Brief history of the district

This district is situated on the south-east side of Bihar State. Eastern and Southern border of this district is adjacent to the Jharkhand State. Western border is adjacent to Jamui district and North-West side to Munger district and is adjacent to North Bhagalpur. Geographical Area of the District is 3020 sq. kms. The Headquarters of this District is situated in Banka town. This district was established on 21st February, 1991. Prior to this, it was a subdivisional town of Bhagalpur. To run the administration properly it is divided into one subdivision Banka, eleven Blocks comprising 2111 villages constituting 185 panchayats and two urban sectors, viz; Banka (Nagar Panchayat) and Amarpur (Nagar Panchayat).

Early history

The district has a rich heritage and it has a close linkage with the parent district of Bhagalpur from which it was carved out after 1991 Census. Therefore, history of Banka district can be rightly viewed through the history of Bhagalpur district. According to traditions preserved in the epics and puranas, the descendants of Anu, the great grandson of Manu, founded the Anava kingdom in the east. Afterwards, this kingdom was divided among the five sons of king Bali, known as Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Pundia and Sumha. Among the kings of Anga about whom there is some reference, was Lomapada, a contemporary and friend of king Dashrath of Ayodhya. His great grandson was Champa after whom the capital of Anga, till then known as Malini, was renamed as Champa. Anga, alongwith Magadh, first finds mention in Vedic literature in the Atharvaveda Samhita. Buddhist scriptures mention Anga among the different kingdoms in northern India. According to a tradition, Brahmadatta, the king of Anga defeated Bhattiya, the king of Magadh. But the latter’s son, Bimbisar (C.545 B.C.) avenged his father’s defeat and subjugated Anga. Ajatshatru, the next king of Magadh, is said to have transferred his capital to Champa. Subhadrangi, the mother of Ashoka, was a poor Brahmin girl of Champa who was given to Bindusar in marriage. Anga remained a part of the Magadhan Empire under the Nandas, the Mauryas (324-185 B.C.), the Sugas (185-75 B.C.) and the Kanvas (75-30 B.C.). During the rule of the Kanvas, king Kharavela of Kalinga invaded Magadh and Anga. The history of the next few centuries upto the coronation of Chandragupta I (in 320 A.D.) is rather obscure. Anga was a part of the great Gupta Empire (320-455A.D.). This was an epoch of great
material and cultural progress. With the decline of the Guptas, the Gaud King Sasanka gained control 20 over the area in 602 A.D. and maintained his dominion till his death in 625 A.D. His death marked the decline of Gaud power and later the area came under Harsha’s domain of influence. He installed Madhav Gupta as king of Magadh. His son Adityasena has left an inscription in Mandar Hill indicating the installation of Narsimha or Narhari temple by him. Hiuen Tsang visited Champa in the course of his travels. He has left a description of the town in his travel accounts. The Palas of Bengal came to power in 755 A.D. with the election of Gopala as the king. He conquered Bihar. Dharmapala succeeded him. Vigrahpala established his authority in Anga. A copper plate ascribed to his son Narayanpal has been found at Bhagalpur. Vikramshila, the seat of the famous University, was founded by Gopala. The Senas also ruled over Anga after the fall of the Palas.

Muslim period

Lakhsamana Sena (1185-1206) of the Sena dynasty was in power when Muhammad Bakhtiar Khilji overran Bihar and Bengal towards the end of the 12th century. He ransacked and trazed to ground the ancient universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila. Bakhtiar Khilji was the first Viceroy of Bihar and Bengal under the Turko-Afghan rulers of Delhi. South Bihar was more firmly annexed to Delhi in 1330. Towards the close of the fourteenth century, virtually the whole of Bihar was annexed to the kingdom of Jaunpur and remained under it for almost a hundred years. The rule of Jaunpur was terminated by the successful expeditions of Hussain Shah of Bengal. Humayun invaded Bengal in B. C. 1540. He passed through Bhagalpur but was checked by Sher Shah in the narrow defile between the Ganges and the Rajmahal hills. On his accession to the throne in 1556, Akbar finally broke the Afghan power and established Mughal authority on a sound footing. Bhagalpur was constituted as a part of the Sarkar of Munger. Akbar’s forces marched through Bhagalpur in 1573 and 1575. There was a military revolt against Akbar in 1580. The rebels had an army of about 30,000 cavalry and were encamped at Bhagalpur, Akbar sent his Finance Minister, Todar Mall, to quell the rebellion which he successfully accomplished. He prevailed upon the local zamindars to cut off all supplies to the insurgents who had perforce to scatter away.

British period

For the next two centuries Bihar including Bhagalpur of which Banka district was part, was governed by the Muslim Viceroys of the Mughal Emperors, with their seat at Rajmahal. This terminated in 1769 when the East India Company first appointed ‘supervisors’ in the district. Augustus Cleveland became the first collector in 1779. In a brief span of four years that he held office, Cleveland 21 accomplished a great deal in conciliating the hill tribesmen of the Santhal Pargana. A pyramidal monument to him still exists in Bhagalpur city. The subsequent history of the district is rather uneventful. The Santhal rebellion led to the creation of the new non-regulation district of the Santhal Pargana in 1855-56.

1857 Movement

The movement of 1857 did not have very great repercussions in Bhagalpur of which Banka district was a part. On learning of the rising at Dinapur and Munger, Mr. Yule, who was then Commissioner, stopped a detachment of 100 European soldiers of the Fifth Fusiliers and posted them at Bhagalpur. At that time the 5th Irregulars were stationed at Bhagalpur and the 32nd Native Infantry at Bausi. The former revolted on the 14th August and marched to Rohini to join a detachment of their regiment stationed at that place. The combined force marched to Bausi. But the Colonel of the 32nd Native Infantry had been forewarned and he succeeded in preventing his men from joining the insurgents. The latter then marched off towards Deoghar. Although the 32nd Native Infantry had not risen against the British earlier, it revolted on the 9th October, and killed Lt. Cooper and Mr. Ronald, the Assistant Commissioner. This rising was short lived and the insurgents laid down arms of their own accord soon after. The district of Banka played an important role in the country’s freedom struggle. It was influenced by the Swadeshi Movement in the first decade of this century. Periodicals from Calcutta which advocated the Swadeshi cause had good circulation in Bhagalpur of which Banka district was a part. There was effective public participation in the movement for boycott of foreign cloth in the early days of the struggle for Indian Independence under Gandhi’s leadership. The Students’ Movement was emerging in the next decade and Banka participated in it with great fervour. Some of its annual conventions were held in Bhagalpur. Banka responded adequately to Gandhiji’s calls during the Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movement. The Congress office, Khadi depot and Charkha Sangha were taken over by the police. Over 1,600 persons were arrested in the district in 1930. In 1942 a large number of meetings were held and processions taken out after the arrest of the national leaders. The district played a prominent role in the subsequent event which continued till the country’s independence.