Sahyadrian Watershed Region
In the west lies the Sahyadrian watershed-a region about 10 to 15 miles wide and running throughout the length of the Sahyadris lying in this district from the Malkapur tract in the north to Samangad in the south. The very edge of this long belt consists of the precipitous scarps of the Sahyadries that is marked by occasional terraces, steep basaltic walls and magnificent amphitheatres through which the monsoonal waters of innumerable streams are drained away to the Arabian Sea. This scarp acts both as a natural and administrative division boundary to the newly formed district of Kolhapur. This region of the Sahyadrian water-shed is thinly populated, people living in small hamlets and depending for their livelihood partly on agriculture but mostly on forest occupations. Quite a large area is under forest cover and is exploited under Governmental supervision. Human attention naturally is directed along the upper tracts of the main valleys, as for example, along the valley leading to the Ambaghat, the Kumbhi valley, the Bhoga-wati and the Vedaganga. East of this Sahyadrian watershed the landscape consists of two striking contrasts, the residual hill ranges separated by the intermediate valleys.
The residual hill ranges
From the Sahyadrian watershed several hill ranges run to the east and are separated by intermediate valleys. These are developed on the Deccan lavas and form erosional remnants having a characteristic landscape summit plateaus with rounded peaks above and structural benches below. The Panhala-Alta range is the northernmost one of the district. On the whole this is a thinly populated region. Panhala fort (3,127 ft.) is a famous historical fort and a good hill station. Pavangad is yet another fort in the vicinity. Villages on the plateau are few but at the junction of the hills and the valleys below a string of hamlets has made its appearance as for example, Pishvi, Borivade, Padali on the north and Kotoli, Porle, Nagaon and Alta in the south. The other hill ranges too participate in this general regional characteristic of the Panhala range. In all these ranges the monsoonal forest cover is gradually replaced towards the east by grasslands. Population is thin and is settled at selected localities. The typical Deccan lava topography is a characteristic feature of all these ranges.
A succession of river valleys draining the land towards the east characterises the landscape of the district from the Varna valley in the north to the upper tributaries of the Ghatprabha in the south. From the human point of view these are the most important areas of the district. Well cultivated and densely peopled, Malkapur, Kasba, Sarud and Kodoli are more important villages of the Varna valley. East of Prayag which marks the confluence of the Kasari and Bhogawati lies the Panchaganga river valley proper. This is a region of rich agriculture and population. A substantial area is utilized for sugarcane. East of Kolhapur several commercially important crops are raised. Sugarcane continues to dominate the banks of the river. A little in the interior it is succeeded by tobacco, cotton, millets and wheat. Betel leaves flourish wherever well irrigation is possible. Pulses and spice crops play an important secondary role. Large sized nucleated village are typical of this region. Hatkanangale, Shirol and Ichalkaranji are local markets and taluka towns. As compared with the northern valleys the valley of the Dudhaganga River is wider and also correspondingly well-developed. Its upper regions are partly wooded and partly rice-growing areas. Towards Kagal cultivation of millets and several other crops increases. The agricultural development of this valley is well reflected in the numerous large sized villages like Valve, Solankur and Kagal.
The climate of the Kolhapur Plain is temperate and similar to the other districts of the Mumbai Deccan adjoining the ghats. In the western part of Kolhapur near the Sahyadris it is always cooler than that in the eastern part which is liable to hot winds during April and May. The nights over the whole district are generally cool due to the influence of the sea breezes which set in during the afternoons and continue till late in the evening. The year in respect of Kolhapur district may be divided into three periods as follows:-hot weather period from March to May; rainy period from June to October; and cold weather period from November to February. April is the hottest month of the year whereas December and January are the coolest. The average annual rainfall in the district varies widely from about 20 inches in the Kurundwad-Shirol area in the north-east to over 240 inches in Gaganbavada area near Sahyadri in the west.
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