Great Britain. India Office.

Imperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) online

. (page 13 of 50)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) → online text (page 13 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and thriftless Rajput will be ousted by the sturdy Thakkars and Jats
(Musalman, 123,000; Hindu, 25,000). The Rajputs are a handsome
race, wiry and active. They observe caste rules very strictly. Female
infanticide was the common rule in the memory of men still middle-
aged, and the sail of Raja Suchet Singh's ladies is still remembered by
the old men. The Khattrls are an important people, keen and clever.
They are the financiers and officials of the State, and some of the best
servants of the Maharaja have been Dogra Khattrls.

The origin of the word ' Dogra ' is commonly stated by the people
themselves to have arisen from the fact that the cradle of the Dogra
race lies between the two holy lakes, Saroin Sar and Man Sar, not far
from Jammu. Drigartdesh, or the 'country of the two hollows,' was
corrupted into Dugar, and Dugra became Dogra. From Jammu
stretching east along the plains of the Punjab the country is Dogra ;
and all who live in that tract, whether they be Hindus, Musalmans,
or Sikhs, whether high-born Rajputs or low-born menials, are known
as Dogras, and have certain national characteristics and a common
tongue, which differentiate them from any of the other peoples of India.
Some authorities doubt this derivation, and say that Dogra is a cor-
ruption of the RajasthanI word for ' hills ' (du/igar), and that when
the Rajputs forced their way up north they gave this name to the
hilly country.

The Dogras hold the tract of lowland country along the British
border, and the outer ranges of hills from the Manawar or Malikani
Tawi on the west to the Ravi river on the south-east, which is bounded
towards the higher mountains by a line drawn along the hills to the
south of the Budil ilaka through Batoti and thence to the Ravi river
north-east of Basoli. From the Manawar Tawi to the Jhelum is the
country known as Chibhal, the home of the Chibs. The Chibs are
mostly Musalman, but there are Hindu Chibs as well. Both trace
their origin to a Rajput chief, named Jassu. Dharam Chand, a
descendant of Jassu, was versed in medicine, and was summoned
to Delhi to attend Jahanglr. The fee in case of success was the
emperor's daughter. Dharam Chand was successful ; he married
the Mughal princess, and was known henceforth as Shadi Khan.
But he longed for his country and left his bride, and the next year
the Mughals invaded his country and slew Shadi Khan.

The Hindu Chibs are descended from Shadi Khan by his Hindu
wife, while the Muhammadan Chibs are the progeny of his family
subsequent to their acceptance of Islam. Both Hindu and Musal-



POPULATION i or

man Chibs repair annually to the tomb of Shadi Khan at a place in
the Kali Dhar hills in the Naoshera tahsll. Like the Dogra Rajputs,
the Chibs look upon service as the sole career for a man, but both
Hindus and Musalmans till the soil. They are a fighting people, and
the spirit of adventure takes them out of their own country. They
follow the caste rules of the Hindu Rajputs, but are perhaps stronger
and more muscular than the Dogras to the east. Besides the Chibs,
there are Musalman Rajputs to the west of the Chenab — the
Jarals, the Bhaos (unfavourably known in Akhnur), the Gakhars,
and many others. It should be noticed that the Hindu Chibs give
their daughters in marriage to the ruling family of Jammu and
Kashmir.

Drew, in his book Jammu and Kashmir Territories, suggests that the
Bambas and Khakhas of the Jhelum valley might be classed under the
head Chibhali. Very little is known as to when these people migrated
into Muzaffarabad and Uri districts, or whence they came ; but it is
generally admitted that they had a foreign origin. It is probable that
the Khakhas have occupied the country on the left bank of the Jhelum
for 300 years or more, and that the Bambas, who live on the right bank
of the river, came in yet earlier. The Khakhas, who enjoy the proud
title of Raja, are, like the Chibs, Musalman Rajputs, and trace their
descent to Raja. Mai Rathor. They regard themselves as belonging to
the Janjuah tribe. The Bambas, who are styled Sultans, deprecate
a Hindu origin. They claim to belong to the Kureshi tribe, and say
that the name Bamba. is a corruption of Banl-Hashim, and that they
are descended from All, the son-in-law of Muhammad. The Khakhas
and Bambas have a privileged status in the Jhelum valley, and their
power has varied according to the weakness or strength of the central
authority. Under the Afghans, the Khakhas and Bambas paid little
to their overlord, and were practically independent. The Sikhs tight-
ened their hold over the Jhelum valley, but the Khakhas and Bambas
retained certain privileges.

Numerically the Gujars are of some importance, both in Jammu,
where they number 151,700, and in Kashmir, where they are returned
at 125,650. Some of them have settled down to agriculture; but the
great majority are herdsmen, and in the summer months move up to
the splendid grazing-grounds above the forests with their buffaloes and
goats. They are Musalmans by religion, and many of the Gujar tribes
speak a dialect of their own known as Parimu. They are a fine tall
race of men, with rather stupid faces and large prominent teeth. They
sacrifice every consideration for their buffaloes, and even in their culti-
vation, chiefly maize, their first thought is for these animals. They are
ignorant, inoffensive, and simple, and their good faith is proverbial.
Kashmir and its mountains have especial attractions for the Gujars :



102 KASHMIR AND JAMMU

but as forest conservancy extends, these born enemies of the forest will
find Kashmir less attractive.

Another pastoral semi-nomad people are the Gaddis (5,927) of
Kishtwar. They graze large flocks of sheep and goats, moving up the
mountains as the summer draws on, and returning to the low country
when the first snow falls. Their homes are in the high pastures, but
they are for most part of the year roving, though in some places there
are regular settled villages of Gaddis. They are Hindus. They wear
duffel clothes and a very peculiar hat of stiff cloth. All speak well of
the Gaddis, and they are a popular people, welcome everywhere.

In the Kashmir province, out of a total population of 1,157,394,
Muhammadans number 1,083,766, Hindus 60,682, and Sikhs 12,637.
The Census, however, was taken in the winter, when many of the
resident population were away working in the Punjab.

The Kashmiri is unchanged, in spite of the splendid Mughal, the
brutal Afghan, and the bully Sikh. Warriors and statesmen came and
went ; but there was no egress, and no wish on the part of the Kash-
miris in normal times to leave their home. The outside world was far,
and from all accounts inferior to the pleasant valley, and at each of the
gates of the valley were soldiers who demanded fees. So the Kashmiris
lived their self-centred life, conceited, clever, and conservative.

Islam came in on a strong wave, on which rode a fanatical king and
a missionary saint, and history records that the Kashmiris became
Musalmans. But close observers of the country see that the so-called
Musalmans are still Hindus at heart. Their shrines are on the exact
spots where the old Hindu sthans stood, and these receive an attention
which is not vouchsafed to the squalid mosques and the mean mullas.
The Kashmiris do not flock to Mecca, and religious men from Arabia have
spoken in strong terms of the apathy of these tepid Musalmans. There
are many shrines, shrines of the Rishis, the Babas, and the Makhdum
Sahib Plrzadas, known as the Wami or ' national,' as distinguished from
the Saiyids and Saiyid Plrzadas who are foreigners. And as in religion,
so in social evolution, there has been little change up to recent times
in the people of Kashmir. Peculiarities noticed in the Rajataranginl
still mark the national character. Witchcraft and sorcery are rampant
now as they were in the times of the Hindu kings.

The Musalmans of Kashmir may be divided into four divisions :
Shaikhs, Saiyids, Mughals, and Pathans. The Shaikhs, who are by far
the most numerous, are the descendants of Hindus, but have retained
none of the caste rules of their forefathers. They have clan names
known as kram ; but a man of the Tantre kram may marry a girl of the
same kram, or a maiden of some other kram, provided she be one
of the agricultural families. The only line drawn is that a man of the
Shaikh kram may not marry a Saiyid girl, nor must he demean himself



POPULATION to 3

by an alliance with the daughter of a market-gardener or a menial.
Some hold that the krams known as Pandit, Kol, Bat, Aitu, Rishi,
Mantu, and Ganai are descended from the Brahmans, and that the
Magres, Tantres, Dars, Dangars, Rainas, Rathors, Thakurs, and Naiks
are sprung from a Kshattriya origin. The Lon kram is assigned a
Vaisya descent, and the Damars are connected with Sudras. There
may be some foundation for these theories ; but the krams are now
mixed, and confusion is increasing owing to the fashion of the lower
castes who arrogate the krams of the respectable families. Thus the
Dums, the gardeners, and the butchers have begun to call themselves
Ganais, much to the annoyance of the true Ganais. And the boatmen,
a most disreputable community, have appropriated the kram name of
Dar. The social system is very plastic, and prosperity and a very little
wealth soon obliterate a humble origin.

The Saiyids may be divided into those who follow the profession of
religion and those who have taken to agriculture and other pursuits. In
appearance, manners, and language there is nothing to distinguish them
from other Kashmiri Musalmans. Their kram name is Mir. While
a Saiyid retains his saintly profession Mir is a prefix ; if he has taken to
agriculture, Mir is an affix to his name. The Saiyid Makar fraternity
are fraudulent fakirs who pretend to be Saiyids and wander about
Kashmir and India, cheating the public. Many have now taken to
trade. They intermarry among themselves.

The Mughals are not numerous. Their kram names are Mir (a cor-
ruption of Mirza), Beg, Bandi, Bach, and Ashaye.

The Pathans are more numerous than the Mughals, and are found
chiefly in the south-west of the valley, where Pathan colonies have from
time to time been founded. The most interesting of these colonies is
that of the Kuki-Khel Afrldis at Dranghaihama, who retain all the old
customs and speak Pashtu. They wear a picturesque dress, and carry
swords and shields. They pride themselves on their bravery, and in
the absence of the nobler foe engage the bear on foot with the sword
or spear him from their plucky little ponies. The Afrldis and the
Machipurias who belong to the Yusufzai tribe are liable to military
service, in return for which they hold certain villages free of revenue.
The Pathans chiefly came in under the Durranis, but many were
brought by Maharaja Gulab Singh for service on the frontier. They
are rapidly adopting Kashmiri habits.

Several villages are held by fakirs or professional beggars. They
work as agriculturists in the summer, and beg in the winter. They are
proud of their profession and are liked by the people. They intermarry
with other beggar families or Bechanwols. These various tribes are scat-
tered broadcast over the valley and possess no marked distinctive features.

The dividing line in society is between the zamlndars or agricultural



io 4 KASHMIR AND JAMMU

families and the taifaddrs, that is, the market-gardeners, herdsmen,
shepherds, boatmen, minstrels, leather-workers, and the menial servants
of the villagers. No zamlndar would intermarry with a taifaddr. For
the most part it is difficult to trace any difference in physiognomy
between the two classes, though there is often a difference in dress.
But the Dum, the Galawan, and the Batal or Watal are easy to dis-
tinguish from other tribes. They have a darker skin, and the Dum
has the restless, furtive eye so characteristic of the thief.

The Dums are a very important people in Kashmir, for they are the
watchmen of the villages and formerly used to look after the State
share of the crops. As a private citizen the Dum is not an admirable
person, and he loses no opportunity of annoying the villagers, by whom
he is feared and disliked. But as officials they are trustworthy, and
have never been known to steal the State treasure which passes through
their hands. The Dums claim descent from a Hindu king, who from
fear of his numerous sons scattered them over the valley, but some say
that they are descendants of the Chakks, mentioned under History.

The Galawans or horse-keepers are also credited with a descent
from the Chakks, and their violent restless character may be hereditary.
Originally they earned their living by grazing ponies, but found it more
lucrative to steal them. At last they became an established criminal
tribe, and during Sikh rule were a terror to the country. Khaira
Galawan, the hero of many a legend, was killed by the Sikh governor
Mian Singh. Gulab Singh hunted down the tribe, and their end was
transportation to Bunji.

The Batals or Watals have been called the gipsies of Kashmir, and
are a peculiar people with a patois of their own. They may be divided
into two classes. Those who abstain from eating carrion and are
admitted to the mosque and to the Musalman religion form the first
class ; those who eat the flesh of dead animals and are excluded from
the mosque form the second. They are wanderers, and though they
sometimes settle in wattled huts on the outskirts of a village, they soon
move on. Their chief occupation is the manufacture of leather. The
first class make boots and sandals : the second class make winnowing
trays of leather and straw, and do scavenger's work. They also rear
poultry and rob hen-roosts. Their women are of fine stature and hand-
some, and they often drift into the city, where they become singers and
dancers. Once a year the Batals from all parts of the valley flock to
Lala Bab's shrine near the Dal Lake, and many matters affecting the
tribe are then settled.

The Bhands or minstrels are a peculiar people. They combine the
profession of singing and acting with that of begging ; and they travel
great distances, often visiting the Punjab, where they perform to
Kashmiri audiences. They are excellent actors, clever at improvi-



POPULATIOX 105

sation and fearless as to its results. They are a very pleasant people,
and their mirth and good humour form an agreeable contrast to
the chronic gloom of the Kashmiri peasant

The Hanz or boatmen claim a Yaisya origin, and even now when
blaming one of the crew for his bad paddling the captain will say :
' You are a Siidra.' They always claim Noah as their ancestor ; but
some accounts point to a gipsy origin. The father of the family is an
autocrat, and his discipline on board is often of a violent character.
There are many sections of the tribe. First rank the half-amphibious
paddlers of the Dal Lake (Demb Hanz), who are really vegetable
gardeners, and the boatmen of the Wular Lake, who gather the singhara
nut (Gari Hanz). Next in status come the men of the large barges
known as bahats and war, in which cargoes of 800 maunds of grain or
wood are carried. Then the Dunga Hanz, who paddle the passenger
boats, not a respectable class, for they prostitute their females ; next
the Gad Hanz, who net fish, and are said to surpass even the Dunga
Hanz in their power of invective ; and last the Hak Hanz, who collect
drift-wood in the rivers. The Hanz or Hanjis are a hardy muscular
people, but are quarrelsome and mendacious. Half the stories to the
discredit of Kashmir and its inhabitants are due to the fertile imagina-
tion of the Hanji, who after the manner of the Irish car-driver tells
travellers quaint scandals of the valley and its rulers. The Hanji
ashore is a great rascal, and European travellers would be wise to leave
him in his boat. The chief krd/n names of the Hanjis are Dangar,
Dar, and Mai.

The menial servants (Nangar) of the villages are carpenters, black-
smiths, potters, weavers, butchers, washermen, barbers, tailors, bakers,
goldsmiths, carriers, oil-pressers, dyers, milkmen, cotton-cleaners, and
snuff-makers. Many of the Nangars have taken to agriculture, and
most of them are extremely independent of their so-called masters.
The only class of menials who apparently cannot take to agriculture
are the weavers. Their soft hands and weak knees make field-work
an impossibility.

The Hindus are with few exceptions Brahmans, and are commonly
known as Pandits. They fall into three classes : astrologers (Jyotish'i),
priests {Guru or Bachabatt), writers and clerks {Karkun). The priest
class do not intermarry with the others, but the Jyotish'i and Karkun
classes intermarry.

The astrologers are learned in the shastras and expound them, and
they draw up the calendars in which prophecies are made as to the
events of the coming year. The priests perform the rites and cere-
monies of the Hindu religion. But the vast majority of the Brahmans
belong to the Karkun class. Formerly they obtained employment
from the State, but recently they have taken to business, and some



io6 KASHMIR AND JAMMU

work as cooks, bakers, confectioners, and tailors. The only occupa-
tions forbidden to a Pandit are those of the cobbler, potter, corn-frier,
porter, boatman, carpenter, mason, and fruit-seller. Many Pandits
have taken to agriculture ; but the city Brahmans look down on any
profession save that of writing, and they would never think of marrying
a daughter to a Pandit cultivator. They have no real aptitude for
business, or they might have found great openings in trade at Srlnagar
under the new regime. They cling to the city, and if they obtain
employment outside they leave their wives and families behind them.
They are a handsome race of men, with fine well-cut features, small
hands and feet, and graceful figures. Their women are fair and good-
looking, more refined than the Musalmans. The children are extremely
pretty.

The Pandits are broken up into numerous gotras ; but though the
Pandit repeats the name of his gotra seven times as he performs his
ablutions, the outside world knows him only by his kram. Marriage
within the gotra is forbidden, and the Kashmiri Pandits do not inter-
marry with the Brahmans of India. Among the leading krams may be
mentioned the following : Tiku, Razdan, Kak, Munshi, Mathu, Kachru
Pandit, Sapru, Bhan, Zitshu, Raina, Dar, Fotadar, Madan, Thusu,
Wangnu, Mujju, Hokhu, and Dulu. The descendants of the Brahmans,
said to be only eleven families, who survived the persecutions of
Sikandar Shah and remained in the valley, are known as Malmas. The
others, descended from returned fugitives, are called Banamas.

There are a few Khattrls, known as Bohras in Srlnagar, engaged in
trade and shop-keeping. They enjoy no caste fellowship with the
Pandits, though in old days instances are known of a Khattrl being
admitted to caste by the Brahmans.

The Sikhs of Kashmir were probably Punjabi Brahmans who
embraced Sikhism when the valley passed into the hands of Ranjit
Singh, but the Sikhs of Trahal declare that their ancestors came to
Kashmir in the time of Afghan rule. They are not in a flourishing
condition. They look to service as their chief means of livelihood,
and are not good cultivators. They are ignorant and troublesome,
and quarrel with the Musalman Kashmiris and very often among
themselves.

In 1901 the State contained 202 native Christians, but, although
converts are so few, important work has been done by various missions.
Chief among these is the Church Missionary Society at Srinagar,
established in 1865, which maintains an excellent hospital. Owing to
its example, the first State dispensary and school were opened. Other
missions have been founded by the Moravians and the Roman Catholics
at Leh.

The beautiful turf and greensward of Kashmir are so suggestive



AGRICULTURE 107

of splendid playgrounds that one naturally expects to find some
national game in the valley, and the legendary feast of roses conjures
up a vision of a happy laughing people who were skilled in the battle
of flowers long before modern Europe dreamed of such carnivals. But
in reality there is no game and no pastime in Kashmir proper.
Baltistan, Gilgit, and Astor are the homes of polo, and Ladakh has
its devil-dance : but Kashmir has nothing distinctive save its actors,
the Bhands or Bhagats, already referred to. Sometimes we find in the
villages a wandering minstrel (Shair), who sings to the accompaniment
of a guitar, or recites verses, often extempore, full of local allusions
and usually full of flattery, if an official or person of influence be
present. Like most Orientals, the Kashmiris regard amusement as
passive rather than active. They are glad to look on at a race or
a game, but it is extremely difficult to induce them, athletic and
powerful as they are, to take a part in any sport. They are not
altogether to blame. In former days pastime was at a discount, and
small mercy would have been shown to the serf who suggested that
life should not be all labour. Even in the pampered city of Srlnagar
the effervescence of youth was checked by Gulab Singh, who sternly
repressed the old ward fights with slings and stones. The professional
shikaris are often keen sportsmen ; and the boatmen of Kashmir will,
when challenged, paddle till they drop rather than be beaten by
a rival crew.

As already explained, the Jammu province consists of a fringe of
level land bordering on the Punjab Districts of Jhelum, Sialkot, and
Gurdaspur, gradually rising by a succession of ranges . . ,,
of hills to the high uplands bounded by the moun-
tains of the Himalayan range, beyond which lie Kashmir, Baltistan, and
Ladakh. The variations of climate are great, and the staples cultivated
naturally vary to some extent with the climate. Thus the lower tracts
yield all the usual crops of the Punjab, while in the higher tracts
saffron, buckwheat, and mountain barley are grown. In the warmer
parts the mango and shisham are found in large quantities ; but these
give place to apple and pear-trees, to the picturesque deodar and shady
Oriental plane (chindr) in the colder parts.

The province may be roughly divided into three main divisions.
The plains and kandi hills consist of the tahsils of Kathua, Jasmirgarh,
Samba, Ranbirsinghpura, Jammu, Akhniir, Manawar, and Mirpur. In
the hot moist tracts, such as those irrigated from the Ravi and Ujh
in the Jasrota district to the south-west, malaria is so rampant that
the resident population is too small for the cultivation of the soil,
which is chiefly tilled by udarach cultivators — men from the low
hills who descend to the plain for short periods to sow, tend, and reap
crops, and return again to their healthier homes.

VOL. XV. H



io8 KASHMIR AND JAMMU

North of this lie the thirsty lowlands, sheltered by the hills from the
cooler inland breezes, seamed with many channels (kadhs), which carry
off the drainage of the uplands and become roaring torrents for a few
hours after heavy rainfall, but at other times are broad stretches of
burning sand. This tract depends for a full harvest on timely and
well-distributed rainfall.

The parched kandi hills are composed of a red loam, thickly strewn
with round stones and covered with stunted growth of garna sanatan
and bahaikar bushes, broad-leaved species of trees, acacias, and in
parts bamboos. The tor (Euphorbia) is used to hedge the fields and
cobble-paved paths, and to keep the nilgai from damaging the crops.
The soil is thirsty and dries quickly, as the land slopes and drainage
is rapid. Frequent rainfall is necessary to ripen the crops, chiefly
wheat, barley, and sarshaf (rape) in the spring, and millet and maize
(on manured land) in the autumn ; but rain washes away the soft earth
and leaves the surface of the soil a mass of stones.

Where the kandi hills end, and before the first limestone ridge is
crossed, there is a narrow belt of cool land lying in the valleys traversed
by the clear streams which carry the drainage of the middle hills on
the lower side. When the depth of soil is sufficient, excellent crops
are raised and much of the land is irrigated ; but on the slopes where
the depth of earth is small, and the limestone crops up to the surface
(prat), cultivation is precarious. Too much rain causes the soil to
become waterlogged, as percolation is stopped by the rock bed ; and
during a continued spell of hot weather the rock surface becomes so
heated as to burn the roots of the crops, which wither.

In this portion of the province wells are few, owing to their cost.
Except in the lowland bordering on the streams deep boring is neces-



Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) → online text (page 13 of 50)