The Imperial Gazetteer of India - Volume X

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 Nasik, North West Provinces and Oudh.

Selection details

The following excerpts from the Gazetteer have been selected from the entries on the districts of Nasik, North West Provinces and Oudh.

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

London: TRUBNER & CO. 1885
[Page 228]

1. Nasik (Nasica of Ptolemy)

British District in the Bombay Presidency, lying between 19° 34' and 20° 52' N. lat., and between 73° 18' and 75° E. long. Area, 5940 square miles. Population in 1881, 781,206 persons. Bounded on the north by the District of Khandesh; on the east by the Nizam's Dominions; on the south by Ahmadnagar; and on the west by Thana District, the territories of Dharampur, Surgana, and the Khandesh Dangs. The administrative head-quarters are at NASIK town.

[Page 231]

1.1. Agriculture

The land of the District may be divided in four classes—the reddish black mould along rivers; a light black soil higher up; a brown soil, stiffer and less deep, found on the higher lands near the Ghats; and highest and lightest of all, light brown or red, often strewn with boulders, and mixed with lime. A second crop is not often raised. Manure [Page 232] is invariably used for all garden crops, but rarely for others. Over 47,000 acres are irrigated, the cost per acre varying from 2s. to £10. Irrigation is generally practised where water is obtainable near the surface, and where a dam can be thrown across the streams and rivers

Bajra is the staple food of the people. Vineyards are found in Nasik and Chander Sub-divisions. In localities where there is good black soil, wheat, cotton, gram, and tuner, and where water is available, sugar-cane, grapes, figs, guavas, and plantains are grown. Potatoes were introduced into the District about 1837, and though at first disliked by the people, are now in request. On poor soil joar and bajra are cultivated.

[Page 232]

1.2. Natural Calamities

Famines are also locally recorded as having occurred in 1460, 1520, and 1629, but the severest of which record remains was the famine of 1791-92. Liberal remissions by the Peshwa, the prohibition of grain exportation, and the regulation of prices, alleviated the misery.

[Page 354]

2. North-Western Provinces and Oudh

Lieutenant-Governorship and Chief Commissionership of British India, lying between 23° 52' and 31° 7' N. lat, and between 77° 5' and 84° 40' E. long. Area—North Western Provinces, 81,858 square miles; Oudh, 24,246 square miles: total area, 106,104 square miles. Population—North-Western Provinces, 30,781,947 in 1872, and 32,720,128 in 1881; Oudh, 11,220,950 in 1869 (no census of Oudh was taken in 1872), and 11.387,741 in 1881; total British population, 42,002,897 at the time of the previous census, and 44,107,869 in 1881. The native territory under the Lieutenant-Governorship, comprising the two States of Rampur and Garhwal, has an area of 5125 square miles, with a population of 741,750 in 1881. Total area of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, British and Native, 111,229 square miles; total population, 44,849,619. The territory is bounded on the north by Chinese Tartary (Tibet), and on the north-east by the independent kingdom of [Page 355] Nepal; on the east and south-east by Champaran, Saran, and Shahabad Districts of Lower Bengal; on the south by Hazaribagh District of Chutia Nagpur, Rewa State, the Native States of Bundelkhand, and Sagar District of the Central Provinces; and on the west by the Native States of Gwalior, Dholpur, and Bhartpur, the Punjab Districts of Gurgaon, Delhi, Karnal, and Ambala, and the States of Sirmur and Jabal, the Jumna river marking the boundary between the Punjab and the North-Western Provinces. The administrative capital and principal seat of the Lieutenant-Governor is at ALLAHABAD. The table on the next page gives the population of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh in 1872 and 1881 according to Districts.

[Page 375]

2.1. Agriculture

No part of India bears finer or more luxuriant crops than the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, and the natural fertility has been much increased by a magnificent series of irrigation works. The course of tillage comprises two principal harvests—the kharif or autumn crops, sown in June and reaped in October or November; and the rabi or spring crops, sown in October or November and reaped in March or April. The hewant, a subsidiary third harvest, is reaped in December. A fourth subsidiary harvest, the zaid, is reaped in May. The great agricultural staple is wheat, but millets and rice are also largely cultivated. The chief commercial crops include indigo (in the eastern Districts and Rohilkhand), cotton, sugar, opium, oil-seeds, and tea. Rice and sugarcane grow chiefly in the river valleys or in irrigated fields; wheat is raised on the uplands by the aid of canals and wells; millets and cotton grow on the drier soils; while tobacco, potatoes, vegetables, and other rich crops occupy the manured plots in the neighbourhood of the villages. The mode of tillage is simple, scarcely differing from that in vogue during the earliest period of which the Vedas give information.

[Page 376]

Of the total area, less than half is returned as fit for cultivation, including all the poorer kinds of soil. In many Districts the uncultivated land does not exceed the quantity required for grazing. The true waste or uncultivable area comprises rivers, lakes, village sites, and roads. Large areas of usar (or land which a saline efflorescence renders unfit for the production of anything but special kinds of coarse grass) are to be found in most of the Districts of the Doab, said to be caused by percolation from the canals. The rainfall in the North-Western Provinces averages over the whole area 25 inches in the year. But it is almost entirely confined to three or four months, and a very general resort to artificial irrigation is thus rendered necessary. If the crops sown and reaped in the rainy season be excluded, 2 acres out of every 5 in the North-Western Provinces are irrigated, more than one-half from wells. The remainder depends in about equal proportions on canals and on natural sources of irrigation, such as tanks and streams. Large areas, including nearly all the land immediately round the village sites, bear two crops in the year, and as many as three are not unknown. Sugar is exceptional, as it occupies the field nearly the whole year, being put down in April, and not fully reaped till the end of February. The common practice of mixing several crops in one field makes it difficult to give an accurate representation of the area under each.

The whole country is parcelled out into villages, each village being a proprietary unit, and containing perhaps many inhabited sites. The land is divided by the natives themselves into three circles, according as it approaches or recedes from the central homestead, and receives much manure, only a moderate supply, or none at all. The distinction is very real, and easily recognised by a trained eye. The amount of manure available is very limited, and the continued fertility of the soil, in spite of constant cropping, is difficult to explain. The condemnation often passed on native methods of tillage is too sweeping. The implements, it is true, are of the rudest kind, but the perseverance of the cultivator compensates in a great measure for the imperfections of his tools.

Wheat.—The most important of the food-grains is wheat, and of recent years the North-Western Provinces and Oudh have become prominent rivals with the other wheat-producing and wheat-exporting countries of the world.

[Page 377]

Rice is largely grown, but the imports as a rule balance the exports. The imported rice comes from Calcutta; the exported rice goes to Rajputana and the Punjab. This staple is mostly grown in the sub-Himalayan region, and in the eastern Districts of the Provinces. Maize is largely cultivated everywhere except in Bundelkhand. It requires good soil with plenty of moisture. About 3/4 million acres were under maize in 1882-83. Millets and pulses, comprising joar, bajra, urd, and moth, were raised on 2 1/2 million acres in 1882-83. Two or more of these are sown on one field, a method that forms the cultivator's insurance against total loss, as the chances are some one of the crops will come up. As a rule, the heads of joar and bajra are cut off and carried to the threshing-floor before the stalks are cut. Gram, for food, as well as fodder for cattle, is sown with wheat and barley or alone, over 4 million acres. It is a hardy crop.

[Page 383]

2.2. Tenures

The system of land tenure is based upon the ancient Aryan communal type, with various modifications from the purest form of joint-village proprietorship down to the separate ownership of particular plots.

When the British Government acquired the country, the following classes, from whom the previous Government had realized its revenue, were found in existence:— (1) The representatives of old princely houses who paid the revenue on the whole, or as much as they could retain, of their inherited domains. (2) Contractors who farmed the Government revenue for more or less considerable groups of villages. (3) The village zamindars, whose tenure was of one of the following four kinds :—(a) samindari, where the produce of the whole village is distributed; (b) pattidari, where the land in the whole village is divided; (c) imperfect pattidari, where the land is divided in one part, and the produce distributed in another part of the same village, but the shares in the land and the shares in the produce bear the same, or nearly the same, proportion to the shares in the original interest; (d) bhayachara, where the land is divided in part and the produce distributed in another part of the same village, but the shares in the land do not bear the same proportion as the shares in the [Page 384] produce to the original interest, or where the whole land is divided and the separate properties have no rational proportion to one another. (4) The cultivators themselves, paying revenue through their head-man.

[Page 390]

In favoured localities the peasantry are fairly well off; in the hill Districts they are well-to-do and independent; but in Bundelkhand they still suffer from the effects of former misrule and from the disasters of recent famine. The principal food of the people is wheat, barley, and the millets (joar and bajra). The highest castes among the agriculturists are said by Mr. J. C. Nesfield, in a work specially devoted to the subject of caste in the North-West, to be the Tagas and Bhuinhars, who are distinguished from other agricultural castes by their forbidding the remarriage of their widows; next the Malis (gardeners—mala=a wreath of flowers), Tambulis (pan raisers—tambul=the pan creeper), Kurmis, Kachhis (kachh=alluvial soil on a river's bank), and Kandus (riverain people—kand=river bank); lastly, the low-caste Bayars and Lodhas, who are clearers of jungle.

[Page 390]

2.3. Natural Calamities

The North-Western Provinces suffer, like the rest of India, from drought and its consequence, famine. The first great scarcity of which there are definite records occurred in the year 1783-84, and is known as the chalisa famine. Little rain fell for over two years; and the apathy of the native government, under which the greater part of the Provinces then remained, allowed the calamity to proceed unchecked. Thousands died of starvation; the bodies were not removed from where they lay; no relief was given to the sick or dying; and universal anarchy prevailed. The distress extended to Benares, where Warren Hastings witnessed its effects. Many villages devastated during this year never recovered, and their sites are still marked by vacant mounds.

[Page 426]

3. Orissa

A Province of British India, forming a Division or Commissionership under the jurisdiction of the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal; situated between 19° 28' and 22° 34' 15" N, lat., and between 83° 36' 30" E. long. Along with its Tributary States, it forms the extreme south-western portion of the Bengal Presidency, being bounded on the north and north-east by Chutia Nagpur and Bengal Proper; on the east and south-east by the Bay of Bengal; south by Madras Presidency (Ganjam District); and on the west by the Central Provinces. British Orissa is of almost equal extent with Saxony. It contains a total area of 9053 square miles and a population (1881) of 3,730,735 persons. In addition, the Tributary States of Orissa have an area of 15,187 square miles and a population of 1,469,142. British and Tributary Orissa together have an area almost exactly equal to that of Oudh, with a population almost exactly half that of Oudh

[Page 428]

3.1. History

[Page 431]

Wretched as the state of Orissa had been under the Mughals, a half-century of deeper misery remained for it under the Marathas. Their prince had his capital or standing camp at Nagpur in Central India, whence he waged incessant war with his neighbours. His deputies, who were constantly changed, and imprisoned on their recall, struggled to wring out of Orissa—the only peaceful Province of his kingdom—a sufficiency to supply the military necessities of their master. Whoever had money was the natural enemy of the State. The Province lay untilled, and any failure of the rice crop produced a famine. Within seven years two terrible scarcities afflicted Orissa. The famine of 1770, a scarcity of much greater intensity than that of 1866, instead of being mitigated by State importations and relief depots, was intensified by a mutiny of foreign troops. While the people were dying by thousands on every road-side, the Maratha soldiery threw off the last vestige of control, and for many months ranged like wild beasts over the country. Seven years afterwards, in 1777, another great famine ensued: and as the central Maratha power at Nagpur decayed, each party into which it split separately harried and plundered the Province.

[Page 434]

3.2. Religious Classification

[Page 448]

The Car Festival (Rath-jatra) is the great event of the year. It takes place, according as the Hindu month falls, in June or July, and for weeks beforehand pilgrims come trooping into Puri by thousands every day. The whole District is in a ferment. The great car is 45 feet in height. This vast structure is supported on sixteen wheels of 7 feet diameter, and is 35 feet square. The brother and sister of Jagannath have separate cars a few feet smaller. When the sacred images are at length brought forth and placed upon their chariots, thousands fall on their knees and bow their foreheads in the dust. The vast multitude shouts with one throat, and, surging backwards and forwards, drags the wheeled edifices down the broad street towards the country-house of lord Jagannath. Music strikes up before and behind, drums beat, cymbals clash, the priests harangue from the cars, or shout a sort of fescennine medley enlivened with broad allusions and coarse gestures, which are received with roars of laughter by the crowd. And so the dense mass struggles forward by convulsive jerks, tugging and [Page 449] sweating, shouting and jumping, singing, and praying, and swearing. The distance from the temple to the country-house is less than a mile; but the wheels sink deep into the sand, and the journey takes several days. After hours of severe toil and wild excitement in the July tropical sun, a reaction necessarily follows. The zeal of the pilgrims flags before the garden-house is reached; and the cars, deserted by the devotees, are dragged along by the professional pullers with deep drawn grunts and groans. These men, 4200 in number, are peasants from the neighbouring Fiscal Divisions, who generally manage to live at free quarters in Puri during the festival.

Once arrived at the country-house, the enthusiasm subsides. The pilgrims drop exhausted upon the burning sand of the sacred street, or block up the lanes with their prostrate bodies. When they have slept off their excitement, they rise refreshed and ready for another of the strong religious stimulants of the season.

[Page 456]

But it is on the return journey that the misery of the pilgrims reaches its climax. The rapacity of the Puri priests and lodginghouse keepers has passed into a proverb. A week or ten days finishes the process of plundering, and the stripped and half-starved pilgrims crawl out of the city with their faces towards home. They stagger along under their burdens of holy food, which is wrapped up in dirty cloth, or packed away in heavy baskets and red earthen pots. The men from the Upper Provinces further encumber themselves with a palm-leaf umbrella, and a bundle of canes dyed red, beneath whose strokes they did penance at the Lion Gate. After the Car Festival, they find every stream flooded. Hundreds of them have not money enough left to pay for being ferried over the network of rivers in the delta. Even those who can pay have often to sit for days in the rain on the bank, before a boat will venture to launch on the ungovernable torrent. At a single river, an English traveller once counted as many as forty corpses, over which the kites and dogs were battling.

The famished, drenched throng toils painfully backward, urged by the knowledge that their slender stock of money will only last a very few weeks, and that, after it is done, nothing remains but to die. The missionaries along the line of march have ascertained that sometimes they travel forty miles a day, dragging their weary limbs along till they drop from sheer fatigue. Hundreds die upon the roadside. Those are most happy whom insensibility overtakes in some English Station. The servants of the municipality pick them up and carry them to the hospital. The wretched pilgrims crowd into the villages and halting-places along the road, blocking up the streets, and creating an artificial famine. The available sleeping places are soon crammed [Page 457] to overflowing, and every night thousands have no shelter from the pouring rain. Miserable groups huddle under trees. Long lines, with their heads on their bundles, lie among the carts and bullocks on the side of the road.

[Page 458]

3.3. Agriculture

Rice is the great crop of Orissa. The husbandmen have developed every variety of it, from the low-growing plant 18 inches high, to the long-stemmed paddy which rears its head above 6 or 7 feet of water. Their skill in tillage has adapted this cereal to all [Page 459] classes of soil, from the dry uplands to the deep swamps. One variety is sown on low lands in December or January, and is reaped in March or April; another is sown on high lands in May or June, and reaped in July or August; a third, sown at the same time, is reaped in September; a fourth, sown on lands of middling elevation, is reaped in October; a fifth, sown on low lands throughout the whole Province at the beginning of the rains, yields the great harvest of the year in December. Rice is the bountiful gift of nature to a deltaic population, and is associated in the most intimate manner with the domestic ceremonies of their lives, and with their worship of the gods. They distinguish each stage of its growth and of its preparation as an article of food. Besides rice, they have wheat, many varieties of pulse and pease, oil-seeds—especially mustard—hemp, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, the costly betel-leaf, tubers, and vegetables of many kinds.

[Page 535]

4. Palanpur Agency, The

A collection of Native States in the Bombay Presidency, under the political superintendence of the Bombay Government. Situated between 23° 25' and 24° 41' N. lat., and 71° 16' and 72° 46' E. long. Area, 8000 square miles. Population (1881) 576,478. Palanpur Agency is situated in the extreme north of Bombay [Page 536] Presidency; bounded on the north by Udaipur (Marwar) and Sirohi States; on the east by the Mahi Kantha Agency; on the south by Baroda State and the Kathiawar Agency; and on the west by the Rann of Cutch. For the most part the country is a sandy treeless plain, with, in some places, waving sandhills, and between them valleys of black clay. To the north and north-east, bordering on Sirohi, the country is extremely wild and picturesque, covered with rocks and forest-clad hill ranges, outliers from the Abu and Jasor Hills. Some of these hills are of considerable height; chief among them is Jasor, about 3500 feet above the sea, a hill of gneiss with outbursts of granite, situated about 18 miles north of Palanpur town. Jasor Hill is well suited for a sanitarium, except that its water-supply is scanty.

[Page 537]

4.1. Agriculture

The soil of Palanpur Agency is of three kinds :— (1) The black, suited to cotton, rice, millets, wheat, and (if there be water) sugar-cane; (2) a light soil, fitted for the different kinds of pulse; and (3) sandy for pulses and the palmyra palm (Borassus flabelliformis). The country has not been surveyed, and the exact cultivated area is unknown; but it may be roughly stated that about three-fifths of the whole is cultivated, the remaining two-filths about equally divided between cultivable and uncultivable lands. Except on irrigated lands, manure is not generally used. Holdings vary from eight to fifty acres and upwards. Most of the land is in the hands of holders of service lands. Skilled husbandmen are comparatively few in number, and the majority of them are hampered with debt, and are more or less in the hands of the village money-lenders.

[Page 539]

Except near the hills, the Palanpur States are liable to drought from want of rain. The years held in remembrance as times of scarcity and famine are 1747, 1756, 1785, 1791, 1804, 1813, 1825, 1834, 1839, 1842, and 1849.

This is a selection from the original text


agriculture, barley, crops, famine, famished, food, irrigation, millet, rice, scarcity, starvation, wheat

Source text

Title: The Imperial Gazetteer of India

Subtitle: Volume X. Multan to Palhalli

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 228
  • 2 ) pages 231 to 232
  • 3 ) pages 354 to 355
  • 4 ) pages 375 to 377
  • 5 ) pages 383 to 384
  • 6 ) page 390
  • 7 ) page 390
  • 8 ) page 426
  • 9 ) page 431
  • 10 ) pages 448 to 449
  • 11 ) pages 456 to 457
  • 12 ) pages 458 to 459
  • 13 ) pages 535 to 537
  • 14 ) page 539


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.