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History of Amravati

History of Amravati District
Amravati is a historical district of Maharashtra, located in the Eastern side of Maharashtra, partly on the Satrupa mountain range and the rest part on the plains. Centrally located in India, this is a huge district with its administrative headquarters located in the Amravati town.

Origin of the Name

Amravati’s existence dates back to the ancient times, when the region was known as “Udumbravati” or “Umbravati.” The present day name Amravati flowed from Umbravati, mainly due to the multiple iterations of mispronounced and misinterpretation by generations of multicultural rulers of this region and their subjects.

The name Udumbravati finds its precedence due to the presence of Audumber trees (Cluster Fig Tree), which are found in plenty the region. Another school of thought that is adopted by many historians is that the name Amravati permeated from the prehistoric Ambadevi temple, which is still present in this area. If legends are to be believed, this temple is considered to be build during the rule of Lord Krishna. The statues present in the temple scientifically date back to 1097AD, which marks the beginning of a legendary era of Amravati.

Legends and Myths

During the Pauranik times (Hindu prehistoric era), the western part of India was under the rule of the Rakshasas or demons. In course of time, where the present day Amravati stands, the region saw the establishment of a large kingdom under the reign of King Vidarbha. The capital of the kingdom was set up in Kundinapura in the Amravati district. Sacred and ancient Hindu books like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Pauranas have also mention of few sacred rivers of flowing through the Vidarbha region, like the Payosni (Purna), the Varada (Wardha) and the Vena (Wainganga). As per these ancient scriptures, these rivers were extremely holy and whoever worshiped the Gods on the river’s banks, was blessed with the eternal holiness of a thousand cows. In the present day, all these rivers still through the Amravati district, thus supplementing the holiness of this place.

Ancient History

Amravati, along with the adjoining area of Warhad, remained under the rule of Deogiri Empire during a major portion of the 13th century. This area was very sparsely populated during that era and was mostly frequented by pilgrims to the holy Ambadevi Temple. Due to the difficult terrain of the region, along with mountain ranges and unfathomable dense forest, inhabitation was not encouraging for settlers. The famed Hindu sage Govind Maha Prabhu has also been recorded to have visited Amravati during this time.
Ancient History of Amravati
In the 14th century AD, the province of Amravati encountered a dreadful famine, leading to a massive loss of population. It was so severe that the region remained barren land for two centuries, only with a scanty population trying to survive. During this time, the region was under the Mughal rulers. During the 16th century, the Mughal Empire came under the rule of Emperor Aurangzeb. At this time, Amravati came under Mager Aurangpura (today’s Sabanpura). Deogiris, the original monarch of the area were no match for the invading forces of the Mughal empire. They were defeated, with Emperor Aurangzeb taking accession of the Amravati region and ruling the place with an atrocious iron hand. He also build the Jumma Masjid in the region, starting the onset of the rise of Muslim population, alongside the prevalent Hindus.

Kingdoms and Rulers in Amravati

Amravati has had a change of hand through various rulers, from varying dynasties and cultures. While the Deogiris were from the earliest known history of kings of the region, the Mughals also followed with their rule later on. However, the Mughal dominance ended with the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707. This marked the long period of the Maratha rule as a follow on. King Chhatrapati Shahoo Maharaj, in the year 1722, presented Amravati and Badnera to Shri Ranoji Bhosle. Ranoji Bhosle was another able ruler, who immediately undertook the reconstruction of the Amravati town, ushering the area in to a new phase of prosperity and opulence.

Due to the prosperity and the grateful people renamed the place as “Bhosle ki Amravati.” The business opportunities catapulted the city into rapid prosperity by the end of 18th and Amravati became one of the richest towns of the region. During his able reign, Ranoji Bhosle also annexed the Gavilgad (Fort of Chikhaldara), bringing it under the present Amravati district.

On the other side of India, the British had already started to put up their dominance in the land and had adopted an aggressive expansion mode. They had already started conquering a major portion of the Indian subcontinent. They carefully nurtured the growth of Nizams in India. The Nizams were local rulers who diplomatically entered into treaties with the policies promoted by the British. The Bhosle rulers also entered into a treaty with the Union State of Nizam (Nijam) and thus were able to continue their rule of the land for some more time.

By the end of the 18th century, Amravati formally came to be known as a city. The Gavilgad Fort was annexed by British on 15th of December, in the year 1803. According to the Deogaon treaty, the Warhad region was presented as the token of the friendship to the Nizam, by the British. By 1805, Amravati again came under the attack of a new nemesis.  A group of savage tribes called the Pendhari, joined forces with the sole purpose of ravaging a place and plundering its riches and resources. The deadly attack was mitigated to safety by the rich Sahukars (money lenders) of Amravati by paying a ransom amount to the marauders.

British Rule in Amravati

The British Raj or Empire took administration of the Amravati district as a part of Berar Province, from the mid of the 19th century. The initial half of the century being under the rule of the Nizams, absolute power was wrested to the British Empire in the year 1859. The East India Company took over the administration of this province, dividing it into two districts of the North and the East Berar District.  The East Berar District was formed, with Amravati as its mantle of being the head quarter. Then onwards, from 1859 to 1871, British ruled with able hands.

The administration was bolstered with numerous administrative buildings being erected to govern the region of Amravati. There is still an area called the Camp in Amravati, the name of which hung ever since the British general author Wellesly set up his camp there. The first railway station came up at Amravati in 1859, followed by the commissioner bungalow in 1860. The main post office was established in 1871 and the small cause court was built in 1886.

During the year 1903, Amravati became a part of the British Central Province, finally being accorded as a district in 1905. With the independence of India, Amravati became a part of the Bombay State, before officially becoming a district of Maharashtra in 1960.

Indian Freedom Movement in Amravati

Indian Freedom Movement in AmravatiAmravati has blessed India with many valiant freedom fighters. Sir Moropant Joshi, Shri Dadasaheb Khaparde, Shri Pralhad Pant Jog and Shri Ranganath Pant Mudhodker were some of the important leaders of the region during 1896. Amravati also hosted many events relevant to the struggle for the independence of India. In December 1897, the 13th conference of INC was held in Amravati with attendees like great Indian leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Lokmanya Tilak.

Visionary leader Subhash Chandra Bose inaugurated the Municipal A.V. High School of Amravati. He was part of the 'Savinay Awagya Andolan', which had its head office located in Amravati.  The famous 'Namak Satyagraha Andolan', also gets its share of relation with Amravati. On 26th of April 1930, the water required for the Satyagraha Andolan was procured from 'Dahihanda', a small village just 73.1kms from Amravati town.

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