Kalahandi (Oriya: କଳାହାଣ୍ଡି, locally pronounced as Kalahani), is a district of Orissa in India. The region had a glorious past and great civilization in ancient time. Archaeological evidence of stone age and Iron Age human settlement has been recovered from the region. Asurgarh offered an advanced, well civilized, cultured and urban human settlement about 2000 years ago in the region. In South - Asia it is believed that the lands of Kalahandi district and Koraput district were the ancient places where people started cultivation of paddy. In ancient time it was known as Mahakantara (meaning Great Forest) and Karunda Mandal, which means treasure of precious stones like karandam (Manik), Garnet (red stone), Beruz, Neelam (blue stone), and Alexandra etc. Manikeswari (the goddess of Manikya or Karandam) is the clan deity of Kalahandi may also signify its historical name. It was a princely state in British India and in post independence period it merged with Orissa state in India as Kalahandi district comprising current Kalahandi district and Nuapada district. In 1967, Kashipur block from Kalahandi district was transferred to Rayagada district for administrative reason. In 1980s, Kalahandi name became associated with backwardness and starvation death, which is known as "Kalahandi Syndrome". Despite its backwardness its one of the rich region in terms of history, agriculture, forest resources, gemstone, bauxite, folk dance, folk music, folklore, handicrafts and arts. In 1993, Nuapada sub-division was carved out as a separate district, but Kalahandi (Lok Sabha constituency) continues to constitute present Kalahandi district and Nuapada district together.
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“Most works of art, like most wines, ought to be consumed in the district of their fabrication.”
—Rebecca West (18921983)