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Pindari War in 1818 the whole country that is now under the Central India agency was in great confusion and disorder, having suffered heavily from the extortions of the Mahratta armies and from predatory bands. It had been the policy of the great Mahratta chiefs, Holkar and Sindhia, to trample down into complete subjection all the petty Rajput princes, whose lands they seized and from whom they levied heavy contributions of money. Many of these minor chiefs had been expelled from their possessions, had taken refuge in the hills and forest, and retaliated upon the Mahratta usurpers by wasting the lands which they had lost, until the Mahrattas compounded for peace by payment of blackmail. In this state of affairs all parties agreed to accept the interposition of the British government for the restoration of order, and under Lord Hastings the work of pacification was effected. The policy pursued was to declare the permanency of the rights existing at the time of the British interposition, conditionally upon the maintenance of order; to adjust and guarantee the relations of subordinate and tributary chiefs to their superiors so as to prevent all further disputes or encroachments; and to settle the claims of the ousted landholders, who had resorted to pillage or blackmail, by fixing grants of land to be made to them, or settling the money allowances to be paid to them. The general result was to place all the privileges, rights and possessions of these inferior chiefs under the guarantee or protection of the British government, to whom all disputes between the superior and inferior states must be referred, and whose decision is final upon all questions of succession to hereditary rights or rulership. The states have no general ethnological affinity, such as exists in Rajputana. Their territories are in many cases neither compact nor continuous, consisting of a number of villages here and there, with a nucleus of more or less importance round the chief town. Their relations to the government of India and to each other present many variations. Ten of them are under direct treaty with the government of India; others are held under sanads and deeds of fealty and obedience; while a third class, known as the mediatized states, are held under agreements mediated by the British government between them and their superior chiefs.

Population.—The total population of the Central India agency in 1901 was 8,628,781, showing a decrease during the decade of 16.4%. Considerable losses were caused by the famines of 1897–1898 and 1899–1900, which were severely felt, especially in Bhopal and Malwa. The greater part of the population of Central India is of the Hindu religion, but a few Mahommedan groups still exist, either traces of the days when the Mogul emperors extended their sway from the Punjab to the Deccan, or else the descendants of those northern adventurers who hired out their services to the great Mahratta generals. Of the first Bhopal is the only example, while Jaora is the only notable instance of the other. Roughly there are four great sections of the population: the Mahratta section, who belong to the ruling circles; the Rajputs, who are also hereditary noblemen; the trading classes, consisting chiefly of Marwaris and Gujaratis; and lastly, the jungle tribes of Dravidian stock. The Mahrattas are foreigners, and, though rulers of the greater part of Central India, have no true connexion with the soil and are little met with outside cities, the vicinity of courts, and administrative centres. The Rajputs with all their endless ramifications form a large portion of the population. Originally invaders, they have so long held a stake in the soil that they have become almost part of the indigenous population. The Marwaris hold practically all the trade of Central India, with the exception of the Bora class of Mahommedans. They are either Vaishnavite Hindus or else Jains. Their advent into Central India dates, except in the case of one or two families, from the time of the Mahratta invasion only. The Jain portion of this community is very wealthy. The last section, that of the jungle tribes, is mostly of Dravidian or mixed Aryo-Dravidian origin, these tribes being the modern representatives of the former rulers and inhabitants of this country.

The British agent to the governor-general resides at Indore, and there are British cantonments at Mhow, Neemuch and Nowgong. The whole country is fairly provided with railways, largely at the expense of Sindhia.

CENTRAL PROVINCES AND BERAR, a province of British India, which was formed in October 1903 by the amalgamation of the Central Provinces and the Hyderabad Assigned Districts. The total area of the provinces is 113,281 sq. m., and the population on that area in 1901 was 10,847,325. As is shown by its name the province is situated in the centre of the Indian peninsula, comprising a large proportion of the broad belt of hill and plateau country which separates the plains of Hindustan from the Deccan. It is bounded on the N. and N.E. by the Central India states, and along a small strip of the Saugor district by the United Provinces; on the W. by Bhopal, Indore and the Khandesh district of Bombay; on the S. by Hyderabad and the large zamindari estates of the Madras presidency; and on the E. by these latter estates and the tributary states of Bengal. In October 1905 most of Sambalpur and five Oriya-speaking hill-states were transferred from the Central Provinces to Bengal, while the Hindi-speaking states of Chota Nagpur were transferred from Bengal to the Central Provinces. The province, therefore, now consists of the five British divisions of Jubbulpore, Nerbudda, Nagpur, Chhattisgarh and Berar, which are divided into the twenty-two districts of Saugor, Damoh, Jubbulpore, Mandla, Seoni, Narsinghpur, Hoshangabad, Nimar, Betul, Chhindwara, Wardha, Nagpur, Chanda, Bhandara, Balaghat, Raipur, Bilaspur, Amraoti, Akola, Ellichpur, Buldana and Wun; and the fifteen tributary states of Makrai, Bastar, Kanker, Nandgaon, Kairagarh, Chhuikhadan, Kawardha, Sakti, Raigarh, Sarangarh, Chang Bhakar, Korea, Sirguja, Udaipur and Jashpur.

The Central Provinces are divided into two parts by the Satpura range of hills (q.v.), which runs south of the Nerbudda river from east to west; so that, speaking generally, it consists of districts north of the Satpuras, districts on the Satpura Central Provinces. plateau, and districts south of the Satpuras. North of the Satpuras is the rich valley of the Nerbudda, which may be said to begin towards the north of the Jubbulpore district and to extend westward through the district of Narsinghpur as far as the western limit of Hoshangabad, a distance of nearly 300 m. The elevation of the valley above the sea varies from 1400 ft. at Jubbulpore to 1120 at Hoshangabad. In breadth it is about 30 m., extending between the Satpuras and the southern scarp of the Vindhyas. This great plain, 10,613 sq. m. in extent, contains for the most part land of extreme fertility. The continuation of the valley west of Hoshangabad forms the northern portion of the district of Nimar, the farther limit of which touches the Khandesh district of the Bombay presidency. Towards the river, though rich in parts, this tract of country is generally wild and desolate, but nearer the base of the hill range there is a large natural basin of fertile land which is highly cultivated. South of the Satpuras lies the great plain of Chhattisgarh at a mean elevation above the sea of 1000 ft.; it has an area of 23,000 sq. m., and forms the upper basin of the Mahanadi. Farther to the west and again divided off by hills is the great plain of Nagpur, extending over 24,000 sq. m. Its general surface inclines towards the south from 1000 ft. above the sea at Nagpur to 750 ft. at Chanda. To the south the province is shut in by the wide mountainous tract which stretches from the Bay of Bengal through Bastar to the Godavari, and west of that river is continued onward to the rocky ridges and plateaus of Khandesh by a succession of ranges that enclose the plain of Berar along its southern border.

Berar consists mainly of the valley lying between the Satpura range of mountains in the north and the Ajanta range in the south. The Gawilgarh hills, a range belonging to the Satpura mountains, form the northern border. On the east theBerar. frontier is marked by the Wardha river down to its confluence with the Penganga, and on the south by the Penganga for about two-thirds of the frontier’s length. The tract is half surrounded on the east, north and north-west by the Central Provinces, with which it is amalgamated. In addition to the Melghat mountain tract which walls it in on the north, Berar is divided into two sections, the Payanghat or lowland country, bounded on the north by the Gawilgarh hills, and on the south by the outer scarps of the Ajanta range, and the Balaghat or upland country above the Ajanta ridge, sloping down southwards beyond the ghats or passes which lead up to it. The Payanghat is a wide valley running up eastward between this ridge and the Gawilgarh hills, varying in breadth from 40 to 50 m., and broader towards the end than at its mouth. It contains all the best land in Berar; it is full of deep, rich, black alluvial soil, of almost inexhaustible fertility, and it undulates sufficiently to maintain a natural system of drainage, but there is nothing picturesque about this broad strip of champaign country. The upland tract, on the contrary, is diversified with low-lying