Origin of Chhattisgarh

The name Chhattisgarh is not ancient and has come into popular usage in the last few centuries. In ancient times the region was called Dakshin Kosala. All inscription, literary works and the accounts of foreign travelers, call this region Kosala of Dakshin Kosala. According to Hari Thakur, the contest between Jabalpur and Chhattisgarh for the name Mahakosala is settled beyond doubt in favour of Chhattisgarh in the light of available evidence. Even during the reign of the Mughals, it was called Ratanpur territory and not Chhattisgarh. The word Chhattisgarh was popularized during the Maratha period and was first used in an official document in 1795.

A British Chronicler, J.B. Beglar provides and interesting story explaining the origins of the name Chhattisgarh. It becomes very relevant in the context of contemporary caste consciousness and the caste configuration of the region. According to Beglar “the real name is Chhattisghar and not Chhattisgarh. There is a  tradition saying that ages ago about the time of Jarasandha, thirty six families of dalits (leather workers) emigrated southwards from Jarasandha’s kingdom and established themselves in country, which after them is called Chhattisgarh”. Another common explanation regarding the origins of the name Chhattisgarh is that it denotes the number of forts in the region, which are supposed to be thirty six in number. However, experts do not agree with this explanation, as thirty-six forts cannot be identified in the region. An explanation popular with the experts and historians in that Chhattisgarh is the corrupted form of ‘Chedisgarh’ or the political seat of the Chedis.