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Overview of the Sahibganj District

Set within the lush green region, the district of Sahibganj with a predominantly tribal population is a part of Santhal Pargana division and forms the eastern most tip of the division. The Rajmahal and Pakur subdivisions of old Santhal Pargana district were carved out on 17th May, 1983 to form Sahibganj district. Subsequently Pakur sub-division of Sahibganj district was carved out on 28th January, 1994 to constitute Pakur District.


Sahibganj district ranks thirteenth in terms of total population in the state and thirteenth in regard to decadal population growth rate (2001-11) among the districts of Jharkhand. With a sex ratio of 952, it ranks fifteenth in the state. The district comprises of nine blocks ,namely, Sahibganj, Mandro, Borio, Barhait, Taljhari, Rajmahal, Udhwa, Pathna and Barharwa.

As per Census 2011, the district has 1349 villages and 8 towns distributed in three assembly constituencies. Census 2011 figures indicated that the percentage share of scheduled caste population to total population was 6.29 percent while that of scheduled tribes was 26.80 percent. Based on the number of the total rural households in Census 2011 and BPL Revision Survey of 2010-11 the percentage of BPL households in rural areas is 86.03 percent.


There is evidence in the pages of history that the area is inhabited since time immemorial only by Malers (Mal Paharia). They were the early settlers of the territory of Rajmahal hills, who still reside in some areas of the same hills. They are considered to be the “Malli” mentioned in the notes of Megasthenese, Greek Ambassador of Selukus Nikater, who happened to be in the vicinity of Rajmahal hills in 302 BC. Till the visit of Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang in 645 AD, the history of this area was wrapped in obscurity. In his travelogue the Chinese pilgrim mentions about the Fort of Teliagarhi, when he saw the lofty bricks and stone tower not far from the Ganges. We gathered information through the pages of history that it was certainly a Buddhist Vihar.

Geographical location

The district of Sahibganj lies approximately between 24042′ north and 25021′ north lattitude and between 87025′ and 87054 east longitude. Sahibganj is the administrative headquarter of the district and situated on the bank of the river Ganges at 25015′ north lattitude and 87038′ east longitude . The geographical area of the district is 1599.00 sq. km..

It is bounded on north by the river Ganges and district of Katihar, on the south by the district Godda, on the east by Maldah and Murshidabad districts of the state of West Bengal, and on the west by Bhagalpur and Godda districts.

A large part of the district is hilly. The vast tract of land enclosed between hill ranges had been assigned a name- Damin-I-koh, which is a Persian word means Skirts of the hills. The region on the bank of the Ganges is fertile and richly cultivated.
The district may be divided into two natural divisions on the basis of its geographical location and cultivable land.

First region consists of Borio, Mandro, Barhait, Pathna and Taljhari blocks and lies under Damin-I-koh area. The hills and slopes are covered with forests, once dense but scanty now. The valleys have cultivable lands, yielding mostly paddy. The inhabitants of this region are generally Paharias, Mal Paharias and Santhals. The inhabitants on the hill top cultivate Barbatti and maize using rain water.

The second region consists of Sahibganj, Rajmahal, Udhwa and Barharwa blocks. This plain region consists of the uplands, undulation along ridges and depressions. The Ganges, Gumani and Bansloi rivers flow through this region. This area has plenty of fertile lands and is richly cultivated. The inhabitants of this region are mainly middle class people of different castes, Paharias and Santhals.


The river Ganges forming the northern boundary of the district enters at its north western corner and journeys eastward up to Sakrigali where it takes a turn to the south and forms the southern boundary of the district up to a little beyond Radhanagar in Rajmahal subdivision. The river has been drifting gradually to the north and the Sahibganj town, which was once on the riverbank, is now about a mile away. The average width of the Ganges in the district is about 4 and half kilometers. It generally swells during the rains and inundates the lowlands lying east of the Railway loop line. There are ferry services across the river between Sahibganj ghat in the Sahibganj district on this side and Manihari ghat in the Katihar district on the other side and Rajmahal ghat in the Sahibganj district and Manikchak ghat in the Maldah district of West Bengal. Country boats also ply in the river.

River Gumani emerges from the southern region of the Rajmahal hills. It flows in a north-easterly direction up to Barhait valley where it is joined by the river Mural. The joint stream takes a south-eastern turn and joins the Ganges a little beyond the district boundary.


Owing to large scale unscrupulous felling the region once known for its thick and extensive forests is now bereft of much of its jungle wealth. The Forest department has undertaken afforestation of these areas.

The most common tree found in the district is sal (Shorea Robusta). Some teak, though not of good quality, is also found. Some other trees found in the district are Jackfruit, Murga, Simal, Bamboo, Asan and Satsal. Sal and Simal logs and Jackfruit are exported in large quantities to the neighboring districts and also to the places outside Jharkhand.


Despite a large population of cattle, yield of milk in the district is very poor. In order to grade up the cattle quickly and also at low cost, artificial insemination centers and sub-centers have been opened at various places in the district.


The extensive bed of the Ganges at Sahibganj and Rajmahal offers one of the best fields in the state for collection of fish spawn and fishing. The spawn of Rohu, Katla, Mirga, Catfish and Hilsa is collected from the Barhait valley.

Mines and minerals 

The Rajmahal Hills are the source of building and road stones. Most of the quarrying is done by the side of the loop line of the Eastern Railway. Pakur chips are quite well known and are used extensively all over Jharkhand, Bihar and parts of West Bengal. Kaolin is found near Mangal Hat in Rajmahal subdivision. Bentonite available in some places is used by women-folk as hair washing material and now a days it is getting popular among urban ladies as Multani Mitti.


The traditional cottage and village industries practiced by the Santhals and the Paharias constitute tasar rearing, village black-smithy, carpentry, handloom weaving, rope making, bidi making, earthen ware making, stone ware making, etc.

There is no large-scale industry available in the area mainly due to lack of infrastructure support. A number of small-scale industries have been set up in the district. Most of these are based on mining and related querrying activities. There is a good potential for setting up china clay industries.

Trade and commernce  

Sahibganj is by far the most important place for trade and commerce in the district. Wholesale trading in foodgrains is mostly carried on in Sahibganj. The main imports of the districts are linseed, mustard seed, tobacco, raw cotton, sugar, refined and unrefined molasses, salt, kerosene oil, coal, coke, gunny bags, gram, wheat and maize. The main exports are paddy, jawar, sabai, grass, stone chips, hides, fibers, kaolin and bentonite.


  • Roads :- The district has good network of roadways. The river Ganges provides water link also for such purposes. No important place in the district is left unconnected by a metalled road. The Jamtara-Dumka-Sahibganj road provides a link with Assam after ferry across the Ganges. The road between Farakka and Bhagalpur has been upgraded as National Highway.
  • Railways :- The district is deprived of adequate railway communication as it lies on the Howrah-Bhagalpur loop line. Both the sub-divisional headquarters have railway stations. Presently there is rail connection for Howrah, New Delhi and Patna.
  • Waterways :-The only navigable waterways is the river Ganges. There are ferry services across the river Ganges between Sahibganj ghat to Manihari Ghat in Katihar district of Bihar, which is directly linked to the Guwahati highway and between Rajmahal ghat to Manikchak ghat in Maldah district of West Bengal.

Electricity and power 

The district receives most of the power supply from the Super Thermal Power Station at Kahalgaon. While all the main areas of the district have been electrified still the supply of power in the rural areas is not yet sufficient and is an area of major concern.


Last Modified : 12/11/2023

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