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the Ghaggar. Minor drainage channels are the Nai or ' new ' Nadi
the Burhi or 'old' Nadi, and the Rakshi.

Karnal District offers nothing of geological interest, as it is situated
entirely on the alluvium. The flora of the upper Gangetic pkiin is well
represented in the eastern portion ; in the west there is an approach to
the desert vegetation ; while the Jumna valley produces a few temperate
types, e. g. a rose, a kind of scurvy grass (Coc/i/earia), both of which are
found again in Lower Bengal, and a crowfoot (Ranunculus pennsylvani-
a/s), which extends to Ludhiana, but is absent from the Himalayas.
Relics of a former Deccan flora, of which a wild cotton is the most
interesting, survive, especially in the neighbourhood of Thanesar. In-
digenous trees, except the dhak, are uncommon ; in the Jumna khadar
a low palm abounds, which is often taken for a wild form of the date-
palm, but is almost certainly a distinct species.

The Nardak was a favourite hunting-ground of the Mughal emperors,
and as late as 1827 Archer says that lions were sometimes seen within
20 miles of Karnal, while tigers were exceedingly common. Now, how-
ever, even the leopard is found only rarely, but wolves are still common.
Antelope, nilgai, ' ravine deer ' (Indian gazelle), and hog deer are fairly
plentiful where there is suitable cover. Small game is abundant.

Fever is particularly prevalent in the Naili (Nali) tract, flooded by
the Saraswati, and in the canal-irrigated portions of the District. Owing
to the faulty alignment of the canal and the swamping caused thereby,
fever used to be terribly prevalent, and in consequence the canton-
ments were removed from Karnal town ; but recent improvements have
greatly diminished the evil. The climate of Kaithal resembles that of
the plains of the Punjab proper, but the Jumna tahslls are not subject
to the same extremes of heat and cold.

The annual rainfall averages 30 inches at Karnal, 23 at Panlpat, and
18 at Kaithal, rapidly decreasing as one goes west or south. The
khadar receives the most plentiful and frequent rain, as many local
showers follow the bed of the river. Of the rainfall at Karnal, 27-4
inches fall in the summer months and 2-4 in the winter.

The early legendary history of the District will be found in the
account of Kurukshetra or the holy plain of the Hindus, which
occupies its north-western portion. The number of
Indo-Scythian coins found at Polar on the Saraswati
would seem to show that about the beginning of the Christian era the
District was included in the Indo-Scythian empire. In or about a. d.
400 it was traversed by the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hian and in 639 by
Hiuen Tsiang, the latter finding a flourishing kingdom with its capital
at Thanesar. Though Thanesar was sacked by Mahmiid of Ghazni in


1014, the country remained under Hindu rule until the defeat of
Prithwl Raj at Tirawari in 1192. Thereafter it was more or less firmly
attached to Delhi till after the invasion of Timur, who marched through
it on his way to the capital. It then belonged, first to the ruler of
Samana, and then to the LodI kings of the Punjab, and during the
century and a half that separated Akbar from Timur was the scene of
numerous battles, of which the most important were two fought at
Panipat. For two centuries Karnal enjoyed peace under the Mughals,
broken only by the raid of Ibrahim Husain Mirza in 1573, the flight of
prince Khusru through the District in 1606, and the incursion of Banda
Bairagi in 1709. During this period a canal was constructed from the
Jumna and the imperial road put in repair. In 1738 Nadir Shah de-
feated Muhammad Shah near Karnal, and in 1761 occurred the third
great battle of Panipat, in which the Marathas were routed by the
Afghan army. A terrible period of anarchy followed, during which
the tract formed a sort of no-man's-land between the Sikh and Maratha
powers, coveted by both but protected by neither, and the prey of every
freebooter that chanced to come that way. On annexation, in 1803,
the greater part of the country was held by Sikh chiefs or by con-
federacies of Sikh horsemen ; and the District was gradually formed
out of their territories as they escheated. The most important were the
petty principalities of Kaithal, Thanesar, and Ladwa, of which the first
two lapsed between 1832 and 1850, while Ladwa was confiscated owing
to the conduct of its chief during the first Sikh War. In 1849 the
District of Thanesar was formed, but in 1862 it was broken up into
the two Districts of Ambala and Karnal. During the Mutiny there
was a good deal of disorder, but no serious outbreak occurred. Great
assistance was given by the Rajas of Patiala and Jind in preserving
order. The Pehowa thana was transferred from Ambala to the Kaithal
tahsll of the District in 1888, and the rest of the Pipli ta hsll (now
Thanesar) was added to it in 1897.

The chief relics of antiquity are to be found at Karnal, PanIpat,
Thanesar, and Pehowa. At the village of Sita Mai in the Nardak is
a very ancient shrine of Sita, and several of the great sarais built along
the old imperial road still remain.

The District contains 7 towns and 1,383 villages. Its population at
the last three enumerations was: (1881) 820,041, (1891) 861,160, and
. ( T 9 01 ) 883,225. It increased by 2>6 per cent, during

the last decade, the increase being greatest in the
Panipat ta/isi/ imd least in Karnal. In the Thanesar tahsll the popula-
tion decreased 0-9 per cent, in the twenty years ending 1901, owing to
the unhealthiness of the tract ; while Kaithal increased by 20 per cent,
in the same period, owing to the development of canal-irrigation. The
District is divided into the four tahslls of Karnal, Panipat, Kaithal,



and Thanesar, the head-quarters of each being at the place from
which it is named. The chief towns are the municipalities of Karnae
(the District head-quarters), Panipat, Kaithal, Shahabad, Thanesar,
and Ladwa.

The following table gives the chief statistics of population in
1901 : —

Note. — The figures for the areas of tahsils are taken from revenue returns. The
total District area is that given in the Census Report.

Hindus number 623,597, or over 70 per cent, of the total. Monastic
communities of BairagTs own a good deal of land and exercise con-
siderable influence in the District. Muhammadans (241,412) form 27
per cent, of the population. The Saiyids of the District belong to
the Shiah organization known as the Bara Sadat, which was founded
by Saiyid Abdul Farsh Waslti, a follower of Mahmud of Ghazni.
Sikhs number 12,294. Hindi is spoken by 96 per cent, of the popu-
lation, and Punjabi in the scattered villages surrounded by Patiala

The Jats or Jats are the most numerous tribe, numbering 120,000, or
14 per cent, of the total. They own 15^ per cent, of the land, and are
mostly Hindus, only 8,000 being Sikhs and 3,000 Muhammadans.
Their principal clans are the Ghatwal, Deswal, Sindhu, Pawania, Man,
Katkhar, and Jaglan. The Rajputs (83,000) own 32 per cent, of the
land ; 67,000 are Muhammadans, known as Ranghars. Their principal
clans are the Chauhan, Mandhar, Ghorewaha, and Tonwar. The Rors
(42,000) own 1 7-i per cent, and are almost all Hindus; they seem
originally to have held their lands as dependants of the Rajputs.
Gujars (30,000) are mostly Hindus, though 8,000 are Muhammadans.
Their reputation is no better here than in other parts of the Division.
The Tagas (4,000) claim to be a Brahman race, which has abandoned
the priestly profession and taken to agriculture ; half of them in this
District are Muhammadans. Of Brahmans (71,000), the Bias or
Gujrati and the Dakaut are important and interesting clans. The
Saiyids (6,000) trace their descent from settlers left by Mahmud,
Timur, and other Muhammadan invaders. Of the Shaikhs (19,000),

52 KARNAL district

besides the few properly so called and the large number of converts
who have taken that name, there are in many villages one or two
families of a menial tribe from which the village watchmen are drawn,
who are said to be the relics of the old policy of the emperors of
settling one or two Muhammadans in every village. The Malis (26,000)
have of late years immigrated in considerable numbers into the District,
especially the irrigable tracts of the Thanesar tahstl, where they have
purchased estates. Kambohs number 14,000. Of the commercial
classes, the chief are the Banias (52,000). Among the menial classes
may be mentioned the Chamars (leather-workers, 79,000), Chuhras
(scavengers, 45,000), Jhlnwars (water-carriers, 44,000), Kumhars (pot-
ters, 19,000), and Tarkhans (carpenters, 20,000). About 58 per cent,
of the population are supported by agriculture, 19 are industrial,
3 commercial, and 2 professional.

There is a curious division of the non-Rajput tribes into the Dehia
and Haulania factions, apparently dating from a time when the
Haulanias under the leadership of the Ghatwal Jats were called in
by one of the emperors to help to coerce the Mandhar Rajputs, and
were opposed by the Dehia Jats, who from jealousy of the Ghatwal
supremacy joined the Mandhars. The leading families of the District
are those of the Nawab of Kunjpura, the Mandals of Karnal, and the
Bhais of Arnauli and Siddhuwal.

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel carries on mission
work at Karnal, Kaithal, and Panlpat. Its operations include zanana
teaching, girls' schools, and a hospital and dispensary for women and
children. There are also Methodist Episcopal missions at Karnal and
Panlpat, and a Presbyterian Mission at Thanesar (founded in 1895)
and Kaithal, to which the village of Santokh Majra has been leased
for a Christian colony. In 1901 the District contained 225 native

The soil of the khadar is light, and water lies close to the surface.

The Jumna floods are, however, not fertilizing, and the best lands are

. , those which lie beyond their reach. The eastern


hangar is almost entirely watered by the Western

Jumna Canal ; the soil is a fertile and easily worked loam, and the

tract forms for the most part a sheet of cultivation. The soil of the

Kaithal hangar is a strong intractable loam, chiefly irrigated by the new

Sirsa branch of the Western Jumna Canal, which also supplies most of

the Kaithal Nardak. The Thanesar tahsil is a rich alluvial tract

watered by the Markanda and Umla, but in the flooded tracts crops

are very precarious, owing to the uncertainty of the floods. On the

Saraswati two-thirds of the crops belong to the spring harvest, chiefly

gram ; on the Umla coarse rice is often the only crop.

The District is held almost entirely by small peasant proprietors,



large estates covering only about 160 square miles and lands leased
from Government 4,000 acres.

The area for which details are available from the revenue record of
1903-4 is 3,147 square miles, as shown in the following table: —











Thanesar .













The staple products of the spring harvest are wheat and gram, sown
on 338 and 265 square miles respectively in 1903-4. Barley covered
only 19 square miles. In the autumn harvest great millet covered 256
square miles, and rice and spiked millet 97 and 94 square miles
respectively. Cotton covered 66 square miles, maize 72, and sugar-
cane 30.

During the thirteen years ending 1904, the cultivated area rose from
1,637 square miles to more than 1,797, or by 10 per cent., the increase
being chiefly due to the extension of canal-irrigation. This has been
accompanied by an extended cultivation of maize, cotton, and sugar-
cane, as well as of the more valuable spring crops ; and the use of
manure is said to be increasing. Loans for the construction of wells
are fairly popular. In the five years ending 1903-4, Rs. 57,000 was
advanced under the Land Improvement Loans Act, and 2 lakhs for
the purchase of bullocks and seed.

Cattle-raising used to play an important part in the economy of the
Nardak before the construction of the Sirsa canal, and the cattle of
the District are still noted for their excellence. The local breed of
horses is of no particular importance. A remount depot, established at
Karnal in 1889, was abolished in 1902, and its lands are now used
as a military grass farm. The District board maintains three horse
and five donkey stallions. Large flocks of goats and sheep are kept in
parts, the sheep being all of the small black-tailed breed. There is
a fine breed of pigs at Karnal, dating from the time of the old

Of the total area cultivated in 1903-4, 601 square miles, or 33 per
cent., were classed as irrigated. Of this area, 230 square miles were
irrigated from wells, 364 square miles from canals, 32 acres from wells
and canals, and 4,581 acres from streams and tanks. The District
possessed 10,931 masonry wells, besides 223 unbricked wells, lever
wells, and water-lifts. In the khddar, although little irrigation is


necessary, wells worked by Persian wheels are numerous. The new
main line of the Western Jumna Canal enters the Thanesar tahsll,
and within this District gives off the Sirsa, Hansi, and New Delhi
branches, which irrigate the greater portion of the Nardak and batigar,
except in Thanesar, where the percolation from the main canal and the
stoppage of the natural drainage keep the land so moist that it suffers
from excess of water rather than from drought. The total area
irrigated from the Western Jumna Canal is 2,493 acres. The hangar
in the Kaithal tahsll is also supplied by the Saraswati canal (an
inundation canal made and worked by the District board), and some
of the Nardak villages are also watered by floods from the Chautang.
The few wells in these tracts are on the rope-and-bucket system.
The northern part of the District is irrigated by floods from the hill
torrents, and for the most part suffers from capricious water-supply,
being waterlogged one year and parched the next. Except in the more
favoured tracts, wells are liable to be destroyed by floods and are little
used. The villages scattered through Patiala territory are irrigated
from the Sirhind Canal.

The District contains 17 tracts of unclassed forest, with a total area
of 24 square miles, in charge of the Deputy-Commissioner ; but these
are not true forests, being covered only with scrub and small trees.
About 2-6 square miles of 'reserved' forest are under the Military

Sal-ammoniac has from ancient times been manufactured by the
potters of the Kaithal tahsll. About 84 tons, valued at Rs. 3,400, are
produced annually, and sold to merchants, who mostly export it. It is
prepared by burning bricks made of the dirty clay found in certain
ponds, and subjecting the substance that exudes from them to sub-
limation in closed vessels. The District has four saltpetre refineries.
The only other mineral product is kankar, or nodular limestone.

Karnal town used to have a name for shoe-making, but the industry-
is said to be declining from want of capital. Panlpat is famous for glass-
blowing, the chief product being silvered globes
communications. wnicri > when broken up, are used for mirror-covered
walls, or sewn on phulkaris ; the glass retorts used
in the manufacture of sal-ammoniac are also made. The town is
noted for its manufacture of brass vessels, small fancy wares in various
metals, and silver beads. The District possesses three cotton-ginning
factories, at Panlpat, Kaithal, and Dhatrat ; a cotton-press at Panlpat ;
and two combined ginning and pressing factories, at Panlpat and
Kaithal. The total number of employes in 1904 was 702. Silver-
work and musical instruments are made at Shahabad. Some good
lacquered woodwork is also produced.

The chief exports are wheat, cotton, gram, fine rice, ghi, brass



vessels, glass, sal-ammoniac, and saltpetre ; and the chief imports are
salt, oil and oilseeds, iron, and piece-goods. Cotton and wheat go
chiefly to Delhi and Ambala ; ghl and hides to Delhi ; oil and oilseeds
come from the Punjab and the Doab ; timber from Ambala ; iron and
piece-goods from Delhi ; and salt from Bhiwani, Delhi, and Ambala.
Karnal town and Panlpat on the Delhi-Umballa-Kalka Railway are the
chief marts, and a good deal of trade goes through Kaithal, which is
on a branch of the Southern Punjab Railway. The local trade is prin-
cipally conducted through the village dealers ; but a very considerable
traffic is carried on by the cultivators themselves, especially by Jats
from Rohtak, who in the hot season earn a good deal by plying their
carts for hire.

The Delhi-Umballa-Kalka Railway runs through the District side by
side with the grand trunk road, and Kaithal is the terminus of a branch
of the Southern Punjab Railway. The new main line and the Delhi
and Hansi branches of the Western Jumna Canal are navigable, as is
also the Jumna during the rains. The District has 145 miles of
metalled roads, and 684 miles of unmetalled roads, of which 129 miles
of metalled and 67 of unmetalled roads are under the Public Works
department, the rest being maintained by the District board. Metalled
roads connect Karnal town and Kaithal, Thanesar and Ladwa, and the
grand trunk road traverses the District from north to south ; but the
unmetalled roads are bad, especially in the Nardak, and in the flooded
tract bordering on the Saraswati and Ghaggar the tracks are often
impassable for weeks together during the rains.

Including the challsa famine of 1783, the District has been visited by
famine thirteen times in 120 years, one of the most terrible perhaps
being that of 1833. Relief works seem first to have
been established in the famine of 1861, when 22,237
persons were relieved in one month. In 1869 the famine was more
severe in Karnal than in any other part of the Punjab, and hundreds
of people were reduced to semi-starvation. The expenditure was 1-7
lakhs, and the highest daily average of persons relieved was 13,934.
Cattle to the number of 65,000 died. From 1875 to 1877 there was
not a single good harvest, and, though the scarcity hardly deepened into
famine, the cattle suffered terribly. There was another grass famine in
1883-4. In 1896-7 the highest daily average relieved was 12,361, and
the expenditure barely 2 lakhs. The areas affected were the Nardak
tracts of Karnal and Kaithal and the Naili tract of Kaithal. In
1 899-1 900 the Nardak in Karnal and part of that in Kaithal were
protected by the Nardak irrigation channel, constructed as a relief
work in 1897 ; the tracts affected were chiefly the Naili and bangar
tracts of Kaithal and parts of Thanesar. The highest daily average
relieved was 14,075, and the expenditure was 2-6 lakhs.


The District is divided into the four tahslls of Karnal, Panipat,
Thanesar, and Kaithal, each under a tahsilddr and a naib-tahsllddr.
. . In the last, the sub-tahsi/ of Gula is also in charge

of a ?iaib-tahsilddr. The tahsil of Kaithal forms
a subdivision. The Deputy-Commissioner holds executive charge of
the District, aided by three Assistant or Extra- Assistant Commissioners,
of whom one is subdivisional officer in charge of Kaithal and one in
charge of the District treasury.

The Deputy-Commissioner as District Magistrate is responsible for
the criminal justice of the District, and civil judicial work is under
a District Judge. Both officers are supervised by the Divisional and
Sessions Judge of the Delhi Civil Division. There is one Munsif, who
sits at head-quarters. There are also six honorary magistrates. Cattle-
stealing, the normal crime of the District, is now less prevalent than
formerly, owing to the increase of cultivation made possible by the
development of the canals. Formerly heads of families of respectable
birth would demur to giving a daughter in marriage to a man who had
not proved his ability to support a family by cattle-lifting.

The tract which passed to the British in 1803, and formed part of
the old Panipat District, was summarily assessed in the years 1817-24,
with the exception of the estates assigned to the Mandal family in
exchange for the lands they held in the United Provinces. In accord-
ance with the spirit of the time, the summary settlement was
oppressive, and the methods of assessment and collection were vexa-
tious and extortionate ; a revision of assessments was necessitated by
the famine of 1824, and by degrees a more reasonable system was
evolved. The regular settlement, made in 1842, was both moderate
and fairly distributed. In the khadar the assessment on the whole
worked well ; in the hangar the deterioration of soil caused by the
canal brought absolute ruin to many villages, and in 1859-60 large
reductions of revenue were made and principles laid down for annual
relief to be afforded when necessary. Meanwhile, in the Mandal
estate, the assignees struggled to realize their revenue in kind from
a lawless and independent Rajput peasantry till 1847, when their
oppression and mismanagement necessitated the tract being brought
under settlement. The assessment was revised in 1852 and again in
1856. The revised settlement of 1872-80 comprised both these
tracts ; the revenue rate for irrigated land varied from Rs. 1-14 to
Rs. 2-14, and for unirrigated land from 8 annas to Rs. 1-12 ; pasture
was rated at 8 pies an acre ; and canal lands were assessed at ' dry '
rates varying from Rs. 1-5 to Rs. 1-13.

The rest of the District, comprising the tahslls of Kaithal, Thanesar,
and the Indri tract of Karnal, formed part of the territories of the
Cis-Sutlej chiefs, who were taken under protection by the proclamation



of 1809. These territories as they escheated were summarily assessed.
Thanesar and Indri were regularly settled in 1848-56 and Kaithal in
1853-6. The whole of this portion of the District came under the
Karnal-Ambala revision in 1882-9. The average assessment on ' dry'
land is R. 0-14-3 (maximum Rs. 1-6, minimum R. 0-6-6), and on
'wet' land Rs. 2-14 (maximum Rs. 3-12, minimum Rs. 2). The
total demand for 1903-4, including cesses, was 12 lakhs. The average
size of a holding cultivated by the owner is 5-3 acres. The whole
District came under settlement in 1904, the present assessment
expiring in 1908.

The collections of land revenue alone and of total revenue are shown
below, in thousands of rupees : —


1 890-1.

1 900- 1.

• 903-4-

Land revenue .
Total revenue .






The District contains six municipalities : Karnal, Panipat, Kai-
thal, Shahabad, Thanesar, and Ladwa. Outside these, local affairs
are managed by the District board, whose income amounted to nearly
\\ lakhs in 1903-4. The expenditure in the same year was 1-2 lakhs,
education forming the largest item.

The regular police force consists of 683 of all ranks, including
147 municipal police, under a Superintendent, assisted by 4 inspectors.
Village watchmen number 1,540. The District contains 22 police
stations, 1 outpost, and 5 road-posts. The Sansis, Balochs, and
Tagas are proclaimed under the Criminal Tribes Act ; and 55 Sansis,
447 Balochs, and 237 Tagas were registered in 1903 under the Act.
The District jail at head-quarters has accommodation for 155 prisoners.

Karnal is the most backward District in the Province in the matter
of education, and in 1901 the proportion of literate persons was only
2-4 per cent. (4-3 males and o-i females), as compared with 3-6 for
the whole Province. The number of pupils under instruction was :
1,961 in 18S0-1, 2,242 in 1890-1, 5,902 in 1900-1, and 5,365 in
1903-4. In the last year the District contained 9 secondary and
90 primary (public) schools, besides 12 advanced and 62 elementary
(private) schools, with 53 girls in the public and 72 in the private
schools. The only high school is at Karnal. The indigenous Arabic
school at Panipat, supported by the voluntary contributions of wealthy
Muhammadans, is attended by about 50 boys, chiefly from the middle-
class Muhammadan families of the town. The District has three
primary schools for girls, and the ladies of the Karnal branch of the
Zanana Mission teach women and children in the town. The total


expenditure on education in 1903-4 was Rs. 47.000, the greater part
of which was met from Local funds, though Government contributed

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