Historically, the Sundergarh district was formed with the collaboration of two princely States of Gangpur and Bonaigarh. During different periods of time the place was ruled by different rulers. The region was ruled over by Mayura dynasty, Parmar dynasty, Marathas and British. There are different views regarding the origin of the ruling family. Bonaigarh was also popularly known as Bonai Mandala and was ruled by Mayura dynasty as a feudetory of Bhoumakara dynasty of Toshali. The present royal family of Gangpur originally belongs to the Parmar dynasty and Bonaigarh belongs to Kadamba dynasty. These ex-states were under the suzerainty of Sambalpur which formed part of the dominion of the Maratha Rajas of Nagpur. They were ceded to the British Government in the year 1803 by the Maratha Chief named Raghuji Bhonsla of Nagpur under the treaty of Deogaon (near Rourkela). But they were restored to him by special engagement in the year 1806. And it finally went into the hands of British in 1826. In 1905, these two Odia princely states were transferred from the control of the Commissioner of Chhotanagpur to that of Odisha Division and a separate Political Agent was appointed. At present, the area comes under the Red Corridor.
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Geographically, the district has a total 9,712 sq kms. area and occupies the rank 2nd in State and 73rd in India on the bases of this size. It lies at 22°12' N latitude, 84°03' E longitude and 233 m altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 43.95% forest area of total geographical area. It is bounded by Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh in the West, Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh in the North-West, Simdega district of Jharkhand in the North, West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand and Keonjhar district in the East and districts of Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Deogarh and Angul in the South. The climate of the district remains extremely hot in the summer and fairly cold in the winters. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1543.2 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administratively, the district is divided into 30 sub-districts, 14 towns and 1,762 villages. Oriya is its administrative language. The district came in existence on 1st January, 1948 with its administrative headquarters located at Sundergarh town which is situated at the distance of 385 kms. from the State Capital.
Demographically, according to the 2011 census, the district has a total number of 4,73,293 households with a total of 20,93,437 comprising 10,61,147 are males and 10,32,290 are females which leads it to rank 6th in the state and 217th in India. The density of population of the district is 216 (persons per sq kms.). The sex ratio is pegged at 973 (females per 1000 males) while the child ratio stands at 946 (females per 1000 males). As per 2011 census the percentage of major religion practiced by the people of this region is Hindu with 73.20% of the total population. The population growth rate during the period of 2001-2011 was 14.35% including 13.42% were males and 15.33% were females. According to 2011 census the principal languages in the district are Oriya and Hindi with 45.96% and 23.38%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 31,062 out of which 16,046 were males and 15,016 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 15,331 out of which 8,967 were males and 6,364 were females.
Economically, the district is dependent on industries primarily. In the year 2011-12 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 20,76,583 lakhs at current price and Rs. 11,43,473 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2011-12 was Rs. 14,00,546 lakh at current price and Rs. 6,62,194 lakh at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost during the period 2011-12 was Rs. 66,881 at current price and Rs. 31,622 at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The district has many big industries such as Rourkela Steel Plant in Rourkela, a cement plant (OCL India Limited) and many small industries and Taran Textiles in Rajgangpur and a fabrication plant (L&T) in Kansbahal, etc. There is a plan to establish a thermal power plant here under the control of NTPC. A number of mines such as coal mines, iron ore mines, manganese mines, lime stone mines are also available here. it also receives the fund from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF) as one of the most backward districts of Odisha.
Education wise, according to the 2015 census, the literacy rate in the district is 73.34% out of which 81.01% are males and 65.48% are females. The total literate population in the district is 13,42,322 including 7,50,147 are males and 5,92,175 are females. DAV Public School, IIPM School of Management, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Sundargarh, Kesramal boys high school and Purushottam Institute of Engineering and Technology, Asian Workers Development Institute, Biju Patnaik University of Technology, Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Hamirpur High School, Innovision, NIT Rourkela, National Institute of Technology, Hi-Tech Medical College are some of the major educational institutes in the district.
Mangala Kisan belongs to the Biju Janata Dal party. He is representing Orissa in Rajya Sabha. Jual Oram is a member and Vice-President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Currently, he is representing Sundargarh constituency in the 16th Lok Sabha. He also represented the 12th, 13th and 14th Lok Sabha. He also served as the Cabinet Minister in Indian Government. Dilip Ray was the Member of the Parliament in the Rajya Sabha as the union minister of state for coal in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in the year 1998.
The district has some famous historical and religious places to visit. These places are Khandadhar, Vedavyas, Chatri Hill. In the year of 2019, there were total 32,36,024 domestic tourists and 5,774 foreign tourists who visited here. Hanuman Vatika has a statue of Lord Hanuman of 75 feet. Its foundation day is celebrated on 23rd February. There are a number of temples also namely 12 Jyotirlingas, Batta Mangala Devi, Sarala Devi Temple, Jagannath Temple, Lakshmi, and Santoshi Mata Temple. Khandadhar is the fourth highest waterfall in India. It is originated from the perennial Korapani Nala. Vedavyas is a place where Mahabharata is written by Maharishi Vyas. There is also a vedic ashram. The place is situated at influence of the rivers Shankha, Koel and Saraswati. Maa Vaishno Devi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Lakshami and Goddess Saraswati. It lies at the top of the hill with the surrounding of the natural beauty.