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from the hills of Rajmahal, are perpetually cutting away the Malda
bank, which is everywhere low and composed of loose sand. Among
many former channels and deserted backwaters the little winding
stream of the Bhagirathi (also called the Chhoti Bhagirathi) deserves


mention, as being the historical river-bed which defended the city
of Gaur. This is ahiiost dry in the winter, but becomes navigable
for country boats during the rainy season. It ultimately joins the
Pagla or Pagli, a larger branch of the Ganges, which runs in a
meandering course to the south-east, and encloses, before it regains
the Ganges, a large island about 16 miles long. The Pagla is navigable
during the rains, but in the dry season it retains no current and
becomes fordable at many points. The Mahananda enters Malda
from Purnea and joins the Ganges at the south-eastern corner of the
District. Its tributaries are, on the right bank, the Kalindri, and on
the left bank, the Tangan and Purnabhaba, which bring dow'n the
drainage of Dinajpur. The Mahananda flows in a deep and well-
defined channel between high banks, and varies in breadth from about
400 to 800 yards. At certain seasons of the year, the melting of the
snows in the mountains, combined with the local rainfall, causes
the river to rise as much as 30 feet, and an embankment has been
constructed just above the civil station of English Bazar to protect
it from inundation. There are no lakes ; but old channels of the
Ganges are numerous, and between Gaur and the Mahananda there,
are extensive undrained swamps.

The District is covered with alluvium. The Barind belongs to an
older alluvial formation, which is usually composed of massive argil-
laceous beds of a rather pale reddish-brown hue, often weathering
yellowish, disseminated throughout which occur kankar and pisolitic
ferruginous concretions. The low-lying country to the west of the
Mahananda and in the south is of more recent formation, consisting
of sandy clay and sand along the course of the rivers, and of fine silt
consolidating into clay in the flatter parts of the river plain.

Where the ground is not occupied by the usual crops of North
Bengal, it is covered with an abundant natural vegetation, except in
the sandy beds of the greater rivers. Old river-beds, however, ponds
and marshes, and streams with a sluggish current have a copious
vegetation of Vallisneria and other plants. Land subject to inundation
has usually a covering of Tamarix and reedy grasses, and in some
parts where the ground is more or less marshy Rosa mvolucrata is
plentiful. Few trees occur on these inundated lands ; the most
plentiful and the largest is Barn/igtotiia acutangiila. Near villages
thickets or shrubberies of semi-spontaneous growth and more or less
useful trees of a rapid growth and weedy character are common. No
Government forests exist, but portions of the Barind are covered
with jungle known locally as kdtdl. This consists chiefly of thorny
bush jungle, mixed with an abundance of pipal {Ficus religiosa),
banyan {Fiats iudica), red cotton-tree {Boinbax iiialadaricuni), pakar-
trees, and nipal bamboos.



Malda was once celebrated for its large game and especially for tigers.
Owing, however, to the clearing of the i^^F/cz/ jungle and to the extension
of cultivation, tigers are now rarely met with, though leopards still
abound and frequently make their appearance even in the outskirts
of the civil station. Wild hog and spotted deer are also common, and
wild buffaloes are occasionally seen, though they have become very
rare. The swamps and ancient tanks of the District are infested with
big crocodiles ; and the larger swamps are frequented by game-birds
of almost every species found in Bengal.

The climate is not characterized by extremes of heat or rainfall.
Mean temperature increases from 63° in January to 86° in May, the
average for the year being 78°. The highest mean maximum is 97° in
April and the lowest 50° in January. The annual rainfall averages
57 inches, of which 4-7 inches fiiU in May, 9-7 in June, 13-4 in July,
1 1-2 in August and September, and 3-4 in October.

Except in August, 1885, when an exceptional rising of the Ganges
caused great destruction of crops over about 300 square miles in the
south and south-west of the District, no serious flood has occurred in
recent years. In the earthquake of 1897 all the masonry houses
in English Bazar and Old Malda were damaged, the cost of repairs
to public buildings being estimated at Rs. 11,000, while private build-
ings suffered to the extent of 2\ lakhs. In the didra lands cracks
opened some half a mile in length, and in the higher lands subsidences
occurred in a few places.

The area included within Malda District contains two of the great
capitals of the early Muhammadan rulers of Bengal ; and at the present
day the sites of Gaur and Pandua exhibit some of
the most interesting remains in the Province. The
country originally formed part of the kingdom of Pundra or Paundra-
vardhana, the country of the Pods, and subsequently of the Baren-
dra division of Bengal under Ballal Sen. To this king is attributed
the building of the city of Gaur, which under his son Lakshman Sen
received the natne of Lakshmanavati or Lakhnautl. Muhammad-i-
Bakhtyar KhiljT, who invaded Bengal at the end of the twelfth century,
expelled Lakshman Sen and moved the capital from Nadia to Gaur.
About 1350 Shams-ud-din Ilyas transferred the capital to Pandua,
where it remained for about 70 years till Jalal-ud-din restored it to
Gaur ; but with this exception Gaur continued, in spite of many
vicissitudes, to be the capital of the viceroys and kings of Bengal till
1564, when Sulaiman KararanI removed the seat of government to
Tanda, a few miles to the south-west of Gaur. Munim Khan, after
defeating Daud Khan in 1575, occupied Gaur; but a pestilence broke
out in which thousands died every day, and the survivors fled, never
to return to their deserted homes. After this Tanda apparently con-


tinued to be the capital, but u few years later Rajmahal was made the
seat of government. The \cr)' site of Tanda is now unknown, though
it seems to have been an important place for about a hundred years
after the depopulation of Gaur ; in its neighbourhood was fought the
decisive battle in which prince Shuja was defeated by the generals of
Aurangzeb in 1660. The East India Company established a factory
at Malda as early as 1676, by the side of a Dutch factory already in
existence there. In 1683, when it was visited by William Hedges
(who spent a day in exploring the ruins of Gaur), the number of factors
was three \ In 1770 English Bazar was fixed upon for a Commercial
Residency, and continued to be a place of importance until the discon-
tinuance of the Company's private trade ; the fortified structure which
was originally used as the Residency is now occupied by the courts
and public offices. As an administrative unit the District only came
into existence in 1813, when, in order to secure a closer magisterial
supervision, various police circles were detached from the Districts
of Rajshahi, Dinajpur, and Purnea and placed in charge of a Joint-
Magistrate and Deputy-Collector stationed at English Bazar. A
separate treasury was first opened in 1832, but it was not till 1859 '^hat
a Magistrate-Collector was appointed to the District. Anomalies
remained in the revenue, criminal, and civil jurisdiction which were
not adjusted till 1875, and since that time there have been only a
few unimportant transfers of jurisdiction. In 1905 the District was
transferred from the Bhagalpur Division of Bengal to the Rajshahi
Division of Eastern Bengal and Assam.

Malda is considered less unhealthy than the adjoining Districts of
Purnea, Dinajpur, and Rajshahi ; but it is very malarious, especially
in the undrained swamps between Gaur and the
Mahananda, and in the jungly tract to the east.
Malarial fever generally breaks out on the cessation of the rains ; and
in six years out of the ten ending 1900 it was one of the six Dis-
tricts in Bengal from which the highest fever mortality was reported :
in 1899 it headed the list with a recorded mortality from fever of 41-7
per 1,000. Cholera is often rife, and a specially bad outbreak occurred
in 1899 '^ English Bazar.

The population has risen from 677,328 in 1872 to 711,487 in 1881,
to 814,919 in 1891, and to 884,030 in 1901. It is thus growing rapidly
in spite of the unhealthy conditions prevailing, and the density in 1901
was 466 persons jier square mile. The increase during the decade
ending with that year amounted to 8-| per cent., being greatest in the
Gajol and Old Malda thiiiias in the Barind, where Santals are settling
in large numbers ; this tract is still, however, the least densely popu-
lated part of the District. In the Kaliachak and Sibganj thdtias in the
' Hedges'? Diary, vol. i, pp. 87-9.
F 2


south-west new chars have attracted a number of Muhammadan culti-
vators from English Bazar and Nawabganj, and from Murshidabad on
the other side of the river. The immigrants from the Santal Parganas
now number 43,000 ; and there is also a considerable immigration
from Bhagalpur and other Bihar Districts, and from the United Pro-
vinces. The population is contained in 3,555 villages and three towns :
English Bazar, the head-quarters, Malda, and Nawabganj. Bengali
is spoken by 74 per cent, of the population and Biharl by 2 r per cent. ;
the Mahananda river forms a linguistic boundary, the northern dialect
of Bengali being prevalent in the east of the District, while in the west
the MagadhT dialect of Biharl is the vernacular. The Mahananda is
likewise a religious boundary ; and the two main religions are nearly
equally divided, Hindus (440,398) constituting 50 per cent, of the
population and Muhammadans (424,969) 48 per cent.

Of the Muhammadans, no less than 399,000 are Shaikhs ; they are
probably for the most part descended from the Rajbansis or Koch,
who form the prevailing race of North Bengal east of the Mahananda,
and are the most numerous of the Hindu castes in the District
(64,000). Santals (including 18,000 returned as Animists) number
52,000, Chains (who are semi-Hinduized aborigines) 44,000, and
Chasatis 27,000 ; while among the less numerous castes, Gangai
(Ganesh) with 13,000 and Pundari (Puro) with 8,000 are distinctive
of this part of the country. Agriculture supports 57 per cent, of the
population, industries 19 per cent., and the professions one per cent.

The only Christian mission at work in the District belongs to the
London Baptist Missionary Society ; it has met with but little success,
the number of native Christians in 1901 being 173.

The low-lying recent alluvium in the west and south is enriched by
annual deposits of silt, and its fertile soil is well adapted for the culti-
vation of rice, mulberry, indigo, and mangoes. The
stiff clay soil of the Barind, which is best suited to
the growth of winter rice, produces also large crops of pulses and oil-
seeds. The north and north-west corner of the District lying between
the Mahananda, the Kalindri, and the Ganges is intersected by nullahs
and covered with jungle ; the soil here is extremely poor, but the short
grass affords pasturage to a considerable number of cattle.

In 1903-4 the net cropped area was estimated at 1,120 square miles
and the cultivable waste at 455 square miles ; about 7 per cent, of the
net cultivated area is twice cropped. Rice constitutes the staple food-
crop and is grown on 611 square miles, of which 312 square miles are
estimated to be under the winter crop, while on most of the remainder
early rice is grown. Wheat covers 119 square miles, barley 34 square
miles, maize 25 square miles, pulses (including gram) and other food-
grains 153 square miles, oilseeds (chiefly mustard) 105 square miles,


and jute 38 square miles. Jute is grown for the most part in the
north-west of the District, and wheat, barley, and gram in the extreme
west. Mangoes, for the excellence and variety of which this District
is deservedly famous, are grown chiefly in the English Bazar ihdna.
But the profits from the sale of this fruit, as well as the improved
facilities for transport, have encouraged landowners to cultivate it in
all the t/id/ias to the west of the Mahananda. Every plot of land
suitable for the growth of mango grafts is planted with them, and tracts
of land formerly growing ordinary rain or winter crops have in recent
years been converted into mango orchards. The mulberry is grown
in the central and south-western portion of the District ; and its culti-
vation gives a curious aspect to this part of the country, as the land has
to be artificially raised to the height of 8 or 10 feet, to prevent the
plants from being destroyed by the annual floods. Indigo is still
grown on the Ganges didras to the west, covering about 1,000 acres,
but the area under this crop has been largely reduced.

Cultivation has rapidly extended around the ruins of Gaur and also
in the Barind, where the greater portion of the cultivable area has been
cleared of jungles in recent'years ; and there has also been an extension
of cultivation in the swampy tract to the east of Gaur. Manure is used
only on mulberry lands, and artificial irrigation is unnecessary except
for the spring rice crop. The agricultural classes are on the whole
prosperous, and there has hitherto been little demand for advances
under the Agriculturists' and Land Improvement Loans Acts.

Good cart-bullocks are imported from the Districts to the west, but
the local cattle are poor. There are extensive tracts of waste land
in the Barind and elsewhere, but little nourishing pasture land. During
the rains the inhabitants of the didras graze their cattle in the higher
tracts. An industrial exhibition, at which domestic animals and
poultry are shown, was instituted at English Bazar in 1903.

The staple industry of the District is silk. Its production may be

classed in three branches : the rearing of the cocoons, the spinning

of the raw silk, and the weaving of silk piece-goods.

Trfldfi 3.11(1
Within the last twenty-five years the cultivation of communications

mulberry and the production of cocoons has nearly
doubled; and the annual output of cocoons is estimated at 100,000
maunds, worth from 25 to 30 lakhs, of which about 60,000 maunds
are exported. The annual export of silk thread is estimated at
1,650 to 1,700 maunds, and its value at 10 or 11 lakhs. The industry
is said to date back to the Hindu kingdom of Gaur ; and the cloth
known as Maldahi was for a long time a speciality of external com-
merce, but its manufacture is now very limited, and a few pieces only
are occasionally woven to meet the demands of a Bombay firm. The
export of ordinary silk piece-goods has also decreased, and it is


estimated tliat it does not now exceed Rs. 60,000. The pLasl India
Company had a factory at Malda as early as 1676, and in 1876 there
were seven European concerns for the manufacture of raw silk ; but
there are now only two factories under European management, at
Baragharia and Ebola Hat, and the number of native factories has also
declined. In 1903-4 the European factories turned out 23,000 lb. of
raw silk, valued at 2-1 lakhs, which was exported chiefly to England
and France ; they also purchase and export large quantities of cocoons.
Some cotton cloth is Avoven ; but the only other important industry
is the manufacture of brass-ware and bell-metal at English Bazar,
Nawabganj, and Kallgram. 'J'he manufacture of indigo is languishing,
and the out-turn in 1903-4 was only 4 tons.

The chief exports are silk cocoons, silk thread, paddy and rice to
Calcutta, Dacca, Assam, and Bihar, mangoes (chiefly to Calcutta and
Eastern Bengal) and jute (to Calcutta, Murshidabad, Nagpur, Benares,
Meerut, and Lahore), while wheat, barley, gram, oilseeds, and chillies
are also exported. The imports comprise cotton piece-goods, coco-
nuts, betel-nuts, paper, ghl, gur (molasses), sugar, copper, brass plates,
kerosene oil, shoes, umbrellas, and spices of all kinds. Coco-nuts and
betel-nuts are brought from Lower Bengal, ghl and gur from Bihar,
and the other articles mainly from Calcutta. A large part of the traffic
is carried in country boats down the Mahananda ; while some of the
trade is carried by boat or river steamer to Rajmahal on the East
Indian Railway, or to Damukdia Ghat on the Eastern Bengal State
Railway. The chief mart for the purchase and sale of silk cocoons
and silk thread is Amaniganj Hat, the sales on a market day occa-
sionally amounting to a lakh. The most important centre of trade is
Nawadganj on the Mahananda, while Malda and Rohanpur have
also an important rice trade.

No railway at present enters the District, but there is a project to
construct a branch line from Katihar to Sara Ghat or to Godagari
(to connect with an extension of the Ranaghat-Murshitlnbad branch
of the Eastern Bengal State Railway recently opened to traftic). Ex-
cluding 424 miles of village tracks, there are only 277 miles of roads,
of which 9 miles arc metalled. 'J'hc most impt.irtant are those from
English Bazar to Nawabganj and to Rajmahal, and the Dinajpur road
branching off from the latter ; the road from Godagari to Dinajpur
passes through the south-eastern corner of the District. There are
32 ferries under the District board. The paucity of roads is due to
the excellence of water communications.

The Mahanand.T is navigabli^ throughout the year by boats of
150 maunds up to Alal, the Tangan for boats of 100 maunds up to
Lalgola, and the Purnabhaba for boats of the same burden as far
as Dinajpur. Steamers belonging to the India General Steam Navi-

. / DMIA-fS TRA TION 8 1

gation Company ply six days a week between English Bazar and
Sultanganj ; a service between Rajmahal and Damukdia Ghat stops at
various stations on the Malda side of the Ganges, and during the rains
a ferry steamer runs from Rajmahal to English Bazar and back three
days, a week.

Some scarcity in 18S5 antl 1897 necessitated Government relief
on a small scale, but no actual famine has occurred in recent years.

The Magistrate-Collector is assisted at English Bazar, the head-
quarters, by a staff of three Deputy-Collectors and
one Sub-deputy-Collector. There are no subdi- ' '°"'

visions in the District.

The civil courts subordinate to the District Judge are those of three
Munsifs, of whom two sit at English Bazar and one at Nawabganj.
The District and Sessions Judge, who is also Judge of Rajshahi, has
his head-quarters at Rampur Boalia in that District. Crime is on the
whole light, and the commonest offences are of a petty character or are
due to disputes about land.

The District, as already stated, is a recent creation from the Districts
of Purnea and Dinajpur, and its land revenue history cannot be stated
separately. In 1903-4 there were 655 estates, with a revenue demand
of 4-36 lakhs. The whole of the District is permanently settled, with
the exception of 40 estates with a total demand of Rs. 35,000, which
are temporarily settled or managed direct by Government. Little is
peculiar in the land tenures of the District, except the existence of
several large revenue-free estates granted as endowments to Muham-
madan fakirs. Under the halhdsili tenure the annual rent varies both
according to the amount of land under cultivation and the nature of
the crop raised. This tenure is most common in the backward parts
of the District, and one of its incidents is that it allows a certain pro-
portion of the village lands always to lie fallow. Rent rates vary
largely for different kinds of land, being usually much lower in the case
of old holdings. Land yielding two or three crops brings in about
Rs. 1-14 per acre in the case of old holdings, and from Rs. 3 to
Rs. 4-8 per acre in the case of land newly brought under cultivation.
Low lands for winter rice yield from about Rs. 1-8 to Rs. 2-4 per
acre; spring rice lands from Rs. 3-12 to Rs. 6 and Rs. 12, and occa-
sionally even Rs. 18 and Rs. 24 per acre; mulberry lands from Rs. 3
to Rs. 3-12 for unraised land and from Rs. 4-8 to Rs. 6 for well-raised
plots ; mango orchards from Rs. 4-8 to Rs. 6 ; and garden lands from
Rs. 6 to Rs. 15 per acre. The average holding of a tenant, as esti-
mated from certain typical estates in various parts of the District, is
\\ acres.

The following table shows ihe collections of land revenue and total
revenue (principal heads only), in thousands of rupees ; —







Land revenue
Total revenue

4>'5 4.29
6,69 7,69




Outside the municipalities of English Bazar, Old Malda, and
Nawabganj, local affairs are managed by the District board. In
i9°3~4 its income was Rs. 87,000, of which Rs. 32,000 was derived
from rates; and the expenditure was Rs. 96,000, including Rs. 53,000
spent on public works and Rs. 25,000 on education.

English Bazar is protected by an embankment 2-| miles in length
from the inundations of the Mahananda and Kalindri rivers.

The District contains ten thdnas or police stations and three out-
posts. In 1903 the force subordinate to the District Superintendent
consisted of 2 inspectors, 26 sub-inspectors, 20 head constables, and
255 constables. There was, in addition, a rural police force of 178
daffaddrs and 1,784 chmtkidars. The District jail at English Bazar
has accommodation for no prisoners.

Education is backward; in 1901 only 3-7 per cent, of the popu-
lation (7-4 males and 0'2 females) could read and write. An advance
has, however, been made in recent years, the number of pupils under

instruction having increased from 8,608 in ic

-4 to 11,752

1892-3, and to 12,009 in 1900-1. In 1903-4, 14,782 boys and
1,085 girls were at school, being respectively 22-5 and i-6 per
cent, of those of school-going age. The number of educational
institutions, public and private, in that year was 487, including 27
secondary and 444 primary schools. The expenditure on education
was Rs. 76,000, of which Rs. 9,000 was met from Provincial funds,
Rs. 23,000 from District funds, Rs. 1,100 from municipal funds, and
Rs. 35,000 from fees.

In 1903 the District contained nine disi)ensaries, of which one
had accommodation for 28 in-patients. The cases of 56,000 out-
patients and 500 in-patients were treated, and 2,419 operations were
performed. The expenditure was Rs. 15,000, of which Rs. 800 was met
from Government contributions, Rs. 5,000 from local and Rs. 2,000
from numicipal funds, and Rs. 7,000 from subscriptions.

Vaccination is compulsory only in municipal areas. In 1903-4
the number of persons successfully vaccinated was 30,000, represent
ing 35 per 1,000 of the population.

[Martin (Buchanan Hamilton), ^(/j/tw/ ///^//V? (1838), vol. ii, pp. 291-
582, and vol. iii, pp. 1-350 ; Sir W. W. Hunter, Statistical Account of
Bengal, vol. vii (1876); N. G. Mukerji, MonograpJi on the Silk Fabrics
of Bengal {Cixicuiidi, 1903).]

Malda Town (or Old Malda).— Town in Malda District, Eastern


Bengal and Assam, situated in 25° 2' N. and 88° 8' E., at the con-
fluence of the Kahndrl with the Mahananda. Population (1901),
3,743. The town is admirably situated for river traffic, and probably
rose to prosperity as the port of Pandua. During the eighteenth
century it was the seat of thriving cotton and silk manufactures, and
both the French and Dutch had factories here. In 18 10 Malda was
already beginning to lose its prosperity ; and, though some trade is still
carried on in grain, it shows signs of poverty and decay. Malda was
constituted a municipality in 1869. The income during the decade
ending 1901-2 averaged Rs. 3,450, and the expenditure Rs. 3,300.
In 1903-4 the income was Rs. 3,400, mainly from a tax on persons
(or property tax) ; and the expenditure was Rs. 3,000. The town
contains a mosque built in 1566. At Nimasarai, near the confluence
of the Mahananda and Kalindri, stands an old brick tower with stones
shaped like elephant tusks projecting from its walls. It resembles
the Hiran Minar at Fatehpur Sikri, and was probably intended for
a hunting tower.

Malegaon Taluka. — Tdluka of Nasik District, Bombay, lying
between 20° 20' and 20° 53' N. and 74° 18° and 74° 49' E., with an
area of 777 square miles. It contains one town, Malegaon (popula-
tion, 19,054), the head-quarters; and 146 villages The population in
1901 was 96,707, compared with 86,243 ii"* 1891. The density, 124

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