The Imperial Gazetteer of India - Volume IX

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 Mahi Katha, Maldah and Mirzapur.

Selection details

The following excerpts from the Gazetteer have been selected from the entries on the districts of Mahi Katha, Maldah and Mirzapur.

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

London: TRUBNER & CO. 1885
[Page 175]

1. Mahi Kantha, The

Group of Native States under a Political Agency of the Government of Bombay. The territory is situated between 23° 14' and 24° 28' N. lat., and between 72° 40' and 74° 5' E. long.; with an area of 11,049 square miles, and a population (1881) of 517,485 souls. It is bounded on the north-east by the Rajput States of Udaipur (Oodeypore) and Dungarpur; on the south-east by Rewa Kantha; on the south by the British District of Kaira; and on the west by the Native State of Baroda, Ahmadabad District, and the country under the Palanpur Agency. The Mahi Kantha territory is subject to a number of chiefs, of whom the Raja of EDAR (Idar) is by far the most important. In May 1877, these chiefs were classified into 7 divisions, according to their importance and the extent of their jurisdiction.

[Page 179]

1.1. Agriculture, Trade, etc.-

The soil is. of two kinds, light and black. The south and west of the Agency are level. In Rehvar and the valley of the Saraswati there is a large irrigated area. Most of the tillage is for kharif or rainy-season crops. Severe famines occurred in 1791 and 1813; scarcities in 1825 and 1834.

[Page 240]

2. Maldah

British District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of Bengal, occupying an eastern projection of the Bhagalpur Division, to which it was transferred from the Rajshahi Division in 1876. It lies between 24° 29' 50" and 25° 32' 30" N. lat., and between 87° 48' and 88° 33' 30" E. long., the Ganges river forming the continuous western and south-western boundary. Area, 1891 square miles. Population (1881) 710,448 souls. The administrative head-quarters are at ENGLISH BAZAR, on the right bank of the Mahananda.

[Page 241]

2.1. History

The ruins of Gaur, lying between the Mahananda and the Ganges, are scattered over an area of more than 20 square miles. The foundation of this city is referred back to the remotest antiquity. It was the Hindu metropolis of Bengal before the Musalman conquest, and continued to be the capital of the Afghan invaders for at least three centuries. Its downfall is assigned to the period when the Mughal Emperor Akbar established his supremacy over the Province of Bengal, and his Viceroys transferred the seat of Government across the Ganges to Rajmahal. According to the received account, a pestilence fell upon the city in 1575 A.D., the year of its first occupation by the Mughals; thousands died every day, and the survivors fled, never to return to their deserted homes. Such is the tragic story of the Muhammadan chroniclers, and its leading incident is borne out by the malarious character of the neighbourhood at the present day.

[Page 452]

3. Mirzapur

District in the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North-Western Provinces, lying between 23° 51' 30" and 25° 31' N, lat., and between 82° 9' 15" and 83° 36' E. long. Area, 5223 square miles. Population (1881) 1,136,796 persons. Mirzapur forms the southernmost District of the Benares Division. It is bounded on the north by Jaunpur and Benares; on the east by the Bengal Districts of Shahabad and Lohardaga; on the south by the Sarguja Tributary State; and on the west by Allahabad District and the territories of the Maharaja of Rewa. The administrative head-quarters are at the city of MIRZAPUR.

[Page 457]

3.1. Agriculture

The part of Mirzapur which lies in the Ganges valley north of the Vindhyas, is very highly cultivated and thickly populated on both sides of the river, like other Districts of the Benares Division; but the tract south of the Vindhyas, including the central plateau and the country beyond the Kaimur Hills, consists largely of ravines and forests, with a very sparse population. The soil of the Ganges valley is exceedingly fertile, except where the sandstone rocks jut out from the Vindhyan plateau. The fine black soil which fills the hollow of the central table-land also produces good crops of rice, wheat, barley, [Page 458] and gram. The two usual harvests, kharif in autumn, and rabi in spring, have their ordinary staples of rice, millets, and moth or of wheat, barley, linseed, and pulses respectively. In both harvests, much land is occupied by mixed crops. Barley grows over the whole District, even in the wildest parts. The rains are usually so abundant as to supersede the necessity of irrigation for the autumn harvest; but the spring crops require artificial watering, which they obtain from the numerous tanks and wells.

[Page 459]

3.2. Natural Calamities

Although the northern part of the District suffered severely from the famine of 1783, none of the droughts within the present century have seriously affected its prosperity.

This is a selection from the original text


agriculture, famine, irrigation, rain, rice

Source text

Title: The Imperial Gazetteer of India

Subtitle: Volume IX. Madras Presidency to Multal

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 175
  • 2 ) page 179
  • 3 ) pages 240 to 241
  • 4 ) page 452
  • 5 ) pages 457 to 459


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.