CENTRAL PROVINCES form an administrat ive division of British India, under the jurisdiction of a Chief Commissioner, lying between lat. 17° 50' and 24° 27' N., and long. 76° and 85° 15' E. The area is 113,279 square miles, and the population 11,548,511. To the north extends the Viudhyan table-land, which sheds its waters northwards into the valley of the Ganges; south of .this are the valleys of the and the Tapti ; farther south are the extensive highlands constituting the Satpura table-land ; and still farther to the south extends. the great Nagpur plain, formed by the valleys of the 1Vardha and Wain-Ganga.
In this expanse there are 18 British districts,— Balaghat, Baitul, Bhandara, Bilaspur, Chanda, Chiudwara, Dumoh, Hoshangabad, Jubbulpur, Mandla, Nagpur, Nimar, Narsiugpur, Raipur, Saugor, Sumbulpur, Seoni, and Wardha. Enclosed in these are the following 15 Feudatory States, comprising about a fourth part of the entire area, with a population of 86 to the square mile:— Area. Pop. I Area. Pop.
. . 19,062 196,248 Makrai, . . . 215 16,764 Kalahandi, . 9,745 224,543 Chhuikhadan, . 174 92,979 Itafgarh, . 1,466 128,943 Kanker, . . 639 63,610 Saraugarh, . 540 71,274 Khairagarh, . 940 166,138 Patna, . . 2,999 257,959 Nandgaon, . 905 164,339 SonpUr, . . . 906 178,701 Kawardha, . . 887 66,932 Hairs Khol,. . 839 17,750. Sakti, . . . 115 22,819 Barnra, . . 1,988 61,286 Races.—The territory is peopled by Aryan and Turanian races. The Dravidian and the Kolarian, two great branches of the Tuninian family. are believed to have entered India from the north, at different points, and, when pressed southwards, they decussated and intermingled in the hilly forest tracts of these Central Provinces. Few of their dialects are cultivated, and several of their clans are little above barbarism. • In the entire province, 6,058,300 speak the Hindustani, and 1,967,881 speak Mahrati ; but amongst the Dravidian clans, 967,502 speak Gondi, and 588,914 of the Kolarian branch speak the Munda tongue. The more open parts of the country have been occupied by intruding civilised races, for 16 Indian tongues are spoken, viz. Bengali, Bhuin, Bygrtni, Canarese, Dhangar, Goanese, Gujerati, Kaikari, Kashmiri, Malealam, Uriya, Paujabi, Sindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Yerkal ; as also 7 Asiatic non-Indian tongues and 10 non Asiatic. The cultivated languages are the Hindi, Urdu, Mahrati, Ch'hattisgarhi, Uriya, Telugu, and Gondi ; and the 11 unwritten tongues, Gondi, Gayeti, Rutluk, Naikude, Kolami, Madi or Maria, Madia, Kuri or Muasi, Keikadi, Bhatrain, and Parja.
Rajputs are here whose ancestors arrived be fore Hinduism was established. Amongst the Rajput clans there are portions of nations and tribes, with whom, up to the present day, Brahman ism has never been accepted ; and many of the non-Aryan races are preferring the theistic doc trines of Nanak and Kabir.
The Rajputs from Malwa seem to have pushed their conquests into the country, and intermarried with them, and their descendants are still known as Rajputs or Gond Rajputs. They established governments, one of which ruled the Narmada valley, and had its capitals at Mundala and at Garha near Jubbulpur. It was founded by Jadu Rai, who succeeded his father-in-law Nagdeo, the Gond raja of Garha (A.D. 358). Mundala was con quered by his descendant, Gopal Sa (A.o. 634). Sungram Sa, the 47th in descent from Jadu, inherited only three or four districts in 1480; but at his death, in 1530, he ruled over fifty - two. Ferishta tells us that when Asif Khan invaded Garha in 1563, Bir Narayan was raja. Hirdi Sa, the 54th raja, built the temple at Ramnagar, near Mundala ; and Seoraj, the 59th, began to reign in 1742, when Balaji Baji Rao invaded the country. A second kingdom had its seat on the southern slope of the Satpura Hills, at Deogarh in Chiud wara, one of the rajas of which, Bakht Baland, was either taken prisoner by one of Aurangzeb's generals, or visited Dehli of his own accord, where he was, converted to Muhammadanism, and then permitted to return to his country, where his descendants,' says Mr. Hislop, 'though adhering
to this change of creed, have not ceased to marry into Gond families, and hence the present representative of that regal house is not only acknowledged by the whole race about Nagpur as their head and judge, but is physically regarded a pure Raj Gond.' A third Gond piincipality had its capital at Kherla in Baitul, to which belonged the famous forts of Gawilgarh and Narnallah. In 1433, its raja, Narsingh Rai, who is represented as powerful and wealthy, was slain in battle by Hoshang Gori, king of Malwa, and Kherla taken. At a later date it appears to have become subject to Pandu Gauli, the raja of Deogarh, and con tinued so under his successors. Not far from Kherla we find a hill raja at Saoligadh, in Aurang zeb's time, who seems to have maintained his independence till swept away by the Mahrattas between 1760 and 1775. A fourth Gond king dom was that of Chanda on the Wardha, which extended far to the east and south-east. The four dynasties arose before the ascendency of the Moghuls in India, and have left architectural and other monuments of great interest. ' The prine:pal architectural remains are at Mandla, at Garha near Jubbulpur, at Chauragadh near Narsingpur, at Deogarh near Chindwara, at Kherla near Ilaitul, and at Chanda.' There was a fifth Gond Rajput dynasty at Warangal or Orankal, in the Dekhan, to the south of the Godavery, which is said to have been founded by Kakati of the Ganapati family, about A.D. 1088. The kingdom became very powerful about the end of the 13th century, and the raja of Orissa, becoming jealous of his neighbour's power, solicited the aid of Ala-ud-Din, who sent au army in 1303, through Bbngal, to attack Warangal, but his expedition failed. Malik Kafur was then despatched with 100,000 horse into the Dekhan, and, after a siege of some months, he took Warangal in 1309, and made the raja Ladderdeva tributary. In 1321 it was again besieged by Alif or Jema Khan, the son of Ghaias ud-Din Tagha]aq, but he was obliged to retreat with the loss of nearly his whole army. He returned, however, and in 1323 reduced the place and carried the raja prisoner to Dehli. It is said he was afterwards released and restored ; at all events Warangal reasserted its independence in 1344, and assisted Hasan Ganga Bahmani in his revolt. From this time the Bahmani kings of Kulburga involved the native rajas in continual wars. Firoz Shah (1397-1422) especially obtained great successes over the raja of Kherla; and finally Amad Shah Wali took permanent possession of Warangal, forcing the raja to relinquish his ancient capital and flee northward across the Godavery, where he established himself in wild independence among the inaccessible forests. The Gond rajas still maintained their independence, however, and in 1513 we find them joining in a powerful con federacy on the side of Medon Rai against 'Mu hammad it. of Malwa. At the close of the 16th century, Akbar reduced the western portion of Gondwana, but it was not till the middle of the 18th that permanent progress was made. About 1738, Raghoji Bhonsla interfered in a disputed, succession in Deogarh, and secured half the revenues ; but in 1743 the Gonda raised an in surrection, which Raghoji quelled, and annexed the principalities of Deogarh and Chanda to his own dominions ; and in 1751-52 he took the forts of Gawilgarh, Narnalla, and Manikdrug, with the districts dependent on them. From this period large numbers of Mahrattas settled in these dis tricts, and the Gonda became more restricted to the hills.