Amravati (pop. 137,865) is the headquarters of the Amravati district as also the tahsil of the same name. It stands about 340.76 metres (1,118 ft.) above sea-level 20° 56' N and 77° 47' E and is situated at a distance of about 181.85 km. (113 miles) to the south-west of Nagpur, 672.71 km. (418 miles) to the north-east of Bombay and 1,310 km. (814 miles) to the south-west of Calcutta via Nagpur by railway. Though it is not on the main line of the Central railway it is connected with it by a branch line from Badnera on the main line, 9.65 km. (six miles) away as also by a fine tar road.
The town includes portions of the villages of Tarkhed,
Rajapeth, Gambhirpur, Mahajanpur, and Saturna. The civil station of the camp area which till recently formed a separate town with a separate municipality has been merged in the Amravati town and has been brought within the administrative jurisdiction of a single municipality. Before it was merged it formed the
eastern boundary of Amravati town. Cilam Sah Wali dargdh now forms the farthest eastern limits of the town. This part is on a higher elevation than the rest and attains a height of 401.05 metres (1,283 ft.) above sea-level. Amravati is a modern town and is said to have been founded by Raghuji Bhosle. Its fortunes commenced at the close of the 18th Century when the tyranny of the Akola tahsildar drove a number of inhabitants of that place to settle here; but its early years were by no means uniformly prosperous. Both the Nagpur and the Hyderabad rulers were represented here, the former taking 60 per cent and the latter 40 per cent of the revenues. The great wall of the town was built during these days. Its construction was begun in 1804 by the Nizam's government and was completed 17 years later at a cost of over 4 lakhs of rupees. Meadows Taylor's " Confessions of a Thug " vividly describes the daring raid of Citu, the Pendhari leader, on Amravati and it was to save the town from such calamities that the wall was built. The wall which is 3-62 km. (two and a quarter mile) in circumference and from 6.09 to 7.92 metres (20 to 26 ft.) in height, is neither architecturally beautiful nor strategically noteworthy. But it was very strongly built. Now the wall has cracked at various points and collapsed; but still is a subject of much local pride. It has five large gates (Amba. Bhusari, now called Jawahar, Nagpur, Kholapur and Mahajanavis) and four smaller ones, for foot passengers only, called Khirkis (the Khunari, Chatrapuri, Mata and Patel's Khirkis). The Khunari Khirki derives its name from a faction fight during the Muharram of 1816 A.D. (10th of Muharram 1226 Fasli) in which nearly 700 persons were said to have been killed. In addition to the gates and khirkis mentioned already two more passages have been made viz., in Kangarpura and Sabanpura.
The town of Amravatl is divided into two parts, the old city within and the extensive suburbs outside the walls to which now
the camp area has been added. Within the walls lie the
muhallas and quarters called (1) Dhanraj street, (2) Macchisat,
(3) Dahisat. (4) Bhusara street, (5) Bohorisat, (6) Sakarsat, (7)
Sarafa, (8) Bajaja, (9) Baripura, (10) Patwipura, (11) Malipura, (12) Budhvara. (13) Kumbharvada and (14) Bhaji Bazar. ' Out- side the wall lie Namuna. Bud Peth. Amba Peth, Mudholkar Peth, Danda. Joglekar and Mangilal Plots, Ambikanagar, Kalyan Nagar, Moti Nagar, Mudaliar Nagar, Rukmini Nagar, Fraser-pura. Hamalpura, Belpura, Rajapeth, Khaparde garden, Masanganj. Ratanganj and many more.
The streets inside the wall are mostly narrow and the inhabitations suffer from congestion. In contrast to this the new settlements outside the walls have broad and well maintained streets and are far better ventilated. Namuna, Buti Peth, Ambikanagar, Mudholkar Peth, Mudaliar Nagar are some of the best localities of the town. The new bungalows, especially those which have come up along the camp road are extremely well built. Most of the part covered by the Jawahar road, Badnera road within the municipal limits, Saroj Cauk to Amba nala bridge and Jawahar gate to Jaystarhbha have underground drainage system. The houses' in this area are almost all well built upon solid plinths which except in the case of poorer houses are usually of stone. Namuna quarter contains two considerable open spaces, Nicoletts park now known as Nehru maidan and the Jog square. Hamalpura, Masanganj, Ratanganj, Fraserpura and Waddarpura are some of the less well to do localities. Caprasipura, a hamlet, intended originally as its name suggests for habitation by peons and orderlies has retained only its name.
There is tap-water-supply in the town. Water is obtained from Wadali talav, Chatri talav and the Pedhi river. But during summer there is shortage of water-supply. Wadali talav has
been brought under pisciculture.
A bi-weekly bazar on Wednesdays and Sundays is held in Itwari near- Masanganj and is largely attended. It has now been sufficiently extended. For the bhaji bazar, which is along Jawahar road, platforms have been provided for vegetable and fruit vendors.
Trade and Manufactures.
Amravati has long been known as the principal cotton mart
of Berar, there being a large number or ginning and pressing factories. It is fast rising in commercial importance. The cotton is ginned, pressed and despatched in bales in large quantities to Bombay. Ahmedabad and Calcutta. For this purpose a cotton market has been established. It has also a good trade in oranges. There are also oil presses and printing presses and many other small factories besides a large number of hand-looms and power-looms. The Jawahar road starting from Sarafa and going up to Jaystarhbha. Badnera road, the Saroj Cauk covering Rajkamal Cauk and the Amba nala bridge constitute the main business centres. The chief markets are Josi market,
Takhatmal estate, Gandhi market and Sivajl market, the last of
which is in the Jog square. Other markets are located along or
nearby the Tawahar road.
Compulsory primary education has been introduced in the
town. There are primary schools conducted both by the Zilla Parisad as also the town municipality. Amravati has a large number of educational institutions imparting knowledge and training in various walks of life and fields. Besides the primary schools there are eight I.E.M. schools (four each for hoys and girls), as many as 27 high schools (public and private) of which 21 are for boys and 6 for girls, five B.Ed, colleges (3 for males and two for females), four S.T.C. colleges and two D.P.T. colleges. The colleges teaching up to graduate and post-graduate courses, are-
(i) Vidarbha Mahavidyalaya (Arts and Science),
(ii) Raj Mahavidyalaya (Arts and Commerce),
(iii) Bharatiya Mahavidyalaya (Arts and Commerce),
(iv) Sivaji Education Society's college with the faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce, Law and Agriculture, and
(v) Kanya Mahavidyalaya (Arts only).
The Sivaji Education Society also conducts a Gram Sevak and a Pancayati Raj Training Institute. The Government polytechnic imparts education in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering courses. There are also technical and industrial training institutes, a vocational high school and a physical training institute and a number of other institutes. The hall of the technical institute is the largest in Amravati and is used for all types of social and cultural functions.
The Zilla Granthalaya, the integrated library attached to the post-graduate B. Ed. college and the Nagar Vacanalaya are the principal public libraries of the city.
Dispensaries and Hospitals.
Quite a few civil dispensaries are maintained by the municipality. There are two veterinary dispensaries conducted by the Zilla Parisad. Besides these there are the hospitals maintained by the Government, viz., (I) the Irwin hospital located along the camp road, (2) the Dufferin hospital, (3) the Camp hosnitai, (4) the Goplkisan Ganesdas Rathi T. B. Clinic and (5) the Vidarbha Mahavidvalaya hospital. There are over six private maternity homes. The Jagadamba Kustha Nivas Maharogi Seva Mandaj, Tapovan, treats leprosy patients.
Means of Recreation.
The town has no less than ten theatres, four clubs, viz., Vanita
Samaj, Lion's club. Officers' club and Rathe club. There are two parks viz., the Rajendra park maintained by the sivaji Education Society and the Nehru park maintained by the town municipality. On the old race course near the Mal Tekdi, which commands the town and incidentally serves as a butt to the rifle range, there is a proposal to build a stadium to he known as Sivaji stadium.
Amravati has a number of State as well as Central Government
offices, most of them being located in the camp area. Principal
of them are those of the Collector, the Zilla Parisad, the District and Sessions Judge, the District Superintendent of Police, the Divisional Forest Officer, the Superintending Engineer, the District Deputy Registrar of Co-operative Societies, the Divisional Soil Conservation Officer, the Cotton Extension Officer and Maharashtra State Electricity Board. The 45th Battalion of the Maharashtra N. C. C. unit is stationed at Amravati. There is a large jail which was established as early as the year 1886.
The town has a post and telegraph office, telephone exchange and a rest house and a circuit house. Among the municipal buildings the clock tower is noteworthy. The municipality also maintains two sarais one of which is within the walls and the other outside.
Amravati contains a large number of Hindu temples among
which those of Amba and Ekikara are the most important and require particular attention. There are also temples dedicated to Somesvar, Narayan, Datta and Murlidhar, the last of which is of very recent construction. Amravati has also the samadhi of Gadge Maharaj.
The Amba [ A temple originally said to have been dedicated to Indra.] temple with a strongly built compound wall around, is the oldest in the whole of the district,, It is invested with great sanctity and divinity. On the left side of the entrance leading into the courtyard arc a number of corridors and to the right a spacious hall wherein is the office of the managing committee of the temple. Above the gate is the nagarkhana or the drum chamber. On the walls of the corridors various stories as told in the Puranas are illustrated with the help of pictures. Three arch-shaped gabharas house the images of Ambabai, Ganapatl, Maha-dev, Visnu and Parvati. Siva is represented by a Linga symbol instead of an image. The idol of the Goddess is said to be of sand stone. A number of people daily visit the temple and offer prayers to the Goddess. Two silver lamps are always kept burning by the side of the idol. Besides the idol of Amba there are in the same gabhara idols of Laksmi and Narayan. On the western wall of the temple mandap the Navagrahas are carved in relief and below' arc placed two images of Nandi and those of Mahadev and Visnu. The temple appears to be of considerable age, but how much of the present building could be of that age cannot be easily ascertained as pious hands have covered the whole with plaster and ornament. It was from hence, it is said, that Krsna carried off Rukmini, who bad come to the temple with her brother Rukmi to pay her respects before her marriage with Sisupal. With them, to witness the ceremony, came a number of persons called varhadis or varharis. As the varhadis settled here the country got its name Varhar or Varhad which came to be known as Berar in English. Rukmi, after Rukmini's enleve-ment tried to settle the issue with Krsna on the field of battle, but was defeated and only spared at the urgent entreaties of his
sister. He then retired and settled at Bhatkuli a village nearly
23 km. (14 miles) westward, where his name has been perpetuated
by atemple erected in his honour. The name of the town is even said to have derived from the Goddess, though the derivation is almost as doubtful as that just given for the name of the province, and the 'etymology' "the Eternal city" or "the. city of the Immortals " is far more likely. The deity is held in great reverence by the people of the Hindu community and on every occasion of a marriage or a thread ceremony invitation is invariably offered first to this deity. The most important days when visitors come to the temple in great numbers are those of Nava-ratra, when from Asvin Suddha Pratipada to Dasami the festival is celebrated. It is attended by more than two lakhs of people. In the month of Kartika, kakad arti is performed and at the end of the month the chariot is taken in procession. Music accompanied by the beating of drums or what is known as caughada is played thrice a day. The Dasaria festival is also celebrated with great pomp. Kirtans and pravacanas are delivered and sections from puranas are recited on the occasion of each festival.
Ekikara Goddess Temples.
The temple of Ekikara Devi is at a short distance from that of
Ambabai who is regarded as an incarnation of Ambabai. The temple is surrounded by a courtyard wall along the course of which are built some cloisters or owries. It has an elegant, twenty-four pillared mandap with its walls decorated with pictures of various saints painted in relief. In front of the gabhara there is another eight-pillared chamber with chandeliers hanging from its ceiling. The door frame of the gabhara is plated with brass and the niche containing the idol is formed of two superimposed silver arches. A spire of gold adorns the sikhar of the temple. Outside the gabhara to the right is the sumadhi of Svami Janardan who lived some 500 years ago and who is said to have founded the temple. Nearby is a well where he used to perform penance. It is told of Janardan Svami that he used to visit the temple of Ambabai every day to offer his prayers, but once the stream which has to he crossed while going from Ekikara temple to that of Amba's was so much flooded that the Svami could not cross it. Upon this the Goddess Amba finding her devotee in troubles came to his rescue and told him that she herself would come to his place in a different form. An arrow miraculously appeared in the well indicating the presence of the Goddess where the present temple was built. In Asvin a fair lasting for 9 days is held from Asvin Suddha Pratipada to Dasami.
Samadhi of Sant Gadge Maharaj
At a distance of about 2.41 km. (one and a half miles) from the
city of Amravati along the main road is the samadhi of Sant
Gadge Maharaj one of the noted saints of the district. The
samadhi occupies a 1.394 m2. (15 feet square) platform and its
roof is supported by four pillars, one in each corner. A framed
picture of the late saint is kept at the place. It is however
proposed to replace it by a bust. The spot where the samadhi is
situated was said to have been occupied by an orange garden.
The samadhi of his wife lies a little over 7 metres (25 feet) away.
On Margasirsa Vadya Trayodasi a fair is held in memory of
the departed saint.
The Jain temples arc small and call for no particular comment
except that of Balaji, A new Jain Basti has been constructed
near Jawahar road.
Among the Jain places of worship at Amravati, the temple of Balaji built in about 1735 is the most prominent. A story is told that some Marvadi tradesmen while on their pilgrimage to some holy place came across a mahant by name Purandasji to whom they made over one fourth of their capital requesting him to build a temple for Balaji. The present temple was subsequently built. Similar temples are found at Khamganv, Wasim, Deula-ganv Raja. Akola and Poona. Situated in the centre of a spacious courtyard the temple edifice is built of bricks and mortar. It has a four-pillared sabhamandap. The vestibule contains, besides the four handed idol of Balaji the idols of various other deities like Rama. Laksmana and Sita, Radha and Krsna, Vitthal and Rakhumai. Suryanarayana and Ganapati. There is also a sali-gram. A sikhar with a beautiful golden spire adorns the shrine. The temple faces east and to its north and south are small shrines of Maruti and Mahadev. Near the Mahadev shrine besides those of Purandasji are placed the padukds of a number of mahants who dedicated their noble lives in the holy service of the Lord. Within the temple premises, to the east, is the nagar khana or the room of the temple musicians and a small flower garden. To the south are some residential quarters where orphans and needy students are given asylum and free education. There are separate quarters for the mahants and corridors for visitors. Two fairs in honour of Balaji are held annually, one being the Navaratra ceremony and the other beginning from Pausa Suddha Pratipada and lasting till Dvadasi. The attendance ranges from 70 thousand to 80 thousand. The temple is supported from the income of a freehold land measuring nearly 56 hectares (140 acres).
The town has also several mosques and a dargah called Cilam Sab Wali. Of the mosques that of Bade Nal Saheb is supported by an inam land and the Jame Masjid is said to be over 350 years old but none of them arc of any interest. The Usmania mosque near Mal Tekadi is well maintained.
The municipality at Amravati was constituted in 1887. It has an area of 36.34 km2. (14.03 sq. miles) under its jurisdiction and a population of 1.37,875 according to the Census of 1961. Administrative affairs are looked after by the President who is elected by the Councillors. He is aided by the necessary staff in this task.
In 1959-60 the income of the municipality accrued from various
sources including that under extraordinary and debt heads amounted to Rs. 20.38,901.19. Expenditure incurred during the same year came to Rs. 19,23.314.17. The income comprised municipal rates and taxes, Rs. 13,26,399.97; realisation under
special Acts Rs. 13,086.29; revenue derived from municipal
property and powers apart from taxation, Rs. 1,07,578.75; grants
and contributions, Rs. 4,18,394.75; miscellaneous, Rs. 52,914.60
and extraordinary and debt heads Rs. 1,20,526.83. The cxpen-
diture was composed of such items as general administration,
Rs, 1,77,336.21, public safety, Rs. 1,17,254.44; public health and
convenience, Rs. 7,44,473.26; public instruction, Rs. 5.20,376.39;
contributions, Rs. 9,208.75; miscellaneous, Rs. 1,27,268.96 and
extraordinary and debt heads, Rs. 2,27,396.16.
Health and Sanitation.
Adequate measures are taken to prevent outbreak of epidemics.
To treat the affected patients an isolation hospital is maintained by the municipality. It also conducts seven dyurvedic and one undni dispensaries. The town is provided with tap water supply. The drains are stone-lined and the waste water is collected in cesspools and then removed at a safe distance. Public places are provided with urinals and lavatories.
Fire Fighting Survices
The municipality has maintained a well-equipped fire brigade consisting of six fire fighters.
The road length within the municipal limits and constructed
by it measures 133.676 km. (83 miles and a half furlong). Of these metalled roads account for 93.446 km. (58 miles and a half furlong) of which again 2.80 km. (one mile and six furlongs) are cement concrete, 6.437 km. (4 miles) are black topped and 91.192 km. (52 miles and two and half furlongs) are water-bound macadam.
Cremation and Burial grounds.
The cremation grounds and cemeteries are maintained and
used by the communities concerned.