In a land area of 24,000 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the revenue districts of Khandwa, Burhanpur, Khargone and Barwani.
Khandwa district is situated to the southwest of Madhya Pradesh. Located 900 meters above the sea level, Khandwa lies on the uplands between the valleys of the two major rivers, the Narmada and Tapti, which flow parallel to each other from east to west. Khandwa has a population of 1.2 million.
Khandwa is an ancient town, with many Hindu worship places. Khandwa is a main railway junction, with daily connections to Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Kochi, Kolkatta, Indore, Bhopal, Patna, Allahabad, Lucknow, Jammu, Hyderabad, and Bangalore.
It is the birth place of famous Bollywood singer Kishore Kumar Gangopadhyay and his actor brother Ashok Kumar.
Males constitute 52 percent of the population and females 48 percent. In Khandwa, 13 percent of the population is under six years of age.
Hindi is the popular medium of communication in the urban parts. Nimari is spoken in the rural areas in the north-west parts whereas Korku and Bhili are the languages in the tribal areas. Gujarati and Rajasthani are spoken in several social circles.
The mission activities in Khandwa region began with the coming of the Missionaries of St. Francis De Sales to Asirgarh Fort in 1866. Initially, the mission activities were operated from Nagpur. In 1870 Father J. Thevenet MSFS built a small chapel at Khandwa and in 1880 he built a church in Gothic style, which was blessed by Dr. Meurin, vicar apostolic of Bombay.
In 1932, the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) missionaries came to India and the area was entrusted to their care. They were instrumental in spreading the Word of God and establishing the local church.
The diocese of Khandwa came into existence on Feb. 3, 1977. Father Abraham Viruthakulangara was appointed first bishop of this diocese on March 4, 1977, and was ordained on July 13, 1977. He became archbishop of Nagpur in 1998. On June 29, 1999, Father Leo Cornelio, SVD, was elected the new bishop of Khandwa by Pope John Paul II and was consecrated on Sept. 8, 1999, by Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara. Bishop Leo was appointed archbishop of Bhopal on June 15, 2007. On July 16, 2009, Khandwa diocese celebrated the ordination and installation of Bishop Alangaram Arokia Sebastian Durairaj, SVD, as the new bishop of the diocese. Bishop Alangaram Arokia Sebastian Durairaj was appointed as Archbishop of Bhopal on Oct. 4, 2021. The Episcopal see is currently vacant.
Khandwa diocese is a suffragan of Bhopal archdiocese.
The climate of the district is generally pleasant and healthy. Average annual rainfall in the district is 980.75 mm. The monsoon season starts by the end of June and extends up to early September. The days are quite humid. The maximum temperature during the summer reaches up to 45 degrees Celsius and the minimum temperature during drops to 4 degrees Celsius.
The major crops of the district are soyabean, cotton, jowar, groundnut, banana, wheat, sugarcane and chilly. Major occupation is agriculture.
Khandwa has an average literacy rate of 71 percent and the male literacy is 77 percent, while the female literacy is 66 percent.
Eighty percent of the total population are Hindus. Other major populations are Muslims, Sikhs and Jains.