Great Britain. India Office.

Imperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) online

. (page 32 of 50)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) → online text (page 32 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of the Piyain. The stone is quarried for the most part during the dry
months, and rolled down to the river banks. When the hill streams
rise, it is conveyed in small boats over the rapids, which occur before
the rivers issue on the plains. Below the rapids it is generally reloaded
on larger boats and carried down to the Surma river, on the banks of
which it is burnt into lime during the cold season. The earthquake
of 1897 considerably increased the difficulties of transport, and the
lime business has of recent years been suffering from a depressed
market. The output in 1904 amounted in round figures to 123,000
tons. The quarries are worked by private individuals, usually them-
selves Khasis, employing local labour. Stone quarries are also worked
in the Jaintia Hills. Government realized in royalties in 1903-4 about
Rs. 12,000 from lime, and Rs. 1,600 from coal.

The manufactures of the District are not important. Handsome but
rather heavy jewellery is made to order, and the Khasis manufacture
rough pottery and iron hoes and daos, or hill knives.

Cloths and jackets are woven in the laintia Hills ' • .•

J •> communications.

from thread spun from the eri silkworm, and from

cotton grown in the jhitins. Bamboo mats and cane baskets and

sieves are also made.

The hillmen are keen traders, and a considerable proportion of the
people earn their living by travelling from one market to another.
The chief centres of business are at Cherrapunji, Laitlyngkot, Shillong,
Jowai, and a market on the border of Sylhet near Jaintiapur. The
principal exports are potatoes, cotton, lac, sesamum, oranges, bay-
leaves, areca-nuts, and lime. The imports are rice and other food-
grains, general oilman's stores, cotton piece-goods, kerosene oil,
corrugated iron, and hand-woven cotton and silk cloths from the
plains. There are a few Marwari merchants at Shillong, but they
have no shops in the interior of the District, where trade is left in
the hands of the Khasis and Syntengs.

An excellent metalled cart-road runs from Gauhati to Cherrapunji,
via Shillong, a distance of 97 miles. The gradients between Shillong
and Gauhati have been most carefully adjusted, and a tonga and
bullock-train service is maintained between these two towns. Except
in the immediate neighbourhood of Shillong, few roads are suitable
for wheeled traffic; but in 1903-4 there were altogether 356 miles of
bridle-paths in the District.

The District is divided into two subdivisions, Shillong and Jowai.

Shillong is the head-quarters of the Deputy-Commissioner and the

summer head-quarters of the Local Government. . .

„, T , j . c u Administration.

The Jowai subdivision is in charge of a European

Subordinate Magistrate. In addition to these officers, an Assistant



Magistrate is stationed at Shillong, and an Engineer who is also in
charge of Kamrup District. The Jaintia Hills, with Shillong, and 34
villages in the Khasi Hills, are British territory. The rest of the Khasi
Hills is included in twenty-five petty Native States, which have treaties
or agreements with the British Government. These States vary in
size from Khyrim, with a population of 31,327, to Nonglewai, with
a population of 169. Nine of these States had a population of less
than 1,000 persons in 1901.

The High Court at Calcutta has no jurisdiction in the hills, except
over European British subjects. The Codes of Civil and Criminal
Procedure are not in force, and the Deputy-Commissioner exercises
powers of life and death, subject to confirmation by the Lieutenant-
Governor. Petty criminal and civil cases, in which natives of the
District are concerned, are decided by the village authorities. Serious
offences and civil suits in which foreigners are concerned are tried by
the Deputy-Commissioner and his Assistants. There is, on the whole,
very little serious crime in the District, but savage murders are
occasionally committed.

Land revenue is assessed only on building sites and on flat rice land
in the Jaintia Hills, which pays Rs. 1-14 per acre. The principal
source of revenue in British territory is a tax of Rs. 2 on each house.

The revenue from house-tax and total revenue is shown in the
following table, in thousands of rupees : —


1 890- 1.



Revenue from house-tax .
Total revenue .

1 B


h l 5



* Exclusive of forest revenue.

There are police stations in the hills, at Shillong, Cherrapunji, and
Jowai, and an outpost at Nongpoh, half-way between Shillong and
Gauhati. The force has a sanctioned strength of 23 officers and 183
men, who are under the immediate charge of the Deputy-Com-
missioner, but ordinary police duties are discharged by the village
officials. The only jail in the District is at Shillong ; it has accommo-
dation for 78 prisoners.

Thanks to the efforts of the Welsh Presbyterian Mission, education
has made considerable progress, and in 1901 the proportion of literate
persons (5-7 per cent.) was higher than that in any District in
Assam. The number of pupils under instruction in 1880-1, 1890-1,
1900-1, and 1903-4 was 2,670, 3,582, 6,555, and 7, 2 75 respectively.
The Khasi Hills owes its position to the spread of female education,
3-4 per cent, of the women being able to read and write, as compared
with 04 per cent, in Assam as a whole. In 1903-4 there were


348 primary, 8 secondary schools, and one special school in the District.
The number of female scholars was 2,395. ' ' 1 J 38


+ 0.2


About 86 per cent, of the total population are Hindus and nearly
14 per cent. Musalmans. Between 1891 and 1901 the District
suffered both from floods and from droughts, and the rate of increase
was thus smaller than in previous decades. The density of population


27 1

is the lowest in Oudh. Eastern Hindi is the language principally

Kheri is remarkable for the small proportion of high-caste Hindus
found in it. Brahmans number only 65,000 and Rajputs 30,000. The
most numerous castes are Chamars (tanners and cultivators), 104,000 ;
Kurmis (agriculturists), 82,000 ; Pasis (toddy-drawers and cultivators),
69,000 ; Ahlrs (graziers and cultivators), 60,000 ; Lodhas (cultivators),
44,000 ; and Muraos (market-gardeners), 34,000. Among Musalmans
are Julahas (weavers), 20,000; Pathans, 16,000; Rajputs, 12,000;
Shaikhs, 11,000; and Behnas (cotton-carders), 11,000. The Banjaras
of this District number 6,800, found only in the submontane tracts.
They are largely carriers of grain. Kurmis, Brahmans, Rajputs,
Muraos, Chamars, and Pasis are the principal cultivators. Agriculture
supports as many as 77 per cent, of the total population.

Out of 417 native Christians in 1901, 337 were Methodists. The
American Methodist Mission, opened in 1862, has a number of
branches in the District.

Kheri is divided by its rivers into four tracts of varying conditions.
The south-west corner between the Sukheta and the Gumtl consists of
fertile loam, which turns to sand along the Gumtl.
Between the Gumtl and the Kathna lies a high sandy
tract called the Parehar, in which cultivation is extremely precarious,
but which is celebrated as a breeding-ground for cattle. The richest
part of the District is included between the Kathna and the Ul, where
the soil is a rich loam. Beyond the Ul, cultivation shifts over wide
tracts. The floods of the Kauriala usually deposit coarse, infertile
sand, while the Sarda and Dahawar bring down finer silt in which rice
can be grown.

The tenures in Kheri are those commonly found in Oldh. Of
the total area, 71 per cent, is held by talukdars, but only a very small
area is sub-settled. Most of the rest is included in zam'uidari mahals.
The main agricultural statistics for 1903-4 are given below, in square
miles : —







Lakhimpnr .







2,963 : 1.374

Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) → online text (page 32 of 50)