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Nagpur's History

Nagpur is the third largest city and the winter capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the 13th largest city in India by population and according to an Oxford Economics report, Nagpur is projected to be the fifth fastest growing city in the world from 2019 to 2035 with an average growth of 8.41%.It has been proposed as one of the Smart Cities in Maharashtra and is one of the top ten cities in India in Smart City Project execution.

Nagpur is the seat of the annual winter session of the Maharashtra state assembly. It is a major commercial and political centre of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. In addition, the city derives unique importance from being an important location for the Dalit Buddhist movement and the headquarters for the Hindu nationalist organisation RSS. Nagpur is also known for the Deekshabhoomi, which is graded an A-class tourism and pilgrimage site, the largest hollow stupa among all the Buddhist stupas in the world.

According to a survey by ABP News-Ipsos, Nagpur was identified as the best city in India topping in livability, greenery, public transport, and health care indices in 2013. The city was adjudged the 20th cleanest city in India and the top mover in the western zone as per Swachh Sarvekshan 2016. It was awarded as the best city for innovation and best practice in Swachh Sarvekshan 2018. It was also declared as open defecation free in January 2018 under Swachh Bharat Mission. It is also one of the safest cities for women in India.The city also ranks 31st in Ease of Living index among 111 cities in India.It was ranked the 8th most competitive city in the country by the Institute for Competitiveness for the year 2017.

It is famous for Nagpur oranges and is sometimes known as the Orange City for being a major trade center of oranges cultivated in large part of the region.It is also called the Tiger Capital of India or the Tiger Gateway of India as many tiger reserves are located in and around the city and also hosts the regional office of National Tiger Conservation Authority.The city was founded in 1703 by the Gond King Bakht Buland Shah of Deogarh and later became a part of the Maratha Empire under the royal Bhonsale dynasty. The British East India Company took over Nagpur in the 19th century and made it the capital of the Central Provinces and Berar. After the first re-organisation of states, the city lost its status as the capital. Following the informal Nagpur Pact between political leaders, it was made the second capital of Maharashtra.

Deeksha Bhoomi

Nag River
Nagpur is named after the river Nag which flows through the city. The old Nagpur (today called ‘Mahal’) is situated on north banks of the river Nag. The suffix pur means “city” in many Indian languages.

One of the earlier names of Nagpur was “Fanindrapura”. It derives its origin from the Sanskrit word fana (फणा; meaning hood of a cobra). Nagpur’s first newspaper was named Fanindramani, which means a jewel that is believed to be suspended over a cobra’s hood. It is this jewel that lights up the darkness, hence the name of the newspaper. B. R. Ambedkar claimed that both the city and the river are named after “Nag people”. During British rule, the name of the city was spelt and pronounced as “Nagpore”

Early and medieval history statue of Bakht Buland Shah in Nagpur.In the 18th century, the city was created by the leader of Gond Dynasty named Bakht Buland Shah in the first half of the century. Human existence around present-day Nagpur can be traced back 3000 years to the 8th century BCE. Mehir burial sites at the Drugdhamna (near the Mhada colony) indicate that the megalithic culture existed around Nagpur and is still followed.The first reference to the name “Nagpur” is found in a 10th-century copper-plate inscription discovered at Devali in the neighbouring Wardha district. The inscription is a record of grant of a village situated in the Visaya (district) of Nagpura-Nandivardhana during the time of the Rastrakuta king Krsna III in the Saka year 862 (940 CE).Towards the end of the 3rd century, King Vindhyasakti is known to have ruled the Nagpur region. In the 4th century, the Vakataka Dynasty ruled over the Nagpur region and surrounding areas and had good relations with the Gupta Empire. The Vakataka king Prithvisena I moved his capital to Nagardhan (ancient name Nandivardhana), 38 kilometres (24 mi) from Nagpur. After the Vakatakas, the region came under the rule of the Hindu kingdoms of the Badami Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas. The Paramaras of Malwaappear to have controlled the Nagpur region in the 11th century. A prashasti inscription of the Paramara king Lakshmadeva (r. c. 1086–1094) has been found at Nagpur. Subsequently, the region came under the Yadavas of Devagiri. In 1296, Allauddin Khilji invaded the Yadava Kingdom after capturing Deogiri, after which the Tughlaq Dynasty came to power in 1317. In the 17th century, the Mughal Empireconquered the region, however during Mughal era, regional administration was carried out by the Gond kingdom of Deogarh-Nagpur in the Chhindwara district of the modern-day state of Madhya Pradesh.In the 18th, century Bhonsles of the Maratha Empire established the Nagpur Kingdom based in the city.

In the 18th century, the city was created by the leader of Gond Dynasty named Bakht Buland Shah in the first half of the century. Human existence around present-day Nagpur can be traced back 3000 years to the 8th century BCE. Mehir burial sites at the Drugdhamna (near the Mhada colony) indicate that the megalithic culture existed around Nagpur and is still followed.The first reference to the name “Nagpur” is found in a 10th-century copper-plate inscription discovered at Devali in the neighbouring Wardha district. The inscription is a record of grant of a village situated in the Visaya (district) of Nagpura-Nandivardhana during the time of the Rastrakuta king Krsna III in the Saka year 862 (940 CE).Towards the end of the 3rd century, King Vindhyasakti is known to have ruled the Nagpur region. In the 4th century, the Vakataka Dynasty ruled over the Nagpur region and surrounding areas and had good relations with the Gupta Empire. The Vakataka king Prithvisena I moved his capital to Nagardhan (ancient name Nandivardhana), 38 kilometres (24 mi) from Nagpur. After the Vakatakas, the region came under the rule of the Hindu kingdoms of the Badami Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas. The Paramaras of Malwaappear to have controlled the Nagpur region in the 11th century.A prashasti inscription of the Paramara king Lakshmadeva (r. c. 1086–1094) has been found at Nagpur.Subsequently, the region came under the Yadavas of Devagiri. In 1296, Allauddin Khilji invaded the Yadava Kingdom after capturing Deogiri, after which the Tughlaq Dynasty came to power in 1317. In the 17th century, the Mughal Empireconquered the region, however during Mughal era, regional administration was carried out by the Gond kingdom of Deogarh-Nagpur in the Chhindwara district of the modern-day state of Madhya Pradesh.In the 18th, century Bhonsles of the Maratha Empire established the Nagpur Kingdom based in the city.

Nagpur City

After Bhakt Buland Shah, the next Raja (king) of Deogarh was Chand Sultan, who resided principally in the country below the hills, fixing his capital at Nagpur, which he turned into a walled town.On Chand Sultan’s death in 1739, Wali Shah, an illegitimate son of Bakht Buland, usurped the throne and Chand Sultan’s widow invoked the aid of the Maratha leader Raghoji Bhosale of Berar in the interest of her sons Akbar Shah and Burhan Shah. The usurper was put to death and the rightful heirs placed on the throne. After 1743, a series of Maratha rulers came to power, starting with Raghoji Bhosale, who conquered the territories of Deogarh, Chanda and Chhattisgarh by 1751.

Nagpur was burnt substantially in 1765 and again partially in 1811 by marauding Pindaris. However, the development of the city of Nagpur continued.In 1803 Raghoji II Bhosale joined the Peshwa against the British in the Second Anglo-Maratha War, but the British prevailed. After Raghoji II’s death in 1816, his son Parsaji was deposed and murdered by Mudhoji II Bhosale. Despite the fact that he had entered into a treaty with the British in the same year, Mudhoji joined the Peshwa in the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1817 against the British but suffered a defeat at Sitabuldi in present-day Nagpur. The fierce battle was a turning point as it laid the foundations of the downfall of the Bhosalesand paved the way for the British acquisition of Nagpur city.Mudhoji was deposed after a temporary restoration to the throne, after which the British placed Raghoji III Bhosale, the grandchild of Raghoji II, on the throne. During the rule of Raghoji III(which lasted till 1840), the region was administered by a British resident. In 1853, the British took control of Nagpur after Raghoji III died without leaving an heir.