1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Khandesh, East and West

KHANDESH, EAST and WEST, two districts of British India, in the central division of Bombay. They were formed in 1906 by the division of the old single district of Khandesh. Their areas are respectively 4544 sq. m. and 5497 sq. m., and the population on these areas in 1901 was 957,728 and 469,654. The headquarters of East Khandesh are at Jalgaon, and those of West Khandesh at Dhulia.

The principal natural feature is the Tapti river, which flows through both districts from east to west and divides each into two unequal parts. Of these the larger lie towards the south, and are drained by the rivers Girna, Bori and Panjhra. Northwards beyond the alluvial plain, which contains some of the richest tracts in Khandesh, the land rises towards the Satpura hills. In the centre and east the country is level, save for some low ranges of barren hills, and has in general an arid, unfertile appearance. Towards the north and west, the plain rises into a difficult and rugged country, thickly wooded, and inhabited by wild tribes of Bhils, who chiefly support themselves on the fruits of the forests and by wood-cutting. The drainage of the district centres in the Tapti, which receives thirteen principal tributaries in its course through Khandesh. None of the rivers is navigable, and the Tapti flows in too deep a bed to be useful for irrigation. The district on the whole, however, is fairly well supplied with surface water. Khandesh is not rich in minerals. A large area is under forest; but the jungles have been denuded of most of their valuable timber. Wild beasts are numerous. In 1901 the population of the old single district was 1,427,382, showing an increase of less than 1% in the decade. Of the aboriginal tribes the Bhils are the most important. They number 167,000, and formerly were a wild and lawless robber tribe. Since the introduction of British rule, the efforts made by kindly treatment, and by the offer of suitable employment, to win the Bhils from their disorderly life have been most successful. Many of them are now employed in police duties and as village watchmen. The principal crops are millets, cotton, pulse, wheat and oilseeds. There are many factories for ginning and pressing cotton, and a cotton-mill at Jalgaon. The eastern district is traversed by the Great Indian Peninsula railway, which branches at Bhusawal (an important centre of trade) towards Jubbulpore and Nagpur. Both districts are crossed by the Tapti Valley line from Surat. Khandesh suffered somewhat from famine in 1896–1897, and more severely in 1899–1900.