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, T . , extended as far west as the Karatoya. There is a

History. . . , , . . ,, . ,

legend that a temple was originally erected on the

site of the present temple at Jalpes by a Raja named Jalpeswar,

in whose day the Jalpes lingam first appeared. There are extensive

remains at Bhitargarh, which is said to have formed the capital of

a Sudra king named Prithu. The Bengal Pal dynasty included this

District in its dominions ; and so did the Khen Rajas — Nlladhwaj,

Chakradhwaj, and Nilambar — of whom the first founded the city of

Kamataptjr in Cooch Behar. It subsequently formed part of the

Koch kingdom founded by Biswa Singh ; and, when that kingdom fell

to pieces, the western part was annexed by the Mughals. There

was a long struggle for the possession of Patgram and Boda : but


at the beginning of the eighteenth century they were nominally ceded
to the Muhammadans, a cousin of the Cooch Behar Raja continu
ing to farm them on his behalf. After the Muhammadan conquest
it was included in the frontier faujddri (magisterial jurisdiction) of
1'akirkundi or Rangpur, and passed to the East India Company with
the cession of the Drwani in 1765.

The enormous area of the old District of Rangpur and the weakness
of the administrative staff prevented the Collector from preserving
order in the more remote parts, which thus became an Alsatia of
banditti. In the year 1789 the Collector conducted a regular campaign
against these disturbers of the peace, and with a force of 200 barkandaz
blockaded them in the great forest of Baikuntpur. They were at last
compelled to surrender, and within a single year no less than 549
robbers were brought to trial.

Meanwhile, the Duars, or lowland passes, had fallen to the Bhotias,
who found here the cultivable ground that their own bare mountains
did not afford. They exercised predominant influence over the whole
tract from the frontier of Sikkim as far east as Darrang, and frequently
enforced claims of suzerainty over the enfeebled State of Cooch Behar.
They do not appear to have occupied this tract permanently, but
merely to have exacted a heavy tribute, and subjected the inhabitants
to the cruellest treatment. Cooch Behar was delivered from the
Bhotia tyranny by the treaty of 1773; but the Bhutan Duars, as they
were called, remained for nearly a century longer in a state of anarchy.
They were annexed after the Bhutan War of 1865 ; they were then
divided into the Eastern and Western Duars, of which the former have
since been incorporated with the District of Goalpara. In 1867 the
Dalingkot subdivision of the Western Duars, which lies high up among
the mountains, was added to Darjeeling, and the remaining part was
in 1869 united with the Titalya subdivision of Rangpur to form the
new District of Jalpaigun.

The permanently settled portion of Jalpaigun, which includes the old
chaklas of Patgram and Boda and the old Raj of Baikuntpur, has no
history of its own apart from the parent District of Rangpur. Its
boundaries are perplexingly intermingled with those of the State ot
Cooch Behar, to which, as we have seen, it belonged until compara-
tively recent times. At the present day by far the wealthiest land-
owners are the Maharaja of Cooch Behar and the Raikat of Baikuntpur,
who is descended from a younger branch of the same family.

In addition to the old fort at Bhitargarh and the temple at Jalpes,
there are the remains at Boda of a smaller fort about a mile square,
supposed to be coeval with the fort at Bhitargarh. In the south of the
District, small forts, temples, and old tanks are numerous.

The population increased from 417,855 in 1872 to 580,570 in 1881,




to 680,736 in 1891, and to 787,380 in 1901. Though the figures for
1872 cannot be accepted as accurate, there has been
a continuous growth of population due entirely to the
rapid development of the Western Duars ; and in 1901 more than one-
fifth of the population was composed of immigrants from elsewhere.
Malaria is always prevalent in the tdrai, and in eight years of the
decade ending 1901 Jalpaigurl figured among the six Districts with
the highest recorded mortality from fever in Bengal. Spleen and
goitre are common diseases, and the proportion of persons suffering
from insanity and deaf-mutism is higher than in most parts of Bengal.
The chief statistics of the Census of 1901 are shown below : —


Area in square

Number of





OJ .



"5 g

Percentage of
variation in

population be-
tween 1891
and 1 901.

Number of

persons able to

read and






District total






J °5

+ 9.8
+ 64.7


2,962 2




+ 15-7


The two towns are Jalpaiguri, the head-quarters, and the canton-
ment at Buxa. Outside these, more than half of the population are
contained in villages with 2,000 or more inhabitants, and only 13 per
cent, in villages with a population of less than 500. The census
village in this District was, however, merely a territorial unit and did
not correspond to the residential village. The latter, in fact, can scarcely
be said to exist ; for the country is divided into small farms each with
its central homestead, the residence of the farmer oxjotddr, surrounded
by the houses of his immediate relatives and perhaps an under-tenant
or two. In the north-west of the District the conditions of the tea
industry have given rise to large settlements of labourers, the average
population of which is over 3,000 souls. The density is very low ; in
only one thana does the population exceed 500 per square mile, and in
only three more does it exceed 400. The Duars, which were very
sparsely inhabited when first acquired, carry a smaller population than
the rest of the District. Towards the west this tract has filled up
rapidly owing to the extension of tea cultivation ; but in the east the
population is still very scanty, and in the Alipur thana it averages only
89 persons per square mile, in spite of an increase of 70 per cent, during
the last ten years. There is a steady movement of the population from
the west of the District towards the extensive tracts of cultivable land
east of the Tista, and there is also an enormous immigration of tea-
garden coolies from Chota Nagpur and the Santa! Parganas ; Ranch!
alone supplies 80,000, chiefly Oraons and Mundas, and the Santal Par-


ganas 11,000. Many of these coolies are settling down permanently,
either in the gardens or as cultivators and cart-owners, but many return
home at intervals. In the tea gardens on the higher slopes at the foot
of the hills, Nepalese replace men from Chota Nagpur, and many of
these also find a permanent home in the District. Numerous up-country
coolies are employed on the roads and railways, but most of them return
home at the end of the cold season.

A corrupt dialect of Bengali, known as Rangpun or Rajbansi, is the
language of the District, being spoken by 77 per cent, of the population ;
Hindi is the language of 6 per cent, and Kurukh of 7 per cent. ; Mech
is spoken by over 20,000 persons, and Khas, Mundarl, and Santall by
more than 10,000 each. This great diversity of languages is due to the
large number of immigrants. Hindus (534,625) form 68 per cent,
of the population, Muhammadans (228,487) 29 per cent., and Animists
2 per cent, while the remainder are Christians or Buddhists.

The proportion of Muhammadans has declined since 1872, when
they formed 34-6 per cent, of the population. They are chiefly .Shaikhs
and Nasyas, and are, for the most part, converts from the aboriginal
Koch and Mech races. They still retain many beliefs and superstitions
derived from their ancestors, and live on good terms side by side with
the Rajbansis (Koch), to whom more than three-fifths of the Hindu
population belong ; it is, in fact, not unusual to find Muhammadan and
Rajbansi families dwelling together in the same homestead, although
in separate houses. The Mechs, a western branch of the great Kachari
tribe, number about 22,000, found chiefly in the Allpur and Falakata
thanas in the Duars. These, like their Garo neighbours, are a nomadic
people, who live by agriculture in its simplest and most primitive
form. No less than 89-4 per cent, of the population, or over 700,000
persons, are supported by agriculture — a very high proportion ; a
sixth of these derive their livelihood from the tea gardens. Of the
remainder, industries maintain 4-6, commerce 0-3, and the professions
o-6 per cent.

The Baptist Missionary Society has a branch in Jalpaigurl town ; the
Church Missionary Society carries on work among the Santal colony in
the Allpur subdivision, the Scandinavian Alliance Mission among the
Bhotias, and the Free Church of Scotland among the tea-garden coolies.
The number of native Christians is 2,141.

The alluvial soil with which the greater part of the District is covered

is extremely fertile. In the low levels between the Tista and the

Sankos coarse rice, oilseeds, potatoes, castor, and . . .,

' , ' '... ' it ' . Agriculture.

areca palms grow abundantly. West of the 1 ista, a

superior variety of jute, known as rajganja, is grown, and also fine rice

and wheat. In the basin between the Tista and the Jaldhaka a. hard

black clayey soil is found, which yields excellent pasture and line



crops of tobacco. The ferruginous clay of the uplands in the north of
the Duars is exceptionally well suited to the tea plant.

The chief agricultural statistics for 1903-4 are shown below, areas
being in square miles : —









43 2









The staple food-crop of the District is rice, grown on 1,017 square
miles, or 74 per cent, of the net area cropped ; the winter rice, which is
the chief crop, covering 54 per cent, of that area. The cultivation of
the early rice, which is sown broadcast on high lands, begins in March.
The early varieties, sown in March or April, are reaped in June and
July ; but the greater part is sown in April and May, and not reaped till
August or September. The winter rice is sown broadcast in nurseries
in May and June, transplanted from the middle of July to the middle
of September, and reaped during December and January. After rice,
tobacco is most widely grown, occupying 185 square miles, or nearly
14 per cent, of the cultivated area ; Jalpaigurl is, in fact, after Rangpur,
the chief tobacco-producing District in Eastern Bengal.

Tea is cultivated on 121 square miles, or 9 per cent, of the area under
cultivation. This industry was introduced in 1874, and is carried on
mainly by European enterprise and with European capital. In 1876
there were thirteen gardens, with an area of 818 acres, yielding
29,5201b. of tea. The cultivation was very rapidly extended during
the last decade of the nineteenth century ; and by 1901 the number of
gardens had increased to 235, with a planted area of 109 square miles,
and an out-turn of over 31,000,000 lb. These gardens also possessed
an unplanted area of 255 square miles. In 1903 the number of gardens
decreased to 207, but the gross yield in that year amounted to
nearly 37,000,000 lb. Jalpaigurl has an important advantage over
the tea Districts of Assam, as labour finds its way thither freely and no
special law is necessary to enforce labour contracts. The production of
tea of late years has increased so much more rapidly than its consump-
tion that there has been a heavy fall in prices, and the industry has
suffered in consequence. Jute cultivation is extending rapidly, and in
1903 occupied 103 square miles. Mustard is also widely cultivated,
and cotton is grown in small quantities by the Garos and Mechs on
uplands at the foot of the Bhutan hills.

The area under cultivation is extending rapidly in the Western Duars,
where there is still much cultivable waste ; the rates of rent are very


low, and cultivators are attracted not only from the thdnas west of the
Tlsta, but also from Rangpur and Cooch Behar State. Little use has
been made of the Agriculturists' and Land Improvement Loans Acts;
during the decade ending 1901-2 an average of Rs. 2,000 per annum
was advanced under the former Act.

The local cattle are small and weakly, and no attempts have been
made to improve the breed. Pasturage is so abundant that in the
northern Ilia mis of the Western Duars rice straw is left to rot in the
fields, while large herds of cattle from Bengal and Bhutan are brought
to graze in the Baikuntpur jungle during the winter months. Lairs are
held at AlIpur, Jalpes, and Falakata.

The soil for the most part derives sufficient moisture from the heavy
rainfall, but low lands are in some places irrigated from the hill streams.

Jalpaigurl contains extensive forests, which are the property of Go-
vernment. With the exception of 5 square miles of 'protected' forests in

the Government estates of Falakata and Maynagurl,

which are managed by the Deputy-Commissioner,

these are all ' reserved ' forests under the management of the Forest
department. The latter in 1903-4 yielded a revenue of Rs. 1,18,000.
They are divided into the Jalpaigurl and Buxa divisions, the former
comprising all the forests between the Tlsta and the Torsa rivers, with
an area of 183 square miles ; and the latter, those between the Torsa and
the Sankos, with an area of 308 square miles. The trees are of many
different kinds, but there are five well-defined types : namely, sal
{Shorea robusta) ; mixed forest without sal ; mixed chilauni {Schima
Wallichii) forest ; khair {Acacia Catechu) and sissu (Dalbergia Sissoo)
forest ; and savannahs. Of these the sal is the most important,
and occurs either nearly pure or mixed with varying proportions of
Dillenia pentagyna, Careya arborea. Sterculia vil/osa, Schima Wallichii,
Terminalia tomentosa, and T. be/ierica, &c. The mixed forests are com-
posed chiefly of Lagerstroemia parviflora, Callicarpa arborea, Sterculia
villosa, Hymen tri/uga, and often Terminalia tomentosa and Albizzia.
The chilauni type of forest is more clear of other subsidiary species than
ordinary mixed forest, the chilauni being the predominant species and
growing to a large size. Khair and sissu are found pure in the alluvial
deposits of most of the large rivers. The savannahs, or large stretches
of grass land devoid of trees, deserve mention both on account of their
extent and their bearing on the work of fire protection. The sal forest
belonging to the Raikat of Baikuntpur is now of little value, owing to
promiscuous felling. The Rajbansis and Mechs collect what little
jungle produce there is, principally chiretta, lac, and beeswax. Small
quantities of long pepper {Piper longum) are also collected by the
Forest department.

The only mineral of importance is limestone, which is largely


quarried in the shape of calcareous tufa along the base of the Bhutan
hills. A small copper-mine at Chunabati, 2 miles from Buxa, was
formerly worked by Nepalese. Coal is found near Bagrakot, and
a company has been formed to work it.

Gunny cloth of a very coarse quality is woven in the western part

of the District. The lower classes also manufacture

iraae and ^ ^ ome use a coarse silk (called e/idi) from the silk

communications. ., , 1 • j

of worms fed on the castor-oil plant, and a striped

cotton cloth called photo.

The development of the tea industry and the influx of a large cooly
population into the Duars, combined with the facilities of railway
communication, have given a great impetus to trade ; and at the large
markets which have sprung up in the neighbourhood of the tea gardens,
the cultivator finds a ready market for his rice, vegetables, and other
produce. There is also a fair amount of trade with Bhutan, which
has been stimulated by the establishment of fairs at Falakata and
Alipur. The chief exports to Bhutan are European piece-goods
and silk, while timber and oranges are the principal imports. The
local supply of rice being insufficient, considerable quantities are
imported from Dinajpur ; cotton piece-goods, machinery, corrugated
iron, kerosene oil, coal and coke are also imported on a large scale.
The tea, tobacco, and jute crops are all grown for export. The tea
and jute are railed to Calcutta; the tobacco trade is chiefly in the
hands of Arakanese who export the leaves to Burma, where they are
made into cheroots. The railways have now monopolized most of
the trade : but sal timber is floated down from the forests of the
Western Duars and the Baikuntpur jungle to the Brahmaputra en route
for Sirajganj, Dacca, and elsewhere ; and tobacco, mustard seed, jute,
cotton, and hides are also exported by water to these markets, the
chief centre being Baura. The up-stream traffic is practically confined
to the importation of earthen cooking utensils, coco-nuts, molasses,
small quantities of dal {Arabica revaleuta), and miscellaneous articles
from Dacca and Farldpur. Apart from the large tea-garden markets
and the fair of Jalpes, the principal trading centres are Jalpaiguri
Town, Titalya on the Mahananda where the great north road enters
the District, Rajnagar, Saldanga, Debiganj on the Karatoya, Baura,
Jorpokri, Maynaguri, Falakata, Alipur, and Buxa.

The District is well served by railways. The western portion is
traversed from south to north by the Eastern Bengal State Railway,
which has its northern terminus just over the Darjeeling border at
Siligurl. The Bengal-Duars Railway leaves the Parvatipur-Dhubri
branch of the Eastern Bengal State Railway at Lalmanir Hat, and
runs north-west through Patgram to Barnes Ghat, on the east bank
of the Tista opposite Jalpaiguri town, where a ferry connects with the


Eastern Bengal State Railway ; at Mai Bazar it bifurcates, one branch
running west through Dam-Dim to Bagrakot, and another east to
Madari Hat. In the east the Cooch Behar State Railway enters the
District at Allpur and runs north to Jainti.

The District contains 877 miles of road, of which 106 miles are
maintained by the Public Works department and the remainder by
the District board. Of the latter, 24 miles are metalled and 747 miles
are unmetalled. There are also 10 miles of village tracks. In spite
of the improvement and increase in the number of roads during recent
years, there is still a great deficiency in some parts of the Duars east
of the Jaldhaka river, in which it is extremely difficult to maintain good
roads owing to the heavy rainfall and the rapid growth of jungle. The
principal routes are those which connect Jalpaiguri town with Sillgurl,
with the northern border via Dam-Dim, with a ferry on the Sankos
river, and with Allpur. The last-mentioned road is in very good order,
being well raised and bridged, except at the larger rivers, which have
ferries. The central emigration road, which runs east from Dinajpur
through Jalpaiguri District as far as Haldlbari station and thence
through the Cooch Behar State, is an important feeder to the Eastern
Bengal State Railway. The board also maintains several important
Provincial roads, including the Ganges-Darjeeling road, which runs for
r6 miles along the north-western border of the District from Titalya
to Sillguri, the branch-road from Titalya to Jalpaiguri, and the road
from Jalpaiguri to Patgram. There are 80 ferries, which, with six-
unimportant exceptions, belong to the District board, and bring in
an annual revenue of Rs. 18,000 ; the most important are those over
the Tlsta and Jaldhaka rivers. Of late years there has been a con-
siderable decrease in the number of ferries, owing to the opening
of the Bengal-Duars Railway and to the bridging of sixteen streams
which formerly required ferries.

For general administrative purposes the District is divided into two

subdivisions, Jalpaiguri and Alipur. The former is immediately

under the Deputy-Commissioner ; he is assisted by .

_ _ ,, . ^ „ r l Administration.

five Deputy-Magistrate-Collectors, of whom two are

employed exclusively on revenue work. The Allpur subdivision is in
the charge of a European Deputy-Magistrate-Collector. The Mayna-
gurl, Falakata, and Alipur circles in the settled tracts of the Duars
are in charge of three Sub-Deputy-Collectors. Two Forest officers
manage the Jalpaiguri and Buxa divisions, and an extra assistant
Conservator is attached to the former division.

Jalpaiguri forms, with Rangpur, the charge of a single District and
Sessions Judge, and the Sub-Judge of Dinajpur is an additional Sub-
Judge in this District. The other civil courts are those of two Munsifs
at Jalpaiguri town and of the subdivisional officer of Allpur, who is



vested with the powers of a Munsif within his subdivision. The
Deputy-Commissioner has special additional powers under section 34
of the Criminal Procedure Code. Subordinate to him are three Deputy-
Magistrates at head-quarters, the subdivisional officer of Alipur, and
three benches of honorary magistrates, who sit at Jalpaiguri, Boda,
and Deblganj. As in other parts of Eastern Bengal, cases due to
disputes about land are common, and dacoities are not infrequent.

Patgram, Boda, and the Baikuntpur estate were permanently settled
in 1793 as part of the province of Rangpur. The Western Duars
have been settled temporarily from time to time, the last settlement
having been concluded in 1895. The current demand for land revenue
in 1903-4 was 7-53 lakhs, of which Rs. 1,37,000 was payable by 82
permanently settled estates, Rs. 1,97,000 by 205 temporarily settled
estates, and the remainder by 5 estates managed direct by Govern-
ment. In the permanently settled portion of the District rents vary
from Rs. 1-9 an acre, which is paid for cultivable waste, and Rs. 1-15
for once-cropped land, up to Rs. 9-2 for the best jute, rice, and home-
stead lands. In special cases higher rates are charged, Rs. 15 being
sometimes paid for bamboo land and Rs. 24-4 for betel-leaf gardens
or areca groves. In the Duars, where Government is the immediate
landlord, rates rule considerably lower : namely, 3 annas for waste,
from Rs. 1-2 to Rs. 1-6 for high land, from Rs. 1-6 to Rs. 2 for low
land, according to the situation with reference to markets and roads,
and Rs. 3 for homestead land. In the Duars about half the area has
been let out by the jotdars, or tenants holding immediately under
Government, to c/ii/kanidars, or sub-tenants, whose holdings have been
recognized as permanent.

The following table shows the collections of land revenue and total
revenue (principal heads only), in thousands of rupees : —

1 880- 1.

1890- 1.

1 900- 1.


Land revenue
Total revenue






x 3,49

Outside Jalpaiguri municipality and Buxa cantonment, local
affairs are managed by the District board, in subordination to which
a local board has recently been constituted at Alipur. In 1903-4 the
income of the District board was Rs. 1,35,000, of which Rs. 69,000
was obtained from rates; and the expenditure was Rs. 1,21,000,
including Rs. 84,000 spent on public works.

The District contains 1 1 thanas or police stations and 10 outposts.
The force subordinate to the District Superintendent consists of 2
inspectors, 25 sub-inspectors, 29 head constables, and 287 constables,
besides a rural police of 1,467 village watchmen, grouped in circles


under 78 head watchmen. The District jail at Jalpaiguri town has
accommodation for 122, and a subsidiary jail at Allpur for 22 prisoners.

Owing partly to the sparse population and the absence of regular
village sites, education is very backward, and the proportion of persons
able to read and write in inoi was only 39 per cent. (7 males and
0-4 females). Considerable progress has, however, been made. The
total number of pupils under instruction increased from 3,582 in 1882
to 7,623 in 1892-3 and to 12,033 m 1900-1, while 13,013 boys and
935 girls were at school in 1903-4, being respectively 20-5 and 1-7 per
cent, of those of school-going age. The number of educational institu-
tions, public and private, in that year was 563, including 15 secondary
and 528 primary schools. The expenditure on education was Rs. 67,000,
of which Rs. 13,000 was met from Provincial funds, Rs. 20,000 from