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Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati

Krushna Chandra Gajapati
Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati (26 Apr 1892 - 25 May 1974), the first Prime Minister of Odisha, was born on 26 April 1892 to the king of Paralakhemundi Goura Chandra Gajapati and Radhamani Devi at Gajapati district. Krushna Chandra Gajapati, popularly known as Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati Narayana Deo was a key personality in the formation of an Independent Odisha State. He is regarded as the architect of the modern Odisha state. The present Gajapati District of Odisha was named after him. Shri Gajapati received his elememntary education at the local Maharaja High School of Paralakhemundi and then entered the College in Madras for higher studies. During his studies in Madras, he lost his father Shri Goura Chandra Gajapati. After completing his studies at Madras he returned to Paralakhemundi and he held the reign of the State on 26 April 1913.

Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati was the pivot of the Odia movement for the formation of an Independent Odisha state on the basis of Language and homogeneity. He spent extensively from his royal treasury to materialize this effort. The eminent members of Utkal Sammilani demanded a separate Odisha state with an amalgamation of Odia speaking areas in the then Odisha-Bihar-Bengal province. This proposal was approved In the Bihar-Odisha Legislative Assembly. As a member of the Utkal Sammilani, he put forward the proposal of a separate Odisha state in the first Round table conference held in London on 16 November 1930.

Finally, with the effort of Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati and Utkal Sammilani, the separate state of United Odisha was formed on 1 April 1936. From that day, 1 April is celebrated by the Odia people as Utkal Divas. In 1937, the first Governor of Odisha, Sir John Austin Hubback invited Krushna Chandra Gajapati Dev to form the cabinet. Shri Gajapati was the first Prime Minister of the Odisha state from 1 April 1937 to 18 July 1937. He was the Prime Minister of Odisha for the second time from 24 November 1941 to 30 June 1944.

Contributions of Maharaja towards education, irrigation, social welfare and other developmental work of Orissa are commendable. The reservoirs Ram Sagar, Seeta Sagar, Laxman Sagar and Krushna Sagar were constructed by him for irrigation purpose. He is responsible for the establishment of Famous Rice Research Institute at Cuttack. He is also responsible for the establishment of Utkal University, SCB Medical College and Orissa High court. He has established a Girl's High School at Paralakhemundi for promotion of education among women. The Narrow Gauge Railway line from Paralakhemundi to Gunpur is his contribution towards the society and the state at large. He has established a permanent theatre in Paralakhemundi for promotion of art and cultural activities.

Shri Krushna Chandra Gajapati was an Honorary Captain in the First World War. He received a rare Sanad in 1920 from the then Viceroy and Governor General of India, in recognition of his services rendered to the Indian Army during the Great War and as a mark of commendation. He was a Member of the Royal Commission on Agriculture, under the Chairmanship of Lord Linlithgow. He was also a Member of the Madras Legislative Council.

He was awarded honorary Doctorates by the Utkal University and the Berhampur University. The prestigious Knighthood of K.C.I.E. was conferred on him by the King of England. He was one of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution, being a Member of the Constituent Assembly of India. His contribution to horse-racing and his encouragement for horse breeding in India are notable.

The illustrious and worthy son of Orissa Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati was took his last breath on 25th May 1974. But his contributions towards building modern Odisha will always be remembered forever. He was accorded a state funeral by the Government of Odisha and was cremated with full honours at Paralakhemundi.

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