“What’s in a name?” Asks Shakespeare and dismisses its significance lock, stock & barrel. However, certain names, pregnant with depth, evoke and inspire. Bhadrak is such a name that rings a note of spirituality. Presumed to have been named after its presiding deity Bhadrakali, Bhadrak registers a religious sense. And that virtue has played first to its existence-physical and psychic . Agrarian to the core, Bhadrak is no less egalitarian . Blessed with such proclivity, the place has carved a niche for itself through the ages .
Its ancientness is mentioned by John Beams who writes in his “Notes on Akbar is subah with reference to Ain-i-Akabari” that “Bhadrak as it should be written with final KH, it should be said to be from Balabhadra Kshetra , the field or tract sacred to Balabhadra”. According to Hindu mythology, Balabhadra, eleder brother of Lord Jagannath, is the god of agriculture. In ancient times, Bhadrak was also famous for agriculture. Hence the place might have been named Balabhadrakshetra or Bhadrakkhetra or Bhadrak.
Bhadrak sub-division of the undivided Balasore district became a new district on the first April, 1993 (vide Govt. in Revenue Department Notification number DRC-44/93, 14218/R dtd the 27 March, 1993). It is one of the northern districts of Odisha lying to the east of Indian sub-continent.
Its geographical coordinates are 20’44” and 21’ 15” Northern Latitudes and 86’ 16” and 86’ 58” Eastern Longitudes. The district is surrounded by Balasore district in the north, Jajpur and the river Baitarani in the south, Keonjhar district in the west and the Bay of Bengal and Kendrapada district in the east.
The area of this district is 2505 sq.kms with a population 15, 06,522 as per the figure of the 2011 census. It is a level track of alluvial soil with gradual slope eastwards to the Bay of Bengal. The Salandi, the Baitarani, the Kanshbansha , the Gumati , the Mantei, the Genguti ,the Kochila, the Reba and the Kapali river & flow through and around the district. The East Coast Railway runs through the head quarters making the place a big trade centre from long time past. The place has a long cultural heritage which has been duly recognized by eminent historians.
Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian says that Egypt is the gift of the Nile. Similarly Bhadrak is the gift of the Salandi that has played a key role in the rise of Bhadrak .The plain, alluvial area of the river forms the district. Moreover, Bhadrak is a marvelous conjoining of rural and urban civilization. Though its name is still mysterious, it is certain that the name owes its orgin to the local deity Bhadrakali. The city state of Athens of the fifth century B.C Greece had been named after Athena, the presiding goddess of Greece. So was Assyria of ancient Mesopotamia that had been named after its deity.
During Harsh’s reign, Husen Tsang had travelled from North India to South India via Orissa (Odradesh). According to his accounts, since Odradesh started from the northern side that is, today’s Medinipur; the entire Balasore district was included in Harsh’s empire. Huen Tsang had travelled on foot to the Buddhist sites at Lalitgiri and Ratnagiri through Bhadrak where he was journeying towards South India.
It is known that Bhadrak had come under the reign of the Ganga dynasty from 1211 to 1436 A.D. and the Surya dynasty from 1436 to 1568 AD. During the rule of the Ganga dynasty, Orissa was divided into 31 ‘’Dandapats’’ of which Bhadrak was one. Even Bhadrak was prominent during the rule of the Surys dynasty. Sri Chaitanya had set foot on Bhadrak when king prataprudra Deva of Bhoi dynasty was ruling. Sri Chaitanya had been to Kuansh and Santhia villages of Bhadrak. His sojourn at Santhia was remarkable. He had left a piece of his bedding at the Madan Mohan temple there (which is still worshipped). Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita mentions that the saint had stayed there for two days and had left an old piece bedding there.