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prevalent during the monsoon and autumn months.

The annual rainfall averages 52 inches. Hailstorms not infrequently
occur in the winter months and do serious damage to the crops, and
thunderstorms are common in the hot season.

The Oond Rajput dynasty of Oarha-Mandla commenced, according
to an inscription in the palace of Ramnagar, in the fifth century, with
the accession of Jadho Rai, a Rajput adventurer who
entered the service of an old Gond king, married
his daughter, and succeeded him on the throne. Cunningham places
the date two centuries later, in 664. The original seat of the dynasty
is supposed to have been Garha near Jubbulpore, but this theory is
discredited by the fact that the Kalachuri Rajput dynasty was in
power there as late as the twelfth century. In any case the Garha-
Mandla kingdom was a petty local chiefship until the accession of
Sangram Sah, the forty-seventh king, in 1480. This prince extended
his dominions over the Narbada valley, and possibly Bhopal, Saugor,
and Damoh, and most of the Satpura hill country, and left fifty-two


forts or districts lo his son. The control of the Garha-Mandla kings
over their extended i)rincipalily was, however, short-lived, for in 1564
Asaf Khan, the imperial viceroy, invaded their territories. The queen
Durgavati, then acting as regent for her infant son, met him near the
fort of Singorgarh in Damoh ; but being defeated, she retired past
Garha towards Mandla, and took up a strong position in a narrow
defile. Here, mounted on an elephant, she bravely headed her troops
in the defence of the pass, and notwithstanding that she had received
an arrow-wound in her eye refused to retire. But by an extraordinary
coincidence the river in the rear of her position, which had been nearly
dry a few hours before the action commenced, began suddenh- to rise
and soon became unfordable. Finding her plan of retreat thus frus-
trated, and seeing her troops give way, the queen snatched a dagger
from her elephant-driver and plunged it into her breast. Asaf Khan
acquired an immense booty, including, it is said, more than a thousand
elephants. From this time the fortunes of the Mandla kingdom rapidly
declined. The districts afterwards formed into the State of Bhopal
were ceded to the emperor Akbar, to obtain his recognition of the next
Raja, Chandra Sah. In the time of Chandra Sah's grandson, Prem
Narayan, the Bundelas invaded Narsinghpur and stormed the castle
of Chauragarh. During the succeeding reigns family quarrels led the
rival parties to soHcit foreign intervention in support of their preten-
sions, and for this a price had always to be paid. Part of Saugor was
ceded to the Mughal emperor, the south of Saugor and Damoh to
Chhatarsal Raja of Panna, and Seoni to the Gond Raja of Deogarh.
In 1742 the Peshwa invaded Mandla, and this was followed by the
exaction of chanth. The Bhonslas of Nagpur annexed the territories
now constituting Balaghat and part of Bhandara. Finally, in 1781,
the last king of the Gond- Rajput line was deposed, and Mandla was
annexed to the Maratha government of Saugor, then under the control
of the Peshwa. At some period of the Gond kingdom the District
must have been comparatively well populated, as numerous remains
of \illages can be observed in places now covered by forest ; but one
of the Saugor rulers, Vasudeo Pandit, is said to have extorted several
lakhs of rupees from the people in eighteen months by unbridled
oppression, and to have left it ruined and depopulated. In 1799
Mandla was appropriated by the Bhonsla Rajas of Nagpur, in accor-
dance with a treaty concluded some years previously with the Peshwa ;
and during the period of eighteen years which followed, the District
was repeatedly overrun by the Pindaris, who, however, did not succeed
in taking the town of Mandla. In 181 8 Mandla became British terri-
tory ; and as the Maratha garrison in the fort refused to surrender,
a force under General Marshall took it by assault. The peace of the
District was not subsequently disturbed, except for a brief period



during the Mutiny of 1857, when the chiefs of Ramgarh, Sliahpura,
and Sohagpur joined the mutineers, taking with them their Gond
retainers, who, though not really disaffected, followed their chiefs with
their usual unquestioning faithfulness. Order was restored early in
1858, and the estates of Ramgarh and Shahpura were subsequently
confiscated, while Sohagpur was made over to Rewah. The last repre-
sentative of the Gond Rajput kings, Shankar Sah, had retired to Jub-
bulpore, where he held an estate of a few villages. During the Mutiny
he attempted to raise a party in Jubbulpore, then in a very disturbed
condition, with a view to rebellion. On being captured and convicted,
he and his son were blown away from guns.

The District contains few notable buildings. Deogaon, at the
junction of the Narbada and Burhner, 20 miles north-east of Mandla,
has an old temple. At Kukarramath, 12 miles from Dindori, are the
remains of numerous temples, most of which have been excavated and
carried away to make the buildings at Dindori. The palace of the
Gond Rajas of Garha-Mandla, built in 1663, is situated at Ramnagar,
about 10 miles east of Mandla on the south bank of the Narbada, and
is in a fairly good state of preservation but of little architectural merit.
There are numerous other ruins, as Ramnagar remained the seat of
government for eight reigns.

The population of the District in the last three years of census was
as follows: (1881) 300,659; (1891) 339,341 ; (1901) 317,250. The
increase between 1881 and 1891, of 13 per cent.,
was attributed partly to the increased accuracy of the
Census. During the last decade the decrease was 6^ per cent., chiefly
in the Mandla tahsil. The District was severely affected by famine in
1897, and there was great mortality among the forest tribes. The
figures of population given below have been adjusted on account of
transfers of territory .since the Census of 1901 : —



Mandla .

District total


Number of


cr ^



















1) .

S-s^s. -


= "5

MC S*°


n 0.9 " 0-

«; nj ni S

tJ u

c- rt S ""

■9 «TJ?

B c rt ?










In 1904 an area of 15 square miles with 11 villages containing
1,150 persons was transferred from Balaghat to Mandla, and 5 square
miles of Government forest from Mandla to Balaghat. The corrected
District totals of area and population are 5,054 square miles and


318,400 persons. The density of iwpulation is 63 persons per square
mile, which is smaller than that of any District in the Province with
the exception of Chanda. The District contains one town, Mandla,
the head-quarters ; and 1,834 inhabited villages. The villages are
usually very small, the average number of persons to each being only
174. The figures of religion show that 121,000 persons, or 38 per
cent, of the population, are Hindus, and 191,000, or 60 per cent.,
Animists. Practically all the forest tribes are returned as still profess-
ing their own religion. Muhammadans number only 5,000. Nearly
75 per cent, of the population speak the Bagheli dialect of Eastern
Hindi, and nearly 25 per cent, (londl. The former dialect is spoken
in the Central Provinces only in Jubbulpore and Mandla, and
resembles ChhattlsgarhT in many respects. About half of the Gonds
speak their own language and the other half a corrupt Hindi, which
is also the language of the Baigas and Kols.

The principal landholding castes are Brahmans {7,000), Kalars,
Gonds, Lodhis (5,000), Banias, and Kayasths. Next to Gonds, the
most important castes numerically are Ahirs (23,000), Pankas (14,000),
and Telis (10,000). The Kalars were money-lenders to the Gonds
before the advent of the Bania. The LodhTs were formerly the chief
landholding caste and possessed several fine estates. The Gonds
number 160,000, or just half of the population. They are lazy culti-
vators, and favour the small millets kodofi and ki/tkt, which in new soil
yield a large return with a minimum of exertion. The Baigas number
about 14,000. They are probably the first residents of the District ;
and a Baiga is always the village priest and magician, on account of
the more intimate and long-standing acquaintance he is supposed to
possess with the local deities. The Baigas have always practised bewar
or shifting cultivation in patches of forest, manured by burning the
timber which has been cut down on it. \Mien they were debarred
from continuing this destructive method in Government forests, a Re-
serve of 24,000 acres was allotted to them for this purpose, in which
there are still a few villages. Most of them have now, however, taken
to cultivation in the ordinary manner. Until recently the Baigas
considered that hunting was the only dignified occupation for a man,
and left as much as possible of the work of cultivation to their women-
kind. About 83 per cent, of the population of the District are
dependent on agriculture.

Of the 560 Christians, 536 are natives, and most of these belong
to the Church Missionary Society, which has stations at Mandla and
four other villages. There are a number of European missionaries,
and the institutions supported include schools at all the stations and
two dispensaries.

The varieties of soil are mainly those formed by the decomposition




of basalt rock, though in the south, and especially on the high south-
eastern plateau, areas of sandy soil occur. Black soil is generally
found only in patches in low-lying valleys ; but owing
to the fact that the total area under cultivation is so
small, it furnishes a higher proportion of the whole than in most
Districts. The remaining land consists mainly of the shallow stony
soil in which only the minor autumn crops are grown. Much of the
forest stands on good cultivable soil, and although the land newly
broken up in the last thirty years is generally of the poorer varieties,
still the expansion of cultivation is far from having reached its limit.
About 31 per cent, of the area occupied is uncultivated, resting fallows
being essential in the absence of any artificial stimulus to allow the
poorer land to recuperate. Wheat is sown in embanked fields in the
tract round Mandla town and in open fields in the villages to the south-
west, where the ground is too uneven and the soil not sufficiently
adhesive to allow of embankments.

About Soo square miles, formerly (Government forest, are in process
of settlement on ryotwari Xoxww a, while 10,000 acres are held wholly or
partially free of revenue, and 33 square miles have been sold outright
under the ^^'aste Land Rules. The balance is held on the ordinary
mdlguzari tenure. The following table gives statistics of cultivation in
1903-4, according to revenue returns, areas being in square miles : —









2, .537
2,. 5 24










Wheat covers 164 square miles or 13 per cent, of the cropped area,
rice 173 square miles or 17 per cent., the oilseeds /// and JagnJ
145 square miles, and the small millets kodon and kutkt 444 square
miles. The main feature of recent statistics is the decline in the
popularity of wheat, and the increase in that of almost every other
crop, as a result of the succession of unfavourable wheat harvests.
But in the twenty 'years previous to the summary settlement of iSgo,
the area under wheat had more than doubled, while that of rice had
increased by nearly 50 per cent.

The method of rice cultivation is peculiar, the young shoots being
ploughed up as soon as they appear above the ground, 'i'hose which
are ploughed or trodden well into the ground subsequently take root
more strongly, while those left exposed on the surface die off and the
crop is thus thinned. Little rice is transplanted. The practice of
raising two crops in the embanked wheat-fields has grown up in the


last thirty vt^ars, and second crops are now normally grown on about
80 square miles. Manure is applied to this area. Considerable
quantities of waste or forest land have in recent years been allotted for
cultivation on the ryohvari tenure, the area so taken up amounting to
217 square miles, on which a revenue of Rs. 57,000 is paid. Practically
no loans have been taken under the Land Improvement Act, while
between 1894 and 1904 1-25 lakhs was advanced under the Agri-
culturists' Loans Act.

The catde used are Ijred locally. They are small and weak, no care
being exercised in breeding, though Mandla has every facility for the
production of an excellent class of bullocks. Those raised on the
Raigarh and Ramgarh plateaux are the best. Buffaloes are not
generally used for cultivation, but they are bred, and the cows kept
for the -manufacture of gh'i, the young bulls being sold in Chhattlsgarh.
The upper classes generally keep a small pony of the usual type for
riding, as carts cannot travel except on three or four main roads and
in the Haveli during the open season. Ponies and bullocks are
also largely used for pack carriage. There are very few goats or

Irrigation is insignificant, being applied only to sugar-cane, which
covers about 500 acres, and to vegetable and garden crops, including
the betel-vine gardens, of which there are many round Mandla town.
The sandy soil of the south and south-east would, however, repay irri-
gation. Considerable stretches of sandy or kachhdr land are exposed
on the banks of the Narbada, which are flooded every year by the
river, and fertilized by a deposit of silt : and on these vegetables and
tobacco are raised.

Government forests cover an area of 1,848 square miles, distributed
all over the District, though the most valuable are in the south and
south-east. About 854 miles, not included in this
area, have lately been demarcated for disforestation
and agricultural settlement. The most important tree is the sal {Shorea
robiista), which forms almost pure forests, occupying the whole of the
eastern portion of the District, as well as a fringe of varying depth
along the northern and southern boundaries. It is found in the
south in the forests known as the Banjar and Phen Reserves, where
specimens 100 feet in height and to feet in girth are not uncommon.
The western and central portions of the District contain the ordinary
type of mixed forest common all over the Central Provinces. Teak
is not very plentiful and does not attain large dimensions. Bamboos,
which are very numerous in these mixed forests, are their most
generally useful and valuable product. Owing to the heavy rainfall,
the sal forests in the east of the District are watered by running
streams, and are widely known as grazing grounds for cattle, large


herds being brought to them annually from all parts of the Province
for the hot season. Among the minor products of the forests the most
important is the myrabolam. In an exceptionally favourable year
the Government forests of the District have been known to yield
more than i,ooo tons of this commodity. Other minor products
include lac, resin from the ^JAtree, t'lkhur, and a species of arrow-
root. The forest revenue in 1903-4 was Rs. 1,42,000, of which
about Rs. 44,000 was realized from sales of timber and Rs. 47,000
from grazing.

Extensive iron-ore deposits occur in the District, and are quarried
and smelted by Agarias or Gond iron-workers. The industry does not
flourish, as their methods are very primitive and they find it difficult to
compete with imported iron. The furnaces used are so small that each
smelting does not yield more than 2 lb. of refined iron. Only. 34 tons
of iron were produced in 1904. Manganese is reported to have been
found within 3 miles of Mandla town at Sahasradhara. Limestone of
good quality is common in many parts of the District, but is only
quarried in small quantities to meet local requirements.

Coarse cotton cloth is produced in most of the larger villages, but

no fine material is woven except by a few families of Koshtas in

Mandla town. Machine-made cloth is now worn,

Trade and ■ ^^ interior, except by the forest tribes.

communications. . '. "^ ,,

Other of agriculturists usually wear hand-
woven loin-cloths, and coats of cloth from the mills. The vessels
manufactured from bell-metal at Mandla are well-known locally.
Glass bangles are made at Itka near Nainpur, and lac bangles at
Mandla, BamhnT, and Hirdenagar. The most important bazar or
weekly market is at Pindrai on the western border towards SeonI,
which is both a cattle and grain market, and a centre for the disposal
of local produce and the purchase of imported commodities. The
other large bazars are at Mandla, Bamhni, and Newari in the Mandla
tahsl/, and at Kukarramath in the DindorT ta/isll. Two important
annual fairs are held : at Hirdenagar situated at the junction of the
iianjar with the Matiari, and at Madhpuri on the Narbada about
eight miles east of Mandla town.

Wheat, rice, oilseeds, san-\-\Qn-\\i, and g/n are the staple exports.
From the forests a large quantity of sdl timber and a little leak are
sent, and also lac and myrabolams. Bombay sea-salt and Mauritius
sugar come through Jubbulpore. Kerosene oil is generally used for
lighting. Gi/r is imported from Gawnpore, and in spite of the cost
of carriage can undersell that made locally. The pulse arhar is not
produced in Mandla and is iniportt'd for consumption, as well as
turmeric and all other condiments and spices. X'cssels of brass are
brought from Mirzapur and of bell-metal from L'mrer. Silk and


cotton cloth comes principally from Nagpur. Agarwal and (lahol
Banias conduct the general trade of the District, and Punjabi Muham-
madans the timber trade.

The Jubbul[)ore-Gondia branch of the Eengal-Nagpur Railway,
completed in 1904, passes through a small strip of the District on
the south-western border, and has two stations, Nain[)ur and Pindrai,
within the District. It is in contemplation to construct a branch line
from Nainpur to Mandla, a distance of about 22 miles by the direct
route. At present most of the trade from the west of the District is
with Jubbulpore, along the only existing metalled road. An alternative
route to Jubbulpore through Pindrai attracts some tratific, on account
of the importance of the Pindrai weekly market. From Dindori,
64 miles to the east of Mandla, there is an embanked road to Jubbul-
pore, which affords an outlet from the north-west. Dindori is also
connected with Birsinghpur and Pendra stations on the Katni-Bilaspur
branch of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway. Carriage has hitherto generally
been by pack-animals, except on the main routes. The District has
48 miles of metalled and 233 miles of unmetalled roads, and the
annual expenditure on maintenance is Rs. 35,000. A\'ith the exception
of 7 miles kept up out of Local funds, all roads are maintained by
the Public Works department. Only 13 miles of avenues of trees are
shown in the returns.

Mandla suffered from distress or femine in i8i8-y, 1823-7, and
1833-4. On the first occasion the autumn rains were short, and

excessive rain fell during the winter months. From ^

0^0 • f 1 ^ Famine.

1823 to 1827 a succession ot short crops was expe-
rienced, due to floods, hail, and blight, which caused the desertion of
many villages. In 1833-4 the autumn rains failed, and the spring
crops could not be sown owing to the hardness of the ground, caused
by the premature cessation of the rains. Rice was imported from
Chhattlsgarh by Government agenc}-, but no further details are known
regarding these famines. In the general famine of 1868-9 Mtindla
was only slightly affected, as the kodoii cro[) on which the poorest
of the population depend was fairly successful, and no general relief
was necessary. When the famine of 1896-7 came upon the District,
Mandla had already suffered from a succession of poor crops for three
years.- The autumn harvest of 1896 was a total failure, and distress
was very severe, esi)ecially among the forest tribes, who were inclined
to view with suspicion the efforts made by Government to keep them
alive. Relief operations had commenced in June, 1896, on account of
the previous bad harvests, and they lasted until the end of 1897. The
maximum number on relief was 37,000 persons, or 11 per cent, of the
population, in September, 1897 ; and the total expenditure on relief
was 7>5 lakhs. In 1899-1900 Mandla was not severely affected.


The Deputy-Commissioner is aided by one Assistant or Extra-
Assistant Commissioner. For administrative purposes the District is
. . . divided into two /aZ/jJA, each of which has a /'^/^.y//^(f;'
and a naib-tahsildar. The Forest officer is generally
a member of the Imperial service. The Executive Engineer at Jubbul-
pore is also in charge of Mandla.

The judicial staff consists of a Subordinate Judge who is also Dis-
trict Judge, and a Munsif at Mandla. The Divisional and Sessions
Judge of the Jubbulpore Division has jurisdiction in Mandla. The
civil litigation is petty and crime extremely light, the commonest
class of cases being contraventions of the Excise Act by the illicit
manufacture of liquor.

Mandla is stated to have paid at one time a very high revenue to
its Gond rulers, but when it first came under British control it had
undergone an interlude of Maratha maladministration in its worst form.
No records of the earlier governments remain, but at the date of the
cession in i8i8 the revenue paid to the Marathas is believed to have
been Rs. 40,000. Under the Marathas the revenue was settled
annually with the village headmen, who were allowed to retain one-
se\enth part of it. No rights in land were recognized, but the head-
men and tenants were not usually ejected except for default. Nume-
rous miscellaneous taxes were also imposed, the realizations from
which are said to have exceeded the ordinary land revenue. One
of these was the sale of widows, who were looked on as government
[property, and sold according to a sliding scale varying with their age
and accomplishments, the highest price being Rs. 1,000. The revenue
raised in the first annual settlement after the cession was Rs. 36,000 ;
and subsequent efforts to increase this having resulted in further
impoverishing the District, in 1837 a twenty years' settlement was
made for Rs. 27,000. On its expiry the District was summarily
assessed for a few years until the completion of the twenty years'
settlement of 1868, when the revenue was fixed at Rs. 62,000, or an
increase of more than 48 per cent, on the previous demand. On this
occasion a cadastral survey was undertaken, and proprietary rights
were conferred on the village headmen. The twenty years' settlement
expired in 1888, and the District was then summarily a:ssessed for
a period of fourteen to fifteen years pending the undertaking of
a regular cadastral survey. A very large increase in agricultural pros-
perity had taken place during the currency of the previous settlement,
and the price of grain had more than doubled. At revision the revenue
was raised to Rs. 1,08,000, an increase of 64 per cent, on the former
demand, but giving an incidence of less than 3^ annas per cultivated
acre. 'J'he District is now again under settlement, the previous term
having expired, while a new cadastral survey has also been comi)leted.


The following tabic shows the receipts, in thousands of rupees, of
revenue from land and from all sources: -


1890-1. j 1900-1.


Land revenue • . . j 90
Total revenue . . . 2,46




Mandia has no District council, and Local funds are administered
by the Deputy-Commissioner, the income from these in 1903-4 being
Rs. 31,000. M.wDLA Toww is the only municipality.

The police force consists of 311 officers and men, with 3 mounted
constables, under a District Superintendent, besides 1,043 village
watchmen for 1,834 inhabited towns and villages. Alandla town has
a District jail with accommodation for 85 prisoners, including 8 females ;
the daily average number in 1904 was 69.

In respect of education the District stands fifteenth in the l^rovince,