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History of Lohardaga

Lohardagga's history dates to hoary antiquity. Jain literature refers to Lord Mahavir's visit to a place called "Lore-a-Yadaga," a term that also appears in Mundari literature. lore-a-Ydaga' in Mundari means river of tears. There is reference to Kismate Lohardaga in 'Aain-e-Akbari' as well.

     The ruins of forts and temples of Korambe, Bhandra, and Khukhra-bhakso, are mute testimony to its rich cultural past. Local historians say that Lohardaga was once a major centre for smelting iron ("Lohar" means iron monger, "dagga" means centre).

     Around 1765, the British entered this area. In 1833, when 'South West Frontier Agency" was established, the chief agent of the Governor General was resident in Lohardaga. In 1842 the Principal Assistant to the "Agent" was relocated from Lohardaga to Ranchi (then known as Kishunpur). In 1843 a Deputy Commissioner was placed and Courts were established at Ranchi but the Commissioner continued to work from Lohardaga until 1899 despite the fact that in 1854 the South West Frontier Agency was abolished. Bihar government notified Lohardaga as a Sub Division in 1972 and as a district on 17ltl May 1983.

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Cultural specificities:

     Lohardaga district is part of the wider tribal region, called Jharkhand. The region has been a sort of loose confederation of freely associating concatenation of economically self-sufficient village communities since time immemorial. This confederation of tribespersons extended from south-western Bengal, southern Bihar, large parts of Orissa, northern Andhra, southern Madhya Pradesh, Western and coastal Maharashtra. Many tribespersons are still alive who can trace their ancestors from these parts. The tribals of Lohardaga had a sophisticated culture based on fine understanding of land, sustainable natural resource management, and community rights. The following paragraphs document a few singular facts about these people.

Village economy:

          A typical village was carved out of forest. Homestead land would generally be selected at an elevation surrounded by farmland and forests. There would be a water source- a well, a river or a pond- as close to the homestead as possible. The forests compensated the low productivity of soil to the extent of making village communities self-sufficient.

     The tribespersons, therefore, came to depend heavily on forest resources such as stems, tubers, fruits, leaves, flowers, animals, timber, and herbs, for food, shelter and medicines. Despite the emergence of money economy, a part of their cash requirement is still met from non-timber forest produce (NTFP). Even today, despite education, many Munda, Oraon and Kharia households, who own more land as compared to other tribes, depend upon the forests for their survival needs. There is a symbiotic relationship between the tribespersons and the forest that transcends purely material and takes on deeper metaphysical, often spiritual, connotation. "Sarna," the sacred grove, where elders are buried, is invariably located within a Sal forest.

Cultural ethos and conservation

     Local people narrated another interesting feature of the tribal life to the investigating team. Traditionally males and females of marriageable age were first symbolically married off to mango and mahua trees respectively. After the actual marriage, the males would marry the mahua and the females the mango tree. Thereafter married couples were expected to look after their respective trees.