Early and Medieval Period
The history of Sahibganj town centers mainly on the history of Rajmahal and Teliagarhi Fort. There is evidence 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 Megasthenes, Greek Ambassador of Selukus Nikater, who happened to be in the vicinity of the 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 pilgrim mentions the Fort of Teliagarhi (on the present rail route, near Mirzachauki Railway Station), seeing the lofty bricks and stone tower not far from the Ganges. Information is gathered through the pages of history that it was a Buddhist Vihar. A continuous history of the district is extant from the 13th century when Teliagarhi became the main gateway of Muslim armies marching to and from Bengal. During the Sultanate rule in Delhi, Bakhtiar Khilji marched towards Bengal and Assam through the Teliagrahi pass. He captured Bengal, and its king, Lakshaman Sena, fled to Cooch Behar (in West Bengal). In 1538, Sher Shah Suri and Humayun came face to face for a decisive battle near Teliagarhi. On 12 July 1576, the battle of Rajmahal was fought and the foundation of Mughal rule in Bengal was laid. It was Man Singh, the most trusted general of Akbar, who in his capacity as Viceroy of Bengal and Bihar, made Rajmahal the capital of Bengal in 1592. But this honour of Rajmahal was short-lived, for the capital was shifted to Dhaka in 1608. Shortly after this, Teliagarhi and Rajmahal became the site of a fierce battle between the rebellious Prince Shahjahan and Ibrahim Khan. Shahjahan emerged victorious and became the overlord of Bengal for a time, before finally being defeated in 1624 at Allahabad. In 1639, Rajmahal regained its glory and was once more made the capital of Bengal by Shah Shuja, the second son of Emperor Shahjahan, on his appointment as the Viceroy of Bengal. It continued as the seat of the Mughal Viceroy up to 1660 and a mint town till 1661. It was at Rajmahal that Dr. Gabriel Boughten cured the daughter of Shah Shuja. By this means Dr. Boughten succeeded in securing an order (farman) from Shah Shuja giving the English the liberty to trade in Bengal. Thus the minutest foundation of the British rule was laid here. The fugitive Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud- Daula was captured at Rajmahal during his flight after the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
The entire Santhal Pargana along with portions of the present Hazaribagh, Munger, Jamui, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Saharsa, a part of Purnia and Bhagalpur, districts was termed as “Jungle Terai” by the English on assumption of Diwani in Sept. 1763 from Shah Alam II at Allahabad after the Allahabad Treaty. The victory at Plassey made British master of the then Bengal which contained the present Sahibganj District. In Santhal Pargana, they were up against a band of simple but determined opponents, the Paharias. Paharias were lovers of freedom and could not tolerate any intruder in their homeland. The English were very much concerned and Warren Hastings the Governor General of India organized a special corps of 800 men in 1772 to curb the Paharias. The corps was put under the command of Captain Brooke, who was appointed the Military Governor of the Jungle terai. As a direct consequence of the Santhal Hul or Rebellion of 1854–55 led by Sido and Kanu brothers Santhal Pargana has been created as a separate district in 1855 by ceding portions of Bhagalpur (which is now in Bihar) and Birbhum (which is now in West Bengal) district. The 1942 movement also spread to entire Santhal Pargana division, for that matter in Sahibganj and on 11 August 1942 a general strike was observed. On 12 August 1942 a procession was taken out at Godda and soon the entire district was aflame. Thus the district of Santhal Pargana marched hand-in-hand with other parts of the State in the protracted struggle for country’s freedom which resulted on 15 August 1947 in the end of slavery.
Government considered the Paharias and other tribals of Rajmahal hills as demographically underdeveloped section of society and embarked on policies and plans for their emancipation. Government’s efforts in the past could not bring the desired results and the district continued to remain relatively backward. The Jharkhand Movement for separate statehood thus gained momentum and on 15 November 2000, a separate state named as Jharkhand came into existence comprising the 18 districts of the Chota Nagpur and Santhal Pargana divisions.