Akola is a city in Vidarbha region in the state of Maharashtra in central India. It is about 290 miles(580 km) east of the state capital Mumbai and 140 miles f(250 km) west of the second capital Nagpur. Akola is the administrative headquarters of Akola District located in Amravati Division. Akola city is governed by Akola Municipal Corporation. Akola District has an area of about 5,431 square kilometres and a population of 1,818,617 (2011 census). Akola is the third largest city in Vidarbha region after Nagpur and Amravati. Marathi is the most popular spoken language, though Hindi, English and Urdu are also used. Akola District is bordered on the north and east by Amravati District, on the south by Washim District, and on the west by Buldhana District. Akola Fort: Akola District along with the rest of the Berar province was part of the legendary kingdom of Vidarbha mentioned in the Mahabharata. Barar also formed part of the Mauryan Empire during the reign of Ashoka (272 to 231 BCE). Berar later came under the rule of the Satavahana dynasty (2nd century BCE–2nd century CE), the Vakataka dynasty (3rd to 6th centuries), the Chalukya dynasty (6th to 8th centuries), the Rashtrakuta dynasty (8th to 10th centuries), the Chalukyas again (10th to 12th centuries) and finally the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri (late 12th to early 14th centuries). A period of Muslim rule began when Ala ud din Khilji, Sultan of Delhi, conquered the region in the early 14th century. The region was part of the Bahmani Sultanate, which broke away from the Delhi Sultanate in the mid-14th century. The Bahmani Sultanate broke up into smaller sultanates at the end of the 15th century, and in 1572 Berar became part of the Nizam Shahi sultanate, based at Ahmadnagar. The Nizam Shahis ceded Berar to the Mughal Empire in 1595. The Mughals ruled the Berar Province during 17th century. As Mughal rule started to unravel at the start of the 18th century, Asaf Jah I, Nizam of Hyderabad seized the southern provinces of the empire (including Berar) in 1724, forming an independent state. The rise of Maratha Empire (from 1674 to 1760) under the command of Chhatrapati Shivaji succeeded by his son Sambhaji and grandson Shahu brought the whole Berar province including Akola district under the Maratha Empire around 1734. In 1749 at the time of his death, Shahu appointed the Peshwa as the head of the Maratha Empire with certain conditions to follow. The Berar province remained under the Marathas. The Battle of Argaon, (or Adgaon near Akot) in took place on 28 November 1803 between the British under the command of Governor Arthur Wellesley and the forces of Maratha under Bhonsle of Nagpur during Second Anglo-Maratha War. In the third Anglo-Maratha War, the last Peshwa Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British. In 1853, Akola district together with the rest of Berar came under the administration of the British East India Company. Berar was divided into East and West Berar with Akola district being included in West Berar. In 1903, Berar was leased to the Nizam of Hyderabad by the British East India Company in return of the debt. The Congress's proposed linguistic provinces plan before the Independence of India had positioned Akola as the headquarters of the Berar region. After India gained its independence in 1947, the states and provinces were reorganised in 1956. Berar was divided among different states. Akola became a part of bilingual Bombay state which was further divided into two states in 1960. Akola became a part of the new Maharashtra State. The Narnala fort, Akot fort, Akola fort and Balapur Fort are some of the famous monuments in Akola. Akola Airport (also known as Shivani Airport) (IATA: AKD, ICAO: VAAK) is the domestic airport of Akola city and is at an elevation of 999 ft. It was built by the British authorities in the 1940s and regularly sent flights to Mumbai. Now it is non-functional, and has one runway (4,600×145 ft). The expansion and functioning of the airport has been delayed as it is unable to get land from Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth. [19] It is one of the oldest airports in India. The airport is just 7 km from the city on National Highway No. 6. The nearest international airport is at Nagpur (140 miles). Renovation and operation of Akola airport are taken by Airport Authority of India. The Nagpur bench of Mumbai High Court has recently given the decision to take over the required land for extension of Akola Airport from the Dr. PDKV. The work is expected to be started soon. After the extension of runway and renovation of other infrastructure, the regular flight service is supposed to be commenced. National Highway No. 6 passes through Akola. Akola has the vehicle registration code as MH-30. The NH6 runs through Akola from Hazira (Surat) to Kolkata. NH6 is a part of Asian Highway 46. The NHAI has declared to build up a new national highway from Akola to Hyderabad in Telangana State. It has been numbered as National Highway 161 (new): Akola - Nanded - Sangareddy. State Highway no. 68 and 69 also pass through the municipal limits. Other highways include State Highway 204, State Highway 200: Akola - Amravati, and State Highway 197. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) City transport: Akola Municipal Transport (AMT) runs Akola's public transport service. Autorickshaws are also widely used in Akola city for city transport. The municipal corporation is working with the IRDP (Integrated Rural Development Planning) to develop the roads of the city. The stopped service of AMT bus transport was restarted in December 2015 with a total of 35 buses. The local government has decided to reserve three buses for ladies of the 15 buses to be introduced in the first phase of installation of the service.[when?] Inter-city transport: Maharashtra state transport buses are most commonly used by people to travel to rural parts of the region. State-owned and private air-conditioned bus services run on daily basis to most major cities to and from Akola. Bus service is available for cities like Pune, Nagpur, Bhopal, Indore, Hyderabad, Nanded, Amravati, Mumbai, Nashik, Surat and Jabalpur, as well as other important cities and towns in Maharashtra and the neighbouring states. Akola, situated on both the Howrah-Nagpur-Mumbai line and the Kacheguda-Jaipur line, is an important junction for passengers from North and South India and also for freight trains. The Kacheguda-Jaipur line is being recently converted to broad gauge and the number of trains connecting to Hyderabad has increased since then. Broadgauging of the Akola Junction-Purna railway line under Unigauge has recently been completed and passenger trains have started running on this route. The work ofgauge conversion (meter gauge-broad gauge) of Akola Junction - Indore Junction MG and Indore Junction MG - Ratlam railway line of SCR zone has started and is projected to be completed in a few years. Akola has good railway connectivity with direct trains to Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Okha, Surat, Nanded, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Kolhapur, Pune, Kamakhya, Indore, Mhow, Ujjain, Khandwa, Ratlam, Bhopal, Chittorgarh, Nagpur, Bilaspur, Howrah, Hatia, Puri, Chennai, Hingoli, Purna, Parli, Tirupati, Ganganagar, Secundarabad, and many more important railway stations in the country. Important railway stations in Akola region with their codes are Paras, Gaigaon, Akola Junction (AK), Murtizapur Junction (MZR) and are under the Bhusawal-Badnera section of Bhusawal Division of Central Railway. The other stations under meter gauge are Hiwarkhed (HWK), Adgaon Buzurg (ABZ), Akot (AKOT), Patsul (PTZ), Ugwe (UGWE), Akola Junction, Shivani Shivpur (SVW), Barshitakli (BSQ), Lohogad (LHD), Aman Vadi (AMW), and Jaulka (JUK) under Purna - Khandwa section of South Central Railway. The stations under narrow gauge are Lakhpuri, Murtizapur Junction, Karanja under two Narrow Gauge Branch lines viz Murtizapur-Achalpur and Murtizapur-Yavatmal of Bhusawal Division of Central Railway. In 2009, a new railway station was built at Shivani-Shivar to reduce the load of goods transport of Akola Junction railway station. It is the modification of a meter gauge station into a broad gauge station. It now connects Purna to Hyderabad through Akola. Akola Junction railway station is one of the Top 100 Booking Stations in India. Now Akola urban area has two stations - Akola Junction and Shivani-Shivapur Railway Station. Shegaon (in Buldana District), a very famous pilgrimage place of Gajanan Maharaj, is just 35 km from Akola. Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan is the biggest temple trust in the Vidarbha region and is called "Pandharpur of Vidarbha". The origin of Gajanan Maharaj is untraceable in history. People from all over Maharashtra visit Shegaon and offer their prayers to Gajanan Maharaj. Narnala also known as "Shahanur Fort", is an Indian hill fortress in Maharashtra. The name Narnala was given after the Rajput Ruler Narnal Singh or Narnal Swami. The fort was built in 10 A.D. by Gond Kings. Narnala Wildlife Sanctuary which is situated 40 km from Akola city is a principal tourist destination. Home to leopards, birds and sambars, this wildlife sanctuary also has many trees like teal, kusum and salai. Nehru Park is the well-known amusement park. A laser show and musical fountain are added attractions. Ashok Vatika is an important religious place for Buddhist and Dalit people in Akola city. There are statues of Dr. B R Ambedkar, Siddharth Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Jyotirao Phule inside the Garden, People gather in large number to offer prayers, it is located at the centre of Akola city. Raj Rajeshwar Temple: Akola's oldest Shiva temple is Rajeshwar Mandir. The city derives its nickname as "Rajeshwar Nagari" from it.

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