Akola is a city in Vidarbha region in the state of Maharashtra in central India. It is the third largest city in Vidarbha, situated about 290 miles (580 km) east of the state capital, Mumbai, and 140 miles (250 km) west of the second capital, Nagpur. Akola is the administrative headquarter of Akola District located in Amravati Division. Akola is governed by the Akola Municipal Corporation.

The city is known for the use of the Varhadi language. Akola is located in the north-central part of Maharashtra state, western India, on the banks of Morna River and it is an important district in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra State. Although not a tourist destination, it still is an important historical, cultural, political, and agricultural city. Akola has a prominent road and rail junction in the Tapti River valley which is a commercial trading center.

Akola is an important educational center as well, with several colleges affiliated with the Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University. The city is gradually developing into a great market center. The main language spoken by the people of Akola is Marathi; some communities also speak Urdu (by Muslims) and Hindi.

Akola resides within Akola District, which has an area of about 5,431 square kilometers. A 2011 census by the directorate of census operations, Maharashtra, found that Akola District has a population of 1,818,617. Akola District includes seven talukas which are Akola, Akot, Telhara, Balapur, Barshitakli, Murtijapur, and Patur. Akola is the third-largest city in the Vidarbha region after Nagpur and Amravati. Marathi is the most spoken and dominant language. 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 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 Khalji, 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 Ahmednagar. The Nizam Shahis ceded Berar to the Mughal Empire in 1595. The Mughals ruled the Berar Province during the 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.

Akola has been a part of India's mythological past. The place is mentioned as a part of the Berar province and the legendary kingdom of Vidarbha in the Mahabharata. Berar also formed a part of the Mauryan Empire during the reign of Ashoka (272 to 231 BCE). The province later came under the rule of the Satavahana dynasty (2nd-century BCE-2nd century CE), the Vakatakas (3rd to 6th centuries), the Chalukya dynasty (6th to 8th centuries), the Rashtrakuta dynasty (8th to 10th centuries). The Chalukyas regained control of the region in the 10th to 12th centuries respectively and finally the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri (late 12th to early 14th centuries). Ala ud din Khalji of the Delhi Sultanate conquered the region in the early 14th century that eventually became a 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 Ahmednagar. The Nizam Shahs conceded Berar to the Mughal Empire in 1595. The Mughals ruled the province during the 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 the Maratha Empire from 1674 to 1760 saw the region coming under the command of Chhatrapati Shivaji succeeded by his sons. In 1749, at the time of death of Shahu, he appointed Peshwa as the head of the Maratha Empire with certain conditions to follow. The Third battle of Panipat in 1761 crippled the Maratha Empire and corroded the power of Peshwa forever. But still, the Berar province remained under the Marathas.

The Battle of Aragon in 1803, was fought here between the British and the Marathas during the Second Anglo-Maratha War. The Third Anglo-Maratha War saw the defeat of the last Peshwa, Baji Rao II by the British. In 1853, the 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 for the debt.

After India's Independence in 1947 from British Government entire India including Berar province was divided into different states and a new Maharashtra state under the Government of Maharashtra was formed, with Akola district under it.

Mauryan Empire, Satavahana, Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, Vakatakas, Sultan of Delhi, Bahmani Sultanate, Nizam Shahi sultanate, Mughals, Nizams, Marathas, Peshwas and British. Chhatrapati Shivaji, Sambhaji, Shahuji, Gopalrao Bajirao Khedkar, Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh, King Akol Singh, Sant Gajanan Maharaj, Brijlal Biyani, Sundarabai Khandelwal, Raosaheb Devraobaba Digambarji, Bhartiya, Samarth Ramdas Swami.

The Congress's proposed linguistic provinces plan before the Independence of India had positioned Akola as the headquarters of the Berar region.[4][5]

After India gained its independence in 1947, the states and provinces were reorganized 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.

As of 2011 India census,[7] Akola City has a population of 425,817 and an area of about 124 km2. Post municipal limit extension in Aug 2016, City of Akola has a population of 537,137 and an area of 124 km2.[8][circular reference]

Akola is located at latitude 20.7° North and longitude 77.07° East. It is at an altitude of 925 ft (287m) to 1036.745 ft (316m) above sea level. Akola has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw) bordering humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cwa). Akola has a National Weather Station which serves as the local weather center. Annual temperatures range from a high of 47.6 °C (117.68 °F) to a low of 2.2 °C (35.96 °F). Akola lies near the Tropic of Cancer and becomes very hot during the summer, especially in May. Although it can be very hot in the day, it is cooler at night. The annual rainfall averages 800 mm. Most of the rainfall occurs in the monsoon season between June and September, but some rain does fall during January and February.

On the north, Akola is bordered by the Melghat Hills and forest region. The highest point in Akola District at about 950–970 m is present there in the northern Satpuda region. The Morna River flows through Akola. Purna River forms a part of the north border of the district, and the top north portion of the district lies within its watershed along with Aas River and Shahnur River. Vaan River forms a part of the northwest boundary of the district after entering from the Amravati district. Maan River drains the southwestern portion of the district. Morna River drains the mid-south portion of the district, while the southeast is drained by the Katepurna and Uma rivers.

Some of the rivers in Akola and their tributaries are Purna, Uma, Katepurna, Shahnur, Morna, Man, Aas, and Vaan. There are many dams in Akola district; Mahan, on Katepurna river is one of them. There were floods in 1978, 1992, and 2003.

Akola district has another fact to record the lowest temperature in the month of May. Akola has recorded a minimum temperature of 11.9 °C in the month of May which is considered to be the hottest month in the state of Maharashtra.

Akola city has been the education hub for students in Western Vidarbha region. Akola city hosts multiple engineering, medical, Pharmacy, Law and other Colleges. Akola is the main campus of Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV) attracts numerous students from state and country.

Akola is home to Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV), established by the government of Maharashtra on 20 October 1969. Earlier, it was part of Maharashtra Krishi Vidyapeeth since 1968. The university attracts students from far distances for its agricultural science and agricultural engineering and technology courses. PDKV jurisdiction covers all 11 districts of Vidarbha.[11]

(JNVs) is a system of alternate schools for gifted students in India. They are run by Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, New Delhi, an autonomous organization under the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. JNVs are fully residential and co-educational schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), New Delhi, with classes from VI to XII standard. JNVs are specifically tasked with finding talented children in rural areas of India and providing them with an education equivalent to the best residential school system, without regard to their families' socio-economic condition.

Akola city is divided into 80 electoral wards and 4 zones stretching up to an area of 124 km2. The Akola Municipal Corporation was established on 1 Oct. 2001 is headed by a Municipal Commissioner and Mayor who is assisted by the Deputy Mayor. They carry out the work through various committees such as the Standing Committee, Law Committee, Education Committee, Women and Child Welfare Committee, City Development Committee, and Four Zonal Committees for the Four Zones. Vijay Agrawal is the mayor of Akola city. Akola Municipal Transport (AMT) runs Akola's public transport service. The neighboring suburbs like Umri, Gurdhi, Khadki, Shivani (Shioni), Malkapur, Akoli, Kharap and so on are decided to be included into municipal limits. Akola Municipal Corporation launched its website on 29 December 2011.[39]

Law and Order in the city are maintained by the District Police Administration called Akola Police. Akola City Subdivision has 8 Police Stations and covers the metropolitan area of growing Akola city.[40]

The Government approved the creation of a new Railway Police Akola Sub-Division that will including Akola, Wardha, and Badnera railway police units. Akola Police Sub Division falls under the Nagpur District of Railway.

Today, Akola is a developing city and it is one of the major cities of the vidarbha region. Akola has a very good grain market, oil mills, dal (pulses) mills, and is known for the production of cotton. The IT sector is also growing at a fast pace.

Akola, called Cotton City, is known for its cotton production and is the largest cotton-producing district in India. The city is also famous for its pulses (dal), oil and textile mills. The city had all along been an important commercial and trading center. The facility of goods transportation and communication system in the form of railway and roads in addition to the extension of the electric grid system and establishment of the Paras Thermal Power Station ensuring adequate electric power supply has contributed to the industrial development of the city in recent years.

The Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth with its headquarters at Akola came into existence on 20 October 1969 and it added to the importance and development of the city.

Agriculture is the main occupation of the people in rural parts of the region. Cotton, Soybean and jawar (sorghum) are the essential crops grown in the district. Other important crops of the region are wheat, sunflower, canola, peanut, Bajra (pearl millet), Harbara (chickpeas), Toor (pigeon peas), Urad and Moong (green gram). Most crops are dependent on the monsoon. Only 15% of Maharashtra's gross cropped area is irrigated, compared with the national average of 32.9% in 1989–90. Vidarbha's Amravati division's (including Akola District) share of gross cropped area under irrigation of 9%.

Considered one of Maharashtra's least developed regions, Vidarbha has seen not only farmers' suicides but also deaths caused by malnutrition. In some tribal are major reasons[41] of recent suicide deaths of farmers in the Akola region and other surrounding parts of Vidarbha, which has rung alarm bells in the Maharashtra state government and government of India. Bharat Krishak Samaj, one of the leading organizations of farmers in India, is very active in the Akola region. It has played a crucial role in promoting the voice of the common farmers of the Vidarbha region to the attention of the Indian government under the chairmanship of Prakash Shriram Mankar. Oil and dal mills are becoming rampant in this region because of the crops taken. Textile mills are also increasing to support the cotton-growing industry.

The Akola MIDC Industrial Area is the largest and most economical industrial area in the division. It has four prominent industrial zones on the outskirts of the city. Cotton and jowar are the predominant crops grown in the district. Oil and dal mills are also rampant. The economy is mostly agriculture-based. Nowadays, the soybean crop is an important crop as major soybean plants have come up in the area. The total land under Akola MIDC Industrial area is 6.25  km2. There are about 25 factories (3 large factories and 22 small factories) currently in production and another 10 small factories are in the process of being constructed. Maharashtra Government has sanctioned growth centers close to the Akola MIDC area. An application of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) for setting up an agro-processing Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Akola district has been approved. Maharashtra State Seeds Corporation (Mahabeej) has head office at Akola. There is a growing demand for setting up divisional MIDC office at Akola to cater to Akola, Washim, and Buldhana districts which are away from the current divisional office and also lack good industrial growth.

Well, known industrial groups like the Birla Group and the Mafatlal Group have established their industries and important industries such as Berar Oil Industries, Simplex Mill, Polyophin Industry now known as NOCIL, Co-operative Spanning mill, Mohata Cotton Mill (NTC Ltd) are located in the city.

Paras Thermal Power Station: Paras thermal power station is the oldest of all Mahagenco power plants and is located about 20  km west of the city. The station has witnessed the third-generation technology. The station had 30 MW installed capacity in 1961 with a stroke boiler. The same unit was abandoned in 1993 due to aging.[42]

Akola has a good tradition of sports. A number of state level tournaments as well as national tournaments of various indoor and outdoor games are hosted here. The most played sports in Akola city include football, cricket, carrom, hockey, volleyball, boxing, kabaddi, chess, and badminton. Akola was called the Home of Football, Akola produced many renowned footballers, Akola police was the best team for many years, some of the footballers of Akola are:- Pandharinath Gopnarayan, Pappu Pandey, Gajanan Shelar, Devidas Sarjekar, Shakil Sarjekar, Krishna Shelar, Baban Patade, Sheikh Chand, and Farooq Sheikh. Some of the stadiums and playground in Akola region include:

Akola Cricket Club Ground (ACC) is the prominent cricket ground in the region and is the home ground of the Akola cricket club. The ground has held two first-class matches, the first of which came in the 1983/84 Ranji Trophy when Vidarbha played the Railways, while the second saw Rajasthan as the visitors in the 1984/85 Ranji Trophy.[43]

Vasant Desai Stadium is famous in the region as it always hosts the district level tournaments of games such as running, volleyball, swimming, boxing, and kabaddi.

Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium is located near Sundarabai Khandelwal Tower which is a landmark of Akola city. The stadium hosts the games like football and cricket.

Akola Airport (also known as Shioni 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 have been delayed as it is unable to get land from Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth.[44] 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 the runway and renovation of other infrastructure, the regular flight service is supposed to be commenced. Akola Airport (also known as Shioni Airport) is the domestic airport of Akola city at an elevation of 999 ft (304 m) and has one runway (4,600×145 ft). The airport is just 7 km away from the city on National Highway No. 6. The nearest international airport is at Nagpur (250 km) and at Aurangabad, Maharashtra (265 km). Renovation and operation of Akola airport are taken by the Airport Authority of India.

Akola city is well connected to major cities by road. The NH6 runs through Akola from Hazira (Surat) to Kolkata. NH6 is a part of Asian Highway 46. The National Highway 161 (new) starts in Akola connecting Nanded and then Sangareddy (Telangana). The government has declared a new National Highway 161A National Highway 161A (new) connecting Akot, Akola to Mangrulpir, Mahur, and Mudkhed.

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. The "NH6" runs through Akola from Hazira (Surat) to Kolkata. NH6 is a part of Asian Highway 46. Maharashtra state transport buses are most commonly used by people to travel to rural parts of the region. They are the cheapest means of transport. State-owned and private air-conditioned bus services run daily to most major cities to and from Akola. The bus frequency is good. Bus service is available for cities like Nagpur, Bhopal, Indore, Hyderabad, Nanded, Amravati, Mumbai, Nashik, Jabalpur.[45] Akola has the vehicle registration code as MH-30.

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.

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 has recently been completed and passenger trains have started running on this route. The work of gauge 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, Ajmer, 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.

Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, the conference on Marathi Literature, was held twice in Akola city. They were presided over by Hari Narayan Apte in 1912 and Gopal Nilkanth Dandekar in 1981.

Akola is a city with a mix of religions and cultures. There are several places of worship for Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, and Christians in Akola.

Mosques in Akola city: There are a number of mosques in the town. Important amongst them are the Badi Masjid (Markaz), Masjid Mominpura and Kachchhi Masjid.

This church is an 1873 British establishment. It has Christmas decorations.

Shegaon (in Buldana District), a popular 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 (Marathi नरनाळा), 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. In the 15th Century, Mughals have occupied and rebuild the fort and hence it has been called Shahnoor Fort. Narnala was one of the thirteen sarkars of Berar Subah. Narnala consists of three small forts named Zafarabad fort (or Jafarabad) on the east, Narnala in the center, and Teliagarh on the west.

It is a historical place since the Khilji Dynasty, and it was one of the Sarkar Subah Berar in the medieval period. The fort is known for the great Muslim saint Hazrat Burhanuddin "BAGH SAWAR WALI" and it is said that many white tigers were seen with the Hazrat at that time. ADLI BEG or ATALU BEG erected many Arabic Scripts and the "TUP" named "KADAK BIJLI". It is also the birthplace of Aurangzeb's great-grandson. Sardar Beg Mirza and Qader Beg Mirza were the hereditary descendants of the Mughal Dynasty in the 18th century. They to stay near Aragon 9 km away from Hiwarkhed because Shah Beg Subedar of Berar was holding the fort. It is located in the Akot Taluka, Akola District, Berar (also called Amravati Division) at coordinates 21o 15' N and 77o 4' E. The closest city is Akot which is 18 km away. It is at the southernmost tip of the Satpura Hills at an elevation of 3161 feet(912 m) above sea level.[1]Currently, this area falls within the Melghat Tiger Reserve.

Akola Fort (also called Asadgad or Asagad) along with the Narnala and Akot forts forms the major fortifications of the Akola district, Maharashtra, India. It is notable in that it is bereft of any decorative embellishments. There are several inscriptions on the fort. An inscription on the Dahi handi gate gives its date of constructions as 1114 AH (1697 CE), 'during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb when Nawab Asad Khan was a minister.' Another on the Fateh Buruj bastion has no exact date. It too mentions the same minister but a different emperor (Shah Alam). One of the Eidgah, contains texts and statement that the building was finished by Khawja Abdul Latif in 1116 AH (1698 CE). On the Agarves gate, an inscription in Marathi reads that Govind Appaji in 1843 CE constructed the fort. The latter statement contradicts all the other inscriptions.

Nehru Park is a 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 center of Akola city.

Akola's oldest Shiva temple is Rajeshwar Mandir. The city derives its nickname as "Rajeshwar Nagari" from it.