1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Balaghat

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BALAGHAT (i.e. “above the ghats or passes,” the highlands), a district of British India in the Nagpur division of the Central Provinces. The administrative headquarters are at the town of Burha. The district contains an area of 3132 sq. m. It forms the eastern portion of the central plateau which divides the province from east to west. These highlands, formerly known as the Raigarh Bichhia tract, remained desolate and neglected until 1866, when the district of Balaghat was formed, and the country opened to the industrious and enterprising peasantry of the Wainganga valley. Geographically the district is divided into three distinct parts:—(1) The southern lowlands, a slightly undulating plain, comparatively well cultivated and drained by the Wainganga, Bagh, Deo, Ghisri and Son rivers. (2) The long narrow valley known as the Mau Taluka, lying between the hills and the Wainganga river, and comprising a long, narrow, irregular-shaped lowland tract, intersected by hill ranges and peaks covered with dense jungle, and running generally from north to south. (3) The lofty plateau, in which is situated the Raigarh Bichhia tract, comprising irregular ranges of hills, broken into numerous valleys, and generally running from east to west. The highest points in the hills of the district are as follows:—Peaks above Lanji, 2300 or 2500 feet; Tepagarh hill, about 2600 ft.; and Bhainsaghat range, about 3000 ft. above the sea. The principal rivers in the district are the Wainganga, and its tributaries, the Bagh, Nahra and Uskal; a few smaller streams, such as the Masmar, the Mahkara, &c.; and the Banjar, Halon and Jamunia, tributaries of the Nerbudda, which drain a portion of the upper plateau. In the middle of the 19th century the upper part of the district was an impenetrable waste. About that time one Lachhman Naik established the first villages on the Paraswara plateau. But a handsome Buddhist temple of cut stone, belonging to some remote period, is suggestive of a civilization which had disappeared before historic times. The population in 1901 was 326,521, showing a decrease of 15% in the decade, due to the effects of famine. A large part of the area is still covered with forest, the most valuable timber-tree being sal. There are few good roads. The Gondia-Jubbulpore line of the Bengal-Nagpur railway traverses the Wainganga valley in the west of the district. The district suffered very severely from the famine of 1896-1897. It suffered again in 1900, when in April the number of persons relieved rose above 100,000.