This article has been extracted from
THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA , 1908.
OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.
Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts.Many units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.
Head-quarters of the District of the same name in the Bombay Presidency, situated in 19 degree 5' N. and 74 degree 55' E. It lies in a plain on the left bank of the Sina, 72 miles from Poona, and on the Dhond-Manmad Railway. The area slightly exceeds 2 square miles. Population, (1872) 37,240, (1881) 37,492, (1891) 41,689, and (1901) 42,032, including 6,248 in the cantonment. Hindus number 31,030; Muhammadans, 5,968; and Christians, 3,572. Some of the Brahmans are traders; most, however, are employed in work requiring education. The Musalmans are, as a rule, uneducated and indolent. They are employed in weaving, cleaning cotton, and in domestic service in the houses ofwell-to-do Hindus.
The Marwaris are the most prosperous class. The city has a commonplace appearance, most of the houses being of the ordinary Deccan type, built of mud-coloured sun-burnt bricks, with flat rools. It is surrounded by an earthen wall about 12 feet in height, with decayed bastions and gates.
This wall is said to have been built about 1562 by Husain Nizam Shah. The adjacent country is enclosed on two sides by hills. Ahmadnagar was founded about 1490 by Ahmad Nizam Shah, after whom it is named. Originally an officer of the Bahmani kingdom, he, on the breaking up of that government, assumed the title and authority of an independent ruler, and fixed his capital here. In his reign the kingdom attained high prosperity, extending on the north over Daulatabad and part of Khan- desh. He was succeeded in 1508 by his son, Burhan Nizam Shah, who died in 1553 and was succeeded by his son, Husain Nizam Shah.
This prince suffered a very severe defeat from the king of Bejapur, in 1562, losing several hundred elephants and 660 pieces of cannon : among them the great gun now at Bejapur, considered to be one of the largest pieces of bronze ordnance in the world. Husain Shah of Ahmadnagar sub sequently allied with the kings ofBejapur, Golconda, and Bidar against Raja Ram of Vijayanagar, whom in 1565 they defeated, made prisoner, and put to death. Murtaza Nizam Shah, nicknamed Divana, or 'the insane,' from the extravagance of his conduct, was in 1588 cruelly murdered by his son, Miran Husain Nizam Shah, who, having reigned ten months, was in turn deposed and put to death.
Miran was succeeded by his cousin, Ismail Nizam Shah ; but he, after a reign of two years, was deposed by his own father, who became king with the title of Burhan Nizam Shah II, and died in 1594. His son and successor, Ibrahim Nizam Shah, after a reign of four months, was killed in battle against the king ofBejapur. Ahmad, a reputed relative, was raised to the throne. But, as it was soon afterwards ascertained that he was not a lineal descendant, he was expelied from the city; and Bahadur Shah, the infant son of Ibrahim Nizam Shah, was placed on the throne under the influence of his great-aunt Chand Bibi (widow ofAli Adil Shah, king olBejapur, and sister of Murtaza Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar), a woman of heroic spirit, who, when the city was besieged by Murad, the son of Akbar, in 1596, defended in person the breach in the rampart, and compelied the assailants to raise the siege.
In 1600 prince Daniyal Mirza, son of Akbar, at the head of a Mughal army, captured the city ; but nominal kings continued to exercise a feeble sway until 1635, when Shah Jahan finally overthrew the dynasty.
In 1759 the city was be- trayed to the Peshwa by the commandant holding it for the Mughals. In 1797 h was ceded by the Peshwa to the Maratha chief, Daulat Rao Sindhia. In 1803 it was invested by a British force under General Wellesley, and surrendered after a resistance of two days. It was, how- ever, shortly after given up to the Peshwa ; but the fort was again occupied by the British in 181 7, by virtue of the Treaty of Poona. On the fallol the Peshwa, Ahmadnagar became the head-quarters of the Collectorate of the same name.
Half a mile to the east of the city stands the fort, built ofstone, circular in shape, about 3/2 miles in circumference, and surrounded by a wide and deep moat. This building, which stands on the site of an earlier fortress of earth, said to have been raised in 1488, was erected in its present form by Husain Nizam Shah, grandson of Ahmad Nizam Shah, in 1559.
In 1803 the fort was surrendered to the British after a severe bombardment. The breach then made is still visible. In 1901, during the Boer War, the fort was used for the accommodation of prisoners from South Africa.
To the north-east of the flag-staff bastion is a large tamarind tree, known as 'Wellington's tree,' from the tradition that Sir Arthur Wellesley, as he then was, halted beneath it while his troops were besieging the fort. Natives may frequently be observed paying their devotions to it.
The city has numerous specimens of Muhammadan architecture, several of the mosques being now converted into Government offices or used as dwelling-houses by European residents. The Collector's office is held in a mosque built in the sixteenth century.
The Judge's court was originally the palace of a Musalman noble, built about the year 1600. Six miles east of the city, on a hill between 700 and 800 feet above the level of the fort and on the left of the Ahmadnagar-Shevgaon road, stands the tomb of the Nizamshahi minister, Salabat Khan II, commonly known as Chand Bibi's Mahal. It is an octagonal dome surrounded by a three- storeyed veranda.
From the summit a fine view can be obtained of the surrounding country, and it is a favourite resort during the hot season. Other buildings of special interest are the Damri Masjid, a very ornate little building, the Faria Bagh, the tomb of Ahmad Nizam Shah, the Hasht Behisht Bagh, and Alamglr's Dargah. The latter, close to the adjacent town of Bhingar, is the burial-place of the heart and viscera of Aurangzeb.
Ahmadnagar is an important mission centre. Two noteworthy industrial schools are maintained by the American Mission : namely, a carpet factory and an experimental weaving institute. The two schools together contain 410 pupils.
There is a Parsifire-temple near the city and a fine cotton market. In the city are three high schools, three middle schools, and one normal class. Of these, the high schools belong to the American Mission, the Education Society, and the S.P.G. Mission, and contain respectively 247, 167, and 80 pupils. An agri cultural class with eleven pupils is attached to the Education Society's school.
The middle schools are St. Anne's Roman Catholic school with 34 pupils, the American Mission girls' school with 136 pupils, and the Education Society's school with 151 pupils. The normal class has an attendance of 87.
The municipality, established in 1854, had an average income during the decade ending 1901 of nearly one lakh. In 1903-4 the income was Rs. 82,000, chiefly derived from octroi (Rs. 34,000), conservancy fees (Rs. 9,500), and market fees (Rs. 9,300). A civil hospital treats about 10,000 patients annually. The city is supplied with water by numerous aqueducts leading from sources 2 to 6 miles distant, supplemented by well-water pumped by machinery into the ducts.
Ahmadnagar is a station of the Poona division of the Western Command, with a garrison composed ofBritish and native infantry, and a field battery.
During the ten years ending 1901 the cantonment had an average income of Rs. 14,000. In 1903-4 the income was Rs. 26,100, and the expenditure nearly Rs. 21,000.
The chief industries are the weaving of saris and the manufacture of copper and brass pots. Good carpets are woven in a mission factory, lately established. One street is devoted to the houses and shops of grain-dealers.
The shops of the cloth-sellers form another street. The cloth-selling trade is chiefly in the hands of Marwaris, who combene it with money-lending.