Page:Shivaji and His Times.djvu/22

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


Four centuries ago the name Maha-rashtra was confined to the western edge of the Deccan plateau, i.e., to a tract bounded on the north by the Tapti, on the south by the upper courses of the Krishna (probably the Warna), and on the east by the Sina.*[1] The cradle-land of Maharashtra was, therefore, formed by the Nasik, Puna and Satara districts, parts of Ahmadnagar and Sholapur, and probably the western corner of Aurangabad,—a rough total of 28,000 square miles. The Maratha race was also settled in Konkan or the narrow land between the Western Ghats and the Indian Ocean. Here the districts of Thana, Kolaba and Ratnagiri and the State of Savantvadi,—with a total area of over 10,000 square miles,—are now predominantly Marathi-speaking; but in the 16th century a considerable portion of the population, probably one-half, belonged to other races and spoke other tongues.

Four centuries ago the population of Maharashtra was very thin and forests covered much of the land. The western edge of the Deccan plateau is subject to a low and uncertain rainfall, cultivation is poor

  1. * " The word Dekkan expresses the country watered by the upper Godavari and that lying between that river and the Krishna. The name Maharashtra also seems at one time to have been restricted to this tract. For that country is, in the Puranas and other works, distinguished on the one hand from Northern Konkan and from the regions on either side of the Narmada and the Tapti, as well as from Vidarbha" or Berar. {Bom. Gaz. i. pt. ii. p. 134, 587; xxiv. 81.)