Kanker District is located in the southern region of the state of Chhattisgarh, India within the longitudes 20.6-20.24 and latitudes 80.48-81.48. The total area of the district is 5285.01 square kilometers. The population is 651,333.
The Kanker town is situated on the National Highway NH-43. It lies between the two well developed cities of Chhattisgarh namely Raipur (Capital of Chhattisgarh) and Jagdalpur
The history of Kanker is started from Stone Era. With reference of Ramayana and Mahabharat 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 described by Chinese visitor Whensaung. After Satvahans the state was under control of Nags, Vakataks, Gupt, Nal and Chalukya dynasties time to time. Som dynasty was founded by the king Singh Raj and this dynasty ruled the state from 1125 to 1344. After the downfall of Soms a brave and strong person Dharam Dev kept the foundation of Kandra dynasty. Kandra dynasty ruled the state up to 1385. After the downfall of Kandras the Chandra dynasty came. According to a myth the first king of this dynasty was Veer Kanhar Dev. He ruled the state up to 1404. This dynasty ruled the state up to 1802.
The Kanker state came under the control of the Bhosales of Nagpur during the reign of Bhoop Dev from 1809 to 1818. During the kingdom of Narhari Deb the Kanker state came under control of British from Maratha. As British government gave the adoption to Narhari Dev and He gave the acknowledgement of fealty to British. In 1882 the control of Kanker State handed over to Commissioner Raipur.
During the rule of Narhar Deo, a palace near Gadiya Mountain, printing press, library, Radhakrishna Temple, Ramjanki Temple, Jagannath Temple and Balaji Temple were constructed. He made a plan named Ratna Bhandar for keeping grain in stock for his people. He established a new town named Narharpur near Kanker.
In 1904 Komal Dev became the king of Kanker. 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 at Govindpur instead of Kanker. He died on 8 January 1925. After his death, Bhanupratap Dev became the king. Bhanupratap Dev was the last king of Kanker before independence of India. After independence he was elected as a member of the legislative assembly from Kanker constituency two times
What is now Kanker District was a part of old Bastar district. In 1999 Kanker received its identity as an independent district. Now it is surrounded by five other districts of Chhattisgarh state: Kondagaon District, Dhamtari District, Balod District, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon District.
It is currently a part of the Red Corridor
The mainstay of people in the district is agriculture. Even though large numbers of them are tribal, it is agriculture that sustains them for most parts of the year. Non-timber forest produce is another major source of income for the people. As large tracts of the land are still forested. The tribal in many places practice Marhan or Dippa. The farmers who live in forest cut the trees before the rainy season and use the land for agriculture. After every two years they prepare a new farm and leave the old one for some time. In the plane land farming is done each and every year. Rice is the main crop of area but Wheat, Sugar cane, Gram, Kodo, Moong, Tilli, Maize are the other important crops. People also grow varieties of vegetables. Varieties of fruits like Mangoes, Bananas etc. are also produced.
The land is planted with rice or other grains, in an agricultural practice called Marham or Dippa. After a year or two, the land is deserted and new land prepared for planting.
Rice is the main crop of area. However wheat, sugar cane, chana, kodo, moong, tilli, bhutta are also important crops along with many types of vegetables and fruits such as mangoes and bananas.
About half of rural Kanker is below the poverty line as per official estimates. The entire district is drought prone. Over 80 percent of the working population is already dependent on marginal agriculture and allied activities, with low incomes and stagnant productivity. Thus, the challenge is not merely creating livelihood opportunities for the new entrants to the unemployment net to offset the effects of population growth, but to make existing livelihoods of nearly 2.95 lakh workers more productive so that persons engaged in agriculture can earn adequate income to meet their basic needs. Thus, the only feasible option in the short to medium run is to increase employment in the main livelihood sector, which is agriculture. Diversification, intensification and stabilisation of agriculture are at the core of the challenge of livelihood promotion in the district.
The chief languages or dialects used in the Kanker district are Hindi, Bengali, Chhattisgarhi, Gondi and Halbi. There were times when Halbi was an important or language and all the work of administration was done in Halbi language. Halbi is a compound form of Hindi.
Bhatri is the main branch of Halbi language. There are a lot of words taken in this language from other languages like Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Pharsi etc. Like Hindi, Halbi has also two genders masculine and feminine, but the feminine is more used.
The other languages like Bengali, Telugu and Oriya are also popular in the district because people speaking these languages are also living in different parts of the Kanker district.
Up to Nal dynasty the people were divided into four different classes namely Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shoodra. But after the downfall of Nal dynasty, a lot of people came from outside and also the main castes divided into sub castes. There were around 62 casts in Bastar and Kanker states.
In tribes Maria, Gond,Ojha,Muria, Bhatra are divided into Sub Cast San Bhatra,Pit Bhatra,Amnit Bhatra Amnit Hold Highest Status, Parja, Gadva, Halba, Ganda, Mahra, Chandal, Ghuruva, Dom, Lohar, Matrigond, Rajgond, Dorla, Nahar, Naikpod, Kuduk, Andkuri, Kumhar, Kosta, Chamar, Kenvat, Dhakad, were important and in other casts Brahmin, Vaishya, Kayasth, Teli, Kalar, Kshtriya, Kunbi, Dhobi, Marathi, Mohammedan, Pathan, Telanga, Orria and Rohilla etc. were important. Currently in Kanker district around 50 percent of total population is tribal. So the culture of Kanker district is tribal dominant. Although in this modern era the culture has slightly changed.