Mahimapur.-An insignificant village in the Daryapur taluk. It has an old well said to have been built during the Mughal period, in which is a small chamber or grotto suitable for relaxation in the hot weather. Even the name of the sybarite for whose pleasure it was made is now forgotten, and the water is used for the ordinary village supply.
Mahuli Jagir.-Amraoti taluk, lies 16 miles from Amraoti on the Morsi road, and contains 540 houses with a population of 2242 persons. It was granted in jagir in 1859 to the lineal descendants of the late Mir Dilawar Husain in consideration of faithful service rendered to Her Majesty. The area of the village lands is 2618 acres and 23 gunthas, and the estimated rental according to settlement rates Rs. 4720-8-0 per annum.
Malkhed.-Taluk Chandur; 541 houses, 2377 inhabitants. The village is situated about half a mile from the railway station named after it, and lies on the edge of the Chirodi forest reserve, grass cutting in which employs many of its inhabitants for several months of the year. Malkhed has a Marathi school and post office and the masjid and two Hindu temples are supported by inam land.
Mangrul Dastgir.-Chandur taluk, houses 1508, population 6588, is not an integral village but consists of eight " Munds" lying close together. The second name Dastgir is given to distinguish it from several other towns and villages called " Mangrul" in Berar and is derived from a Musalman fakir who lived here and is buried in the garhi. Mangrul is about three miles from Talni railway station, and has a small trade in cotton and grain to the Dattapur market. It has one old and ruinous temple of Maroti and modern shrines of Balaji and Ganpati. At Raina close by are a small tank and a big temple built by Wasudeopant Deshpande, the ancestor of Bhagwant Krishna Deshpande the present patel. There are Marathi and Urdu schools and a girls' school. The weekly bazar which is a large one is held on Wednesdays.
Marki.-Amraoti taluk, houses 105, population 475, a small village remarkable for its fair which is held annually for three days at the end of the bright half of Chaitra (March) in honour of Shri Markinath and attracts from ten to fifteen thousand people. About 200 booths are erected and, it is said, not less than thirty thousand rupees worth of goods sold; but the great attraction of the fair is religious and consists of a
hom or fire-worship performed in front of the shrine in which thousands of cocoanuts are offered to the fire. Bhajanmelas or parties of ten or twenty persons wander over the fair singing religious songs of a somewhat enthusiastic type to the accompaniment of tomtoms, cymbals, and similar music.
Melghat Taluk.-The northern taluk of Berar formerly
part of the Ellichour District, but since
August 1905 incorporated in the
Amraoti District, lying between 21°10' and 21°47' N. and
76° 38' and 77° 40' E., with an estimated area of 1,609
square miles, Previous to the transfer of the Ambabarwa
State forest to the Buldana District the area of the taluk was 1,631 square miles. The taluk is also sometimes called Gangra and consists of that portion of the Satpura range situated between the Khamla plateau on the east and Jeitgarh on the west with the rich valleys and low plateaus lying between the mountains. Its extreme breadth north and south is thirty-eight miles, and its extreme length east and west sixty miles. On the north it is bounded by a portion of the Betul District and the Tapti river dividing it from Nimar, on the west by the Tapti river and a portion of the Nimar District, on the south by the taluks of Jalgaon (Buldana District) and Akot (Akola District) and the taluks of Daryapur and Ellichpur, and on the east by the Betul
District. The whole taluk with the exception of the alienated lands and the civil station of Chikalda, which has been disforested, is nominally State forest. In reality, however, the only tracts which merit the name of forest are the A and B class reserves. The area known as C-III forest has long since been abandoned by the Forest Department, so far as any system of conservancy is concerned, but though it has a long and interesting revenue history, cultivation having been carried on from time immemorial, it has for various reasons never been brought under the ordinary revenue law. It is this tract, which constitutes the Melghat revenue taluk. It comprises an area of about 671 square miles, and consists of a broad belt lying south of the reserves and adjoining the Berar plains, a small area on the east in the Katkumb pargana and the whole of the western portion of the Melghat. The country is extremely rugged and broken into a succession of hills and valleys. In the more advanced portions, such as the neighbourhood of Dharni, and Bairagarh when the
rabi crops are on the ground, the green fields afford a pleasing and restful view to the eye. But the typical Melghat country consists of barren hills, scrub jungle and stony ground, and is of a most dreary and desolate description. The villages are collections of hovels without any shade, as the Korku prefers cutting trees to planting them, and one can well understand the feelings of the subordinate officials who regard the tract as halapani and whose health requires frequent visits to the Berar plains. There are no navigable rivers in the taluk
unless the Tapti which forms a portion of the boundary may be considered such during the rainy season. The streams that drain the northern face of the range and fall into the Tapti are the following:-The Sipna and the Kundu both have their rise close to the village of Khamla in Betul District, the former running south of Makhla plateau for 8 or 10 miles takes a north-westerly course and passing through the villages of Harisal and Duni unites with the Tapti to the north-east of Amner; the latter passing through the Katkumb and Saoligarh parganas falls into the Tapti. The Garga rises under Bairat, the highest summit of the Gawilgarh hills and running nearly north-west throughout its course unites with the Tapti immediately under the southern face of the fort of Amner. The Kapra, the Majri and the Dewan are the other minor streams which fall into the Tapti.
The climate of the tract has a very evil reputation, corresponding in this respect to the Dindori tahsil of Mandla and the Baihar tahsil of Balaghat. A severe type of malaria prevails at the end of the rains and the beginning of the cold weather, and it has usually been considered unsafe to camp in the Melghat before the
1st January. In the hot weather the heat in the valleys is intense and the absence of shade, the difficulties of water-supply, and the general lack of all the comforts of the plains, make the tract one of the most unpleasant for touring purposes that it is possible to imagine.
The Melghat taluk is the largest of all the taluks of the
District in point of size, but the
smallest of all in point of population, the density being only 22 per square mile. The population of the taluk in 1901 was 36,670 or 41/2 per cent. of the total population of the District. In 1891 the population was 46,849 persons and in 1881, 42,262. The increase between 1881-1891 was 10.8 per cent. as against the District figure of 9.2 per cent. During the last decade the population declined by about 22 per cent. being the largest decrease of all the taluks in the District. Various causes were assigned for this decrease such as famine, emigration to Nimar District and the plains of Berar. It was said that in spite of the liberal measures of relief during the famines in the way of distributing seed and cattle, many villages with poor soil and defective
water-supply were deserted. Part of the decrease in population is attributed to the constant extension of the Melghat reserves; the Korku who dislikes being bound down to a settled -habitation has gone elsewhere. The Melghat is still, however, an aboriginal stronghold. Of the total population in 1901, 76 per cent. were aboriginals, 60 per cent. being Korkus. There are 338 villages in the C-III tract, 240 of which are inhabited and cultivated, 56 uninhabited but cultivated and 42 both uninhabited and uncultivated. The aboriginals are still in possession of more than half the land at piesent occupied, and the impression that the Korkus and other aboriginals have gone to the wall before the tide of immigration from beyond the Tapti and from Berar is not entirely justified. It is true that in the centre of the Amner pargana the aboriginal has been to a great extent ousted by the moneylender and the liquor seller, who are immigrants from Burhanpur, and it is generally assumed-perhaps without sufficient authority-that the land at the foot of the hills bordering the Berar plains which is almost entirely in possession of Berar cultivators, has also been filched from them. The taluk contains no town or village with more than 1,000 persons. The sanitarium of Chikalda, the headquarters of the taluk, boasts of 969 persons. The census, however, was taken early in the hot weather and this figure includes a considerable official population of clerks and attendants as well as Europeans temporarily resident there. The only other villages having over 500 inhabitants are Kalamkhar, Kasamkot Kalan and Bairagarh. The largest village is Dharni with 731 inhabitants. The average population of a Melghat village is 111. Weekly bazars are held at Dharni, Popatkhera, Katkumb, Kalamkhar, Raipur, Duni, Bairagarh, Titamba
In the valleys of the Tapti, Satpura and Gangra,
especially in the neighbourhood of
Dharni or Bairagarh, rich stretches of black soil are to be found, and a visitor to either of these places who sees spread out before him an unbroken expanse of wheat and gram, is liable to get a very misleading impression of the tract as a whole. The remainder of the tract is of a very hilly and rugged description, though here and there
pockets of black soil are met with in the valleys. The soils have never been thoroughly classified but in 1897 Colonel Garret's party classified a few typical fields in each village and worked out the average value of the soil for each village. The soil as a whole is of the poorest description. Of the 338 villages 3 were valued at 12 annas per acre, 11 villages at 11 annas, 117 at values varying from 6 annas to 9 annas, and the remaining 193 fell below 6 annas. In 1860-61 Mr. J. Mulheran in his statistical report on Gangra stated that 'Rice and gram are the principal productions of Gangra and are 'grown expressly for export. The former is much prized by the people of Berar and Burhanpur, particularly the finest 'kind which resembles that grown in the Pilibhit District. Gram is exported principally to Burhanpur though large quantities are brought into Berar through all the passes by the people from Jalgaon, Hiwarkhed, Anjangaon, Ellichpur and other places south of the range. Juari grows very luxuriantly near Kalamkhar and other places in the Sipna and Garga valleys also upon some of the lower plateaus. Bardi,rala,margi, kodon kutki and one or two other hill grains are grown upon more elevated slopes and plateaus and are used chiefly if not entirely by the Gonds. Potatoes are not cultivated by the Korkus of Gangra although that vegetable would pay them better than any other. That sold at Chikalda and Ellichpur is grown by the Gaolis located at Mota, Chikalda, Shapur and Bori and by the Hindu inhabitants of the fort of Gawilgarh.' At this time the area under cultivation obtained by outlining and subsequent computation was 97,280 acres. In 1864 Captain Pearson refers to the rich soil and good cultivation of the plains near the Tapti and the Gangra, and the Gazetteer of 1870 states that thirteen different kinds of grain were produced in the Melghat of which the most valuable Were the finest wheat and rice, grown in large quantities. In 1906-07 the returns shewed that out of a total of 1,663,376 acres occupied for cultivation 142,334 acres were under crop. Of this cotton occupied 42,392 acres or 25 per cent., juari 23,749 acres or 14 per cent., gram 14,193 acres or 8 per cent., and wheat 8,254 acres or 4 per cent. The area under rice was only 3,256 acres and the total irrigated area was 50 acres. These figures do not include those for inam, leased and jagir villages, and it is to be noted that they are not the results of accurate measurement but are derived from the statistical calculation of 16 acres per plough.
The tract has a curious and interesting revenue history, for which the Chapter on Land Revenue
may be consulted. Cultivation is permitted by the Tahsildar on a yearly tenure subject to certain conditions and land revenue is assessed on the yoke of oxen, the rates differing in different villages. For statistical purposes only, the area cultivated by one plough is taken to be 16 acres and to obtain the total acreage under cultivation, the number of ploughs should be multiplied by 16. The yoke rate system is a cheap and simple method of colonizing a backward tract but it is no longer suitable for a considerable portion of the Melghat and the introduction of a regular and scientific assessment is urgently required. Proposals for settlement have been made at various times but have always proved abortive. A special enquiry was made in 1907 and orders regarding the settlement of the most advanced portion of the tract have recently been issued. In 1907-08 the land-revenue demand including cesses was Rs. 57,227.
It goes without saying that the complicated systems of land records, vital statistics and the like in force in the plains do not exist in the Melghat. There are no Circle Inspectors but eleven patwaris are in existence, each with a circle of villages, and they carry on such land record work as is necessary. Local Government likewise has not yet been found possible in such a backward tract, and it is accordingly excluded from the operation of the Rural Boards Law. The Melghat Fund is formed of various cesses and of a contribution from provincial funds and its primary object is the upkeep of Chikalda but certain expenditure in the C III tract such as the upkeep of village chauris, cattle pounds, and a few roads is also debited to it. The taluk forms part of the Ellichpur police circle under an Inspector and contains 2 station-houses each under a Sub-Inspector at Chikalda and Dharni. There are also two road posts at Bairagarh and Ghatang. It is a separate forest division, the Divisional Officer having 7 range officers under his orders. A great change has taken place since 1870 when Sir A. Lyall
wrote that none of the passes from the Melghat were practicable for wheeled traffic and that there were no made roads in the Melghat. The opening out of the Melghat was begun in 1874 and has continued ever since with the result that especially in the reserves a most excellent system of communication has been established. The P. W. D. maintains roads from Ghatang to Chikalda, the Gugumal forest road (Akot to Selu) and the Sambadoh to Dharni road. These are second-class roads surfaced with muram partially bridged and drained. There will also ultimately be first-class communications between Burhanpur and Ghatang via Dhertalai and Harisal.
There are 8 different roads maintained by the Forest Department and 5 by the Melghat Fund. Perhaps the most important of these is the road running from Bairagarh to Jhiri, 56 miles in length, which was constructed in the famine. Its cost of upkeep is only about Rs. 560 per annum, but as it is the principal line of export for the western portion of the Melghat, its claims for improvement deserve consideration. With a few exceptions every village in the Melghat is in cart communication with some main road; the tracts are rough and stony but they serve their purpose sufficiently well. There is no railway in the tahsil but the proposed Khandwa-Akola line will pass through the south-western corner of it.
Mojhri.-(Taluk Melghat) or as the Berar Gazetteer of 1870 has it, Manjira, is a small village reached from Chikalda by a precipitous track through the fort. It has two small artificial caves, cut in the natural rock. One of these is completely choked with rubbish so that it is very difficult to discover, but the other which is about 8 feet high and 16 feet square contains in its inner part a shrine of Mahadeo. This is divided from the outer portion by a small mud wall. Beside is a spring of water dry during the greater part of the year and a cut basin. The whole is most rudely cut in the rock without any trace of carving, and is probably the work of bygone hermit ascetics, though all traditions of its origin have long since been lost.
Mojhri.-Taluk Chandur, houses 684, population 2906, has a combined Marath school and post office, and a weekly bazar held on Saturdays. The patel, Thakur Chandrabhan Raoji Deshmukh, has an orange garden and is the owner of a cotton gin.
Morsi Taluk.-A taluk of the Amraoti District lying between 21°12' and 21°34'and
77° 48' and 78° 29' E. with an area of
622 square miles. It contains 332 villages and towns, one of these the little village of Deothana
being alienated; proceedings for its resumption are at present before the courts. The lands of the village of Ambhori
are entirely absorbed in State forests. The taluk is a prolongation of the rich
alluvial plain which occupies the valley of Berar and its capabilities for the
production of cotton and cereals are considerable, although a slight falling-off
is perceptible from an agricultural point of view both in the formation of
surface and the nature of the soils. The former is more undulating than that presented by the Ellichpur plain, and the latter are more shallow and more varied in quality than the soils of Ellichpur. The taluk lies in the fertile valley of the Wardha river which bounds it on the east and south-east, but a narrow strip along its north-western border occupies the lower slopes of the Satpura hills. The Amraoti and Ellichpur taluks bound it on the south and west, respectively. On the north lies the Betul district; to the east and south the Chhindwara, Nagpur and Wardha districts. The Wardha river has been taken as the boundary between the Central Provinces and Berar. It is to this fact that the taluk owes its peculiar shape, the river approaching so near to the hills in the vicinity of Morsi as almost to cut it into two portions. Some parts of the country are fairly well wooded, and the only considerable forest reserves of the Amraoti Division (if we except Chirodi), are in the eastern half of this taluk. The western part is bare and very dreary, and in respect of scenery the taluk compares unfavourably with Ellichpur. The climate is good, although of course exceedingly hot in the hot weather. In the eastern portion of the taluk water is near the surface and can be raised without much difficulty for purposes of irrigation. Of the river system which drains the taluk the Wardha is the main channel, and it supplies water to villagers along the border for a distance of upwards of 50 miles. Among rivers of less importance are the Charged and the Mandu in the western portion of the taluk and the Chundamani, Kumbhi and Bel in the east. These rivers though of no great length contain
considerable supplies of water for a large part of the year. Streams in the neighbourhood of the hills hardly worthy of the name of rivers are much used for irrigation, the rapid fall of the beds of these streams affording facilities for drawing off the water on erection of temporary dams. In no other part of Berar is the water from streams utilized as it is in Morsi
and the supply here is in some cases perennial, admitting
of the cultivation of sugarcane and turmeric without the assistance of well
water. It is probable that there is room for a very large extension of wet
cultivation in this taluk. The possibility of artesian wells has also been
The total population of the taluk in 1901 was 143,734
persons or about 18 per cent of that
of the District. In 1891 the population was 152,374 and in 1881, 129,688. The increase between 1881 and 1891 was 17½ percent as
against the District figure of 9 and the decrease between 1891 and 1901 was about 6 per cent as against nearly 5 for the District as a whole. As usual the decrease is attributed to the series of bad years and the famines during the decade. The density of population is 231 souls to a square mile. Excluding towns the density of rural population is 186 per square mile. As in other taluks throughout Berar the population in general is purely agricultural. The taluk contains the 4 towns of Morsi, Warud, Sendurjana and Ner Pinglai, and 328 villages, of which 100 are uninhabited [See note, p. 863] according to village lists. Besides the above towns the following 9 villages contained more than 2000 persons in 1901:-Ambada, Jarud, Pusla, Benoda, Belura, Rajura, Rithpur, Loni and Hiwarkhed.
There were also 19 villages whose population exceeded 1000 persons.
Cotton, juari, wheat and tur are the principal crops grown.
At the original settlement juari occupied
42 per cent., cotton about 36 per cent., and wheat about 10 per cent. ' That cotton,' it was said, 'should still bear a proportion of more than one-third to all the other crops notwithstanding the low prices that have ruled during the last few years would be surprising, were it not that these prices are still remunerative and the speculative spirit roused during the cotton mania has not yet quite died out even amongst the cultivators.' At the revision settlement (1894-98) the total occupied and assessed area was 311,229 acres. Of this 127,460 acres or 40.2 per cent. were occupied by juari and 117,208 acres or 37 per cent by cotton, the cultivation of these crops having practically remained stable since the original settlement. Wheat occupied 20,034 acres or 6.3 per cent. showing a decline of about 4 per cent. over that of the original settlement. The area under tur was 15,764 acres or 5 per cent. of the total occupied assessed area. Haldi (Cucumalonga) or turmeric thrives here particularly well in irrigated land. The area occupied by irrigated crops was 9,818 acres or more than 5 per cent. The irrigation by channels from streams or patasthalbagait is of some importance in Morsi though almost unknown in the remainder of the District. The construction of temporary dams across the streams at the close of the monsoon rains is easily and cheaply effected, and in some cases a perennial supply of water can be turned on to the garden lands and valuable crops can be grown at a minimum of labour and cost. In 1906-07, of the 334,115 acres of village area 320,169 acres or about 96 per cent. were occupied for cultivation. Of this the total cropped area was 309,560 acres including the double-cropped area (only 187 acres). The area under juari was 88,401 acres or 28½per cent. of the cropped area, and under wheat 7,920 acres or 2½ per cent., while that under cotton was 171,751 acres or more than 55 per cent., having gained by 18 per cent, since revision settlement. The area under tur is also on the increase, being 22,929 acres or more than 7 per cent. of the cropped area. The irrigated area has much declined being only 1,801 acres.
At the original settlement the 331 khalsa villages were divided into four groups, and assessed with maximum dry crop standard acreage rates varying from R. 1-8-0 to Rs. 2-4-0. The average rate per acre cultivated however varied from 8 annas 11 pies to R. 1-8-5. The grouping of the villages and the settlements were based entirely on the proximity to market towns; and the rates applied to these groups were introduced from the Ellichpur taluk, Morsi
being similarly situated as regards distance from the line of rail. At the
revision settlement (1894-98) the taluk was divided into two groups, making a distinction between the eastern and western portions and taking the river Mandu
as the dividing line. The first group consisted of 174 villages and was rated at
Rs. 2-12-0, and the second 157 villages at Rs. 2-8 per acre, the average rate
however falling at R. 1-13-8 for the first group and R. 1-8-10 for the second
group. The demand at the time of revision settlement on the Government occupied
area of 311,418 acres according to the former survey was Rs. 4,25,596 giving an
incidence of R. 1-5-9 per acre, while at the revision settlement the assessment on the occupied area of 311,229 acres according to revision survey was increased to Rs. 5,31,959, giving an incidence of R. 1-11-4 per acre. The increase thus amounted to Rs. 1,06,363 or 25 per cent. on the existing demand. In 1907-08 the demand on account of land revenue and cesses was Rs. 5,58,339, while the actual collections according to treasury figures amounted to Rs. 5,47,071.
For purposes of land records the taluk has been divided into three Circal Inspectors' circles
with headquarters at Morsi, Warud and
Sirkhed. It constitutes a single police circle under an Inspector and contains 4 Station-houses, each under a Sub-Inspector at Morsi, Sirkhed, Warud and Benoda. The Morsi-Warud forest range lies wholly and the Morsi-Bairam range partly in this taluk which includes the Shekdari, Mehdari and Lakhada State forests and the large Pusla grazing reserve. In the matter of communications the taluk is extremely well served, the Amraoti-Wardha-river road running along its whole length.
Morsi Town.-The headquarters of the taluk of that name contains 1714 houses with 8313 inhabitants and is situated 34 miles north-east of Amraoti with which place it is at present connected by a first-class metalled road and is soon to be joined by a railway. The same road continues to Warud whence a branch of it is taken over the Central Provinces border to Multai and one branch goes on to the river Wardha at the extreme east of the taluk. To Ellichpur there is a country road, parts of which were metalles during the last famine. The public buildings include besides the tahsili (in which the police station and sub-registry are also
located), a civil court for the Sub-Judge and munsiff, a post and telegraph office, and a veterinary dispensary. On the site of the old garhi are a Hindustani school and a charitable dispensary. The town also possesses a Marathi school, and a girls' school, an inspection and dak bungalow, a sarai and a public library. The Lady Dufferin fund maintains a trained midwife here. A river runs by the town and the place is damp and malarious; it is however commercially important and has a cotton market established in 1900 with an income of about Rs. 1,400. Three cotton gins and two presses are at work here, and tadhaos, blankets, and coarse dhotis are also made by hand looms. The weekly bazar is held on Tuesdays. Malis, Kunbis and Musalmans are the most numerous classes among the population; and there are two patels and one patwari.
Mota.-A village in the Killa pargana of the Melghat situated just where the Dhamangaon-Mota road to Chikalda reaches the tops of the hills. " Mackenzie's Ride" from Chikalda ends here. The present patel (1908) is a retired soldier, a great shikari, and a character whose acquaintance is well worth cultivating. The village has 65 houses with 252 inhabitants; there are several families of Gaolis who own large herds of cattle.