History of Bilaspur

Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh is not only known for its cosmopolitan city life but also about its rich historical background. The city once part of Kalchuri dynasty of Ratanpur came into prominence around 1741, when a Maratha official took up his abode at Bilaspur. After the fall of Maratha Empire Bilaspur passed into the hands of English East India Company and remained part of British Empire till 1947 when India got independence from the British rule.

How Bilaspur got its name?

History of Bilaspur
We get information about the name of this place from Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol 8, 1908, which is a very old historical record. It is said that Bilaspur name comes from fisher-women named “Bilasa” in 17th century. According to a tale, the then king had a developed liking towards a fisher woman named Bilasa. But Bilasa was very strong character wise. She did not surrender herself to the desires and wishes of the King and burnt herself alive to get rid off the king. From that time the king named the place as ‘Bilasa Ki Nagari’, the name stuck and later on became Bilaspur.According to another tale, fishermen of the region under the leadership of Bilasa revolted against the autocratic rule of the king. Soon the revolt was crushed king and Bilasa was killed.

History of Bilaspur

Historically Bilaspur used to be a small settlement on the banks of River Arpa and was under the Kalchuri Dynasty of Ratanpur. Bilaspur came to become popular around 1741, when the Marathas started ruling this region. The region was inhabited by a few fishermen. The area that is popularly known as Bilaspur now a days, was once controlled by the Bhonsle rulers of Nagpur till the year 1818. It was governed by the then Maratha Subah also known as district officer. In the year of 1818, the British rulers assisted in the administration of Bilaspur as Raghuji III, the would be ruler at that time was a minor. The district of Bilaspur was constituted in the year of 1861. In the year of 1903 District of Bilaspur was made part of the Central Provinces of British India. In the year of 1998, on 25th May, Bilaspur was split into 3 other smaller districts. They are- Champa, Janjgir and Korba.

History of Bilaspur

The district faced severe famine in the year of 1828- 1829, 1834- 1835 and 1845-1846. The situation of famine was recorded by the then ruling British empire. During the years of 1868- 1869 and 1899- 1900 the region received scanty rainfall. This resulted in starvation, death, mass migration and dissertation of several villages. In 1896, there was a scarcity of food due to poor harvest of crops due to the absence of rain. The famine went on till 1897. As a consequence death became inevitable. The foundation for modern day Bilaspur city was laid during late 19th century when the Bengal Nagpur Railway was being constructed. This place on the banks of River Arpa was selected as a major station and became one of the divisional headquarters.

Effect of Satnami Movement

Guru Ghasidas a well known personality in Indian history belongs to the region of Bilaspur. Guru Ghasidas (1756–1836) started a religious movement Satnamis. The religious movement gained momentum between 1820 and 1830 primarily around the Sonakhan forests. The movement had considerable effect on the minds of people and he played major role in fighting against the evils of caste system. Guru Ghasidas University, a well known university in Bilaspur is named after him.

History behind Bilaspur Railway Station

When the railway service first came to Bilaspur it instantly became an historic event. From 1880 the
government started to make plans on bringing railway services to Bilaspur and soon after the Bengal Nagpur Railway was ready Bilaspur was also connected with a railway service. The very first railway track to Bilaspur came from Rajnangaon in 1888 with the help of Mistri Jagmal Gangji and other Mistri Railway Contractors. Another railway line came to Bilaspur from Jharsuguda in the same year which also gave Bilaspur a bridge over the Champa River. Contractor Jagmal Gangji gave a great contribution to the development of the railway service of Bilaspur as well as his son Mulji Jagmal Sawaria.
For his contribution Mulji Jagmal Sawaria was awarded with the title of “Rao Sahib” by the British.

The growth of the town of Bilaspur

The town of Bilaspur kept growing during British era and by 1901 with total population of 18,937 became the eight-largest town of British India. It became an important center of trade and commerce and emerged as home to the major Tasar silk and cotton clothes in India. Today it stands as one of the prominent city of the state.

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