GENERAL

GEOGRAPHY

[The section on Geography is contributed by Prof. K. Ramamurthy of the University of Poona, Poona.]

Situation.

THE DISTRICT OF DHULIA, FORMERLY KNOWN AS WEST KHANDESH and known after the district headquarters since 1960, lies between 2038'and 223'north latitude and 7347' and 7511' east of longitude. It covers an area of 13,143 square kilometres and has as per the 1971 Census a population of 16,62,181 with 7 towns and 1,402 villages of which 23 are uninhabited. Administratively it is divided into two revenue divisions with headquarters at Dhulia and Nandurbar, respectively. It is the western-most of the districts on the northern border of Maharashtra State. It is bounded on the west by Dang, Surat and Broach districts of Gujarat State, on the north by Baroda district of Gujarat and Jhabua and West Nimar districts of Madhya Pradesh, and on the east and south by Jalgaon and Nasik districts, respectively of the Maharashtra State.

Boundaries.

The river Narmada forms the boundary in the western part of the northern border and it deviates from the river south-eastwards along the Jharkal, one of its tributaries. Then it runs first southwards and then eastwards crossing the Gomai river. When it again meets the Gomai it pursues its course up the river and then runs in the midst of the Satpuda ranges as far as Golanghati Choki on the Bombay-Agra road. Here it turns and runs south-eastwards to join the Arunavati river. After following the course of this river for two kilometres, it crosses another range of the Satpudas and runs south-eastwards to join the Aner river. Thenceforth the boundary runs south-west along the Aner river and after the latter's confluence with the Tapi, it follows the Tapi as far as Mudavad at Panjhra Sangam. From here it runs up the course of the Panjhra as far as Tamaswadi. Here it deviates due eastwards and then southwards in a zigzag manner and after crossing the Bori river, runs on the low hills south-eastwards and westwards. A couple of kilometres after crossing the Bombay-Agra road it turns northwards, crosses the Bori again and runs along the Galna hills to the south of the Panjhra valley and then along the Sahyadris. Just east of Songad, it runs due eastwards and after bending outward so as to include Nawapur, runs due northwards to join the Nesu river. This river forms the boundary up to a point about half a kilometre north of Marod. From here it runs due northwards crossing the Devmogra hills and then runs along the foot of their northern slopes. The boundary hereafter behaves like a contour re-entrant crossing the Tapi about five kilometres west of Prakasha-Korit and runs westwards passing just south of Khapar. After Porambi it runs in a north-north-westerly course and enters the Satpudas along the upper course of a minor tributary of the Tapi. Crossing the Satpudas, it follows the Devganga river up to its confluence with the Narmada and then with the latter river.

The entire area now comprising the two districts of Dhulia and Jalgaon and the three talukas of Malegaon, Nandgaon and Baglan of Nasik district was previously administered as one district of Khandesh with headquarters at Dhulia. In 1869 the three talukas above referred to were transferred to the newly formed district of Nasik. In the year 1906 the district was broken into two districts known as West Khandesh and East Khandesh, the West Khandesh retaining Dhulia, Nandurbar, Navapur Peta, Pimpalner, Shahada, Shirpur. Sindkheda and Taloda talukas of the old Khandesh district. The headquarters of Pimpalner taluka was transferred to Sakri in 1887 and the name was also changed to Sakri taluka in 1908. The new taluka of Akkalkuva was created in 1950. In the same year five villages four from Nasik district and one from Broach district were added to this district. At the same time two villages from this district were transferred to Broach district. Subsequent to the reorganisation of States in 1960, 38 villages each from Navapur and Nandurbar talukas, 43 from Taloda taluka and 37 from Akkalkuva taluka were transferred to Gujarat State.

The details of the administrative sub-divisions, with their area, number of villages and towns, population and density of population in 1971 are given in the statement below:―

Sub-divisions

Name of the Taluka

Area in square kilometres

Number of Villages

Number of' Tower

Population

Dencity population per-square kilometre

Inhabited

 Uninhabited

Nandurbar

Nandurbar

1,100.0

123

4

1

182,558

166

Navapur

919.8

88

5

1

131,438

143

Akrani

600.9

155

--

--

45.619

76

Akkalkuva

846.0

170

2

--

78,707

93

Sub-divisions

Name of the Taluka

Area in square kilometres

Number of Villages

Number of Towns

Population

Density of population per square kilometre

Inhabited

Uninhabited

Nandurbar-contd

Taloda

355.2

82

1

1

70,463

198

Shahada

1,112.4

175

4

1

183,682

165

Dhulia

Dhulia

1,946.8

153

5

1

380,841

196

Shirpur

2,002.3

135

2

1

153,824

77

Sindkheda

1,280.2

142

--

1

201,730

158

Sakri

2,398.9

155

--

--

233,319

97

District Total

13,143.0

1,379

23

7

1,662,181

126

Relief and drainage.

Except for a small area in the extreme north-west which drains into the Narmada, the district as a whole lies in the drainage basin of the Tapi. Parallel with the Tapi are three well marked belts of country running east to west; in the centre the rich Tapi valley, in the north the high and wild Satpudas, and the south and southwest bare ridges and well watered valleys separated by spurs of the Sahyadri ranges and innumerable dykes.

Hills.

Within the district are included the several ranges of Satpudas in the north and the Sahyadris and their off-shoots including several dykes in the west and south. The Satpudas, a broad belt of mountain land stretching in a wall-like manner on the northern side of the Tapi, rise from the first range of hills, ridge behind ridge, to the central ridge to a height of about 600 metres above sea level, and then slope down rather steeply towards the Narmada. Amongst these, two ranges of relatively higher elevation than the rest are discernible. In the more northerly one of these two, there are several peaks which are over 1,000 metres high such as the one to the east of the river Khai rising to 1,017 metres and the Toranmal rising to 1,155 metres in the Toranmal plateau. The southern range is even a higher range, the height of whose crest line is generally over 1,000 metres, with peaks rising over 1,200 metres (Boksa Dongar 1,208 metres lying north of Guliamba, two peaks lying east and west of Nandvan rising to heights of 1,233 and 1,200 metres respectively and Ashtamba Dongar 1,325 metres). The Ashtamba Dongar associated with Ashwathama and hence held sacred, is perhaps the highest peal, in the district. Towards the cast of the district these two ranges are united by the Toranmal plateau.

Toranmal: The Toranmal plateau, once the scat of the rulers of Mandu, a long narrow table-land 1,000 metres high and about 41 square kilometres in area, lies in north latitude 2152' and east longitude 7430' about 130 kilometres from Dhulia. The hill top stretches in small flat plateaus broken by irregular lines of hills of relative heights varying from 30 to 45 metres. Near the south-west corner, a large lake, about 2.8 kilometres in circumference, 600 metres broad and 10 metres deep in the centre, partly formed by stopping a gorge between two small hills, is flanked by a much fissured range about 120 metres high. The top of the dam, with room for a small house or tent, is a delightful spot, much of it shaded by trees and cooled by the west wind which blows strong and steady across the lake during the hot months. At one side the surplus waters are taken through a rock-cut passage some 365 metres to a smaller lake about 9 metres lower, and then carried to a precipice with a clean, drop of 74 metres. There are also the remains of a few temples and walls. Except, the Bhils and Pavras, who live in some scattered villages, the hill is mostly uninhabited. In the wet season (July-October), the rain is incessant and sometimes so heavy as to offer very poor visibility. In the cold weather frosts are common. In the hot season (March-June), the lake, the neighbouring forests, and a strong steady south-west wind combine to make the climate delightful, with a mean temperature of 25 C. during May.

Sahyadris: The Sahyadri hills bound the south-western corner of the district. Here, in their northern extremities, they turn sharply towards the north-east leaving the broad Tapi plain between them and the Satpudas. Without any well marked peaks many of the Sahyadri ridges have curious and picturesque outlines. They are scattered one behind the other, chiefly running from south-west to north-east, but with many spurs starting eastwards from the main ranges. Except during the hot season, the climate is harmful. Even with a good rainfall and in places with deep forests yielding valuable timber, the slopes of the Sahyadris, especially towards the east have suffered from illicit forest clearings, and over large areas are bare, or have a little more than a covering of brushwood. Of the two roads that cross the Sahyadri hills from the Navapur taluka to the rest of the district, one runs through the Kondaibari pass, about 25 kilometres west of Nizampur and the other through the pass north of Kalamba near the south-west corner of the district.

Galna : The Galna hills and their continuations eastwards along the southern border of the district are but off-shoot spurs of the Sahyadris. South of Pimpalner, they reach their maximum heights in. Mangitungi in three peaks with elevations of 1,291, 1,324 and 1,331 metres, the last two having caves cut in them. To the east of these hills is the Selbari pass through which runs the road from Pimpalner to Satana and Nasik. The hills gradually decrease in height eastward and are only just over 600 metres south of Dhulia town. Here they are relatively more barren with flat plateau tops, which increase in extent eastwards. North of the Galna hills are several minor spurs of the Sahyadris and these along with innumerable dykes separate the valleys of different tributary streams of the Tapi.

Dykes.An interesting feature in the topography of the district is the occurrence of chains of dykes running nearly in west-south-west to east-north-east direction to the south of the Tapi. The area of their dominance is in the southern part of the Nandurbar taluka, western part of Sindkheda taluka, with a few but very long ones in Sakri and Dhulia talukas. A very long dyke some 80 kilometres in length, runs parallel to the course of the Panjhra river on its northern side. This dyke has been responsible for determining the course the river has. It runs almost straight with a strike of S 34 E from a point a little north of Tamaswadi with some breaks as far as a point 2.5 kilometres north of Parola and probably continues further eastwards as far as the Girna river as evidenced by a number of isolated peaks in this line. The tank, three kilometres north-east of Parola, owes its origin to the damming of the Chikli river where it crosses through a break in this dyke near its eastern extremity. A few parallel dykes are also found north of the Tapi river to the west of Khapar in the Akkalkuva taluka, whose strike runs with a strike of N 25 E, roughly parallel to the slope of the Satpudas. It is quite likely that dykes exist in the midst of the Satpudas themselves, but these intrusive features might be lying buried under the cover of high hills. Still it is possible to identify a few of them west of Dhadgaon in Akrani taluka and in southern Shahada and western Shirpur.

Rivers.

Narmada.―The Narmada forms the boundary for about 70 kilo- metres on the western part of the northern border of the district. The course of the river exhibits a remarkable parallelism with the changing strike of the northern high range of the Satpudas. As the banks of the river rise rather steeply through the slopes of the Satpudas, the river has little value for the district.

In the district, the river receives a number of tributary streams draining the northern slopes of the Satpudas and making their way through steep and narrow winding valleys through the hills. Rising from the springs on the northern slopes of the main ranges, these streams have an abundant supply of water. However, it is difficult to take full advantage of this for developing agriculture due to the very rugged nature of the country. The chief tributaries of the Narmada are from east to west, the Jharkal, the Udai, the Khai, the Sambar and the Devganga. There are two trend lines repeated in general in the direction of the flow of streams, one parallel and the other nearly perpendicular to the direction of the Narmada. These trend lines become more and more pronounced from west to east, becoming very distinctive east of the Jharkal beyond the confines of the district.

Jharkal.―The Jharkal, rising outside the district, flows along the boundary of the district in a deeply trenched valley to join the Narmada. On its left bank it receives the drainage of streams running down the Toranmal plateau.

Udai.―The river Udai takes its source near Valamba village in the springs just north of the southern high range of the Satpudas and has a fairly long course (35 kilometres) eastwards, between this range and the one to the north of it. It makes an abrupt turn and flows northwards, continuing the trend of its tributary stream from Chandseli. After passing by Dhadgaon, it flows in a tortuous course trending generally to the north-east and joins the Narmada. The road from Taloda to Dhadgaon through the Chandseli pass in the southern range of the Satpudas has the advantage of the comparatively easy gradients provided by the northerly course of the tributary and the principal stream.

Devnand or Khai―The Devnand takes its source very near to that of the Udai, north of Valamba village and has a similar but shorter easterly course beyond a further range of the Satpudas and turns northwards and then north-eastwards, and after being joined by the Katri which flows by Kathi, continues in its north-easterly course under the name of the Khai to join the Narmada.

Sambar.The Sambar, of a shorter length, flows in a general westerly course to join the Narmada.

Devganga.―The Devganga, the westernmost tributary of the Narmada in the district, rises on the southern slopes of the Rahuvala Dongar and has an initial southerly course till it is joined by the Dahel river, after which it flows first in a westerly course and then forms the district boundary with a general north-westerly course before it joins the Narmada. Its affluent Dahel rises near Valamba village and has a general north-westerly course till it joins the Devganga. Thus on the slopes of the peak rising to about 1,000 metres to the west of Valamba village, three streams viz.. the Udai, the Devnand, and the Dahel originate and though follow different directions, ultimately flow into the Narmada.

Tapi.―Barring the relatively small area of the Narmada drainage of northern part outlined above, the rest of the district is completely drained by the Tapi and its tributaries. The Tapi takes its source in the highlands of central India and flows in a westerly course of 725 kilometres including its windings, and falls into the Gulf of Cambay, about 20 kilometres west of Surat. About 100 kilometres of this course lie within the limits of Dhulia district. Almost throughout its entire course within the district, the Tapi banks, except where they are scarred by courses or open to tributaries, rise high and bare. Each is a double bank, a lower of yellow earth much cut into by ravines, and further back a high upper bank rising to the level of the country round. During the rains, the floods in the river bed, setting with force along the outer banks and carrying sand and gravel, pile them at the points where the course of the river changes. In the dry season, when the water is low, these sand heaps act as dams enclosing reaches of still water up to 15 kilometres in length. Except where the bed is crossed by rocky barriers, after the floods of the rainy season are spent, the streams flow over gravel shoals in numerous channels with a general breadth varying from 45 to 90 metres, a depth under 50 centimetres and a speed ranging from 3 to 5 kilometres per hour.

The tributary streams of the Tapi may be broadly divided into three groups (i) the northern tributaries draining the southern slopes of the Satpudas, (ii) the southern tributaries which rise in the eastern face of the Sahyadris and their spurs and have long easterly courses before they turn northwards to join the Tapi and (iii) those other southern tributaries draining the western and northern slopes of the Sahyadris and flow either northwards or northwestwards towards the Tapi.

The northern tributaries of the Tapi, on account of the proximity of the high ranges of the Satpudas, are relatively small in length. Rising from innumerable springs they have been put to use for irrigation. Their peculiarity is that near the hills and again for several kilometres before they fall into the Tapi, their streams flow throughout the year; but in the middle belt where the coarse piedmont debris-slopes attain their maximum depth, their waters sink below, leaving the bed perfectly dry in the dry season. Among these innumerable and nearly parallel streams are included the Aner, the Dharamkhuli, the Dahivad, the Arunavati, the Kordi, the Lendi, the Kasari, the Sukti, the Mhais, the Gomai, the Vaki, the Vatskhai, the Varoli, the Utkhadi, the Dehli and the Kanji. Of these the Aner, the Arunavati, the Gomai and the Vaki are relatively more important.

Aner.―The Aner, after a long westerly course outside the district, forms the boundary of the district in its lower course till it joins the Tapi.

Arunavati.―The Arunavati rises in the slopes of the inner Satpuda ranges a few kilometres beyond the district and after forming its boundary for about 2 kilometres, enters the district and flows in a general south-westerly direction. Further making its way through the outer ranges of the Satpudas, and after passing by Shirpur, it joins the Tapi. The Jhirbavi formed by the union of the Titwa and another stream is an important left bank tributary of the Arunavati. The Titwa drains the northern slopes of the Satpudas and has a northerly or north-westerly course. The Arunavati receives a number of right bank tributaries, such as the Ghul, the Chondi and the Ambad.

Gomai.―Rising just outside the district, the river Gomai flows in its upper course along the boundary of the district and then after flowing in a north-westerly direction outside the district enters the district about five kilometres below Pansemal. It is the largest of the northern tributaries, itself receiving innumerable affluents―the Tipria (passing by Mandane), the Umri, the Sukhi and the Susri (passing by Sultanpur). The river Gomai is crossed by a number of dams, and canals taking off from them are used for irrigation. One of its left bank tributaries, the Bharmer, flows westwards and north westward parallel to the Tapi receiving the drainage of the residual hills and dykes to its north and joins the Gomai about two kilometres above Prakasha.

Vaki.―The Vaki, also a fairly large sized stream, receives a number of Satpuda streams on its right, and joins the Tapi just west of the district. The hot spring of Anakdev is situated just where it emerges from the Satpudas.

The Southern Tributaries.The left bank tributaries of the Tapi belonging to the second group mentioned above, rise on the eastern slopes of the Sahyadris and their spurs and flow eastwards hemmed in by spurs or dykes at right-angles to the main Sahyadris, until these sink down into the plain or give rise to breaks or gaps, where streams make an abrupt northward turn and flow towards the Tapi. Except in the vicinity of the Tapi, where they get incised into the plain, throughout their middle and upper reaches, these streams have been crossed by small dams (bandharas) and are widely used for irrigation. The chief among them are Bori, the Panjhra, the Borai, the Amravati and the Bhad.

Bori.―The Bori, taking its rise in the southern slopes of the Galna hills and with two fifths of its entire course of 100 m. falling within the district, is the southernmost of such streams in the district. It is joined by the Kanoli river, a tributary from the south, at Vinchur, where the Chalisgaon road crosses it by a bridge. The Bori runs dry before the hot season, and even during the remaining months has very little water.

Panjhra.―The Panjhra rising in the Sahyadris, bounding the southwest corner of the district and passing by Pimpalner, has a fairly long easterly course hemmed in by the long dyke referred to already, on its north. About eight kilometres below Dhulia, where there is a major gap in the dyke, the river abruptly turns northwards and flows towards the Tapi and joins it three kilometres below Thalner at Mudavad. Its water supply lasts throughout the year.

Kan.―The Kan, an important tributary of the Panjhra, rising in the Sahyadris, a few kilometres further north, first flows eastwards and then south-eastwards in conformity with the trend of the Kondaibari spur from the Sahyadris to its north and flows into the Panjhra five kilometres below Sakri. Both these rivers, except in the lower course of the Panjhra below Betawad, have a succession of dams and canals and are greatly used for irrigation. There are in fact about 360 dams across the Panjhra river.

Burai.―The Burai river has its source north of the Kondaibari pass in the Sahyadris and has a long easterly course. It is joined by the Pan below Arava, where it turns north-eastwards continuing the course of the Pan. The Pan river rises just east of Nizampur and runs eastwards as far as Lonkheda, where it turns north-eastwards to join the Burai. The Rodi which has an easterly course as far as Nizampur turns abruptly northwards to join the Burai through a break in the dyke line at Nizampur. The fact that the Pan appears to be a continuation eastwards of the same valley axis as that of the Rodi, suggests that this may be an instance of river capture by a tributary flowing from Nizampur to the Burai by its active head-ward erosion across a fractured section of the dyke. Continuing further westwards in the same valley axis, a similar beheading of the headwaters of the Rodi by the stream flowing into the Burai opposite to Brahmanvel is also evident. Below the Pan confluence, the Burai receives a number of tributaries from the south and passes by Chimthana towards the Tapi. This river also has many dams and canals throughout its upper course.

Amravati.―Rising near the northern end of the Sahyadri spur, the Amravati has a similar easterly course determined by dykes to its north, well used for canal irrigation, after which it turns northwards to the Tapi. It has a similar system of tributaries from the south and south-west such as the Nai joining at Malpur, the Bhogavati joining it at Dondaicha and the Kanan opposite to Daul. There is a hot spring at Indve where the Nai changes from an easterly to a north-easterly course.

Madari.―The Madari river draining the northern slopes of the low hills west of Chimthana flows past Virdel with a northerly course, but near the Tapi it turns abruptly and flows in west-north-west direction parallel to the river to join it at the confluence of Amravati.

Bhad.―The last of the rivers of this group of considerable size is the Amravati-Bhad or simply Bhad, flowing by Ranala, which has similar characteristics exhibited on a smaller scale. Even the diminutive stream of the Kasad, the westernmost one of this series, exhibits the features of the group, an initial easterly course, northward turn at the gap or end of the dyke, etc.

Other Southern Tributaries.―Among the tributaries of the Tapi of the third group are the Sukhar, the Patalganga, the Nagan and the Rangavalli. The more easterly of these streams rise in the region of dykes and residual hills, and the dyke barriers are responsible for the convergence of their tributaries at the gap points, where they are able to make their way northwards. These points offer convenient places for the construction of dams for irrigation canals.

Nagan.―The Nagan is the largest of the more westerly streams, and is joined by several important tributaries, the Nesu, the Kordi, the Vandriaval and the Sanpan. The last one has its source near the Kondaibari pass and appears to flow between two parallel off-shoot spurs of the Sahyadris, which seem to be divided by this stream, for they join into a single spur east of the source of this river. As a matter of fact the Sahyadris here trending in a south-west to northeast direction represent as elsewhere the steeply rising scarp of the Deccan plateau from the western coastal lowland. Due to the active headward erosion of the Sanpan along a structural line of weakness at right angles to this scarp edge, the Sahyadris have been able to cut back into the plateau providing comparatively easy gradients for the route across the Kondaibari pass from the south-east. The valley slopes, on either side of this river in this portion, rise remarkably steeply to the general plateau levels, appearing to resemble, for a person looking up from the valley, two off-shoot spurs from the Sahyadris running in a south-easterly direction.

Geographical Aspects.

Geographical Aspects.―The district may be broadly divided into the following natural regions:―

(i) the Satpuda region, (ii) the Tapi valley proper, (iii) the region of dykes and residual hills of the Sahyadri spurs with eastward trending streams in between and (iv) Navapur and western Nandurbar region with a westerly aspect below the Sahyadri scarps.

Satpuda Region.

The Satpuda region.-North of the Tapi, the whole length of the rich alluvial plain is bounded by the steep southern face of the Satpudas, a belt of mountain land about 30 kilometres broad. Much of this hilly country, now with only a few scattered Bhil hamlets, was once peopled. In the wide valleys of Aner and Arunavati are the brushwood covered ruins of temples, mosques, wells and single storeyed houses of what once had been considerable towns. Though much is deserted, in the north and north-west the Akrani uplands are well tilled and prosperous, peopled by Pavras, skilful and hardworking peasants, whose homesteads, each in its plot of fields, are sheltered by well-kept mango and moha groves.

West of Toranmal, the Satpudas break into two ranges of hills, which between their north and south faces, enclose an irregular table-land about 50 kilometres long and 25 kilometres broad. In this area are situated most of the scattered hamlets of the Satpuda region, barring the area up to about 12.5 kilometres west of the Toranmal plateau, which is devoid of any hamlet. Outside this table-land only a few hamlets are to be seen on the banks of the Narmada and some of the streams flowing into it. The whole surface of the plateau region is very rugged ranging in height from 300 to 600 metres above the sea level. The highest parts are the north and south ridges, which enclose between them a succession of parallel ranges of low hills. Between the hills are many rich valleys and table-lands watered by unfailing streams. The lower hills are undulating and the soil of rich, decomposed ironstones, yields abundant crops of millets and other grains. The higher ranges are covered up to their summits with thick brushwood, which besides supplying fuel and timber, furnishes many valuable drugs and dyes. The valleys and plateaus are parcelled into fields, divided into strips of grass. The river banks are always green, the landscape is broken by means of date palms (shindi) and on all the sides the view is bounded by broken rugged hill tops. The hills are believed to contain veins of silver, copper and tin.

The water supply is abundant. It is obtained from wells, rivers and streams and during the hot season from springs and holes dug in the river beds. Though not lacking in rich alluvial patches, the soil is on the whole rocky and poor, yielding very small quantities of wheat and gram.

As the country is at considerable elevation, the heat is moderate all the year round. During the winter months, the cold is severe.

Unlike the rest of the Satpudas, much of Akrani mahal teems with an active, hard working and increasing population. They mostly belong to the two tribes of Varlis and Pavras, of whom the Pavras, who are probably of Rajput descent, are distinguished from the Varlis and other Bhils by their skill as husbandmen. Like most mountainous tribes, they are keenly attached to their hills and never leave them. Many of them have large herds of cows and buffaloes, pasture being abundant along the banks of the streams. They have no sheep or pigs, but a large stock of goats and poultry. Dhadgaon, the headquarters of Akrani mahal, is situated in the midst of a relatively flat area near the western bank of the Udai.

Passes.―Four passes lead through the Satpudas to Akrani from the rest of the district. The easternmost is on the road leading from Shahada to Toranmal via Mhasvad, Ranata valley (a tributary of the Vaki) or Sursi valley. The second route, the best and most used, leads from Shahada through Mhasvad following the upper course of the Vaki river, through Mandvi, and continues on the top of the ridge to Dhadgaon. The State Transport services continue this route through Kathi to Mulgi. The next route, hardly passable except on foot proceeds from Taloda through Pratappur, Ranipur, Bhandara over the Dhoda hill through Chinalkua, Palka to Dhadgaon. Another one from Taloda through Rojhva, Kothar, following the course of the Vaiskhai crosses the high range by the Chandseli pass and then continues northwards, first along the course of a tributary of the Udai and then the Udai itself, passing by Kakarpati, Gauria, Kamod and Palka. The Vanjaris from Shahada and Gujarat use these passes, supplying the people with salt and groceries and buying their surplus field and forest produce. The export of grain from Akrani is considerable. There is also a large trade in Charoli, Buchania latifolia seed, moha flowers, honey, bees' wax, lac, gums and resin. The westernmost route is the one from Akkalkuva through Nulsibari along the upper course of the Utkhadi river, west of Bavahiria Dongar through the Amlibari pass northwards to Kathi.

Tapi Valley.

The soils of this region are extremely fertile except in some portions near the main river and its tributaries, which have cut down the land very badly and removed the top soil. Otherwise the soils grade from the deep fertile soils to coarse shallow to stony soils away from the river either northwards towards the Satpudas or southwards towards the residual hills and dykes. On account of the fact that the river and its tributaries have cut down their beds far below the general level leaving in places almost vertical walls, these are of little use for irrigational purposes. Due to the same cause even the water table has been lowered considerably close to the Tapi and wells are consequently very deep, even as much as 30 metres below the ground level. It may be mentioned here that the water table is fairly close to the surface near the foot of the Satpudas, where the coarse debris slope begins and is only of shallow depth and bed-rock near the surface, e.g., at Hadamba, the water table is two metres below during the monsoon and four metres in the dry season, at Boradi, water is found within six metres and the wells actually overflow in the rainy season. Away from the Satpudas, the depth of the water table increases e.g., at Rojhva 25 metres, with increasing thickness of the debris slopes, while still further off where the latter thin out the water table again comes near the surface e.g., at Taloda about five metres. In the deep black soils towards the Tapi river, the water table again sinks below the surface to more than 12 metres and sometimes even to 30 metres. These changes in the levels of the water table on account of the variation in the thickness of the debris slopes explain also the variations in the amount of water at the different reaches of the Satpuda tributaries referred to previously.

To the south of the Tapi the depth of the water table becomes steadily less and less away from the river and wells become more numerous especially in the valleys of tributary streams. Though this valley is densely settled, a strip of land 3 to 5 kilometres from the river on either side of it seems to have been avoided except for a few ones on the banks of the river due to badly cut up land and the great depth of the water table making well sinking arduous and futile. The road connecting a series of villages, Padhavad, Pashta, Varshi, Virdel and Nimgul seems to define exactly the limit of the strip on the south side. There is a second line of even larger villages south of the first, Betavad, Nardhana, Sindkheda, Dondaicha, Ranala and Nandurbar on the margin of this region; the last three may be even considered as belonging to the region of dykes and residual hills.

In the western part of the Tapi valley at least the larger villages show a preference to the eastern banks of streams. In the northern part of this region, the Gomai river has been dammed and canal water made available in Shahada taluka. Many of the Satpuda streams are utilised for irrigation by raising water from the beds of the streams, flowing rather deep below the ground level, by installation of pumps. There are also wells fitted with pumps used for irrigation. The crops which are grown under irrigation are invariably sugarcane and chillis sometimes but rarely wheat and Cambodia cotton. The kharif crops grown in this area are groundnut, cotton (Virnar) white jowar and sesamum. Tur and a little ambadi are grown in lines in the midst of jowar or cotton fields. On account of the deep black soils of the area, the principal cropping season is the rabi, when dadar, a superior variety of jowar, and wheat are the chief crops.

The various taluka headquarters on the north, Shirpur, Shahada, Taloda, and Akkalkuva are all situated on the outer bends of tributary streams, a few kilometres away from the main river and are linked by road somewhat parallel to the course of the Tapi. There are a few large sized villages on the north banks of the Tapi such as Thalner, Sarangkheda and Prakasha. These happens to be either of historic or religious importance. Prakasha is situated on the raised triangular ground between the Gomai and the Tapi, where the former joins the latter. There is a smaller twin settlement of Korit on the opposite bank of the Tapi connected by a ferry service to Prakasha. Sindkheda, the headquarters of the taluka of the same name, on the western bank of the Burai river, is connected by a ford to its twin, Patan, on the opposite bank on the way to Shirpur. Dondaicha, situated on the raised ground in the angle formed by the confluence of Amravati and Bhogavati, has a more pleasing look with fine brick houses with sloping roofs developed in recent times on account of the railway connection. Thus all the large sized settlements are situated well away from the main river on the margin of this sub-region near or in the fringes, of the region of dykes and residual hills.

Region of dykes and residual hills.

This comprises the southern part of Nandurbar and Sindkheda and the whole of Sakri and Dhulia talukas. This region consists of residual hills and dykes of poor dry and stony soils intervened by well watered valleys of the eastward trending upper courses of streams with somewhat better soils and intense agricultural activity based on canal and well irrigation. This region is one of the few regions in Maharashtra with well developed canal irrigation even in pre-British times, probably on account of the rivers flowing in a region of light soils derived from the slow weathering of the dykes. On account of the general inferiority of the soils, the predominant crop is kharif bajri; cotton and groundnut are also widely grown. In the irrigated valley sections, especially in the Panjhra valley, sugarcane, Cambodia cotton and wheat are raised. In the western section with higher rainfall, along with the above crops, ragi and rice and a little gram are also grown.

Navapur and western Nandurbar region.

This region with a westerly aspect below the Sahyadrian scarps, is full of steep hill ranges covered with forests, broken here and there by casual tillage which surrounds the Bhil hamlets. The Sahyadris come to an end in the north-east corner of this sub-region and though they gradually fall away towards the Tapi they form a noticeable feature from the plain lands to the east. The westerly aspect accounts for the higher rainfall of this area (75 to 100 cms.) as compared to the rest of the district. The rivers afford a good supply of water throughout the year. In the kharif season rice, tur and jowar are sown in mixtures; after the dry rice is harvested, jowar and tur continue to grow to be harvested later. Ragi (locally known as nagali) is a fourth crop of this region. In the rabi season irrigated and unirrigated wheat and Bengal gram are grown. No groundnut is grown in this sub-region.

Taking the district as a whole, groundnut, cotton and jowar are the important crops, with some sugarcane and chillis under irrigation. Flat mud topped houses are the rule in the rural parts and in the eastern parts of drier climate. However, out of the 15 talukas of Maharashtra sharing the highest proportion of dwellings with walls of grass, leaves etc., three are in Dhulia district, viz., Akrani, Akkalkuva and Navapur. These talukas are well-known hilly habitats of scheduled tribes and have large areas under forests.

Throughout the district the neem trees have been planted as avenue trees on roadsides; less common is the tamarind and other trees are seldom to be found.

 

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