HISTORY OF CHATRA
Chatra, the gateway of Jharkhand particularly of Chotanagpur, has a glorious past having an eminent historical heritage. The land has been the silent spectator of the vicissitudes of the historical unfolding of human drama.
It is stated that during Ashoka’s reign i.e. 232 B.C. the “Atavi” or the forest states to acknowledge the supremacy of the Magadha Empire. It is said that Samudra Gupta marching through Chotanagpur directed the first attack against the kingdom of south Kaushal in the valley of Mahanadi.
During Tughlaq’s reign, Chatra came in contact with Delhi Sultanate. Daud Khan, the Mughal Governor of Bihar, during the reign of Aurangzeb occupied Kothi Fort on 5th May 1660 A.D. without much opposition and then he moved towards the fort of Kunda which had a very strong fortification as it was situated on a hilltop.This fort was finally occupied by him and was completely destroyed on the 2nd of June, 1660 A.D. Kunda Fort was under the possession of Ramgarh Raja in the 17th century. Aliwardi Khan advanced towards Kunda in 1734 A.D. after defeating the rebel Zamindars of Tekari (Gaya) and then he attacked Chatra Fort and demolished it.
The British, for the first time, came in contact with these regions in 1769 A.D. It is interesting to note that Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the prominent social reformer, worked as a ‘Sirishtedar’ at Chatra in 1805-06 and lived both at Chatra and Ramgarh in this capacity.
Chatra offers another fascinating chapter in the history of national movement in Bihar . The most important battle fought between the insurgents and the British in Chotanagpur during the Mutiny of 1857 was the ‘Battle of Chatra’. This decisive battle was fought on 2nd October 1857 near ‘Phansi Talaab’. It lasted for an hour in which the mutineers were completely defeated. 56 European soldiers and officers were killed whereas 150 revolutionaries were killed and 77 were buried in a pit. Subedar Jai Mangal Pandey and Nadir Ali Khan were sentenced and hanged to death on the 4th of October 1857 A.D. on this very spot. The European and sikh soldiers were buried in a well along with their arms and ammunition. An inscriptive plaque still exists.
The inscription informs: “56 men of Her Majesty’s 53rd Regiment of foot and a party of sikhs were killed at Chatra on October 2nd 1857 in action against mutineers of the Ramgarh Battalion. Lieutenant J.C.C Daunt of the 70th Bengal Native Infantry and sergeant D. Dynon of the 53rd regiment were awarded Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry in the battle, in which the mutineers were completely defeated and lost all their four guns and ammunitions.
On the other hand the inscription on the bank of the Phansi Talab immortalises the two revolutionary subedars as hereunder:-
“JAY MANGAL PANDEY NADIR ALI,
DONO SUBEDAR RE,
DONO MILKAR PHANSI CHADHE,
HARJEEVAN TALAAB RE.”
The national movement picked up momentum in 1921 . One of the most striking features of 1942– Quit India Movement, was the escape of Shri Jay Prakash Narayan along with six other from The Hazaribagh Central Jail on 9th November 1942 (the night of Diwali). Jai Prakash Narayan came to Tatra( a village of Chatra) and then proceeded towards Sherghati en route to Varanasi . Chotanagpur Kesri, Babu Ram Narayan Singh and Babu Shaligram Singh gave stiff resistance to the British. Their sacrifice bore fruit and India got freedom from the British yoke on the 15th of August 1947 A.D. Thus, Chatra played a short but memorable cameo on the historical canvas of the freedom movement.