singaraju, the brother of Lilabati sponsored his sincere efforts to King Vinayaka Dev in suppressing the rebel groups. King Vinayaka Dev established two new villages namely Nilakamberu and Singarajukhunta as a mark of respect and gratitude towards Lilabati and Singaraju. Some ancient monuments and idols of different Gods were discovered from Nilakamberu. Malkangiri was florished as a hilly kingdom during the regin of the "Ganga Dynasty" It was known as "Kumbudiri" as mentioned by the first Collector of Koraput District Mr. R.C.S.Bell in gazetter, 1941. There is enough evidence that the wild forest country of Malkangiri is known for a former civilization. In Kondakamberu there are two inscriptions recording a gift to the God Nilakantheswar by the queen of Pandu Singh in the year 1376 A.D.. Kondakamberu was formerly known as "Kambudiri".
During the period from 1400 A.D. to 1872 A.D. this priencely state was ruled by as many as twenty six kings. The entire state was divided into four MUTHAS namely Mout, Podia, Korukonda and Padmagiri. The head of each mutha was called "MUTHADAR". Each mutha was further divided into a number of villages of which "PEDA" was the head. The post of Muthadar and Peda were hereditary and recogined by the King of Malkangiri. There was always a fear of foreign invassion for the kingdom for which there was no permanent place for the Kings. Temporary castles were built for the Kings in several places of the state. Ruins of such a castle is still existing over "RajaRani Hill" just in front of Bhairavi Temple of Malkangiri. An annual meeting was held on the "Vijaya Dashami" festival at "Sardar Basani Ambatota" of Deva Dangar. The meeting was attended by all the Muthadar and Pedas of the State. The King used to preside over this meeting and all important decissions were discussed in the meetings. The King delicates power to the Muthadars in this meetings to execute his decissions.
The last Queen of Malkangiri, Bangaru Devi ruled over here from 1855 A.D. to 1872 A.D.. She defeated King Ramachandra Deva III of Jeypore by her powerful and extra-ordinarily large Koya Army. She along with her Koya Army faught bravely against the mighty Brithsh Army and finally deposed in 1872 A.D. resulting a complete accession of Malkangiri State into Madras Presidency. Queen Bangaru Devi tried her best and faught for another 8 years upto 1800 A.D. to come power but failed. Finally she lost her life at the age of 70 in the year 1885 after a prolonged illness for 5 years. In the year 1880 A.D., Tama Dora, a brave Koya youngman led the Koya troop, defeated the British Police of Malkangiri and declared himself as the ruler of Podia and Motu. In this incident one Inspector and six policemen of Podia Police Station were killed. This incident is famous as "Koya Revolution" and had its great impact throughout the country. Colonel Macqoid of Hyderabad ntigent marched with 100 men to protect more but failed by the sever attack of the Koya Army under the leadership of Tama Dora. However the efforts of the brave youngman came to an end when he was brutally killed in the Rampa Forest near Mout on 28/07/1880 by the Military Police of Hyderabad and the organised Koya Army was fragmented lacking a dynamic leadership.
After a long gap of 35 years (from 1880 to 1915), rebel groups again tried to fight against British Empire in and around Malkangiri. Unifying all the small rebel groups, alluri sitarama Raju established a big Guerrila Troop and faught against the Brithish Army. Chitrakonda and Kondakamberu were the Headquarters of Sitarama Raju. He was initially a follower of non-violence and grasped a good deal of knowledge on Indian culture, Mythology and religious activities of Hindus. Observing the exploitation of honest tribals by the British Police and their brutality he became violent and their and declare direct war against them. He attacked the young Koya people to join his army by delivering elocant speech. He became popular in an area from Bhadranchalam in Andhra Pradesh to Bastar in Madhya Pradesh. Fearing at the grawing popularty of A.Sitarama Raju, British Tahasildar Bastian along with a huge English Army arrested Raju but finally relased him due to pressure from all corners. He, after being released from police custody made himself involved in direct battle against the British police. He alongwith his large Koya troop raided the Raja Bamangi jail and released a freedom fighter Biraya Dora. In the month of September,1922, two British Army Officers namely Wrighter and Cobbard were killed and another officer Themoy Heir was seriously injured by Alluri Sitaram Raju and his troop. In another incedent in September, 1923; Malkangiri police station and Treasury were looted by Raju & his group. During the begining of 1924, Assam Rifles and Malabar Troops were sent to the forest of Malkangiri for supprerssing the rebels. The troops cordered Chitrakonda and attacked the Koya Army from all sides. A large no. of Koya yound fighters were killed and many tribal families werer tortured brutally by English Army. Finally A.Sitarama Raju was called for a discussion with the Collector. But it was a conspiracy. Raju was caught by the Malabar Troops and tied up with a tamarind tree. Finally by order of Major Guddal, Malabar Troops fired at Raju and killed him. The brave episode of Sitarama came to an end with the clear suppression of Koyas.
Again Malkangiri came into National News when Laxman Naiko, the greatest freedom fighter ever this place had led the tribals for a non-cooperation movement against the British. He was a follower of non-violence principle of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1942 he led a demonstration in Mathili on 21st of August police opened fire at the peaceful nob killing & demonstrators namely Nakula Pujari, Samara Nayak, Narasingha Bhumia and Linga Bhumia. In this incident, a forest guard namely G.Ramaya was killed for which Laxman Naiko was accused of and arrested. The trial continued for four months and on 13th November, 1942 the then Sessions Judge V.Ramanathan put forward his verdict, " Accused No.1 Sri Laxman Naiko is convicted under sectuion 302 I.P.C. and sentenced to death subject to confirmation by the Hon'ble High Court ".
Advocate Radha Charan Das of Berhampur and famous freedom fighter Uma Charan Pattnaik of Berhampur went to Patna High Court for an appeal which was finally rejected. On 29th March, 1943 the file of Sri Laxman Naiko came to an end when he was hanged till death in Berhampur jail. It has been studied that the case against Laxman Naik was weak and it was opened to go for higher appeal in court of law. But no significant steps were taken in this regard by any of the famous personalities of that time. Even it is most unfortunate that the people involved in the entire process of Laxman Naik's arrest and death penality were able to get all Government facilities, employment and promotion during the post indepence period.
Prior to 1936, Malkangiri was a part of Madras Presidency. In 1936, Koraput District from Madras Presidency merged in Orissa and Malkangiri Tahasil war included in Koraput District. The first English Collector of Koraput District Mr.R.C.S.Bell in the year 1941 prepared the Gazetteer of Koraput in which he described the physical condition,climatic condition and all about the tribal people of Malkangiri Tahasil. This Tahasil was a part of Nawarangpur Sub-Division of Korapur District. In 1st January, 1962, Malkangiri Sub-Division came into existence. In 1958, Dandakaranya Development Project was implemented to settle the refugees coming from East Pakistan. This project was continued for 30 years until it was declared closed in the year 1988.
Finally in 2nd October, 1992 Malkangiri got its identity as a District as per Notification No. 49137/R dated 01.10.1992 of Orissa Government in Revenue and Excise Department, Orissa, Bhubaneswar which carved out of Koraput District.