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SMALL ISOLATED DISTRICTS. 5

Nature into small compartments in which the natives lived isolated self-contained lives, the world forgetting and by the world forgot.

This was true in a special degree of the belt lying immediately east of the Ghats. The empires of the central and more level portion of the table-land, both in Hindu times and Muslim, had sent forth their conquering hosts westwards, but the flood of invasion had been broken at the foot of the hills or their numerous spurs, or, where a thin stream of it had poured through the passes, it had retired after a short and unprofitable stay. In their rugged and inhospitable nooks the natives had found safety and peace, while the richer plains had been the scenes of revolution and rapine.

This natural isolation of the western belt was no doubt occasionally broken by the pilgrim, the trader, and the soldier of fortune. Across this rugged tract lay all the routes from the ocean-ports of our western coast to the rich capitals and marts of Central Deccan. Through it alone could the stream of recruits from Persia, Arabia, Turkey, Abyssinia and even Central Asia reach the welcoming Muslim Courts of Kulbarga, Bidar, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golkonda. Through Maharashtra alone could the cloth, metal- ware and spices of the upper Godavari and Krishna valleys reach their ports of embarkation for Europe.

Then, again, the sterile soil discouraged its sons from the thankless task of tilling it. Strong muscles