Mumbai Circle, Archaeological Survey of India, carried out the exploration and trial trench excavations along the Vaitrana River Valley up to a distance of 5 Kilometer both side of river of Palghar and Thane Districts in Maharashtra under the direction of Dr Manish Rai, Assistant Archaeologist during the field season 2017-18. Vaitrana River rises in Sahyadri mountain ranges near Tryambak (Trimbakeshwar) hills in the Nasik district, opposite the source of the Godavari, and flows for about 154 km towards south-west via Nasik, Palghar and Arnala lies off its mouth and entre in the Arabian Sea.
The explorations were aimed at understanding archaeological potential of the area, recording archaeological settlements and understanding settlement patterns of the area in historical perspective.
It is pertinent mentioned here that no trail trench excavation has been carried out by the director on account of the non availability of the historical sites or ancient habitation during the above exploration.
In this area the history started from the prehistoric time but the systematic human habitation is reported from the early historical period to 1300 CE.
This tradition can be traced from the literature/ mythic as well historic. During that time this region rules by various rulers in the vast span of time. There were many prominent rulers which flagged all part of present Indian subcontinent like the Mauryas who reign from Pataliputra (315192 BCE); the son of soil like Satavahana rulers who rules all part of present Maharashtra, Western Kshatrapa which were famously established the Buddhist tradition and profoundly established Sanskrit language, which was a language of elite class in that time and engraved the first Sanskrit inscription at Junagad, Vakatakas are famous for their ruling kindness whereas the Chalukyas (300-500 CE) were remember for their temple architecture, and the Rashtrakutas (767-850 CE) never forgotten for marvelous architecture like Kailash temple at Ellora, revived Chalukyas (970-1182CE), and the Yadvas of Deogiri from 1182-1294 CE were noteworthy rulers of this area.
The Konkan, soon after the defeat of Ramadeva Raja of Deogiri by Alla-ud-din Khilji in 1294, was taken over by Bhim Raja who was the son of Ramdeva Raja. Sopara, Kalyan, Thane or Sanjan, have from historic times, taken a leading part in the foreign commerce activities of Western India, few of them are became very famous ports like Sopara or Shurparaka is one of the largest ancient city on the western coast having maritime trade with the other continents.
Generally in this region Muslim lasting from 1300 to 1660 many sultans of the Deccan was ruled out like Mahmud Begada, Gujarat of Sultanate, Malik Ahmed of Ahmadnagar etc. Commanding the southern and main entrance to the Vaitarna River, the most extensive inlet in north Konkan, Sultan Mahmud Begada constructed Arnala fort in 1516 and occupied by the Portuguese in 1530, meant destruction of several Saracenic structures within the fort. It was Mohamed Begda-who first came into conflict with the Portuguese. This was a great challenge to the Muslim rulers of Gujarat as the Portuguese were threatening to monopolies the spice trade, which had been in the hands of the Muslim traders. The Portuguese were also trying to control the important sea-ports in Western India like Camby, Chaul, etc. Besides, they have also constructed few other forts in the vicinity which can be seen here during the exploration like Mandvi, there are remains of the fortification and other structures like Palace and it was used the old architectural members of the temple for construction of the fort during the Portuguese time.
In 1485, along with other Konkan forts, Mahuli was held by Malik Ahmed, who later established the Ahmadnagar dynasty, and in 1635 was surrendered to Shahu, where Jijabai occasionally took refuge with her young son Shivaji. Shahu was forced to surrender Mahuli in 1636 after it was invaded by Khan Zaman and in 1661 Shivaji reclaimed it though it was fiercely defended by a Rajput garrison. Soon after it was given to the Mughals but in 1670, a fierce battle resulted in its recapture by Moro Tirmal, Shivajis Peshwa (Prime Minister). From then onwards till 1817 the Marathas occupied Mahuli, till it was taken over by the British as part of the Pune treaty.
The great Maratha warrior ruled out the major part of this areas from 1660 to 1800, simultaneously Portuguese also capture the Bassien fort and development with various type of structures like convents, Churches, palaces, streets with fortification etc like Lisbon in India ; and the British period since 1880, they also developed and fortified the various forts in the vicinity and few of them became the symbol of the power during the reign and these are still standing even after decline of their empower.
After an intense battle between the Portuguese and the Marathas in 1739, Arnala was captured by the Marathas. Efforts for its capture were made by the British in 1781, when the Marathas did not yield and preparations for bombardment of Arnala were made from Agashi. It was briefly occupied by the British at this time when the East India Company troops captured it under Colonel Goddard, but was returned to the Peshwas and finally came under the dominion of the British in 1817. This area took over the territory from the Marathas by the British till independence of India.
Vaitrana River flows in the Thane and Palghar which are northern-most districts of Konkan, lies adjoining the Arabian Sea in the north-west of Maharashtra State.
The district consists almost entirely of the Deccan traps and their associates except in alluvial valleys. In Bombay Island the lowest rocks are trap of different varieties. The sedimentary rock is in places, both in the west and east of the island, covered with a mantle of basalt from a few feet to twenty feet thick. The white or yellowish white variety varies from compact and granular to crystalline. The last contains crystals of glassy felspar and is evidently a trachyte. The granular variety fuses with difficulty before the blow pipe, and in texture resembles a white fine-grained sand-stone. At Dongri in Salsette opposite Bassein, and on the hill below the old fort of Kalyan are well-marked basalt columns.
The most remarkable geological feature in the district from Bassein northwards is the extensive degradation and partial reproduction of land at different periods. Occasionally denuded strata are met, whose date can only be determined by the nature of their organic remains. The first place at which strata of sand-stone, similar to those of Bombay, are to be seen is Kelva-Mahim. There is a low cliff from ten to twelve feet high composed of horizontal strata, which, after some intermediate alluvial which conceals the nature of the subjacent formation, reappear at the coast under the fort and public bungalow of Shirgaon. The upper five feet are alluvial, and the lower fifteen feet consist of horizontal strata of sand-stone in different states of aggregation. Nearly at right angles with the fort of Shirgaon, a point of land runs seawards of the same general aspect as the strata just described. This seems once to have been continuous with another portion reaching from the coast at a distance of about five miles to the north. Further north, through Tarapur, Dahanu, and Jhaibordi, the road affords many opportunities of seeing sections of these strata all horizontal and evidently above the trap. Trap rock still forms the gradually diminishing hills which pass north beyond the end of the Sahyadris. Where the trap is exposed in some of the numerous creeks, it has the same weathered and water-worn look as in the Deccan Rivers (Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Thane, 1882: 14-15)
The total geographical area of the Thane and Palghar districts are 9538 square Kilo meters which is 3.09 % area of Maharashtra.
Topographically, it can be divided into 2 parts:-
1. Non-costal region where is mostly flat area and Rice farming is done in this area and
2. Coastal region about 15 to 20 Kms, its nearby area cultivated for Vegetables, Fruits and high quality of grass.
It is pertinent mention here that the no other district of Maharashtra presents such a vividly and rapidly changing physical and cultural landscape as the district of Thane/Palghar does. While the northern, interior Thane resembles both in the physical landscape and the socio-cultural economy the rest of Konkan, the coastal and southern parts lying in the vicinity of Metropolitan Bombay and the transport corridor reveal all characteristics of the urban transformation that the area is under-going rapidly.
The climate, like the climate of the rest of the Konkan, is exceedingly moist for fully half the year, the rainfall being very great and often beginning in May. The south-west monsoon usually sets in early in June and the rains continue to the end of September. The year may be divided into four seasons. The cold season from December to February is followed by the Summer Season from March to June. The South-West monsoon season is from June to September, October and November constitute the post-monsoon season.
At present climate is equable with high rainfall days and very few days of extreme temperatures. The temperature varies from 2236 °C (7297 °F). In winter temperature is between 1225 °C (5477 °F) while summer temperature ranges from 3641 °C (97106 °F).
In the State, the Konkan Division is known as heavy rainy area in which Palghar and Thane districts are included. The Out of total rainfall, 80% rainfall is experienced during June to October. Average annual rainfall is 2,0002,500 mm (7998 in) and humidity is 6186%, making it a humid zone. The driest days are in winter while the wettest days are experienced in July. The rain falls in the area is during the months June to September.
Hot springs are found in four sub-divisions, Mahim, Vada, Bhiwndi, and Bassein. Except those in Malum, almost all are either in the bed of or near the Tansa River.
In Mahim four villages have hot springs. About 800 paces from Gargaon a spring of moderately hot and saltish water rises through a rock in the bed of the Surya River. The water smells like rotten mud. About 500 yards from the village of Konkner are two cisterns, four or five feet above the bed of the Surya River, to which the water of a spring some eighteen feet higher is brought by a watercourse. The water is as hot as can be borne by the hand and saltish. Near a river, about a mile from the village of Sativli, are four springs the water of which is unbearable to the touch and is evidently sulphurous. The stratum is trap and then black stiff earth. Near Haloli, about fifty paces east of the Vaitarna, there is a cistern built round a spring of hottish and sulphurous water. Beside this, on the river bank just above high-water mark, is a flow of hot water.
Three Vada villages have hot springs. Near the meeting of the Pinjal and Vaitarna, about 1 mile from Pimplas, are two hot springs in the bed of the river. During the rains, when the river is full, the springs are not visible. The water is as hot as can be borne by the hand, and has a sulphurous smell. In the bed of the Tansa, near the village of Nimbavli, are six hot springs, two at a distance of about 175 paces, built round with stone cisterns, and the remaining four at a distance of about 200 paces. The water is moderately hot and of a sulphurous smell. The soil is gravelly. Three miles north of Vajrabai, in the village of Nandni Gaygotha, is the Banganga spring which, all the year round, yields a copious supply of very clear slightly sulphurous water.
In the Bhiwndi sub-division, near Vajrabai, in two villages Akloli and Ganeshpuri, are several hot springs in the bed of and near the Tansa River. Of the Akloli springs, the water of the Surya cistern is too hot to be borne by the hand for more than a second. Four springs near the temple of Shri Rameshvar have cisterns built round them, and in them the villagers and people from a distance bathe, as the waters have a name for the cure of rheumatism and other diseases. At Ganeshpuri, three of the springs in the bed of the Tansa near the temple of Shri Bhimeshvar have reservoirs built round them. The temperature of the water of one of these, called Gorakh Machhindar, is so high that the hand cannot be held in it. The water of all these springs is of the same temperature throughout the year. The spring yielded about twelve gallons of water a minute.
In the Bassein sub-division there is only one spring, near the village of Kalbhon, in a field about fifty paces from the Tansa River. The water is moderately hot and sulphurous and the soil reddish (Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Thane, 1882:15-16)
Generally prevailing soil is black but few places are mostly red and stony whereas some places soil varies from red to black and sandy black. Rice is the chief crop but nachani (ragi), tur , til and vari are also largely cultivated in this area. Much gram is grown in the bank of Vaitrana. The major part of this area covered with wooded, the forests in some parts stretching for kilometers. The chief tresses are teakwood, blackwood, ain, moha, some varieties of Palm, coconut, mangoes, moha and khair are found in this area.
Besides, there are no major soil extraction and mines in the districts. The business is seen to take out sand from sea and near Vaitrana River and generally used for constructing the buildings. Deposits of raddish laterite clay are also found near gokhivare in Vasai taluka. This is used for making bricks, tiles and cheap red glazed utensils.
The rivers of the districts mainly belong to two river streams of the North Konkan, namely the Ulhas and the Vaitarna, both draining the rainy western slopes of the Sahyadri that lie between the Bhor and the Thal Ghats.
The major rivers of the districts are Vaitarana and the important tributaries of Vaitarna River are: 1) Pinjal, 2) Deharja, 3) Surya, 4) Tansa. Vaitarna is navigable for 25 Kms inside the coast.
The Vaitarna, the largest of Konkan Rivers, rises in the Tryambak hills in the Nasik district, opposite the source of the Godavari, and enters Thane at Vihigaon near Kasara, after passing through a deep gorge while descending from the plateau top to the Konkan lowland. The Vaitarna flows west through a deep defile among high hills , Kalambhai, Vada and near the ancient settle¬ment of Gorha, the great spurs of the Great Takmak range drives its course north-west till it flows past the settlement of Manor. At Manor, the stream meets the tidal wave and is navigable for small crafts and to enter the sea through a wide estuary off Arnala. Vaitrana has a fine broad river which in many places has a good depth of water and a fairly flat-bottomed valley with meander terraces on either side.
The Vaitarna is 154 kilometres long and has a drainage area that practically covers the entire northern sections of Thane and Palghar districts. It has a number of tributaries, including the Pinjal, the Surya and the Tense.
The total forest area of the districts are 3463 Sq. Kms (Thane and Palghar) which is 7.29 % of Maharashtra forest cover area. The main forest products of the district are Teakwood, Ain, Hirda, Timber wood which is mostly used in construction purpose.
The main horticulture crops of the district are Mango, Cashew, Chicky, Banana and Coconut.
There are many railway stations including halting of local trains in this area. Vasai Road, Vasai, Virar are important junctions, wherein most of express trains of Pune-Ahmedabad route and a few of Mumbai-Ahmedabad Route halting here. Both Central Railway and Western Railway lines running onwards to Dahnu. National Highway 8 (also known as NH 8 or Mumbai Ahmadabad Highway) passes through the districts and is used for Road Transportation. Local Municipal corporations and State Government of Maharashtra runs many bus services daily to different towns and cities nearby the area.