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Neemuch District

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Neemuch is one of the more recent districts in the state of Madhya Pradesh, its district status having been established on June 30, 1998. It is located on the northwest portion of the state. It is a part of the Ujjain Division, with a total area of 3,875 square kilometers. As of the census of 2001, the district has a total population of around 725,457 people and a population density of 170 people per square kilometers. Neemuch district is bordered on the north and west by the state of Rajasthan, while the district of Mandsaur borders it on the south and east. The district’s administrative headquarters is the town of Neemuch.

Neemuch was originally a part of Mandsaur. It was the most southerly place to which the great Indian rebellion of 1857 extended to, in which a brigade of native Bengal troops mutinied and marched to Delhi. The European soldiers then took refuge in the fort after which they were taken under siege by rebel forces from Mandsaur (of which Neemuch was originally an administrative division of). Eventually, the European defenders were relieved by the reinforcements in the form of the Malwa field force. An army cantonment was also established by the British during the time of their occupation in the area.

In 1949, two years after India gained its independence, Neemuch became the birthplace of the CRPF, the Central Reserve Police Force, formerly known as the Crown Representative’s Police. When Madhya Pradesh was created on November 1, 1956, Mandsaur became one of its districts and on June 30, 1998, the state passed a law making Neemuch, one of its divisions, a separate district.

The economy of the district is largely agricultural in nature, and the town which is its administrative headquarters serves as a road junction and distribution center of agricultural products. Some of the important crops that Neemuch distributes are wheat, maize, soyabean, oured and mustard. Handloom-weaving is also a major industry in the area, particularly in the town of Neemuch. The district is also one of the largest producers of opium in the world, since the climate there is very apt for the production of the crop. Neemuch has one of only two opium factories in all of India.

Aside from its historical significance, there are also other attractions in the district, most of them religious by nature. The most famous and popular ones include:

1. Kileshwar Temple – The Kileshwar temple annually holds the Maha Shivratri festival (translated as “Great Night of Shiva”), which is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. It attracts thousands of devotees every year.

2. Sukhanandji Ashram – Located about 20 kilometers from the town, on the border of Rajasthan, this temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva can be found in an ancient rock-cave. The place itself commands a scenic view, with a spring that is always flowing with water. The place plays hosts to two fairs celebrated annually: the first is on Haryali Amavashya of Srawan month and the second is on Baisakh Purnima.

3. Gandhi Sagar – This wildlife sanctuary straddles the northern boundary of Neemuch and Mandsaur. It has an area of 368.62 square kilometers, adjoining the state of Rajasthan. The sanctuary is open throughout the year.

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