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ABOUT ICHALKARANJI Geography: Ichalkaranji is a town situated in Kolhapur district of the Western Maharastra state of India. The town is located on the eastern region of Sahyadri Mountains, between 16.7° N and 74.47° E and has an average elevation of 538 meters (1768 feet). It is situated on the bank of river Panchaganga. It falls under the Time Zone of IST +5:30. According to the last Population Census of 2001, it had a population of 257,702. The important codes for this city are: Pin code – 416115 Telephone – 0230 Vehicle Registration - MH 09 History: The name ‘Ichalkaranji’ is a compilation of three different words i.e. Ichy, Uchi and Karanji - these were the three small villages which existed during the 18th century. In 1893, His Highness Shrimant Narayanrao Ghorpade laid the foundation for the municipal council of Ichalkaranji. Later, the visionary Shri Vitthalrao Datar started the first handloom in 1904. His Highness sensed the future potential of this industry and helped the weavers and businessman by making available free land and the required donation. The further boost was given by many legendary entrepreneurs like Dattajirao Kadam, Kalappana Awade, etc. Mr. Awade started the Textile and Engineering Institute of Ichalkaranji in 1982.This institute became the milestone in the history of Textile Industry, which took the name of the city to greater heights by providing excellent manpower to the industry. Demography: According to 2008[update] census, Ichalkaranji had a population of 4,33,137. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Ichalkaranji has an average literacy rate of 73%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 91%, and female literacy is 66%. In Ichalkaranji, 13% of the population is under 6 years of age. The religion diversity in Ichalkaranji is represented by Hindus, Jains, and Muslims. The languages widely spoken are Marathi, Hindi, and English. Other regional languages like Kannada, Gujrati, and Marwari are also well spoken in the business circles. People and Culture: Ichalkaranji as a business entity can be simply divided into two economic strata - Labour class and Business class. People either own textile related business or they work in one. Economy: Textiles is the backbone of the economy in Ichalkaranji. It is the fastest growing industrial area in western Maharashtra. Earlier, Ichalkaranji was famous for cotton cloths, dhoties and sarees. With the changing market scenario, it produces not only cotton but also suiting, shirting, denim cloth, canvas, cambric, etc. as it has made a remarkable development in terms of technology. Ichalkaranji boasts of approximately 2-2.5 lacs of Powerlooms and 50,000 Semi-auto looms. There are 7 yarn Spinning mills in and around Ichalkaranji. In 2006, the city was sanctioned under the Textile Cluster scheme of central government and today it is well equipped with all the amenities and facilities required for the textile industry. It also has 4 textile parks coming-up in its vicinity. Ichalkaranji surely has obtained a place in the textile map of the World. Because of all these ventures, Ichalkaranji is proudly known as the ‘Manchester City’ of Maharashtra. Other than textiles, the economy is now booming with diversified industries like auto components manufacturers, educational institutes, foundry, food industry, green houses, sugar factory, etc. Infrastructure: Ichalkaranji is well connected by road and railway to the nearby cities of Kolhapur (23 km), Sangli (30 km), Belgaum (110 km), and Pune (240 km). The town is equipped with one the best State Transport facility in the state and the railway station is situated at a distance of 8 km from the central bus stand. The Pune-Bangalore national highway is at a distance of 20 km. The nearest airport is of Kolhapur at 22 km. Ichalkaranji has been awarded the ‘Best Town’ under Gadgebaba Cleanliness Mission. It has well built roads, proper supply of water & electricity and new residential townships to cater the growing population. Roads connecting the 3 major industrial estates of the town are again constructed under the Textile Cluster program. Sewage Treatment plants are been developed to treat the pollutant water of different industries. Since the beginning of 20th century, Ichalkaranji is a town well-known for cultural activities. The classical vocal singing was pioneered in Ichalkaranji by Pandit Balkrishna Bua and the tradition continues till today. There are academies like Pandit Balkrishna Bua Sangeet Sadhana Mandal, state-of-art Ghorpade Natyagruha which are spreading the Indian art forms in the young generation. They also host many cultural programs throughout the year which help in spreading cultural awareness amongst people. People of Ichalkaranji celebrate each cultural and religious activities with much enthusiasm, and do maintain high respect for every festivals. The people of this town are very much aware about their social duties and try to work towards these duties through social activities of blood banks, dumb and deaf schools, orphanages, old-age homes, etc.