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Ranchi History, India

A close study of Ranchi history reveals that the capital city of the Jharkhand State is quite unlike Calcutta, Lucknow, Patna or the capital cities of its other neighboring states. Whether you take into account the ancient period of Ranchi history or reflect on modern times, you will find that Ranchi has more or less been a strong-hold of tribes like Munda and Oraon; in fact, the name Ranchi is a distortion of the Oraon-word ‘Archi’.

Ranchi History: From Ancient Period to Mughal Period

In ancient times, Ranchi and its neighboring regions were part of a dense forest, identified by the Aryans as Jharkhand. Inhabited by tribal groups, the region was never a part of the Hindu kingdoms of ancient India. With the rise of the Mauryas, the region became a part of the Magadha Empire; however, neither did the Mauryas, nor did the successive Guptas exercise any direct control over the region.

After the fall of the Guptas, regional powers rose to prominence and the entire Chhotanagpur region came under the control of the Nagvanshis (they are said to have some connection with the Munda tribe). This was around 600 A.D. and for almost the next 1000 years, the Nagavanshi rulers continued to wield their powers uninterrupted.

The first break/disruption came in 1585 in the form of Mughal forces sent by Emperor Akbar. In the ensuing battle, the then ruler of Chhotanagpur was defeated and the kingdom (identified as Kokra by the Mughals) was made a part/subah of Bihar. Following Akbar’s death, the ousted ruler re-established the Chhotanagpur kingdom. This resulted in another Mughal attack in 1616. Durian Sal, the ruler, was initially captured but released later and reinstated as the chief of independent Chhotanagpur region after agreeing to pay fixed yearly revenue. This arrangement continued till 1632, when the kingdom was gifted as a Jagir to the Governor of Patna.

Ranchi History: Company Period, British Period and Freedom Movements

The Company period in Ranchi history began around the time when Mughal Emperor Shah Alam-II granted the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the East India Company. Taking advantage of the raging feuds among the local rulers, the Company officials had started playing one against the other all over India and the Chhotanagpur kingdom was no exception. Initially, the Company entered into a convenient alliance with the ruler of the Chhotanagpur kingdom, but once the Company had control over the other regions, the kingdom was annexed into the Company territory.

A number of incidents occurring within the span of thirty years, starting from 1780 and continuing until the first decade of the 19th century, which included the end of the feudal control of the ruler as well as financial exploitation and oppression of the native tribal populace, led to high-levels of discontent among the resident tribal groups. This resulted in a number of Adivasi uprisings, with the Kol Uprising of 1831-32 being the most important one to happen before the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.

The Kol Uprising led to the creation of the Ranchi district (the original name was Lohardaga, which was subsequently changed to Ranchi in 1899). In between the Kol Revolt and the 1857 Rebellion, the other important thing to happen had been the conversion of a sizeable section of the tribal population to Christianity by visiting missionaries in 1850.

The 1857 Movement initially proved a success for Ranchi and its nearby cities/towns but it ultimately failed for numerous reasons. Whatever, the suppression of the 1857 Revolt saw the end of Company’s rule and the beginning of British rule! From the very onset, the British Government started interfering in political affairs all over India.

Although this became the root cause of discontent/dissatisfaction among the masses, economic exploitation of the populace further aggravated the problem leading to the Sardari Agitation. The Oraons and Mundas of Ranchi joined the movement in the second-half of 1880s. By mid-1890s, Ranchi and surrounding regions found a leader, a voice in Birsa Munda, who claimed the land for the native populace. Although the rising was quelled and Birsa Munda died in jail in 1900, he is still revered, still worshipped as ‘Birsa Bhagwaan’.

This was followed by a number of revolts and movements – some local movements and some at national-level, some agrarian movements, some freedom movements and some religious movements. These rebellions, which occurred at different points in time, also brought many national leaders of the highest stature to Ranchi. And when India became independent in 1947, the efforts of Ranchi and that of the native tribal groups were whole-heartedly acknowledged.

Ranchi History: Post Independence Era

Post independence, Ranchi gradually became an important commercial, educational and industrial hub and when the Jharkhand State was created in 2000 A.D., Ranchi was made the capital of the new state.

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