The Imperial Gazetteer of India - Volume IV

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

London: TRUBNER & CO. 1885
[Page 78]

1. Dacca (Dhaka, derived either from the dhak tree (Butea frondosa) or from Dhakeswari, 'the concealed goddess')

District of Eastern Bengal, situated at the junction of the river systems of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, between 23° 6' 30" and 24° 20' 12" N. lat., and between 89° 47' 50" and 91° 1' 10" E. long. Bounded on the north by the District of Maimansingh; east by Tipperah; south and south-west by Bakarganj and Faridpur; and west, for a short distance, by Pabna. To a great extent, rivers form the natural boundaries: on the east, the Meghna; south and south-west, the Padma, or main stream of the Ganges; and west, the Jamuna, or present channel of the Brahmaputra. The District contained (1881) an area of 2797 square miles, and a population of 2,116,350 persons. The administrative head-quarters are at DACCA CITY.

[Page 85]

1.1. Agriculture

As elsewhere throughout Bengal, the staple food crop is rice, which is divided into four varieties—(1) the aman, or cold weather crop, which yields by far the largest portion of the food supply, sown on low-lying lands about April, and reaped in December; (2) the aus, or autumn crop, sown on comparatively high lands, about the same time as aman, and reaped in July and August; (3) the bora or ropa sown in marshy ground about January, subsequently transplanted, and reaped in May; (4) the uri or jara dhan, an indigenous variety found growing wild in the marshes, which is used as food by the poor. No improvement has recently taken place in the cultivation of rice, and sufficient is not grown to satisfy the local demand. Other crops include millets, pulses, oil-seeds, jute (the cultivation of which has greatly extended of late years), cotton, safflower, pan leaf, areca-nut, cocoa-nut, and sugar-cane. The cultivation of cotton has fallen off, but the fibre produced is said to be of excellent quality. The chief staples of export are jute, oil-seeds, and safflower, all of which are being more extensively grown year by year. Manure is not generally used, and never for rice land. Irrigation is sometimes practised in the north of the District; and, in the same tract, fields are occasionally suffered to lie fallow. In the south, the land is under continuous cultivation with the same crops, and the cultivators trust to the deposit left by the annual inundation to maintain the fertility of their fields. About two-thirds of the total area of the District is estimated to be under cultivation. As compared with the neighbouring Districts, Dacca has few great landlords, and sub-infeudation has not been carried to an excessive extent. There are seldom more than two classes of intermediate tenure-holders between the zamindar and the actual cultivator. In the majority of cases, the landowner collects his rents by the agency of his own servants, and not through the intervention of a farmer. Spare land at the present day is only to be found in the hilly, broken [Page 86] tract in the north of the District, where the aboriginal tribes are gradually extending the limit of cultivation.

Dacca District is not specially subject to natural calamities, such as flood, blight, or drought. Each of these does occasionally happen, but rarely on such a scale as to affect the general harvest. In the year 1777-78, a terrible inundation occurred, succeeded by a calamitous famine.

[Page 256]

2. Dharwar

British District in the Southern Maratha country, Bombay Presidency; lying between 14° 15' and 15° 51' N. lat., and between 74° 47' and 76° 55' E. long. Bounded on the north by the Districts of Belgaum and Kaladgi; on the east by the Haidarabad (Hyderabad) territory of the Nizam, and the river Tungabhadra which separates Dharwar from the District of Bellary, Madras Presidency; on the south by the State of Mysore; and on the west by the District of North Kanara. Its greatest length from north to south is 116 miles, and its greatest breadth 77 miles. Area, 4535 square miles. Population (1881) 882,907.

[Page 262]

2.1. Agriculture

The soil of the District may be divided into three classes, viz. red soil, black soil, and a rich brown loam. The red soil is a shallow gravelly deposit formed by the disintegration of hills and rocks. The black soil is the well-known regar, or cotton-soil, on which the value of Dharwar as a cotton-producing District depends. It ordinarily varies in depth from 2 to 20 feet. The brown loam is found chiefly on the west of the District, once the site of large forests; it is supposed to be chiefly of vegetable origin, and is of little depth. The Government land is held under the Bombay Survey tenure, at a revenue fixed, in 1857-58, for a term of thirty years. The land alienated by the State is, as a rule, held at a fixed quit-rent. There are two chief crops in the year—the early or kharif, and the late or rabi harvest. The early crops are sown in June, and harvested in October and November. The late crops, except cotton, are sown in October and reaped in February. Cotton is sown in August and picked in March. A field of black soil requires only one ploughing in the year, and is seldom manured. A field of red soil, on the other hand, is ploughed three or four times, and is generally manured.

[Page 263]

2.2. Natural Calamities

From the earliest date of which historical record is available, the District appears to have suffered from droughts of more or less severity. Between 1787 and 1796 a succession of droughts, accompanied by swarms of locusts, occurred. This period of famine is said to have been at its height about 1791-92. The people were forced to feed on leaves and berries, and women and children were sold or deserted. No measures were taken by the Government of the day to relieve the sufferers.

[Page 409]

3. Farukhabad

District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 26° 46' 31" and 27° 42' 51" N. lat, and between 79° 9' 59" and 80° 3' 59" E. long. Farukhabad forms the south-eastern District of the Agra Division. It is bounded on the north by Budaun and Shahjahanpur; on the east by the Oudh District of Hardoi; on the south by Cawnpur and Etawah; and on the west by Mainpuri and Etah. Area, 1719 square miles. Population (1881) 907,608 persons. The administrative head-quarters are at FATEHGARH; but FARUKHABAD, on the west bank of the Ganges, is the most populous town in the District.

[Page 413]

3.1. Agriculture

The usual agricultural seasons of the Doab prevail throughout—the kharif, or autumn crops, being sown in June and harvested in October or November; while the rabi, or spring crops, are sown in October or November and reaped in March or April. Rice, maize, bajra, joar, and cotton, with the lentils (arhar and moth) grown among the last-mentioned three crops, form the staples of the autumn harvest, covering a total area in 1882-83 (including twice-cropped land) of 367,054 acres. Wheat and barley, with gram and peas either intermixed with them or grown separately, and opium, are the spring products. These covered (also including two crop lands), 355,694 acres. Indigo forms the chief intermediate (or late hot-weather and early rainy season) harvest. The cultivation of potatoes has been introduced, especially in the neighbourhood of Farukhabad itself, and the smaller towns of Kaimganj, Shamsabad, and Chhibramau. In the villages near the city, the system of a triple crop (one of them potatoes) is in full working. The cultivation of sugar-cane gives rise to an exceptional rotation of crops. When the autumn harvest has been gathered in November, the land remains fallow, and undergoes frequent ploughings for the next sixteen months, and the cane is planted in the second following March. It is not cut till January or February of the second year. Cultivators with rights of occupancy have a fairly comfortable livelihood; tenants-at-will pay somewhat heavier rents and clear a smaller margin of profits.

[Page 414]

3.2. Natural Calamities

The famines of 1770 and 1783 doubtless affected Farukhabad, as they did the whole of the North-Western Provinces, but the existing accounts are too scanty to admit of separate estimates for each District.

[Page 422]

4. Fatehpur

British District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 25° 26' 17" and 26° 16' 13" N. lat., and between 80° 16' 15" and 81° 23' E. long. Fatehpur forms a District of the Allahabad Division. It is bounded on the north by the Ganges, dividing it from Rai Bareli District in Oudh; on the west by Cawnpur; on the south by the Jumna, separating it from Hamirpur and Banda Districts; and on the east by Allahabad District. Area, 1639 square miles; population (1881) 683,745. The administrative head-quarters are at FATEHPUR TOWN.

[Page 426]

4.1. Agriculture

The ravine-clad country of the western parganas is of course incapable of cultivation, while a few usar plains break in upon the ploughed fields of the central portion; but the greater part of the soil [Page 427] is cultivated up to a very high point. The fertile black alluvial mould, known as mar, occurs in several places along the Jumna, and there is a strip of similar deposit between the high and low water mark of the Ganges, on which the best crops of the District are raised. The harvests are those common to the whole Doab. The kharif or autumn crops are sown after the first rains in June, and ripen in October or November. They consist of rice, cereals, and millets; joar and bajra being the principal staples. Manure and irrigation are both employed for the spring harvest, but are seldom applied to the kharif. The jhils or shallow lakes of the central parganas are of great value for purposes of irrigation. The rabi and the rice crops entirely depend upon them. If the rainfall is scanty, the jhils are drained dry by the end of November, the cultivators working night and day in relays to raise the water by means of leathern baskets. There are no canals in the District, and all irrigation is effected by private agency.

[Page 428]

4.2. Natural Calamities

Fatehpur has not suffered so severely from drought of late years as many neighbouring Districts. Famines from this cause occurred in 1770, in 1783, and in 1837.

This is a selection from the original text


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

Source text

Title: The Imperial Gazetteer of India

Subtitle: Volume IV. Cochin to Ganguria

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 78
  • 2 ) pages 85 to 86
  • 3 ) page 256
  • 4 ) pages 262 to 263
  • 5 ) page 409
  • 6 ) pages 413 to 414
  • 7 ) page 422
  • 8 ) pages 426 to 428


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.