The Kanker District is situated in the southern region of the state ChhattisgarhThe History of Kanker is started from Stone era. With reference of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
There was a dense forest area named Dandakaranya and the Kanker state belonged to Dandakaranya. According to myths the Kanker was the land of monks. A lot of Rishis (monks) named Kank, Lomesh, Shringi, Angira were lived here. In sixth century before Christ the region was affected by Buddhism. The ancient history of Kanker tells that it remained always independent state.
In 106 AD the Kanker state was under the Satvahan dynasty And the king was Satkarni, This fact is also descripted by Chinese visitor Whensaung. After Satkarni his disasters named Pulumavi, Shivshri and Shivskand became the king. After Satvahans the state was under control of Nags, Vakataks and Gupt dynasties time to time.
After the Vakataks the Kanker state came under control of Nal dynasty. according to historians Vyghraraj was the first king of Nals. the second king Varahraj won the whole region of Dandakaranya. after Varahraj , Bhavdutt verma became the king of Kanker state. During the kingdom of Bhavdutt Verma Vakatak king Narendra Sen attacked on state and won a little part of state, but after some years Bhavdutt Verma recollect the lost part and also expand his state up to Orrisa and Maharashtra. after the death of Bhavdutt verma his son Arthpati became the king. He got a bigger state from his father but he was a poor king and had not the qualities like his father and lost some part of states to Vatakataks. In 475 Skand Verma became the king of Kanker state and ruled up to 500 AD. He was the last memorable king of Nal dynasty. After his death the Kanker state suffered a lot of attacks and divided into many parts. After the downfall of Nal kings the state was won by famous king Pulkeshin II of Chalukya dynasty, he also won the some part of Orrisa. During his kingdom a lot of temples were constructed in Kanker state. After Pulkeshin, Vikramaditya, Vinayaditya, Vinayaditya, Vikramaditya II, Kirtiverman II were the other kings of Chalukya They Ruled the state up to 788 AD after Chalukya the state was ruled by different dynasties time to time like Nals, Nags, Kalchuris etc up to 1100 AD.
Due to weakness of Kalchuris king Gayakarna, A brave person Singh raj won the Kanker state and kept the foundation of SOM dynasty, He ruled the state from 1125 to 1140.
After the death of Singh Raj his son Vyaghra Raj became the king. He expanded his state, In fourth year of his kingdom he suffered bye the attack of a kalchuri king and lost some part of state. He was a brave person. Although he suffered defeat but he ruled his state successfully up to 1166. He donated some land for the construction of a temple of Kal Bhairav.
In 1166 Bop Dev became the king of state after the death of his father. In starting he was the governor of the state but the main power was under Kalchuri kings. but Bop Dev took advantage of weakness of Kalchuris and became independent but soon the Kalchuris awoke and again dominated Bop Dev. He ruled the state up to 1184 under control of Kalchuris.
Bop Dev had two sons Krishna and Som Raj. After the death of Bop Dev both princes fought for the kingdom and in last Krishna got success and became the king. For the satisfaction of his brother Som Raj he divide the state in two parts. So after the death of Bop Dev the Som dynasty divided into two branches. Karna Raj (Krishna) was a brave and religious king. He got constructed Lord Shiva's Temple in Sihava and the Ramnath temple on the bank of Doodh River in Kanker. He ruled the state up to 1206. There is no details available about the other branch of Som dynasty.
After the death of Karna Raj his son Jait Raj became the king. He was very brave person and attacked on neighboring states fro expansion his kingdom. During his kingdom the other branch of Som dynasty mixed with main branch again. In 1258 Jait Raj was expired. After that his son Som Chandra became king during his kingdom the Kanker state became stronger and prospers. He ruled the state up to1306. In 1306 Bhanu Dev became the king of state. During his kingdom he had suffered a lot of attacks by neighboring states but he came out successfully and saved his kingdom. He was religious king and brought prosperity. After the death of Bhanu Dev his son Chandrasen Dev became the king. He got constructed a Lord Shiva's temple. He ruled the state up to 1344. He was the last king of Som dynasty.
After the downfall of SOM A brave and strong person Dharam Dev kept the foundation of KANDRA dynasty. His original name was Dharman. He was a tribal leader. He won the khalgarh and made it his capital after the death of last king of Som dynasty. He got constructed a fort in Muchkund fountain. He was a famous king. Once the king of Hiragarh arranged a competition for the marriage of his daughter. The king Dharam Dev won the competition and married with Hiradevi, a beautiful princess. Due to this marriage the neighboring king were jealous. According to myth the king of Bastar Annam Dev attacked on Sihava for getting Hiradevi. So Dharam Dev came to Kanker with his family. In his absence Annam Dev won the Sihava fort. and on other end Dharam Dev won the Kanker and made his capital to Gadhiya fountain a natural and safe fort. After some years He again won the Sihava. He had two daughters and two sons. The king Dharam Dev was very good and popular king in peoples. He got dug so many tanks in Kanker. He never misused the money of state. He ruled the state from 1345 to 1367. After his death, his son Chhatar Dev became the king but due to his poor administration he lost the some part of state and died in 1385.
After the downfall of KANDRA the Chandra dynasty came. Some historian assume the Chandra dynasty was related to Som dynasty. According to a myth the first king of this dynasty was Veer kanhar Dev. Previously he was the king of Jagannath Puri in Orrisa, but due to suffering from leprosy he left his kingdom and came to Sihava and started to pass his time in worship. One night he saw a dream that if he takes bath in a special tank at Sihava he will get healthy. Then by keeping the faith on that dream he took the bath in that tank and wonderfully he got healthy. In Sihava the people surprised by this event and elected him the king. He proved himself as a good king and ruled the state up to 1404.
After the death of Veer Kanhar Dev, Veer Kishore Dev became the king of the state, He was a wise and brave person. He expanded his state by winning the neighboring states. He declared his capital at Nagri instead of Sihava. He ruled the state up to 1425. After his death his son Tanu Dev became the king. His kingdom is famous for the change of capital. He declared his capital at Kanker. He was very popular in people he ruled up to 1461.
After the death of Tanu Dev, Vasu Dev became the king of Kanker state. He got started to celebrate the festival of Rath Yatra at Kanker. In this festival they walked in a procession with the statues of lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra. This festival was very popular in villagers. He ruled the state up to 1482. After his death Kapeel Narendra Dev became the king. He got constructed the temple of lord Shiva on the bank of Mahanadi. He ruled the state up to 1504. After his death Dhar Hameer Dev ruled the state up to 1522 and after that Hameer Dev ruled the state up to 1539.
After the death of Hameer Dev, Rudra Dev became the king. He was very much brave person. He established the peace in his state. He was married with the daughter of neighboring state and got that state in dowry. He declared Rudri as his capital of the state. He got constructed the temple of lord Shiva on the bank of Mahanadi, This temple is famous by the name of Rudreshwar. He got constructed a big fort and two tanks in Dhamtari. He was a popular king. His state was wealthy and peaceful. He ruled the state from 1539 to 1588. After that the respective kings were Himanchal Dev, Shyam Sai Dev, Harihar Sai Dev, Lal Sai Dev and Ghoor Sai Dev. They ruled the state up to 1729. But their detail information is not available.
After the death of Ghoor Sai Dev his son Harpal Dev became the king. He had good administrative qualities. He settled his sister's marriage with the Dalpat Dev, Who was the prince of neighboring state Bastar. And both the neighboring states lived friendly till the death of Dalpat Dev. Harpal Dev ruled the Kanker state up to 1775.After his death Dhiraj Singh Dev, Ram Raj Singh Devand Shyam Singh Dev were the other kings and they ruled the state up to 1802.
KANKER UNDER CONTROL OF MARATHAS AND BRITISH
During the kingdom of Shyam Singh Dev Marathas had started attacks on Kanker and Bastar States due to prosperity of these states. When Mahipal Dev was the king of Bastar State then Marathas attacked on Bastar at that time the king of Kanker was Bhoop Dev. Since Kanker and Bastar were neighboring states, therefore they affected each other. when the two princes Mahipal Dev and Umrao Singh were fighting for kingdom Bhoop Dev supported to Mahipal Dev due to their family relations. And also in the case of Marathas Bhoop dev supported to Mahipal Dev so Marathas could not get success. But they got angry with Bhoop Dev and attacked on Kanker state. Bhoop Dev surrendered and ran away and Marathas won the Kanker state. Bhoop Dev lived in a small village near Dhamtari for 9 years in last he did an agreement with the resident of Nagpur state Mr. Jenkins on behalf of Marathas and got his sate again but for that he had to pay some tax per year and had to obey some conditions. Bhoop Dev remained faithful towards Nagpur state up to his death in 1839.
After the death of Bhoop Dev his son Padma Dev (Padma Singh) became the king. He followed his father regarding Marathas and remained faithful till death. The king of Nagpur Bhosla Raja was very much impress with Padma Dev because of his faithful behavior. People were very happy during his kingdom. He Got constructed a temple of goddess Durga. He ruled the state up to 1853.
After the death of Padma Singh his elder son Narhari Dev became the king. He has three brothers named Laxman Dev, Shiv Charan Dev and Ghanshyam Singh Dev. His wife was Padmalaya Devi, who was the daughter of Bhairam Dev, the king of the Bastar state. During his kingdom the Kanker state came under control of British from Marathas. British government gave the adoption to Narhari Dev and He gave the acknowledge of fealty to British. In1882 the control of Kanker State handed over to Commissioner Raipur. The deputy commissioner Raipur visited the Kanker State and submitted the precious report of Narhari Dev to government. Narhari Dev had good administrative qualities, After getting power he concentrated on administration. During his kingdom A palace near Gadiya mountain, printing press, library, Radhakrishna Temple, Ramjanki temple, jagannath temple and Balaji temple were constructed. He was so much popular in people. He made a plan named Ratna Bhandar for keeping grain in stock for his people. He had two sons but they both died in 14 and 16 years of age. So Narhari Dev got very much sad and left the kingdom and went to holy town Vrindavan. But due to pressure of people and British government he came back. He had smart personality and was very wise and religious, He often donated a lot of money and land to different temples. He established a new town named Narharpur near Kanker. He was expired in 1903.
In 1904 Komal Dev became the king of Kanker. He was the nephew of Narhari Dev. He controlled the state with the help of his minister Anand Rao. He had three queens. He was a good king. During his kingdom one English high school, one Girls school and 15 primary Schools were established and also two hospitals one in Kanker and the other in Sambalpur were constructed. He established a new town near Kanker named Govindpur. He also tried to make capital Govindpur instead of Kanker. He was expired on 8 January 1925. After his death, Bhanupratap Dev became the king. he was a relative of Komal Dev because Komal Dev had no son. Bhanupratap Dev was the last king of Kanker before independence of India after independence He was elected M. L. A. from Kanker constituency two times. He was expired on 14 August 1969.