Mukundadeva belonged to the Chalukya family. He came to the throne in 1559 by treachery and blood-shed. In 1560 Sultan Ghiyasuddin Jallal Shah of Bengal invaded Orissa and marched up to Jajpur. Mukundadeva defeated him and drove him out of Orissa. About that time one Afghan Chief named Suleiman Karrani occupied Bengal and became the Sultan. His rival Ibrahim fled to Orissa and got shelter under the protection of Mukundadeva.
By that time Akbar was planning to conquer Bengal and made alliance with Mukundadeva for that purpose. Mukundadeva received the Mughal ambassador and sent his own emissary to the Mughal court. Thus Mukundadeva became an enemy of Suleiman Karrani, the Sultan of Bengal. In 1567 when Akbar was busy in the invasion of Chitor, Sultan Karrani invaded Orissa. The Mughal Governor of Bihar, Munim Khan became indifferent and Mukundadeva resisted the invasion of Bengal singlehanded. He was defeated by the Sultan and took shelter in the fort of Kotsima, where Sultan Karrani besieged him. In the meantime, Bayazid, the son of the Sultan, led his army to Cuttack which was occupied by him. At that critical moment Ramachandra Bhanja, the feudatory of Sarangagarh, rose in rebellion. Mukundadeva made a treaty with Suleiman Karranim and marched against Ramachandra Bhanja. A battle took place in Gohiri Tikira near Jajpur where Mukundadeva lost his life at the hands of Ramachandra Bhanja. After that Ramachandra was defeated and killed by Bayazid and Orissa passed to the hands of the Afghans of Bengal in 1568 A.D.”
In the history of Orissa the year 1568 is regarded as a dividing line between the glorious epochs of the past and the gloomy periods which followed thereafter. Through centuries from ancient times, Orissa maintained her political vitality with several powerful ruling kings at different periods, and she developed a political distinction of her own within the wider syndromes of Indian civilization. In the fields of art, architecture, religion, philosophy and literature, ancient Orissa made notable achievements and left for the future rich legacies of undying character. Orissa’s political strength was so spectacular even so late as 15 th century A.D. that during the rule of Kapilendradeva (1435-1466 A.D.) the Oriya armies threatened and attacked most powerful kingdom in the neighbouring regions as well as in the far south and established political supremacy over a vast territory outside the limits of geographical Orissa. Kapilendra ruled from Ganges in the north-east to Arcot in the south. His successors Purushottamdeva and Prataprudradeva, though not very powerful, retained their hold over an extensive territory, and during the rule of the latter from 1497 A.D. to 1541 A.D. his kingdom extended from the Hooghly and Midnapore districts of West Bengtal to the Guntur district of Tamil Nadu.
Political decline came soon thereafter all too suddenly. Internal turmoil, internecine wars and external invasions worked simultaneously to bring about the downfall of mediaeval Orissa. The Muslim ruler of Bengal, Suleiman Karrani succeeded in conquering the land in 1568, ending thereby the independence of this powerful Hindu kingdom which had resisted Muslim invasions successfully for three centuries. Orissa was one of the last of the Indian territories to succumb to the Muslim invasion though most part of the sub-continent had come under the Muslim rule much earlier.
Though Orissa came under the direct rule of the Mughals in theory, in practice, in large parts of Orissa, the Mughal rule could never be consolidated because of the nature of the topography of the land. Akbar was satisfied that the territory had been conquered from the Afghans and brought under the suzerainty, but he did not try to destroy the local Hindu chiefs who ruled in various places in their hillfastness and remote regions. Thus, in most parts of Orissa, local rulers enjoyed their autonomous authority and enjoyed semi-independent status. Akbar, true to his liberal policies and principles, even paid adequate respect to Raja Ramachandra Deva-I of Khordha, permitting him to enjoy the dignified position of a subordinate king. In matters of general administration, much of the indigenous systems were permitted to continue and even the land and revenue systems of Raja Todar Mal were introduced in conformity with the prevailing local practices.
During the rule of Akbar’s son and successor, Jahangir, Orissa was constituted into a separate province in 1607, with Cuttack as capital and placed under a Subahdar. This arrangement continued till the end of the rule of the Great Mughals.
One evil aspect of the Mughal rule was that the process of the disintegration of Orissa proper began from that time. The Mughals did not try for a political consolidation of the conquered territory. Akbar’s leniency towards Orissa princes gave them a semi-independent status. But that was a boon in disguise. The real difficulty however, arose from the negligence of the border territories of Orissa. The Qutub Shahis of Golkonda extended their power as far as lake Chilika during the first phase of the Mughal rule, and when their power was finally destroyed by Aurangzeb, the Mughals did not try to incorporate much of the southern areas into Orissa proper. Similarly, the Mughals did not attempt to exercise their authority over a large portion of western Orissa including Sambalpur. During the closing years of Aurangzeb’s rule, when Murshid Quli Khan-I governed as the Subahdar, a bigger portion of Midnapore district was taken away from the Jaleshwar Sarkar of Orissa and placed under the direct administration of the Bengal Subahder. In subsequent years, the river Subarnarekha was made the southern boundary of Bengal. A large portion of Orissa’s territory was thus detatched from the main land in the north-east. In the far south, the Sarkars of Rajmahendri of Kalinga Dandapat got separated from Orissa. Had not the Mughals resorted to this kind of dismemberment, the size of future Orissa as a territorial entity would have been much larger.
Within their immediate jurisdiction, the Mughal authorities did not enjoy political peace because of frequent revolts by Orissa princes. The rulers of Mayurbhanj, Kendujhar, Kanika, Khordha, and Khalikot, among others, did not consider the Mughals as their legitimate suzerain and defied the Subahdars with courage whenever opportunity came. The kings of Khordha, at the core of Orissa, were in continuous hostility towards the Mughal Governors, making the latter’s administration shaky and uncertain. The Mughal period of nearly two hundred years in Orissa was, thus, a period of confusions and chaos, affecting adversely the stability and prosperity of the land.
But it was during this period that the Oriya merchants carried on their brisk overseas trade and commerce as in earlier days and helped to maintain the prosperous economy of the country as before. Lured by Orissa’s economic potentiality the European traders in large numbers came for their trade settlements on the coasts of Orissa. The Portuguese, the Danish, the Dutch, the English, and the French found plentiful of commodities for markets outside. The Mughal administration permitted the Europeans for their commercial enterprise and activities. A number of sea ports like Baleshwar and Pipli flourished during the time as the centres of external trade.
Though the Muslims ruled Orissa for about two centuries, there was no attempt on their part at conveting the people to Islam in this particular region of India. First, the Muslim rule began here rather late when the earlier zeal for conversion was almost extinct. Secondly, the mediaeval Bhakti Movement had taken so deep a root in the Oriya mind that the new religious upsurge around the cult of Jagannath did not permit any external impact to any perceptible extent. This accounts for the existence of such a small percentage of Muslims in modern Orissa compared to other parts of India. The impact of Islam was, however, seen in the spheres of culture. Into the enlarging dimension of Oriya literature during the period, hundreds of Arabic, Persian and Urdu words made their way. The cult of Satyapir appealed to the popular imagination and rather became a widely prevailing faith. The famous Muslim poet, Sal Baig, composed numerous devotional poems to symbolize a Hindu-Muslim cultural synthesis. Some of the famous Muslim shrines like the Quadam-I-Rasul and the Bokhari Sahib of Kaipadar attracted both Hindus and Muslims for devotional purpose. In certain places like Bhadrak, the performance of Mughal Tamasha became a popular festivity. Orissa, in subsequent periods, presented a unique example of Hindu-Muslim unity with two communities living together in cordial fraternity, submerged in indigenous trait of culture and tradition.
When the Mughal Empire began to disintegrate, the Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Aliverdi Khan, became virtually independent. But the Marathas, who played a major role in destroying the Mughal Empire, looked towards his territories with covetous eyes. Consequently, there began a long-drawn-out struggle between Aliverdi and the Marathas, which finally ended in the Maratha acquisition of Orissa.