Although Jalgaon was insignificant before the 19th century, it then began attracting merchants and weavers and could boast of more than 400 hand looms by 1860. From the late 1800s it grew steadily, aided by its location along the road between Mumbai (southwest) and Nagpur (east). The city is now one of the chief commercial centres of the Khandesh cotton-growing region. It is home to Kavayitri Bahinabai Chaudhari North Maharashtra University (1990), which has numerous affiliated colleges in the city and in other communities in the state.
Much of the area surrounding Jalgaon occupies the Tapti River valley on the northern rim of the Deccan plateau region. To the north lies the Satpura Range of the Western Ghats, with peaks rising to 3,500 feet (1,000 metres). The hills descend steeply to the Tapti, the fast-flowing tributaries of which have deeply dissected the terrain, creating a typical badland landscape. South of the Tapti, the land is gently undulating and rises gradually to the Ajanta Range, 600 feet (180 metres) above the river basin. The region is important as a part of the Khandesh cotton belt; millet and oilseeds are also grown. Irrigation projects on the Tapti, Bori, and Girna rivers were begun in the mid-1970s to alleviate the pressures of a seasonal and scanty rainfall. Local industries include cotton mills and artificial silk, thread, and fireworks factories. Pop. (2001) 368,618; (2011) 460,228.
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