[The section on Geography is contributed by Prof. B. Arunachalam. Department of Geography, University of Bombay, Bombay.]
Situation: THE DISTRICT OF SHOLAPUR LIES ENTIRELY in the Bhima-Sina-Man basins, just before the Bhima river leaves Maharashtra State to enter into Karnataka State. Bounded by 17° 10' north and 18°32' north latitudes and 74°42' east and 76°15' east longitudes, the district is fairly well-defined to its west as well as to its east by the inward-looking scarps of Phaltan Range and the Osmanabad Plateau, respectively. The adjoining districts are Sangli to its south-west, Satara to its west, Pune to its north-west, Ahmadnagar to its north, Bhir and Osmanabad to its east and the Bijapur district in Karnataka State to its south. Though of an irregular shape, the district is roughly squarish 200 km. east-west and 150 km. north-south. The district has a total area of 15,021 square kilometres and a population of 22,53,840 as per 1971 Census which constitute 4.88 per cent and 4.47 per cent of the State figures, respectively.
The district of Sholapur is known after its town headquarters. ' Sholapur' is believed to be derived from two words ' sola' meaning sixteen and ' pur' meaning village. The present city of Sholapur is spread over sixteen villages, viz., Adilpur, Ahmadpur, Chapladev, Fatehpur, Jamdarwadi, Kalajapur, Khadarpur, Khanderavkiwadi, Muhammadpur, Ranapur, Sandalapur, Shaikpur, Sholapur, Sonalgi, Sonapur and Vaidkawadi. Recent research work however shows that the name Sholapur is derived not from the congregation of sixteen villages. It is evident from the inscriptions of Shivayogi Shri Siddeshwar of the time of the Kalachuris of Kalyani that the town was called Sonnalage which came to be pronounced as Sonnalagi. The town was known as Sonnalagi even upto the time of Yadavas. A Sanskrit inscription dated Shake 1238 after the downfall of the Yadavas found at Kamati in Mohol shows that the town was known as Sonalipur. One of the inscriptions found in Sholapur fort shows that the town was called Sonalapur while another on the well in the fort
shows that it was known as Sandalapur. During the Muslim period the town came to be known as Sandalapur, the word sandal meaning sandal-wood. It is therefore most probable that during the course of time the name Solapur was evolved by dropping na from the name Sonalapur. Subsequently the British rulers pronounced Solapur as Sholapur, and hence the present name of the town.
Administrative evolution: The area which now constitutes Sholapur district was originally a part of Ahmadnagar, Pune and Satara districts. Karmala was in Ahmadnagar district, Mohol in Pune district and Pandharpur, Malshiras and Sangola in the former princely state of Satara. Barshi and Sholapur were frequently changed between the revenue districts of Ahmadnagar and Pune. The sub-collectorate of Sholapur was within the jurisdiction of Ahmadnagar district in 1830 and a new district of Sholapur was carved out in 1838 consisting of the sub-divisions of Sholapur, Barshi, Mohol, Karmala and also Indi, Hippargi and Muddebihal which are presently in Karnataka State. The district was, however, abolished in 1864 and again made a sub-collectorate under Ahmadnagar district. In 1869, the subdivisions of Sholapur, Barshi, Mohol, Madha, Karmala, Pandharpur and Sangola were grouped together to form Sholapur district. In 1875, the Malshiras taluka was added to the district by its transfer from Satara district. Till 1941, there were no other changes in the limits of the district. Consequent to the merger of the former princely States of India soon after Independence, two villages of Jamkhandi,
21 villages of Jath, 13 villages and one town of Kurundwad, 13 villages of Miraj Senior, 3 villages of Miraj Junior, 28 villages and one town of Sangli and a part of Akkalkot state were added to this district and 3 new talukas of Mohol, Akkalkot and Mangalwedha were carved out in 1949.
The Sholapur district was split up into two talukas - Sholapur South and Sholapur North in 1949. In 1950, 53 enclave villages were transferred from the former Nizam State of Hyderabad and were included within this district in exchange of 12 enclave villages belonging to this district transferred to Osmanabad and Gulbarga districts, the latter now being included in Karnataka State. At the same time, one village from Indi taluka of Bijapur district was added to Mangalwedha taluka of this district. With the Reorganisation of States in 1956, the Sholapur district was included in the larger bilingual Bombay State, and since May 1960 it forms part of the State of Maharashtra. For administrative purposes, the district is presently divided into 11 talukas. The area, number of inhabited villages, number of deserted villages, number of towns, 1971 population, etc. are shown in table No. 1. [Tables are given at the end of the Chapter.]
Boundaries: The tri-junction between Satara, Pune and Ahmadnagar districts in the north-west of the district lies just north of village Kurbavi in the Malshiras taluka. From here, boundary runs east, keeping the Pune district to its north and the Malshiras taluka of Sholapur district to its south along the river Nira downstream, till its confluence with the main river Bhima, near the village Sangam in the same taluka. From here, the boundary runs north upstream of the Bhima river keeping Indapur taluka of Pune district to its west and the Madha and Karmala talukas to its east for a distance of 80 kilometres till reaching an island in the river just north-west of the village Jinti in Karmala taluka. Thereafter, the boundary turns east and runs roughly in a direction cast-north-east, keeping Ahmadnagar district to its north along the boundaries of Karmala taluka.
In this section, the boundary runs through a rolling country gradually rising in height from the floor level of the Bhima river to a height of over 650 metres and then descending down to the valley of the Sina. After reaching the bed of the Sina river north of the Khadki village, the boundary follows downstream the Sina south-eastwards for a short distance of about 8 km. till reaching the village of Aljapur. Thereafter, the boundary turns cast and runs for a short distance of about 7 km. eastwards and then turns sharply south along the crest of a minor hill range to once again descend down to the bed of the Sina river just south-east of the village Dilmeshwar in Karmala taluka. Thereafter, the boundary runs in general south-eastwards, following the Sina river downstream and keeping Osmanabad district to its east except for some minor deviations till reaching the village of Ridhore about 14 km. east of Kurduwadi on the Kurduwadi-Barshi railway line. Thereafter, the boundary runs north-eastwards in general, keeping Osmanabad district to its north and gradually gaining in elevation till reaching the scarp edge of Osmanabad plateau, following it for some distance south-eastwards and then gaining to the crest of the plateau running over it for a short distance along the Barshi-Latur rail-cum-road to include 4 enclave villages of the former Nizam State inclusive of the market-cum-railway town of Yedshi. The boundary turns back to the scarp edge and in general follows it along its foothills till reaching the village of Goudgaon. Thereafter, it deviates away from the scarp edge and runs in general southwards and eastwards through a featureless country of even slopes and cutting across occasional isolated hill masses till reaching the State boundary near the village of Khairat in Akkalkot taluka. Thereafter, the boundary runs south to form the state limits till reaching past the railway town of Dudhni and crossing the railway before turning west and falling to the bed level of the Bhima river near the village Hilli. Then, the boundary follows the river upstream till reaching the village Telgaon Mandrup in South Sholapur taluka.
The boundary once again deviates from the river and runs through a rolling country, keeping Bijapur and Sangli districts to its south and jumping from the crest of one hill mass to another and reaching the scarp edge of Phaltan range and ascending it for a short distance in the south-western extremes of the Sangola taluka. Thereafter, the boundary runs north, keeping in general to the lower scarp edge of the Phaltan range till reaching Khotale village in Malshiras taluka. Then, the boundary turns north and runs cross-country to descend down to the level of the Nira river.
By and large, the boundaries of the Sholapur district in the west, north and south follow natural features. It is only in the east and north-east that the boundary seems to deviate away from most natural features. This seems to be a result of merger of parts of territories of former princely States and exchange of enclave villages between Sholapur and the adjoining districts.
Relief features: The district lies in the basins of the Nira, Bhima, Sina and Man rivers. Most of the Malshiras taluka in the west drains northwards into the Nira river which falls into the Bhima river in the west of the district. The drainage area of the Bhima which winds south-east through the district includes on the left bank Karmala, Madha, Pandharpur, Mohol and South Sholapur and on the right bank Malshiras, Sangola, Pandharpur and Mangalwedha. The Sina which flows roughly south-east, parallel to the Bhima, drains eastern Karmalo, central Madha, Barshi, eastern Mohol and Sholapur North and South.
Near about Sholapur, the country is about 550 metres above mean sea level, except north and eastern Barshi, central Madha, central Karmala, parts of Malshiras and southern Sangola which are hilly. Sholapur district, in relief, is flat or waving. Most of the surface comprises long, low uplands separated by hollows or shallow basins with an occasional level. The shallow-soil-covered uplands are suited for pastures and deep-soiled lowlands for cropping. In Karmala and Madha, the water-shed between the Bhima and the Sina is marked by a tableland and a dotting of individual, residual knolls. Except this, the Sholapur uplands are generally rounded swellings of traps overgrown with yellow sandy spear grass. The rest of the district is bare, bleak and treeless.
Except in Barshi, Karmala, Mohol, Malshiras and Sangola, the district of Sholapur has a few hills and even these are isolated, individual, residual resistant remnants. The chief knolls are Vadshin-ghat in Barshi, Waghoba and Bodki in Karmala, Chinchgaon in Madha, Gurvad in Malshiras, Phaltan range in Malshiras and the Khanapur-Jath hills of Sangola.
Barshi Hills: In the eastern and northern parts of Barshi taluka, the western flanks of Balaghat hills outcrop and rise to the elevations of
over 600 metres with occasional scarp edges. The Vadshinghat hills are the most important of the several spurs of the Balaghat range in this region; they run with a southerly trend in this area. The Vadshinghat hills lie about 21 km. east of Barshi noted for a cave temple, sacred to Rameshwar. Apart from hills minor isolated knolls are also found around Koregaon, Pangaon, Vairag and Goudgaon.
Karmala Hills: A broken hill range forming a low tableland and a water-shed between the drainages of the Bhima and the Sina runs in a northwest-southeasterly direction to the east of Daund-Kurduwadi railway line, particularly between Jeur and Kem and later crossing it to develop a southerly trend just south of Kem. It rises to a bare 600 metres above mean sea level and about 50 to 60 metres above the level of the adjoining valley floor. Small buttes rising to slightly higher elevations cap tableland. It roughly divides the taluka of Karmala into two equal halves, the western Bhima valley and the eastern Sina valley. These hills divide the country-side into a succession of rises and valleys with a good deal of high-lying tableland which in some places is strewn with tors and boulders but is otherwise generally level and has a thin cover of soil. Except the Waghoba and Bodki hills (595 metres) near Kem, there are a very few hill ranges. The central parts of the taluka form a rough broken ground, highly dissected. The Waghoba hill is about 60 metres in height and the Bodki hill about 50 metres in height above the surrounding plateau levels and lie about 25 km. southeast of Karmala. The slopes of both the hills are covered with stunted grass. In their flat tops lie untilled wastes. The hills themselves rise through a succession of structural levels indicative of the horizontal lava flows and are on the surface covered by a fairly deep layer of red murum or broken trap.
Madha Hills: The Karmala hills continue further south of Kem, with a southerly trend and extend into Madha taluka, approaching somewhat closer the Bhima river and having a number of broken spurs extending to the river valley in the neighbourhood of Chinchgaon. The hills, here, rise to about 90 metres above the level of the plains and are fairly steep-sloped and flat-topped. They develop a grass cover over the murum. Near Vadshinghat, there is a spring at the foot of the hill.
Akkalkot Hills: In the extreme eastern parts of Akkalkot taluka, adjoining the Gulbarga boundary is a broken hill ground with a number of north-south spurs; this ground forms a tertiary water-shed. These hills are covered with loose boulders and plentiful nodules and kankar. Like the other hill ranges, these are also flat-topped. The hills around Waghdari and Dudhni, though not of much elevations, stand out in the local landscape.
Malshiras Hills: The western boundary of the Malshiras taluka forms hills known as the Phaltan range, rising to over 700 metres and falling
through a steep scarp face to the north and to the east, overlooking
the Malshiras plain at an elevation of about 550 metres which are
drained both to the north and the east by the tributaries of the Nira
and Bhima rivers. The chief hill near the village of Gurwad about
eight miles south of Malshiras is crowned by a temple of Tukai about
400 years old. The hills are bleak and barren and have developed
excellent pediments under the semi-arid climatic conditions. [They form the source region for a large number of seasonal ephemeral wadis that
burst into floods all of a sudden and choke themselves to death right in their
infancy by an excessive load of coarse debris and stream-borne boulders.] Apart from these hills, in the south-eastern parts of Malshiras as well as in Sangola taluka there are a number of outcrops of rock boulders and typical
Sangola Hills: In the extreme south-west and south of Sangola, the eastern flanks of the Mahadev range form scarp edge descending from an average height of more than 600 metres through a fairly steep pediment and diluvial silt to the Man basin. This entire area is hilly and rocky with a considerable amount of stony wastes and broken ground. [The highest elevation in the district is reached here in the Mahadev hill (843 metres) to the north of Nagaj on the boundary, lying on the crest of an undissected mesa, lying separated from the main scarp. A number of smaller mesas lie to the north-west of the Mahadev hill such as the Satpata hill, Bhopalgad hill, Kuddelkhadi hill and the Lagna hill.]
The Plateau: Apart from the peripheral scarp faces and the dotting of residual knolls all over, the district as a whole forms a waving plateau at an average elevation of 500 to 600 metres with road depressions in a north-south direction occupied by the valleys of the Bhima and Sina rivers. The plateau underlain by trappean lava floors develops rock exposures, and outcrops in patches and nowhere the plateau regur is quite deep; locally, the streambanks and immediate sides have comparatively, fine textured, loamy, agriculturally more productive soils. Water-supply, too, is relatively more easily available along the streams if not at the surface, at least at shallow surface depths, as is well reflected from the lining of the babul and khair trees on river-banks in an otherwise bleak and treeless landscape. It is possible to trace, over long distances, stream tracks by the lining of trees.
Rivers: The chief rivers of the district are the Bhima, its right-bank feeders the Nira and the Man and its left-bank feeder the Sina. Besides, a good number of lesser streams form the tributaries of the Bhima and serve as its local feeders. The Bhima and the Sina flow with a roughly south-easterly trend while the Nira runs east and the Man north-easterly. During the dry season, all these rivers are fordable. Even the main river Bhima trinkles into a number of stagnant pools with water just ankle-deep. However, during the peak
of south-west monsoon season, not only the main streams but also the seasonal feeder streams are flooded, though for a short span of time; they bring huge volumes of coarse material inclusive of gravels and cobbles from the barren uplands and cover the shallow beds of the streams quite extensively.
Bhima river: The Bhima river drains the central parts of the district comprising greater part of Karmala, Madha, Malshiras, Pandharpur, Mangalwedha, Mohol and Sholapur talukas. The river, one of the main feeders of the Krishna river, rises in 19°4' north latitude and 73º 34' east longitude close to Bhimashankar in Pune district and runs south-east through Pune, Ahmadnagar, Sholapur and Bijapur districts before falling into Krishna about 25 km. north of Raichur. It enters the district near the village Jinti in Karmala taluka and flows in a south-easterly direction, to leave the district and enter into Bijapur near the village Hilli in Akkalkot taluka. The river has an overall length of 289 km. within the limits of the district. For a winding length of about 110 km. the river separates Karmala on the left from Indapur in Pune district on the right; for about 10 km. it separates Madha on the left from Malshiras on the right; for about 34 km., it separates Pandharpur on the left from Malshiras on the right; for about 65 km., it passes through Pandharpur and for about 65 km., it separates Sholapur and Akkalkot on the left from Bijapur on the right. The course of the river throughout the district is winding, with a general south-easterly direction. Near the centre of the Pandharpur taluka, it passes on the right of Pandharpur, one of the holiest places in the Deccan.
Of its three major feeders within the district the Bhima receives the Nira river from the right near Sangam village in the Malshiras taluka in the west of the district, the Man river also from the right near Sarkoli, about 17 km. south-east of Pandharpur in the south of the district and the Sina river from the left about 17 km. south-west in South Sholapur taluka along the southern boundary of the district. The waters of the Bhima are little used for irrigation. The river flows between high alluvial and tilled banks 200-500 metres apart. In certain places, it is rocky but as a rule the bed is gravelly or muddy. The river is crossed by nine ferries, three in Pandharpur, at Kuroli, Pandharpur and Brahmapuri and six in Sholapur at Ghodeshvar; Kusur, Bhandar-Kavta, Sadepur, Aunj and Takli. The entire valley, 400-600 metres high above mean sea level, is dotted with isolated buttes scattered with fragmental quartz which are relics of some intra-trappean formations. The drainage pattern within the district is suggestive of a trellis pattern controlled by joints in the traps. But, the valley slopes are seamed with strenuous, detached low alluvial cliffs about 3 metres high at various levels between 500 and 570 metres representing
perhaps the edges of river terraces of depositary formed over the trap floor. The terraces on either bank of the meanders of the Bhima are particularly noteworthy in sections upstream of Pandharpur but downstream of Tembhurni. They are remarkably joined on either bank, and are suggestive of rejuvenation of the river valley. During the rains flood-water overflows the steep earthy banks.
Nira: The Nira, the chief right-bank feeder of the Bhima river, rises in the Bhor taluka of Pune district on one of the spurs of Sahyadri crowned by the Torna fort. It runs south-east and east along the borders of Pune, Satara and Sholapur districts before emptying its drainage into the Bhima river. Of its total length of about 180 km., about 48 km. lie on the borders of Pune and Sholapur districts. In this stretch, the Nira runs north-east forming the northern boundary of Malshiras taluka and skirting past the village of Akluj, it falls into the Bhima river near Sangam. The banks of the Nira river are steep and rocky and its bed is generally gravelly. It is about 120 metres broad and has a few small pools from which the water is drawn by lifts or budkis to water garden crops.
Man: The Man, a right-bank feeder of the Bhima river, rises in the Phaltan range, a spur of the Mahadev range in the Man subdivision of Satara district, west of Dahiwadi and runs through eastern parts of Satara district and winds through Sangola and Pandharpur talukas of Sholapur before joining the Bhima near Sarkoli about 17 km. south-east of Pandharpur. Of its total length exceeding 160 km. about 80 km. lie within the limits of the district. The river flows past the town of Sangola.
The banks of the Man river are low and cultivated while its bed is gravelly. The river is notorious for quick rising during the floods. The main feeders of the Man within the district are Belvan, Khurdu, Sanganga and Vankdi, all of which are seasonal.
Sina: The Sina, one of the large left-bank feeders of the Bhima, rises 22 km. west of Torna in Ahmadnagar district and runs southeast through Ahmadnagar and Sholapur to fall into the Bhima near Kudul about 25 km. south of Sholapur, on the Maharashtra-Mysore boundary. Of its entire length of 180 km., the river has a length of 177 km. within the district. About 7 km. north of Mohol, the river receives the Bhogawati river on its left bank. Another small tributary on the left bank is the Gorda nadi joining the Sina east of Madha. The Sina is about 100-200 metres broad and has steep banks. The bed is generally sandy but occasionally rocky. While upstream of Mohol, the river flows through a narrow valley, downstream it opens out widely to merge into the broad valley of Bhima. The Sina is crossed by five ferries, one in Madha at Kolgaon, and four in Sholapur at Lamboti, Tirha, Vaddukbal and Vangi.
Bhogawati: The Bhogawati is a large tributary of. the Sina that rises in the south-facing scarps of the Balaghat range in the north-eastern parts of Barshi taluka and after a south-westerly course of about 65 km. through Barshi and Madha, falls into the Sina, about 7 km. north of Mohol. It is about 30 metres broad and has a slender stream during the low water. Its main source streams are the Bodki, the Nagsari and the Sira all of which rise in the Balaghat hills and run south-east. All these feeder streams keep the stream running practically throughout the year.
Bhend: The Bhend is a small tributary of the river Sina on its right bank and it rises near Kem in Karmala and falls into the Sina, a little north of the village Undargaon.
Bori: The Bori nodi, a minor left-bank feeder of the Bhima, rising on the south facing scarp-lands of the Osmanabad plateau near Tuljapur and flowing south, drains southwards in the eastern part of Akkalkot taluka. The Harni is its tributary. It has a flow of 50 km. through the district.
Tanks: There are 40 tank depressions within the district, some of which are used for irrigating farm-lands. Most of them lie in Barshi and Sangola talukas in the foothill slopes at the lower edge of the scarp. Of them, the largest and the most significant is the Ekruk tank.
Water-supply: As the district lies in the semi-arid tract of the Deccan
trap region, there is considerable variation in the availability of water-supply
both for domestic use and for irrigation purposes depending upon the local
ground water formations. Barshi taluka in the north has a number of streams
which are generally perennial and the ground water-table is also shallow to
provide water-supply for a large number of wells. To its west in the Karmala and
Madha talukas, the broken upland topography has a scanty surface and sub-surface
water-supply which is augmented mainly by constructing earthen weirs across the
streams. Though water-supply is not plentiful in the western Malshiras taluka, the Nira right bank canal provides considerable water-supply for irrigating farm-lands, and well irrigation is fairly significant in this stretch.
In the southern and central parts, surface water supply is very poor and water is mainly obtained from deep wells. By and large, the supply of water is very poor and is supplemented by shallow surface depressions.
Regions: Though Sholapur as a whole forms a broad waving basin occupied by the Bhima river in the middle and rising to higher elevations towards the edges along the border of the district through gentle slopes, substantial subtle regional and local variations exist in the topography, underlying rock, terrain and soil conditions, and water-supply all of which are reflected in the human response expressed
through the human habitations, cropping economy and the cultural landscape evolved. Accordingly, one may recognise the following broad divisions of geographical regions in the district:-
(i) the western foothill region in the southern part of Malshiras and western Sangola;
(ii) the Nira basin in the Malshiras taluka;
(iii) the Man basin in Sangola, Mangalwedha and southern Pandharpur;
(iv) the Bhima valley in western Karmala, eastern Malshiras, Pandharpur, parts of Mangalwedha, South Sholapur;
(v) the central uplands in mid-Karmala, and Madha;
(vi) the Sina-Bhogawati valleys in east-central parts of the district, i.e., east Karmala and Madha, Barshi, Mohol, Souih and North Sholapur;
(vii) the eastern hill scarps in east Barshi; and
(viii) the Akkalkot plains and the Bori valley.
The western foothill region: The western foothill region, forming the scarp slope of Phaltan and Mahadev ranges, runs north-west to southeast in the southern sections of the Malshiras taluka and north-south in the western parts of Sangola taluka. This belt descending from an elevation of over 600 metres to about 500 metres followed by a left of coalescing debris cones is on an average about 10 km. wide. The area is a rough, broken ground fairly dissected by a large number of ephemeral streams descending down the scarp slope and draining into the Nira and the Man. The hill slopes are generally barren and bleak with practically no surface vegetation. It is only in the coarse-soil-covered foothill slopes with a shallow ground watertable that babul meadows and scrub forests occur predominantly in patches and pockets. The soil is stony and barren and much of it is fit only for grazing. Comparatively light, shallow and open yellow soils not retentive of moisture occur along the stream valleys and are devoted to cultivation of bajri, gram and other pulses during the kharif season. Though extensive kurans or grazing lands are rare in occurrence, the mixed scrub forests have adequate forage and fodder during the five months ending November and a significant population of livestock consisting of sheep, goats and cattle are reared in the forest lands. The cattle improve greatly in health during the period June to November and are mainly fed with kadhi or milletstalk during the period December-January, soon after harvest. Fodder and water-supply become scattered and scantier as the hot season progresses and the cattle lose weight considerably.
The entire region is dotted with very few villages at an average distance of 6 to 8 km. away from each other. These villages are generally found along the stream banks at the lower edges of the
foothill slopes where a number of streams descending from the hill slopes converge and assure the village sites of a fairly reliable water-supply.
The Nira Basin: The Nira basin of the district lies entirely within the Malshiras taluka in the west-central parts of the district. The land lies at an average elevation of 500 to 600 metres sloping northwards towards the river. The Nira right bank canal that runs skirting the foothills roughly marks its southern limits. The soils are fairly deep. The kali (regur) soil along the Nira is stiff clays. However, away from the river and the stream banks, the soil tends to become the more open grey barad soil. Morand soils with a fair admixture of lime that makes the soils more suited for agriculture occur widely. The old District Gazetteer mentions that food-crops practically accounted for the entire area under tillage in this region with rabi jowar dominating and accounting for about 70 per cent of the cropped area, followed by a poor second kharif bajri, accounting for about 15 to 20 per cent. Cash crops used to account for a very small percentage. Since the introduction of canal and other means of irrigation, agriculture in this area has undergone revolutionary changes both in terms of cropping pattern and in terms of output of agricultural production. Malshiras taluka records the highest percentage under irrigation within the district. Gross cropped area is the lowest within the district-about 60 per cent mainly because of barren hill slopes and foothill deposits which are uncultivable wastes, occurring in the southern parts of the taluka. Roughly slightly less than a third of the gross cropped area gets the benefit of irrigation. Only a sixth of the irrigated area is double cropped, irrigation water supply being extended mostly for one crop. Nearly 60 per cent of irrigation benefit is derived from the Nira right bank canal that runs skirting this area along its southern limits, from which a large number of tributaries run northwards towards the river and the canal. About 3,500 wells sunk mainly along the stream valleys that drain into the Nira account for the rest of the area under irrigation.
The diffusion of these agricultural innovations has brought significant changes in the rural landscape and its economic structure. The irrigation cropping pattern reveals growing shift towards cash crops. Though rabi jowar no doubt still constitutes the main crop for an average farmer, accounting for three-fifths of the tilled area, and bajri is on a decline, significant areas have been brought under sugarcane, cotton, garden crops and of late grape vines. As much as 70 per cent of the cropped area is under sugarcane and is entirely irrigated with the Nira waters. Nearly 3 per cent is under cotton, which is also entirely irrigated. Of the garden crops, chillis are the most important within the region. The irrigated cropping
pattern thus shows a change towards a superior cropping pattern on one hand and steadily increasing yield on the other, thanks to assured water-supply. Apart from introducing significant changes towards betterment in the agricultural setting of the rural areas of this region, it has also been responsible for a phenomenal rapid growth of a large number of agro-based industries within the area. Sugar is no doubt the most important, with 5 factories at Chitalenagar, Akluj, Borgaon, Malinagar and Malshiras. Most of these factories are run on a co-operative basis. The Shripur factory also manufactures rectified spirit while there is a small cotton ginning unit at Natepute. Apart from large sugar factories there are quite a number of crushing units and gur plants scattered all over the region.
The impact of these changes on the economic conditions is extremely well reflected in the population structure of the region. Within the entire district, no other part shows such a phenomenally rapid growth of population as Malshiras taluka which during the decade 1951-61 had increased by as much as 35 per cent, the population being entirely rural. The largest village of the area (incidentally the largest village of the State) Akluj (declassified as a town in 1961) is at a meander bend on the right bank of the Nira at a ford point. Akluj has a large and flourishing trade centre in cotton with a weekly Monday market. Its present-day economic circulation entirely swings around the sugar factory. The village has the ruins of an old fort.
Man Basin: The Man basin comprises practically the whole of Sangola taluka, the western half of Mangalwedha and southern Pandharpur talukas. The Man river maintains a west-south-west to east-south-easterly course in its flow across this region and has a larger number of streams joining it from its right bank than from its left bank. The main river as well as its tributaries are mostly dry during the year except during the floods when they rise to considerable levels and become unfordable.
The climate in this area is the driest within the district. The meagre rainfall of about 45 cm. is none too reliable. The whole area is a very gently sloping flat plain, sloping towards the river and generally eastwards at an average elevation of about 500-550 metres. The open plain is almost bare of trees. It is only in the extreme south and the west that a few hills dot the landscape and these too are bare of trees. Stony wastes, babul meadows and scrub cover generally increase westwards and southwards towards the hills. The tail water of the Nira right bank canal branch No. 3 extends almost right upto the confluence of the Man with the Bhima. The soils tend to be poor, shallow and gravelly on the plateau surface; however, along
the streams they become fairly black and clayey and are of moderate depth. These soils are deeper and more moisture-retentive. Irrigation is of some importance in the agrarian economy of the region, ranging between 6 per cent in Mangalwedha taluka to 14 per cent in Sangola taluka. The wells are more important than canals. In fact in Mangalwedha the entire irrigation is done with the help of well irrigation. Nearly 8,000 wells are found in this region. The cropping pattern reveals a predominance of food-crops occupying roughly 90 per cent of the gross cropped area.
Jowar is mainly grown during the rabi season with the help of irrigation and this covers more than half of the tilled land. Bajri and tur are next in importance. Wheat is of some importance only in Sangola taluka. Cash crops are of little significance, the only crops of some importance being groundnut and cotton, the latter increasing of late in importance particularly in Mangalwedha taluka.
Bhima valley: The Bhima valley with a north-west to a southeasterly trend occupies roughly the central parts of the district. The area comprising the main Bhima valley includes western Karmala, western Madha, eastern Malshiras, the whole of Pandharpur taluka, eastern Mangalwedha, narrow strips in the western parts of Mohol and South Sholapur. The Bhima on entering the district in the north-west initially runs southwards forming boundary between Pune and Sholapur districts, till its confluence with the Nira. Thereafter, it runs through the central sections of the district till reaching the south-western limits of the Mangalwedha taluka, whereafter it runs for a distance forming boundary between Maharashtra and Mysore. The Bhima valley forms the core of the district.
The river bed forming the lowest parts within the district is at an elevation of about 500 metres in the north and 400 metres in the south before it leaves the State. The land gently slopes south-eastwards and the local slopes are towards the river from either bank. The river flows between high banks, in section more than 6 to 8 metres high. The valley is on an average 25 km. wide. A conspicuous feature of the valley is the development of paired river terraces out in the trap rocks on the either banks in succession at various levels ranging between 450-500 metres particularly downstream of the confluence of the Nira and upstream of the confluence of the Man. Even the tributary valleys on either banks inclusive of the Man and the Nira show such terraces, each individual terrace being a few metres high. These terraces are particularly marked between Velapur in Malshiras on the right bank of the Bhima and Karkam rivers on the left bank in Pandharpur taluka. Though in all probability, the horizontal lava floors underlying the surface are partly responsible, there seems to be a clear evidence of rejuvenation of the stream.
The river itself meanders in wide sweeps and the meander belt has a succession of two to three terraces.
The Bhima valley is by and large covered by medium deep murum and kali
soils that are fairly stiff and loamy in Karmala taluka. However, the soil tends
to be lighter and more open as well as gravelly, lower downstream. The tail
waters of the Nira right bank canal extends almost upto the right bank of the
Bhima extending the benefit of the canal irrigation to tilled lands in eastern
parts of Malshiras and parts of Pandharpur taluka. Elsewhere in the valley, the well irrigation assumes significant proportions. Nearly 15,000 wells are found in the area and oil engines, diesel and electrical pumps for irrigation purpose are by and large on the increase particularly in the central sections of the Bhima valley. Food crops account for almost the entire area under cultivation and although rabi jowar is practically the sole crop covering nearly 80 per cent of the food crop area, tur and gram amongst pulses, groundnut and kardai amongst cash crops are of secondary importance.
In this entire region, Pandharpur is the sole town and larger villages either located at ford points and on the larger river or on nodal points constitute the main market centres.
The Central Uplands in Karmala and Madha talukas form a low tableland at an elevation of about 650 metres rising through fairly steep slopes by about 50 metres above floor levels of the adjoining Bhima and Sina river valleys. These form the low tertiary water-shed, separating the west-flowing drainage of the Bhima system from the east-flowing drainage of the Sina
system. The plateau somewhat higher in elevation and somewhat rugged in the
north, rising to higher level mesas and buttes has a general rolling and waving topography, with stony pathar soils grey to red barad and tambdi soils. Here, tillage is of secondary importance and is done with considerable difficulty to raise a precarious intermixed crop of bajri and tur or gram.
The Sina-Bhogawati Valley: The Sina valley occupies roughly the eastern third of Sholapur district in eastern Karmala, western Barshi, eastern Madha, central Mohol and North and South Sholapur talukas. The valley is narrow and more rugged in the north and opens out, south of Mohol to become about 50 km. wide in the central and southern sections. Apart from the Sina, the Bhogawati and other less important tributaries have also formed fairly extensive tributary valleys. In parts of Barshi, low hills dot the area; otherwise it is a broad waving plateau sloping towards the Sina river in the middle.
The soils are generally highly productive kali and murum soils in Barshi as well as along the immediate banks of the major stream valleys. Away from the river, the soils become lighter and shallower grading into coarse grey barad and tambdi soils. Tank irrigation gains
some importance in the area and accounts for some proportion particularly in the Barshi taluka where the rugged uneven terrain is highly favourable for the formation of tank depressions. Elsewhere, it is only deep well irrigation that is of some significance in tilling garden crops In North Sholapur a small area is irrigated by canal irrigation but otherwise mostly the crops of the region are rain-fed. The area records much higher percentage of net cropped area than in the western talukas and here again food-crops account for extraordinarily high percentages. Rabi jowar no doubt constitutes the main crop but in Barshi and to a lesser extent in Sholapur groundnut, cotton and non-foodcrops account for significant proportions. Betel and vegetable gardens particularly raising onion and chillis are locally significant in bagayat lands. Of the towns, Karmala at the foot of the central uplands is mainly a cotton ginning centre gaining some importance from its administrative function. Apart from it, it is also cloth dyeing centre.
Akkalkot Plains: Open and rolling, the Akkalkot plains lie at an elevation of 400 metres above mean sea level; they descend to the Sina valley in the west while in the central sections they slope to the Bori valley. The area as a whole is bare of trees. It has a fairly assured water-supply especially from wells that are quite numerous. The soils are chiefly black and mixed murum. Budki irrigation is of some importance in the area as the irrigated lands are mainly devoted to sugarcane, rice and rabi jowar.