british nagpur country
GONDWANA, a tract of country in Central India, extending from the 19th to the 25th degree of N. lat., deriving its name from the aboriginal tribe of Gonds, who form the predominant element in the population. The tract may be considered as comprising part of the British territory of Sagor and Nerbudda, with the districts of Singraulf, Chota Nagpur, and Sirguja, the petty native states on the S.W. frontier of Bengal, the Cuttack Mahals, and the northern portion of Nagpur. It is estimated to be 400 miles in length by 280 in average breadth. Gondwana, in its most extensive sense, includes all that part of India within the above-mentioned boundaries which remained unconquered by the Mahometans up to the reign of Aurungzebe. But Gondwana proper is limited to four districts, named Mandla, Chhatisgarh, Nagpur, and Chandal, and it stretches south along the east side of the Wardha and Godavari, to within 100 miles of the mouth of the latter. The greater part of this province is a mountainous, unhealthy, and ill-watered country, covered with jungle, and thinly inhabited ; and to its poverty and other bad qualities its independence may be ascribed. A continued chain of moderately elevated hills extends from the southern frontier of Bengal almost to the Godavari, and by these the eastern was formerly separated from the western portion of the Nagpur dominions. This province contains the sources of the Nerbudda and the Son, and is bounded by the Wardha and Godavari ; but a want of water is still the general defect, the streams by which it is intersected, namely, the 11-fahanadi, Karim, Hatns, and Silair, being inconsiderable, and not navigable within its limits. The Gonds, or the hill tribes who took refuge in the mountains and fastnesses from the invaders of the country, are the original inhabitants of the country, and, till recently, retained all their primeval habits of barbarism. They have now adopted a form of Hinduism, but they retain many of their ancient customs, and abstain from no flesh except that of the ox, cow, and bull. According to the census of 1872 they numbered 2,041,276, or nearly 25 per cent. of the entire population of the Central Provinces. The more fertile tracts of Gondwana were subdued at an early period by the Marhattas, who claimed as paramount over the whole. The inhabitants were rendered nominally tributary ; but it was found impossible to collect any revenue from them without military force, so that, in fact, the collection of the revenue was like a plundering expedition, the cost of which always exceeded the profit.
During the war against the Pinddris in 1818, when the British troops invaded the territories of Appa Siihib, the raja of Nigpur, their operations were greatly facilitated by the insurrection of the hill tribes, who occupied the passes into the Nagpur territories. For a long series of years it was the policy of the raja of this terntory, a descendant of Sivaji, to interfere as little as possible with the neighbouring powers. At length, in 1803, Raghoji Bhonsla was induced, in an evil hour for himself, to depart from this system of neutrality, and to join Sindhia in a confederacy against the British. He was soon reduced, however, by the defeats which the ..'onfederates sustained at Assaye and Argaum, to sue for peace, as the price of which he ceded a large portion of his dominions to the conquerors, namely, the province of Orissa. After the death of this raja, the throne, contested by various competitors, was at last secured by Appa Sahib, his nephew, who, in the war against the Pindiris, joined the coalition against the British power, and was involved in ruin along with his other allies. A treaty of peace was concluded with him, which he violated ; and he was finally deposed in 1818, and the grandson of the late rilj:1 put in his stead. The latter prince, after a reign of 35 years, died without issue in 1853; the dynasty thus became extinct, and the kingdom of Nigpur was incorporated with the British empire, and now forms the chief commissionership of the Central Provinces.