Jalna district,Maharashtra

Jalna district is an administrative district in the state of Maharashtra in western India. Jalna town is the district headquarters. The district is part of Aurangabad division. The district occupies an area of 7718 km². It has total 970 villages. The district is bounded on the north by Jalgaon district, on the east by Parbhani district and Buldhana district, on the south by Beed district and on the west by Aurangabad district.

The district is known for Jamb village, the birthplace of Samarth Ramdas Swami. The Battle of Assaye was fought on September 23, 1803 near the village of Assaye located near Jafrabad in this district.

Geographical location of the district is 19.01′ N – 21.03’N and 75.04’E – 76.04’E.

The district is situated at the central Maharashtra, in the North of the Marathwada region, one among its eight districts. The district has moderately to gently sloping undulated topography. The Northern part of the district is occupied by the Ajanta and Satmala hill ranges.
Rivers and lakes
The Godavari River flows along the southern boundary of the district, from west to east. The Purna River, one of the major tributaries of the Godavari, also flows through the district. The Dudhana, the principal tributary of the Purna, and the Kelana and the Girija, also tributaries of the Purna, as well as the Gulati and the Kundlika—which has been dammed to create the Ghanewadi Reservoir, which provides water to Jalna city—are other rivers draining the district.

Legend dates the foundation of the town as far back as the time of Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, whose consort Sita is supposed to have resided here. The locals still point out the place where Rama’s palace stood. Acting on the desire of a wealthy Muslim merchant, who is said to have been a great benefactor of the place, it was named Jalna, from his occupation of Julaha or weaver.

Jalna has had frequent changes of masters. During Akbar’s time Jalna was held as a jagir by one of his generals, and Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak made it his residence for a short period. Qamar-ud-din Khan, Asif Jah I also favoured the town as being healthier than others. For a long time it was held by a dependent of the Shinde clan. Shortly after the battle of Udgir in 1760, a rival claimant from Pune endeavoured to seize it. Colonel Stevenson’s troops took possession of it in 1803, in the famous Battle of Assaye. Assaye was a village in Jafrabad tehsil on the river Juah located around 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Bhokardan. Afterwards it finally reverted to the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Nearby Hindu temples and shrines
Shri Ganesha of Rajur (Shri Maha Ganapati Sansthan)

This Ganesha temple, containing the Rajur swayambhu (self-manifested) idol, is situated 25 kilometres (16 mi) north of Jalna city. On every Chathurthi lots of pilgrims come to pray to the deity. A well-attended fair is held at the temple on Angarika Chaturthi.

The Rajur is considered as one of the complete pithas (centers) of Lord Ganesha, of the three-and-a-half according to the Ganesha Purana. Other complete pithas are at Morgaon and Chinchwad, both near Pune. The remaining half-pitha is at Padmalaya.

The Matsyodari Devi Mandir of Ambad

The Matsyodari Devi Temple of Ambad is situated 21 kilometres (13 mi) south of Jalna city. Matsyodari, so called because the temple is on a hill which resembles the shape of a fish (matsya), is believed to be one of the oldest temples in the region.

A well-attended annual fair is held at the temple in October, during Sharad Navratri.

Jamb Samartha, Ghansawangi

Jamb Samarth village is the place where Sant Ramdas Swami was born. This village is in Ghansavangi tehsil, of Jalna district. Samarth Ramdas was born on Chaitra Shukla Navami, Shake 1530 (as per Hindu Calendar), at 12 p.m., the same time of birth as Ram Janma (Lord Rama). He was the younger son of Suryajipant Thosar Kulkarni and Ranubai. His birth name was Narayan Suryaji Thosar. The elder brother of Sant Ramdas Swami was Gangadhar. He is known as ‘Shreshtha’ or ‘Rami Ramdas’. He was born on Margashirsha Vadhya Trayodashi, Shake 1527.

Ramdas Swami wrote the holy granth (book) Dasbodh, Manache Shloka and many more shlokas. He took as his slogan Jai Jai Raghuveer Samarth, from the Hanuman Stuti. He built a number of Hanuman temples in villages throughout Maharashtra, for the purpose of encouraging in youth a devotion to Rama. He guided Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in establishing his rule.

A popular annual fair is held at the Ram temple on Ram Navami. This Ram temple is situated in Sant Ramdas Swami’s home.

The Samartha temple was built in memory of Sant Ramdas Swami. This temple is managed by a trust which was registered in 1943 by Nanasaheb Dev. The trust comprises 55 members and 11 trustees. It owns 240 hectares (590 acres) of land. A building to lodge pilgrims is maintained by the trust. This building was built with a donation received from Queen Mother Holkar of Indore, in memory of Shri Devi Ahilyabai Holkar.

Jalicha Dev (Shri Chakradhar Swami), Jaidevwadi
Jalicha Dev is an important holy place for the Mahanubhav Panth people. It is believed that Shri Chakradhar Swami resided here for some time. It is in Jaidevwadi village, in Bhokardan tehsil, on the north side of Jalna district.
Shri Anandi Swami Mandir, Old Jalna
This temple is 250 years old and was built by the Maratha warrior Mahadaji Shinde, on the place where Shri Sant Anand Swami attained Samadhi in Old Jalna. On each Ashadhi Ekadashi a fair attracting large numbers of people takes place.
Mamma Devi Mandir, Old Jalna
This temple of Mamma Devi is at Mastgad, Old Jalna. Kirtan, Bhajan and other holy rituals are performed daily. Many people come for Darshan, especially in Navratri.
Shri Jagdamba Devi, Mantha
The Shri Jagdamba Temple of Mantha is situated on a hill 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north of Mantha City. It is 300 years old. Many people come for Darshan, especially on Tuesday. A well-attended annual fair is held at the temple in Navratri and on Chaitra Purnima.
Shri Jagdamba Devi Mandir, Waghrul Jahangir
15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Jalna, along the Devel Goan Raja Road, there is Waghrul Jahangir village, which contains a Jagdamba Devi temple. It is very famous in the region.
Yogeshwari Devi Temple, Old Jalna
The temple of Yogeshwari Devi is in Yogeshwari Nagar, Old Jalna. This temple was built by Shri Ganpatrao Agnihotri in 1990. Kirtan, Bhajan and other holy rituals are performed daily. Many people come for Darshan, especially in Navratri. A prasad takes place every year.
Holy places of Jainism
Guru Ganesh Bhavan at Jalna
Guru Ganesh Bhavan is an important holy place of the Jain people in Jalna city. Guru Ganesh is also known as Karnatak Kesari. The Jain trust ‘Shri Vardhaman Sthankwasi Jain Shravak Sangh’ is looking after the development of this holy place. This trust also operates other institutions, viz. schools, a school for the blind, a library and a gaushala (cattle shelter). The guashala is the largest one in the whole Marathwada region.
Islamic sites
The Jumma Masjid
The Jumma masjid at Jalna, also known as the Kali Masjid, built by Jamshed Khan in AD 1557, is rectangular in form, closed on three sides and with an arcade in front. The masjid has a verandah, with a sloping terraced roof resting on three pointed arches. The corners of the roof of the main structure carry little fluted domes, and the masjid contains some perforated stone-work. The principal dome is ornamented at the base and top with lotus leaves, and has the elegant form and slender spire of the Mughal style. A cistern is inside a paved courtyard; and the surrounding wall has a platform all round, with pointed arched recesses on the outside.
Dargahs of Shah Nasir-ud-din and Shah Latif Kadari
The town of Jalna contains the dargahs of Shah Nasir-ud-din and Shah Latif Kadari, who came to the Dakhan with Burhan-ud-din.
Dargah of Zacha and Bacha
The dargah of Zacha and Bacha at Jalna bears a strong resemblance to the tombs of the Pathan kings at old Delhi. (According to a legend at Jalna, a female was pursued by a mad elephant; and, finding no shelter all round, prayed to be buried in the earth. Her prayer was answered, and this tomb was built over the spot to commemorate the event.) It consists of a square apartment, surrounded by a narrow verandah. Each face has three pointed arches supported on square columns; and a projecting string course above is succeeded by seven little rectangular recesses surmounted by pointed arches. A neat cornice comes next, and a parapet wall runs all round. A second parapet wall runs at a higher level, round the face walls of the main building; and an octagonal tower, covered with a small horse-shoe dome, is at each angle. The principal dome is ornamented with lotus leaves, etc., at the base; and the summit is crowned with a drum. The face walls of the main building have windows at the sides, filled in with perforated stonework.
Dargah of Nur Shah Wali
Nur Shah Wali’s dargah at Jalna has a dome of the usual Indo-Saracenic style. The faces of the walls on the outside are divided into two stories by a plain horizontal band; and each storey is again sub-divided vertically into three compartments, by pilasters which rise above the projecting cornice, and form small minarets. The compartments of the lower storey on three sides contain recesses covered by scalloped arches, while the upper storey has small windows corresponding to them. The door of the dargah is on the fourth side, and has a verandah in front, supported on four wooden pillars, molded at top and bottom. The corners carry minarets which are higher than the intermediate ones; and an ornamental railing is between them. The lower part of the dome is adorned with a circular band of petals, and the upper bears an elegant spire. Nur Shah Wali flourished in the reign of Aurangzeb. His dargah is said to have been erected by one of his Hindu disciples; but probably it was only reconstructed.
Sufi saints of Jalna
Mohammed Ibrahim

The ashaba, which has two large iron cauldrons, contains the grave of Mohammed Ibrahim. There are many other graves in the vicinity, and the place has been used for a long time by the Muslims as a burial ground.

Sher Sawar and Raja Bagh Sawar

A tekri, or mound, with a deep well attached to it, is found not far from the ashaba. The mound is now surmounted by a dome which covers the remains of Shaikh Ahmad, surnamed “Sher Sawar” or the “lion-mounted.” The attendant khadim makes him contemporary with Abdul-Qadir Gilani (died 561 AH). The dome is only a chilla, or cenotaph, and the body was buried elsewhere.

The ashaba also contains the grave of Raja Bagh Sawar, a contemporary of Jan Allah. Raja Bagh Sawar is said to have visited Nirgun Shah Wali, seated on a lion. A pilu tree with an enormous trunk is found growing to the south-west, within the precincts of the cemetery.

Tuttu Sodagar and others

Tuttu Sodagar was a wealthy merchant of Surat and a Bohra by caste. He built the Tuttu Darwaza (gate) of Jalna in 1126 AH. He died near the Ambad Gate, on his way back from Rakisbon, and was buried near the mosque which he built. There were six other rich Mussalmans in Jalna; in former days Jalna was noted for its wealth. According to an old Urdu proverb, “the children in Jalna were lulled to sleep in cradles of gold.” Malis and poor people offer fruit to Pir Ghaib Sahib’s tomb in front of the Tuttu Darwaza.

Similar presents are made to the dargah of Dervash Shah Awaz on the Aurangabad road, especially by the dhobis, to preserve the clothes in the bhattis from getting burnt. The inhabitants of Jalna pray for worldly success at Shah Shumli’s tomb. Mothers offer supplications at Pir Darbari’s tomb, so that their children may attend durbars, or become courtiers. Shah Mauik’s tomb is in the churi mohulla of Jalna, where glass bangles are manufactured and sold. Shah Shubli had his residence in the manek chowk, and was a follower of Abu Bakr Shibli, a renowned mystic sheikh of Baghdad. Musi Makai possessed a valuable library, and was buried in the ashaba to the north of Jalna.

Jamshed Khan and others

Jamshed Khan was a Sufi and the governor during Malik Ambar’s time. He also constructed a large water reservoir system at Jalna, and laid down pipes and reservoirs for the water supply of the city. Jamshad Khan flourished in the 10th century of the Hijri. He was buried in his garden to the north of Jalna. The farmers sacrifice to his tomb, so that their crops may not suffer.

A masjid at Georahi, not far from Jalna, is frequented by Hindus and Muslims alike, as it is believed to possess powers of divination. A saint Rafi-ud-Din is said to have possessed similar powers, and his masjid has a waqf, or pious legacy, of 200 bighas of land, granted by Aurangzeb. Bahar Khan was a religious man that came from Bidar to Ranjani in the 8th century of the Hijri. A mosque beyond Ranjani was built by his wife Ayisha Bi; and near it is the dargah of Latif Shah Aulia. Gudar Shah Wali arrived in Aurangzeb’s time; he erected a mosque.

Jan Allah Shahi

A sect founded at Jalna by Jan Mohammed, who was born at Sinnur near Delhi in 1030 AH. He was early left an orphan, and started with his brother for Baghdad. On completing his studies, he was instructed at the tomb of Abdul Kadar Jilani to proceed to the great spiritualist Miranji of Burhanpur. After studying with Miranji for five years, Jan Mohammed’s name was changed, in open congregation, to Jan Allah (Life of God), and that of his brother to Bab Allah (Door of God). In 1046 AH he started for Mecca, accompanied by the ancestors of the present khadims; and, on his journey, was assisted by the Jinns.

After an absence of twelve years, Jan Allah was instructed to proceed to Jalna, which he did by way of Baghdad. On arriving at Aurangabad, he occupied a chamber on the left of the Jumma Masjid of Malik Ambar. He stayed quite a recluse, performing the Sunnat (optional prayers) in his own room, and only the Fard (required prayers) in the mosque. His sanctity became known, and he was invited to Jalna by Haji Bur Khurdar, the faujdar. Aurangzeb also wished to see him and went for that purpose to the Jumma Masjid, and even to the hujra, or reception room, but did not succeed in his object. A copy of a letter is still shown, which is said to have been written to Jan Allah by order of Aurangzeb. The emperor next sent his vizier; but, before the latter could come, Jan Allah and his brother had quietly gone away to Mungi Paithan, and thence proceeded, with Abdur Rahman, the deputy faujdar, to Jalna. Aurangzeb then sent Prince Muazzam to Jalna; and the saint received the prince kindly in a small dwelling in a mango grove where Jan Allah’s tomb has since been erected. It was on this occasion that Jan Allah received a sanad for five hundred bighas of land near Jalnapur, where Kadrabad and the cantonment now stand.

Nirgun Shah Wali

Nirgun Shah Wali came from Bengal, and lived as a recluse at Nidhara, two miles north of Jalna. His principle was, “retirement from the eyes of the world, and cessation from seeking the honor and respect of any one.” When Aurangzeb was at Jalna, he is said to have visited Nirgun Shah Wali. Many others called to see him, including Jan Allah, Bab Allah, and Raja Bagh Sawar; and Nirgun received them, seated on a stone which is still pointed out. He also paid return visits, and took with him a starling (myna), which was always his companion and was able to talk.

Jalna Fort

Nizam ul Mulk Asaf Jah favoured the town as being healthier than Aurangabad, and it was he who ordered Kabil Khan in 1725 to build the fort, together with citadel, situated east of the town. The fort is quadrangular in shape, with semi-circular bastions at the corners. It is reported that the inner and the outer gates were constructed by Asaf Jah himself in 1711 and 1723, respectively. The citadel bears a Persian inscription recording the date when it was constructed. Within the citadel is a large well containing a series of galleries and chambers.

The citadel now houses the municipal offices. The neighbourhood is today known as Mastgad.
Jalna was also surrounded by a mud and brick wall but it is all in ruins except two gates, known as the Murti Darwaza and the Hyderabad Gate.
Moti Talab
Jamshed Khan – who built the Kali Masjid, inside the Mecca gate, together with the hamam, or bathhouse, and the sarai – also constructed the Moti Talab, a reservoir lake west of the town. A system of underground pipes conveyed water to reservoirs in the town, the largest of which is in the quadrangle of the Kali Masjid sarai. This system is no longer in working order. When the city was at the height of its prosperity, there were five reservoirs. A garden was also constructed on the banks of the talab known as Moti Bagh.
Ghanewadi Talab

The Gahnewadi Talab was built and constructed by Mr. Bezonji Faridoonji Jalnawalla in the years 1924 to 1931. Mr. Benzonji, in whose honour the Jalna municipality named a road, was a great patron of Jalna. He contracted for the building of the Ghanewadi lake; and he spent rupees two lakhs from his own pocket, so that the people of Jalna would have enough water for the city. He was a great philanthropist; and, from the accounts available with the firm Pestonji Meherwanji & Co., it is known that, up until the year 1949, Jalnawalla had spent about nine lakh rupees on various charity projects in Jalna. The talab is the only lake that has provided drinking water to the whole of Jalna city until now, but it’s in very bad condition. That people around the lake repurpose the catch basin for agriculture, and that the local municipal council does not look after the lake, are the main reasons behind the lakes current condition.

An adjoining hamam, or bathhouse, is interesting on account of the arched roof that covers it. A masjid and accompanying works are of limestone. A Mahommedan kachari, close by, is said to have been built by Jamshed Khan. A large sarai to the west of the masjid had an imposing entrance, but the upper portion has fallen down. The sarai stands on molded stone pillars, and the roof has a pavilion at each corner. A large cistern is in front, in the courtyard. The courtyard measures 62 yards (57 m) by 48 yards (44 m), and is enclosed by a wall which has arched recesses all round for travellers.

Shopping and eating out

Subhash Road in the middle of the city is the place for local clothing stores.The old food market known as Mahatma Phule Market is also located on this road. Subhash Road is the busiest in the city.