The earliest evidences of Betul's history are date as far back as 700 AD. However, ancient sculpture and buildings found in the nearby villages suggest that it must have gone through the similar stages of development as the other civilizations. The statues and sculptures found near Betul by archeological survey of India illustrate the use of metal casted jewelry in ancient times in his area.
It is believed to be initially a part of 'Magadh' dynasty, which was later taken over by 'Vidarbha' dynasty as written in 'Malvikagnam' by Kalidas. It later became a part of several different regimes like the 'Kherlas', 'Malwas', 'Gonds', Mughals, Marathas and the British.
Raja Jetpal is said to be the last Rajput emperor of Kherla. In some places Kherla is mentioned as one of the four old Gond rajya (the tribal territories). Some historians believe that he was a tribal king, Kherla reined in 14th and 15th centuries. Here is a big lack of knowledge about the origin of the rulers of Kherla, making the early history of Betul District almost completely mysterious. For many years the historians thought that the dynasty who ruled Kherla was just another Rajput family, like many others who were ruling over petty states throughout Central and Western India. But it is recognized today that the Raj Gonds must have had some important role in the birth of this little but important Kingdom. Most of the Indian scholars today state that the Kherla kingdom's dynasty was a Raj Gond dynasty or at least of mixed origin, of Rajput and Raj Gond. The first mention of a king ruling in Kherla was contained in a religious work called as the Vivek Sindhu, which is said to be the oldest document in Marathi language. According to the book Jaitpal was the last member of a Rajput dynasty ruling in Kherla. This is the only reference to the Kherla dynasty and it is nearly impossible to determine who the kings were; but it seems likely that they were the ancestors of Narsingh Rai, who was the founder at Kherla in the next century.
After the death of Mukund Raj there was probably a change in the dynasty of the kingdom. In 1398, Narsingh Rai was induced by the Mohammedan kings of Malwa and Khandesh to commence hostilities against the Bahmani kings of Gulbarga whose territories included Berar.
He became officially an Amir of the Sultan. Firoz Shah becoming reconciled to Narsingh Rai gave him a dress of honor, richly embroidered with gold and receiving one of his daughters into his harem with a present of forty-five elephants, a considerable sum of money and other valuables, he directed the siege of Kherla to be discontinued. The state of Kherla lived in peace for more than two decades, but, after that period, a new invasion came from the west, from Hoshang Shah, the ruler of Malwa in about 1420 AD, invading the territory of the small Gond kingdom.
Hoshang soon defeated Narsingh Rai. The kingdom of Malwa, to which the Kherla kingdom was soon merged, asserted its independence against the Tughlak dynasty of Delhi during the feeble rule of Muhammad Tughlak. Their capital was at Mandir on the crest of the Vindhya Range. The Malwa dynasty lasted only for over a century and in 1531 AD, its territories were annexed to the Mohammedan kingdom of Gujarat. In 1497 AD, Muhammad Shah Bhamani sent Nizamul Mulk laid siege to Kherla and finally occupied the fort. He was however subsequently slain by two Rajputs belonging to the Malwa army.
In 1560 AD, Akbar occupied Malwa but whether Kherla was incorporated in the Mughal Empire immediately or at some subsequent date is not known. However, it was included to the Subah (country subdivision) of Berar, which was founded about 1596 AD, or very shortly after the conquest of Berar. Kherla was the headquarters of a Sarkar or district subordinate to the Subah or province of Ellichpur and the Kherla Sarkar included 35 Parganas embracing the centre and the south of Betul district and some tracts of Chhindwara and Wardha regions. After that time, the fort of Kherla continued to be in the middle of wars and was captured and lost many times by the Malwa rulers. The most famous Gond king of Deogarh, Bukth Buland, is said to have taken control over the fort in the 17th century. After that date the destiny of Kherla was not separated from that of the Gond kingdom of Deogarh (1590 - 1789).
The Gond kings fought many wars and battles with the powerful Muslim kingdoms of southern India and survived for a century. It then was taken over by the British in 1817 A.D.
Betul is situated about 175 km away from Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh and is located at 21.88 N Latitude and 77.98 E longitudes. It is about 6562 feet above the sea level.
The airports nearest to Betul are situated in Bhopal and Indore. Betul is connected by National Highway to Bhopal. Betul railway station is located between Bhopal and Nagpur station. Betul is easily accessible by buses and trains from Bhopal. Tigaria, a small village about 10 km from Betul can only be accessed through bicycles or private vehicles.
Betul is essentially a highland area, divided naturally into three distinct land portions, differing in their aspects such as the character of soil and geological formation.
The northern part of the district forms an irregular plain made of sandstone. It is a well -wooded region but has a very sparse population and little cultivated land.
In the extreme north, hills arise out of the great plains of Narmada valley. The central region possesses a rich soil, well watered by the 'Machna' River and 'Sapna'dam. This region is almost entirely cultivated and comprises of several villages.
To the south lie a rolling plateau of basaltic formation with the sacred town of Multai, and the springs of the Tapti River at its highest point. It extends over the entire southern face of the district, and finally merges into the wild and broken line of the Ghats that lead down to the plains. This region consists of a succession of stony ridges of trapped rock, enclosing valleys of fertile soil, to which cultivation is for the most part confined.
Betul district is rich in forests and biodiversity and the main timber species of Betul Forest is Teak. Many miscellaneous types of trees such as 'Haldu', 'Saja', 'Dhaoda' are also found in abundance. Many medicinal plants are also found in the forest areas of Betul. Large amounts of commercially important minor forest produce such as Tendu leaves, Chironji, Harra, Amla are also collected from the forests of Betul. Asia's biggest wood depot is in Betul.
The major rivers flowing in the district are Ganjal River (tributary of River Tapti), Rivers Morand and Tawa (tributaries of River Narmada). The Tapti River originates from 'Multai' in the 'Betul' district. Multai's Sanskrit name 'Multapi' means 'Origin of Tapi' or 'Tapti River'
The climate of Betul is characterized mainly by a dry and hot summer with rainfall during the southwest monsoon season. The winter season lasts from December to February, followed by the summer season from March to about first week of June. The period from mid June to September is the south - west monsoon season.
May is the hottest month of the year with average temperatures of 39.36Â°C, while the minimum temperature of 10.3 Â°C is experienced in December. The average annual mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 30.7Â°C and 17.9Â°C respectively.
The south-west monsoon starts from middle of June and lasts till end of September. The months of October and mid-November constitute post monsoon or retreating monsoon season. The average annual rainfall of Betul district is 1192.6 mm and about 86.6% of annual rainfall is received during the monsoon season. Only 13.4% of annual rainfall takes place between October and May.
The lowest level of humidity is experienced in the month of April. It fluctuates between 31% to 91% at different times, and different seasons. The wind velocity is higher during monsoon as compared to pre and post monsoon. The wind velocity is higher in June, ranging about 8.5 Km/hr and is lowest in November ranging about 3.8 km/hr.
The drainage of the district is diverted in all directions from the Satpura plateau. The northern and central parts of the district drain into River Narmada, in the north through Tawa, Machna, Morand and the Bhange.
In the district, there are five types of soils namely 'kali', 'Morand', 'Matbarra', 'Bardi', 'Sihar' and 'Retard' soils. The southern, central and eastern parts of the district are covered with black cotton soil. Betul is mainly a region of 'Kharif' crop. Besides cereals, sugarcane and spices are also produced here. Groundnut, cotton and jaggery are locally produced and exported. Resin, gum, bamboo, teak and tendu leaves are main forest products of this district.
Farming and metal casting are the chief occupations of the people of Betul besides some secondary occupations. The tribal economy is mainly based on the weekly 'Haats' and 'Baazars' held in nearby villages. Generally, these people are from the lower economic strata of the society but their status is rapidly rising due to the growing market. It is one of the 24 districts in Madhya Pradesh currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).
The houses are mostly covered with cow dung and roofs are made with terracotta tiles. One of the rooms of the house, usually the front room (which has the same width as the whole house) has the furnace. In some houses, the furnace is located outside.
The craftsmen have small three roomed 'Kachha' huts, which have a low ceiling entrance. The walls of the huts are coated with clay and cow dung while the roofs are made of bamboo structures and terracotta tiles. The living environment is pollution free and pleasant owing to the farms that surround the houses.
The entire hut doubles as a workspace for the craftsman as he works around in the different rooms of the premises. He would use the backyard for preparing wax and moulds, while the kiln would be situated in the front portion of the house. Working outside provides him with enough light and clean air to do his work efficiently. Another reason for this is that the village 'Tigariya' does not receive continuous and adequate supply of electricity. The hut would usually have a single bulb and this does not provide adequate light to work efficiently especially during nighttime. The craftsman cleans and maintains the work areas before and after working.
Monuments and relics of historical relevance such as 'Khedla', which was the seat of the 'Gond' Dynasty in the 13th century, are to be found all over the district. At 'Asirghad' and 'Bhawarghad' in 'Multai' tehsil, caves have been found that were once the hiding place of the 'Pindaris'. Situated at 'Bhainsdehi', there is an ancient Shiva temple built of carved stones that now lies in ruin.
An influence of Bundelkhandi language and culture can be seen in the northern part of the district, while overtones of Marathi language and Maharashtran culture can be seen in the southern belt of the district.
Betul is a tribal district of Madhya Pradesh wherein 'Gond' and 'Korku' are the main tribes residing in this area. Apart from them, the 'Bhilala', 'Pardhan' and 'Bharewa' tribes are also the inhabitants, though the 'Bharewa' tribe is not much in number.
From 1911 AD to 1921 AD about 16000 people from different parts of the country, mainly 'Hoshangabad' and 'Amravati' (Maharashtra) migrated to Betul district. The migration gradually influenced the dialect and the lifestyles of the region.
Hindi, Marathi, Gondi and Korku are the main languages spoken in this district and people worship both Hindu and tribal gods. The rest of the district is predominantly tribal, populated by the 'Gonds' and 'Korkus', who worship Bada Mahadev and perform sacrificial rituals. Despite being educated, regional superstitions are prevalent. They also use natural herbs for healthcare.
One of the prominent institutions of the region is the Bhatkhande Sangeet College, a music college where groups of research students work with various music directors. There is also an archeological museum that has been working for more than fifteen years. It constitutes a small collection of statues and sculptures; recently the District Administration has displayed information on the points of historical interest.
All over the District are scattered Monuments and relics of historical interests such as Khedla, which was the seat of the Gond Dynasty way back in the 13th century. There are other smaller ports at Asirghad and Bhawarghad in Multai Tehisil. Some caves have also been seen, which are supposed to be the hiding place of the 'Pindaries'.
At 'Bhainsdehi', there is an Old Shiva Temple built of carved stones. The roof had collapsed long ago; presently there are some beautifully carved pillars.
7 Km from Amla there are twin villages of 'Kazili' and 'Kanigiya', which contain old Temples of Hindus and Jains built in stone. They appear to be places of considerable religious importance. Excavations carried out here can result in the discovery of numerous objects of Archeological value.
At Muktagiri, there are some Jain Temples built on a hill as the name suggests the place had been sacred to the Jains, who came here to pass their last days. The District is famous for the apprising of the tribal against the British rule. Banjaridal, a village in Betul Tahisil is well known for the martyr Vishnu Singh Gond. The District greatly participated in the growth of freedom movement, no fewer than 50 volunteers took part in the Conference of congress at Nagpur.
The district is rich in tribal population. The tribal population of the district as per 2001 census is 5,49,907. One of these tribes, 'Bharewa' is instrumental in the practice of lost-wax casting craft. The meaning of 'Barrera' is 'one who fills', taken from the Hindi word for the act of filling, 'Bharna'. So, the people who create brass artifacts by filling molten metal in moulds are called 'Bharewa' and the caste is known as 'Bharewa' too. In some areas, 'Bharewa' are also called 'Bharias', but they do not belong to the 'Bharia' caste, which is distinctively different from 'Bharewa' caste.
Bharewas live in Phongaria, Chunahajuri, Barkhad, Kalamesara, Tigariya and Chitakamat villages of Betul district and follow a simple way of life. They generally live in nuclear families with the eldest male member being the head of the family and the chief decision maker. The whole family works as a unit wherein the women are also involved in the metal casting. Men wear mostly white cotton clothes and older men wear 'Dhoti' (a traditional draped garment worn as trousers by men) and 'Kurta' (men's traditional long shirt) or 'Ganji' (inner vest). The attire is completed by wearing a turban or a cloth tied around the head (a traditional headgear for men). This is considered to be a sign of respectful identity.
Banjaridal, a village in Betul tehsil, is famous for martyr Vishnu Singh Gond who rebelled against the British. Monuments and relics of historical places such as Khedla stand testimony to the 13th century Gond dynasty. The twin villages of 'Karzili' and 'Kanigiya' have ancient Hindu and Jain stone temples which are have considerable religious importance.
Shri Rukmani Balaji Temple is situated in Betul Bazaar, in the Betul District of Madhya Pradesh. The main building of 'Shri Rukmani Balaji' Temple conforms to the architecture used in South Indian temples and many reputed architects from South India were involved in the project. Individual sections of the temple resemble smaller temples, enshrining idols of Lord Ganesh, Radha-Krishna, Goddess Durga and Lord Shiva. There are three smaller temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman, Navagraha, and Saint Shirdi Sai Baba outside the main block. There is an artificial pond named Gangakund, stretching from outside gate to the main building, which contains a total of 10 fountains. Another major attraction is a python shaped structure which is a tunnel leading to all the shrines in the complex.
Kukru is a scenic village situated on the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border, with a total population of 400. It is in the valley of Satpura hills and located about 75 km from the district headquarters 'Badnur', and is at a height of 3500 feet above sea level. The village is growing to be a popular tourist destination owing to its green natural surroundings.