The Imperial Gazetteer of India - Volume V

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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 1]

1. Ganjam (Ganj-i-am, 'the granary of the world')

British District in the extreme north-east of the Madras Presidency, lying between 18° 15' and 20° 15' N. latitude, and between 83° 49' and 85° 15' E. longitude. Bounded on the north by the Orissa Tributary States of Nayagarh, Daspalla, and Bod, of Bengal; on the east by the Bengal District of Puri and the Bay of Bengal; and on the west by the Feudatory States of Kalahandi and Patna of the Central Provinces, and Vizagapatam District of the Madras Presidency. Area, 8311 square miles, of which 5205 square miles are in the Agency or Hill Tracts. Population, according to the Census of 1881, 1,749,604. In point of size, Ganjam District ranks sixth amongst the Districts of the Madras Presidency. Geographically the District divides itself into the Maliahs or Hill Tracts, and the Plain country, and contains 16 large and 35 minor zamindaris or proprietary estates, besides 3 Government taluks. There are altogether 16 towns, of which 2 are municipalities, and 6879 villages; of the latter, 2706 are in the Agency Tracts. Berhampur is the chief town of the District, and is also a military cantonment.

[Page 6]

1.1. Agriculture

Agricultural operations commence in June, during which month the rains of the south-west monsoon usually begin to fall. In June the early dry grains and rice intended for transplanting are sown. Rice is sometimes sown broadcast, but is usually transplanted from specially prepared seed-beds. In July and September an ample and continued supply of water is essential to the growth of the young plants. The reaping of the rice crop commences soon after the 1st November, and sometimes lasts until the 15th January, according as the season has been early or late. An early season betokens, as a rule, a favourable harvest. The dry grain crops (i.e. those grown upon unirrigated land) and early rice are reaped between the 1st September and the 15th October. The after-crop of dry grains continues, however, to be reaped from the middle of February to the beginning of April. A second crop of rice in Ganjam is almost unknown; it occurs, however, in a tract of land not far from Ichapur, bordering upon the sea. Neither cotton nor fibre cultivation is pursued to any considerable extent. The sugar-cane grown in Ganjam is of excellent quality, and is said to be the best in India. It demands more care and attention, however, than any other crop, and is never grown for two years in succession on the same land. The soil requires to be well manured with oilcake or other suitable manure. Sugar-cane is estimated to require one-third more water than rice, and takes ten months before it reaches maturity. In spite of these drawbacks, however, the crop is exceedingly profitable to the peasant who can afford to grow it. Sugar-cane is chiefly cultivated about Aska. [Page 7]Tenures are of three kinds—(i) Rayatwari, or small farms held by individuals direct from Government; (2) koshtgutta, in which whole villages unite in holding lands in common, direct from Government, with joint responsibility for rent; (3) mustazari, or the farming-out system, which is confined to the zamindari tracts. By the last system lands are put up to auction, either in lots or entire villages, and knocked down to the highest bidder, who is left to make what profit he can out of the actual cultivators.

[Page 7]

1.2. Natural Calamities

Famines, caused by flood and drought, are the principal natural calamities to which the District is liable. The chief scarcities have been in 1789-92, 1799-1801, 1836-39, and 1865-66.

[Page 61]

2. Ghazipur

District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 25° 18' 29" and 26° 56' N. lat, and between 83° 21' 26" and 84° 0' 7" E. long. Ghazipur is a District in the Benares Division. It is bounded on the north by Azamgarh; on the west by Benares and Jaunpur; on the south by Shahabad; [Page 62] and on the east by Ballia. Area, 1473 square miles; population (1881) 1,014,099 persons. The administrative head-quarters are at GHAZIPUR town.

[Page 67]

2.1. Agriculture

The greater portion of the cultivable soil in Ghazipur is already fully tilled, there being a total of 1006 square miles under cultivation, with an available margin of only 132 square miles. The black earth called karail, resembling the mar of Bundelkhand, is common in the lowlands and in the plateau south of the Ganges. It produces a good spring crop without irrigation, but its character is much improved if sand is spread over the surface; otherwise it is liable to dry up into deeply-fissured masses of hardened clay. In all the Gangetic lowland, the upper layer of a well-raised tract always consists of alluvial mould; but the sub-soil is sandy. The rivers which have had the longest course from the hills, deposit mud; the others leave behind them beds of sand; but the Ganges forms alternate layers of each. Hence a flood from the Sarju is injurious to the fields, while an inundation of the Ganges benefits the crops. The harvests are those common to the whole north-western plain. The kharif crops are sown after the first rains in June, and reaped in October or November. The early rice, however, is sometimes harvested as soon as the end of August, while cotton is not ready for picking till February. The other autumn staples are the millets bajra and joar, and moth. The rabi or spring crops are sown in October or November, and reaped in March or April. They consist of wheat, barley, oats, vetch, 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. As a rule, spring and autumn crops are not taken off the same land, but sometimes a plot of early rice is reaped in August or September, and a second crop of some kind is sown in its place for the spring harvest. If rain is delayed beyond the 20th June, this keeps back the sowing and endangers the yield of the early autumn crops.

At the Land Settlement of Ghazipur District, made in 1789, and subsequently declared permanent, fraternities or brotherhoods belonging to various Hindu and Muhammadan tribes were recognised by Government, in the great majority of cases, as the owners of the soil. The settlements were concluded with a few head-men on each estate, who were the representatives of the whole community. In some cases, by accident rather than by design, the head-man of a proprietary community was treated as sole owner. In no instance did Government admit the existence of any divided ownership, or of superior and inferior proprietary rights.

[Page 68]

2.2. Natural Calamities

The District is not specially subject to flood, drought, or blight, and it has suffered from no great famine during the present century. It possesses ample means of external communication in the rivers Ganges and Gumti, the East Indian Railway, and the branch railway from Dildarnagar to the bank of the Ganges opposite Ghazipur town. In 1783, severe scarcity occurred from the failure of the rains in the previous year, but there were no deaths from famine as far as known.

[Page 164]

3. Gorakhpur

District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 26° 5' 15" and 27° 28' 45" N. lat., and between 83° 7' and 84° 29' E. long. Gorakhpur is a District in the Benares Division. It is bounded on the north by the territory of Nepal, on the east by Champaran and Saran, on the south by the river Gogra, and on the west by Basti and Faizabad (Fyzabad). Area, 4598 square miles; population (1881) 2,617,120 persons.

[Page 169]

3.1. Agriculture

Gorakhpur District contains a total cultivated area of 2785 square miles, but there still remains a margin of 1171 square miles available for cultivation, most of which is now forest. The mode of tillage does not differ from that which prevails elsewhere throughout the great alluvial basin of the Ganges and its tributaries. There are two great harvests a year, in the autumn and in the spring. The kharif or autumn crops are sown after the first rain in June, and gathered in October or November. They consist of cotton, rice, bajra, joar, moth, and other food-grains. The rabi or spring crops are sown immediately after the autumn harvest, and reaped in March or April. They are mainly composed of wheat, barley, oats, peas, and other pulses. Manure is used, where it can be obtained, for both harvests. Spring and autumn crops are seldom taken off the same ground, but sometimes a plot of early rice is gathered in August, and a second crop sown in its place for the spring harvest. Owing to the heavy and long continued rains at the foot of the Himalayas, the country is often flooded, and the rabi sowing delayed much later than in other Districts. A great part of the surface is so long inundated, that it yields no autumn crops at all, the spring seed being sown as soon as the water clears off. This flooded land, however, is rendered exceedingly fertile by the deposits which are left behind as the waters recede. The forests possess little economical value. Wild honey is their chief product; the Bhars contract to collect it, and sell it in the neighbouring towns. The trees used to be tapped for their gum, but this practice has been stopped since the forests passed into the hands of Government. [Page 170] Compared with the misrule and oppression which took place under the native Rajas and the Musalman revenue-farmers, the condition of the people is now vastly improved.

[Page 170]

3.2. Natural Calamities

Gorakhpur, being a naturally moist and rainy District, suffers less from famine than most other portions of the great north-western plain. The distress in 1780 and 1783 did not seriously affect the Districts beyond the Gogra.

[Page 214]

4. Gurgaon

District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the Punjab, lying between 27° 39' and 28° 30' 45" N. lat, and between 76° 20' 45" and 77° 35' E. long. Gurgaon forms the southern District of the [Page 215] Delhi Division. It is bounded on the north by Rohtak and Delhi Districts; on the west and south-west by portions of the Alwar (Ulwur), Jaipur, Nabha, and Dujana Native States; on the south by the Bhartpur State and Muttra District of the North-Western Provinces; on the east by the river Jumna; and on the north-east by Delhi District. Area, 1938 square miles; population (1881) 641,848. The administrative head-quarters are at the town of GURGAON, but REWARI is the chief centre of trade and population.

[Page 220]

4.1. Agriculture

Out of a total area of 1,240,366 acres, as many as 993,512 were returned in 1881-82 as under cultivation. From the remainder, 162,096 acres must be deducted for uncultivable waste, leaving a narrow margin of only 84,758 acres of available soil not yet brought under the plough. Wheat and barley form the principal staples of the rabi or spring harvest; while joar and bajra, the two common millets, make up the chief items among the kharif or autumn harvest. These millets compose the ordinary food of the people themselves, the wheat and barley, where grown singly, being universally reserved for exportation. Wheat and other cereals are largely grown intermixed, in inferior soils, for home consumption. Gram, oil-seeds, pulses, cotton, and tobacco are also important crops. Irrigation is not very generally practised. The Agra Canal, which draws its supplies from the Jumna some miles below Delhi, and traverses the eastern portion of the District, irrigates about 50,000 acres; and dams on the hill torrents irrigate about 7000 acres at the foot of the table-land. With these exceptions, however, artificial irrigation can only be practised with great labour from wells, often of immense depth. The use of the Persian wheel is unknown, and water is drawn in leather buckets.

[Page 221]

4.2. Natural Calamities

Owing to the deficiency of artificial irrigation, Gurgaon must always be exposed to great risk from drought. Eight periods of dearth have occurred since the disastrous year 1783, known throughout Upper India as the San chalisa famine—namely, in 1803, 1812, 1817, 1833, 1837, 1860, 1869, and 1877.

[Page 359]

5. Hazara

District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the Punjab, lying between 33° 45' and 35° 2' N. lat., and between 72° 35' 30" and 74° 9' E. long. Hazara forms the north-eastern District of the Peshawar Division. It is bounded on the north by the Black mountains, the independent Swati country, Kohistan, and Chilas; on the east by the Native State of Kashmir; on the south by Rawal Pindi District; and on the west by the river Indus. Area, 3039 square miles; population (1881) 407,075 persons. Of the area, 204 square miles, with a population of 24,044, belong to the feudal territory of TANAWAL (q.v.). In all Government statistics in this article, except those of the Census, feudatory Tanawal is omitted. The administrative head-quarters are at ABBOTTABAD.

[Page 364]

5.1. Agriculture

[Page 365]

Throughout the hill tracts the autumn harvest is the more important, and among the higher hills the length and severity of the winter preclude the possibility of a spring crop. Rice can only be grown on irrigated land lying low in the mountain valleys. Maize or Indian corn forms the great upland staple, being sown in May and gathered in October; while the lowland seasons fall about a month later in either case. The soil in the open portion of the District is deep and rich, the detritus of the surrounding hills being lodged in the basinlike depressions below; the highlands have a shallow and stony covering, compensated for by the abundant manure which can be obtained from the flocks of sheep and cattle among the mountain pastures. The Bagh or garden soil is always in the vicinity of the village, and is cultivated by the Mallis, a superior caste of husbandmen. Rent for this land varies from £1, 12s. to £2, 8s. per acre. Irrigation by wells is confined to the open country round Haripur. In other parts, embankments on the rivers and hill torrents distribute the water to the neighbouring fields.

[Page 366]

5.2. Natural Calamities

Hazara suffered great scarcity in the memorable and widespread famine of 1783, which affected it with the same severity as the remainder of Upper India.

[Page 425]

6. Hissar

District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the Punjab, lying between 28° 36' and 29° 49' N. lat., and between 75° 16' and 76° 22' E. long. Average width, 47 miles; extreme length from north to south, 83 miles. Hissar shares only with Rohtak and Simla among the Punjab Districts the peculiarity of having absolutely no river frontage. It is bounded on the north and north-west by the State of Patiala and a small portion of the District of Sirsa; on the east and south by the State of Jind (Jheend) and the District of Rohtak; and on the west by the grazing grounds of Bikaner (Bickaneer). The District stands 12th in order of area, and 21st in order of population, among the 32 Districts of the Punjab, comprising 3.32 per cent. of the total area, and 2.68 per cent. of the total population of the [Page 426] British territory. Area, 3540 square miles; population in 1881, 504,183 souls. The town of HISSAR is the administrative head-quarters of the District and of the Commissionership of the same name; but BHIWANI, with more than double its population, is the chief commercial town.

[Page 427]

6.1. History

[Page 428]

Hansi was then the capital, Hissar town being founded by the Emperor Firoz Shah Tughlak about 1354. During the rule of Nawab Shah Dadkhan of Kasur, from 1707 to 1737, the people and country were in a state of prosperity, soon to be changed to confusion and distress under his successor, the Nawab of Farukhnagar in Gurgaon. In his time, Nadir Shah ravaged the land, and the Sikhs began their inroads, while the Bhattis of Bhattiana joined in the bloody struggles for superiority which ensued. The ascendency nominally belonged to the Marathas in virtue of their dominant position at the Delhi Court. Eventually Raja Amar Singh of Patiala extorted the reluctant submission of the Bhatti chiefs; but on his death in 1781, they regained their independence. To complete the ruin brought on by these conflicts. Nature lent her aid in the great famine of 1783. In 1795-99, George Thomas, an Irish adventurer, who took service with a Maratha chief, established his authority over a tract including Hansi and Hissar, with an annual revenue of £200,000. He established a gun-foundry and mint at Hansi, and aspired to conquer the Punjab.

[Page 430]

6.2. Agriculture

Autumn rice is sown in June and July; the spring crops from September to November. Rotation of crops is understood but not regularly practised. Manure is little used. Camels are employed as well as oxen and buffaloes for ploughing. The extent of land under cultivation is not constant, depending entirely on the rainfall. The agricultural year is divided as elsewhere into two great harvests, the rabi or spring, and the kharif or autumn crop, the latter being by far the most important. The area under the principal crops in 1882-83 is returned as follows :—Rabi or spring crop—wheat, 45,342; barley, 106,916; gram, 73,193; tobacco, 2133; mustard, 11,285; and vegetables, 3465 acres; total area under rabi crops, 246,257 acres. Kharif or autumn harvest—rice, 8145;joar (spiked millet), 241,035; bajra (great millet), 590,004; moth (Phaseolus aconitifolius), 123,923;mash (Phaseolus radiatus), 4101; mung (Phaseolus mungo), 28,296; masur (Cajanus indicus), 35,956; chillies, 1374; til (Sesamum orientale), 5788; cotton, 23,191; vegetables, 3378; total area under kharif crops, 1,092,370 acres. Grand total under cultivation, including twice-cropped land, 1,338,627. [Page 431] Formerly, many proprietors called themselves cultivators, in order to avoid the obligation imposed by a curious local custom, requiring landholders to track the footprints of criminals out of their bounds, or to give the criminals up. These men have, under the present Land Settlement, been recognised as proprietors. Thirty grants, varying from 60 to 300 acres in extent, were bestowed, revenue-free for three lives, on the native officers of cavalry regiments disbanded in 1819. These were known as sukhlambri (a corruption of 'supernumerary') grants; most of them have now lapsed. The estates of the late Colonel James Skinner, C.B. (compassing 67 villages paying a revenue of £4355, or more than a tenth of the entire land revenue of the District), remain undivided, and are now managed by a member of the family on behalf of the others. More than 15,000 tenants have occupancy rights; but double that number possess no security of tenure.

[Page 431]

6.3. Natural Calamities

The District has always been subject to famine. The first calamity of this kind which he have authentic record occurred in the year 1783, when the price of the commonest grain rose to 22s. a cwt.

This is a selection from the original text


agriculture, blight, crops, drought, famine, flood, grain, rice, settlement, zamindar

Source text

Title: The Imperial Gazetteer of India

Subtitle: Volume V. Ganjam to Indi

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 1
  • 2 ) pages 6 to 7
  • 3 ) page 7
  • 4 ) pages 61 to 62
  • 5 ) pages 67 to 68
  • 6 ) page 164
  • 7 ) pages 169 to 170
  • 8 ) pages 214 to 215
  • 9 ) pages 220 to 221
  • 10 ) page 359
  • 11 ) pages 365 to 366
  • 12 ) page 425
  • 13 ) page 428
  • 14 ) pages 430 to 431


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.