1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Panch Mahals

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PANCH MAHALS (= Five Districts), a district of British India, in the northern division of Bombay. Area, 1606 sq. m., pop. (1901), 261,020, showing a decrease of 17% in the decade, owing to famine. The administrative headquarters are at Godhra, pop. (1901), 20,915. Though including Champaner, the old Hindu capital of Gujarat, now a ruin, this tract has no history of its own. It became British territory as recently as 1861, by a transfer from Sindhia; and it is the only district of Bombay proper that is administered on the non-regulation system, the collector being also political agent for Rewa Kantha. It consists of two separate parts, divided by the territory of a native state. The south-western portion is for the most part a level plain of rich soil; while the northern, although it comprises some fertile valleys, is generally rugged, undulating and barren, with but little cultivation. The mineral products comprise sandstone, granite and other kinds of building stone. Mining for manganese on a large scale has been begun by a European firm, and the iron and lead ores may possibly become profitable. Only recently has any attempt been made to conserve the extensive forest tracts, and consequently little timber of any size is to be found. The principal crops are maize, millets, rice, pulse and oilseeds; there are manufactures of lac bracelets and lacquered toys; the chief export is timber. Both portions of the district are crossed by the branch of the Bombay and Baroda railway from Anand, through Godhra and Dohad, to Ratlam; and a chord line, opened in 1904, runs from Godhra to Baroda city. The district suffered very severely from the famine of 1809-1900.