Badnera.-Town in the Amraoti taluk, lying in 20° 52' N.
and 77° 46' E is situated at a distance
of 6 miles to the south of Amraoti about
1,093 feet above the sea-level. It is on the Nagpur branch
of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway line, 413 miles from
Bombay and 107 miles from Nagpur. It is connected with
Amraoti by a branch of State railway 6 miles long.
In 1901 the population was 10,859 against 9,916 in 1891,6,460
in 1881 and 6,876 in 1867, a rise of
58 per cent, during 34 years. There are
2,544 houses. Hindus number 8,187, Musalmans 2,159, Jains
119, Christians 167 and miscellaneous sects 227. It is stated
that the town was in a flourishing condition at the close of the
eighteenth century; and its subsequent decadence in the early
years of last century is said to be due to an imposition of
Rs. 60,000 laid upon its patel (who was in the service of the
Bhonsla), which, though he himself evaded it by flight,
the inhabitants had to pay. To-day it is prosperous and
flourishing and from its convenient situation on the railway
may be expected to attract many who might otherwise settle in Amraoti.
It is mentioned in the ' Ain-i-Akbari' as the headquarters
of a pargana in the ' Sarkar ' of Gawil.
It is known as Badnera Bibi as it formed with Karanja part of the dowry of Daulat Shah Begam, daughter of Darya Imad Shah of Berar, who was given in marriage to Husain Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar. Tradition however has identified the eponymous Bibi with the heroic Chand Sultana and a small chunam shrine in the fort is dedicated to that lady. The only piece of information locally obtainable about her is that "after her death her
jagir lapsed to the Mughals." From 1151 Fasli (1741 A.D.) Badnera was in the possession of the Nizam till 1182 Fasli (1772 A.D.), when it came into the possession of the Peshwa as a
jagir. In 1227 Fasli (1817 A.D.) it was restored to the Nizam. It was plundered in 1822 by Rajaram Subah, who partly demolished the fort and town walls. These had been built by Salabat Khan and Bahlol Khan of Ellichpur, and the fort, though outwardly only a mud garhi, is really something more, having subterranean chambers in it vaulted with brick, and a house, now ruined, on the summit, the residence of the former Naib Talukdars. The revenue was divided between the Nizam and the Bhonsla in the proportion of 2 to 1.
The old town differs but little from any other in the
District except in the large amount of garden land with which it is surrounded, a feature said to be due historically to a former Patel and Chaudhri, Mahinaji who in 1640 brought gardeners here at his own expense from Jalna, dug wells and induced the inhabitants to take up wet cultivation. Pan is grown today in considerable quantities and in 1870 opium was still cultivated. To the south and clustered round the railway lies the new town, of which the junction with its small colony of railway officials is the nucleus. A company of the 2nd Battalion G. I. P. Rly. Volunteers has its headquarters here, and there are a rifle range, a railway dispensary and institute. The Roman Catholics have a church with a
priest in residence and the Anglican chaplain also visits the place. A Christian cemetery was laid out in 1869 at a cost of Rs. 5,834 and close beside it is a Parsi cemetery; at a distance of about a mile from the town is also a Tower of Silence. Government and District Board buildings include a post office, a dispensary, a dak bungalow and a sarai within easy reach of the' railway, also an Urdu and two Marathi schools, a pound and a chawri. Previous to 1905 an Assistant or Extra Assistant Commissioner was stationed here, who combined the functions of first-class Magistrate, Subordinate Judge, and Judge of Small Causes; but this post has been abolished: the Court-house is occupied by the Government Central Book Depot and the Magistrate's former quarters have been made over to the police, Badnera being a first-class station under a Sub-Inspector.
The land revenue assessment is Rs. 5,700. There is a weekly market held on Mondays at which vegetables, betel leaves, plantains etc., are sold. The town contains two ginning factories and a spinning and weaving mill; of the former one is owned by the Badnera Ginning Company and the other together with the mills by the Berar Manufacturing Company. A full description of this enterprise is given in chapter V., 'Manufactures,' and it is only necessary here to state that the annual outturn is valued at over eleven and a half lakhs, and that the number of hands employed in 1908 was 940.
Bairagarh.-Houses 109. Population 517. A village in the Bairagarh pargana of the Melghat taluk, inhabited chiefly by Korkus; Muhammadans coming next in numbers and various low caste tribes being also represented. It is 50 miles distant from Chikalda via Sembadoh and 18 miles from Dharni, and has a small and unimportant weekly bazar held on Mondays. Under the old arrangements, there was a second-class police Station-house here with a head-constable and three constables: this is now ranked as a 'road post' but the change is merely an administrative one. The village lies in centre of a small but fertile plateau of black cotton soil,
which is one of the tracts selected for Settlement under the orders recently issued.
Bairam Ghat.-A shrine in the Ellichpur taluk frequented
by the lower classes both of Muhammadans and Hindus.
Although no town, the place is worthy of mention, on
account of the great fair held there in October each year,
and on account of its sanctity. It is situated about 14 miles
east of Ellichpur. During the night of the fair more than
50,000 persons from all parts assemble, and sacrifices are
offered before a rock, the Hindus on one side and Musalmans
on the other. This rock is approached by a long flight of
steps. It is a curious and authentic fact that, although
thousands of animals are sacrificed in front of the rock, and
the place is several inches deep in blood, there is not a fly to
be seen. There is a tank said to contain water only every
third year, which it is believed then comes from Benares.
The water is exceedingly dirty, but a dip in it has potent
effects'. The description given forty years ago holds good
to-day; but the popularity Of the fair has if anything increased.
It now lasts not for a single night but for thirty days. Cattle
are brought from the neighbouring hills for sale and lacquer
work all the way from Northern India. More than 500 booths
are erected by neighbouring Banias and shop-keepers and a
brisk trade is done. The rock is situated within the lands of
the little village of Karanja, and hard by are two well built
tanks of stone and mortar. It is 11 miles from Paratwada on
the road to Berul and is, on the boundary of the District.
Bairat.-The highest mountain in the Melghat division of the Satpuras is situated some six miles from Chikalda, and attains to a height of 3,866 feet above sea-level. Former surveys gave the height at 4,200 and 3,989 respectively. On the hill is an old temple of Mahadeo Vairateshwar which is said to be connected subterraneously with a temple of Devi somewhat nearer to Chikalda.
Balgaon Jagir or Walgaon.-Amraoti taluk, houses 1,156, population 5,284, a town on the Ellichpur road about 6 miles from Amraoti Town and 5 from Amraoti Camp by the District Board road known as the Red Road. The metalled
road to Chandur Bazar branches off here. Balgaon is the largest alienated village in the District, having been granted in 1842 and 1850 by Maharaja Chandulal Bahadur minister and Raja Rambax for the upkeep of the temple of Sri Sitaram
Maharaj at Hyderabad. The area is 5,893 acres 31 gunthas and the estimated rental at Government assessment Rs. 11,135-8, but there are a number of anti-jagir tenants whose rights to their holdings are protected as against the jagirdar: the latter cannot evict them except for non-payment of rent nor can he enhance the payment above Government rates. The old garhi at Balgaon has been converted into a temple of Balaji, and the public buildings include a police road post, a District Board chawri and sarai, and a Marathi school to which a post office is attached.
Belura.-Taluk Morsi. Population 2,056. Houses 341. There is an old Diwankhana or cutcherry here dating from Musalman times. The tomb of Sadhu Punjaji Mali has an
utsawa celebrated annually on Margshirsh Paurnima when about eight thousand people collect here. A small sect called Satya Shodhak Samaj' has been started among the Kunbis locally under the leadership of Yeshwantrao Khushalrao Patel. Its object is stated to be to encourage education among the backward classes including Mahars and Mangs and to throw off Brahman influence. The members of the sect do not employ Brahmans at their domestic ceremonies.
Bemla River.-A river having its source near Karanja in the Murtizapur taluk of the Akola District. It flows in a north-easterly direction as far as Chakora on the border between Chandur and Murtizapur taluks and, forming a boundary for a little distance as far as Pipalgaon, enters the south-western corner of the Chandur taluk. It then, flowing in a south-easterly course two miles south of Nandgaon Kazi and Damak, leaves the taluk after the confluence with the Kholat from the north. The united streams form a fair-sized river which, following the same course past Nandura in Yeotmal taluk, meets the Wardha river about 5 miles north of Naigaon.
The water is very bitter and during the hot weather is only met with in pools.
Benoda.-Houses 67, population 3,430, lies in the Morsi taluk fourteen miles east of the town on the road to Pusla, and has an inspection bungalow. The weekly bazar is held on Saturdays. The only cotton gin in the place is owned by a Marwari. There is a first-class police station under a Sub-Inspector.
Bhatkuli.-Houses 558. Population 2,767. A village about eight 'miles west of Amraoti on the banks of the Pedhi (a tributary of the Purna), and connected with Amraoti and Kholapur by a fair weather road. It has the usual weekly bazar, combined school and post office, also a masjid, a large proportion of the inhabitants being Muhammadans. A few Marwaris have become possessed of some land here through foreclosure of mortgages. Bhatkuli has a temple to Rukmaya who it is said settled in the village after his sister's enlevement and his defeat by Krishna (see Amraoti): but it is not much frequented as Hindus consider it polluted by the proximity of the Jain temple built about 200 years ago. In this is a figure of the Saint Parasnath said to have been found buried in the village garhi.
Bhiltek.-An insignificant village in the Chandur taluk with 54 houses and 230 inhabitants; its sole claim to notoriety is the fair which is held annually in honour of the god Nagoba, and lasts from Paush shuddh pratipada (about the end of December or beginning of January) for nearly two and a half months. On the first Sunday the attendance is about 1,000, but this increases to as many as 60,000 on the fifth Sunday, after which the attendance gradually falls off. The fair is however yearly dwindling in importance. Cloth merchants and traders in copper, brass, and iron, attend it, and country carts and cart-wheels are also sold. The temple of the god is a plain chabutra or platform with no superstructure whatever, and it is believed that if a person who has been bitten by a snake burns incense on this, with the appropriate prayers, and swallows a little of the ashes, he will
recover. Probably but few of those who survive to reach the shrine and perform this ceremonial have much reason to be afraid.
Brahmanwada Thadi.-Houses 764. Population 4,515. A village in the north-east of the Ellichpur taluk situated on the banks of the river Purna with a perennial water-supply. There is some garden cultivation; and black glass bangles of rude make are produced. The Marathi school teaches up to the sixth standard. A bazar is held on Thursdays. Brahmanwada Pathak close by is a small village with some five hundred inhabitants.