Poona, lyingbetween 17° 54' and 19° 22' north latitude and 73° 24' and 75° 14' east longitude, has an area of about 5350 square miles, a population according to the 1881 census of 900,621 or about 168.40
to the square mile, and a realizable land revenue of about £115,350 (Rs. 11,53,500).
In the west, along the Sahyadris, Poona has a breadth of seventy or eighty miles. From this it stretches about 130 miles south-east, sloping gradually from about 2000 to 1000 feet above the sea, and narrowing in an irregular wedge-shape to about twenty miles in the east. It is bounded on the north by the sub-divisions of Akola, Sangamner, and Parner in Ahmadnagar; on the east by Parner, Shrigonda, and Karjat also in Ahmadnagar, and Karmala in Sholapur; on the south by Malsiras in Sholapur, and Phaltan, Wai, and Bhor in Satara; and on the west by Roha in Kolaba, Bhor in Satara, Pen in Kolaba, and Karjat and Murbad in Thana. Except two isolated blocks of the Bhor state, a block in the west and a smaller in the; south, the whole area within these limits belongs to Poona.
For administrative purposes, exclusive of the city of Poona which forms a separate sub-division, the district is distributed over eight sub-divisions. These, beginning from the north-west and working east, are, Junnar, Khed including Ambegaon, Maval, Haveli including Mulshi, Sirur, Purandhar, Bhimthadi including Baramati, and Indapur. These eight sub-divisions have on an average an area of about 670 square miles, 150 villages, and 112,600 people.
In the gradual change from the rough hilly west to the bare open east, the 130 miles of the Poona district form in the west two more or less hilly belts ten to twenty miles broad and seventy to eighty miles long. Beyond the second belt, whose eastern limit is roughly marked by a line passing through Poona north to Pabal and south to Purandhar, the plain narrows to fifty and then to about twenty miles, and stretches east for about ninety miles.
The Western Belt, stretching ten to twenty miles east of the
Sahyadris, is locally known as Maval or the sunset land. It is extremely rugged, a series of steppes or tablelands cut on every side by deep winding valleys and divided and crossed by mountains and hills. [These valleys are locally known as
khores, and are called either after the stream or after some leading village. In Junnar all the valleys are ners, Madh-ner, Kokad-ner, Bhima-ner, and Min-ner, called after the country-town of Madh and the Kukdi, Bhima, and Mina rivers. In Khed there is Bhamner the valley of the Bhama. The Maval sub-division consists of Andhar-maval, Nane-maval, and Paun-maval, called after the river Andhra, the country-town of Nana, and the river
Pauna. Further south there is Paud-khore the valley of the country-town of Paud, and Musa-khore the valley of the Musa a tributary of the Mutha.] From the valleys of the numerous streams whose waters feed the Ghod the Bhima and the Mula-Mutha, hills of various heights and forms rise terrace above terrace, with steep sides often strewn with black basalt boulders. During the greater part of the year most of the deep ravines and rugged mountain sides which have been stripped bare for wood-ash manure have no vegetation but stunted underwood and dried grass. Where the trees have been spared they clothe the hill sides with a dense growth seldom more than twenty feet high, mixed with almost impassable brushwood, chiefly composed of the rough russet-leaved karvi Strobilanthus grahamianus, the bright green karvand Carissa carandas, and the dark-leaved anjani or iron-wood Memecylon edule. Here and there, sometimes as at Lonavali in the plain, but oftener on hill-side ledges or in deep dells, are patches of ancient evergreen forest whose holiness or whose remoteness has saved them from destruction. During the rainy months from June to October, the extreme west is very chill and damp. The people in the northern valleys are Kolis and in the southern valleys Marathas. They have a strong strain of hill blood, and are dark, wiry, and sallow. They live in slightly built houses roofed with thatch or tile, grouped in small hamlets generally on some terrace or mound, and with the help of wood-ash manure grow rice in the hollows, and hill grains on terraces, slopes, and plateaus.
The Central Belt stretches ten to twenty miles east of the
western belt across a tract whose eastern boundary is roughly marked by a line drawn from Pabal, about twelve miles east of Khed, south through Poona to Purandhar. In this central belt, as the smaller chains of hills sink into the plain, the valleys become
straighter and wider and the larger spurs spread into plateaus in places broader than the valleys. With a moderate, certain, and seasonable rainfall, a rich soil, and a fair supply of water both from wells and from river-beds, the valleys yield luxuriant crops. Except
towards the west where in places is an extensive and valuable growth of small teak, the plateaus and hill slopes are bare and treeless. Bat the lowlands, studded with mango, banian, and tamarind groves, enriched with patches of garden tillage, and relieved by small picturesque hills, make this central belt one of the most pleasing parts of the Deccan. Near Poona the country has been enriched by the Mutha canal, along which, the Mutha valley, from Khadakvasala to about twenty miles east of Poona, is green with sugarcane and other garden crops.
East of Poona the district gradually narrows from about fifty to twenty miles and stretches nearly ninety miles east, changing gradually from valleys and broken uplands to a bare open plain. During these ninety miles the land falls steadily about 800 feet. The hills sink slowly into the plain, the tablelands become lower and more broken often little more than rolling uplands, and the broader and more level valleys are stripped of most of their beauty by the dryness of the air. The bare soilless plateaus, yellow with stunted spear-grass 'and black with boulders and sheets of basalt, except in the rainy months, have an air of utter barrenness. The lower lands, though somewhat less bleak, are also bare. Only in favoured spots are mango, tamarind, banian, and other shade trees, and except on river banks the babhul is too stunted and scattered to relieve the general dreariness. The garden area is small, and as little of the water lasts throughout the year, during the hot months most gardens are bare and dry. Though it is very gradual the change from the west to the east is most complete. Bugged wooded hills and deep valleys give place to a flat bare plain; months of mist and rain to scanty uncertain showers; rice and nagli to millet and pulse; and thatched hamlets to walled flat-roofed villages.