Akola - A tete a tete with the City
Location : Western India, North Central Maharashtra
Best Time to Visit : October to June
Places to see : Akola Fort, Barapur Fort, Karanja Fort, Padmaprabha Temple in Shirpur, Narnala Wildlife Sanctuary
Akola - The Tale of the City
Akola and the Berar Province was the legendary Vidharbha kingdom. This has its mention in the Indian Epic “Mahabharata”. Berar province was part of the Mauryan Empire when Asoka reigned between 272 to 231 BC. After changing hands from one dynasty to the other, Berar came under the reign of the Delhi Sultanate. From the Satavahana dynasty to the Vakataka dynasty and then to the Chalukya dynasty and to the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri, the Berar province was finally part of the Bahmani Sultanate which was part of the Delhi Sultanate which broke up in the 14th century. Finally, Berar came under the Mughals who were conquered by the Marathas under the leadership of Chhatrapati Shivaji and then his son Sambhaji and grandson Shahu. In the Battle of Panipat in 1761 the Maratha Empire weakened and Berar came under the Marathas.
In the Battle of Adgaon between the British forces under Governor Wellesley and the Maratha forces, the district of Akola and the rest of Berar came under the British East India Company. Berar was divided into two – East Berar and West Berar and Akola came under West Berar. In 1903 Berar was given to the Nizam of Hyderabad by the East India Company as a debt. This was the story of how Akola was formed.
Akola - Down the Ages
In the year 1947 after the Indian independence all the Indian states and provinces were reorganized. Berar was also one of the States, which got divided. Akola, the cotton hub was a part of the Bombay State. This was further divided into two states in the year 1960. Thus Akola became part of the new Maharashtra State. Down the ages, saw Akola grow into a flourishing town and today, Akola is the commercial trading center of cotton, and an important educational centre with many colleges affiliated to the University of Nagpur.
Akola - Travel Kitty
As we enter Akola, the tourist’s haven the topography of the city leads convinces us that this is a city that has been there always and done things of historical importance. We feel the air vibrating with Shivaji Maharaja’s energy and velour. We can identify with the British rule, their influence on Indian culture and we certainly will start taking measures for all this. Thus the travel kitty for a person in Akola could only include basically the articles of luxury that we get from Akola and also the cotton articles.
Akola - Joie de vivre in the city
With its immensely historical background and the protective spirit of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Akola, the vibrant city boasts of a past, which has had a lot many rulers wanting to covet it. This town exudes a proud nostalgia of the events that have taken place here and it exhibits the true chivalrous spirit of a Maratha warrior. We can see the following in this city:
Balapur Fort : This fort is situated 26km from Akola. It was built in 1721 by Azam Sha, the son of Emperor Aurangzeb. It was completed by Ismail Khan, the Nawab of Ellichpur in 1757. The Balapur fort is considered one of the strongest in the Vidarbha and Khandesh regions of Maharashtra, On an elevated footing between the Mann and the Mhais rivers, the Balapur fort has high walls and brickwork bastions. The fort has the unique feature of three gateways one inside the other. It was the military station of the Mughals, The missile discharge and the other ammunitions have made it one of the impenetrable forts in India. The fort has been built such that during rains, the floodwater surrounds the fort except at one point. There is a Bala Devi Temple on the southern side of the fort. If you are a tourist who wants to visit unvisited places, then this is an ideal place.
Narnala Wildlife Sanctuary :
This is located 40 km from Akola. This sanctuary spreads over 12 sq km. It is a densely populated Wildlife sanctuary and is really beautiful. This sanctuary is actually a continuation of the Melghat Tiger Reserve. Its hilly and rugged terrain with its deciduous forest of Teak, Ain, Tiwas, Salai, Lendia, Kusum etc form the main feature of the sanctuary. The fauna includes, a rich variety of animals. This includes the leopards, sambars, barking deer, wild boars, serpents, porcupines and many varieties of birds. Far from the hustle and bustle of life, this place offers extreme serenity and calmness and is the perfect getaway for a weekend.
All worshippers of Lord Shiva try to make it to Akola. There is the Indian month “Shravan”. This is the time when many people visit the Raj Rajeshwar temple. Besides, this Narsingh Maharaj, Mandir, Atishay Kshatra Shri Antariksh Parshvanath Jain temple and the Birla Mandir are all famous. Thus this hub of religious activities can be channelized and accordingly the tourists coming here could have a gala time too.
The “Sakharam Maharaj” fair of Loni Budsuk is an important fair of this district. The other major fairs here are “Narsing Maharaj”, “Arjun Awliya”, “Dhengo Mengo”, “Ambanath”, “Moreshwar Maharaj”, “ Rudramani Devi”, “Ganesh Utsav”, “Shambushek Mahraj”, “Birbalnath Maharaj”, “Qalandar Baba Urs” and “Balaji” are some of the fairs in Akola.
Thus, the town of Akola offers some of the best and the most magnificent of sculptures, architecture and monuments. The Forts, temples, and the monuments all offer an air of royalty, and chivalry. As we leave the place, we think, “ Sometimes the place is mightier than the structures in it.”