Gondia, a city in Central India, owes its name to two sources. Firstly, for almost four centuries, parts of the Central Indian region were ruled by the Gond kings. Secondly, a major source of income was the sale of lak (sealing wax), obtained from the Palas tree, and gum, obtained from the Babul tree. The Hindi translation of gum is "gond,"and Gondia is a natural extension of the word.
Gondia city and its surrounding areas are part of the ancient Berar region, and have a chequered and turbulent history. Located south of the river Godavari, the original inhabitants were aborgines, called Adivasis. Between the seventh and the 14th centuries, the region passed from the Haihaya Rajput kings, to Hindu kings, then to the Rajput Panwars, until the latter were ousted by local Gond chieftains, to set up a long period of indigenous rule. In the 17th century, the region became part of the Maratha Empire, and subsequently came under the rule of the Peshwas. In the 19th century, the Nizams of Hyderabad gained control of the area, and, in 1903, leased it to the British East India Company. As part of the post-Independance reorganisation of the Indian states, Gondia was transferred from Madhya Pradesh to the Bombay Province, which itself became the state of Maharashtra in 1960. In 1999, Gondia was carved out of the larger district of Bhandara, and given the status of a district headquarters.
Gondia is located in the north-eastern part of Maharashtra, also known as the Vidarbha region, and borders the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Often referred to as the Rice City, due to an abundance of rice mills in the area, Gondia is the administrative headquarters of the district by the same name, and is considered the gateway to Maharashtra from Central and Eastern India. With plenty of lakes and forests surrounding it, Gondia is resplendent with natural beauty.
Enclosed by picturesque mountainous terrain, and characterised by extreme climatic conditions, plenty of rivers, lakes and rich bio-diversity, Gondia district is a microcosm of nature’s infinite variety. Wildlife is found in plenty, and Navegaon National Park and Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary are popular tourist destinations in the district .
Gondia experiences extreme yearly variations in temperature. Summers are particularly severe, while winters are cool. It has an average relative humidity of 62 per cent. Average rainfall is more than 1200 mm each year, with peaks in July and August. Winter is mild and is the best time of the year to visit.
PEOPLE /CULTURE AND LANGUAGE
As per the Census of 2011, the total population of Gondia city is 132, 813, with a male: female ratio of 1:1. The literacy rate is about 93%. Languages spoken are Marathi, Hindi (most residents are bilingual) and English. The city represents the religious diversity of India, with 76.23% Hindus, 13.80 % Buddhists, 7.48% Muslims, and Christians, Jains and Sikhs in minor numbers.
The tribals, who comprise 16.20% of the population of the district, are simple people and have their own culture. The three major tribes found here are the Gonds, the Halba and the Kawar. They make their living from agrarian sources and worship their own Gods, mainly "Persa Pen" and others. Prayer meetings or "pujas" are a very common occurence, with the whole village gathering to offer prayers. Culturally, they are fond of dancing, with the traditional "Rela" and "Dhol" dances being a great hit on auspicious occasions, such as the beginning of the harvesting season. Holi, Dussehra and Deepawali are the main festivals celebrated by the tribals. In some areas, the popular "Natak" (amateur theater performances, based on topical themes) culture of Maharashtra is visible, especially during festivals.
CARDS/ ATMs Master Card and Visa are widely accepted. ATMs of all major banks are found all over the city. HDFC ATM is available in NFTI campus.
BANKS Banks are generally open to the public between 9 am and 6 pm on all working days. They are closed on Sundays and public holidays. Major banks are:-
--SBI,Bank of Baroda, Bank Of India, HDFC, PNB, IDBI and ICICI ---- All located close to the railway station --Bank Of India and Cooperative Bank-- At Kamtha village, about 1 km from NFTI campus --
The population of Gondia is a rich mixture of all the major religions found in India. There are plenty of places of religious interest in the city, major among them being-
--Kudwa Gayatri temple and Ramnagar Kali temple
--Church near Gujrati School,Chaupathi
--Mosque near Ring Road
--Gurudwara near Bus stand
There are no direct flights to Gondia. The nearest airports with scheduled flights are at Raipur (204 km) and Nagpur(166 km). From either place, one can take a train or cab to Gondia.
Gondia Junction is an important, A-grade station on the main Howrah-Mumbai route, and has heavy passenger and goods traffic. It is well-linked to all major stations, with 44 direct connnecting trains.
Gondia is off the National Highways grid, but has good road links to Raipur, Balaghat and Nagpur. Buses and cabs to Gondia are freely available at these places
STAY IN GONDIA
There are numerous budget hotels in Gondia. Recommended ones are:-
• The Grand Sita Hotel, Tiroda Road, Kudwa, Gondia Phone: +91-7182 251 505
Taj Gateway Hotel, Airport Road, Gondia website:www.thegatewayhotels.com, Phone : +9168360333
• Hotel Sagarika Premier, Bapat Complex, Balaghat Road, Gondia Phone: +91-7182-250383
•Hotel Pacific, Chawda Complex, Rail Toli, Gondia Phone: +91-94228-31009 RESIZE TO ALIGN WITH PHOTO.
SHOPPING IN GONDIA
There are many shops and boutiques in Main Gondia city which can cater to almost all your daily requirements.
CINEMAS / MOVIE THEATRES
• EOS, Pal Chowk, Gondia
• Mirage in Balaghat approx. 43 kms away from Gondia,
• Kalptaru Mall, Mahaveer Chowk, Balaghat,
PLACES TO VISIT
Distance from Gondia is indicated in brackets
• Suryadeo Mandobai (37 km) Temple of Suryadeo on hill.
• Mahadeo Pahadi (28 km) Hilly area, temples of Shiva and Ganesha.
• Navegaon Bandh (65 km) Dam, boating, wildlife, bird sanctuary
• Itiadoh Dam (85 km), Boating,wildlife
• Pratapgarh (75 km) famous Mahadeo temple, scenic view
• Shiv Mandir, Kamtha (20km) large temple of Shiva, shivling, ashram of Laharibaba
• Nagzira (75km) more than 166 varieties of birds and 34 species of wild animals including tigers, leopards, sambhar, spotted deer , gour, sloth bears, dhole, jungle cats and more
• Hazra Fall (65km) Waterfall, flora and fauna
• Kachargadh Caves- (55 km). The oldest caves in Asia, dating back to some 25000 years, the largest being 180x110x55 feet.
• Kanha National Park (122 km). One of the biggest parks in Madhya Pradesh. The park has a significant population of Royal Bengal Tigers, leopards, sloth bears, barasingha (swamp deer) and Indian wild dogs. It is home to over 1000 species of flowering plants.