The Imperial Gazetteer of India - Volume III

About this text

Introductory notes

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 Broach, Budaun, Cawnpur, Chengalpat and Chicacole.

Selection details

The following excerpts from the Gazetteer have been selected from the entries on the districts of Broach, Budaun, Cawnpur, Chengalpat and Chicacole.

The Imperial Gazetteer of India.
W. W. HUNTER, C.S.I., C.I.E., LL.D.,

London: TRUBNER & CO. 1885
[Page 101]

1. Broach(Bharuch)

British District in the Northern Division of the Bombay Presidency, lying between 21° 26' and 22° 5' N. lat, and between 72° 34' and 73° 12' E. long.; area, 1453 square miles; population according to the Census of 1881, 326,930 souls. The District is bounded on the north by the river Mahi, which separates it from the territory of Cambay; on the east and south-east by the Native States of Baroda and Rajpipla; on the south by the river Kim, which separates it from Surat District. To the west lies the Gulf of Cambay, along the shore of which the District stretches for a distance of 54 miles.

[Page 106]

1.1. Agriculture

The land is for agricultural purposes divided into two main classes, light soils and black soils; the former compose about one-fourth, and the latter three-fourths of the entire area. There is also a rich alluvial deposit known as bhatha, in which products of all kinds, especially tobacco and castor-oil plants, are raised. The holders of land belong to two classes—proprietors of large estates or thakurs, and peasant proprietors or rayats. Of the total assessed area, 47,017 acres, or 6.81 per cent., are in the possession of men belonging to the landlord class, who are the heirs of old Rajput families. A peasant proprietor is either a member of a cultivating community, or an independent holder with an individual interest in the land he tills.

[Page 107]

There are two harvests in the year, (1) the early or kharif, and (2) the late or rabi. The early crops are sown in June, and, except cotton, which is seldom ready for picking before February, are harvested in October and November. The late crops are sown in October, and reaped in February. A field of black soil requires only one ploughing, and is seldom manured. Light soils, on the other hand, are ploughed three or four times, and are generally manured.

The years 1630, 1631, and 1755 are said to have been seasons of scarcity in which, owing to the failure of crops, remissions of revenue were granted. In 1760, 1761, 1773, 1786, and 1787, portions of the District verged so closely upon famine that the revenue had to be very largely remitted. The great famine of 1790 was caused by the entire failure of the ordinary rainfall. Since the beginning of the present century, six years of scarcity, amounting almost to famine, are recorded.

[Page 115]

2. Budaun(Budaon)

British District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 27° 39' and 28° 27' N. lat., and between 78° 19' 15" and 79° 41' E. long.; area, 2001.8 square miles; population in 1881, 906,451 souls. Budaun forms the southwestern District of the Rohilkhand Division. It is bounded on the north-east by Bareli (Bareilly) and the State of Rampur, on the northwest by Moradabad, on the south-west by the Ganges, and on the east by Shahjahanpur. The administrative head-quarters are at the town of BUDAUN.

[Page 120]

2.1. Agriculture

The fertile upland of Budaun consists of a light loam, merging gradually into the poor and almost barren sand of the bhur region; but the District also comprises considerable fringes of lowland, known as khadir and tarai. The khadir is composed of porous clay, capable of producing two crops a year for many seasons in succession; it occupies the deserted channel of the Ganges, where water may always be found at a few feet below the surface. It is specially adapted for rice, which is always grown for the autumn harvest; while barley and wheat follow immediately as spring crops. The tardi comprises the modern alluvial fringe along the present beds of the Ganges and the Ramganga. The valley of the former river contains several large patches of usar land, whitened by the destructive saline efflorescence known as reh, which appears upon the surface after inundations or heavy rain. The mode of tillage does not differ from that of other North-Western Districts. The kharif or autumn crops include cotton, indigo, sugar-cane, rice, joar, bajra, and moth; the rain or spring crops consist chiefly of wheat, barley, oats, peas, and other cereals or pulses.

[Page 121]

2.2. Natural Calamities

Floods on the Ganges and Mahawa occur to greater or less extent every year; and when they rise unusually high or [Page 122] late, much of the autumn crop is carried away. The loss, however, is not considerable, as the banks of these rivers are lined with jungle, and only occasionally cultivated by speculative proprietors. But Budaun suffers greatly from drought, the common scourge of all Upper India. The first recorded famine occurred in the year 1761, when many of the people died, and large numbers emigrated.

[Page 279]

3. Cawnpur(correctly, Kanhpur)

District in the Lieutenant Governorship of the North-Western Provinces lying between 25° 56' 15" and 26° 57' N. lat., and between 79° 34' 45" and 80° 38' E. long.; area, 2370 square miles; Cawnpur is the westernmost District of the Allahabad Division; bounded on the south-west by the Jumna (Jamuna), and on the east by Fatehpur. The administrative head-quarters are at CAWNPUR CITY.

[Page 285]

3.1. Agriculture

The system of tillage in Cawnpur is that common to the whole Doab. There are two main agricultural seasons, the kharif or autumn harvest, and the rabi, or spring harvest. The kharif crops are sown after the first rain in June, and include rice, maize, bajra,joar, cotton, indigo, etc. Most of these staples are reaped in October, but the early rice is harvested in September, while cotton is not ready for picking until February. The rabi crops are sown in October or November, and reaped in March or April; they consist chiefly of wheat, barley, oats, peas, and pulses. Manure is used, where it can be obtained, for both harvests, and land is allowed to lie fallow whenever the cultivator can afford it. Spring and autumn crops are not often taken off the same land; but sometimes a crop of early rice is reaped in September, and a second crop of some other kind is put into the ground in the following month. The staple product of the District is wheat, but the cultivation of cotton has received a great impetus since the American war. Among the minor crops are oil-seeds, opium, spices, tobacco, and potatoes. Sugar-cane is extensively grown on the better soils, and indigo is specially cultivated for the sake of the seed, which is exported in large quantities to Behar. The various branches of the Ganges Canal afford abundant opportunities for irrigation, and the shallow ponds which collect after the rains are used by the villagers for the same purpose. In parganas Rasulabad and Shiorajpur a succession of swampy bottoms, the former bed of a considerable stream, runs in an irregular line across the country for about 25 miles; the water left in them after the rainy season is employed to irrigate the spring crops, while rice is grown in their moist basins after the surface has been thus partially drained.

Cawnpur District has always had a reputation for poverty. Densely populated, and with a large proportion of industrious Kachhi, Kurmi, and Lodha cultivators; having ample facilities for irrigation over at least two-thirds of its area, with free communication in every direction, there [Page 286] has been little room left for increase of cultivation and enhanced prosperity since this part of Oudh passed under British rule. Some advance has undoubtedly been made within the last forty years, mainly through the enhanced prices for all kinds of agricultural produce.

In the northern parganas, joar and wheat are grown in large proportions; while in the southern parganas, barely 2 per cent, of the area is under wheat, and bajra forms the staple crop. Rice is chiefly grown in Bilhaur, Rasulabad, and the southern part of Shiorajpur; while northern Shiorajpur is covered with indigo, small native factories studding the entire area north of the Pandu. The sources of irrigation are the various distributaries of the Ganges Canal, wells, and in a less degree, ponds, lakes, and rivers.

[Page 287]

3.2. Natural Calamities

Cawnpur suffers, like other Districts of the Doab, from drought and its natural consequence, famine. It is not so severely visited in this respect as the country farther to the west; but neither, on the other hand, does it share the comparative immunity of the region immediately eastward. It was the most westerly of all the Districts which experienced the terrible famine of 1770. In 1783-84, both autumn and spring crops failed, and the people and cattle died by thousands. The distress was worst beyond the Jumna, and the starving hordes of Bundelkhand crossed the river into Cawnpur only to die on their arrival.

[Page 380]

4. Chengalpat(Chingleput, 'The brick town')

District in the Presidency of Madras, lying between 12° 13' and 13° 54' N. lat., and between 79° 35' and 80° 23' E. long. Extreme length, 115 miles; extreme breadth, 42 miles. Area, 2842 square miles; population (1881) 981,381 souls. In point of size, Chengalpat ranks twentieth, and in population sixteenth, among the Districts of the Madras Presidency. The Bay of Bengal bounds it on the east; on the north lies Nellore District; on the south, South Arcot; and on the west, North Arcot District. The District contains 6 towns and 1997 villages.

[Page 382]

4.1. History

In 1760, the District, or jagir, as it was then and long after called, was granted to the East India Company in perpetuity by Muhammad Ali, the Nawab of Arcot, 'for services rendered to him and his father;' and in 1763 this grant was confirmed by the Emperor Shah Alam. From 1763 till 1780 it was leased to the Nawab; and during that period was twice ravaged by Haidar Ali, once in 1768, and again in 1780. On the latter occasion, the Mysore chief almost depopulated the District; and what fire and sword had left undone, famine completed. Since that year, the history of the District consists chiefly of a chronicle of territorial arrangements and transfers. In 1784 it was divided into 14 separate farms, and rented out. Four years later it was parcelled out into collectorates, which again in 1793 were united into one 'District.'

[Page 384]

4.2. Agriculture

The land nowhere attains the high fertility of some of [Page 385] the other Madras Districts, and is, as a rule, poor. Where the underlying rock does not crop up, the soil is often either impregnated with soda or very sandy. Nor do the cultivators combat this natural poverty. The stubble is never left to enrich the ground; and animal manure, being required for fuel (owing to the absence of forests), is not applied to the extent that it should be. The absence of marsh land is a remarkable feature; but wet crops are largely raised beneath the banks of the numerous tanks which dot the District. Agriculture is nevertheless very backward, a fact attributable in part to the number of absentee landowners, who reside in Madras, and seldom, if ever, visit their properties. This leaves the land to be cultivated by rack-rented tenants (paikaris), checks the investment of capital in the soil, and encourages a slovenly and hand-to-mouth system of agriculture. Perhaps no better indication of the poverty of the actual tillers of the soil can be given than that the land revenue is regularly in arrears, and that from 15 to 20 per cent, of the total has to be collected annually by coercive process. The prevalent tenure is rayatwari, the cultivator holding direct from Government, with a permanent right of occupancy.

The soil is classified into four varieties—'permanently improved,' regar or 'alluvial,' 'red ferruginous,' and 'arenaceous,' or sandy, the third being by far the most common. The chief wet-land crop is rice of three kinds —samba, kar, and manakatai—divided by the cultivators into 31 varieties. On dry lands the staple crops are ragi, varagu, cholam, kambu, indigo, pulses, oil-seeds, ground-nuts, chillies, and tobacco.

4.3. Natural Calamities

Many years have been marked by great scarcity, arising from various causes; but in five only did the scarcity amount to famine. In 1733, from neglect of irrigation; in 1780, from the ravages of the Mysore troops; in 1787, from drought; in 1785, from extraordinary floods, which destroyed the tanks and water channels; and in 1806-7, owing to a general failure of the rains throughout the Presidency, the District suffered from famine.

[Page 407]

5. Chicacole(Chikakol, Srikakulam)

Town in the Chicacole taluk, Ganjam District, Madras Presidency; situated 4 miles from the sea on the Languliya or Nagavali river (here bridged), and on the Grand Trunk Road, 567 miles north-east of Madras. Lat. 18° 17' 25" N., long. 83° 56' 25" E. Most of the public buildings are situated within the ditch of the old fort, to the south of which lies the native town, a straggling, cramped collection of houses, but containing many mosques—notably that of Sher Muhammad Khan (1641), the Faujdar or military governor of the Kutab Shahi dynasty of Golkonda —to bear witness to the importance of the old city under its Muhammadan rulers. In 1791, Chicacole was nearly depopulated by famine, and it again suffered severely from scarcity in 1866.

This is a selection from the original text


agriculture, drought, famine, flood, grain, rain, rice, scarcity, wheat

Source text

Title: The Imperial Gazetteer of India

Subtitle: Volume III. Birbhum to Cocanada

Editor(s): W.W. Hunter

Publisher: Trübner & Co.

Publication date: 1885

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Internet Archive:

Digital edition

Original editor(s): W.W. Hunter

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) page 101
  • 2 ) pages 106 to 107
  • 3 ) page 115
  • 4 ) pages 120 to 121
  • 5 ) page 279
  • 6 ) pages 285 to 287
  • 7 ) page 380
  • 8 ) page 382
  • 9 ) pages 384 to 385
  • 10 ) page 407


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > gazetteers > imperial

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.