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Bundelkhand is a geographical and cultural region and also a mountain range in central & North India. The hilly region is now divided between the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, with the larger portion lying in the latter state.
|• Total||70,747 km2 (27,316 sq mi)|
|Elevation||250−300 m (−730 ft)|
|• Density||260/km2 (670/sq mi)|
|• Major languages||Bundeli,|
|Time zone||UTC+05:30 (IST)|
|• Summer (DST)||+05:30|
|Separated states||Orchha (1501),|
Jhansi is the largest city in Bundelkhand and is a major cultural, educational, transport and economic hub.
Other towns are Konch, Kalpi, Chirgaon, Datia, Dabra, Mauranipur, Panna, Banda, Chitrakoot, Tikamgarh, Rath, Lalitpur, Damoh, Jalaun, Orai, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Banda, Maudaha, Ashoknagar, kalinjar, Chhatarpur and Gwalior
Among the well-known places of Bundelkhand is Khajuraho, which has numerous 10th-century sculptures devoted to fine living and eroticism. The mines of Panna have been the source of magnificent diamonds; a very large one dug from the last active mine was kept for a time in the fort of Kalinjar.
Bundelkhand means "Bundela domain". The region was earlier known as Jejabhukti or Jejakabhukti ("Jeja's province"). According to the inscriptions of the Chandela dynasty, this name derived from Jeja, the nickname of their ruler Jayashakti. However, it is possible that this name derives from an even earlier name of the region: "Jajhauti" or "Jijhoti" (khangar's capital). After the Bundelas replaced the Chandelas around 14th century, the region came to be known as Bundelkhand after them.
Bundelkhand lies between the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the north and the Vindhya Range to the south. It is a gently sloping upland, distinguished by barren hilly terrain with sparse vegetation, although it was historically forested. The plains of Bundelkhand are intersected by three mountain ranges, the Vindhya, Fauna and Bander chains, the highest elevation not exceeding 600 meters above sea-level. Beyond these ranges the country is further diversified by isolated hills rising abruptly from a common level, and presenting from their steep and nearly inaccessible scarps eligible sites for forts and strongholds of local kings. The general slope of the country is towards the northeast, as indicated by the course of the rivers which traverse or bound the territory, and finally discharge themselves into the Yamuna River.
The principal rivers are the Sindh, Betwa, Shahzad River, Ken, Bagahin, Tons Pahuj, Dhasan and Chambal. The Kali Sindh, rising in Malwa, marks the western frontier of Bundelkhand. Parallel to this river, but further east, is the course of the Betwa. Still farther to the east flows the Ken, followed in succession by the Bagahin and Tons (also known as Tamsa). The Yamuna and the Ken are the only two navigable rivers. Notwithstanding the large number of streams, the depression of their channels and height of their banks render them for the most part unsuitable for the purposes of irrigation, which is conducted by means of ponds and tanks. These artificial lakes are usually formed by throwing embankments across the lower extremities of valleys, and thus arresting and impounding the waters flowing through them.
Since 2007, Bundelkhand region has been facing severe drought problems. Normal rainy days in Bundelkhand is 52 days (metrological department of India) but last six years its restricted 24 days. Timing of Monsoon usually in this area is second week of June but, Year 2008 this season saw rains, but in the second week of June alone the region received around 32 percent of its total rainfall. Farmers were not prepared for sowing. Then till July 2008, most of the Bundelkhand region received around 55 percent of its total average rainfall. This change caused floods and widespread losses in livestock and top soil. In Bundelkhand region, average level of rainfall is 800–900 mm. (Ramesh et al. 2002), But, during the last six years Bundelkhand received only 400–450 mm annual rainfall. Agriculture production also decreased in this areas. In 2000, this region used to contribute 15 percent of the state's total food grain production, which has now come down to 7 percent. A once food secure zone has now become a symbol of insecurity and migration due to climate change. In this area various livelihoods such as fishing, vegetable production and traditional betel leaf farming are facing one of the worst crises ever.
Medieval Period & Maratha RuleEdit
After khangar dynasty the Chandela clan ruled Bundelkhand from the 9th to the 16th centuries. In the early 14th century they were feudatories of the Pratiharas of Kannauj, and ruled from the fortress-city of Kalinjar. A dynastic struggle among the Pratiharas allowed the Chandelas and other feudatories to assert their independence. The Chandelas captured the strategic fortress of Gwalior. 10th century ruler Dhanga left many inscriptions, and endowed a large number of Jain and Hindu temples. Dhanga's grandson Vidyadhara expanded the Chandela kingdom to its greatest extent, extending the Chandela dominions to the Chambal River in the northwest and south to the Narmada River. The Afghan king Mahmud of Ghazni attacked the Chandela dominions during Vidyadhara's reign, but were repelled by the Chandela Rajputs. The Chandelas built the famous temple-city of Khajuraho between the mid-10th and mid-11th centuries. During the Chandela period, Bundelkhand was home to a flourishing Jain community and numerous Jain temples were built in that period.
In the 12th century, the Rajput Chauhan rulers of Ajmer challenged the Chandelas. The Muslim conquests of the early 13th century reduced the Chandela domains, although they survived until the 16th century as minor chieftains. Bundela Rajputs grew to prominence starting in the 16th century. Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela chief Rudra Pratap Singh, who became the first raja of Orchha. In 1545, Sher Shah Suri was killed while attempting to capture Kalinjar Fort from the local Bharshiva king.
The region came under Mughal rule from the 15th to 17th centuries, although the hilly, forested terrain of the sparsely populated region made it difficult to control. Akbar's governors at Kalpi, Jhansi, Allahabad maintained authority over the surrounding districts, and the Bundela chiefs were in a state of chronic revolt, which culminated in the war of independence under Chhatrasal. On the outbreak of his rebellion in 1671 he occupied a large province to the south of the Yamuna and eventually Mughals were forced to settle his claim over this newly won territory. Soon infighting spread in between Bundela Chiefs and Mughals seized this as an opportunity to ascertain their claim over this area again. The famous Mughal Governer Bangash Khan set out from Allahabad to capture Maharaj Chatrasal. One by one forts fell down and Maharaja Chatrasal was cornered in Jaitpura. After 6 months of fighting, he sends out a message to Peshwa Bajirao for help, which he equally responded. The Marathas contested severely and defeated Bangesh Khan in the pitched battle of Jaitpur and Mahoba. On his death in 1732, he bequeathed one-third of his dominions, including Jalaun, Jhansi and Banda domains to Peshwa allies, who in due time succeeded in controlling the whole of Bundelkhand, with the local rulers as tributaries to the Marathas. Under Peshwa Rule, the Bundelkhand was divided into 11 personal subas of him and his families and relatives were posted in Kalpi, Shivpuri, Charkhari, Jalon, Mahoba, Jahnsi, Banda, Karwi, Kalinjar, Mathondh & Sagar. Peace and tranquility prevailed and the masses were at large saved from the tyranny of Mughals. However, the Peshwa - Bundela tussle continued by the fact that Bundelas always considered Peshwas entry into Bundelkhand as illegal. From 1732 to 1785, Maratha forces were the masters of India and people of Bundelkhand formed the much revreained Peshwa Huzurat battalions of Maratahs. They fought in Punjab, Attock, Peshawar, Kashmir & Bengal. In 1761 Battle Of Panipath, Bundelkhand lost around 6 thousand soldiers in direct hand to hand combat battle with Durranies, yet they were able to push Rohillas out of India. 1785 - 1787 was a period of resurgence in Bundela power, but was resisted by Ali Bahadur of Banda. He warred with the Bundelas and was successful in saving his dominions from them. The power center of Bundelkhand shifted from Jhansi to Banda and Ali bahadur declared himself Nawab of Banda. He is also called the " Conqueror of Bundelkhand " and was associated with both Peshwa & Bundela royalty by blood lines. After the fall of Pune in 1802, the East India Company signed the Treaty Of Bassein and Peshwas were granted a sanad in Bithoor. Bundelkhand was placed under newly created BUNDELKHAND AGENCY which signed separate treaties with 11 Peshwa Subas & Bundela states.
British rule, 1802–1947Edit
The Marathas ceded parts of Bundelkhand, which were later called British Bundelkhand, to the British in the 1802 Treaty of Bassein. After 1802, many of the local rulers were granted sanads (leases) by the British, which entitled them to the lands they controlled at the death of Ali Bahadur, in return for the rulers signing a written bond of allegiance (ikrarnama) to the British. A political officer attached to the British forces in Bundelkhand supervised British relations with the 'sanad states. In 1806 British protection was promised to the Maratha ruler of Jhansi, and in 1817 the British recognised his hereditary rights to Jhansi state. In 1818 the Peshwa in Pune ceded all his rights over Bundelkhand to the British at the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War.
In February 1832, a terrible state of famine here was reported in the Samachar Darpan, and this is reflected on in Letitia Elizabeth Landon's harrowing poem, Scene in Bundelkhund, published towards the end on that year.
Scene in Bundelkhund, a poem by L. E. L..
The sanad states were organised into the Bundelkhand Agency in 1811, when a political agent to the Governor-General of India was appointed and headquartered at Banda . In 1818 the headquarters were moved to Kalpi, in 1824 to Hamirpur, and in 1832 back to Banda. The political agent was placed under the authority of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces, headquartered in Agra, in 1835. In 1849 authority over the Bundelkhand Agency was placed briefly under the Commissioner for the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories, who appointed a political assistant based at Jhansi. Shortly thereafter, authority over Bundelkhand was placed under the Resident at Gwalior, and the headquarters of the political assistant was moved to Nowgong, which remained until 1947. In 1853 the Raja of Jhansi died childless, and his territory was annexed to British Bundelkhand. The Jhansi State and the Jalaun and Chanderi districts were then formed into a superintendency. In 1854 Bundelkhand Agency was placed under the authority of the newly created Central India Agency, headquartered at Indore.
The widow of the Raja of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai, protested against the annexation because her adopted son was not recognised as the heir to his adoptive father, and because the slaughter of cattle was permitted in the Jhansi territory. The Revolt of 1857 found Jhansi ripe for rebellion. In June a few brave men of the 12th native infantry seized the fort containing the treasure and magazine, and massacred the European officers of the garrison. The Rani put herself at the head of the rebels, and they captured several of the neighbouring British districts and princely states allied to the British. She died bravely in battle in Gwalior in 1858. It was not till November 1858 that Jhansi was brought under British control.
After the revolt, Jhansi was given to the Maharaja of Gwalior, but came under British rule in 1886 when it was swapped for Gwalior fort. In 1865 the political assistant was replaced with a political agent. The eastern portion of the Agency was detached to form Bagelkhand Agency in 1871. The state of Khaniadhana was transferred to the authority of the Gwalior Resident in 1888, and in 1896 Baraundha, Jaso, and the Chaube Jagirs were transferred to Bagelkhand. In 1901 there were 9 states, 13 estates, and the pargana of Alampur belonging to Indore State, with a total area of 9,851 sq mi (25,510 km2) and a total population of 1,308,326 in 1901. The most important of the states were Orchha, Panna, Samthar, Charkhari, Chhatarpur, Datia, Bijawar and Ajaigarh State. Deforestation accelerated during British rule. The population of the agency decreased 13% between 1891 and 1901 due to the effects of famine. In 1931 Bagelkhand Agency, with the exception of the state of Rewa State, was merged into Bundelkhand Agency.
Independent India, 1947–presentEdit
After Indian independence in 1947, the princely states of Bundelkhand Agency were combined with those of the former Bagelkhand Agency to form the province of Vindhya Pradesh, which became an Indian state in 1950. On 1 November 1956, Vindhya Pradesh was merged into Madhya Pradesh.
Notorious dacoits like Phulan Devi, Nirbhay Gujar, Devi singh and Moorath Singh besides other robber gangs once ruled the area.
Proposed Bundelkhand stateEdit
Bundelkhand comprises parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. While Bahujan Samaj Party government under Mayawati had proposed in 2011 creation of Bundelkhand from seven districts of Uttar Pradesh, organizations such as Bundelkhand Akikrit Party (BAP) and Bundelkhand Mukti Morcha (BMM) want it to include six districts from Madhya Pradesh as well. Uma Bharati of Bharatiya Janata Party has promised separate state of Bundelkhand within three years if her party voted to power, during campaign for Loksabha Election, 2014 at Jhansi. Similar promise was made by Congress leader Pradeep Jain Aditya during Loksabha Election, 2014.
Since the early 1960s there has been a movement for establishing a Bundelkhand state or promoting development of the region. Bundelkhand is geographically the central part of India covering some part of Madhya Pradesh and some part of Uttar Pradesh. (At Sagar is the exact centre of the original undivided India: the granite bench mark by British surveyors indicating this is placed in the compound of a church in Sagar Cantonment.) In spite of being rich in minerals, the people of Bundelkhand are very poor and the region is underdeveloped and underrepresented in state and central politics. There are several local parties and organisations, some promoting further development of the region and some seeking statehood. The agrarian crisis and farmers' suicides are also cited as reasons for separate statehood.
- Uttar Pradesh
- From Uttar Pradesh (three districts from Jhansi Division and four districts from Chitrakoot Division)
- Jhansi (currently part of Jhansi Division)
- Jalaun (currently part of Jhansi Division)
- Lalitpur (currently part of Jhansi Division)
- Chitrakoot (currently part of Chitrakoot Division)
- Banda (currently part of Chitrakoot Division)
- Hamirpur (currently part of Chitrakoot Division)
- Mahoba (currently part of Chitrakoot Division)
- Madhya Pradesh
- From Madhya Pradesh (one district from Gwalior Division and six districts from Sagar Division)
In addition to the above districts, sometimes the following districts of Madhya Pradesh & Rajasthan are considered as being part of Bundelkhand:
The Bundeli language is the most common of the Hindi dialects spoken in the area. It in turn consists of several sub-dialects. The accent varies in various regions even though unmistakably of a single origin.
The region is predominantly Hindu. However, Jainism is historically significant in Bundelkhand, and several Tirthas are located in this region. Many prominent Jain scholars of the 20th century have been from this region and also in historically significant tradition of Buddhism. Nag people's ancestor were preached buddha-dhamma.
Bundelkhand has following folk dances. Badhai, Rai, Saira, Alha, Jawara, Akhada, Shaitan, Dhimrai.
A community radio station, Radio Bundelkhand, was launched in Orchha on 23 October 2008. It is an initiative of the Development Alternatives Group. The radio station broadcasts daily programs in the Bundeli dialect and devotes significant amount of its broadcast time to local issues, culture, education and the rich tradition of Bundeli folk music. The station is available on 90.4 MHz.
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bundelkhand .|
- Check dam project in Bundelkhand (Development Alternatives)
- Historic Blend, Frontline, Volume 24 – Issue 05 :: 10–23 March 2007
- James Foote Holcomb, Helen Harriet Howe Holcomb, In the Heart of India, or, beginnings of missionary work in Bundela Land, with a short chapter on the characteristics of Bundelkhand and its people, and four chapters of Jhansi history. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1905 Text at archive.org
- Radio Bundelkhand