GANJAM, a district of India, in the extreme north-east of the Madras Presidency. It has an area of 8372 sq. m. Much of the district is exceedingly mountainous and rocky, but is interspersed with open valleys and fertile plains. Pleasant groves of trees in the plains give to the scenery a greener appearance than is usually met with in the districts to the south. The mountainous tract known as the Maliyas, or chain of the Eastern Ghats, has an average height of about 2000 ft. - its principal peaks being Singharaj (4976 ft.), Mahendragiri (4923) and Devagiri (4535). The hilly region forms the agency of Ganjam, with an area of 3483 sq. m. and a population (in 1901) of 321,114, mostly wild backward tribes, incapable of being governed under ordinary conditions and therefore ruled by an agent of the governor with special powers. The chief rivers are the Rushikulya, the Vamsadhara and the Languliya. The sea and river fisheries afford a livelihood to a considerable section of the population. The hilly region abounds in forests consisting principally of sal, with satin-wood, ebony and sandal-wood in smaller quantities.
Ganjam formed part of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga. Its early history is involved in obscurity, and it was not till after the Gajapati dynasty ascended the throne of Orissa that this tract became even nominally a part of their dominions. Owing to the nature of the country the rising Mahommedan power was long kept at bay; and it was not till nearly a century after the first invasion of Orissa that a Mahommedan governor was sent to govern the Chicacole Circars, which included the present district of Ganjam. In 1753 Chicacole, with the Northern Circars, were made over to the French by Salabat Jang for the maintenance of his French auxiliaries. In 1759 Masulipatam was taken by an English force sent from Bengal, and the French were compelled to abandon Ganjam and their other factories in the north. In 1765 the Northern Circars (including Ganjam) were granted to the English by imperial firman, and in August 1768 an English factory was founded at Ganjam, protected by a fort. The present district of Ganjam was constituted in 1802. In the earlier years of British rule considerable difficulty was experienced in the administration of the district; and on more than one occasion the refractory large landholders had to be coerced by means of regular troops. In 1816 Ganjam was overrun by the Pindaris; and in 1836 occurred the Gumsur campaign, when the British first came into contact with the aboriginal Kondhs, the suppression of whose practice of human sacrifice was successfully accomplished. A petty rising of a section of the Kondhs occurred in 1865, which was, however, suppressed without the aid of regular troops.
In 1901 the pop. of the district was 2,010,256, showing an increase of 20% in the decade. There are two systems of government irrigation: (1) the Rushikulya project, and (2) the Ganjam minor rivers system. The principal crops are rice, other food grains, pulse, oil seeds and a little sugar-cane and cotton. Salt is evaporated, as a government monopoly, along the coast. Sugar is refined, according to German methods, at Aska, where rum also is produced. A considerable trade is conducted at the ports of Gopalpur and Calingapatam, which are only open roadsteads. The district is traversed throughout by the East Coast railway (Bengal-Nagpur system), which was opened from Calcutta to Madras in 1900. There are colleges at Berhampore and Parlakimedi. The headquarters station is Berhampore; the town of Ganjam occupied this position till 1815, when it was found unhealthy, and its importance has since declined.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)