History of BetulThe ancient history of Betul is still a subject of great mystery. There is no reference of modern day Betul district in any of the ancient scriptures of India. Many historians though do suggest that Betul during ancient period may have been ruled by many great ancient dynasties like Vakataka Dynasty and Rastrakuta Dynasty, but there are no clear historical scriptures or any proof to prove this.
Betul popped up in the pages of Indian history only during medieval period, when the erstwhile Gond Kingdom seized the entire Central India. Besides, Betul’s medieval history witnessed few more important events which today have become part of region’s folklore. Below is a brief summary of Betul’s eventful medieval history.
Era of Gond Kingdom in BetulHistory of Betul is very deeply linked with Gond kingdom, the erstwhile advasi based kingdom that ruled Central India from 14th to 18th century. In fact historical records also suggest that Betul region was one of the birthplaces of Gond Kingodm. Kherla kingdom led by Narsingh Rai - founder of Gond kingdom – is believed to have been founded in and around present day Betul region. The famous Kherla Fort, located just 6 kms from Betul city, symbolizes the bond that Gonds shared with Betul region. However, during those days this place wasn’t referred as Betul but as ‘Gondwana’. Gondwana also encompassed other regions like present day Nagpur, Vidharbha, Jharkhand and all other parts of Central India that were under the rule of Gond kingdom.
After the fall of Kherla kingdom in the year 1467 at the hands of Bahmani king Firoz Shah, three more Gond dynasties rose during different periods of medieval era to rule Central India. These were Deogarh, Garha-Mandla and Chanda-Sirpur. Curtains finally came down on Gond kingdom after resurgent Marathas led by Raghoji Bhonsle swept across Central Indian region. Though there is a clear lack of historical record & details about skirmishes and war between Gonds and Marathas. Today the advasi Gond tribe, which flourished during the rule of Gond kingdom, constitute as a major part of Betul’s population. Their unique tribal rituals and culture, which has stood the test of time, is indeed reminder of Betul’s deep and historical association with Gond kingdom.
Era of Maratha Rule in BetulMaratha’s association with Betul, which began during late 18th century, isn’t really as deep as Gonds. Their rule over many parts of Central India including Betul was cut short because of meteoric rise of British Empire. However, it was during Maratha’s rule that this region is believed to have got its name ‘Betul’. The historical Betul Bazaar – the local bazaar which exists even today – is believed to have become immensely famous with locals during Maratha’s rule and the name ‘Betul’ slowly became synonymous with the entire region. By the turn of 19th century Marathas had become considerably weak after losing to East India Company in all the three Anglo-Maratha Wars. They finally ceded Betul and many parts of Central India to East India Company in 1818. After 1857, however, territorial control of Betul and rest of India was completely handed over to British Empire.
Modern Day BetulThe modern day Betul, just like rest of India, is slowly moving ahead with changing times of 21st century. As signs of modernization are slowly but surely sweeping throughout Betul district. However, footprints and shadows of Betul’s rich medieval history is still clearly visible even in today’s modern day Betul. One of the finest ambassadors of Betul’s rich history is the Gond tribe – as mentioned earlier they are descendents of Gond kingdom and today constitute as major part of Betul’s population. Their rituals, festival, beliefs and in fact every facet of their everyday life reflects the cultural history of Gond Kingdom. And of course the legendry Betul Bazaar – from whom Betul got its name – is today one of the bustling places of Betul district. These few symbols of Betul’s history have completely frozen in time and have successfully stood the test of time.
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