1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Godavari (district)

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GODAVARI, a district of British India, in the north-east of the Madras presidency. It was remodelled in 1907–1908, when part of it was transferred to Kistna district. Its present area is 5634 sq. m. Its territory now lies mainly east of the Godavari river, including the entire delta, with a long narrow strip extending up its valley. The apex of the delta is at Dowlaishweram, where a great dam renders the waters available for irrigation. Between this point and the coast there is a vast extent of rice fields. Farther inland, and enclosing the valley of the great river, are low hills, steep and forest-clad. The north-eastern part, known as the Agency tract, is occupied by spurs of the Eastern Ghats. The coast is low, sandy and swampy, the sea very shallow, so that vessels must lie nearly 5 m. from Cocanada, the chief port. The Sabari is the principal tributary of the Godavari within the district. The Godavari often rises in destructive floods. The population of the present area in 1901 was 1,445,961. In the old district the increase during the last decade was 11%. The chief towns are Cocanada and Rajahmundry. The forests are of great value; coal is known, and graphite is worked. The population is principally occupied in agriculture, the principal crops being rice, oil-seeds, tobacco and sugar. The cigars known in England as Lunkas are partly made from tobacco grown on lankas or islands in the river Godavari. Sugar (from the juice of the palmyra palm) and rum are made by European processes at Samalkot. The administrative headquarters are now at Cocanada, the chief seaport; but Rajahmundry, at the head of the delta, is the old capital. A large but decreasing trade is conducted at Cocanada, rice being shipped to Mauritius and Ceylon, and cotton and oil-seeds to Europe. Rice-cleaning mills have been established here and at other places. The district is traversed by the main line of the East Coast railway, with a branch to Cocanada; the iron girder bridge of forty-two spans over the Godavari river near Rajahmundry was opened in 1900. There is a government college at Rajahmundry, with a training college attached, and an aided college at Cocanada.

The Godavari district formed part of the Andhra division of Dravida, the north-west portion being subject to the Orissa kings, and the south-western belonging to the Vengi kingdom. For centuries it was the battlefield on which various chiefs fought for independence with varying success till the beginning of the 16th century, when the whole country may be said to have passed under Mahommedan power. At the conclusion of the struggle with the French in the Carnatic, Godavari with the Northern Circars was conquered by the English, and finally ceded by imperial sanad in 1765. The district was constituted in 1859, by the redistribution of the territory comprising the former districts of Guntur, Rajahmundry and Masulipatam, into what are now the Kistna and Godavari districts.

See H. Morris, District Manual (1878); District Gazetteer (1906).