KISTNA (or KRISHNA), a district of India, in the N.E. of the Madras Presidency. Masulipatam is the district headquarters. Area, 8490 sq. m. The district is generally a flat country, but the interior is broken by a few low hills, the highest being 1857 ft. above sea-level. The principal rivers are the Kistna, which cuts the district into two portions, and the Munyeru, Paleru and Naguleru (tributaries of the Gundlakamma and the Kistna) ; the last only is navigable. The Kolar lake, which covers an area of 21 by 14 m., and the Romparu swamp are natural receptacles for the drainage on the north and south sides of the Kistna respectively.
In 1901 the population was 2,154,803, showing an increase of 16% in the decade. Subsequently the area of the district was reduced by the formation of the new district of Guntur (q.v.), though Kistna received an accretion of territory from Godavari district. The population in 1901 on the area as reconstituted (5899 sq. m.) was 1,744,138. The Kistna delta system of irrigation canals, which are available also for navigation, connect with the Godavari system. The principal crops are rice, millets, pulse, oil-seeds, cotton, indigo, tobacco and a little sugar-cane. There are several factories for ginning and pressing cotton. The cigars known in England as Lunkas are partly made from tobacco grown on lankas or islands in the Kistna. The manufacture of chintzes at Masulipatam is a decaying industry, but cotton is woven everywhere for domestic use. Salt is evaporated, under government supervision, along the coast. Bezwada, at the head of the delta, is a place of growing importance, as the central junction of the East Coast railway system, which crosses the inland portion of the district in three directions. Some seaborne trade, chiefly coasting, is carried on at the open roadsteads of Masulipatam and Nizampatam, both in the delta. The Church Missionary Society supports a college at Masulipatam.
The early history of Kistna is inseparable from that of the northern Circars. Dharanikota and the adjacent town of Amravati were the seats of early Hindu and Buddhist governments; and the more modern Rajahmundry owed its importance to later dynasties. The Chalukyas here gave place to the Cholas, who in turn were ousted by the Reddi kings, who flourished during the 14th century, and built the forts of Bellamkonda, Kondavi and Kondapalli in the north of the district, while the Gajapati dynasty of Orissa ruled in the north. Afterwards the entire district passed to the Kutb Shahis of 'Golconda, until annexed to the Mogul empire by Aurangzeb in 1687. Meantime the English had in 1611 established a small factory at Masulipatam, where they traded with varying fortune from 1759, when, Masulipatam being captured from the French by Colonel Forde, with a force sent by Lord Clive from Calcutta, the power of the English in the greater part of the district was complete.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)