The Imperial Gazetteer of India - Volume VII

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 Jalaun, Jaunpur, Jhajhar, Kaira and Kaladgi.

Selection details

The following excerpts from the Gazetteer have been selected from the entries on the districts of Jalaun, Jaunpur, Jhajhar, Kaira and Kaladgi.

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

London: TRUBNER & CO. 1885
[Page 93]

1. Jalaun

British District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 25° 46' and 26° 26' N. lat., and between 78° 59' and 79° 56' E. long. Jalaun is the northern District of the Jhansi Division, situated in the tract of country west of the Jumna, known as Bundelkhand. It is bounded on the northeast and north by the river Jumna (Jamuna), on the west by the Gwalior and Datia States, on the south by the Samthar State and the river Betwa, and on the east by the Baoni State. Area, 1469 square miles; population (1881) 418,142 persons. The administrative head-quarters are at URAI, but the most populous town in the District is KALPI.

[Page 98]

1.1. Agriculture

The staple crops of the District are cereals, gram, and cotton. Of these, gram occupies the largest area; and next in point of acreage come wheat, and the two millets known as joar and bajra.The seasons are those prevalent throughout Bundelkhand,—the kharif or autumn crops, sown in June or August, consist chiefly of millets and cotton; the rabi or spring crops, sown in November or December, are mainly gram and wheat.

[Page 99]

1.2. Natural Calamities

Drought is the great danger to be apprehended [Page 100] in Jalaun. Famine or scarcity from that cause occurred in 1783, in 1833, in 1837, and in 1848. The last important drought was that in August and September of 1868.

[Page 149]

2. Jaunpur

District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 25° 23' 45" and 26° 12' N. lat., and between 82° 10' and 83° 7' 45" E. long. Jaunpur is the north-eastern District of the Allahabad Division. In shape it is an irregular triangle, with the southern boundary as its base, and the eastern [Page 150] and western boundaries running up to an apex in the north. The adjacent Districts forming the boundaries are—on the north-west and north, the Oudh Districts of Partabgarh and Sultanpur; on the north-east, Azamgarh; on the east, Ghazipur; and on the south and south-west, Benares, Mirzapur, and Allahabad. A small portion of the District is isolated from the remainder by an intrusive belt of Oudh territory in Partabgarh District; while a portion of Partabgarh almost equal in area to this outlying tract is imbedded in the Machhlishahr tahsil of Jaunpur. Area, 1554 square miles; population (1881) 1,209,663 persons. The administrative head-quarters are at the town of JAUNPUR.

[Page 155]

2.1. Agriculture

The ordinary soil of Jaunpur is a mixture of vegetable mould, clay, and sand; but in old river-beds and the basins of temporary lakes, a rich black alluvial deposit, answering to the mar of Bundelkhand, may occasionally be found. The whole District is one wide expanse of cultivation, with scarcely an available acre untilled. The harvests are those common to the rest of Upper India. The kharif or autumn crops include rice, Indian corn, cotton, bajra,joar, and moth. They are sown in June, immediately after the first rain of the season, and reaped from September to November. The rabi or spring crops are sown in the autumn months, and reaped from March to April. They consist of wheat, barley, oats, peas, and other pulses. Irrigation is carried on from wells, tanks, ponds, and jhils.Although a certain rotation of crops is observed, yet (except for the cultivation of [Page 156] sugarcane) the intentional leaving land fallow for an entire year is almost unknown. The mode of cultivation is very simple. Seeds are almost always sown broadcast in land ploughed by an iron spike set between two pieces of wood, and serving both for share and coulter. A wooden board drawn by bullocks does duty for harrow and roller. The quantity of land taken up by the autumn crops varies with the earliness of the rains and other contingencies; as a rule, about one-third of the cultivable area is sown for the kharif. Near the towns, almost all land is tilled for both harvests; but in the low-lying rice lands, and in indigo or sugar-cane plantations, only one crop a year is grown. The best soils are selected for wheat, and barley ranks next in popular estimation. Sugar yields the greatest profit, but it requires much care and plentiful manuring; while the land in which it is grown must always be left fallow for six months or a year. Indigo cultivation on a large scale dates only from the establishment of British rule, and twenty years ago an area of about 14,000 acres was sown with the plant.

[Page 157]

2.2. Natural Calamities

The Gumti is liable to sudden freshets during the rainy season, owing to the high banks which it has piled up at its entrance into the Ganges, and which act as dams to prevent the prompt outflow of its flooded waters. These inundations extend to its tributary the Sai. Much damage was thus effected in 1774; but the greatest recorded flood took place in September 1871, when the river rose more than 23 feet in fourteen days, and swept away 4000 houses in the city, besides 9000 others in villages along its banks. On the other hand, Jaunpur has been comparatively free from drought. In 1770, the District suffered like all its neighbours; but in 1783, and in 1803, the scarcity did not rise to the point of famine.

[Page 196]

3. Jhajjar

Town and municipality in Rohtak District, Punjab, and head-quarters of Jhajjar tahsil; formerly the capital of a Native State, and afterwards the civil station of a British District, now removed to Rohtak. Lat. 28° 36' 33" N., long. 76° 14' 10" E. Population (1868) 12,617; (1881) 11,650, namely, 6895 Hindus, 4659 Muhammadans, 1 Sikh, 93 Jains, and 2 'others.' Situated on the plain, 35 miles west of Delhi, and 21 miles south of Rohtak town. The town was founded at the time of the first Muhammadan conquest of Delhi, in 1193. It was almost ruined by the great famine of 1793, but has since regained its prosperity. In 1796, Nijabat Ali Khan became Nawab of Jhajjar. He was son of Murtaza Khan, a Pathan soldier of fortune under Shah Alam. Together with his two brothers, he took service with Sindhia, from whom they obtained extensive grants, with the titles of Nawab of Jhajjar, Bahadurgarh, and Pataodi.

[Page 215]

4. Jhansi

British District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 25° 3' 45" and 25° 48' 45" N. lat, and between 78° 22' 15" and 79° 27' 30" E. long. Jhansi forms the central District in the Division of the same name. It is bounded on the north by the Gwalior and Samthar States, and by Jalaun District; on the east by the river Dhasan, which separates it from Hamirpur District; on the south by the District of Lalitpur and the Orchha State; and on the west by the Datiya, Gwalior, and Khania[Page 216]dhana States. The District is much intersected by the surrounding Native States. On the north, the States of Gwalior, Datiya, and Samthar; and towards the south and east, the Orchha State, and the Hasht-bhaya jagirs of Tori Fatehpur, Bijna, Pahari-Banka, and Dhurwai, encroach on Jhansi, or are interlaced with it. Single villages or groups of two or three villages belonging to one or other of these States are scattered like islands throughout the District. In like manner, several small patches of British territory are isolated from the rest of the District, and completely surrounded by native territory. This intermixture of alien villages has been productive of great administrative difficulties, especially in years of famine. Area, 1567 square miles; population (1881) 333,227 souls. The administrative head-quarters are at the village of JHANSI NAOBAD, close to the native town of JHANSI, now belonging to Gwalior; but the most populous town in the District is MAU (Mhow).

[Page 222]

4.1. Agriculture

Jhansi, in the nature of its soil, the character of its people, the poor means of irrigation, and the want of good communications, is perhaps worse off than any other District in the North-Western Provinces, except its still more unfortunate neighbour, Lalitpur. In the best seasons, its produce is only just sufficient to feed its scanty and scattered population, and droughts or floods expose it to the greatest [Page 223] hardships. The principal kharif or rain crops are—joar (millet), which in 1881 occupied 93,975 acres; cotton, grown on 34,074 acres; and bajra (another millet), on 10,893 acres. There were also 21,400 acres under til, an oil-seed, and 21,300 acres under a kind of pulse known as kodo. The total area of the rain crops was 232,054 acres, of which 26,080 acres were devoted to fibres, dye-stuffs, and oilseeds. The rabi or cold-weather crops covered an area of 182,058 acres, of which 3228 acres were cultivated with oil-seeds. The chief rabi products were—wheat, 1 13,779 acres; gram, 45,348 acres; and barley, 1374 acres. There were also 8882 acres employed in raising the al dye, procured from the root of the Morinda citrifolia, a rain crop, which is only dug up every third year. It is commercially the most important product, and is grown on the best land. The town of Mauranipur has long been famous for the manufacture of a red cloth called kharua, which is dyed from this root. The colour imparted by al is fixed by alum, and is permanent. In Jhansi, as in other parts of Bundelkhand, the al is really what enables the cultivators in certain villages to pay their rent; and in many years food would be scarce but for the importation of grain in return for the exports of the dye. The destructive kans grass formerly proved as great a pest here as elsewhere in Bundelkhand. but it has now been almost eradicated. Although the ordinary food production of Jhansi is barely adequate to the necessities of the people, the District has occasional years of exceptionally favourable rainfall, in which a considerable exportation of grain takes place.

[Page 224]

4.2. Natural Calamities

Jhansi is specially exposed to blights, droughts, floods, hailstorms, epidemics, and their natural consequence, famine. Even in favourable years, the consumption of the District is estimated to exceed its production by one-fifth. This estimate represents the fact that the food produce of Jhansi in ordinary seasons scarcely exceeds the food demand, while it is considered that scarcity may be feared every five years on an average. The famines of 1783, 1833, 1837, and 1847 were particularly severe.

[Page 298]

5. Kaira (Kheda)

District in the Northern Division of Gujarat (Guzerat), Bombay Presidency. Lies between 22° 26' and 23° 6' N. lat., and between 72° 33' and 73° 21' E. long. Bounded on the north by [Page 299] Ahmadabad District, Mahi Kantha, and the small State of Balasinor in the District of Rewa Kantha; on the west by Ahmadabad District and the Native State of Cambay; on the south and east by the river Mahi and the Gaekwar's territory (Baroda). The breadth of the District varies from 25 to 40 miles. Area, 1609 square miles; population (1881) 804,800 persons.

[Page 303]

5.1. Agriculture

The soils belong to four classes—light, medium, black, and alluvial, with subordinate varieties. The alluvial or batha land is chiefly found near the Vatrak river, and is a rich garden soil. In 1880-81, 371,793 acres, or 76.99 per cent, of the Government cultivable land, were taken up for tillage, and 19,421 acres were fallow or under grass. Grain crops occupied 304,253 acres, or 81.83 per cent.; pulses, 31,199 acres, or 8.39 per cent.; oil-seeds, 5348 acres, or 1.43 per cent.; fibres, 4662 acres, or 1.24 per cent., of which 4424 acres were under cotton; miscellaneous crops, 17,640 acres, or 4.74 per cent., of which 11,754 acres were under tobacco. Spiked millet, bajra (Pennisetum typhoideum), the staple grain crop, occupied 104,920 acres in 1881-82, or 27.4 per cent, of the total area (382,425 acres) under cultivation in that year. In 1881-82, sugar-cane covered 1209 acres; indigo, 185 acres; and other dye-stuffs, 2626 acres.

[Page 304]

5.2. Natural Calamities

A severe famine took place in 1791-92—rain fell only once that year; in 1813-14, there were only two showers of rain throughout the year; in 1825, the later rains failed, and remissions of land revenue to the amount £16,198 were granted.

[Page 314]

6. Kaladgi, now officially called Bijapur District

District in the Southern Division of the Bombay Presidency; situated between 15° 50' and 17° 27' N. lat., and 75° 31' and 76' 31' E. long. On the north Bijapur is separated by the river Bhima from the District of Sholapur and Akalkot State; on the east and south-east it is bounded by the Nizam's Dominions (Haidarabad, Deccan); on the south the Malprabha river divides it from the District of Dharwar and the State of Ramdrug; and on the west it is bounded by the States of Mudhol, Jamkhandi, and Jath. [The name of the District of Kaladgi was finally changed to that of Bijapur by Orders of the Bombay Government, dated 18th June 1884, with effect from 1st March 1885. By the same Orders the head-quarters of the District were to be transferred, as soon after that date as practicable, from Kaladgi to Bijapur (q.v.). The earlier volume of The Imperial Gazetteer containing Bijapur was printed off before this change had been effected.] Area, 5757 square miles. Population (1881) 638,493 persons.

[Page 317]

6.1. Agriculture

The land of the District varies from a poor sandy and stony soil to a rich deep black loam; the tract lying along the banks of the river Dhon is noted for its richness and power of retaining moisture. The sandy soils are unsuited for cotton, wheat, grain, and other cold-weather crops, and yield only the common varieties of millet and pulse; but they are nevertheless, in the larger villages, well ploughed, manured, and weeded. In 1881, the area of uncultivable land in the District was 761 square miles; of cultivated, 4076 square miles; and of cultivable waste, 920 square miles.

Among the agricultural products of the Districts, Indian millet or joar (Sorghum vulgare), grown both as a rainy-season and a fair-weather crop, held in 1881-82 the first place with 949,385 acres, or 53.3 per cent, of the area under actual cultivation. It constitutes the chief food of the people; and, except in seasons of unusual abundance, the whole crop is consumed in the District. The other cereals of importance are, spiked millet or bajra (Pennisetum typhoideum), occupying 136,924 acres, and wheat, covering 97,746 acres.

[Page 318]

By 1882-83, the area under cotton had further increased to 351,844 acres. Castor-oil, linseed, safflower, and sesamum or til are grown and exported, safflower in considerable quantities. But little rice is produced, and what is grown is of an inferior variety. In some parts of the District, a careless system of tillage is followed, portions of many fields being allowed to lie waste and become choked with grass.

[Page 318]

6.2. Natural Calamities

Owing to its uncertain rainfall, Kaladgi is very subject to failure of crops and consequent scarcity of grain. Like the rest of the Deccan, this District was at the beginning of the 15th century left by the great famine of 1396-1406 almost utterly waste and deserted; and in 1791, it again suffered grievously from the want of rain—still remembered by the people as the Skull Famine, the ground being covered with the skulls of the unburied dead.

This is a selection from the original text


agriculture, blight, crops, drought, famine, flood, food, rainfall, scarcity, want, waste

Source text

Title: The Imperial Gazetteer of India

Subtitle: Volume VII. Indore to Kardong

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 93
  • 2 ) pages 98 to 100
  • 3 ) pages 149 to 150
  • 4 ) pages 155 to 157
  • 5 ) page 196
  • 6 ) pages 215 to 216
  • 7 ) pages 222 to 223
  • 8 ) page 224
  • 9 ) pages 298 to 299
  • 10 ) page 303
  • 11 ) page 304
  • 12 ) page 314
  • 13 ) pages 317 to 318
  • 14 ) page 318


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.