The Sahyadri mountains form, for a distance of about twenty- five miles, a continuous natural boundary between the Ahmadnagar and Thana districts. When viewed from the west or low level of the Konkan the appearance of this range is that of a mighty wall of rock, 2000 to 3000 feet high, of dark hue relieved by narrow horizontal belts of grass and evergreen forest, surmounted by isolated peaks and rocky bluffs rising in many places to a further height of 1000 to 1500 feet.
The three hill-forts of Kulang, Ratangad, and Harishchandragad are among the most striking of these masses of rock within Ahmadnagar limits. These mark the points of divergence from the main line of the Sahyadris of three great spurs, Kalsubai, Baleshvar, and Harishchandragad, which stretch far across the district, gradually decreasing in height as they pass eastwards.
The KALSUBAI Range, branching off at Kulang, is the northernmost of the three spurs and for some twenty miles forms the boundary between the Ahmadnagar and Nasik districts. Viewed from the Nasik side it presents the appearance of a continuous and in many places a precipitous wall of rock. Almost every hill in this range has been a fort and many still have water cisterns and granaries. Bast of Kulang is the twin fort of Alang, both of great natural strength. Then come a series of rocky and precipitous peaks, averaging 5000 feet in height, followed by Kalsubai, the conical summit of which, 5427 feet, is the highest point in the Bombay Presidency. East of Kalsubai is a natural depression in the range over which winds the Bari pass road leading from the Rajur hills to the plain of the Darna river in the Nasik district below. The truncated hill of Pandara commands this road on the east. The next noteworthy peaks are Palan, Bitangad, and Mahakali. The range here sweeps northward to the once celebrated forts of Patta and Aundha which were the scene of many a fierce contest between the Marathas and Moghals. The magnificent amphitheatre of rock between these two forts is one of the most striking features of the range. Two smaller spurs which run in a south-easterly direction, enclosing the valley of the Adula river, branch off near Bitangad and Patta. On the main range east of Aundha is the fort of Ad, which lies in the Nasik district. The hills now take a south-easterly direction, running parallel with the spurs and enclosing the valley of the Mahalungi. Crossing the south of the Sinnar sub-division of Nasik, the range enters the Sangamner sub-division about eight miles north of the chief town, and, after a further course of fifteen miles, ends somewhat sharply with the hill of Dudheshvar, 2748 feet above sea level and about 950 feet above the bed of the Pravara river in the valley below.
The tract of country which lies between the central portion of this range and the Pravara river is extremely rugged. The two flat-topped hills of Tava 3526 feet, and Raula, which lie a few miles north of the town of Akola, are conspicuous objects from all parts of the Pravara valley. Another striking hill is Manbhav 3013 feet, which lies east of Tava on the boundary between Akola and Sangamner. As far east as Kalsubai the mountains are fairly wooded with mango, jambhul Syzigium jambolanum, and other evergreen trees; in the central part there are fewer evergreens, but teak abounds especially on the slopes of the spurs jutting towards the south; the part of the range which lies in Sangamner is covered only with scrub and in places is bare.
The BALESHVAR Range, the second great spur of the Sahyadris, which branches off at Ratangad seven miles south-east of Kulang, completely traverses the Akola and Sangamner sub-divisions forming on the north the valley of the Pravara and on the south the valley of the Mula. East of Ratangad are a series of lofty mountains, Katrabai, Mura, Shirpunj, and Sindola, the last towering over Pabar 4452 feet, which juts out with a long shoulder to the north at right angles to the range. Next comes Asvalya 4195 feet, then Ghatsari 3159 feet, and Dhagya 3385 feet. The range culminates with Baleshvar, as a central mass whose summit 3828 feet high is crowned with a ruined Hemadpanti temple, surrounded by spurs radiating from the centre in all directions, the whole covering an area of some twenty-five square miles. On an isolated hill at the end of one of these spurs, projecting to the north-west, is the fort of Pemgad. Between Baleshvar and Dhumya 3027 feet, which is the last notable point in the range, is the Chandnapuri pass crossed by the Poona-Nasik high road. East of Dhumya the hills decrease in height and finally subside in the open plain near Rahuri. This range, which is about sixty miles long, has much the same forest characteristics as the Kalsubai range. As far as Pabar there are evergreen belts, from Pabar to Baleshvar teak trees are the prevailing feature, and further east there are the same sterile hills, bare or at most covered with low scrub.
The third range which leaves the Sahyadris at HARISHCHANDRAGAD is the longest in the district and forms the water-shed between the Godavari and the Bhima rivers. Its direction for the first fifteen miles is easterly, shutting in the valley of the Mula river which flows between it and the Baleshvar range, and forming the boundary line between the Ahmadnagar and Poona districts. East of the Harishchandra fort lies the fort of Kunjal; near Brahmanvada the range, gradually decreasing in height, takes a turn to the south-east, crosses the corner of the Junnar sub-division of Poona, and enters Parner which it completely traverses. The summits of the hills here widen into the plateau of Kanhur, of a mean height of 2800 feet above the sea and 700 feet above the plain of the Ghod river on the west towards which the range presents a wall-like front. Near the village of Jamgaon on the Nagar side of the plateau a flat ridge shoots to the north-east; this, though of no great height and in many places hardly distinguishable from the country round, forms the water-shed line between the tributaries of the Godavari and those of the Bhima. The ridge enters the Nagar sub-division and as the ground on the north gradually acquires a slope towards the Mula river, it becomes the crest of a tableland having a gentle slope towards the south-east. North of the town of Ahmadnagar the crest rises again to the dignity of a mountain range. The hills of Gorakhnath 2982 feet, Manjar-sumba, and Gunjala are conspicuous from all parts of the subdivision. On the north side the range presents an abrupt front towards the lowlying plains of Rahuri and Nevasa in the valley of the Godavari; on the south side the country has a mean elevation of 2200 feet with a slope towards the south-east indicated by the direction of the Sina river. At the foot of Manjarsumba is a little glen opening towards the north, commonly known as the Happy Valley, the natural beauty of which attracts many visitors from Ahmadnagar, and down an adjacent ravine still further east winds the road to Toka and Aurangabad. The range here turns southeast keeping its wall-like face towards the Godavari. Some of the hills attain considerable elevations, that on which the tomb of Salabat Khan is built being 3080 feet above the sea level and 1000 feet above the town of Ahmadnagar which lies six miles to the west in the valley of the Sina. Extending still further the range gradually loses its continuous character; minor branches jut out on both sides giving a varied and rugged appearance to the subdivisions of Shevgaon and Jamkhed. Still further to the south-east the summits of the hills widen and gradually spread into the flat elevated country known as the Balaghat which extends far into the Nizam’s dominions, the western corner only lying within Ahmadnagar limits. The length of this chain of hills from the main line of the Sahyadris to the Balaghat is about a hundred and twenty miles. Another branch of the range leaving the Kanhur plateau cro
sses the north-east corner of the Shrigonda sub-division and enters Karjat. Still pursuing a south-east direction, the hills gradually decrease in height and disappear near the Bhima river. A distinguishing feature of this branch is the succession of pathars or flat-topped hills which are so uniformly horizontal as to bear an almost artificial appearance.
Besides these leading ranges there are many hills both isolated and forming the backbones of ridges between streams. These, though often of considerable height above the sea, present no striking appearance from the tableland out of which they rise. They are usually covered with coarse grass and loose stones.