Blue: Khandesh in Maharashtra Light Blue: Khandesh in Madhya Pradesh (Burhanpur)
|State||Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh|
|Elevation||240 m (790 ft)|
Khandesh lies in Central India on the northwestern corner of the Deccan Plateau, in the valley of the Tapi River. It is bounded to the north by the Satpura Range, to the east by the Berar (Vidarbha) region, to the south by the Hills of Ajanta (belonging to the Marathwada region of Maharashtra), and to the west by the northernmost ranges of the Western Ghats.
The principal natural feature is the Tapi River. Unlike the rest of the Deccan, whose rivers rise in the Western Ghats and flow eastward to the Bay of Bengal, the Tapi flows westward from headwaters in southern Madhya Pradesh to empty into the Arabian Sea. The Tapi receives thirteen principal tributaries in its course through Khandesh. None of these rivers is navigable, and the Tapi flows in a deep bed which historically made it difficult to use for irrigation. Most of Khandesh lies south of the Tapi and is drained by its tributaries: the Girna, Bori and Panjhra. The alluvial plain north of the Tapi contains some of the richest tracts in Khandesh, and the land rises towards the Satpuda hills. In the centre and east, the country is level, save for some low ranges of barren hills. To the north and west, the plain rises into rugged hills, thickly wooded, and inhabited by the tribal Bhil people.
In 1295, Khandesh was under the Chauhan ruler of Asirgarh when Ala-ud-din Khilji of Delhi wrested control.:418 Various Delhi dynasties controlled Khandesh over the next century.:418 From 1370 to 1600, the Faruqi dynasty ruled Khandesh with the capital at Burhanpur.:418 The foundation of Khandesh as an independent kingdom was laid by Malik Raja, son of Khanjahan Faurki. Firuz Shah Tughlaq had initially appointed Malik Raja as the commander-in-chief of Khandesh region, but he declares himself independent after the death of Firoz Tughlaq and ruled until 1399.
The Mughals arrived in 1599, when Akbar's army overran Khandesh and captured Asirgarh.:418 For a period of time, Khandesh was renamed as Dandesh in recognition of Akbar's son Daniyal.:248 c. 1640, Todar Mal's revenue settlement system was introduced in Khandesh by Shah Jahan (this system was used until British rule in 1818).:250 The mid-17th century has been described as the time of Khandesh's "highest prosperity" owing to trade in cotton, rice, indigo, sugarcane, and cloth.:250 Mughal rule lasted until the Marathas captured Asirgarh in 1760.:418
Maratha raids into Khandesh began in 1670 and the following century was a period of unrest as Mughals and Marathas competed for control.:418 In 1760, the Peshwa ousted the Mughal ruler and gained control of Khandesh, following which portions were granted to Holkar and Scindia rulers.:418Baji Rao II surrendered to the British in June 1818, but sporadic war continued in Khandesh which was among the last of the Peshwa's former territories to come under complete British control.:9
Khandesh was a district in the Bombay Presidency. In 1906, the district was divided into two districts: East Khandesh, headquartered at Jalgaon, had an area of 11,770 km2 (4,544 sq mi), while West Khandesh, headquartered at Dhule, had an area of 14,240 km2 (5,497 sq mi); their respective populations were 957,728 and 469,654 in 1901.
After India's independence in 1947, Bombay province became Bombay State, and in 1960 was divided into the linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. East Khandesh became Jalgaon district, and West Khandesh became Dhule district, both in Maharashtra state. The latter was further divided into Dhule and Nandurbar districts.
Khandesh has a rich cultural and literary heritage.
Marathi is the official and most-spoken language in Khandesh. Ahirani and Gujari are spoken in the Girana basin of West Khandesh; these languages are dialects of Marathi with Gujarati and Hindi influence. Khandeshi is spoken in the eastern part of Khandesh.Dakhini is also spoken there.
In the 13th century, Mukta Bai, the younger sister of Dnyaneshwar, lived at Muktainagar, near where the great yogi Changdeva lived. There was also a strong presence of Kabir Panth in Khandesh due to the proximity of Burhanpur, the seat of Kabir Panth.
Bahinabai Chaudhari, regarded as one of the greatest female poets in Marathi literature, belonged to a Khandeshi family. Her son, Kavi Sopandeo Choudhary, was also a well-known poet. Trambak Bapuji Thombre, commonly known as Balkavi, is from Jalgaon. Dr. V.B. Kolte, a noted scholar of Marathi, hailed from Khandesh; he was the top authority on Mahanubhav literature.
Well known Marathi writers from Khandesh region, include Dr. Bhalchandra Nemade, N. D. Mahanor, Dr. T. T. Mahajan and Dr. Sharad Rane.