[The section on Geography is contributed by Prof. B. Arunachalam, Geography Department, University of Bombay, Bombay,]

Situation: THE DISTRICT OF AHMADNAGAR LYING BETWEEN 182' and 199' north latitudes and 739' and 755' east longitudes is situated partly in the upper Godavari basin and partly in the Bhima basin, the interfluve in between forming the extensive Ahmadnagar plateau. The district is very irregular but compact in shape, somewhat resembling a slanting cross with a length of 200 km. and a breadth of 210 km. It is bounded on the north by Igatpuri, Sinnar and Yeola talukas of Nasik district; on the north-east by Vaijapur, Gangapur and Paithan talukas of Aurangabad district of Marathwada division, on the east by Georai, Bhir and Ashti talukas of Bhir district; Bhum and Parenda talukas of Osmanabad district; on the south by the Karmala taluka of Sholapur district; and on the south-west by Murbad and Shahapur talukas of Thana district. It has a total area of 17,035 square km. and a population of 2,269,117 (in 1971) which constitutes 5.54 per cent and 4.50 per cent of the State figures, respectively. Barring the district of Chanda in Vidarbha region, Ahmadnagar is the largest district of the State in area, occupying a somewhat central position in Maharashtra.

The Ahmadnagar town has been famous since mediaeval times. It was the capital of the Nizamshahi kingdom of Ahmadnagar and was found in 1494 by Malik Ahmad, the founder of the Nizamshahi dynasty of Ahmadnagar. The town was named by him after his own name, viz., Ahmad. There is also a legend behind the founding of the city according to which Ahmad Shah while hunting saw a fox attacking a hunting dog. Ahmad Shah was impressed by the coincidence of the event and took it a good omen. He founded the city on that site and named it after his own name.

Administrative evolution: Ahmadnagar was first formed as a district in 1818 soon after the overthrow of the Peshwa. In 1822 the Nizam, by a treaty, ceded 107 villages; at this time, the boundaries of the district extended from Vani in Dindori and sub-division of Nasik district to Karmala at present in Sholapur district. In 1830, the district included the sub-collectorate of Sholapur within it. The district of Sholapur was formed in 1838 but was abolished in 1864 when a part of its area was reverted back to Ahmadnagar. In 1837-38, the sub-divisions of Sinnar, Chandor, Dindori, Nasik, Igatpuri and Peint were made in to Nasik sub-collectorate under the administration of the Collector of Ahmadnagar. This sub-collectorate was, however, abolished in 1856 and the area was reverted back to Ahmadnagar. In 1869, two districts Nasik and Sholapur were formed. In 1891, the district of Ahmadnagar had the following sub-divisions, viz., Jamkhed, Newasa, Shrigonda, Shevgaon, Sangamner, Ahmadnagar, Kopargaon, Akola, Karjat, Parner and Rahuri. Pathardi peta was newly formed in 1930 and the rest of the Jamkhed taluka was re-named as Jamkhed mahal. Similarly, the Karjat taluka was downgraded as peta in the decade 1931-1941. The taluka of Shrirampur was newly formed in 1945 and the Pathardi and Karjat petas were upgraded into full-fledged talukas in 1941-1951. 21 enclave villages within the district of Bhir were transferred in 1950 to this district and at the same time 26 villages of Ahmadnagar district were transferred to Bhir district and one village to Aurangabad to re-adjust the boundaries so as to bring about contiguity. In 1956, the district became a part of bilingual Bombay State and in 1960 became a part of Maharashtra when the linguistic State came into existence.

For administrative purposes, the present district is divided into 13 talukas. The taluka-wise statistics of area, population and number of villages are given in the following table:-




Area in sq. km.

No. of inhabited villages*


Density per sq. km.

Ahmadnagar District





1. Kopargaon





2. Akola





3. Sangamner





4. Shrirampur





5. Rahuri





6. Newasa





7. Shevgaon





8. Parner





9. Ahmadnagar





10. Pathardi





11. Shrigonda





12. Karjat





13. Jamkhed





* There are five deserted villages and six towns in the district.

Boundaries: The western boundary of the district, separating it from Thana district, coincides with the crestline of the Sahyadri from the peak of Harishchandragad northwards for a distance of about 60 km. Here, in general, the boundary and the crestline have a southeast to north-west trend. Sharply turning to the right of the peak of Kulang, the boundary runs eastwards along the crestline of Kalsubai range keeping Nasik district to its north and the picturesque Pravara valley of this district to its south. After running for a distance of about 20 km. eastwards, this range turns to run north north-east for another 20 km. The boundary, after following this range over its entire length of about 40 km. till reaching the peak of Avenda, turns east to run for a short distance along the northern edge of a high level mesa before descending down southwards to the valley of Malungi nadi which it crosses near the village Malungi once again to ascend to the crestline of another eastward running spur, the Adula range, at an average elevation of 1,000 m. Following this range eastwards, the boundary descends down the heights to enter the valley of Malungi and crosses it once again. After crossing the river for the second time, the boundary once again turns north-eastwards to cross another group of hills around Dhagla Dongar and enter into a plain country draining to Godavari northwards. After running in the same direction through a featureless country, the boundary turns north and later to the north-west to descend down to the valley of the Godavari just west of the village Wadgaon in Kopargaon taluka. After following the river for a short distance of about 5 km. downstream eastwards, the boundary swerves to the north and runs eastwards at a short distance from the river following in general the contour level of 530 m. till reaching Ukadgaon village of Kopargaon taluka. The boundary then turns south and runs down the slope to once again reach the river Godavari just east of the village Rastapur. Thereafter, the boundary runs mid-stream in the bed of the Godavari eastwards and south-eastwards in general, here and there swerving from the course of the river to its right or the left, in many cases following an abandoned bed of the river. The shifting of the river during floods and cutting off of oxbow loops has resulted in these minor deviations from the river of the boundary at present. The boundary continues to follow the Godavari downstream till it reaches a few km. west of the pilgrim town of Paithan in Aurangabad district. Here, the boundary swerves off on the right bank and runs first south and then east to follow the minor rivulet, the Nana nadi, till it reaches back the Godavari to follow it for a distance of about 5 km.; thereafter the boundary again deviates from the river southwards to run through a flat rolling country gradually gaining in elevation and jumping from the crest of one hill to the other and crossing the intervening lowlands till reaching the valley of Sindphana which it follows upstream westwards for a short distance and jumps upto the crest of a mesa at 700 m. height which it descends on the other side to run with a generally westerly trend through a rolling upland country, the Agargaon range, at an average elevation of 800 m. The boundary here generally follows the edges of high level plateaus at different levels. Finally the boundary descends down from this range near the village Kandgaon and runs south and west to reach the bed of the Sina river which it follows upstream except for minor deviations probably along the former course of the river-bed till reaching the village Nimbedi and the confluence of a tributary on the right bank, the Kokri nadi. Here, the boundary takes off to the north keeping about 3 km. to the east of the Talwar nadi, a left bank tributary. After running for about 10 km. northwards, the boundary runs eastwards in general, crosses the Manjra river to include a small territory on the left bank of the river, again descends back to the Manjra, follows it for a distance of 4 km. downstream, crosses it and turns south initially and later west to run through a featureless country on the left of Khar nadi. It shortly crosses the village Sonegaon in the Jamkhed taluka and finally descends down to the bed of the Sina river, after which it follows the Sina upstream for a distance of about 8 km. before swerving to the right of the river keeping the Karmala taluka of Sholapur district to its south. The boundary in general running southwards and westwards alternately through a rolling country, descends down to the bed of the river Bhima, near the village of Babulgaon in Karjat taluka and thereafter the boundary runs upstream of the river along the middle of the Bhima river-bed till the confluence of the Ghod river on the left bank of the main river. Thereafter, the boundary follows the Ghod river mid-stream in general northwards till the confluence of Kukdi nadi on the right bank of the Ghod. Then, the boundary follows the Kukdi nadi upstream till reaching the village Renawadi in Parner taluka. Then, the boundary turns north following a minor tributary till it reaches and climbs up the scarps of Harishchandragad range. Barring minor deviations and extension into the plateau to the east, the boundary in general runs north-westwards following the crestline of the Harishchandragad range till reaching the peak of Harishchandragad.

Relief features: The relief of the district has an immense variety, not to be witnessed to the same extent in many other districts of the State. This is partly on account of its size and partly on account of its westerly location, immediately adjoining the crest of the Sahyadri. The district includes the Sahyadri and its three eastward offshoots, the Kalsubai-Adala range in the north, the Baleshwar range in the middle and the Harishchandragad range in the south; the vast Ahmadnagar plateau in the middle running with a northwest-south-eastern trend; and the river basins of the Godavari and Bhima on either side of the plateau. The district as a whole is an elevated tableland with a number of plateaus within it at various levels, one plateau merging into the other often through sharp-crested ridges. The western taluka of Akola which abuts on the Sahyadri, is the highest part of the district averaging about 800 m. in height above the mean sea-level in contrast to the plains of Shevgaon taluka that lie below 450 m. in the Godavari valley in the extreme eastern parts.

Mountains and hills: Sahyadri: The Sahyadri forms for a distance of about 60 km. a continuous natural boundary between Ahmadnagar and Thana districts. When viewed from the west, from the lower levels of the Murbad lowland, the appearance of the range is that of high wall of rocks, about 1,000 m. high, of dark hue relieved by narrow horizontal belts of grass and ever-green forest surmounted by isolated peaks and rocky bluffs rising in many places to a further 1,000 m. running with a north-west to south-easterly trend. The crestline here seems to have migrated eastwards by recession due to active headward erosion in the western slopes by the active tributaries of the Ulhas.

The three hill-forts of Kulang, Ratangad and Harishchandragad and the peak of Ajuba Dongar are the most striking of the high peaks of Sahyadri within the district (Harishchandragad: 1,424 m., Ratangad 1,297 m., Ajuba Dongar 1,375 m. and Kulang 1,470 m.) These mark the points of convergence of the transverse spurs with the main range of Sahyadri. Its three eastward offshoots, the Kalsubai, Baleshwar and Harishchandragad ranges, stretch far across the district gradually decreasing in height as they run eastward. The average elevation of the crestline of the Sahyadri within the limits of the district is about 1,300 m.

Kalsubai range: The Kalsubai range, branching off at Kulang, is the northernmost of the 3 spurs which for some 40 km. forms the boundary between the Ahmadnagar and Nasik districts. Viewed from the Nasik district it presents the appearance of a continuous and in many places a precipitous cliff of rocks. Almost every hill in this range had been a fort and many still have water cisterns and granaries. East of Kulang is the twin fort of Alang, both being spots of great natural strength. Then comes a series of rocky and precipitous peaks with a general pyramidal form averaging 1,500 m. in height followed by the Kalsubai 1,646 m., a conical summit of which is the highest point within the limits of Maharashtra State. East of Kalsubai is the natural depression in the range over which winds the Bari ghat road leading from Igatpuri and Ghoti on the Bombay-Agra highway to Bhandardara. The truncated hill of Pandara commands this road on the east. The next noteworthy peaks are Palan, Bitangad (1,427 m.) and Mahakali. The range here sweeps northward to the once-celebrated hill-forts of Patta and Avandhe which were scenes of many fierce contests between the Maralhas and the Moghals. The magnificent amphitheatre between these two forts is a striking feature of the range.

Two smaller spurs which run in a south-easterly direction enclosing the valley of Adula river branch off near Bitangad and Patta. Further north, the Kalsubai range takes a south-easterly direction running parallel with the first-mentioned spur and enclosing the valley of Mahalungi. This range, after running through the southern parts of Sinnar taluka of Nasik district, enters the Sangamner taluka of this district about 13 km. north of Sangamner and after a further course of 25 km. ends somewhat abruptly with the hill of Dudeshwar (837 m. above the mean sea-level) 300 m. above the bed of the Pravara river in the valley below.

Adula hills: The Adula hills branch off from the main Kalsubai range near the peak of Patta and run southwards at an average elevation of 900 m. carrying on their top extensive flat-topped plateau levels and open jungles on the steep hill-slopes. This range abruptly ends about 2 km. northwards of Sangamner. The other spur branching off from the Kalsubai range in Bitangad peak also running similarly with an easterly trend, parallel to the Adula range and south of it has a wider flat top forming a structural level at a height of 1,000 m. Between the two spurs, the Adula river has carved its valley. This range also ends abruptly a few km. west of Sangamner.

Baleshwar range: The Baleshwar range, the second great spur of the Sahyadri, branches off at Ratangad, 11 km. south-east of Kulang and completely traverses the Akola and Sangamner talukas forming the water-shed between the Pravara in the north and the Mula in the south. On this range, east of Ratangad, are a series of lofty, craggy peaks such as Katra dongar, Mura, Wakarai, Shirpunj, Ghanchakar (1,532 m.), Bahiroba and Sindola. The range culminates with Baleshwar as a central mass whose summit has been crowned by a temple in Hemadpanthi style now in ruins and surrounded by spurs radiating from the centre in all directions. On an isolated hill at the end of one of these spurs extending to the north-west is the fort of Pemgad. Between Baleshwar and Hevargaon which is the last notable peak in the range is the Chandanapuri valley crossed by the Pune-Nasik road. East of Hevargaon, the hills decrease in height and finally subside in the open plains just west of Rahuri. This range is about 100 km. long.

Harishchandragad range : The third range which leaves the Sahyadri at Harishchandragad is the longest in the district and forms the main water-shed between the Godavari and Bhima tributaries. Its direction for the first 25 km. is easterly; the Mula river flows between it and the Baleshwar range. This range forms the boundary between Ahmadnagar and Pune districts. East of Harishchandragad fort on this range lies the Bala Killa. Near Brahmanwada, the range gradually decreasing in height takes a turn to the south-east and enters Parner taluka which it completely traverses. The summits of the hills here widen into the plateau of Kanhore, 850 m. above the mean sea-level and 200 m. above the bed of the Ghod river; on the west the range presents a wall-like front towards the river. Near the village of Jamgaon in Parner taluka, the flat-topped ridge shoots to the north-east to form a water-shed between the tributaries of the Godavari and the Bhima. The main ridge continues further south-east with widening summits and gradually widens into a flat-level country known as Balaghat that extends far into the districts of Marathwada. The length of the hills from the main line of Sahyadri to the Balaghat is about 200 km. The branch of this range leaving Kanhore plateau crosses the north-eastern corner of Shrigonda taluka and enters Karjat taluka. A distinguishing feature of this branch is the succession of "Pathars" of flat-topped hills that are so uniformly horizontal as to present almost an artificial appearance.

Besides these leading ranges, there are many hills isolated and forming backbone of the ridges between the streams. Though they do not rise to any great heights than the general level of the plateau, locally they form prominent features.

Plateau: The Ahmednagar plateau between Baleshwar and Harishchandragad range has an average width of 50 km. and has a trend north-west to south-east along the length of the district from Akola in the north-west to Jamkhed in the south-east. It has an average elevation of over 900 m. in the west and less than 600 m. in the east having a general south-easterly slope. From the Harishchandragad range to its west, it goes down in elevation to form the crest of a tableland. North of the city of Ahmadnagar, the crest rises again to the dignity of a mountain range locally known as the Agargaon range. The hills of Goraknath, Manjarsumba and Gunjala are conspicuous from all parts of this taluka. On the northern side, this range presents an abrupt scarp front towards the low-lying plains of Rahuri and Newasa in the valley of Godavari. On the south side, the country has a mean elevation of 650 m. with a slope towards the south-east indicated by the direction of the Sina river. At the foot of Manjarsumba is a little glen opening towards the north commonly known as the ' Happy valley' the natural beauty of which attracts many tourists. The range here turns south-east presenting its wall-like face towards the Godavari. Some of the hills attain considerable elevations like the one on which the tomb of Salabat Khan is built. Extending still further, the range gradually loses it continuous character. Minor branches shoot out giving a varied and rugged appearance to the sub-divisions of Pathardi and Jamkhed. The plateau is dotted with hills all over but the country presents a more rugged appearance on its western margin as well as its southern extremities.

Valleys: On either side of the Ahmadnagar plateau and its high-crested rims are two river plains sloping towards the Godavari and Bhima rivers, respectively. These two plains are at elevations of less than 600 m. and the Godavari plains in the extreme eastern parts of Shevgaon taluka are below 450 m.

Drainage: The drainage of Ahmadnagar district belongs to two major river systems of Maharashtra, the Godavari in the north and the Bhima in the south. Apart from these two main rivers which flow on the northern and southern boundaries of the district, a number of tributaries rising within the district drain the area of the district in general south-eastwards.

Godavari: The Godavari drains by far the larger part of the district including the entire talukas of Kopargaon, Sangamner, Akola, Rahuri, Newasa, Shevgaon, the northern half of Parner and parts of Ahmadnagar and Jamkhed. It rises in the Tryambak hills of the Nasik district on the eastern slopes of the Sahyadri and after passing through the town of Nasik, it enters the district as a considerable stream near the village Wadgaon in Kopargaon taluka. It flows south-east through rich alluvial plains, past the township of Kopargaon to the large market village of Puntamba from which point to a point beyond Paithan, a distance of about 100 km. The Godavari forms almost continuously the boundary between Ahmadnagar and Aurangabad districts. At the village of Toka it receives on its right bank the combined waters of Pravara and the Mula. A few km. downstream, the Shiva and the Ganda join it from the left and the Dora from the right. Two miles east of Mungi village the river enters Marathwada, to ultimately flow into the Bay of Bengal. The river has an over-all length of 200 km. within the district.

The bed of the river is for the most part sandy but in many places rocky boulders crop up and lie across its course turning the stream into large pools above and forming rapids below. In these pools which are often of great extent and depth, fish abound. The banks are some times sloping but are more generally steep, broken and eroded by gullies. In the dry season, the river trickles down to a minor channel and becomes easily fordable except in deep pools. During the monsoon season, it is flooded and cannot be crossed without the help of country-crafts and boats. The chief tributary of the Godavari within the district is the Pravara and the minor tributaries are the Hamir, the Khara nadi and the Dora nadi.

Pravara: The Pravara rises in the eastern slopes of the Sahyadri between the high peaks and hill-forts of Kulang and Ratangad; after a strenuous course of 20 km. in a picturesque amphitheatre enclosed between the Kalsubai and Baleshwar ranges in an easterly direction, it falls near the village Renad into a rocky chasm, 60 km. deep and then winds for about 13 km. through a narrow deep glen that opens into a wider valley east of and below the central plateau on which the town of Rajur stands. After flowing across this valley, the river enters the Desh, part of the Akola taluka. As it flows past the town of Akola it receives on the left the discharges of the Adula river and the Mahalungi both on the left banks. Through Sangamner and Rahuri, the Pravara flows between low cultivated banks still keeping its easterly course. It receives, as it enters Newasa taluka, the waters of the Mula river and the combined flow turning to the north-east falls into the Godavari at the Pravara Sangam near the village of Toka. The total length of the Pravara is 200 km.

The upper waters of the Pravara in the amphitheatre between the Kalsubai-Baleshwar ranges have been developed into a huge reservoir lake, the lake Arthur, behind the Wilson dam near Bhandardara. The dam impounds about 11 thousand million cubic feet of water behind the dam, i.e., the height of the dam above the deepest part of the river-bed is 90 m. The storage feeds two canals, the Pravara left bank and right bank canal, taking off from a pick-up weir at Ozar village 90 km. downstream of the dam. The system irrigates an area of 32,000 hectares of mixed crop mainly in the northern parts of the district. The dam-site near Bhandardara with its picturesque beautiful landscape around and the boating facilities in the reservoir is a source of attraction for the holiday crowds of Bombay city.

Adula Nadi: The Adula nadi rises in the northern parts of Akola taluka on the slopes of the Patta and Mahakali peaks. It flows for 25 km. in an easterly direction between two spurs which includes the narrow Samsharpur valley; then, after falling into a rocky chasm 45 m. deep, it winds between rocky and precipitous hill sides for a couple of miles before debouching into the plains of Sangamner. It turns south and falls into the Pravara 5 km. west of town of Sangamner. Though only 40 km. in length, the Adula during rainy season is subjected to swirling rapid floods owing to the rocky country and heavy rainfall in the upper parts of its course. In the lower course the banks are sloping but fissured by minor tributaries to such an extent that the approach to the bed of the river is not always easy. It has a perennial flow and near the village of Samsharpur where the bed is rocky the water is much used for direct irrigation. The river has a number of bandharas or weirs both above and below Samsharpur to store water and make use of it for irrigation.

Mahalungi: The Mahalungi rises on the southern and eastern slopes of Patta and Avenda peaks. After a course of about 6 km., it passes east into Sinnar taluka of Nasik district flowing north of and nearly parallel to the Adula, the two rivers being separated by the Adula range; it re-enters Ahmadnagar after taking a beautiful bend to the south and still preserving a course parallel to the Adula. it joins the Pravara at the town of Sangamner in the lower part of its course which lies within this district. It has a wide shallow sandy bed. During heavy rains, the course of the water-current in the river is so tremendous that it often blocks the water in the Pravara upstream and makes it over-flow its banks for a long distance above the town of Sangamner. This is due to the heavy discharge in a narrow catchment area. The Mahalungi, like the Adula, is about 40 km. long. Its water is not used much for irrigation since its regime has a more marked seasonality and in its lower sections the river-banks are deeply gullied and eroded.

Mula river: The Mula rises on the eastern slopes of the Sahyadri between Ratangad and Harishchandragad. For the first 25 km., it flows parallel to the Pravara draining the southernmost Kotul valley of Akola taluka. The river is incised in a deep valley almost from its source and its steep valley-sides are highly dissected by deep gullies formed by mountain torrents which rush into the main stream. Skirting the large market village of Kotul it takes a bend to the south, winding past the rocky precipitous slopes at the foot of Baleshwar hills. It then flows through the south-west parts of Sangamner taluka and follows an easterly course between Shevgaon and Parner talukas flowing in a deep bed between rugged hills on the north and the tableland of Vasunda on the south. It then takes a sudden turn to the north-east and enters the plains in the same direction for another 30 km. It joins the Pravara at the village of Sangam. The total length of the river from its source to its confluence with the Pravara is 145 km.; except in lower parts of its course on account of an entrenched course, the Mula is used for agriculture only in alluvial flats on the foot of the rugged ledges jutting into the river-bed.

The Mula valley development project initiated during the Second Five-Year Plan period comprises the storage of about 30,000 million cubic feet of water to irrigate 52,000 hectares of mixed crops through canals having an over-all length of about 75 km. in a region of chronic scarcity.

Dhora Nadi: The Dhora nadi rises on the slopes of the hills east of the city of Ahmadnagar; it flows north-east, draining the Shevgaon and Newasa talukas and entering into the Godavari 7 km. west of the town of Paithan in Aurangabad district. Its total length is slightly less than 60 km.

Bhima river: The Bhima river drains the southern part of Ahmadnagar district, comprising the greater part of Parner and Ahmadnagar talukas, the whole of Shrigonda, Karjat and Jamkhed talukas. It enters into the district near the village Sangavi Dumale in the Shrigonda taluka and for some 60 km. forms continuous part of the boundary between Ahmadnagar and Pune districts. The river receives, on its left bank, waters of the Ghod river and further east it is joined by the Saraswati, Lohkera and the Nani nadi. The course of the Bhima in the district is continuously to the south-east. It passes along the western boundary of Sholapur, lower downstream before emptying into the Krishna. The banks of the river are generally low. The river-bed is sandy, crossed here and there by rocky barriers. There are many deep pools but during hot months the stream dwindles down to an insignificant stream. The chief tributaries of the Bhima in the district are the Ghod and the Sina rivers.

The Ghod: The Ghod river, the main left-bank tributary of the Bhima, rises on the slopes of the Sahyadri in Junnar taluka of Pune district. It flows in a south-easterly direction for over 80 km., forms part of the south-western boundary of the district with that of Pune district; near the cantonment township of Sirur, it receives, on its left bank, the Kukdi nadi and further down its volume is increased by the waters of the Hanga and the Pathal nadi. The streams which drain into it the waters of Parner and Shrigonda talukas on the right bank, are few on account of the proximity of the water-shed which makes the drainage small. The banks of the stream are low and its bed is generally rocky. In the dry months, the stream is easily fordable but during rains cannot be crossed without boats. The Ghod falls into the Bhima near the village Sangavi Dumale in Shrigonda taluka.

The Ghod project comprises an earthen dam across the Ghod river at Chinchani in Sirur taluka of Pune district and two canals, the left bank canal to irrigate 17,000 hectares and the right one 7,000 hectares. The left bank canal benefits the Parner and Shrigonda talukas for irrigation.

Sina river: The Sina has two chief sources, one near Jamgaon about 20 km. west of the town of Ahmadnagar and the other near Jeur about 16 km. to its north-east. The city of Ahmadnagar is built on the right bank of the river. For a distance of about 55 km. roughly, the river forms boundary between Ahmadnagar on the one hand and Bhir on the other. On the right, it receives the waters of Mahekri, and ultimately joins the Bhima on the Karnatak State border. The banks of the Sina are low and its bed sandy. After heavy rains, its flow is somewhat rapid, as is shown by the directness of its course. During summer, the river becomes practically dry.

Tanks: There are not many tanks within this district. The only large tank is the Visapur tank in the Shrigonda taluka. Apart from it, there are 18 other tanks inclusive of one north-west of Jeur in Ahmadnagar taluka. These tanks irrigate nearly 700 hectares of farm-land.

Springs: Quite a few fresh-water springs occur in the spurs of the Sahyadri and in the upper sections of the transverse off-shoots where the perched water tables in the intra-trappeans and the volcanic ash layers are exposed on the steeper slopes. Lower down in the plateau, a large number of springs occur mainly in the southern scarp edge of the Kanhore plateau at an average elevation of 650-700 m., where the junction of the intra-trappean limestone aquifer and the underlying massive basalts gets exposed along the scarp-slopes. A few springs also occur in the eastern parts of the district in the Jamkhed taluka at an elevation of 850-900 m.

Geographical regions: Ahmadnagar district lies partly in the upper hill section of the Sahyadri and its three off-shoots with a rapidly changing transitional "mawal" country, and partly in the plateau on the crest of the Balaghat range and the two riverain plains on either side of the plateau. The key to rhythm of life and human responses in different sections of the district lies in the variations of the underlying soils, aspect and topography, the availability of water-supply to water the fields and the extent to which agricultural innovations have made deep inroads in the rural infra-structure. Climatically, most of the district barring the westernmost Akola taluka in the hilly region receives a precarious rainfall of 500-600 cm. whose reliability is not very high and hence practically the whole district falls within a chronic scarcity zone in which acute shortage of food and fodder is a repeated recurrence once in three to eight years. It is only in the better-watered sections where agriculture has been made more secure by irrigated water-supply, the rural agrarian economy breathes of some prosperity and pleasant changes. Significant variations and variety in the physical landscape exist within the district area and mould the cultural responses. Broadly, the district area falls into the following geographical units:-

(1) Dangs;

(2) Ahmadnagar plateau that can be further sub-divided into-

(a) the southern scarp edge region of Harishchandragad range and its protruding spurs in the talukas of Parner and Shrigonda;

(b) Ahmadnagar plateau, an uneven, rugged upland country at the foot of the Dangs in the west, becoming rolling eastwards;

(c) the Sina valley; and

(d) the northern rim and Agargaon range in eastern parts of Nagar taluka and southern parts of Pathardi taluka;

(3) The Godavari valley in the north; and

(4) The Ghod and Bhima valleys in the south.

Dangs: As only the western corner of the district touches the Sahyadri, the extent of Dangs or hill country is essentially limited to the western taluka of Akola. In this region, the rainfall is excessive, about 600 cm. on the Sahyadri, rapidly decreasing eastwards on the lee-side through a transitional "mawal" country, till the Desh is reached where the rainfall comes down to about 60 cm. The slopes of the hills are scoured by mountain torrents which wash the soil into narrow valleys that are often choked by mud and stone at different levels and breaks of slopes, thus forming terraces on which rice, the staple crop of the Dangs, is raised in small garden plots.

The main range of the Sahyadri as well as its eastward off-shoots are made up of alternate beds of trap basalt and amygdular basalts and intra-trappean rocks that preserve a striking parallelism to each other over large distances and have an extremely gentle dip to the east. The general level, thickness and extent of a bed are preserved and well seen on both sides of the river valleys or on parallel spurs of ranges over a long distance. The less resistant and softer intra- trappean rock formations disintegrating much faster than the solid and amygdular basalts develop a debris slope often covered with extensive evergreen forests, forming a picturesque belt and alternating with bleak, barren scarps developed over massive basalts. It is these strata arranged in slopes and scarps, repeated several times at different height levels and carrying on the top extensive plateau structures that constitute inaccessible hill-forts of the district as well as the entire Maharashtra Deccan. Often, when basalts are columnar they weather into fantastic-shaped earth pillars, spires and needles as revealed in many sections of the peaks between Kulang and Kalsubai. At east of the Harishchandragad fort, is seen a sheet of rock with an appearance of a pavement of pentagonal slabs that are doubtless the terminal planes of basaltic columns. Onion weathering in amygdular basalts is quite common in this region. One of them runs east-west through the hill-fort of Harishchandragad.

The entire landscape here consists of conical peaks, summits, mesas or structural terraces at high levels, boulder-strewn slopes and regions of excellent onion weathering and fragmental amygdules and columnar basalts.

The dangs, apart from the three main eastward running spurs, consists mainly of two river valleys, of the Pravara and the Mula, flowing east. The pravara valley, close to its source, is a wild country of the most rugged description and the river itself, below the Bhandardara dam, flows in a shallow rocky bed till reaching the Renda falls beyond which it is entrenched in a narrow gorge with high precipitous banks. East of the town of Rajur, the hill country has a general descent to the lower level of the river-bed, merging into an alluvial plain that widens as the river flows further east. The Mula valley, on the contrary, is wild over most of Akola taluka and even parts of Sangamner taluka. The Adula valley further north of the Pravara valley is also uneven and badly broken by the ravines. This river, too, after falling through a water-fall into a deep narrow gorge, flows into the Sangamner taluka. Thus, the dang country of Akola taluka is essentially a ridge and vale country, the general trend of the valleys being west to east.

The soils in the Pravara valley in this section are fairly deep and alluvial and are of great fertility. The soils in the Mula valley on the other hand are comparatively lighter. In the Adula valley, there is a good deal of fertile land bordering the river-banks. Further high up in the dangs the soils are mostly deep red, derived by residual weathering of the basalts in a tropical humid climate. In the lower slopes of the hills adjoining the river valleys artificial terraces are formed by erecting dams of earth and stones across numerous streams which traverse the region, and converting them into productive rice-lands.

The dang country is the only region of the district which has a fairly extensive forest cover, though even this cover is deplete and degenerate due to the wasteful shifting cultivation practices indulged in by the hill tribes of the district. At present the only reserves which yield any considerable timber revenue are the teak coppice of the Akola taluka.

The hill-forts lie chiefly along the slopes of the Harishchandragad range. In the lower slopes the forests are more open and more easily destroyed. The middle slope is the main teak region, though dhavda, khair and other small trees form the lower canopy, protecting the soils. Patches of evergreen forests occur in the higher slopes, alternating with barren cliffs, as the rainfall increases towards the crest. These forests lying in remote, inaccessible slopes, are much less worked but have suffered the most by destruction due to shifting cultivation practices.

By and large, the dang country is a land of bajri farming on the poor, lighter and stony soils. Bajri accounts for about 28 per cent of the net sown area which of course is limited on account of the hilly and uneven nature of the terrain. Next in importance is rice, this region being the only area within the district that grows substantial quantities of rice. It accounts for about 7 to 8 per cent of the cropped area. The rice crop sown after the first rains of the monsoon is entirely rain-fed and depends exclusively upon the monsoon rains. Nagli or nachni is another minor food-crop grown in wet lands. Pulses and oil-seeds are of minor importance locally.

On the hill-slopes, cultivation is done by what is known as 'Dahli' or 'Kumri' system of cultivation. The heavy leaching of soils due to rains necessitates the use of manures and wood-ash. Patches are covered with layers of chopped wood, leaves and grass that are burnt in the hot weather (raab) and after the first rains, the seed is sown in the ashes. This system of cultivation is often wasteful, leading to the rapid destruction of the soil cover and is being gradually given up.

Not many villages are found in this region. The villages mainly stick to the stream valleys and are medium-sized. The villages on flat ground are generally located on water-points. Hamlets are generally in the hills and occupied by Thakurs, Pagirs and others; such wadis are connected by foot-paths to the adjoining larger villages. The houses of better class people in the Dang villages are built of baked earth and tiled roofs and those of poor classes are of wattle, plastered with mud and cow-dung and thickly thatched. They are frequently oval in shape, with a trellis in the front courtyard, covered with gourds creeping over the roofs. In the extreme west in the hills, the houses are frail structures quickly destroyed in forest fires or strong gales.

The four hill-forts of Kulang, Ratangad, Harishchandragad and Patta are amongst the most striking hill-forts of the district. Patta fort is practically inaccessible today except by foot-paths. The fort-ruins at present comprise masonry domes on the hill-top. Two large caves on the hill-top and three small caves about half way down the hill are other features of interest. Patta together with a fort at Ekdara at 8 km. further south and Avendhe at 6 km. further north were Maratha outposts. These together with Kulang were blown up in 1819-20 by Capt. Mackintosh.

The fort of Ratangad about 28 km. west of Akola is reached through a khind (pass) and series of steep-sided ravines. The fort itself is on the top of a plateau but is entirely in ruins.

Harishchandragad fort has ruined fortifications and Brahmanical caves at the apex of the water-shed between the Bhima and Godavari drainages. It is about 30 km. south-west of Akola. It is accessible by mule-paths. It is located on a hill-top, about 5 km. in diameter. The slopes of the plateau descend down through natural bastions on all sides. To the north, the first drop is a cliff of 60 metres which runs for a great distance along the hill side. The grandest cliff about 600 metres races west over-looking the Konkan. This fort was also destroyed by Capt. Mackintosh in 1820. The caves here about 150 m. below the level of the fort are chiefly in a low scarp of rock to the north of the summit.

The population densities in the Dangs are the lowest in the district, 80 per sq. km., mostly concentrated in isolated villages and hamlets in the valley bottoms. The population is entirely rural and served by a few local market villages that lie along the main roads that run along the Pravara valley. Akola, the largest of these settlements, is on the south high bank of the Pravara. It is a place of declining importance like many other Mawal towns as seen from the ruins of large forts in bad disrepair. The chief points of interest are the Siddheshwar temple and Gangadhar temple. Rajur, about 16 km. west of Akola, is a weekly market centre standing on a raised plateau top and reached by a winding hill-road running from Bhandardara to Akola.

Ahmadnagar plateau: The Ahmadnagar plateau running with a north-west to south-easterly trend separating the north-flowing Godavari drainage from the south-flowing Bhima drainage is a rolling upland plateau with an elevation of more than 500 metres except in the Sina valley in the extreme south-east. The plateau has sharp-crested ridge rims both to its north and south, the northern rims being made up of Baleshwar and the Agargaon ranges and the southern one by the declining, broken heights of Harishchandragad range and its eastward spurs.

The southern rim of the plateau coinciding with the crest of the Harishchandragad runs through the west central parts of Parner taluka. The region is very irregular and hilly, consisting of a series of plateaus and tablelands at various heights, the highest of them being the Kanhore plateau formed by the widening out of the summit of Harishchandragad traversing the area north-west to south-east. Its average height is about 900 metres above mean sea-level though a few points rise to 1,000 metres. This plateau of Kanhore lies centrally over the range and to its north is the tableland of Vasunda that stretches as far north as the Mula river whose valley bottom is about 100 metres below the plateau rim. This plateau is at a height of about 750 metres. To the south of Parner township is a tract of hill ground formed by spurs jutting out from the main range.

The plateau rim slopes steeply and descends down by about 650 metres to the valley of the Ghod and its tributary, the Kukdi nadi.

On the western side of the Kanhore plateau, intra-trappean limestone outcrops over many places. It is specially noticeable in the section of Wadgaon Dharya, 5 km. to the west of the Kanhore village where the limestone cliffs worn by the falling water is decorated with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites in an underground cavern temple and a number of sink holes higher up on the river-bed. At Jategaon, further south close to the Pune-Ahmadnagar highway is a smaller glen of the same kind.

The northern rims of the plateau mainly in north-eastern parts of Ahmadnagar taluka and southern parts of Pathardi taluka form the Agargaon range steeply falling to the Godavari valley on the northern side. The slope in many sections is precipitous and wall-like rising 100 metres or more above the plateau country they enclose. In this section, the hills have a varied and picturesque aspect, several of the minor valleys being well-wooded, and in the neighbourhood of the valleys, there are extensive batches of garden cultivation.

Enclosed between these two high rims is the vast Ahmadnagar plateau. On the western rims, the plateau ascending towards the Dang country becomes more uneven and rugged with numerous spurs, hills and small hill-top plateaus in-between the Mula and Pravara valleys which are themselves entrenched in the fairly deep valleys. This part of the country lies in Sangamner taluka. In this part, the Adula hills, Baleshwar range and the Harishchandragad range run eastward with numerous isolated higher peaks. The central part lies in the valley of the Pravara between two well-wooded ranges of hills dotted with mango and babul trees. The hill-slopes are gullied by deep hill torrents that get swollen with silty flood-waters during rains and become dry ravines during hot weather. As one proceeds eastwards, the elevations become less marked, the slopes are more even and the country a rolling upland plateau gently dipping eastwards; yet, even in the central and eastern sections, the plateau is dotted with numerous isolated hills, a result of differential erosion in a semi-arid tract. Around the city of Ahmadnagar, the country becomes once again much more rugged and so too in the northern parts of Shrigonda and the central parts of Karjat taluka. However, the hills in the eastern parts, particularly in Karjat-Jamkhed talukas, are low with plateau summits or pathars at a uniform height of about 800 metres. A few peaks, however, stand out prominently and form a large elevated tract known as Dongar Pathar. This level tract of a rolling upland inter-spersed with hill country or mal land is what is locally known as the munjal. Large tracts of rugged ground of the mal are covered with boulders.

It is only in the south-eastward draining Sina valley, in the eastern parts of Karjat taluka and western parts of Jamkhed taluka that elevations are below 500 metres and the land becomes a comparatively more open alluvial country. The country here presents an almost dismal appearance in large proportions covered with rock boulders and with practically no vegetal cover.

Soils on the plateau vary considerably depending upon the terrain and slope conditions. Over the plateau in many parts of Parner taluka, the soils though not very deep have a good admixture of lime and are open as a result of which they are well suited for the production of a number of rabi crops. However, on the terraces, the soils are too inferior and the hill-slopes are stony and poorer. Fairly productive black soils are seen only in low grounds skirted by waving and broken ground. In the western parts in Sangamner taluka the soils are of the richest description along the banks of the Pravara and Mula that develop only in narrow strips and grade into inferior soils of hill-slopes. On the hills in the plateau, the soils are friable and mixed with gravels; in the central parts there is a considerable portion of poor soils but in the neighbourhood of Ahmadnagar city in many of the minor valleys, deep munjal or reddish soils are met with, some of which are quite stiff and are not easily worked. In the east, in the Sina valley the soils, though not different in texture, are less gravelly; they are lighter but poorer.

Over the entire plateau poor grade forests dot the hill sections and proportion of area under barren and uncultivable wastes is fairly larger-about 10 per cent. Net sown area covers about two-thirds of the total land area and there is not much of significant difference between net sown and gross cropped areas, mainly because cropping is practically seasonal, restricted to the rainy period and irrigation facilities are still very poor.

The summits and slopes of the hills of the Ahmadnagar plateau are uniformly bare of trees, the depth of soils not affording nourishment for anything more than stunted bushes of khair trees (Acacia catechu) and prickly cactus which at a distance can hardly be distinguished from the basalt boulders which are strewn over the hill-sides. Some parts are well wooded with mango and tamarind groves. On the whole, partly owing to want of trees and partly due to the geological forms of the hills, the general aspect of the open country of the plateau is desolate. Only after heavy rains, the hills are green and the green quickly turns to yellow as the thin surface soils get parched and weather under the scorching sun. During the hot months after the last harvest, the country is as bleak and barren as it is possible for a country to be. It is only in the western parts of Sangamner taluka that some teak coppice is found on the hill-slopes. The sites of ravines and water-courses are stacked with trees and bushes.

Farming in moderate-sized land holdings by dry farming methods forms the basis of the rural economy. Irrigation is by and large absent in this region due to shortage of water-supply. A limited number of tanks irrigate small areas in Ahmadnagar taluka. Well-irrigation to a limited extent is developed all over the plateau, tapping the groundwater along the dry stream course. In the Pravara valley of Sangamner taluka, small areas get the benefit of canal irrigation.

Jowar and bajri are the two main crops of the plateau. In the Sangamner taluka, on the hill-slopes and the foot-hill areas, bajri is the most important cereal accounting for nearly one-third of the cultivated area. Eastwards, with deeper and more productive soils, bajri declines in importance and is replaced by jowar. In the Ahmadnagar, Shrigonda and Karjat talukas jowar is a more important crop than bajri. Unlike bajri grown during the kharif season in the western parts, jowar over this plateau is almost exclusively a rabi crop. Pulses, mainly tur and gram, during the kharif and rabi seasons, respectively are grown often as mixed crops.

The proportion of fallow lands over the entire plateau is a reflection of the erratic and unreliable nature of the monsoon rainfall which is precariously marginal. In fact, the whole of this region is a chronic scarcity zone and farming needs to be supplemented by artificial means of water-supply. With the newly proposed Mula project and minor irrigation schemes inclusive of construction of numerous wells, farming in this region may have a face-lift since the soils of the region are inherently productive.

Villages are compact. They are large-sized with an average population of about 1,200 and are located on water-points.

Godavari Basin: The Godavari basin in the district covers practically the northern third of the district. It includes the entire Kopargaon, Shrirampur, Newasa and Shevgaon talukas, the east central parts of Sangamner taluka, most of Rahuri taluka except the south-west and the northern parts of Pathardi taluka. The whole area forms part of an extensive alluvial plain country sloping northwards towards the Godavari. There are practically no hills but it is only monotonous country. However, in the south and south-east, the land has a more uneven slope up towards the rims of the Ahmadnagar plateau which is deeply fissured by ravines down which water rushes with great violence during heavy rains. Between the various streams which drain the country are slightly elevated tracts of mal or upland which however do not change the general level appearance of the region.

Except on the banks of the rivers and in the neighbourhood of the village sides, the entire plain is bare of trees. The banks of the rivers, however, are thickly fringed with babul trees. Even the hills in the southern parts of the Rahuri taluka are destitute of vegetation and present a bare rugged aspect, the strongly marked horizontal lines of stratification contrasting in a striking manner with the vertical fissures worn into their steep sides by the action of water. However, eastwards, the hill-slopes present a varied picturesque aspect, several of the minor valleys being well-wooded and in the neighbourhood of the villages there are more extensive patches of bagait (garden) cultivation than are found on the plains lower down. The entire region is traversed by a number of right-bank tributaries of the Godavari of which the Pravara and the Mula flowing through Rahuri and Newasa talukas and the Dhora nadi are the most important.

Soils: The chief soils of the entire basin are kali or black with a variety of gradations depending upon the local terrain conditions and slope. The soils, by and large derived from weathering of basalts under tropical semi-arid climatic conditions, are regurs (black cotton soil), a type of clay loam that is moisture-retentive. In this region the soil is more suited to wheat than to cotton, excessively sticky and hard to work during rains and full of cracks in the hot weather. However, in the plains of Sangamner taluka on either side of the Pravara and Mula occur rich munjal soils, a reddish sandy loam, and chopan soils that are admirably suited for garden cropping. Being alluvial and friable this latter soil needs less moisture and is more easily worked than the stiffer clayey loams of the Godavari plains. In the north, in the Kopargaon plains soils have good depth and along the Godavari there are many wide tracts of deep rich soils although along the immediate banks of the river occur large barren patches. In Rahuri too, the soil is deep, rich and black with unusual retentive capacity, more suitable for rabi crops. However, southwards in the neighbourhood of the Mula valley the soils become shallower. Once again in Newasa the soils are deep. Eastwards in Shevgaon taluka though the soils are rich they are more variable; more stiff clay soils occurring along the Godavari and somewhat poorer light soils on the hills. The best soil in this taluka occurs in the Dhora valley. Mixed with these richer lands are many tracts of poorer soils like muram, gravelly and stony khadkal soils on low plateaus and water partings.

The entire basin has intensely cultivated farm lands covering more than four-fifths of the land area. Gross cropped area is 4 to 5 per cent higher than net sown area, as a result of double cropping in better water irrigated lands. In this entire stretch, the area under forest-cover is very low and so too the barren and uncultivable lands record low percentages. Fallow lands are also much less significant due to the greater fertility of the soils and more assured water-supply for farming.

In the entire Godavari plains irrigated farming is significant bringing prosperity to the small farmers and this is in sharp contrast to the dry farming practices of the Nagar plateau. Kopargaon, Shrirampur and Rahuri talukas have a large network of irrigation canals fed by the Godavari and the Pravara rivers and have high proportions of irrigated areas-about 30 per cent of the net sown area in the first two talukas and about 15 per cent in the Rahuri taluka. With the completion of the Mula valley project, the area under irrigation in Rahuri taluka is also likely to be further enhanced. Comparatively the eastern parts in Newasa and Shevgaon talukas record a much lower percentage of area under irrigation. Well-irrigation is comparatively more significant over the entire region and supplements canal-irrigation. There are more than 30,000 irrigation wells in the entire region. Diffusion of agricultural innovations like pump-sets and oil-engines during the recent past has brought remarkable improvement in the field of agriculture over this entire tract.

Cultivation extends almost upto the banks of the river except where the banks being stripped off their surface soils by gully erosion present a desolate barren aspect. Where the banks are steep and high, they are generally cultivated upto the edge. In the fair season when the streams occupy only small portions of their channels in many places crops of wheat and vegetables are raised on the alluvial deposits within the bed of the river while the gravelly stony soils are generally planted with melons.

Jowar is the most important crop of the entire basin and is raised during the rabi season in the black soils. Bajri also occupies a significant proportion, increasing in importance substantially in the lighter soils to the south and the west, mainly in Sangamner and Pathardi talukas. Wheat grown during the rabi season is of some importance in the northern parts. Pulses are much less significant in the cropping pattern than in Ahmadnagar plateau and are raised only as cover crops. In the cropping economy of the entire basin, rabi crops are more significant than anywhere else in the district accounting for slightly less than half the net sown area. Cash crops too are much more significant than on the plateau and of them, sugarcane is vitally important in the economy, on an average accounting for about 12 to 15 per cent of the cropped area in the western parts of the basin and ushering in substantial agricultural prosperity to the rural economy. Next in importance are groundnut and cotton.

The Godavari basin is the most densely peopled section of the entire district for obvious reasons. This region has also recorded the highest increase in the growth-rate of population.

Ghod-Bhima basin: The Ghod-Bhima basin of Ahmadnagar district lies to the west of Ahmadnagar plateau which descends through steep from the plateau level to the valley floor that is at an average height of 650 metres in the north and less than 550 metres in its southern edges. It includes a narrow western strip to the west of the Kanhore plateau in the Parner taluka and the western halves of Shrigonda and Karjat talukas. The valleys of Ghod and its tributary Kukdi in the north in the Parner taluka are narrow and rolling; southwards in Shrigonda and Karjat talukas, the main Bhima valley widens considerably to become an almost flat plain. In Shrigonda, the plain is skirted in the north-east by low hills with flat summits while large tracts in Karjat taluka are covered with boulders and gravels inter-spersed with level tracts in which soils are comparatively deeper and richer. The land in general slopes to the south towards the rivers. There is a large tank in the northern parts of Shrigonda taluka, namely, the Visapur tank into which the Hanga river drains; the tank is bunded in the lower end by an embankment and is used to a limited extent for irrigation.

In Kukdi and Ghod valleys of the Parner taluka the plateau rim descends through a series of terraces on which flat patches of the soils are inferior, while the intervening scarp-slopes are stony and barren. The valley floor itself however is covered by fertile black soils that are fairly well irrigated and have a pleasing aspect. Downstream in the Shrigonda taluka, deep clayey munjal soils prevail and need to be worked considerably to yield large crops. Undulating mal soils dot the whole region here. The soils become stiller in Karjat and have a plentiful mixture of stones and gravels. The deep munjal soils here are fairly tilled but large areas are barren and unculturable in the region. Irrigation as at present is mainly done by wells although the recently initiated Ghod valley project has ushered in canal-irrigation into this tract. Jowar grown during rabi season is the main crop. Bajri is of some importance in Kukdi valley with higher and inferior soils. Safflower amongst oil-seeds, tur and gram are other crops. In bagait lands, garden-crops are of some significance. From agricultural point of view this entire valley is a scarcity area. Though the soils are rich, the rainfall is scanty and uncertain with the result there is considerable fluctuation in the yield of cereals from year to year. The population is entirely rural and farming is the main activity. Industries are mostly in the make in the region. There are two sugar mills in the Ghod project area at Belvandi.

This region is the most backward area of the district and records lower densities of rural population about 60 to 75 per square km. Villages are large and compact, at a considerable distance from each other, invariably dependent upon well-water supply along the seasonal stream lines. A few market centres dot the entire area of which Shrigonda and Belvandi, both in Shrigonda taluka, are the most important.