[The section on Geography is contributed by Prof. R. Arunachalam
Department of Geography, University of Bombay, Bombay.]
CHANDRAPUR DISTRICT, THE EASTERNMOST OF THE DISTRICTS OF, MAHARASHTRA STATE lies between 18° 41' and 20° 50' north latitudes and 78° 48' and 80° 55' east longitudes. The biggest of the districts of the State of Maharashtra in area, Chandrapur district covers a surface area of 26,128.7 km2 (10,088.3 sq. miles) and has a population of 1,238,070 according to the 1961 Census. Though the district covers 8.53 per cent of the surface area of the State, its population accounts for only 3.12 per cent, indicating thereby the relatively underpopulated nature of the district. The population of the district is distributed amongst 4 towns and 2,755 inhabited villages.
Geographically speaking, the district lies in the eastern parts
of the Godavari basin. Three large and important tributaries of
the Godavari viz., the Wardha, the Wainganga (both of
which together constitute the Pranhita) and the Indravati drain
the western, central and eastern parts of the district, respectively.
Geologically, the district possesses considerable complexities with
rock formations belonging to periods ranging from the archaean
basement complex to the recent tertiary alluvium. A part of the
district lies in the Penganga-Wardha rift which perhaps is the
latest period of earth disturbance affecting the topographical and
geological history of the district.
The district of Chandrapur has undergone numerous changes of area and boundaries since its formation. Taken over from the Marathas by the British in 1853, the district of Chandrapur, as originally constituted as a component part of the Central Province, comprised three tahsils, viz., Mul, Warora and Brahmapuri. In 1874. the district of Upper Godavari in the Madras Province was abolished, and four tahsils of this district were transferred to Chandrapur and added to it as a single tahsil with headquarters at Sironcha. In 1895, the headquarters of the Mul tahsil was transferred from Mul to Chandrapur. A new tahsil, Gadhchiroli, with headquarters at Gadhchiroli, was evolved out of the existing tahsils by transferring the zamindari estates from Brahmapuri and Chandrapur tahsils. A small
zamindari tract from Gadhchiroli tahsil was transferred to the newly formed Durg district in 1907. An area of about 1,560 km2 consisting of the Cherla, Albaka and Nugur divisions of the
lower Sironcha tahsil on the opposite bank of the Godavari were transferred back to the Madras Presidency in the same year for
administrative convenience. Since then, there were no changes
in the district boundary till 1955. Consequent to the Reorgani-sation of States in 1956 the district was transferred from Madhya
Pradesh to the bilingual Bombay State and became part of State
of Maharashtra since its creation in May 1960.
Rajura tahsil, which was formerly a part of the Adilabad district of Nizam's dominion was transferred to the Nanded district
in 1956 after the States' Reorganisation and was again transferred
to the Chandrapur district in March 1959 as it was contiguous to
Chandrapur and isolated from Nanded district.
Since January, 1964, Chanda town has been renamed as
Chandrapur. For administrative purposes, the district is at
present divided into six tahsils, viz., Brahmapuri, Warora,
Gadhchiroli, Chandrapur, Sironcha and Rajura.
The district is bounded on the north by Bhandara, Nagpur and Wardha districts, on the east by Bastar and Durg districts of Madhya Pradesh State, on the west by Yeotmal district and on the south by Adilabad and Karimnagar districts of Andhra Pradesh. The boundary mostly follows natural features, mainly rivers, but here and there it is one of administrative convenience.
Starting from the trijunction of the Wardha. Yeotmal and Chandrapur districts just north-west of the village Dindoda in Warora tahsil, where the Wunna river, a left bank tributary, enters into the Wardha river, the boundary between the Chandrapur and Yeotmal districts follows the Wardha river downstream with a general southerly and south-south-easterly trend till the confluence of the Wardha and the Penganga just south of the village, Sheoni Deshpande, whereafter the boundary follows the Penganga river upstream south-westwards, keeping Rajura tahsil to its south and Yeotmal district to its north. The boundary runs generally south-westwards till reaching the village Parsola
on the right bank of the river. Here, the boundary leaves the river and runs
almost due south for about ten kilometres till it reaches the scarp edge of a plateau, 600 m high, on which is found the Manikgarh State forest. The boundary then turns east and runs along the plateau edge till reaching the peak of Jamundara (530 m) whereafter
it ascends the slope and runs southwards till reaching the southern edge of the
plateau descending down to the valley of the Pedda Vagu in Adilabad district. Then, the boundary turns and runs east-south-eastwards along this edge of the upland till reaching the village, Babapur. Then, it turns north and cuts across the hilly terrain to reach the forest hamlet, Govindpur; it then turns south-eastwards, following the southern edge of an eastward protruding spur till it descends to the
valley of the Wardha near the village Annur. Thereafter, the boundary follows the Wardha downstream once again as it
flows eastward till its confluence with the Wainganga river. After the confluence, the combined flow of the two rivers is known as the Pranhita and the boundary follows the Pranhita southwards till its confluence with the Godavari at the south-western extreme of the district, where lies the trijunction between Chandrapur, Adilabad and Karimnagar districts. Thereafter, the boundary runs eastwards, following the Godavari till reaching the point of confluence of a left bank tributary, the Indravati, with the main river: here lies the trijunction between three States: Chandrapur of Maharashtra, Karimnagar of Andhra Pradesh and Bastar of Madhya Pradesh. Now, the boundary turns north and follows upstream the Indravati river for a considerable distance till a small tributary, the Komara nadi meets it at its right bank just south of the village, Kawande; thereafter, it follows the channel of the Komara nadi till the hill village Nulwada and then runs northwards across the hills, a valley-head at an elevation of 750 m and the valley of the Nibra river and finally descends to the valley floor of the Kotra nadi, north of the village Murumbhusi. The boundary then follows the Kotra nadi upstream northwards for about 24 km then cuts across a feeble watershed westward to enter the valley of the Papra nadi and follow it along its eastern edge to once again enter into and follow northwards the same forest clad, flat topped watershed that divides the Wainganga tributaries from those draining into the Indravati tributaries till reaching the village Mulotipadikasa. Then, just 5 km north of the market village of Kokari the boundary turns west. Keeping Bhandara
district to its north it runs partly through a jungle clad undulating interfluve and partly along the source stream of the Garhvi nadi to reach the valley of the Wainganga to the north of the village Sawangi. Then, the boundary follows for about 20 km, the Wainganga river upstream to once again pass through an undulating country westwards till reaching the Pothra nadi near the village Bopapur and then following the river till its confluence with the Wunna is reached. Then, the boundary runs south following downstream the Wunna river till its confluence with the Wardha. Thus, the boundaries of the district to the west, south and south-east mostly run along large streams, while to the east it runs along a watershed and crestline of hills, but to the north, it is one of arbitrary nature and of administrative convenience.
Physical Features, Relief and Drainage.
The rich and varied topography of the district is almost unparalleled anywhere else in the State and is an outcome of the immense geological variety of the rock formations of the district that range from the archaean basement complex in the eastern extremes to the most recent tertiary and pleistocene alluvium in the river valleys, and of the tectonic features of the district that include huge igneous intrusions as well as rifts usurped by large streams. In spite of this geological and hence topographical diversity, a concomitant result of long endured sub-aerial denudation on structures of differing resistance and hardness, the
area of the district falls broadly into a series of north-south
running river valley strips defined and distinguished from each
other by parallel series of watersheds, all the north-south running river valleys terminating in the west to east trending Godavari valley floor. Thus, one can recognise from west to east the Wardha, the Wainganga-Pranhita and the Indravati river valleys with well defined north to south trends; the low Chimur, Mul and Parasgarh hills separate the Wardha and the Wainganga valleys; the Wainganga-Indravati interfluve lying partly along the eastern boundary of the district also consists of a number of hill ranges that form a tangle of jungle country. In contrast to the southward opening river valleys, the Godavari has a west to east valley along the southern boundary of the district. The Penganga valley and its continuation into the Wardha valley till the confluence of the Wardha with the Wainganga has also a west to east trend, sub-parallel to the Godavari valley. The entire drainage pattern of the district is strongly suggestive of the structural control of the river valleys-the rivers usurping and flowing in rift valleys of the Mesozoic age. To the south of the Penganga, in the southern part of the Rajura tahsil, also lies a hill country with a west to east trend, forming the water-divide between the Penganga and the Godavari. Thus, in brief, the topography of the district consists of alternation of low lying river plains at elevations of less than 300 metres and a series of hill ranges about 300 to 600 metres high in elevation. Fairly high elevations of more than 600 to 700 metres are recorded only in the southern and eastern parts of Sironcha tahsil, which even today remains a backward and inaccessible tribal country. The Indravati valley in the south-east forms the westernmost extreme part of the Dandakaranya basin.
The hills of the Chandrapur district can be broadly considered
as belonging to four groups: (i) the Chimur-Parasgarh-Nagbhir-Rajoli-Mul-Wamanpalli hills that form a broken series of hills, together constituting the waterparting between the Wardha and the Wainganga drainages; (ii) the hills of the southern and western parts of Rajura tahsil, i.e., the Manikgarh hills; (iii) the southern hill complex in Sironcha tahsil, such as the Sirikonda hills, the Bhamragad, Surjagad, Ahiri and Dandakaranya hills; and (iv) the isolated hill masses of the eastern parts of Gadhchiroli tahsil, such as the Tipagarh, Palasgarh and Borgaon hills. Of them, the hills of Warora, Brahmapuri and Chandrapur tahsils belonging to the first group are low hills rising on an average to about 300 metres. The highest elevations within the limits of the district are all recorded along the eastern margins of Sironcha and Gadhchiroli tahsils. in what may be termed as the Dandakaranya hills, since they form the western limits of the Dandakaranya plateau basin.
Chimur hills.-Extending from about 5 kilometres west of Chimur as far south as the village Moharli, the Chimur hills run with a north to south strike in the eastern parts of Warora tahsil
for a distance of about 32 km with an average width of 8 to
10 km. These hills rise to an average elevation of about 300 m,
the highest trigonometric elevations over the ridge being Labantanda pahar (309 m), Bagha pahar (356 m), Sonegaon pahar
(359 m), Mothabarad pahar (360 m), Bhaogarh pahar (337 m) and Ambagarh (367 m). The ridge is flat-topped, with a gentle slope to the east and generally rises about 100 to 150 metres above the general level of the valley floors of the Erai nadi to the west and the Andhari river to its east. The ridge is of a cuesta type with a cliff and scarp slope facing west and a gentle dip slope to the east. It is made up of gently eastward clipping sandstone formations of the Vindhyan age. The ridge has been breached in a number of. places by streams and gullies that drain to the east and the west resulting in a number of natural depressions which on being bonded at their lower ends have become perennial and semi-perennial tanks, like the Tadoba lake that has been converted into a game sanctuary by the State Government.
Parasgarh-Nagbhir hills.-East of the Chimur hills, running parallel to it along the Warora-Brahmapuri tahsil boundary, are the Parasgarh-Nagbhir hills. The Nagpur-Nagbhir-Mul-Chandrapur railway runs skirting these hills to their east between Tempa and Talodha railway stations. Running with a north-north-east, south-south-west strike for a distance of about 20 km, with an average width of about 10 to 12 km, this almost single ridge is also of a cuesta type with an excellent cliff section facing west and in parts to the south; the dip slope faces eastwards and the ridge is flat-topped. Like the Chimur hills, this ridge also is made up of almost horizontally bedded Vindhyan sandstones and are underlain by limestones of the same age. At the lower end of these hills too, large natural tank depressions occur.
In comparison to the Chimur hills, this ridge rises to much higher elevations; the Pendhri peak (474 m), Sat Bahini (459 m) overlooking and presenting a romantic view of the Ghorajhari tank to its east, Siwap Hurki (383 m), Mugdabhai pahar (411 m) and the Waghahi pahar (431 m) are the greater heights reached in this ridge.
Rajoli-Nawargaon hills.-South of the Parasgarh-Nagbhir hills, on either side of the Nagbhir-Chandrapur railway, but more to the west, lies a tangle of hill country with mostly isolated residual hill masses in an archaean gneissic terrain consisting of unclassified, crystalline and metamorphic formations. The landscape in this region stands in sharp contrast to the sandstone topography to its north and the west. The rounded, smooth-lined residual hills rising barely a hundred metres or thereabouts above the peneplaned surface of the archaean basement floor run here with a general North-North-West to South-South-East or North-South strike and a steep dip: they are mostly 'Dharwarian' outcrops of the 'Iron-ore series' in the form of
quartzites. These 'Dharwar' inliers occurring in troughs of deep
synclinal folds in the archaean basement carry in them valuable
high grade haematite variety of iron ore that outcrop in a number
of places like the Lohara hill, 5 km north-east of Allewahi railway
station, Asola, about 10 km east-south-east of Sindewahi railway
station and Ratanpur near Nawargaon Budrukh. further east
of Lohara, on either side of the confluence of the Kobragrahi river
with the Wainganga on the left bank of the latter lies a group
of elongated 'Dharwar' outcrops near the village Deulgaon on the
Gadhchiroli-Brahmapuri road; these hillocks are all elongated, with a length of about 2 km north to south and a width rarely
exceeding half a kilometre.
Mul hills.-Further south of the Rajoli-Nawargaon hills, and south-east of the Chimur hills, lie the Mul hills about 5 km west of the township of Mul. The hills rise barely to a height of 300 m and are flat topped, consisting of the same sandstones as those of the Chimur and Nagbhir hills; in fact, the Mul hills constitute the south-eastern edge of the Vindhyan outcrops abut-ting on the archaean terrain. However, the sandstone beds are thinner here and the underlying limestone outcrops in patches along the slopes. The edge of these flat-topped hills do not present such imposing scarp faces as those of Chimur and Nagbhir hills.
Wamanpalli hills.-Southwards of the Mul hills, once again, there occur a number of isolated hill masses, striking north-south and rising to elevations of about 250 m barely fifty metres above the level of the adjoining country particularly to the west-north-west and south of the market village Pomurna. These, too, like Lohara and Deulgaon appear to be outcrops of 'Dharwar' formations, belonging to the 'iron-ore' series and are set in a gneissic terrain. Just to the west and south of these hills, in the Kothari, Chanpur, Panchgaon, Dabha and Wamanpalli reserved forest areas, there occur vast flat-topped plateau-like hill masses at elevations of 250 m; these, unlike the rounded hills around Pomurna, are formed of red ferrugenous 'Kamthi' sandstones, horizontally bedded.
Manikgarh hills.-To the south of the Penganga and the Wardha in the southern and western parts of the Rajura tahsil is the only significant basaltic trap region of the district; the high level 'mesa' or structural plateau, made up of horizontal basic lava flows, rises to about 600 metres abruptly from the valley floor of the Penganga and Wardha rivers at a bare distance of about 10 km from the river bed. The rise is through a steep scarp slope in a distance of about one to two kilometres for about 350 m above the valley floor. The plateau all over records the same height levels. Overlooking the Wardha river at the north-eastern edge of the crest of the plateau is situated in a picturesque setting the Manikgarh fort.
There are a few outliers of these basaltic hills extending as tongues of the main spur, towards the Wardha eastwards; these
outliers overlie Penganga beds of shales and limestones. The
Sonda peak and the Siddeshwar peak lie in these outlier hills.
Sirikonda hills.-In the extreme southern parts of the Sironcha
Tahsil. striking north-west to south-east, runs a hill range. Extending from the Adilabad district across the Pranhita river, the range enters the Chandrapur district near the village Watra. It extends south-eastward right up to the village Asar Ali on the
banks of the Godavari and runs further beyond the Godavari as a continuation. Where the river Pranhita cuts through this hill range, it has developed a narrow steep sided constricted gorge-like valley; so too, the Indravati where it cuts through the eastern extreme of the range has developed a narrow valley; both these valleys appear superimposed.
The hill range barely 20 km wide runs for a distance of about 70 km across the southern parts of the Sironcha tahsil. The highest peak known as the Sirikonda, about 20 km north-east of Sironcha
rises to a height of 527 m. The general elevation of this, ridge is only about
3.50 m. The rock beds appear to be mostly crushed and altered. Along the north-eastern edge, the rocks dip rather steeply to the north-east and abut abruptly against the gneiss along what has been mapped as a fault. The rocks are essentially sandstones and quartzite formations with occasional conglomerates and pebble beds. On the western side, facing the Pranhita valley, the rock beds present good cliff faces with a slight geological unconformity. The rock series here are believed to belong to the Pakhal series (Upper Cuddapahs) though some geologists place it in the Sullavai series of the Vindhyans.
Ahiri hills.-To the east of Ahiri in Sironcha tahsil, a number of low residual hillocks set in the gneissic terrain dot the surface,
But three of them rise to relatively higher elevations - the Bhimaram hills (488 m), Nalu hills (381 m), and Kureli hills (410 m). The hills around Bhimaram arc granitic in character.
Lahir Bhamragad hills.-Along the extreme eastern margins of the Sironcha tahsil, enclosed between the Indravati in the south and the Paralkot or Kotri river in the west is a tangle of hill masses that reach some of the highest elevations in the district. The hill ranges rise on an average to elevations of about 700 m. The greatest height reached here is 935 m just north of the village Damanmarka, south-east of the Nibra river, on the State boundary. The rocks here, are essentially archaean unclassified crystalline gneisses, schists and quartzites. At the south-western extremity of this hill group, rising to a height slightly more than 300 m, is the Bhamragad hill which overlooks the confluence of the Indravati and two of its right bank tributaries, the Paralkot and Nibra rivers, and opens a grand vista of the well-wooded Indravati valley to its south-west and south-east.
Ambale-Rajur hills.-In the Ambela-Rajur reserved forest divisions of the Gadhchiroli tahsil, at a distance of about 10 to 20 km. east of the Wainganga river, there occur as inliers in the
archaean gneissic terrain, narrow elongated low hill's with a north-west and
south-east strike that are barely one to two kilometres long and about 500 m
wide. These hills are mere continuations southwards across the Wainganga of the banded ferrugenous
quartzites that carry excellent haematite iron ore bodies.
Prominent amongst these hills, that mostly lie south of the
market-village Chamorshi, and north of Aheri are the Lokhand
Dongri, Kodu Pohad, Jambeli Dongri, Chechi Dongar, Pangari
Dongar and Raj Gutta.
Tipagarh-Palasgarh-Surjagarh hills.-The eastern half of Gadhchiroli tahsil from the northern limits right up to and beyond the southern limits of the tahsil till the village Surjagarh in Sironcha, forms a huge tableland at average elevations of more than 350 m. In fact, it is a huge granitic batholith with porphyritio granite as the common rock. Numerous hills rise over the general elevations of this tableland and stand boldly in relief. One can seldom travel in this country out of sight of a hill. One group of hills known as the Satnala hills lies in the northern parts around Palasgarh and Bedgaon villages, and derives its name from the Sat river that has its source in these hills. To the south-east of this hill complex, in the Kotgal and Murum-gaon zamindari divisions lies another hill complex rising to about 600 m-the highest elevation recorded here is 626 m south-east of Kotgol-known as the Tipagarh range, so-called from the stronghold of that name now in ruins and hidden in almost impenetrable jungles. Further south in the upper reaches of the Kathani river are the Dhanora-Pendhri hills and the Surjagarh hills along the southern extreme of the batholith.
The lowlands lie mainly along the river valleys of the Wardha, the Wainganga, the Pranhita, the Godavari and the Indravati rivers. The most extensive and flat lowlands occur mainly along the Wardha and Penganga. The Pranhita and the Indravati mostly flow through hilly terrains and the valley floors contain little plain country. On the other hand, the Godavari valley floor carved in the lower Gondwana rock formations are relatively much wider and flatter. The Wainganga lowlands are mostly rolling topography with residual knolls of hills, but in the northern sections of the Brahmapuri tahsil form fairly wide flood and alluvial plains covered with fertile loams. The lowlands of the Chandrapur district, on the whole, lie generally below 250 metres and they are the lowest in the downstream Godavari plains where the lowest spot height of the district (160 m) is recorded.
The entire district falls within the Godavari drainage; the
northern tributaries of the river draining the central Indian hills and the eastern ghats flow through the district, generally with a north to south trend. The major river systems of the district are from west to east: the Penganga, the Wardha, the Wainganga and the Indravati. The Penganga flows into the Wardha and the combined waters are emptied into the Wainganga which after
the confluence is known as the Pranhita. Numerous tributaries
of these river systems, most of which rise in the uplands within the district drain the area of the district.
Godavari.-The Godavari, rising in the Trimbak hills of Nasik district in western Maharashtra, enters into the district at the south-western extreme just south-west of Sironcha, and flows east for about 50 km forming the southern boundary of the State. After the confluence of its large right bank tributary, the Indravati, at the south-eastern corner of the district, the Godavari turns south into the territory of the Andhra Pradesh continuing in the same longitudinal depression as that of the Indravati. The river is of little significance so far as this district is concerned as it runs mainly along the boundary and a practically uninhabited forested hill country that for most part is not easily accessible. The river is about a kilometre wide in general and is bound by high banks, about 30 m deep. The river is full of rocky shoals and low sandy meander terraces on the inner banks are quite frequent.
Penganga.-The Penganga, rising in the neighbourhood of Chikhli in the Buldhana plateau, has a general south-south-easterly course and enters the district close to the village Parsola in the Rajura tahsil. It has a general south-west to north-east trend in the district for about 50 km before it joins the Wardha river. It forms the northern boundary of the Rajura tahsil in the western section, separating it from the Yeotmal district. The river, perennial, but dwindling in volume to mere stagnant pools during the hot weather, winds in a narrow channel and cuts through Penganga limestones and shales, forming wide extensive clay flats in the Rajura tahsil. The river has low banks to the south, as a result of which, during the monsoon season, liability for overflow and flooding and subsequent waterlogging is quite widespread in the plains of Rajura tahsil.
The river joins the Wardha south of the colliery town Ghugus in Chandrapur tahsil.
Wardha.-The Wardha river rises in the Multai plateau in
Madhya Pradesh and after flowing through the district of Nagpur
forms boundary between the districts of Wardha, Amravati
and Yeotmal before entering this district at its confluence with
the Wunna river. The river flows initially south forming
boundary between Yeotmal district on one hand and Warora and
Chandrapur tahsils of this district on the other till its confluence
with the Penganga on its right bank. After this confluence the
river turns east and has a general east-south-easterly course
initially, then southerly and once again easterly till its confluence
with the Wainganga. This stretch of the course forms initially
tahsil boundary and then the State boundary. The river thus
flows mostly on the western and southern boundaries of the
district. It is a sluggish river flowing through varied geological
formations in its course through the district - Deccan trap in the north-west and then through the upper and lower Gondwana formations and the archaeans - one after another, successively. In fact, the course of the river is believed to be occupying a rift valley.
The river is full during the rains but dwindles to trickles in hot weather. It flows through a fairly fertile and productive country in the district.
Erai nadi.-The Erai nadi is the principal affluent of the Wardha on its right bank. It pursues its whole course of a length of 80 km within the district, rising in the hills of northern Warora and flowing almost due south till it joins the Wardha a short distance south of Chandrapur. The source of this river is made up of three streams - the Chargaon nadi, the Chambai nadi and the Banaskhundi nadi, all rising on the western slopes of the Chimur hills. The Erai and its tributaries, the Kankiya nadi and the Mothaghat nala drain practically the whole of Warora tahsil and north-western Chandrapur. The Erai is non-perennial.
Wunna.-The Wunna and its left bank tributary, the Pothra nadi, form for a short distance the boundary between Hingan-ghat tahsil of Wardha and the Warora tahsil. The Wunna is a sluggish perennial stream.
Wainganga and its tributaries.-The Wainganga rises in the Maikal ranges of Durg district in Madhya Pradesh and has a westerly and then southerly course through the district of Bhandara before entering the district in the Brahmapuri tahsil just north of the settlement, Brahmapuri. The Wainganga is the main stream of the district. Striking to the eye even at a glance is the bold north to south flow of the Wainganga that enters the district near the middle of the northern boundary and slices the district into two unequal halves, the western part containing the Warora, Brahmapuri and Chandrapur tahsils, all of which are better economically developed and accessible and the eastern part comprising the Gadhchiroli tahsil and northern third of Sironcha tahsil both of which even today remain the most backward, tribal, inaccessible jungle infested region of the State.
The river has a course of about 165 km through the district in an archaean gneissic terrain. It is slightly more rapid in its flow than the Wardha. A certain amount of traffic is carried upon it during the rains from Pauni in the Bhandara district southwards up to Armori but it is not a navigable stream. The river has developed extensive flood plains with sweeping graceful meanders and low alluvial flats and meander terraces. The river has fairly high
banks 10 to 15 metres
on either side. The river is flooded during the later part of the monsoon season
but practically dries up in the hot weather. It has a large number of
tributaries within the district that arc reduced during the summer to a mere
chain of stagnant pools but which become graceful gushing torrents during the rains.
Of these tributaries, the major ones on the right hank are the Buti and the Andhari and those on the left hank are the Garhvi, the Khobragadi. the Kathani, the Potphodi and the Pohar.
The Buti nadi rises in the Nagbhir hills and has a sub-parallel course to the Wainganga on its right
bank. It flows past Brahmapuri before joining the Wainganga near Ramanchar village. It is a non-perennial stream. The river has carved its valley in the western parts of the aggraded alluvium of the Wainganga and probably represents an abandoned former course of the Wainganga in its lateral shifts of the meanders.
The Andhari nadi has an overall length of 101 km entirely within the district. It rises on the eastern dip slopes of the Chimur hills close to the Tadoba lake in Warora tahsil and has a south-easterly flow through Warora and Chandrapur tahsils. Its main tributary on its left bank is the Mul river which also rises in the Chimur hills but to the north of the Andhari. It flows through Naleshwar and Mul forest divisions and then past Mul town before joining the Andhari near Chak. The Mul river has a more perennial flow than the Andhari whose stream becomes perennial only downstream of its confluence with the Mul river.
Another of its tributaries is the Bokardoh nadi rising in the slopes of the Nagbhir hills; yet another rising in the trap country, near Bhisi is known upstream as the Patalganga or Neri river but lower down as the Gondni nadi. The Gondni and the Bokardoh unite near Kuramgaon and finally join the Andhari near Jamb. During the rains, the Andhari has a large volume of water.
The Garhvi rising in the Chichgarh hills of southern parts of Bhandara district enters the district near the village Boldhagaon in Gadhchiroli tahsil and flows south with a sub-parallel course to the Wainganga at a distance of about 10 to 12 km on its left bank. It joins the Wainganga south of Armori.
The Khobragadi, a stream of about 80 km length rises in the Tipagarh hills and
has a general westerly flow through a picturesque jungle-clad hill terrain underlain by granites and phyllites. It joins the Wainganga about 2 km downstream of the confluence of the Garhvi with the Wainganga.
The Khobragadi has an important tributary, the Sat nala (or the Satta nadi) joining it on the right bank at a spot where the ruins of the Gond fort at Wairagarh are situated overlooking it. The Sat nala rises in the Satnala hills in the northern parts of Gadhchiroli tahsil and flows west and then south. The two rivers together drain the northern half of Gadhchiroli tahsil.
The Kathani river rises in the Dhanora Murumgaon hills of Gadhchiroli tahsil and flows west for a distance of about 70 km before emptying its waters into the Wainganga just north of Gadhchiroli. It is also a mountain torrent like the Khobragadi.
The Pohar nadi comprises three streams, the Mandoli nadi, the Suggam nadi and the Mrigadola nadi, all of which rise in the
eastern hills of Gadhchiroli. It has also a westerly course.
Pranhita.-At about 19° 35' N. latitude, the Wardha has its confluence with the Wainganga and the combined flow of water continues in the same southerly depression as that of the Wainganga under the name, the Pranhita. The Pranhita forms the western boundary of Sironcha tahsil. It has an overall length of 113 km till its confluence with the Godavari about 7 km south-west of Sironcha. The Pranhita has high banks throughout, and downstream of Watra village flows in a constricted narrow gorge-like valley that appears to be superimposed. It has developed extensive alluvial flats on the inner shelving banks of the meander loops that support productive agricultural villages in what forms otherwise a forested territory. The river has a number of hill torrents joining it on the left bank.
Dina nadi.-The Dina nadi rises in the Surjagarh hills and flows west and then south for about 65 km to join the Pranhita. It flows through a forested country.
Indravati river.-The Indravati river rising in the highlands of Tohamal and draining the slopes of the Chandragiri peak in the eastern ghats of Orissa State is the only large west flowing stream of central India. It has an overall length of 400 km. In its lower course, before it enters into the Godavari, it forms the boundary between Sironcha tahsil and Bastar district. It is a true mountain torrent with a rapid, perennial, and deep water-flow, with rocky shoals and rapids. It enters the district in the eastern parts of Ahiri zamindari and flows west for a short distance before turning south. It flows for a distance of 122 km along the eastern boundary of the district. The river is not much useful for navigation, but is used to float timber in the forest tracts. It has a number of right bank tributaries.
Nibra river.-The Nibra or Pamlagotam river rises in the Naranpar hills of Bastar district and enters this district north of Timili village. The Nibra as well as its hill torrents form large alluvial aprons as they descend from the hills. It joins the Indravati near Bhamragad.
Kotri nadi.-The Kotri nadi or the Paralkot river also rises in the western hills of Bastar district and flows south. It is a hill torrent flowing through a forest division. It joins the Indravati near Bhamragad.
Bandia river.-The Bandia river rises in the Aundhi zamindari division of Bastar and flows south draining a
large section of eastern Sironcha. The river flows past Surjagarh and is made up of three streams.
The gneissic terrain in the Brahmapuri tahsil and eastern
Chandrapur that is, the area that lies between the Erai nadi and the Wainganga is a beautiful lake-country full of natural tank
depressions, that have been carved in the gneisses by sub-aerial weathering and denudational agencies. The smaller ones amongst these depressions are non-perennial collecting the vicissitudes of the monsoon rainfall. However, a few of the larger ones, also fed by ephemeral streams, have perennial supplies of water useful for irrigation. Most of these depressions are shallow, rarely ever desper than 10 metres and hence loss of water due to evaporation is huge in them. These natural tanks are bunded at their lower ends which invariably lie to the south or the east, the normal directions of natural slopes in the Brahmapuri and Chandrapur tahsils. However, east of Wainganga, in the Gadhchiroli tahsil, bunding is done towards the west and the south, the directions of natural drainage in this part of the country. These lakes are smaller and more in number in the vicinity of the Wainganga river.
These tanks provide a useful supply of water for irrigation amongst the agricultural villages. In the forested hilly areas, they provide the main source of water for wild animals and birds, apart from providing a precarious water-supply for the Gondi villages of the forest zamindaris.
Of these tanks, the largest is the Ghorajheri tank at the edge of the gneissic terrain. It lies to the south-west of Nagbhir rail-way town in the Nagbhir reserved forest division on the lower dip slope of the Nagbhir hills of Vindhyan
sandstone formations. Another large tank is the Asola Mendha tank that lies in the heart of the gneissic terrain about 15 km to the east of the Nagpur-Chandrapur trunk road. It is accessible during dry weather from both Sindewahi and Rajoli railway stations. Another tank, called Naleshwar tank, lies in the Mul river valley south-west of Sindewahi railway station.
The Tadoba lake lies in a depression within the Chimur hills. Though small, it is set in a romantically picturesque jungle country, overlooking the peak at Sonegaon.
It has been developed into a bird and wild animal sanctuary by the State Government. It is approached either from Bhandak or Chandrapur.
Quite a large number of springs occur in the six hundred metre high Manikgarh plateau in the southern parts of Rajura tahsil. The springs mainly occur along the valley slopes at various height levels above 400 m, where the perched watertable of the pervious and porous intertrappean formations outcrop along the surface. These springs are the only source of water-supply for the 'Kolam' huts and hamlets on the plateau.
A few springs also occur to the west of Mul at the foot of the Mul hills where the lower edge of the aquifers developed in the Vindhyan rock formations abut at the surface over crystalline gneisses and other archaeans.
The foregoing review of the hill ranges and river systems of Chandrapur will now enable a general reader to visualise and
comprehend the broad features of the physical aspects of the district. The topography of the district reveals an arrangement in
a dual series of valleys and watersheds alternating with each
other and running north-south. The western halves of Warora
and Chandrapur tahsils lie in the valley of Wardha; they are separated from the central valley of the Wainganga by a feeble
watershed breached in many places. The Mul-Chimur-Parasgarh-Nagbhir hills constitute this watershed. Beyond this
watershed, the senile looking, open, broad and shallow valley of the
Wainganga opens out. Beyond this valley, the land gradually rises in elevation
till the eastern limits of the district. The
highest elevations are all recorded along the eastern boundary.
The basins of the Wardha and the Wainganga are further sub-divided into numerous smaller valleys, also
with a north to south lineation; these valleys having been carved out by the lesser tributaries in softer rock formations. The Sironcha tahsil also repeats the pattern with a valley to the west and a core of high-land, but here the valley is a narrow strip with steep slopes often descending right up to the river. The Rajura tahsil however, forms an exception to the general pattern, being a plateau to the south of the Penganga and the Wardha developed by the horizontal lava flows along an eastward protruding tongue of basic traps.
The broad characteristics of the scenery of the district as well as the human life associated is in close conformity
with the topographical diversity which in itself is related to the immense geological variety of the underlying rock formations and the broad tectonics of the area. The surface geomorphic expression of these rocks of different hardness and resistance capacity when exposed to sub-aerial denudation and weathering under tropical monsoonal conditions adds colour to the variety through the soils, vegetation and general scenic development. The richness of the rocks of the district in a number of economically valuable ores has made mining an increasingly important economic activity of the district as a whole.
The deep black regurs of the Wardha valley in general reproduce the features of the trap country further west, that is made familiar to a traveller by rail from Bhusawal to Nagpur, a bare, almost treeless monotony, most depressing to look upon, and only redeemed from positive ugliness during the few weeks after the rains when the crops become mature and ready for harvest. But, even here, occasional patches of jungle land lend some variety to the scene. This type of country in the district is limited to a comparatively small tract in the extreme west. Agriculture, particularly rabi cropping, is significant in these lowlands. The waste mounds and pits around the collieries along the main valley, at once attract the eye amidst the monotony of the agriculturally productive villages.
Far more pleasant to the eye is the valley of the Wainganga. Here, between adjacent villages, fairly extensive stretches of
jungles, almost always occur and the alternation of jungle and cultivation makes a pleasant variety. The open country, too, is diversified by numerous useful trees like the mahua. the tamarind, the mango and the pipal growing in local clusters within which nestle villages that invariably lie at the lower end of tanks with lovely blue water. Perhaps the only fault that can he found with this type of scenery is that like most Indian plain scenery, it repeats itself continually until robbed much of its charm and becomes a dead monotony.
Turning to the general scenery of the hill tracts, there are, in these highlands, many spots of scenic beauty. Tadoba lake with its game (sanctuary, whither all manner
of beasts of the jungle come fearlessly to quench their thirst; the 'glittering heights' of the Surjagarh; the meeting of three roaring mountain torrents at Bhamragad, scene extolled by those who have visited it as being unrivalled throughout the length and breadth of the State-these are but a few beautiful spots that may be named amongst the many still nameless. At times, it must be admitted, the interminable stretches of gloomy forests oppress the imagination and the traveller is glad to emerge for a breathing spell into the more open haunts of men and welcomes the uninterrupted view of the sun. In such a mood, it is a pleasant and fairly frequent sight to see the clearings made by the Gonds for purposes of their 'gata' cultivation, where some little brook has been dammed with a descending series of stockades and the pool above each stockade has been sown with rice. These chosen plots of fertile land, amongst wide wastes, set like a nest, are among the most grateful memories that one carries with him after a sojourn in these jungle clad areas of Chandrapur district.
The rhythm of human activities in this richly varied country naturally varies from region to region depending upon the key-note of the natural environs and the challenges it invokes from the human society. On that basis, it is possible to recognise distinctive geographical regions as follows:-
(i) The Wardha lowlands with deep black regurs are agriculturally the
most productive. The succession of geological horizons, that are economically
valuable and have been exposed along the valley flanks, have brought mining
particularly of coal as an important industrial activity. Constituting the core of the most populous tract of the district, it covers a sixth of the total area.
(ii) The western upland region forms a feeble waterdivide between the Wardha and the Wainganga drainage. Human interest here centres around the bunded irrigation tanks and rice cultivation.
(iii) The Wainganga river basin is a heavy rice tract with clusters of prosperous agricultural villages. Iron ore mining may add to the variety of the economy in the near future. It is the most densely populated tract of the district.
(iv) The Pranhita-Godavari lowlands are extremely narrow and account for the only agricultural villages of Sironcha
tahsil. Life is peaceful and quiet
(v) The Rajura uplands is a trap country with the usual
monotony of flat tops, barren desolate appearance, poor dry
farming and live-stock rearing.
(vi) The eastern hills that cover nearly a third of the total area is still a forested virgin tract, little used except by the tribal Maria Gonds. It is a backward region.
Wardha Lowlands.-The Wardha lowlands, that are agriculturally very productive and hence recording handsome population densities in the rural areas, include the valleys of the Wardha and the Penganga in the western halves of Warora and Chandrapur tahsils and the northern parts of Rajura tahsil. Topographically, the area is a featureless plain, sloping gently south-eastwards and is found at elevations, less than 250 metres. There are a few occasional outcrops of knolls, rising above . the valley floor and comprising relatively more resistant rock formations. Geologically speaking, the area has a great variety, and geological horizons follow each other in quick succession as one proceeds from the valley floor eastwards. In the extreme north, in the Wunna valley, there occur rocks of the Deccan traps, that form a broken stony area in the basalts that thin out rapidly eastwards. Along the valley floors of the Wardha and the Penganga, the surface geology consists of drift deposits, namely, river-borne alluvium, but underlying these deposits are the lower Gondwana rock series along the Wardha valley, covering 3,000 km2 from Warora township in the north-west till as far as Dabha in Chandrapur tahsil. The 'talchir' boulders and conglomerates, shales and sandstones outcrop in patches between Chandrapur and Bhandak. The 'kamthi' sandstones and shales occur extensively as far north as Warora, but are found between Chandrapur and Kel-jhar mainly. Underlying them are felspathic sandstones and shales of the 'Barakar' series that carry valuable coal seams in them. These coals, mostly medium grade bituminous variety are worked in a number of collieries around Ghugus, Bhandak, Warora, Majri, Chandrapur and Ballarpur. Eastwards, in Warora tahsil, in the rising uplands one comes across 'Lameta' rocks, mostly limestone, while further east in the floors of the Erai valley, the archaean gneissic terrain is exposed with its peneplaned level and many tank depressions. Westward, along the Penganga valley occur extensive formations of Penganga beds of limestone and shale which become waterlogged during the rains.
The shales and felspathic sandstones are worked at present around Bhandak, Ballarpur and Isarpur for white, red and brown clay deposits. The lameta limestone, with a subvitreous lustre is being worked in quarries near Shegaon, Dongargaon and Pisdura, all in the western part of Warora tahsil. Dolomites are worked around Nilai while the Kamthi sandstones are quarried for building stones around Karami village.
The soils of the Wardha-Penganga valleys are also rich and varied. Deep, rich, redeposited black regur loams and clay loams occur all along the Wardha and Penganga valley floors. Known locally as the kali soils these agriculturally very productive soils are ideally suited for rabi crops due to their high moisture retentive capacity; these soils tend to become waterlogged and poorly aerated during the monsoon rains and hence are not well suited for the kharif crops of the monsoon months. Eastwards, over the relatively higher ground, these soils are replaced
by shallow yellow loams that lend to be thirsty. Immediately outside the banks of the rivers, occur the kanhar and Barsi kanhar soils that are inferior to the kali soils and are equally heavy for kharif crops. These soils, however, have a good admixture of lime derived from the intratrappeans and lametas and hence become open and well drained during the rabi season though water-logged during rains.
The Wardha lowlands have perhaps the least area under forest-cover within the district; yet, considerable sections are under 'reserved forests'. Tracts underlain by limestones and sand-stones in the feeble watershed between the Wardha and the Erai nadi are under the western Chandrapur
forest division, comprising generally open, dry, deciduous forests with teak, ain and bijesal as the dominant species. Along the Wardha
and Penganga valleys in the Chandrapur and Rajura tahsils, even extensive parts of low grounds, underlain by shale and liable to seasonal waterlogging, are covered by dense thorn and scrub jungles that provide fuel and firewood for the rustic home.
Fairly secure and prosperous agriculture is the basis of the rural economy in the Wardha lowlands. More than half of the area is under the plough and nearly 70 per cent of the gross cropped area is under food-crops. Yet, the highest proportion of cash crops-about 30 per cent-is recorded only in this area of the district. This pattern of cropping, of course, is in sharp contrast to the regur soil areas further west in the Berar plains where the cash crops like cotton dominate the rural economy and also to the rice tract of the district itself further east where food crops account for more than four-fifths of the gross cropped area. This is also the only tract in the district in which rabi cropping is significant in the proportion of the gross cropped area occupied. Nearly a quarter of the crop area is under rabi crops. This can be well understood in the context of the moisture retentive regurs that become heavy during the rains but self-ploughed and open for the rabi season. The rabi crop, wheat, occupies the largest area under any single crop-about 15 per cent-and is equalled by the cash crop cotton which is sown late in the kharif season. Kharif jowar in the better drained morand soils, rabi sesame and linseed and to a much lesser extent rice in the heavier Barsi kanhar and kali soils are the other important crops. Irrigation is practically absent within this region.
Population is essentially rural and Marathi speaking; Telugu
in the Chandrapur tahsil and Gondi in some rural areas are the,
secondary linguistic groups. All the urban population-about
eight per cent of the total for the district is concentrated in these agricultural lowlands, with four towns: Chandrapur, Ballarpur, Warora and Rajura. People live in uniformly medium sized villages with a population ranging between 500 and 1,000 that are generally compact, squarish
and spaced at average distances of three km from each other in the lowlands and
farther apart in higher ground. The main traffic arteries of the district,
linking the district with the adjoining and farther areas of the State and the
country follow the Wardha valley. The Wardha river is crossed at two points by
the railway and at a single point by the highway. Recent attempts by the
Government to construct three submergible causeways across the river will induce at least an increased seasonal flow of traffic between these lowlands and the adjoining districts.
Western Upland region.-The western upland region that forms the watershed between the Wardha and the Wainganga tributaries comprises the area that lies east of the Erai river valley and includes more or less the area that lies to the west of the Chandrapur-Mul-Nagbhir-Nagpur railway. It includes the eastern parts of Warora tahsil, the western half of Brahmapuri tahsil and the northern sections of Chandrapur tahsil. In topography, the region includes two parallel north-south running cuesta type hill ridges with their scarp and cliff faces looking westwards, and a central depression at elevations of about 250 metres drained southwards by the Nag, the Kalhar and the Gondni, all of which join together towards the south-eastern extreme of this region to form the Huma nala itself a tributary of the Mul river. The two ridges-the Chimur hills in the west and the Nagbhir-Mul hills to the east that somewhat converge closer to each other in the southern parts, form more or less the limits of this geographical unit; these are made up of Vindhyan sandstone outcrops that lie unconformably over the archaean gneisses and schists. These rock formations, by virtue of their greater resistance to tropical humid weathering have withstood denudation and stand up boldly in relief. Their gentle dip eastwards and massive jointing have resulted in the steep west-looking scarps. The sandstones are light reddish in colour, medium to coarse grained with an open texture. The underlying
shale and limestone formations outcrop at the lower end of the sandstones along
the eastern edge where these rock formations abut abruptly over the gneisses. The shale beds are reddish in colour and are easily liable to fragmental weathering. The limestones, thin bedded but occasionally massive, buff or red in colour dip about 15 degrees from the vertical and are worked in quarries around the village Purkepar, west of Nawargaon. Workable copper deposits are found at Govindpur about 5 km north-west of Talodhi railway station in the archaeans and iron ore near Bhisi west of Nagbhir.
Shallow brown and yellow loam soils generally predominate over the region; these soils are thirsty and when irrigated in gently rolling terrain become good rice and sugarcane soils. Over the steeper sloping areas useless, sandy, retari and bardi soils and at times pandhri soils are observed. These areas are generally well wooded being covered by forests of the north Chandrapur division. These forests are dense and of a mixed type with teak, bijesal, shishum as the quality-timber yielding species and saj, dhawa, timru, kalam, haldi, anjan and babul as the less important species. Bamboos abound in the Moharli hill ranges.
The central depression opening out northwards is gently sloping rolling topography becoming more undulating southwards. Underlain by the lametas in the extreme north-west, the lower Gondwana shales and sandstone around Chimur and the archaeans elsewhere, the region is full of shallow tank depressions that collect the vicissitudes of the vagarious monsoon rains. One of the best known among them is the Tadoba lake set in a depression in the well forested Chimur hills. It is surrounded by a protected game sanctuary. Many wild animals, like the tiger, panther, hyaena, wild dog, jackal, honey badger, black bear, boar, langur monkeys, rhesus monkey, bats, squirrels, porcupine, sambhar and chital deer and others visit the lake and can be viewed from watch towers specially erected for the purpose. The forests abound too in bird life-ducks, peacock, jungle fowl, grey partridge, saras, snipe, fowl-being the most common.
The largest of these tanks is the Ghorajhari tank lying in the eastern dip slope of the Nagbhir hills, just south of the Nagbhir railway station. Others of importance are the Mahadoria tank, Jamur tank, Gari tank and Ramtara tank, all of which are around the village Piparda, the Kasarala and Mangrur
tanks in the Nagbhir hills and the Naleshwar tank north-west of Mul. These and other smaller tanks have been bunded at the lower end of the slope and canals are drawn from them to run along the contours for a distance before being used for irrigation.
Rice is the main kharif crop in the loamy wardi soils; irrigated water-supply from the tanks assures a fairly good yield from the crop. Jowar, pulses are the other crops. Rabi crops are much less significant, generally declining in importance eastwards, and practically dying along the eastern limits of the region.
Settlements, fairly prosperous, and medium to large sized, are generally located at one end of the bund at the lower edge of the tanks and are well-nucleated, compact khalsa villages, mostly occupied by the Marathi speaking population. The size of the settlement invariably depends upon the security of the assured water-supply from the tank; the larger the area under tank irrigation, and the more assured the water-supply, larger the size of the settlement.
The forest settlements, generally set in the midst of woods,
nearby some source of dependable water-supply is in a clearing
of the forest used for cultivation. There is invariably a forest chauki at the margin of the cultivated land. Many of these
clearings are of a shifting type and hence deserted forest village
sites are quite common.
Wainganga Lowlands.-A north-south elongated strip of lowlands, about 80 km wide and 120 km long, the Wainganga low-lands epitomise the agrarian economy of the district. Developed as an undulating rolling plain, sloping gently and narrowing southwards, these lowlands are mainly underlain by fine to medium grained, massive and well foliated gneisses that have been peneplaned
and extensively subjected to granular weathering, though two significant outcrops of Vindhyan formations occur in the relatively higher ground around Brahmapuri and east of Alewahi railway station. The general elevation is about 250 km and the only higher elevations occur mainly in the residual knolls of Dharwar haematite quartzites that repeat as elongated hills, each about one to three kilometres long north-south and about 500 yards across, on either side of the river and constitute the main iron ore bodies within the region. Lohara, Asola, Deulgaon are the main quarrying centres for the ore.
Light coloured, sandy wardi soils, that cannot be ploughed before the rains cover extensively the lower grounds: along the banks of the Wainganga, are generally found productive black loams. Higher ground is covered by morand and khardi soils.
Tanks, large and small, perennial and seasonal, dot the entire area. Bunded mostly by the 'Kohli' Gonds, these tanks irrigate nearly a third to a fourth of the gross cropped area. The largest of these tanks is the Asola Mendha tank, about 15 km east of Sindewahi railway station, and near the villages Gunjewahi and Asola. Tanks are more numerous in the wider right bank plains than in the left bank, where soils are transitional, rapidly degrading into the poorer stony soils eastwards. In fact, forests approach much closer the river on the eastern banks. This may possibly be due to the gradual shifting of the river channel on the side of the left bank due to lateral shifting of meanders, and an aggraded low level river terrace with many tank depressions developing on the right bank.
The cropping pattern of this region reveals monoculture; rice dominates the economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of the gross cropped area. Along the riverside, in the flat slopeless black loams, spring crops, particularly vegetables, betel and chillis, are quite common. It is only in the higher ground, particularly in Chandrapur and Gadhchiroli tahsils, tur and other pulses and kharif jowar are more important than rice. Gram,
til and linseed are produced occasionally during the rabi season.
The poorer, stony and gravelly soils of the higher ground are
covered by fairly dense mixed deciduous forests, in many respects similar to those found further west. Teak and bamboo are
the most useful species. Quality teak and bijesal are obtained
from the Dabha range in Chandrapur tahsil.
The rural settlements in the valley cluster closer together and are uniformly spaced. They are generally sited on tank bunds, deriving their water-supply from the tanks. Not many forest villages are to
be found in this agriculturally productive tract. The villages can be broadly classed into two types; the Gond villages of the malguzari and zamindari areas and the khalsa villages of the ryotwari areas mostly settled by the Marathi speaking population. The proportion of Telugu speaking population increases southwards, particularly in the Chandrapur tahsil.
The khalsa villages sited on residual knolls, are shaded by groves of mango, tamarind and other useful trees. They generally consist of about 100 houses and support about 500 people. The houses are mostly huts, thatched with rice or jowar straw on bamboo beams and junglewood. An interesting aspect of these villages is that the village is generally built along straggling ill-kept streets, with the houses generally facing north-wards and eastwards to avoid the sun: therefore, the houses lie at all angles to the street. The 'mahar' quarters usually lie apart at a distance from the main village site.
Houses of the malguzaris and the better class tenants are made of brick walls and are tiled or terraced. In the north, in the Brahmapuri and Gadhchiroli tahsils, the sondi style is adopted; a strong square room or sondi with clay plastered walls and no windows is in the centre; over this, a light second storey is erected and verandahs are built on all sides around the sondi. There is a single small low door leading to the sondi and this can
be shut off during fires or attacks by thieves, with all the valuables thrown in, into the sondi. The sondi itself is fireproof. Of course this type of house is gradually vanishing with modern architecture and better security being available during the pre-sent times. These houses have court-yards with kothas (cattle-sheds). Close to the gateway of the house is the baithak or consultation room for councils held by the malguzari.
The Gondi villages that can be easily distinguished by the endings in their place names with ur or uru are invariably smaller and are set in the vast zamindari tracts along the forest margins. They are inhabited by hard working Gonds that are mainly agricultural labourers or tenants and/or workers in the forests and mineral quarries. Two groups of them are found: the 'Maria' Gonds that are lithe, well built, scantily dressed and with faces often disfigured by small-pox. They wear beads and bangles made of shellac and are fond of dancing. They are found to a larger extent in the forest tracts of this region and
the hills further east and south. The 'Raj' Gonds who are also found on both sides of the Wainganga are more sophisticated
and advanced. They have a better standard of living.
Apart from tilling the land, collection of a variety of forest products and rearing of 'tasar' silkworms provide valuable subsidiary occupations. Collection of tendu leaves for the bidi industry, mohwa flowers and fruits for oil, kadai and dhavda for gum, palas for propagation of lac insects, khair for manufacture of kath, herra, beheda and hirda for tans, bamboo for domestic furniture and utensils and thatching grasses are all generally widespread in the forestside villages of the Wainganga valley as well as the forested hills further east and south in the Gadhchiroli. and Sironcha tahsils. Tasar silkworms are generally reared by the 'dhimars' in Brahmapuri and Gadhchiroli tahsils and the silk spinning is done by the 'koshtis' by reeling off after the cocoons are boiled in an infusion of water and castor seeds or agra plant ashes. About 200 families in Savli, Chamorshi, Gadhchiroli, Armori and Nagbhir are engaged in this activity. Nagbhir is the main centre for saris, while Chamorshi and Armori are also reputed.
Sironcha Lowlands: The Sironcha lowlands lie mainly adjoining the Godavari; they are much narrower along the Pranhita than along the Godavari. Inaccessibility and isolation are the striking features of life and economy of the people of the area. The Godavari lowlands in culture and Life are closely akin to the lowlands of Andhra on the other bank rather than the Wainganga lowlands. Apart from the fairly drained kanhar soils, kachar soils, young and immature, are frequently met with in areas liable to flood inundations. Kharif rice is the main crop of these lowlands.
Villages are small and compact, poised away from the river. The river constitutes the main artery of traffic for people and commodity alike. The forest timber is often floated in the river and collected along the riverside timber depots. The population is mainly Telugu speaking in the lowlands, and Gondi in the uplands. Telugu villages can be easily identified from place names with suffixes like gudam, gudiam, palli, peta and puram. The only road that traverses the country is the Chandrapur-Sironcha road running through excellent forest country.
Rajura Uplands.-The Rajura uplands in the southern and western parts of the Rajura tahsil is a structural plateau and a tangle of broken hill country at an average elevation of 500 to 600 metres. The whole area is underlain by a succession of lava flows interbedded with thin beds of limestone, shale, sandstone and cherts. The traps descend down to the south, north and the east through steep and often cliffy scarp slopes. A large number of seasonal streams have incised themselves quite deep in the lava flows with narrow steep flanks, which at times exceed even 40 degrees. They have a depth of more than 100 metres over the
adjoining plateau level; the Jalkhas nadi draining south-eastwards is the most significant of them. There are a very large
number of springs occurring all over the plateau surface at
different height levels along the valley flanks of streams where
the perched watertable in the porous intratrappeans are exposed.
These springs constitute the main source of water-supply for the
hamlets scattered over the plateau.
Almost the entire plateau surface is covered by the extensive Manikgarh State Forest that mostly comprise high grass and bamboo as the dominant vegetation, though the forest cover tends to become more open westwards. Soils are poor, stony, reddish and lateritic.
Cropping, if any, is of a seasonal and shifting nature confined mainly to the rainy monsoon season. Bajri, gram and other pulses are the main crops. Grazing of the rural livestock provides an important subsidiary occupation for the forest dwellers of the area.
Settlements are tiny hamlets confined to the streamsides, which are the only areas having a limited extent of cultivation. Most of the settlements are groups of hamlets with the 'Kolam' huts invariably along the forest margins. The area suffers from dire inaccessibility, the few cart tracks traversing the region running along the valley flanks.
Eastern Upland Region.-The eastern upland region comprises two-thirds of the Gadhchiroli tahsil and almost the entire Sironcha tahsil barring the lowland strips along the Godavari and the Pranhita.
The whole area is a tangle of hill country, and practically over the entire area, accessibility is only through unmetalled
roads, cart tracks and foot-paths. One cannot travel even a single kilometre in the area away from the hills and the forests. Gushing torrents and a gloomy shady forest environment characterise the entire area. Except for the south-western parts of Sironcha uplands covered by the Vindhyan and Penganga beds, the entire area is floored by the archaeans and a granitic batholith the latter in eastern Gadhchiroli. Fine grained phyllites, soft, pink and schistose or dark grey and massive cover large areas in the north: granites and granitic pegmatites with intrusions of amphibolites and basic rocks from the highest elevations in the eastern boundary areas. Elsewhere gneisses and quartzites are the country rocks. The land in general slopes westwards and southwards. Granular weathering has resulted in gravelly and coarse sandy soils all over the region.
The entire area is forest clad: dense, wet deciduous mixed forests with high grass characterise the whole area. In the north, in the Wairagarh division, teak, bijesal, shishum, saj, hadli and anjan are the main varieties. Allapalli, and Aheri forests in the south Chandrapur division are much denser, and are almost virgin forests: suria or Indian ironwood tree, sal, rohan, tendu, salai, mahua, char and semul are the main species. Along the
Pranhita, Godavari and the Bandkia river valleys, almost pure
stands of teak forests occur. Anjan forests are widespread all
over Sironcha in the sands and gravelly soils, though locally better soils are covered by teak. Thorny bamboo is most common in the eastern Sironcha area. But, the best developed forests are found in the Aheri zamindari division; these are mostly bamboo forests, with teak along the streams. The rivers Godavari, Bandkia, Indravati and Pranhita are widely used for transporting timber downstream as far as Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh.
Khalsa villages are few; zamindari and forest villages are more widespread. The population mostly consists of the 'Maria' Gonds and a group of Telugu tribes; they mostly live in groups of individual huts nestling together in cultivated forest clearings and are generally of a shifting nature. As a result, desertion of village sites is quite frequent in these areas, as the clearings lose their fertility due to heavy rainwash and soil erosion or due to ravages by epidemics and wild animals. Net sown area within the region does not even exceed a tenth of the total area, rice being the main crop. The entire area breathes of historic heritage; a number of ruins of Gond forts near Wairagarh, Surjagarh and Tipagarh, almost lost within the impenetrable forest clad hills remind us of the Gondi architecture.
The district of Chandrapur rich in a variety of resources, agricultural, mineral and forest wealth, is a relatively underpopulated
region of the State and even of the country. Its peripheral location, its tribal
population, the forested and hilly nature of the terrain, lack of accessibility
have all made the district less progressive in its economy though the potential resources warrant a more intense use of them. The district is a veritable ethnological museum and the cultural fusion brought about by the mixing of different groups of people is indeed very fascinating.
The fairly developed areas of the district lie mainly along the Wardha valley in the western parts; eastwards, the population densities decrease and at the same time becomes more tribal and backward. The agrarian economy of the district, too, is richly varied, the only surplus rice tract of the State being the Wainganga valley in this and the adjoining Bhandara
districts. The tank irrigated rice lowlands of the district offer a sharp
contrast to the millets-cotton-wheat dominating economy of the monotonous regur
soils of the State that almost reach up to the western parts of the district. Yields, too, compared to the State average are quite high, though improvements are certainly possible and desirable.
The district is rich in forest wealth too. The district has the largest area under forest cover within the State; most of the forests are virgin and carry valuable timber. Apart from minor forest products collection, timber is an important product of these
forests: paper mills have also been recently started using the
bamboo of the forests. If adequate power and transport facilities are developed, the district can certainly flower into a region
with a variety of industries based upon forest products.
Chandrapur is rich too in mineral wealth; high grade iron ore, gondwana coal, chromite, limestone, clays and building stones are all being mined at present but the minerals of the district await a fuller prospecting and exploitation. Ample hydel power potentials exist in the waters of the Indravati, Pranhita and Wainganga tributaries and await utilisation. With the recent discovery by the State Geographical Survey of rich iron and other deposits around Surjagarh, proposals are afoot to link this region with Ballarpur on the main railway by a branch line. A proposed highway from Chandrapur to Jagdalpur will also bring better accessibility and prospects of economic development to these underdeveloped eastern tracts of the district.
With its wild life, richly preserved game sanctuaries, spots of scenic beauty and spots of archaeological interest, the district also affords excellent opportunities to develop tourist interests. In short, the district has ample scope for development of a prosperous economy.