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Akola has a rich historical evolution ranging from the eons of Mahabharata to the modern history’s British Occupation. The region has seen a lot of strife, changing regimes, political and religious changes. The present harmony of the general populace in Akola has been shaped through generations of cultural fraternity and growth.
Early History of Akola
Akola was a part of the old Berar province, which has been referenced in Mahabharata to be a part of Kingdom of Vidarbha. The entire region has been ruled by different dynasties and empires throughout the centuries. Subsequently the Berar region went under the rule of the Mauryan Empire. The Satavahana dynasty was a powerful empire during the 2nd Century BCE and had control over the region of Berar. The Vakataka Dynasty and the Rashtrakutas ruled the region for over five centuries respectively. One of the most powerful empires to have ruled the region is the Chalukya Dynasty who maintained their reign for over four centuries with gaps in between and the Yadavas of Devagiri.
A series of Muslim dynasties have ruled in India and as a result Berar has been ruled by the Khiljis, and the Nizam Shahi Sultanate. A period of Mughal rule began in the region when the Nizam ceded themselves. As the Mughal rule weakened Asaf Jah I, the then Nizam of Hyderabad took over the southern part of the region and an independent State of Berar was formed.
During the 17th century the Maratha Empire had become very powerful under the charismatic Maratha king Chhatrapathi Shivaji. He was an excellent military tactician and a pioneer of guerilla tactics in India. He revived the traditional conventions and promoted the use of Sanskrit and Marathi. Sambhaji was his successor and he was instrumental in bringing the entire Berar region including the areas of the present-day Akola under Maratha rule. The region experienced significant cultural and economic growth under the Maratha rule.
The rise of British Empire impacted the region drastically resulting in three major Anglo-Maratha wars being fought on Berar soil. Peshwa Baji Rao II fought against the British in the third Anglo-Maratha war in which he suffered defeat. The Berar provinces came under the regime of the British East India Company who in turn divided it into Eastern and Western regions, Akola becoming a part of Western Berar. The British subsequently leased the entire region out to the Nizam as part of their alliance.
Pre and Post Independence
Akola was the center of attention for a while before India gained independence as it was purported to be the headquarters of the Linguistic Provinces proposed by the Congress. India gained independence in 1947 and subsequently the provinces within the region underwent drastic reorganization. Berar underwent multiple divisions between several states. Akola was initially a part of State of Bombay and then subsequently became part of the State of Maharashtra in the 1960s.
The rich history of this region is evident in the many forts in and around Akola. The architecture within these historical monuments is a unique blend of cultural exchange and harmony. The unique and intense history of the region has ingrained a sense of fraternity among the people of Akola.