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tarai at the foot of the hills is undoubtedly very unhealthy at all
times ; in the hot months the heat all over the District is great,
and the absence of wind at this season and in the rains adds to the
discomfort of the residents, while even the cold season is made un-
healthy by fogs near the Irrawaddy and the other streams. The
temperature has not been regularly recorded ; but it has been found
to range roughly from 45 at night to 75 in the day in the winter,
from 70 to 90° in the rains, and from 8o° to 105 in the hot season.
In the cold season there are heavy dews. The annual rainfall aver-
ages 58 inches at Katha, and varies in the other portions of the
District from 42 inches at Tigyaing in the plains to 67 inches at
Bamnauk in the hilly areas. The Meza valley between the Indaw



1 54 KATHA DISTRICT

Lake and Meza railway station is subject to inundation. The most
notable flood of recent years occurred in 1901, when considerable
damage was done to the railway and to other property.

Few details of the early history of the District are known. It is
said that during the eleventh century Anawrata, who was then king
of Pagan, made a pilgrimage to China in search of
relics of Buddha. This led to an endeavour to
define the boundary of his territory with China ; and from this time
onwards the tribes to the north, including those in the neighbour-
hood of what is now known as Katha, are said to have acknowledged
Burmese suzerainty. The Kachins are reputed at one time to have
inhabited a large area in Katha and to have been gradually pushed
back to the northern hills by the Shans and Burmans, but this
seems doubtful ; in fact, everything points to the pressure having
been from the north, and to have been applied by the Kachins,
who have, so far as appears, not given ground again. A Chinese
army is said to have overrun the District in one of the invasions
from the north, but its stay was of brief duration. It established
itself at Tigyaing, where portions of the old fort walls are still visible,
but it was soon driven out. In 1883 the northern part of the District
was invaded by Kachins from the north, who burnt many villages
and ravaged a great portion of the country.

Katha was first occupied by the British early in 1886, and gave some
trouble during that and the following year. In course of time the
troops, British and Native, were gradually replaced by military police.
It was not, however, until the commencement of the year 1890 that
the assistance of the regulars could be wholly dispensed with. The
character of the country rendered the breaking up of the rebel and
dacoit gangs, many of which were headed by ex-Burmese officials
and professional brigands, no easy or expeditious matter, and the
malarious climate caused the loss of many lives. The District, known
in the early years after the annexation as Myadaung, was always noted
for its turbulence ; and it is gravely recorded that the local village
officials (myothugyis and shwehmus) were formerly compelled to live in
specially high houses, and to sleep in coffin-like troughs of wood of
sufficient thickness to resist a gunshot or the lunge of a spear.

Chief among those who indirectly opposed the British after the
annexation was Maung Aung Myat, the Sawbwa of 'Wuntho, a so-
called Shan State lying between Katha. District and the Upper
Chindwin. This chieftain seized the opportunity to increase both
his power and the area of his State. By various means he succeeded
in driving out a number of officials on his borders, and by promises
of loyalty and obedience to the British Government he obtained
permission to retain as part of the Wuntho State a portion of the



POPULATION 155

territory thus acquired. It was long, however, before he would meet
British officials, and eventually in 1891 a rebellion broke out at his
instigation among the Wuntho people. The first signal act of insur-
rection was the seizure of Banmauk in February. This was followed
by an attack upon Kawlin and the burning of the subdivisional head-
quarters. Other acts of violence were committed and much damage
was done to property. The rebels were, however, defeated at Kawlin,
at the Kyaingkwin hill between Kawlin and Wuntho, and at Okkan in
the Ye-u country ; and the rising was suppressed before the end of the
hot season, at the cost, however, of a European officer and a number
of men. Its immediate result was the incorporation of Wuntho State
in Katha District. The Sawbwa escaped to China, where he is
believed to be still living.

The most notable sacred edifices are the Myazedi, the Shwegugyi,
the Aingtalu, the Myatheindan, and the Shwebontha pagodas. The
Myazedi is situated in the middle of Katha town, and forms the land-
mark dividing the northern from the southern quarter. It is said to be
one of 84,000 pagodas, each no bigger than a cotton basket, built by
a king of Patna, known to the Burmese as Thiridhammathawka Min of
Patayipotpyi. U Pathi, a myothugyi of Katha, enlarged the pagoda to
its present size and shape in 1832. In 1883 it was greatly damaged by
the wild Kachins who occupied the town during the raid referred to
above, and what almost amounts to a new shrine has now been built
on the old site in the most modern style of Burmese architecture.
The Shwegugyi pagoda, built by king Bodawpaya, stands in the northern
quarter of Katha town. The Shwebontha pagoda, situated at Bilumyo,
is also said to be one of the 84,000 works of merit aforesaid. Near it
are the ruins of an old fortified city. The Aingtalu pagoda stands
about 2 miles north-east of Aleywa (Moda), on a hill on the west bank
of the Irrawaddy. It appears to be a very ancient structure, and is
much broken down, and for many years was completely hidden by
jungle growth. The Myatheindan pagoda stands on the end of the
Gangaw range above the Irrawaddy at Tigyaing. The remains of
the old wall erected by the Chinese when they invaded this part of the
country are still to be seen at Tigyaing.

The population of Katha in 1891 was 90,548 (not including the

Wuntho State, annexed in that vear), and in 100 1 _ , .

' x .. ./ . n . . , Population,

amounted to 176,223. Its distribution in the latter

year is shown in the table on the next page.

There are no towns of importance, and very few large villages. The
last few years have seen a rapid increase of population in the country
lying along the railway; but it has not extended to the riverain portions
of the District, where, it is said, development has been arrested by the
cost of transit. Immigration has taken place largely from Shwebo, and

VOL. xv. j.



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Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) → online text (page 19 of 50)