Madhya Pradesh (abbreviated as MP) (Hindī: मध्य प्रदेश, pronounced , translation: Middle Province), often called the Heart of India, is a state in central India. Its capital is Bhopal. Madhya Pradesh was originally the largest state in India until November 1, 2000 when the state of Chhattisgarh was carved out. It borders the states Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
AncientThe city of Ujjain (also known as Avanti) arose as a major center in the second wave of Indian urbanization in the sixth century BC, and served as the chief city of the kingdom of Malwa or Avanti. Further east, the kingdom of Chedi lie in Bundelkhand. Chandragupta Maurya united northern India c. 320 BCE, establishing the Maurya empire (321 to 185 BCE), which included all of modern-day Madhya Pradesh. King Ashoka's wife was said to come from Vidisha- a town north of today's Bhopal. The Maurya empire went into decline after the death of Asoka, and Central India was contested among the Sakas, Kushanas, and local dynasties during the 3rd to 1st centuries BCE. Ujjain emerged as the predominant commercial center of western India from the first century BCE, located on the trade routes between the Ganges plain and India's Arabian Sea ports. It was also an important Hindu and Buddhist center. The Satavahana dynasty of the northern Deccan and the Saka dynasty of the Western Satraps fought for the control of Madhya Pradesh during the 1st to 3rd centuries CE.
Northern India was conquered by the Gupta empire in the 4th and 5th centuries, which became known as India's "classical age". The Vakataka dynasty were the southern neighbors of the Guptas, ruling the northern Deccan plateau from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal. These empires collapsed towards the end of the 5th century.
MedievalThe attacks of the Hephthalites or White Huns brought about the collapse of the Gupta empire, and India broke up into smaller states. A king Yasodharman of Malwa defeated the Huns in 528, ending their expansion. King Harsha of Thanesar reunited northern India for a few decades before his death in 647. The Medieval period saw the rise of the Rajput clans, including the Paramaras of Malwa and the Chandelas of Bundelkhand. The Paramara king Bhoj (c. 1010-1060) was a brilliant polymath and prolific writer. The Chandelas created the temple city of Khajuraho between c. 950 and c. 1050. Gond kingdoms emerged in Gondwana and Mahakoshal. Northern Madhya Pradesh was conquered by the Muslim Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Delhi Sultanate at the end of the 14th century, independent regional kingdoms reemerged, including the Tomara Rajput kingdom of Gwalior and the Muslim Sultanate of Malwa, with its capital at Mandu. The Malwa Sultanate was conquered by the Sultanate of Gujarat in 1531.
ModernMost of Madhya Pradesh came under Mughal rule during the reign of the emperor Akbar (1556–1605). Gondwana and Mahakoshal remained under the control of Gond kings, who acknowledged Mughal supremacy but enjoyed virtual autonomy. After the death of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 Mughal control began to weaken, and the Marathas began to expand from their base in central Maharashtra. Between 1720 and 1760 the Marathas took control of most of Madhya Pradesh, and Maratha clans were established semi-autonomous states under the nominal control of the Maratha Peshwa. The Holkars of Indore ruled much of Malwa, and the Bhonsles of Nagpur dominated Mahakoshal and Gondwana as well as Vidarbha in Maharashtra. Jhansi was founded by a Maratha general. Bhopal was ruled by a Muslim dynasty descended from the Afghan General Dost Mohammed Khan. Maratha expansion was checked at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761.
The British were expanding their Indian dominions from bases in Bengal, Bombay, and Madras, and the three Anglo-Maratha Wars were fought between 1775 and 1818. The Third Anglo-Maratha War left the British supreme in India. Most of Madhya Pradesh, including the large states of Indore, Bhopal, Nagpur, Rewa, and dozens of smaller states, became princely states of British India, and the Mahakoshal region became a British province, the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories. In 1853 the British annexed the state of Nagpur, which included southeastern Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra and most of Chhattisgarh, which were combined with the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories to form the Central Provinces in 1861. The princely states of northern Madhya Pradesh were governed by the Central India Agency.
After the recent discovery in July 2007, of ruby ore in the region it has been overwhelmed by mining companies and individuals seeking work. This has led to a massive surge in population that has subsequently caused a reported 283% increase in crime as well as a massive outbreak of dysentery in several areas of Madhya Pradesh. A recent government report has declared parts of the region as "Overwhelmed by disease... in need of a greater military presence" The government has now taken measures to bring the area under greater control and is "currently enacting proper regulations."
After Indian independenceMadhya Pradesh was created in 1950 from the former British Central Provinces and Berar and the princely states of Makrai and Chhattisgarh, with Nagpur as the capital of the state. The new states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, and Bhopal were formed out of the Central India Agency. In 1956, the states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, and Bhopal were merged into Madhya Pradesh, and the Marathi-speaking southern region Vidarbha, which included Nagpur, was ceded to Bombay state. Bhopal became the new capital of the state. In November 2000, as part of the Madhya Pradesh Reorganization Act, the southeastern portion of the state split off to form the new state of Chhattisgarh.
GeographyMadhya Pradesh in Hindi can be translated to Central Province, and it is located in the geographic heart of India. The state straddles the Narmada River, which runs east and west between the Vindhya and Satpura ranges; these ranges and the Narmada are the traditional boundary between the north and south of India. The state is bordered on the west by Gujarat, on the northwest by Rajasthan, on the northeast by Uttar Pradesh, on the east by Chhattisgarh, and on the south by Maharashtra.
Madhya Pradesh comprises several linguistically and culturally distinct regions, including:
- Malwa: a plateau region in the northwest of the state, north of the Vindhya Range, with its distinct language and culture. Indore is the major city of the region, while Bhopal lies on the edge of Bundelkhand region. Ujjain is a town of historical importance.
- Nimar (Nemar): the western portion of the Narmada River valley, lying south of the Vindhyas in the southwest portion of the state.
- Bundelkhand: a region of rolling hills and fertile valleys in the northern part of the state, which slopes down toward the Indo-Gangetic plain to the north. Gwalior is an historic center of the region.
- Chambal: the north-western region. A mountainous region rich in red, soft, and fragile sandstone. The climate is harsh, and the area is known for murderous pirates who were active in hundreds in the late 1900s.
- Baghelkhand: a hilly region in the northeast of the state, which includes the eastern end of the Vindhya Range.
- Mahakoshal (Mahakaushal): the southeastern portion of the state, which includes the eastern end of the Narmada river valley and the eastern Satpuras. Jabalpur is the most important city in the region.
- Central Vindhya and Satpura region. Which has most of the central Narmada river valley and watershed, and has the highest point in the state - Dhupgarh in Pachmarhi.
Rivers of Madhya PradeshMadhya Pradesh represents great river basins and the watershed of a number of rivers. Catchments of many rivers of India lie in Madhya Pradesh. The Narmada (originating from Amarkantak) and Tapti (originating from Multai of Betul District) rivers and their basins divide the state in two, with the northern part draining largely into the Ganga basin and the southern part into the Godavari and Mahanadi systems. The Vindhyas form the southern boundary of the Ganga basin, with the western part of the Ganga basin draining into the Yamuna and the eastern part directly into the Ganga itself. All the rivers, which drain into the Ganga, flow from south to north, with the Chambal, Sipra, Kali Sind, Parbati, Kuno, Sind, Betwa, Dhasan and Ken rivers being the main tributaries of the Yamuna. The land drained by these rivers is agriculturally rich, with the natural vegetation largely consisting of grass and dry deciduous forest types, largely thorny. The eastern part of the Ganga basin consists of the Son, the Tons and the Rihand Rivers, with the Son being the major tributary. This is also the junction point of the Satpura and the Vindhya ranges, with the Maikal and Kaimur Hills being the fulcrum. The forests here are much richer than the thorn forests of the northwestern part of Madhya Pradesh. The Son is of great significance in that it is the largest tributary going into the Ganga on the south bank and arising out of the hills of Madhya Pradesh rather than from the Himalayas. This river and its tributaries contribute the bulk of the monsoon flow into Ganga, because the north bank tributaries are all snow fed.
The major tributary of the Ganga, the Son, arises in one of the most important watersheds in India, the Maikal hills around Amarkantak. Three of the great rivers of India, Narmada, Mahanadi and Son, are given birth to by these hills. This is also one of the few ranges in the State having a north south configuration. The Mahanadi itself, together with its tributaries such as Hasdeo, Mand and Kharun flows southeast into Orissa and converts that State into a green rice bowl. The upper Mahanadi catchment contains some of the finest forests in the State, ranging from mixed deciduous to teak, bamboo and Sal. Just as the Mahanadi flows east from the Maikal hills and the Son flows north, the mighty Narmada charts a westerly course from these very hills. The Narmada flows through a rift valley, with the Vindhyas marching along its northern bank and the Satpuras along the southern. Its tributaries include the Banjar, the Tawa, the Machna, the Denwa and the Sonbhardra rivers. Taken in combination with its parallel sister river, the Tapti, which also flows through a rift valley, the Narmada - Tapti systems carry and enormous volume of water and provide drainage for almost a quarter of the land area of Madhya Pradesh.
The Satpuras, in the Gawilgarh and Mahadeo Hills, also contain a watershed, which is south facing. The Indrawati, the Wainganga, the Wardha, the Pench, the Kanhan and Penganga rivers, discharge an enormous volume of water into the Godavari system. The Godavari is the lifeline of Andhra Pradesh, but the water which feeds it is a gift of the Central India watershed. Some of the finest sub-tropical, semi moist forests in India are to be found in the Godavari basin, mainly in the valley of the Indrawati. There are very few virgin forests left in the country, but very fine examples of these are to be found in Bastar area along the Indrawati and in the Kanger valley in Chhattisgarh.
The importance of Central India watershed was first noted by Captain Forsyth and remarked upon in his book, "The Highlands of Central India", first published in 1889. This is what he has to state in the introductory chapter to his book, "Yet in the very center of India there exists a considerable region to which the term highlands — is strictly applicable; and in which are enormous peaks and ranges, for which the term mountain would, in any other country, be used. Several of the great rivers of India have their first source in this elevated region. And pour their water into the sea on either side of the peninsula – to the north the Son commingling with the Ganges, to the east the Mahanadi, flowing independently to the Bay of Bengal, to the south some of the principal feeders of the Godavari, and to the west the Narmada and the Tapti taking parallel courses to the Arabian Sea.
There are many important multi-state irrigation projects in development, including Godavari River Basin Irrigation Projects.