PLACES

CHANDRAPUR.

Candapur, with in 1961 a population of 1,100, is a small village in Candrapur tahsil lying about eight kilometres (five miles) cast of Mul. It has a temple of Mahadev in the Hemadpanti style, but it is now in utter ruins. The village has a primary school, a post and a medical practitioner. Drinking water is obtained from the wells. However, acute scarcity is felt during summer.

CHANDRAPUR.

Candrapur, the headquarters of the district to which it gives its name, is the largest city in the district and is situated 761 feet above sea level in 19 57' north latitude and 79 22' east longitude. In 1961 it had a population of 51,484. Tradition and legends tell that in Krta Yuga the name of this place was Lokapura and its extent much wider than what it is to-day. In Dvapara Yuga, during the reign of one Raja Candrahasa its name was changed to Indupur and still later as Candrapur or the city of the moon. During the period of the British Raj, Candrapur came to be called as Canda for no particular reason perhaps because the short form was more convenient and continued to be so called until 1964 when its name was officially changed to Candrapur again. In spite of the restoration of the name it is still known to the general public as Canda. Puranas mention the town as having been founded by Krtadhvaja Raja, but modern Candrapur has grown out of the foundations laid by Khandkya Ballal Sah, the Gond King, about the year 1450 A.D. The city practically lies in the angle formed by the junction of the Erai and the Jharpat rivers and is surrounded by a continuous line of battlements over seven miles in length which constitutes the most striking example of Gond methods of fortification which, has come down to the present age. Outside the walls and extending up to the Wardha-Kazipeth rail- way line lie the suburbs of Babupeth, Lalpeth, Golpeth, Bhivapur, Hivapur and the like. A few inhabitations have crossed the railway line too. In short the town is gradually spilling outside the fort walls. The fort walls have a number of gates and windows and the walls on the western side protect the town from the Erai floods. Viewed from within the city presents a pleasing appearance giving the general impression of space and verdure. However, the living quarters within the walls are heavily congested. The main road, ruled in mathematically straight lines from the Jaipura to Pathanpura gate bisects the city from north to south and forms a moderately well shaped thoroughfare such as few, it any other, towns in the district can boast, various other well made and drained roads link up the various gates, wickets and main lines of traffic with each other, but there is no thoroughfare from east to west corresponding to the main road. There are some magnificent trees in the town which constitute the main charm of Canda. This phase of the city and its surroundings are seen at its best along the Ballarpur road for a distance of a mile beyond the Acalesvar gate. Here the road runs through jungles studded with countless tamarind trees. The appearance of the city from the outside has consistently been described by observers as picturesque in the extreme. Major Lucie Smith described Candrapur as follows: " Dense forest, stretches to the north and east; on the south rise the blue ranges of the Manikdurg, and westward opens a cultivated rolling country with distant hills. Set in this picture, sweep the long lines of fortress wall, now seen, now lost among great groves of ancient trees; in front glitters the broad expanse or the Ramala tank; and the Jharpat and the Erai gird on either side". It is difficult to differ with most of the details of this picture but the general impression given is a little too exaggerated. The picturesqueness of Canda lies in no coup d' oeit of the city as a whole, but in its details. The city wall for instance, seen from the north-west whence the most comprehensive view of it may be obtained, is lost in insignificance amid a vast expanse of flat and usually bare plain to which the extremely distant ranges of the Manikdurg provide but a poor foil, while by the ordinary approach to it along the Waroda road it is not visible at all until the spectator has swung round a bend within a stone's throw of the Jatpura gate and then he only sees a small section. The new approach by the railway which gives a good view of the Ramala tank and the city wall behind it, is more favourable. But while it may waive her claim to any particular pretensions to beauty when considered from a bird's-eye point of view, Canda need yield to no place in this part of India in the charm of her forests which reach up on the east and south to her very gates.

The Candrapur town occupies a site that is underlain by coal-bearing rock formations, and a number of collieries dot the surface with their waste mounds along the rims of the town. The most important of the collieries is the Hindusthan Lalpeth Colliery situated on the outskirts of Candrapur city and on the highway which links Delhi-Madras both by rail and road, Other mines are those at Mahakali and Rayyatvari. Besides coal. Candrapur district as a whole has invaluable and rich mineral deposits like iron, limestone, silica, ochres, clay and sand. Due to the abundance of iron ore and coal deposits it was felt that Candrapur should have a steel mill but a survey undertaken indicated that the coal available is of non-coking variety and hence the project had to be abandoned. However, a private company has been allowed to set up a pig-iron plant. The plant is estimated to cost about fifteen crores of rupees. Apart from it- administrative importance as the district headquarters, the town derives its importance also from its glass works and hand-loom weaving of mixed silk and cotton textiles. It is also a timber mart and trade centre for forest produce. Its mineral resources coupled with the forest wealth forebode a bright future for the town. Once dyeing industry carried on by the Rangaris thrived well here, but to-day it is almost extinct. Ornamental dippers are made in various patterns with silk thread stitched on leather. Bamboo work is also done by Buruds s who make fans. boxes and baskets in fancy colours. Gold and silver ornaments, made here of a peculiar pattern, are of some repute. The town has a few ginning and pressing factories oil mills, rice mills and a tile manufacturing factory. An industrial estate is being. set up along Candrapur-Tadoba road. There is an. agriculture market produce committee handling large quantities of rice, cotton, jovar and many other commodities.

Considering the backwardness of this tract. Canda has excellent means of transport and communications which have helped in the acceleration of all-round development of the town and the district as a whole. It is a major railway station on the Delhi-Madras section. Another line connecting it with Nagbhid bifurcates and runs to Nagpur and Gondia respectively. Candrapur is also linked by road not only with all the tahsil headquarters and other important places but also with many other important commercial centres outside the district. On the north-western side of the town near the Erai river there is an air field. There are post and telegraph facilities and a telephone exchange. In spite of these it is felt that there should be more roads and railway lines in the forested areas in order to exploit the forest and mineral wealth more economically and profitably.

Municipality.

Candrapur was constituted a municipality in 1867. Its jurisdiction extends over an area of eleven square miles. The municipal committee is composed of 30 elected and three co-opted members. It is presided over by a president who is elected by the members from amongst themselves.

Finance: The total municipal receipts for the year 1965-66, including an amount of Rs. 4,24,468 received due to extraordinary and debt heads and Rs. 59,361 as the opening balance, amounted to Rs. 19,15,946. Other sources of income were municipal rates and taxes as Rs. 8,29,088; realisation under special acts Rs. 7,814; revenue derived from municipal property and powers apart from taxation Rs. 2,56,128; miscellaneous Rs. 51,133 and grants and contributions received from the government Rs. 2,87,954. Expenditure during the same year, including Rs. 2,10,731 incurred due to extra-ordinary and debt heads stood at Rs. 18,43,897. Item-wise expenditure was: general administration and collection charges Rs. 1,71,962; public safety Rs. 1,18,296; public health and convenience Rs. 9,43,701; public instruction Rs. 3,89,168; contributions for general purposes Rs. 4,520 and miscellaneous Rs. 5,519.

Health, Sanitation and Water Supply: Candrapur has a well equipped civil hospital and a dispensary, both of which are maintained by the government. The hospital is headed by a Civil Surgeon and has 78 beds. In its general ward, free medical aid is rendered to the poor. Zilla Parisad maintains a veterinary dispensary which besides treating the animals and birds works towards the production of a healthy breed of cattle. At present a major part of the town has stone-lined pucca gutters, the outlying areas having only kucha drains. The town will soon have underground drainage system for which a plan is under preparation. Canda town has tap water supply. The water-works were installed at a cost of Rs. 20,00,000. The municipality is planning to have a filtration plant in the absence of which people get muddy water during the monsoons.

Education: Primary education is compulsory. It is conducted by the Zilla Parisad. In 1965-66, the net municipal contribution towards this end amounted to Rs. 3,89,168. Candrapur town affords facilities for education up to the graduate level, there being nearly ten high schools of which one is a multi-purpose high school and one college having educational facilities in the faculties of Arts, Science and Commerce. Most of the schools, with the exception of one or two are private institutions. There is also a technical school of the I.I.T. The B.Ed, and the S.T.C. colleges, one each, are conducted by the government. There are two public libraries of which one is maintained by the municipality.

A small fire brigade consisting of one fire fighter and the necessary equipment serves the purpose of fire fighting. The cremation and burial grounds of which there are six, two each for Muslims, Christians and Hindus, are all maintained by the respective communities.

In Gole Bazar area a large vegetable market has been provided. There is also a meat market in the Ekori ward. Besides the Azad garden, which is perhaps the best in the town, there is another in Harijan Cowk. An open air theatre and a playground for children are also maintained by the municipality.

Within the municipal limits there are six fair sized tanks known respectively as Ramala, Lendhala, Ghutkala, and the Gaori, Lal and Koner talavs. The chief of these is the Ramala tank which was built by Khandkya Ballal Sah at the time of laying the foundations of the town-wall. It runs along the north-east section of the wall and was renovated and repaired with fine stone-ghats by Ram sah who named it after him. Its embankment provides an excellent promenade popular with these citizens who have acquired the fashion of taking the air. It was Ram Sah again who supplied the city with water from this tank by laying pipes. The water is now no longer generally used for drinking purposes as singhara is cultivated in the tank by Dhimars, but the round towers or Kathnis which occur at intervals along the pipe-lines and serve as stand-pipes, as well as affording means to divert the water to small reservoirs, may sti11 be seen dotted about at intervals in the city. The expanse of the Ramala tank is about 158 acres. To the north of the talav, Ram Sah had laid out a garden and named it Rambag which is no more in existence.

Objects of Interest.

The city possesses several architectural features of interest. The object that attracts the attention most is the walls around the town. The walls are surmounted by a heavy looking crenellated parapet, they are ten feet in thickness, and within runs a broad rampart broken down in places but on the whole in fair preservation. Four gates pierce the circuit, one to the north called Jatpura, Vinba or Ghor maidan to the west, Acalesvar to the east and Pathanpura to the south. In addition to these there are five wicket gates or Khirkis named Cor, Vithoba, Hanumant, Masan and Bagad.. Legend tells an interesting story as to how the wall came to be built and the city founded. Khandkya Ballal Sah had ordered the erection of a temple to Acalesvar and one morning, after his daily visit was riding away when a hare darted out of a bush and pursued his dog, which fled. Astonished at the sight, he followed; the dog ran in a wide circle while the hare took zigzag cuts to catch it. At one point it closed with the dog which, however, shook it off and continued its flight. On nearing the point where the chase had commenced the dog turned on and killed the hare and the king then saw that on the forehead of the latter was marked a white spot. Pondering over what this might mean he rode home and recounted whatever had happened to his queen. That wise woman counselled that the occurrence was a good omen and that a fortified city should be built within the circuit of the chase, with walls following the hare's track. She further advised that special bastions should be erected, both where the hare had closed with the dog and where the dog had killed the hare, expressing her belief that the latter point would prove the point of danger to the future city. The king lost no time in giving effect to her suggestions; a trench was run along the hare's track, which was easily discernible by the foot-prints of the king's horse; then gates and bastions were planned, the whole marked out and the foundation commenced; the work being under the Rajput Officers of the king, called Tel Thakurs. Thus began the building of the city of Canda or Candrapur. The construction of the rampart wall was completed by Dhundia Ballal Sah who also erected many other buildings. It would be interesting to note that the wall was breached by the Britishers in 1818 at the point declared as dangerous by the queen of Khandkya Ballal Sah. The construction of the wall was completed during the reign of Dundia Ram Sah (1597- 1622). These walls were probably founded about the 15th Century although legend would assign a date two centuries earlier to the founder. They were kept in repairs by the Marathas and after a long neglect by the British were restored by the government. The walls now remain and are preserved as an example of Gond fortification. The gateways offer good specimen of Gond Art.

Close to the Acalesyar gate and standing in a separate walled enclosure forming a kind of an inner fort, stand a group of buildings known as Gond Rajas' tombs. The largest and the best is that of Bir Sah. reputed to be the 17th of the line. The tomb stands on a plinth of nearly 15 ft.. high approached by a flight of ten, ten feet long stone stairs. The whole is 40'x 40'x 60' and is crowned with a dome-like sikhar. Replicas of the same are set in the four corners. It is a solid construction and though nearly 300 years have elapsed since its construction it is in a perfectly good condition. The building is generally criticised as too heavy in appearance but it does not fail to have a very pleasing effect, and is a welcome sight to the eye wearied of the constant reiteration of the Hemadpanti style. In the same outer enclosure, but separated from the tombs by a partition wall, is the Acalesvar temple, the walls of which are covered by multitudinous small sculptured panels. The legends relating to the founding; of this temple are recorded in the chapter on history. The original temple was built by Khandkya Ballal Sah but in 17th century at the time of building the Mahakal temple. Rani Hirai demolished the old ruined temple of Acalesvar and built a new one in its place. A hundred years later about the year 1790 A.D. was constructed the sabhamandap by Vyankoji Bhosle. It is believed that a lakh of rupees found in the house of one deceased Brahman by name Ramaji Handya were utilised in the construction of the mandat and a well near the temple. It is further said that the Ramala talav was also repaired by him out of that amount. Time has not affected the structure in the slightest. What is now the jail was formerly the citadel; it contains a large many-galleried well and an underground passage which is popularly supposed to emerge in the fort of Ballarpur. The town has a temple of Vithoba which is pleasingly carved with elaborate designs in pink stone.

About half a mile to the west of the railway and surrounded by dense jungles near the Lal Peth, stands a group of large stone figures locally called Ravan and commonly known as the Lalpetti monoliths. These are more remarkable for their size than for their artistic excellence. Sixteen in number they lie on the  ground in the open arranged in a sort of rough circle around a linga of Siva. They must have been carved in situ out of the living rock, as many of them are much too heavy to be moved. The largest of the images is that of ten-headed Durga, which measures 25'xl8' and is estimated to weigh nothing short of 57 tons. The Durga sculpture is broken at the waist and has been temporarily joined by pouring cement in the crack. The bull nandi and Vishnu's fish and tortoise incarnations are among the more prominent of the other figures. Just below the Durga image there is a fifteen feet high image of Mahisasurmardini. There is also a huge four-handed Sankar image. The popular legend connected with these sculptures is that in the reign of Dhundia Ram Sah there lived a wealthy Komti by name Rayappa who conceived the idea of doing some memorable act. He accordingly had these monoliths carved intending to place them in a temple of Siva. Unfortunately he died before he could build the temple and the monoliths are lying to-day where he left them uncared for and unprotected. Between these monoliths and the town is a well, in the interior of which are built in some rather good sculptured stones. Close to Lalpeth is Babupeth in which there are some temples, one of which contains some uncommon statues of various gods and goddesses, such as Agni, Indra etc. Among these, the most noteworthy is a three legged figure placed in a niche which may be meant either for a Vedic God Tripad or for a fever demon, a Gana or attendant of Siva. Yet another antiquarian feature which requires notice is an old well of the shape of a conch shell (sankha) . In the reservoir there is a temple of Pancayatana. It was built by Bapuji Vaidya, the Divan of Hirabai or by one of his predecessors.

Another temple belonging to antiquity and worthy of notice is that of Mahakali, situated across the Jharpat river about a furlong's distance from the Acalesvar gate. The original temple is said to have been built by Khandkya Ballal Sah at the time of building the Acalesvar temple, the present one being built by Rani Hirai in commemoration of the victory of her husband, Birsah, gained over their son-in-law. It so happened that Birsah and Hiral had a daughter who was given in marriage to Durgasah alias Durgpal, the prince of Devgad. This prince so insulted his wife that she returned to her parents upon which Birsah vowed to punish him, praying the goddess Mahakali that in the event of success he would present her with Durgasah's head and construct a bigger temple. When Birsah advanced with his army Durgasah came forward to challenge him and in the battle that ensued, the latter was defeated and killed. His head was severed and presented to the goddess  ceremoniously. Later, about 1650, when Hirai constructed the temple, a stone head of Durgasah was fixed on the temple in order to perpetuate the memory of the victory. It faces north. The whole is 54 feet square and 60 feet high including the pinnacle, and is built in a magnificent Gondi style bearing a great resemblance to the Moghal style of architecture. In a cellar about six feet deep and 18 feet square is a five feet image of the goddess armed with a sword and a shield. Behind this cellar there is a chamber containing the bedstead of the goddess. Two winding stir-cases lead up on the terrace affording a fine view of the meandering course of the Jharpat and a part of the town. Hirai also instituted a fair which is held on Caitra Paurnima to the present day. It lasts for a week and is attended by over 25,000 devotees coming from Vidarbha and Marathvada regions. Candrapur has also temples dedicated to Ekvira, Ganapati, Mahadev, Maruti etc. Of these the temple of Ekvira. now known as Ekori, commemorates the visit of goddess Renuka of Mahur. It was built by Hirai. The Ganapati temple, whose construction was said to have been begun by Birsah and brought to completion by his queen Hirai after his death, lies in a neglected state. Though the temple is quite big there is none to look after it and hence it has become a resort of the cattle and sheep. Along the main road there is a fairly large church maintained by the Scottish Episcopalian Mission. It also maintains one or two orphanages.

Candrapur, being the headquarters of the district, is the seat of the Collector with the allied revenue offices. Since the establishment of the Zillia Parisad a spacious modern building has been constructed to house its various offices. The district has the richest forest wealth and the largest proportion of and extent of the forests in the state and hence there are eight divisional forest officers posted at Candrapur. It has the office of the Executive Engineer, Buildings and Communications Department which maintains a fine rest house as also a circuit house. It is the headquarters of the Police force in the district and has a District and Sessions Court.

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