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period, four — namely, Tenali, Gudivada, Nuzvid, and Guntur — are in
Kistna. Some of this growth is due to immigration, chiefly from
Nellore and Vizagapatam. It is most conspicuous in the delta ; but
even there, except in Tenali, the density of the population is still much
less than in the neighbouring delta of the Godavari, and the rates of
increase will probably continue to be high in future. The chief towns
are the municipalities of Masulipatam, Bezwada, and Guntur, while
Chirala and Tenali are the two most populous Unions. Of the total
population, 1,912,914, or 89 per cent., are Hindus; 132,053, or 6 per
cent., Musalmans ; and 101,414, or 5 per cent., Christians. The
number of these last almost trebled during the twenty years ending
1901, and between 1891 and 1901 advanced by nearly 33,000, a larger


increase than in any other District. In 1901 Christians formed a
higher proportion of the population than in any other District north
of Madras City.

Five per cent, of the people speak Hindustani. Telugu is the
vernacular of practically all the rest, and is the prevailing language
in every taluk. A peculiarity of the population is that it comprises
fewer females than males, there being 976 of the former to every 1,000
of the latter. This characteristic occurs also in six other Districts
which form, with Kistna, a fairly compact block of country in the
centre of the Presidency.

Of the Hindus, 97 per cent, belong to Telugu castes. The Kammas
(311,000) and Telagas (cultivators, 148,000) are in greater strength
than in any other District ; as also are the Madigas (leather-workers,
142,000), the Telugu Brahmans (106,000), and the Komatis (traders,
81,000). Brahmans of all classes number nearly 6 per cent, of the
total Hindu and Animist population, which is an unusually high
proportion. Among other castes which are commoner in Kistna than
elsewhere may be mentioned the Bogams (dancing-girls), and the three
beggar communities of the Bandas, Budubudukalas, and Vipravi-
nodis. The latter beg only from Brahmans, and will only do their
juggling tricks, for which they are famous, if a Brahman be present.
Of the Musalmans, an overwhelmning majority returned themselves
as Shaikhs, but Pathans and Saiyids are fairly plentiful, while Mughals
are more than twice as numerous as in any other District.

The occupations of the people differ singularly little from the normal.
Agriculture, as usual, enormously preponderates.

At the Census of 1901 there were 101,414 Christians in Kistna
District, of whom 100,841 were natives. The most numerous sect is
that of the Baptists (39,027). The Lutheran and allied denominations
number 34,877 ; while the Roman Catholic and Anglican communions
are fairly equal in strength, possessing 14,511 and 11,157 members

The pioneers of Christianity in the District belonged to the Roman
Catholic Church, being Jesuits who came out to India after the found-
ing of the well-known mission at Madura. Little is now on record
regarding their operations, but it is clear that their efforts were less
continuous and strenuous than in Districts farther south. The
suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 almost entirely checked
their enterprise, and for many years few priests were left in the District,
and some of the converts went back to Hinduism. In 1874 matters
revived, four priests coming out from Mill Hill; and since then more
has been done.

The Protestant missions are of much more recent origin. The best
known of their missionaries, the Rev. Robert Noble, came to Masuli-




patam in 1841 under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society,
and worked there without intermission for twenty years, founding the
college at Masulipatam which bears his name. The American Lutheran
Mission was started at Guntur in 1842. Its converts are chiefly from
the lower castes, and it works at Guntur and Narasaraopet. The Bap-
tists began operations in 1866, but their converts outnumber those of
any other denomination.

As has been mentioned, the District consists of three dissimilar areas :
namely, the Palnad and the neighbouring tracts, where much of the
soil is formed of detritus from the hills • the wide
plain of the rest of the uplands, where it is black
cotton soil ; and the delta, which is for the most part alluvial. Agri-
cultural practice naturally differs according to the soil, the lighter land
requiring only slight showers, the cotton country needing a thorough
soaking, and the delta having to wait until the floods come down the
river. There are three general classes of crop, corresponding more or
less to the seasons : namely, the punasa, or early crop, sown just after
the first burst of the monsoon in May or June ; the pedda, or big crop,
between July and September ; and the/a/>a, or late crop, put down in
November. The sowing of the ' wet ' land is principally done from
July to October, by the middle of which month more than four-fifths
of it should have been completed.

As much as one-fourth of the District consists of zamindari and
inam lands. For the former of these no detailed particulars are on
record. The area for which accounts are kept is 6,487 square miles,
details of which, for 1903-4, are appended : —



Xandisjama .
Sattanapallc .
Tenali .
Palnad .
Vinukonda .


Area shown
in accounts.






5 2 3





























3 2 5



4 S 5












The staple crop is rice, which in 1903-4 occupied 860 square
miles, or 25 per cent, of the total area under cultivation. This is
of two main kinds : white paddy, which is irrigated and transplanted ;
and black paddy, which grows with the help of rain alone. The


latter is found only in two or three Districts besides Kistna, and is
largely exported to Jaffna. Cholam {Sorghum vulgare), which occupied
590 square miles in 1903-4, is the principal ' dry ' cereal crop, and
next in importance is cambu (Pennisetum typhoideum). Of industrial
crops, cotton, which is chiefly produced in Palnad and Sattanapalle,
occupied 377 square miles. The area under indigo has fallen from
180 square miles in 1896-7 to 40 square miles in 1903-4, the
decline being attributable to the competition of the synthetic dye.
Tobacco, which is largely exported to Burma, was grown on 28,000
acres. Castor occupied 39,000 acres, but the cultivation and trade
in this product are gradually falling off.

During the period of thirty-one years from 1872-3 to 1903-4,
an increase of 12 per cent, occurred in the total extent of holdings.
The most noticeable advance was in the 'wet' cultivation, the
extent of which has more than doubled ; the increase in ' dry ' hold-
ings was comparatively small. In point of quality, cultivation has
probably receded rather than improved since the introduction of
irrigation from the Kistna. The delta ryot finds that he can grow
a crop sufficient for his needs with little trouble, and ploughing is
done in a perfunctory fashion, while weeding is not necessary under
the transplantation system. Little advantage has been taken of the
Land Improvement Loans Act, the amount advanced in sixteen
years ending 1903-4 being only Rs. 28,000. Most of this was, as
usual, spent in digging or repairing wells.

The large extent of pasture in the upland regions affords exceptional
facilities for rearing stock. Excellent cattle of the Nellore breed are
found in the Palnad, Narasaraopet, and Vinukonda taluks. These
animals, though very powerful and useful for heavy draught, are slow,
and deteriorate quickly if called on to work where the grass is not
as good as in their native places. In the delta the want of fodder
is severely felt, and the cattle are generally of poor quality. Sheep
are fairly plentiful. They have, as a rule, short, coarse, red or brown
hair, and are extremely leggy.

The total area irrigated in the District is 777 square miles, as shown
in the table given above. Practically the whole of it is in the delta
taluks of Tenali, Gudivada, Bapatla, and Bandar, where it depends
upon the Kistna river. Nearly 90 per cent, of the irrigated area is
supplied from Government canals, only 7 per cent, from tanks, and
only '•.. per cent, from wells. The Kistna irrigation is led from the
great dam across the river at Bezwada, which is 3,714 feet long and
about jo feet above the bed of the stream. It was finished in
1854, and feeds the ten main canals which irrigate the delta and
branch off into smaller and smaller channels until they cover every
part of it. Vast as is the quantity of water utilized by this great


system, a large amount of flood-water still runs to waste over the dam ;
but, as the river is not filled by the rains of the north-east monsoon,
there is little water in it at the end of the year, and the area that grows
two crops is therefore so small as to be negligible. A project to form
an enormous reservoir higher up the river, where it runs between very
steep, high banks, has accordingly been investigated ; this would not
only supplement the supply at the dam at Bezwada, but would also
command large areas in the upland taluks above that dam. It is
estimated that by this means the irrigable area might be doubled.
Even under existing conditions the value of the irrigated crops is
estimated at 215 lakhs annually, the greater part of this representing
the value of the rice crop.

Among minor irrigation works may be mentioned a dam built across
the Muneru at Polampalli, by which 3,400 acres were watered in
1903-4. A dam has also been constructed across the Palleru at
Katchavaram in the Nizam's Dominions, which is at present held on
lease by private individuals. All the area supplied from it, which is
not very great, lies within British territory. In the uplands irrigation is
from tanks, but none of them is of any great size and the total area
commanded is inconsiderable. A scheme to irrigate 50,000 acres in
the Divi Island in the delta by steam pumping has recently been

There is now very little real forest within the limits of the District,
although the hills in the Palnad and those to the north-west of Vinu-
konda are said to have once been covered with trees. The ' reserved '
forests cover about 1,000 square miles, of which more than a third is in
the Palnad, and much of the remainder in Vinukonda and Sattanapalle.
The most notable species are Pterocarpus, Terminalia, Anogeissus, and
Lagerstroemia. Casuarina has been planted by private enterprise on
considerable areas of the sandy wastes along the coast. On the
Kondapalli hills is found a light wood known as ponuku (Gyrocarpus
Jacquini), which is used in the manufacture of the well-known Konda-
palli toys. In 1903-4 the forest receipts amounted to Rs. 1,49,000,
and the working expenses, inclusive of establishment charges, to
Rs. 74,000.

Except building stones, among which the marble used in the
Amaravati stupa deserves special mention, the District contains few
minerals of economic value. Iron occurs in small quantities and was
formerly smelted by native methods ; and copper used to be found in
Vinukonda. The most interesting mining operations which have been
conducted were those in search of diamonds, before the country came
into British hands. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when
the Sultans of Golconda ruled over Kistna, this mining was carried on
extensively at Malavalli and Gollapalli in the Nuzvld country, at Kollur


in Sattanapalle, and at Partiala west of Kondapalli. The first two of

these mines were still being worked in 1795 wnen Dr. Heyne visited

the spot. The earliest trustworthy account of the industry is that of

Tavernier, the French jeweller, who visited the Kollur mines in the

seventeenth century. He says that 60,000 men were at work in them ;

and this would account for the ruins of extensive habitations which

are still to be seen on what is now a most desolate spot. He speaks

of a great diamond 900 carats in weight being found there and sent

to the emperor Aurangzeb. This gem is supposed by some authors

to be the famous Koh-i-niir. The Pitt, or Regent, diamond (now

among the French crown jewels) is said in one account to have

been found at Partiala, but Governor Pitt always kept the history of

this stone a close secret.

Kistna is of importance from an agricultural rather than an industrial

point of view, and the arts and manufactures in it are few. All over

the District the weaving of coarse cloth from the

Ira e an WO ol of sheep and goats is carried on, but the market

communications. * . 6 _ .

for the product is purely local. Tape for cots is

made in the Palnad and Vinukonda taluks. Rough carpets are manu-
factured at Vinukonda, and mats at Ainavolu. In former years fine
carpets were exported to England from Masulipatam. The price
charged by the exporters ranged from Rs. 8 to Rs. 10 per square yard.
The industry has now fallen into decay, the few carpets that are made
being of very poor quality. A tannery in the town employs about fifty
hands and sends out skins to the value of about Rs. 50,000 a year,
while in a rice mill some twenty to thirty persons are engaged. The
silk-weaving industry of Jaggayyapeta was once flourishing, but has
fallen off in late years, trade now following the line of the Nizam's
Railway. The weavers (who number about fifty families) obtain raw silk
from Mysore and dye it themselves. An inferior description of cloth
for women's saris is largely exported to Ellore and surrounding towns.

At Bezwada the Public Works department workshops employ a daily
average of about 180 hands, the maximum rising to 300. At Guntur
there are three steam cotton-presses and two hand presses, each
employing from twenty-five to thirty hands. A fourth steam press is
about to be erected. Five cotton-ginning factories in the town employ
about 150 persons, and there are seven ginning factories in other parts
of the District. At Kondapalli, toys are largely manufactured from
a specially light wood (Gyrocarpus Jacquini) found on the hills. Paper
used to be made at Kondavid, but the industry has practically died out
since 1857, when the Government offices ceased to use the paper.

Kistna possesses two seaports, Masulipatam and Nizampatam. The
latter is unimportant, and the trade of the former has declined since
the opening of the railway from Hyderabad to Bombay made that


city the port for the Nizam's Dominions. The completion of through
railway connexion between Madras and Calcutta was a further blow ;
nor has Masulipatam ever fully recovered from the effects of the great
inundation of 1864. The sanctioned railway from Bezwada to Masuli-
patam may revive its trade to some extent ; but the port cannot be
called a good one, large ships being unable to approach within five
miles of the shore. In 1903-4 its exports were valued at Rs. 11,85,000
and its imports at Rs. 7,57,000. A large proportion both of the export
and the import trade was with foreign countries. Of the former, goods
to the value of Rs. 8,17,000 (mainly rice) were sent thither; and of
the latter, merchandise valued at Rs. 5,48,000 came from that source,
the largest item being European piece-goods.

Cotton is the main export from the District by rail. In 1 900-1 the
presses at Guntur sent 19,000 bales (of 400 lb. each) of cotton to
Cocanada and Madras, of a value ranging from Rs. 66 to Rs. 48 per
250 lb. In the following year 29,000 bales were dispatched, but the
highest price obtainable was Rs. 50 and the lowest Rs. 44^. The
largest total of any year during the period 1 882-1 902 was that of 1899-
1900, when 39,000 bales were sent out ; and the smallest that of
1886-7, namely, 17,408 bales. This cotton consists of two grades,
known in the market as fair red and machine-ginned red Cocanada.
It is especially suitable for manufacture into dyed fabrics, its natural
colour taking the dye more easily than the white variety. In addition
to its use for weaving, it finds a market for making string, &c.

In 1901 the East Coast Railway carried from Bezwada 27,500 tons
of rice, principally to Madras city and stations along the Madras and
South Indian Railways. Bezwada does a large trade in hides and
skins, the sales of which amount at times to a thousand per day.
Practically all of these are first roughly dressed with salt and then sent
to Madras. Other exports of the District are castor-seeds, chillies, and
tobacco ; and among imports are jaggery (coarse sugar), refined sugar
and spirits from the Samalkot distillery, piece-goods from Madras, and
kerosene oil from the same city and from Cocanada. The chief
mercantile caste are the Komatis, but the skin trade of Bezwada is
carried on, as elsewhere, by the Labbais, a mixed race of Musalmans.

The most important railway in the District is the East Coast line
of the Madras Railway (standard gauge), which enters it from Nellore
at its southern corner at Chinna Ganjam, runs through it in a north-
easterly direction for 93^ miles, and then passes on into Godavari.
The section from Nellore to Kistna Canal junction was opened in 1897,
that on to Bezwada in 1898, and that from Bezwada to Kovvur in
1893. It crosses the Kistna river just below the anicut on a girder-
bridge of twelve spans of 300 feet each. Bezwada is also the terminus
of the Nizam's Guaranteed State Railway and of the Southern Mahratta


Railway. The former line, which was opened in 1889, crosses the
District frontier at Gangineni, 2\\ miles from Bezwada. It is also on
the standard gauge. The section of the Southern Mahratta Railway
(metre gauge) from Cumbum to Tadepalli was opened in 1889, and
that from Tadepalli to Bezwada in 1894. The length of the line within
the District is 79 miles. A line is under construction from Bezwada
to Masulipatam ; and other lines have been projected from Guntur to
Repalle via Tenali, and from Phirangipuram on the Southern Mahratta
Railway to Guruzala, by way of Sattanapalle.

The length of the metalled roads is 709 miles, and of unmetalled
roads 449 miles. With the exception of 22 miles of the latter, which
are under the charge of the Public Works department, all are main-
tained by the local boards. There are avenues of trees along 694 miles.
On the eastern side of the Kistna river the two chief roads are that
from Masulipatam to the Hyderabad frontier via Bezwada and Nandi-
gama, and that from Masulipatam to Nuzvid via Gudivada ; and these
are connected by various branches, partly metalled and partly not. On
the western side of the river there are five principal lines, chief of which
is the great northern road which runs from Sitanagaram to Madras via
Guntur and Chilkalurpet. The southern portion of this part of the
District, including portions of the Tenali and Bapatla taluks, is badly
in need of metalled roads, and attempts are being made to remedy
this defect.

Since the District came under British administration only one serious
famine has been recorded, in 1833. This affected other areas also,
. but is known as the Guntur famine in consequence of

its severity in the old Guntur District, which formerly
occupied the south of Kistna District. There 150,000 persons were
estimated to have died from want, and the loss of revenue was very
great in 1833 and the succeeding years. In the great famine ot
1876-8 Kistna suffered but little in comparison with tracts farther
south. The average number of persons on relief was only about 5,000.
Including remissions of revenue, the distress cost the state 7^ lakhs.
Since the irrigation system from the Kistna was completed, the delta
has not only been free from famine itself but has supplied other Dis-
tricts with its surplus grain. In the upland tract, however, severe
distress may still be caused locally by the failure of the seasonal rains.
In 1900 a few relief works were opened in the Vinukonda and
Narasaraopet taluks, but no serious scarcity occurred.

For purposes of administration Kistna is divided into four subdivi-
sions: namely, Guntur, Bezwada, Narasaraopet, and Masulipatam 1 .

1 Since the limits of the District were altered (see p. 319), the number of subdi-
visions is now five— Ellore, Bezwada, Narasapur, Gudivada, and Masulipatam
— as shown in the several articles on them.


Of these, the two former, which comprise respectively the Guntur,

Bapatla, Tenali, and Sattanapalle taluks and the Bezwada, Nuzvid,

Nandigama, and Tiruvur taluks, are ordinarily in the . , . . . ..

b _ ' , „,. ... ' _ , ■ , Administration.

charge of Covenanted Civilians. Narasaraopet, which

is made up of the Vinukonda, Narasaraopet, and Palnad taluks, is

under a Deputy-Collector ; and the Masulipatam subdivision, which

contains the head-quarters of the District and the residence of the

Collector, and comprises the Bandar and Gudivada taluks, is also

under a Deputy-Collector. There is a tahslldar at the head-quarters

of each taluk with the exception of Tiruvur, where a deputy-la/isllddr

is posted ; and, except at Tiruvur, Vinukonda, and Nandigama, there

is a stationary sub-magistrate at each of these stations. Deputy-ta/isll-

dars are also stationed at Repalle, Ponnuru, Mangalagiri, Macherla,

Kaikalur, Avanigedda, and Jaggayyapeta. The superior staff of the

District consists of the usual officers, but in addition to the District

Medical and Sanitary officer (whose head-quarters are at Masulipatam)

a Civil Surgeon is stationed at Guntur.

Civil justice is administered by seven District Munsifs, stationed at
Tenali, Guntur, Bapatla, Narasaraopet, Gudivada, Masulipatam, and
Bezwada ; a Sub-Judge at Masulipatam ; and the District Court at the
same place. The District, especially the Bezwada subdivision, abounds
in zamlnddris, and consequently the number of rent suits is large.
House-breaking, ordinary theft, and cattle theft are the commonest
offences, but Kistna is not in any way notoriously criminal. Dacoities
are perhaps somewhat more numerous than in the adjoining Districts.
In 1 90 1, at Jaggarlamudi in the Bapatla taluk, more than a lakh of
rupees worth of property (chiefly cash) was stolen from the house
of a Komati woman by a large gang of robbers. Crime is usually
the work of the wandering gangs of criminal tribes, which consist
chiefly of Kuravans and Lambadis. Latterly scarcity has prevailed
for a number of years in Hyderabad, and this has had the effect
of driving a number of bad characters from that State into British

Our knowledge of the system of revenue administration followed by
the Hindu rulers of the country before the Muhammadan conquest
is very limited. Then, as now, there was a headman in each village
to collect, and an accountant to record, the items of revenue, but how
the assessments were calculated is obscure. Under the Muhammadans,
who acquired the country in the sixteenth century, the revenues were
at first for the most part collected and accounted for by Hindu
officials, save in the case of the haveli land, or tracts in the neigh-
bourhood of military posts intended for the maintenance of troops
and Muhammadan officers. , When the Muhammadan rule became
lax, these Hindu officials, whose posts were usually hereditary, began



to call themselves zamlndars and to act as if they were independent
princes, and in the course of time they compounded the revenue
demand against their respective charges for a fixed sum. The Com-
pany's officers, who found these zamlndars in possession when they
took over the country, fell into the mistake of regarding them as
holders of feudatory estates, paying a tribute to their suzerain, and
furnishing troops in times of war. They left them undisturbed, and
much mismanagement and oppression resulted.

In 1802, when the permanent settlement was introduced into the
District, the fles/ikas/i or amount to be paid by each zamindar was fixed
at two-thirds of half the gross profits of the land, this half being
supposed to be the share paid them by the cultivators. The haveli
land was divided into estates, which were sold and similarly brought

Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) → online text (page 39 of 50)