Akalkot lies to the south-east of Sholapur. Besides Akalkot proper, the State has six villages in the Malsiras sub-division of Sholapur and the village of Kurla in the Khatav sub-division of Satara. It has 106 villages and an estimated area of 498 square miles, a population in 1881 of 58,040 or 116 to the square mile, and in 1882 a gross revenue of £23,500 (Its. 2,35,000). Of 498 square miles, the total area of the State, 444 lie in Akalkot proper and fifty-four in the seven detached villages.
Excluding the detached seven villages in Malsiras and Khatav, Akalkot is bounded on the north by the Nizam's territory, on the east by the Patvardhan's and Nizam's territory, on the south by the Indi sub-division of Bijapur and the Nizam's territory, and on the west by the Sholapur sub-division.
Besides the Bhima which separates Akalkot from Indi and the
Sina which for a few miles separates it from Sholapur in the northwest, the only river which runs through the State is the Bori, a feeder of the Bhima. The Bori enters the State in the north, and about ten miles lower is joined by the Harni. After a southerly course of about thirty miles it flows into the Bhima two miles west of Akalkot.
The water-supply is abundant, especially from wells which are
numerous and eighteen to twenty feet deep. Except in the town of Akalkot where many wells are slightly brackish, the well water is excellent. Many large streams continue to run throughout the year. Except Akalkot which has a good sized reservoir, ponds are few and small.
Akalkot lies entirely within the limits of the Deccan trap. A
line of high ground forming a water-shed crosses the State obliquely from north-west to south-east, and divides it into two nearly equal parts of different character. South-west of the water-shed is a waving plain of mixed soil, watered by the Sina and Bhima which together bound this corner of the territory, and by a large stream which running nearly south falls into the Bhima near the village of Hili. On the river bank the soil is chiefly black, in the rest the soil is mixed, but black predominates. Below the black soil is crumbled trap or murum and below the murum at about forty feet is the trap. North-east of the water-shed the country is watered by the Bori and the Harni flanked by low ranges of flat-topped hills. Though in parts so strong as to prevent cultivation, the hills have generally a surface of shallow black soil, overlying layers of
red murum with basalt boulders. Some of the high ground is covered with loose black stones which by keeping the moisture in the soil is said to aid tillage instead of checking it. Except good lime nodules or kankar, Akalkot is poor in mineral products. Even good clay fit to make baked bricks and tiles is not found.
The hot season from mid-March to mid-June is probably the
healthiest time of the year. The heat is seldom oppressive; a strong breeze from the west blows throughout a great part of the day, and the nights are generally cool and pleasant. Thunderstorms are not uncommon in April and May and cool the air for two or three days. To the middle of June the temperature ranges from 73° to 104°. The rainy season lasts from the middle of June to the middle of October, with a climate for the most part pleasant and cool, but becoming oppressive towards the middle of September. The close of the monsoon is the most unhealthy time of the year, when fever and ague, diarrhoea, and dysentery prevail. The cold season is very pleasant, the cold never being excessive. The sky is frequently overcast towards the middle of December, and a few showers fall, of the greatest value to jvari the staple cold weather crop. The prevailing winds from March to November are from the west and south-west, and from November to the end of February from the east, north-east, and north. Dysentery, diarrhoea, and fevers both remittent and intermittent, are the commonest diseases. Much guineaworm is caused by the lower classes wading to their knees in the wells when filling their water jars. At Akalkot this disease, which was terribly common, has been checked by building a wall round a chief well.
The rainfall is scanty, uncertain, and variable. In 1855 it was
32½ inches and between 1866 and 1868 the average fell to twenty-three inches; since then the average has risen to between thirty and thirty-five inches.
Akalkot has little forest land and few plantations. The only
timber trees are babhuls Acacia arabica and nims A zadirachta indica, which are barely enough to meet local demand. Other timber is imported, chiefly from Sholapur. Colonel Baumgartner planted a few teak and jack trees with success. In 1882, in forty-four villages about 20,000 acres have been set apart as forest reserves. The chief's garden at Akalkot has large groves of cocoa and areca palms and mango and other fruit trees.
As the grazing lands or kurans are the private property of the
chief, there is little hay, and other fodder, especially kadbi or millet stalks,
is dear. This checks the breeding of cattle and sheep which are inferior both in size and quality. Wild animals, especially of the larger kinds, are almost unknown. There are no tigers and panthers; jackals and foxes are common, and wolves are occasionally found. In the chief's grazing lands antelopes are preserved, but are not numerous.
According to the 1881 census, Akalkot had a population of 58,040,
of whom 50,448 (25,547 males and 24,901 females) or 86.92 per cent
were Hindus, 7590 (3921 males and 3669 females) or 13.08 per cent
Musalmans, and two Christians. Among Hindus there are about 3000 Brahmans, 2000 Vanis, 20,000 Lingayats, 8000 Marathas, 3000 Kolis, 5000 Dhangars, 2000 Panchals, and 7000 Mhars, Mangs, and Chambhars. The Musalmans are mostly Sunnis. Of craftsmen there are about 9000 weavers and spinners. The weavers are chiefly Koshtis, Lingayats, Panchams, and Salis, and the spinners are Lingayats, Vanis, Marathas, Kolis, Mhars, and Musalmans. Of other craftsmen carpenters, smiths, and shoemakers are only of local consequence.
Land is more or less watered, chiefly from wells and some- times by budkis or lifts near river banks. It is seldom watered by fair-weather dams and channels. Except when planted with sugarcane which yields only one crop, watered lands yield two crops, sali rice as a kharifor early crop and.jvari or other grain as a rabi or late crop.
Of the early or kharif crops the chief are bajri spiked millet
Penicillaria spicata, tur Cajanua indicus, ambadi hemp Hibiscus eannabinus, kapus cotton Gossypium herbaceum, and erandi castor' seed Ricinus communis. Of the late or rabi crops the staple is jvari Indian millet Sorghum vulgare. In the north the kharif and in the south and west and on the banks of the Bori the rabi crops yield the heaviest outturn.
Moneylending is carried on in the same way as in Sholapur. The chief moneylenders are Gujarat Vanis and some Marwar Vanis and local Brahmans. For a husbandman the rate of interest is heavy, as much as four per cent a month on personal security and two per cent on mortgages. There is no mint in the State, and the Imperial rupee is the current coin.
The Great Indian Peninsula Railway runs north-west and south-east for eighteen miles. It has one station at Karabgaon, about seven miles south west of Akalkot. The station is joined to Akalkot by a metalled road. In an ordinary year Karabgaon station has little traffic as it mostly goes to Sholapur by road. During the scarcity of 1871 and the famine of 1876 grain largely came to Karabgaon by rail. Besides the metalled road to Karabgaon station a made road runs north-west to Sholapur from Akalkot. The chief exports are jvari and cotton piecegoods. The chief imports are from Sholapur and the Nizam's territory wheat and pulse; from Sholapur, European cotton twist, salt, cocoanut oil, iron and copper ware, cotton piecegoods and silk, bangles, betelnuts, dates, and
black pepper; from the Nizam's territory, indigo; from Bijapur clarified butter ard native twist; and from Kalyan tanned hides. The former transit trade which the Vanjaris carried through Akalkot from Sholapur to Kulbarga, Raichur, Kalyan, and other towns in the Nizam's territory has now passed by the railway.
Of crafts the chief is the weaving of country cloth, mostly women's
robes, bodicecloths, shouldercloths, waistcloths, turbans, and coarse cloth or khadi. Of about 9000 persons connected with the weaving
industry, about 2000 are weavers and the rest are spinners. There are about 1200 looms, which in a good year yield an outturn worth about £50,000 (Rs. 5 lakhs).
The State was surveyed between 1866 and 1871. According to
this survey, excluding alienated and leased villages, the State has an area of 295,571 acres, of which about 93,800 acres of the worst land were lying waste in 1882-83. The average acre rate on arable land is about 1s. 6d. (12 as.). Since the introduction of the survey, a considerable area of land has been yearly thrown up, chiefly because under the chief's management husbandmen were allowed to take bagayat or garden land only on the condition of taking a certain amount of jirayat or dry-crop land, while under the survey husbandmen are free to take either. Of late the demand of land for tillage has increased.
Justice is now administered in accordance with the principles of
British law. The State has one nyayadhish's, one mamlatdar's, and two mahalkaris' courts. The nyayadhish has the powers of a district magistrate and decides civil suits of any value. The mamlatdar has the powers of a second class magistrate and the mahalkaris of a third class magistrate. Besides acting as magistrates, the mamlatdara and mahalkaris decide civil suits of not more than £50 (Rs. 500). The Political Agent has the powers of a Judge and Sessions Judge and his assistant in immediate charge of the State, of an Assistant Judge and Sessions Judge. The Governor in Council is the highest appellate court. Besides the shibandi police of forty-one men who are dressed and armed like the sepoys of a native infantry regiment, the State has the regular police of seventy-one men paid in cash, and a body of 268 village police paid partly in cash and partly by rent-free lands.
Akalkot is the only town in the State with a population of about
8500. The town lies two miles west of the Bori river in a hollow commanded by a spur of higher ground surrounding the vale. It was once fortified by a wall and a ditch. The wall is much ruined and the ditch is partly filled. It has no large building. Near the town is a fine and well shaded garden belonging to the chief, which has groves of mango, cocoa-palm, betel-palm, and other fruit trees. Besides Akalkot the chief villages are Chapalgaon, Jeur, Karajgi, Mangrul, Nagansur, Tolnur, and Vagdari.
The separate history of Akalkot does not begin until the early
part of the eighteenth century. During the sixteenth century it was part of the debateable Sholapur district, which so often proved a cause of war between Bijapur and Ahmadnagar. In the beginning
of the seventeenth century it was held by Ahmadnagar as at that time Malik Ambar's settlement was introduced into its villages. In 1707 after the death of the Emperor Aurangzeb, Shahu Shivaji's grandson, who had been in confinement since his father Sambhaji's death in 1689, was set free by Aurangzeb's successor Bahadur Shah. On his return to the Deccan Shahu encamped at Parad, a small village in the Shivri sub-division of Aurangabad. Here he was attacked by Sayaji, the headman of the village, who appears to have been a partisan of Tarabai the widow of Rajaram who was struggling with Shahu for the Maratha headship. In the fight Sayaji was defeated and killed. His widow taking her three little boys, threw herself at Shahu's feet and implored his forgiveness and protection. The kindhearted Shahu, moved with pity, offered to take care of Ranoji the eldest of the children. The mother gladly agreed, and received from Shahu the villages of Parad, Shivri, and Thana in mokasainam. Ranoji, who was a good-looking lad of about ten, soon won the favour of Shahu. On the way to Satara, the force was attacked by a band of highwaymen. The nominal command of the detachment employed to disperse this band was given to the boy Ranoji. They promptly dispersed the banditti and in reward for his first success Shahu changed the child's name to Fattehsing. In 1712 Shahu took Fattehsing into his family, and gave him the family surname of Bhonsle and the Akalkot state in hereditary jagir. Among other campaigns Fattehsing went on an expedition to Kolhapur in 1718, to Bandelkhand in 1730, to Bhaganagar in the Karnatak, and to Trichinapoli in the train of the Pratinidhi and Raghoji Bhonsle in 1818. In 1749 on the death of his patron Shahu, Fattehsing retired to Akalkot, where he died in 1760. He had two wives Ahalyabai and Gujabai, who both became satis on his death. Fattehsing was succeeded by his nephew Shahaji, son of his brother Babaji Lokhande, patil of Parad, whom five years before his death with the Peshwa's sanction he had adopted. In 1760 on his death Shahaji was succeeded by his son Fattehsing also called Abasaheb. A dispute between Fattehsing and his brother Tuljaji was. settled by the cession to Tuljaji of the village of Kurla in the Khatav subdivision in Satara [Kurla has a yearly revenue of about £423 (Rs. 4230) and is still (1884) held by Tuljaji's grandsons.] On the 3rd of July 1820 the Honourable East India Company entered into an agreement with Fattehsing restoring to him the estates which with the rest of the Satara territories had come into the possession of the British Government. In 1822 Fattehsing died and was succeeded by his son Maloji. In 1828 Maloji died and was succeeded by his son Shahaji, who was eight years old. During the minority of Shahaji, the Raja of Satara assumed the management of the State. In 1830, certain changes introduced by the Raja in 1829 led to a rising headed by Shankar-rav sardeshmukh of Borgaon. To quell this rising a British force was sent from. Sholapur to Akalkot. It met with severe resistance, and the rebels did not yield till the Resident at Satara offered an amnesty. Inquiry showed that the people had received much
provocation from the Raja of Satara and a British officer Captain Jameson was appointed regent of the State during Shahaji's minority. In 1849, on the annexation of Satara, the chief of Akalkot became a feudatory of the British Government. In 1857 Shahaji died and was succeeded by his son Maloji. In 1866 Maloji was deposed for misrule and died in 1870. Maloji left an infant son Shahaji, the present chief who was born in 1867. The chief of Akalkot, sur-named Bhonsle, is a Maratha by caste and ranks as a first class sardar of the Deccan. He is entitled to no salute. He does not pay tribute, but in lieu of the contingent of horse stipulated in the agreement of 1820 pays a commuted yearly allowance to the British Government of £1459 4s. (Rs. 14,592). Since 1866 the State has been under British management. At present (1883) it is in charge of the assistant collector of Sholapur under the Collector of Sholapur as Political Agent