Great Britain. India Office.

Imperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 17) online

. (page 32 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

municipality and 39,389 in cantonments.

The derivation of the name is uncertain. According to one account


it is derived from an architect named MahT, in the time of King
Yudhishthira. The Jats allege that it was founded by a colony of
their caste belonging to the Maharashtra gotra. The Asoka pillar
now standing on the Ridge at Delhi was removed from Meerut, and
remains of Buddhist buildings have been found near the Jama Masjid.
Meerut is said to have been captured early in the eleventh century
by Saiyid Salar Masud ; and about the same time Har Dat, Raja
of Baran (Bulandshahr), built a fort here, which was one of the
most celebrated in Hindustan for its strength. The fort was captured
by Kutb-ud-dTn in 1192, and all the Hindu temples were converted
into mosques. In 1327 a Mongol chief, Tarmshirln Khan, made an
unsuccessful attempt on the city, but it was completely sacked and
destroyed by Timur in 1399. Under Mughal rule the place revived
and several fine buildings were erected. The brick fort is mentioned
in the Ain-i-Akbarl, and Akbar struck copper coin at Meerut. The
troubled times of the eighteenth century were unfavourable to the
growth of towns in the Upper Doah, and in 1805 Meerut was described
as 'a ruinous, depopulated town, and a place of no trade.' In 1806
cantonments were first established, and population grew rapidly to
29,014 in 1847 and 82,035 ''^ i^53- Meerut obtained an unenviable
notoriety in 1857 as the spot where the Mutiny broke out in Upper
India. Disquieting rumours had been abroad for some time, and
in April the troopers of the 3rd Cavalry refused to use the new
cartridges. On May 9, eighty-five men were condemned to long terms
of imprisonment ; and the next afternoon, Sunday, May 10, a cry was
raised that the Europeans were going to seize the magazines of the
native infantry. The men of the 20th Native Infantry took up arms,
and the Mutiny commenced. Several Europeans were shot down at
once, and the bad characters of the city gathered together, armed with
any weapons they could find. The convicted troopers were released
from jail without the slightest opposition by the guards, and the rest
of the prisoners broke out. The infuriated mob of sepoys, police,
hangers-on about the bazars, servants, and convicts burned and
plundered the cantonments, murdering every Christian they met. In
the civil station, which lies some distance away, nothing was known
of the outbreak until close on 7 p.m., when the people going to church
saw the blaze of burning bungalows. Even the native troops posted
there remained steady till relieved. The British troops cantoned near
the civil lines included a regiment of cavalry, 800 infantry, and a large
force of artillery ; but nothing was done by the superior military
authorities, and the general organization was defective. Many of the
Carabineers could not ride, and there was a want of horses. Much
time was wasted in a roll-call, and when the sepoys' lines were reached
after dark, they were found deserted. No pursuit was attempted, and


the mutineers were allowed to reach Delhi in safety. The city was,
however, held throughout the disturbances, and was the base of a small
volunteer force known as the Khaki Risala, which helped materially
in the restoration of order.

The native city lies south of the cantonments and east of the railway
line. The streets are generally of mean appearance, and are badly
arranged. The oldest monuments are a mausoleum and dargdh erected
by Kutb-ud-din in 1194, the former in the city, and the latter about
a mile away on the site of a famous temple to Nauchandi Debt. The
Jama Masjid is said to have been built in 10 19 by Hasan Mahdl,
Wazir of Mahmud of Ghazni, and was repaired by Humayun. A fine
dargdh of red sandstone was erected by Nur Jahan, wife of the
emperor Jahangir, in 1628, in memory of a fakir named Shah Pir ;
and there are some other seventeenth-century mosques and tombs.
The great tank called the Suraj Kund, or ' sun tank,' constructed in
1714, is surrounded by numerous small temples and sati pillars.

The town hall, containing the Lyall Library, is an imposing building,
the foundation-stone of which was laid in 1884 by the Duke of
Connaught, then commanding the Meerut military district. In the
cantonments the finest building is the church, which was built in 182 1,
and has a handsome spire. There are also a Roman Catholic church
and a mission chapel, an asylum for the relief of distressed European
and native Christians, and a club. The Mall is one of the finest
station roads in India. Besides being the head-quarters of the ordinary
District staff, Meerut is the residence of the Commissioner of the
Division of the same name, Superintending Engineers of both the
Roads and Buildings and Irrigation branches of the Public Works
department, and two Executive Engineers in charge of divisions of
the Upper Ganges Canal. The Church Missionary Society and the
American Methodists have their principal stations here, besides several
branches in the District.

Meerut was constituted a municipality in 1864. During the ten
years ending igoi the income and expenditure averaged about
2-3 lakhs ; but the receipts include a loan of 7| lakhs for water-
supply in 1895, and the expenditure includes the cost of the works
and an annual sum on account of capital and interest. In 1903-4
the total income was 2-2 lakhs, chiefly derived from octroi (1-4 lakhs)
and municipal property, fines, &c. (Rs. 41,000). The expenditure
of 2-5 lakhs included : general administration (Rs. 2,000), collection of
taxes (Rs. 31,000), water-supply (Rs. 21,000), conservancy (Rs. 21,000),
public safety (Rs. 15,000), and repayment of loans with interest
(Rs. 65,000). A house tax has recently been sanctioned.

The water-works were completed in 1896. The supply is taken
from the Upper Ganges Canal, 9 miles away, at a place called Bhola.


The engines by which the supply is raised are worked by turbines
turned by the water in the canal falls. In 1903-4 the daily consump-
tion of water amounted to between 4 and 5 gallons per head. The
drainage of the city is good, and all channels have been lined with
masonry and the whole system recast within the last few years.

The normal garrison in the cantonments consists of four regiments
of British and Native cavalry and infantry, and two horse and two
field batteries. The income of cantonment funds in 1903-4 was 1-4
lakhs, and the expenditure i'2 lakhs. The chief taxes are octroi and
a house tax.

The prosperity of the city was originally due to the presence of
a large cantonment, and the population was in fact larger in 1853 than
in 1872. The extension of the North-Western Railway in 1867 and
1869, however, laid the foundation of a more extended trade than the
supply of local needs. In 1887 a bonded warehouse was opened about
a mile from the city station, with which it is connected by a branch
line, and 8 or 9 lakhs of maunds of grain, and nearly as much sugar,
pass through this every year. Cotton cloth, building materials, oilseeds,
spices, and ghl form the chief imports. Manufactures are not yet of
much importance, but there are a large soap factory and a flour- and
oil-mill. An important agricultural show is held annually near the
Nauchandi temple, a mile from the city. The exhibits include 1,800
horses, besides cattle, agricultural products and implements, &:c. ; and
valuable prizes are given.

The chief educational institutions are the Meerut College and the
normal school. The former was founded in 1892 at a cost of 2 lakhs
raised by subscriptions, and receives an annual grant of Rs. 8,000 from
Government. It had 123 pupils in 1903-4, of whom 15 were reading
for a degree and 35 were in the First Arts classes. The oldest school
belongs to the Church Missionary Society and has 129 pupils. There
are eight other secondary schools with about 800 pupils, and four
primary schools with 159 pupils, of whom over 100 are girls. Among
the secondary schools may be mentioned that supported by the Arya
Samaj, which is very strong here. The municipality spends about
Rs. 10,000 annually on education.

Meghasani.- — Mountain peak in Mayurbhanj, one of the Orissa
Tributary States, Bengal, situated in 21° 38' N. and 86° 21' E. Its
height is 3,824 feet ; there is a plateau on the top of the hill.

Meghna, The.- — Great estuary of the Bengal delta, which conveys to
the sea the main volume of the waters of both the Ganges and the
Brahmaputra, and thus forms the outlet for the drainage of half
India. The name is properly applied only to the channel of the old
Brahmaputra, from Bhairab Bazar downwards, after it has received the
Surma or Barak from Sylhet, in 24° 2' N. and 90° 59' E. ; but some


maps mark the head-waters of the iMeghna as a small stream mean-
dering through the centre of Mymensingh District, and joining the
Brahmaputra near Bhairab Bazar. At the present time the main
streams of the Brahmaputra or Jamuna, and of the Ganges, unite at
Goalundo in Eastern Bengal, and, under the name of the Padma, enter
the estuary of the Meghna opposite Chandpur. The Meghna proper
runs almost due south, and forms the boundary between the Dacca
Division to the west and the Chittagong Division. It nowhere flows
between clearly defined banks ; and it enters the sea in 22° 25' N. and
91*^ 16' E., after a course of 161 miles, by four principal mouths, en-
closing the islands of Dakhin Shahbazpur, Hatia, and SandwIp.

The general characteristics of the Meghna are everywhere the same
— a mighty rolling flood of great depth and velocity, sometimes split
up into half a dozen channels by sandbanks of its own formation,
sometimes spreading out into a wide expanse of water which the eye
cannot see across. It is navigable by native boats of the largest bur-
den, and also by river steamers all the year round ; but navigation is
difficult and sometimes dangerous. At low tide the bed is obstructed
by shifting sandbanks and snags ; and when the tide is high or the
river is in flood, and especially when the monsoon is blowing, the
surface often becomes too boisterous for heavy-laden river craft to ride
in safety. The most favourable season for navigation is between
November and February ; but even in those months the native boatman
fears to continue his voyage after nightfall. Alluvion and diluvion are
constantly taking place, especially along the sea-board, where the
antagonistic forces of river and ocean are ever engaged in the process
of land-making. In Noakhali District the mainland is steadily ad-
vancing seawards ; while the islands fringing the mouth are annually
being cut away and re-deposited in fresh shapes. For some years past
the Meghna has shown a tendency to shift its main channel gradually
towards the west.

The tidal phenomena of the Meghna surpass those of any other
Indian river. The regular rise of the tide is from 10 to 18 feet ; and
at spring-tides the sea rushes up in a single wave, known as the 'bore.'
On the Meghna the bore is no mere spectacle for admiration, but a
justly dreaded danger to boatmen. It may be witnessed in its greatest
development at the time of the equinoxes, when navigation is some-
times impeded for days together, especially when the wind blows from
the south. Before anything can be seen, a noise like thunder is heard
seawards in the far distance. Then the tidal wave suddenly comes
into view, advancing like a wall topped with foam, of the height of
nearly 20 feet, and moving at the rate of 15 miles an hour. In a few
minutes all is over, and the brimming river has at once changed from
ebb to flood-tide.

VOL. xvii. s


A still greater danger than the bore is the storm-wave which occasion-
ally sweeps up the Meghna in the wake of cyclones. These storm-
waves also are most liable to occur at the break of the monsoons in
May and October. In the cyclone of May, 1867, the island of Hatia
was entirely submerged by a wave which is estimated to have reached a
height of 40 feet. But the greatest of these disasters within the memory
of man occurred on the night of October 31, 1876. Towards evening
of that day the wind had gradually risen till it blew a gale. Suddenly,
at about midnight in some places, and nearer dawn in others, the roar
of the bore was heard drowning the noises of the storm. Two and
three waves came on in succession, flooding in one moment the entire
country, and sweeping before them every living thing that was not
lucky enough to reach a point of vantage. The destruction of human
life on that memorable night is credibly estimated at 100,000 souls in
the mainland portion of Noakhali District and on the islands of Sand-
wlp and Hatia, or about 19 per cent, of the total population of these
places. As usually happens in such cases, the mortality subsequently
caused by cholera and a train of dependent diseases equalled thai
due directly to drowning.

[A full account of this calamity will be found in the Report on the
Vizagapatam and Backergunge Cyclones, 1876.]

Mehar Subdivision. — Subdivision of Larkana District, Sind,
Bombay, composed of the Mehar, NasIkabad, and Kakar tdlukas.

Mehar. — Tdluka of Larkana District, Sind, Bombay, lying between
27" 2' and 27"^ 2i' N. and 67° 30' and 68° 8' E., with an area of 328
square miles. The population in 1901 was 58,434, compared with
48,320 in 1891. The tdluka contains 64 villages, of which Mehar is
the head-quarters. The density, 178 persons per s(}uare mile, greatly
exceeds the District average. The land revenue and cesses in 1903-4
amounted to 2-8 lakhs. The tdluka is irrigated by the AVestern Nara
and one of its feeders, the staple crops being joivdr and rice. Prior
to the floods of 1874 Mehar was very fertile, but the water has now
become brackish and all the gardens have perished. Cultivation near
the hills on the west depends entirely upon the rainfall.

Meherpur Subdivision.— Northern subdivision of Nadia District,
Bengal, lying between 23° 36' and 24"" 1 1' N. and 88° 18' and 88° 53' E.,
with an area of 632 square miles. The subdivision is a deltaic tract,
bounded on the north by the JalangI ; a considerable portion con-
sists of a low-lying tract of black clay soil. The population increased
from 336,716 in 1891 to 348,124 in 1901, the density being 551
persons per square mile. The subdivision contains the town of
Meherpur (population, 5,766), the head-quarters; and 607 villages.

Meherpur Town (J///^/-/)///'). — Mead quarters of the subdivision of
the same name in Nadia District, Bengal, situated in 23° 47' N. and


88° 38' E., on the Bhairab river. Population (1901), 5,766. Meherpur
was constituted a municipality in 1869. The income during the decade
ending 190 1-2 averaged Rs. 4,400, and the expenditure Rs. 3,500.
In 1903-4 the income was Rs. 3,900, half of which was obtairied from
a tax on persons ; and the expenditure was Rs. 3,800. The town con-
tains the usual public ot^ces ; the sub-jail has accommodation for 13
prisoners. The Church Missionary Society has a branch at Meherpur.
Good bell-metal ware is manufactured.

Mehidpur Zila. — District of the Indore State, Central India, lying
between 23° 5'' and 23° 48' N. and 75° 32' and 76° 35^ E., in the Sondh-
wara division of Malvva, with an area of 840 square miles. It con-
sists of two separate sections : the main block, and the Sundarsi pargana
which lies south-east of the former. The country is typical of Mahva,
consisting of an open undulating plain covered with black cotton soil.
It is watered by the Sipra, Kali Sind, and ChhotI Kali Bind, and has an
annual rainfall of 25 inches. The population decreased from 120,869
in 1891 to 91,857 in 1901, giving a density in the latter year of 109
persons per square mile. The District contains two towns, Mehidpur
(population, 6,681), the head-quarters, and Tarana (4,490); and 432^
villages. The one-third village is due to the curious tripartite possession
of Sundarsi by the Gwalior, Dhar, and Indore Darbars, each State
having an equal portion of the place.

For administrative purposes the district is divided into Iwe pargamis,
with head-quarters at Mehidpur, Jharda, Tarana, Makron, and Sundarsi,
each in charge of an ami//, while the whole is in charge of a Siibah,
whose head-quarters are at Mehidpur. The total revenue is ■4-8 lakhs.
The principal routes lead to Nagda on the Ujjain-Ratlam and Tarana
Road on the Ujjain-Bhopal Railways. The Nagda-Muttra branch of
the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway, now under con-
struction, will pass through Godapur, 10 miles from Mehidpur.
Metalled roads run from Tarana to Sumrakhera and from Mehidpur
to Patparsi, and a portion of the Ujjain-Agar high road also traverses
the district. Several new roads are under construction.

Mehidpur Town (also Mahaipur or Mahidpur). — Head-quarters of
the district and pargana of the same name in Indore State, Central
India, situated in 23° 29' N. and 75° 40' E., on the right bank of the
sacred Sipra river, 24 miles north of Ujjain, 1,543 feet above sea-level.
Population (1901), 6,681. The town is divided into two separate
sections, known as the kila or fort and the punva or hamlet. The
kila is an isolated quarter, surrounded by a bastioned stone wall, and
situated on the river bank. It w^as built in the eighteenth century by
the Vagh Saranjami sarddrs, locally known as the Vagh Rajas. Its
streets are dark and narrow, with tall stone houses on either side,
often ornamented by graceful balconies and windows of carved wood.

s 2


Throughout the kila and on the ghats along its western front are
numerous remains of Hindu temples, destroyed during the Muhamma-
dan occupation. The purwa is also enclosed by a stone wall, and,
though formerly a place of importance, is entirely lacking in buildings
of merit or interest. To the east stands the tomb of Godar Shah,
a Muhammadan saint, from which a fine view of the town and river
and the surrounding country is obtained. To the south, along the
steep eastern bank of the river, lie the remains of the old cantonment,
with its long avenue of lofty Millingtonias and the remains of the
picturesquely situated bungalows ; to the west stands the purwa
with the kila beyond it, and across the stream a wide open plain,
the field of the battle referred to below.

Mehidpur is supposed by Hindus to stand in the Mahakalban or
great sacred forest of Mahakal, which is said to have formerly covered
all the country round Ujjain. From this circumstance it derives special
sanctity; and in 1897, when cholera interfered with the attendance at
the great Sinhast religious fair at Ujjain, about 5,000 sadhus performed
their ablutions in the Sipra at Mehidpur instead. After the occupation
of Malwa by the Muhammadans, it was renamed Muhammadpur and
appears under that name in local documents, and in the Ain-i-Akbarl,
where it is sliown as the chief town of a mahdl in the Sarangpur sarkar
of the Siibah of Malwa. This name, however, has never come into
general use. About 1740 it was assigned as a saranjdml jagir by
Malhar Rao Holkar I to his feudatories the so-called Vagh Rajas,
who until 181 7, when Malhar Rao H confiscated their holding, virtually
ruled this part of Malwa. The descendant of the Vagh Rajas still
lives in the fort and holds a small grant of land.

About 2 miles to the south-west across the river the battle-field of
Mehidpur is still marked by a small cemetery, containing the graves
of nine officers who fell on that occasion. Sir John Malcolm, who
commanded the forces engaged in this battle, arrived at Gannia village,
20 miles scjuth of Mehidpur, on December 19, 181 7. On the morning
of the 20th Tulsi Bai was murdered by Ghafur Khan, and all negotia-
tions fell through. Malcolm then pushed on along the right bank of
the Sipra. The enemy were drawn up on the left bank, so as to form
the chord of a bend in the stream. The river was forded under a heavy
fire and the position carried at the point of the bayonet. Except the
artillerymen, who, as usual, stood to their guns till they were bayoneted,
Holkar's troops offered no effective resistance. The losses, which were
entirely due to the fire of Holkar's guns, amounted to 174 killed,
including 9 British officers, and 606 wounded. Malcolm moved on to
Mandasor, where a treaty with Holkar was signed on January 6, 1818.

Mehidpur was selected as a station for the Mehidpur Contingent
raised under the treaty of 1818, and remained a military station till


1882. On November 8, 1857, the troops were attacked by a number
of Rohillas from the town, the Muhammadans in the Contingent join-
ing with the mutineers. Two British officers were killed, the European
sergeant escaping to Indore, escorted by some Hindu troops of the
corps. After the Mutiny, Mehidpur became the head-quarters of
the Western Malwa Political Charge until i860, when they were trans-
ferred to Agar.

Trade is declining for want of good communications, though a con-
siderable amount of poppy is grown in the neighbourhood, and crude
opium is sent to Ujjain for manufacture. A municipality has recently
been constituted. Mehidpur contains the zi/a and pargana offices, a
British post office, several schools, a hospital, and an inspection bungalow.

Mehkar Taluk. — Southern taluk of Buldana District, Berar, lying
between 19° 52' and 20° 25' N. and 76° 2" and 76° 52' E., with an area
of r,oo8 square miles. The population fell from 153,046 in 1891 to
120,792 in 1901, the density in the latter year being 120 persons
per square mile. The tdhik contains 313 villages and one town,
Mehkar (population, 5,330), the head-quarters. The demand for land
revenue in 1903-4 was Rs. 2,73,000, and for cesses Rs. 21,000. The
tdlnk lies in the Balaghat, in the south-western corner of Berar ; but
the valleys of the Penganga and the southern Purna, which traverse
it, contain fertile tracts.

Mehkar To'wn. — Head-quarters of the taluk of the same name in
Buldana District, Berar, situated in 20° 10' N. and 76° 37'' E. Popu-
lation (1901), 5,330. According to a legend, it takes its name from
Meghan Kara, a demon who was overpowered and slain by Sarangdhar,
an incarnation of Vishnu. A Muhammadan poet informs us that Mehkar
is 795 years older than the Hijri era. A fine specimen of a Hemad-
panti temple is situated here. Mehkar is mentioned in the Ain-i-
Akbart as the head-quarters of a sarkdr, or revenue district. In 1769
Madhu Rao Peshwa, accompanied by Rukn-ud-daula, the Nizam's
minister, encamped here with the intention of punishing Janoji
Bhonsla, who had assisted Raghunath Rao's insurrection. General
Doveton also encamped here in 181 7 on his march to Nagpur against
Appa Sahib Bhonsla, who had broken the Treaty of Deogaon. Mehkar
formerly contained many weavers, Hindu and Muhammadan. The
latter were so rich that they not only undertook to fortify the place,
but could afford to build up the fallen rampart, as appears from an
inscription dated 1488 on the Mumins' Gate, still standing. Pindari
inroads reduced the town to great distress, and its ruin was completed
by the great famine of 1803, after which only 50 huts remained
inhabited. Excellent dhotis were formerly woven at Mehkar, but the
cheapness of European fabrics has lessened the demand for these.

Mehmadabad Taluka.— North-western idluka of Kaira District,


Bombay, lying between 22*^ 44' and 22° 55' N. and 72"^ 36' and
72° 57' E., with an area of 171 square miles. It contains 66 villages
and two towns, (population, 8,166), the head-quarters,
and Kaira (10,392), the District head-quarters. The population in 1901
was 75,926, compared with 92,367 in 1891. The density, 444 persons
per square mile, is almost equal to the District average. The land
revenue and cesses in 1903-4 amounted to nearly 2-4 lakhs. The
taluka consists of a rich level plain, mostly open and thinly wooded.
The land is poor, light, and sandy, but a portion is suited for rice
cultivation. The Meshvo and Vatrak are shallow streams running

Mehmadabad Town {Malwiudabad). — Head-quarters of the taluka
of the same name in Kaira District, Bombay, situated in 22° 50' N.
and 72° 46' E., on the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway,
17 miles south of Ahmadabad. Population (1901), 8,166. It was
founded in 1479 by Mahmud Begara, who ruled in Gujarat from
. 1459 to 15 1 1, and improved by Mahmud III (1537-54), who built a deer-
park with an enclosure 6 miles long. At each corner of the park was