The Imperial Gazetteer of India - Volume XIII
About this text
The Imperial Gazetteer of India was the outcome of a detailed statistical survey of the country conducted between 1869 to 1881. The Gazetteer volumes were published under the supervision of William Wilson Hunter. Hunter was educated at the Universities of Glasgow, Paris and Bonn and had a degree on Sanskrit, before joining the Indian Civil Service in 1862. Hunter joined as assistant magistrate and collector of Birbhum district in Bengal. During his days in Birbhum, Hunter meticulously collected local traditions and records and published the, The Annals of Rural Bengal. Hunter also compiled A Comparative Dictionary of the Non-Aryan Languages of India. Impressed with Hunter's endeavors, the then Viceroy Lord Mayo, asked Hunter in 1869 to supervise the comprehensive statistical survey of the Indian sub-continent. The survey report completed in 1881 comprised of 128 volumes. These volumes were condensed into 9 volumes and was published as The Imperial Gazetteer of India. Hunter thereafter presided Commission of Indian Education (1882) and became Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, before retiring from service in 1887. In this project we have made our selections from the Second edition of The Imperial Gazetteer of India. The second edition, published between 1885-1887 from Trubner & Company had 14 volumes.
The following excerpts from the Gazetteer have been selected from the entries on the districts of Sirohi. Sirsa, Sitapur Surat, Sylhet, Trichinopali and Unao.
The following excerpts from the Gazetteer have been selected from the entries on the districts of Sirohi. Sirsa, Sitapur Surat, Sylhet, Trichinopali and Unao.
The Imperial Gazetteer of India.
W. W. HUNTER, C.S.I., C.I.E., LL.D.,
DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF STATISTICS TO THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA.
SIROHI TO ZUMKHA
London: TRUBNER & CO. 1885
Native State in the Rajputana Agency under the Government of India, lying between lat. 24° 22' and 25° 16' N., and between long. 72° 22' and 73" 18' E. Estimated area, 3020 square miles. Population (1881) 142,903 souls. Sirohi is bounded on the north by Marwar or Jodhpur, on the east by Mewar or Udaipur, on the south by Palanpur and the Mahi Kantha States of Edar and Danta, and on the west by Jodhpur.
1.1. Agriculture, etc.
The principal spring crops (rabi) are wheat, barley, gram, and mustard (Brassica campestris), from which a kind of oil is prepared, much used by the people. Wheat and barley are the staple crops; on these being reaped, many of the fields are at once ploughed up and sown with two kinds of small grain called karang and chama, which come to maturity very quickly, and are cut before the rains set in. Manure is used every second or third year; but no rotation of crops is practised, the same land being sown with wheat or barley year after year. The chief rain crops (kharif) are Indian corn, bajra (Pennisetum typhoideum), mung (Phaseolus Mungo), moth (Phaseolus aconitifolius), arad (Phaseolus Mungo, var. radiatus), kulath (Dolichos biflorus), and guar (Cyamopsis psoralioides). Cotton and ambari or san (Hibiscus cannabinus), a kind of hemp, are grown in small quantities for local consumption. Til, kuri (Sesamum indicum), kuri (Panicum miliaceum), basthi, kudra, mal, and sainwalai are only grown in walar cultivation, i.e. by cutting down and burning the jungle on the hill-sides, and sowing the seed in the ashes. This mode of cultivation is very popular with the wild tribes of Girasias, Bhils, and Minas, and has proved most destructive to the Aravalli forests. There is so much land in the State yet remaining uncultivated that the grazing grounds are very extensive. The agricultural tenures in Sirohi correspond with those generally prevailing throughout Rajputana. The ruler is the actual and sole owner of the land conquered by his ancestors. Those that came with him were granted portions of the conquered territory, on certain conditions of fealty and military service, and became his umras or nobles; but the ruler still retained the ownership or bhum of the land. To this there are of course exceptions; and the Girasias, the original inhabitants of the bhakar, still retain their bhum rights. The cultivators generally are hereditary tenants, and cannot be ejected so long as they pay the revenue regularly; in fact, in such a sparsely populated country as Sirohi, the cultivator is too valuable to be parted with. There is a large class in Sirohi called the diwali band, consisting of Rajputs, Bhils, [Page 6] Minds, and Kolis, who cultivate land rent-free. The safety of the village is in their hands, and they are bound to protect it. Brahmans, Charans, and Hhats also cultivate their land free, out of respect for their religious duties.
In all the jagir estates the State receives a portion of the land revenue and local taxes. The rates vary, but in the principal estates Rajuts pay three-eighths of the produce, and in others one-half. The cultivators get from two-thirds to three-fourths of the produce of the crops, after deducting the haks (dues) of the village servants, as blacksmiths, carpenters, etc. In some portions, especially to the north, the State and jagirdars shares of the rain crops are collected by a tax on the ploughs, varying from 4s. to 8s. a plough.
1.2. Natural Calamities
Sirohi frequently suffers from drought. The years 1746, 1785, 1812, 1813, and 1868-69 are recorded as having been years of terrible famine. It is calculated that in the latter year 75 per cent. of the cattle perished. The distress was much increased and prolonged by a visitation of locusts, which destroyed a great portion of the rain crops.
British District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the Punjab, lying between 29° 13' and 30° 33' N. lat., and between 73° 56' and 75° 22' E. long. Area, 3004 square miles. Population (1881) 253,275 souls. Sirsa is a District of the Hissar Division. It is bounded on the north-east by the District of Firozpur and the Native State of Patiala, on the west by the river Sutlej (Satlaj), on the southwest by the Native States of Bahawalpur and Bikaner (Bickaneer), and on the east by the District of Hissar. The administrative head-quarters are at the town of SIRSA.
In 1731 A.D., Ala Singh, the founder of the Patiala State (still known to the Sikh Jats as Ala-ka-Raj, or Ala's kingdom), commenced a struggle with the Bhatti chiefs of Bhatner and Fathabad which lasted for his lifetime; and in 1774 his successor Amar Singh made an expedition against the Bhatti chief Muhammad Amir Khan, took from him Fathabad, Sirsa, and Rania, and became master of almost the whole country now included in Sirsa District. Under Ala Singh and Amar Singh, the Sikh Jats established some villages along what is now the north-east border of the District; but the great famine of 1783 drove them back and laid the whole country waste. The herds of cattle which roamed over the prairie perished of thirst and starvation, and numbers of the population must also have died of famine. The survivors fled to more favoured tracts, and the town of Sirsa was wholly deserted. Only ten or twelve of the larger villages held out, and for a time almost the whole of the District must have been a desert. In 1799 the adventurer George Thomas, whose headquarters were first at Georgegarh in Rohtak District and afterwards at Hansi in Hissar District, established some authority over the Ghaggar valley, and allied with the Bhattis took a fort belonging to [Page 12] the Maharaja of Bikaner near Bhatner. On the defeat of Thomas by Bourquin at Hansi in 1802, the whole of this tract was held to have come under the power of the Marathas; and in 1803, after the battle of Laswari, Sindhia by the treaty of Sirji Anjengaon ceded Sirsa along with the Delhi territory on this side the Jumna to the British.
Only a little over one-half of the cultivable area in Sirsa has been brought under tillage; a large portion of the remainder is still devoted to grazing. The staple product is bajra, which occupied 413,493 acres in 1883-84. The other principal crops were—joar, 72,780 acres; pulses, 29,136 acres; and oil-seeds (til), 22,129 acres. These all belong to the autumn or kharif harvest, which is generally successful, and which occupies 543,119 acres, or two-thirds of the whole cultivated area; but the spring or rabi crops are very precarious, owing to the capriciousness of the rainfall, and they not infrequently fail altogether.
As stated in a previous paragraph, the peasantry of Sirsa are generally freer from debt than in other Districts. A few of the more improvident are in the hands of the village shopkeepers, and in seasons of scarcity there is a more or less general appeal to the money-lenders. At present they are in thriving and comfortable circumstances. The chief inconvenience felt by the people is the scarcity of good drinking water in the dry tract ; but wells are being sunk by degrees all over the District.
Town, municipality, and administrative head-quarters of Sirsa District, Punjab; situated on the north side of a dry bed of the Ghaggar, in lat. 29° 32' 20" N., and long. 75° 7' E. The modern town, founded in 1837 by Major Thoresby, Superintendent of Bhattiana, occupies a square site within a mud wall 8 feet high, and consists of wide streets running at right angles, without any of those narrow winding lanes which usually occur in oriental towns.
The ruins of old Sirsa lie near the south-west corner of the modern station, and still present considerable remains, though much of the material has been used for building the new houses. Tradition ascribes its origin to an eponymic Raja Saras, who built the town and fort about 1300 years ago. The historian of Firoz Tughlak mentions it under the name of Sarsuti, and it would then appear to have been a place of wealth and importance. Nothing is known of its later history, but its depopulation is attributed to the great famine of 1726.
British District in the Sitapur Division or Commissionership of Oudh, under the jurisdiction of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces; lying between 27° 7' and 27° 53' N. lat., and between 80" 21' and 81° 26' E. long. The District is elliptical in shape; greatest length from south-east to north-west, 70 miles; extreme breadth from north-east to south-west, 55 miles. Bounded on the north by Kheri; on the east by Bahraich, the Gogra river marking the boundary line; and on the south and west by Bara Banki, Lucknow, and Hardoi Districts, the Gumti river forming the boundary. Area, 2251 square miles. Population (1881) 985,251 souls. The administrative head-quarters of the District are at SITAPUR Town, but KHAIRABAD is the largest town.
Two harvests are gathered in the year—the kharif or autumn crops, and the rabi or spring crops. The kharif consists of the following:—Rice (Oryza sativa), kodo (Paspalum scrobiculatum), sawan (Panicum frumentaceum),mandua (Eleusine corocana), kakun (Setaria italica),joar (Sorghum vulgare), bajra (Pennisetum typhoideum), til (Sesamum indicum), urid or mas (Phaseolus radiatus), mug (Phaseolus mungo), moth(Phaseolus aconitifolius),pat(Hibiscus sabdariffa), san (Crotalaria juncea). Rice forms the staple crop of the eastern or moist portion of the District. The rabi or spring crops are—wheat (Triticum sativum), gram (Cicer arietinum), barley (Hordeum vulgare), Idhi or mustard (Brassica nigra), tisi or linseed (Linum usitalissimum), castor-oil (Ricinus communis), matar or peas (Pisum sativum), masuri (Ervum lens), arhar (Cajanus indicus), safflower (Carthamus tinctorius). Besides the above, which are the staple kharif [Page 35] and rabi crops, a considerable quantity of sugar-cane is raised, as also cotton, pan and tobacco. Poppy is cultivated under Government supervision. Garden produce consists of kitchen vegetables of every description, turmeric, spices, ginger, water-melons. The cultivated fruits are guavas, plantains, custard-apples, oranges and lemons, wood-apples, melons, pomelos, etc.
4.2. Natural Calamities
Drought, however, is the main cause of famine; and the Deputy Commissioner reports that famine occurred in 1769-70, 1784-85, 1837-38, and in 1860-61, caused by want of rain.
British District in Gujarat, Bombay Presidency, lying between 20° 15' and 21° 28' N. lat., and between 72° 38' and 73° 30' E. long.; with an area of 1662 square miles, and a population in 1881 of 614,198 souls. Surat is bounded on the north by Broach District, and the Native State of Baroda; on the east by the States of Baroda, Rajpipla, Bansda, and Dharampur; on the south by Thana (Tanna) District and the Portuguese territory of Daman; and on the west by the Arabian Sea. A broad strip of Baroda (Gaekwar's) territory separates the north-western from the south-eastern portion of the District. The administrative head-quarters are at the city of SURAT.
The earlier years of the English rule formed again a flourishing period for Surat, when the city increased in size, owing partly to the security of British protection and partly to the sudden development of a great export trade in raw cotton with China. The population of the city was estimated at 800,000 persons; and though this figure is doubtless excessive, Surat was probably the most populous town in all India. Towards the close of the century, however, the general disorder of all Central and Southern India, and the repeated wars in Europe, combined to weaken its prosperity. Two local events, the storm of 1782 and the famine of 1790, also contributed to drive away trade, the greater part of which now centred itself in Bombay.
Surat, in spite of the commercial importance of its chief town, still remains an essentially rural District
Rice forms the staple crop in Surat District, with an area of 86,448 acres in 1874-75, and 104,933 acres in 1883-84. It is grown chiefly on the black or red soil in the neighbourhood of tanks or ponds. Millet (joar) holds the second place, with an area of 72,521 acres in 1874-75, and of 104,650 in 1883-84. It is largely grown in the northern part of the District. Cotton covered 59,234 acres, chiefly in the valley of the Tapti, in 1874-75, and 100,767 acres in 1883-84. It is chiefly sown in the north, but the cultivation is spreading south. Cotton can only be raised in rotation with other crops. Kodra (Paspalum scrobiculatum) and nagli (Eleusine corocana) form the food of the poorest classes: area under these two crops, 57,626 acres in 1874-75, and 54,136 in 1883-84. The Mauritius sugar-cane was introduced in 1836, and is cultivated to a great extent, as it flourishes better in Surat than in any other District of Gujarat, and constitutes the favourite crop in garden land. The area under sugar-cane in 1883-84 was 6937 acres. Molasses, manufactured by the cultivators, forms a large item of export to Northern Gujarat and Kathiawar. Bajra (Pennisetum typhoideum) and tobacco occupy small areas: area under tobacco (1883-84), 1016 acres.
The two usual harvests, kharif and rabi, prevail in Surat as in the rest of Gujarat. The most striking feature in the agriculture of the District is the difference between the tillage of the ujli, or fair races, and that of the kala, or dark aboriginal cultivators. The dark races use only the rudest processes; grow little save the coarser kinds of grain, seldom attempting to raise wheat or millet; and have no implements for weeding or cleaning the fields. After sowing their crops, they leave the land, and only return some months later for the harvest. As soon as they have gathered in their crops, they barter the surplus grain for liquor. The fair cultivators, on the other hand, who own the rich alluvial soil of the lowlands, are among the most industrious and intelligent in Western India. Nevertheless, many excellent crops for which the land is well fitted, such as indigo, tobacco, and wheat, are scantily raised, apparently for no better reason than that their cultivation has long been unusual. The Bhathela Brahmans rank as the highest cultivating class, and with the aid of their hereditary servants (halis) give much of their time and attention to agriculture.
5.3. Natural Calamities
The great famines of 1623, 1717, 1747, 1790, [Page 128] and 1803 affected Surat as they did the remainder of Gujarat. Since the establishment of British rule, however, no famine has occurred sufficiently intense to cause serious suffering to the people.
6. Sylhet (Srihatta)
British District in the Chief Commissionership of Assam, lying between 25" 12' and 23° 58' 42" N. lat., and between 91' and 92° 37' 40" E. long. Bounded on the north by the Khasi and Jaintia Hills District; on the east by Cachar; on the south by the [Page 144] Native State of Hill Tipperah, and the Bengal District of Tipperah; and on the west by the Bengal District of Maimansingh. Sylhet District contains an area, according to recent survey, of 5413 square miles, and a population, according to the Census of 1881, of 1,969,009 souls. The administrative headquarters are at SYLHET TOWN, on the right bank of the Surma river, in 24° 53' 22" N. lat, and 91° 54' 40" E. long.
When the British obtained possession of the diwani of Bengal in 1765, Jaintia was still independent. Sylhet proper was governed by officers called amils, directly subordinate to the Nawab of Dacca. The system of administration was modelled after the necessities of a frontier District. The land assessment was light; and colonies of Muhammadan soldiery were posted along the border, who held their villages without payment of revenue on a sort of feudal tenure. During the early years of British administration, Sylhet was much neglected. The population was turbulent, means of communication were difficult, and all the arts of civilisation were very backward. Raids on the part of the border tribes and insurrections of the Musalman inhabitants demanded the continual presence of a body of troops, whose existence is still continued in the Regiment of Sylhet Light Infantry, now the 44th Native Infantry. The soil is extremely fertile, and in ordinary years yields [Page 147] abundant crops of rice. But in those early days the channels of trade were not open. A good harvest so depressed prices in the local markets that the cultivators were rendered unable to pay their revenue to Government. On the other hand, disastrous floods were of common occurrence, and in a few days changed plenty into the extremity of famine. A vivid picture of the condition of the country at the end of the 18th century is quoted from the Lives of the Lindsays, as an Appendix to the Statistical Account of Sylhet.
The one staple crop cultivated throughout the District is rice, which yields four harvests in the year—(1)aus, sown on high lands in March, April, and May, and reaped in July and August; (2) aman, sown in March and April, and reaped in December and January; (3) sail, sown in nurseries in May and June, transplanted in August and September, and reaped in November and December; (4) bora, sown in nurseries in October, transplanted in November and December, and reaped in April and May. The aman harvest furnishes by far the largest proportion of the food supply. The other crops include—mustard, linseed, and til or sesamum, grown as oil-seeds; china, a variety of millet, cultivated chiefly in the west of the District as a substitute for rice; several kinds of pulses, jute, sugar-cane; and cotton, grown in patches amid the jungle by the hill tribes.
The greater part of the cultivated land is permanently settled, but the tenants of Government are for the most part not wealthy landholders like the zamindars of Bengal, but peasant proprietors known as mirasdars. On the whole, the cultivators of Sylhet, owing partly to the fertility of the soil, and partly to the moderation of the assessment, occupy a position of comparative comfort. One of the chief peculiarities of the District is the smallness of the agricultural holdings.
British District in the Madras Presidency, lying between 10° 37' and 11° 30' 30" N. lat., and between 78° 12' and 79' 30' E. Area, according to the Census Report of 1881, 3561 square miles; population (1881) 1,215,033 souls. The District is bounded on the north-west and north by Salem, on the north and north-east by South Arcot, on the east and south-east by Tanjore, on the south by the Pudukottai State and Madura, and on the west by Coimbatore. The administrative head-quarters are at the city of TRICHINOPOLI.
Chanda Sahib, a relation of the Muhammadan Nawab of Arcot, obtained possession of Trichinopoli in 1740 by deceiving Minakshi, the widow of the last Nayakkan. In the contest between the French and English in the south of India between 1749 and 1763, the French espoused the cause of Chanda Sahib, and the English that of Muhammad Ali, afterwards Nawab of Arcot. After his defeat at the battle of Ambur, the latter prince fled to Trichinopoli, where he was besieged by Chanda Sahib, the French, and the Marathas, who took up their position in the island of Srirangam. It was to draw off a portion of the besieging force from Trichinopoli that Clive, then an officer in the garrison there, undertook his famous expedition to Arcot. This move had the desired effect, as it obliged Chanda Sahib to send a large number of his troops to join in the siege of that city. Shortly afterwards, a detachment was sent under Major Lawrence, through Tanjore District, to relieve Trichinopoli. The French attempted to intercept it, but without success; while Captain Dalton almost immediately afterwards successfully attacked a body of men sent by Dupleix to reinforce the army in Srirangam, and prevented it joining the besieging force. On this, Chanda Sahib's troops deserted him, he was himself put to death, and the siege of Trichinopoli was virtually raised. The principal operations during this portion of the war were carried on in Srirangam island, and in the villages along the old road from Madras to Trichinopoli.
On Chanda Sahib's death, the General of the Mysore army, who had up to that time assisted Muhammad Ali, claimed Trichinopoli as the reward of his services. His application to be put in possession of the city was refused, and he retreated to Srirangam, and, aided by the French, laid siege a second time to Trichinopoli, attempting to reduce the place by famine. Major Lawrence was sent to the assistance of the besieged force; and shortly after his arrival, the French in Srirangam were reinforced by a large detachment sent by Dupleix. On [Page 357] this, the besiegers moved their camp and took up a position a little beyond the present racecourse, with a view to intercept all supplies brought into the city. Here they were attacked and utterly defeated by Major Lawrence in the battle of the Golden Rock. After this, Major Lawrence went to Tanjore to obtain reinforcements from the Maratha Raja of that place. On his return, the French unsuccessfully tried to intercept him as he marched towards the city through the open plain lying to the south-east, not far from the site of the present central jail. In the battle of the Sugar-loaf Rock, fought not very far from the same place, the French and their allies were again defeated. The only other incident in the actions round Trichinopoli of any interest was the unsuccessful attempt made to surprise the city by a night attack on Dalton battery, situated north-west of the fort, which is now almost the only undemolished portion of the old fortifications. A graphic account of all these events is given in Orme's History. The siege of Trichinopoli was at last raised on the conclusion of a provisional treaty between the French and English in 1754.
The chief crops are rice, cholam (Sorghum vulgare), ragi (Eleusine coracana), kambu (Pennisetum typhoideum), considered the staple food of the District, varagu (Panicum miliaceum), dal (Cajanus indicus), horse-gram (Dolichos biflorus), ulundu (Phaseolus Mungo), cotton, tobacco, indigo, sugar-cane, cocoa-nut, plantain, areca-nut, chillies. The staple crop in the irrigated portions of the District, which lie along both banks of the Kaveri (Cauvery) and Coleroon, is rice. In the unirrigated parts, cholam, kambu, and varagu are grown in almost equal quantities. There are two main varieties of rice in the District, known as kar and pishanam or samba. The former is an inferior description of grain, consumed as a rule by the poor. It is usually sown in November and December, and harvested in March and April; but it is also sometimes sown in July and August, and harvested in November and December. Samba is a superior sort of rice used by the better classes. When grown as a single crop, it is sown in July and harvested in December; and when as a second crop, often after a first crop of kar, it is sown in November and harvested in April. Rice is sometimes sown broadcast; sometimes in seed-beds and transplanted afterwards.
British District in the Lucknow Division or Commissionership of Oudh, under the jurisdiction of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces; situated between 26° 8' and 27° 2' N. lat, and between 80° 6' and 81° 5' E. long. Bounded on the north by Hardoi; on the east by Lucknow; on the south-east by Rai Bareli; and on the south and south-west by Fatehpur and Cawnpur Districts in the North-Western Provinces, the river Ganges marking the boundary line. Area, 1747 square miles; population (1881) 899,069 souls. The administrative head-quarters are at UNAO TOWN.
The following descriptions of soil prevail in the District :—Dumat (loam), which comprises 59 per cent. of the total area; matiar (clay), 18 per cent.; and bhur (sand), 23 per cent. The barren tracts extending through the central parganas form in their waste and desolate aspect a marked contrast to the rich tracts among which they are mingled. Nothing grows upon them except the stunted babul (Acacia arabica), and a scanty pasture for cattle, which springs up in the rainy months, but soon withers. The ordinary harvests of the District are the same as those described in the article on PARTABGARH DISTRICT, viz. the kharif, henwat, and rabi. Sugar-cane is an exceptional crop, and belongs to none of the above three main divisions. [Page 432] The thin kind of sugar-cane, known as baraunkha, is generally grown, the people being under the impression that it yields a better and more abundant supply of saccharine matter than the thicker and apparently finer sorts of cane, such as barangha and matra. Cutting usually commences early in January, but is not completed and the sugar made until the middle of February. The crop ripens midway between the henwat and the rabi, but cannot be classed with either. Sanwan, or hemp, is a quick-growing crop, sown in May and cut just before the commencement of the rains. Indigo was formerly extensively grown in Harha, Bangarmau, and Safipur parganas. During the latter days of native rule, the cultivation died out; but it has recently been again introduced, and a factory for the dye has been established in Bangarmau, Cotton does not appear to succeed well. During the American war, a good deal was grown, but as prices fell, its cultivation declined. The prevailing rule with regard to rotation of crops is—one exhausting crop, such as wheat, followed by two or three light ones. A field of ordinary soil is sown one year with wheat; next year it bears a light kharif crop of kakun or mandwa, followed by a light rabi crop of barley or peas; the year afterwards by a henwat crop of joar, and the succeeding year by wheat again.
Famine or distress caused by high prices was felt in Unao in 1769, 1783-85, 1838, 1861, 1865, 1869, 1874, and 1877-78.