Bhandara - Encyclopedia

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BHANDARA, a town and district of British India, in the Nagpur division of the Central Provinces. The town (pop. in 1901, 14,023) is situated on the left bank of the river Wainganga, 7 m. from a station on the Bengal-Nagpur railway. It has considerable manufactures of cotton cloth and brass-ware, and a first-grade middle school, with a library.

The District Of Bhandara has an area of 3965 sq. m. In 1901 the population was 663,062, showing a decrease of II % since 1891 compared with an increase of 8% in the preceding decade. The district is bounded on the N., N.E. and E. by lofty hills, inhabited by Gonds and other aboriginal tribes, while the W. and N.W. are comparatively open. Small branches of the Satpura range make their way into the interior of the district. The Ambagarh or Sendurjhari hills, which skirt the south of the Chandpur pargana, have an average height of between 300 and 400 ft. above the level of the plain. The other elevated tracts are the Balahi hills, the Kanheri hills and the Nawegaon hills. The Wainganga is the principal river in the district, and the only stream that does not dry up in the hot weather, - its affluents within the district being the Bawanthari, Bagh, Kanhan and Chulban. There are 3648 small lakes and tanks in Bhandara district, whence it is called the "lake region of Nagpur"; they afford ample means of irrigation. More than one-third of the district lies under jungle, which yields gum, medicinal fruit and nuts, edible fruits, lac, honey and the blossoms of the mahuci tree (Bassia latifolia), which are eaten by the poorer classes, and used for the manufacture of a kind of spirit. Tigers, panthers, deer, wild hogs and other wild animals abound in the forests, and during the rainy season many deaths occur from snake-bites. Iron is the chief mineral product. Gold is also found in the bed of the Sone river. Laterite, shale and sandstone occur all over the district. Native cloth, brass wares, pot-stone wares, cartwheels, straw and reed baskets, and a small quantity of silk, form the only manufactures. The principal crops are rice, wheat, millet, other food-grains, pulse, linseed, and a little sugar-cane. The district is traversed by the main road from Nagpur to the east, and also by the Bengal-Nagpur railway. It suffered in the famine of 1896-1897, and yet more severely in 1900.

Bhandara district contains 25 semi-independent chiefships. These little states are exempted from the revenue system, and only pay a light tribute. Their territory, however, is included within the returns of area and population above given. The climate of Bhandara is unhealthy, - the prevailing diseases being fever, small-pox and cholera. Nothing is known of the early history of the district. Tradition says that at a remote period a tribe of men, called the Gaulis or Gaulars, overran and conquered it. At the end of the 17th century it belonged to the Gond raja of Deogarh. In 1743 it was conquered by the Mahrattas, who governed it till 1853, when it lapsed to the British government, the raja of Nagpur having died without an heir.

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