BRIEF HISTORY OF SAHARSA DISTRICT
District at a Glance Saharsa District Map Railway Map Important Places
Earlier Saharsa district was within Bhagalpur Division. Kosi Division was formed on 2nd October 1972 comprising of Saharsa, Purnia and Katihar district with its head quarters at Saharsa. Similarly a new Civil Sub-Division Birpur was created on 01.12.1972. Consisting of 24 development Blocks viz. Raghopur, Chhatapur, Basantpur and Nirmali which were previously under supaul subdivision of this district. Two new districts Madhepura & Supaul have been formed from Saharsa district on 30.04.1981 and 1991. Saharsa district now consists of 2 subdivisions, viz. Saharsa Sadar and Simri Bakhtiarpur. The district consists of 10 development blocks and anchals each.
Saharsa was created on 1st of April 1954. Formerly it had no independent status and parts of Saharsa were included in the old districts of Munger & Bhagalpur A large parts of the district in the past was subjected to annual floods and inundation by a host of rivers origination from the Himalayas. The sub terai was noted for rice cultivation before it was subjected to the vagaries of the unpredictable Koshi.
The district has been largely influenced by its geography. Whatever humans of historically important sites that may have existed here have been virtually started by the repeated flooding at the koshi during the last half century or so. With the efforts of some early Europeons however, some important historical objects or landmarks have been preserved in a few places and it is on the basis of these that some kind of a connected account of the early history of the district can be constructed.
In ancient times Vaishali was the strongest republic in North-Bihar and beyond that lay the famous territory of Anguttarap. There was a small Janpad, named Apna, in Anguttarap and it included a portion of the district of Shaharsa. Although it is not confirmed whether this was a republic it is certain that the people of this area were outside the influence of the Lichchhavis. Various sites of the district, now completely eroded and destroyed by the kosi, viz. Biratpur, Budhiagarhi, Budhnaghat, Buddhadi, Pitahahi and Mathai are associated with Budhism. Before the advent of Kosi in the district these sites supplied important materials, and during the district these sites supplied important materials, and during the period of erosis big buildings and huge construction which lay covered under them were noticed falling into the river. Local legends confirm that Lord Budha nad Lord Mahavira passed through the district during their missinonary travels and delivered important sermons.
Both Anga and North Bihar (including Shaharsa) continued to be independent till the early part of the sixth century B.C. For some time Magadh remained an intigral part of Anga. But soon the prosperity of Anga declined. Bimbsar, theking of Magadh, annexed Anga to his empire. Though Anga seems to have continued as an independent Janpad. This was the characteristic of the whole of north Bihar untill it was finally conquered by Ajatsatru. It was who finally defeated the Lichhavis and other independent republics of north Bihar and annexed the whole territory to the Kingdom of Magadha. The Magadhan empre was growing repidly and the whole of Bihar was brought under the sway of Magadhan rule by the Nandas and Mauryas.
In the first decade of this century a board of 58 punch marked coins of the Mauryan period was discovered from Gorhoghat. Later, the same type of coins were found at Patuaha by prof. R.K.Choudhary in 1956. He also came across some pieces of black polished ware near Mahishi and its surroundings. The Mauryan rule in this area stands firmly confirmed by a Mauryan pillar at Sikligarh on the Banmankhi-Forbesganj Road and another in the Kishanganj Police Station. Since Saharsa was a border district even in those days, the Mauryan rulers apparently took special care to guard its frontiers.
The Mauryans were supplanted by Sungas and Kanvas and there did not seem to have been major political change in the district. Whether the Kushans conquered this portion cannot be determined.
Between 320 and 1097 A.D.
Under the Guptas (from 320 A.D.) the entire North Bihar was consolidated as a Tirbhukti (province) with its capital at Vaishali. Therefore, the forward province came to be known as Bhukti and the district came to be known as Vishaya. In North Bihar, there were two Bhuktis, viz. Tirabhukti (practically the whole of North Bihar) and Pundravardhanbhukti (included a portion of Saharsa, Purnia and a portion of North Bengal). The extent of Saharsa during the period under review was upto the confines of Pundravardhanbhukti which included some of its present area.
After the decline of the Guptas the political gap came to be utilised by all contemporary chiefs. Taking advantage of the situation the Varmans of Kamrup (Assam) extended their authority up to the confines of the Kosi. The rule of purnavarman over North Bihar included the present district of Saharsa. The rise of Harsha in 7th century A.D. was an event of great importance. He brought under his sway the whole of Nothern India. But the death of Harsha in 647 A.D. once again let loose the forces of disintegration.
The Palas of Bihar and Bengal (8th century) A.D. gave a stable administration to the district. As South Bihar was pressed by the Kalchuris, the plas apparently shifted to North Bihar and Saharsa might have been their head quarters during the time of Vigraphapala-III. Quite a few villages in Saharsa district are associated with the names of pala rulers and it was through this district that the Palas could establish contact with Nepal. From the geographical point of view Saharsa was the most strategically suited from being the Jayaskandharar (temporary Capital) of the Palas at the time when they were surrounded on all sides by enemies.
Between 1097 and 1765 A.D.
The decline of the Pala authority in Bihar and Bengal was followed by the establishment of the Karnata in Mithila and the sena dynasties in Bengal. Both the Kanrnatas and senas claimed authority over portion of Saharsa and often entered into armed conflict.
Nanyadeva, the first of the Karnatas, extended his influence from Champaran to Purnia. Probably, the two chiefs (Nanyadeva of the Karnatas dynasty and Vijay Sena of the Sena Dynasty) were allies who fell into disagreement over division of territory. The deopna inscription of Vijay Sena indicated that Nanyadeva was defeated and imprisoned some where in Supaul Sub division. It was Gangadeva, his son who liberated him. The sanokar inscription of vallalassena proves that his rule extended upto the district of Bhagalpur.
The two sons of Nanyadeva, Malladeva and Gangadeva apparently drove the senas further east as indicated by the setting up of Gangapur Ranani (named after Gangadeva) in pargana Nishanpur Kurha and Maldiha (named after Malladeva) on the Saharsa-Purnia border. The Village Malhad ‘near Supaul is also associated with Malladeva. Gangadeva was succeeded by Narasimha deva during whose reign Mithila and Nepal were separated.
Gradually, the Tughlaq authority in Mithila weakend. Haji Illyas of Bengal taking advantage of this situation invaded Tirhut and defeated its ruler. He divided the Tirhut kingdom into two parts. As a result of this division the district of Saharsa came under the control of Oinwara rulers. The most famous king of this line was shicasimha, who issued gold coins. Vidyapati the famous poet, lived under his patronage.
After the fall of oinwaras, there was virtual chaos. The Gandhaviya Rajputs are said to have acquired power and ruled during this period of confusion. Thei Gandha variya trace their descent from the ruling chiefs of thrhut. The whole district of Saharsa was dotted with small chief transships created both by the Hindus and the Muslims. Even in the early past of Mughal rule they could venture to oppose the central authority as Bihar and the Afghans were opposed to the establishment of Mughal authority. The Karranis and the Afghans, in collusion with the local Rajput rulers and petty chiefs had made this district the centre of revolt.
Raja Todarmal made the revenue settlement in Subah, Bihar in 1852. the very fact that most of the existing parganas of the district of Saharsa were assessed during the time of Akbar shows that the district had acquired administrative siquifrence. During the course of the Mughal rule, the present district of Saharsa seems to have formed parts of Sarkar Tirhut, Sarkar Munger and Sarkar Purnia. The Muslim rule N\naturally had its influence on the life and culture of people. Some of the Rajput zamindars also became converts. The Muslims of Nawahatta circle in the district of Saharsa are said to have been originally Rajputs and their conversion in traced to the Mughal times. It is said that in 1654 Shahjehan bestowed the title of Raja on Kesri Sinha (Ancestor of sone-barsa Raj). Raja Fateh Singh of the same line is said to have sided with the East India Company against Mr. Kasim in the battle of Udhuanala in 1763.
In 1764 Saharsa passed with the rest of Bengal under the Control of East India company. During the Independence Movement of 1857, the people in revolt remained unchecked by the administration of Purnia and Bhagalpur and they moved unchecked through the terai area. They were very active in different parts of the district of Saharsa which was in the midst of a great turmoil. Since then it continued to be an important centre for various kinds of Political agitations directed against the British administration.
The district of Saharsa played an important part in the Annie Besant in 1917 and Satyagarah Movement of Mahatma Gandhi in 1921 received widespread support in the district. In Saharsa, the freedom movement was led, among others, by Sarvashri Mahtal Lal Yadava, Shivanandan Mandal, Nand Kishore Chaudhary, Rajendra Mishra, Ram Bahadur Sinha, Yadunanadan Jha and Rajendra Lal Das. Supaul and Madhepura Jails were full of Political prisioners. Thana Bihpur (in Bhagalpur district) was the scene of great activity where Dr. Rajendra Prasad was bitterely beaten by the police and the people of Saharsa were much agitated over this. Picketing tool place all over the district with full Vigour. The Period between 1930 and 1942 was marked by various Kisan agitations all over the district fro Bakast lands.
The August revolution of 1947 formed a land mark in the history of the freedom movement in Saharsa district too. On the 29th of August, there was police firing at Saharsa and a number of persons were killed. After his escape from the Hazaribagh Jail in 1942 Sri Jay Prakash Nayayan visited Saharsa district on his way to Nepal.
Sri Siyaram Singh of Bhagalpur formed Siyaramdal which had its branches in different parts the district of Saharsa in December 1942. Sri Siyaram Singh met Sri Jaya Prakash Narayan in Nepal where a conference on the works of Bihar was held under the presidentship of Shri Shivanandan Mandal.
The district played a prominent role in the subsequent events which continued till the country’s independence.
District at a Glance Saharsa District Map Railway Map Important Places