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river systems of Burma. Its channel is impeded by rapids, and for
navigation it is of no more value than the Sal ween. Its main tribu-
taries in British territory are the Nam Lwi and the Nam Hkok.

Mekran. — Division of Kalat State, Baluchistan. See Makran.

Melghat. — Northernmost tahik of Berar, formerly part of Ellichpur
District, but since August, 1905, incorporated in AmraotT District,
lying between 21° 10' and 21° 47' N. and 76° 38' and 77° 40' E., with
an area of 1,631 square miles. The population fell from 46,849 in
1891 to 36,670 in 1901, the decrease being due to the famine of
1 899-1 900, which led very many of the Korkus to emigrate north-
wards. The density of the population, 22 persons per square mile, is
lower than in any other taluk of Berar. Villages, many of which are
small collections of Korku dwellings, number 330, and the taluk con-
tains no town. Its head-quarters are at the sanitarium of Chikalda.


The inhabitants are principally Korkus ; and the taluk, a very large
proportion of which is state forest, lies entirely in the Gawilgarh hills,
a branch of the Satpura range. The land assessment is based, not
on acreage, but on ox-gangs, or the area which can be ploughed by
a pair of bullocks. The demand for land revenue and cesses in 1903-4
was Rs. 44,000.

Melukote. — Sacred town in the Seringapatam ialuk of Mysore
District, Mysore, situated in 12° 41' N. and 76° 39' E., on the Yadugiri
hills, 16 miles north of French Rocks railway station. Population
(1901), 3,129. It is the seat of the Srlvaishnava Yatiraja math, founded
by the reformer Ramanuja, who, fleeing from persecution by the Chola
king, took up his residence here for twelve years at the beginning
of the twelfth century. He converted the Hoysala king, Bitti Deva
of Mysore, from the Jain faith, and received from him a grant of all
the country north and south of the Cauvery, afterwards known as
AsHTAGRAMA. In the fourteenth century Melukote suffered at the
hands of the Musalmans on their destruction of Dorasamudra, the
Hoysala capital. The king retired to Tondanur, now Tonnur, at
the southern foot of the Yadugiri hills. The place was rebuilt about
1460 by the chief of Nagamangala, but in 1771 was sacked by the
Marathas after their defeat of Haidar at Chinkurali. The principal
temple, a large square building and very plain, is that of Cheluva-
pillerava or Krishna. More striking is that of Narasimha, placed on
the very summit of the rock. From the early part of the seventeenth
century Melukote was under the special patronage of the Rajas of
Mysore. The inhabitants are mostly Brahmans, of whom 400 are
attached to the great temple, some of them being men of learning.
There are also numerous temple servants of Sudra extraction, musicians,
dancing-girls, and Satanis. Some weavers and shopkeepers are the
only persons who live by industry. Two classes of Holeyas or out-
castes, called Tirukula and Jambavakula, have the privilege of entering
the temple once a year to pay their devotions, in return for their
people having helped Ramanuja to recover the image of Krishna when
it was carried off to Delhi by the Muhammadans. Cloths of good
quality are made here, and fragrant fans of khas-k/ias grass. A fine
white clay, said to have been discovered by Emberumanar or Rama-
nuja, is used for making the ndjjia or sect-mark on the forehead, and
is exported to distant places for that purpose, even to Benares. The
municipality dates from 188 1. The receipts and expenditure during
the ten years ending 1901 averaged Rs. 1,400 and Rs. r,6oo. In
1903-4 they were Rs. r,6oo and Rs. 1,400.

Melur Taluk.— Zl^/z/yC' and subdivision in the east of Madura
District, Madras, lying between 9° 52' and 10° 30' N. and 78" 8' and
78° 29' E., with an area of 485 square miles. The population in


1901 was 154,381, compared with 148,656 in 1891. It contains one
town, Melur (population, 10,100), the head-quarters; and 98 villages.
The demand for land revenue and cesses in 1903-4 amounted to
Rs. 4,60,000. In the north are the irregular masses of the Alagar,
Nattam, and Karandamalai hills. The more northern villages, known
as the Arumaganam, which are situated among these hills, are difficuk
of access owing to the lack of roads. The soil is chiefly red sand.
One-half of the tdhik is supplied with water from the Periyar Project,
and some of the best varieties of rice produced in the Presidency are
grown in this part. The remaining portion is irrigated by the Palar,
the Tirumanimuttar, and the Uppar streams, which, however, are not
perennial, and by numerous small tanks which these rivers supply
or which are rain-fed. The fdh/k has been greatly transformed and
enriched by the Periyar water.

Melur Town. — Head-quarters of the tdiuk of the same name in
Madura District, Madras, situated in 10° 2' N. and 78° 20' E., on the main
road between Madura and Trichinopoly. It is a Union with a popula-
tion (1901) of 10,100; and since the extension of irrigation in the
neighbourhood by means of the Periyar Project, the place has risen
in wealth and importance as an agricultural centre. The American
Mission has a station here.

Memadpura. — Petty State in MahI Kantha, Bombay.

Memari. — Village in the head-quarters subdivision of Burdwan
District, Bengal, situated in 23° 10' N. and 88° 7' E. Population
(1901), 1,674. Memari is a station on the East Indian Railway
and an important trade centre. Silk siv-ls and d/iotls arc manu-

Mengni.— Petty State in Kathiawar, Bombay.

Mercara Taluk.— Central tdluk of Coorg, Southern India, lying
between 1 1° 56' and 12° 36' N. and 75° 36' and 75° 57' E., with an area of
216 square miles. The population in 1901 was 28,620, compared with
34,088 in 1891, the decline being due to the falling off in the coffee
industry and consequent depression in trade. The tdluk contains one
town, Mercara (population, 6,732), the head-quarters; and 56 villages.
The Mercara table-land, whose elevation is 3,809 feet above the sea at
the fort, occupies the west centre. From it the Ghat ranges extend
westwards towards Bengunad and the Sampaji valley, northwards lies
a range which includes Kotebetta (5,375 feet), on the east a range
runs towards Fraserpet, and south-east a range which culminates in
Nurokkalbetta. The Cauvery runs along the southern boundary,
receiving from this hxluk the Muttarmudi and the Chikkahole. The
north is drained by the Hatti or Harangi, which for some distance
forms the boundary. Within the tdluk are thus comprised all the
essential features of Coorg. The north and west are occupied by


valuable and extensive coffee plantations, and the soil generally is
fertile and productive for both ' wet ' and ' dry crops.'

Mercara Town (properly Madikeri, 'clean town'). — Chief town
of Coorg, Southern India, situated in 12° 25' N. and 75° 44' E.,
on an elevated plateau, points on which are 3,961 feet above the sea
in the south, 4,155 in the west, 4,267 in the north-east, and 4,345
in the south-east. It consists of the native town of Mahadevapet and
the fort, which is 3,809 feet above the sea. Population (1901), 6,732
(4,496 Hindus, 1,635 Muhammadans, 559 Christians, and 42 others).
For the reasons given in the article on the taluk, the numbers have
fallen from 8,383 in 1891. An efficient water-supply has been provided,
chiefly from private contributions. In 1903-4 the municipal income
was Rs. 18,000, including taxes on houses and lands (Rs. 6,200),
professions and trades (Rs. 2,300), and grants and loans (Rs. 4,500).
The expenditure amounted to Rs. 20,000, the chief items being
hospitals and dispensaries (Rs. 5,300), conservancy (Rs. 3,000), and
education (Rs. 1,700).

Mercara was selected by Muddu Raja on account of its central and
inaccessible position as the site of his fort and capital, and thither
in 1 68 1 he moved the royal residence from Haleri, a few miles to
the north. The present fort, which is of stone, was built by Tipu
Sultan, and named by him Jafarabad. On the approach of the British
force marching against Seringapatam under Abercromby in 1790, the
fort was evacuated by Tipu's troops, and delivered over with all its
guns and ammunition to the Raja of Coorg. It surrendered to the
British without opposition in 1834, and is still in pretty good preserva-
tion, but of little strategical value, being commanded by hills all round
within short range of cannon. It consists of a rampart 8 feet thick,
and from 15 to 20 feet high outside, with battlements 2 feet thick and
5 feet high. The fortress is an irregular hexagon, and nearly conforms
to the shape of the hill-top, leaving enough space for a ditch all round,
and on the north side for a glacis. There are bastions at the six
angles, and the whole is built of strong masonry. The circuitous en-
trance is on the east, and guarded by three successive gates, ^\'ithin
the fort is the palace, erected of brick in 18 12 by Linga Raja. The
ground plan is that of a Coorg house, with a superstructure in
European fashion. It forms a large square of 200 feet, with an open
space in the centre, and is two storeys high. In the fort also are the
Commissioner's residence and the public offices. In the inner fort,
to the southern front of the palace, is the English church, built on
the site of a Virabhadra temple removed in 1855. In the opposite
corner of the courtyard is (or was) the figure of an elephant, in
masonry, life size. It is said that the Raja used to stand on the
balcony of the palace with a rifle and cause prisoners to run across


the yard while he Incd at them, with the promise of their hves if they
escaped to the elephant, which however seldom occurred.

The native town of Mahadevapet, so named after Vira Rajendra's
second Rani, runs along a ridge which stretches northwards from the
fort, being separated from it by a narrow rice valley. It consists of
three streets, two of which are nearly parallel. At the farther end
of the town, on a rising ground, are the picturesque tombs of the
Coorg Rajas. A market is held in the petta every Friday, In a hollow
to the east of the fort is the Omkaresvara temple, around which are
the residences of the principal native officials. But the Coorgs in
Mercara seldom have their families with them ; these remain on the
farms. More to the north are the central school-buildings, erected
on the site of the ruins of the palace built by Linga Raja for the
reception of European visitors. To the south of the fort are the
parade ground and promenade, at the farther end of which is the
Raja's Seat, a public garden from which a fine panorama is obtained
of Coorg scenery.

Mergui Archipelago. — A collection of islands in the Bay of Bengal,
stretching along the coast of the Tenasserim Division of Lower Burma
between, roughly, 9° and 13° N. The Archipelago numbers in all about
800 islands, which are almost uninhabited except by the Salons or
sea-gipsies, who wander from fishery ground to fishery ground in their
boats. The largest is King Island, one of the few that possess regular
villages. The large island of Kisseraing (Kitthayi), though now a waste
of jungle, contains traces of an old Siamese town, mentioned in the
archives of Tenasserim. Others are Tavoy Island, off the south-west
corner, on which are the most important of the bird's-nest caves ; Ross
and Elphinstone, the nearest pearling-ground to Mergui ; Sellore, pro-
tecting the fisheries of Auckland Bay ; Domel, between which and
Kisseraing is the difficult channel of Celerity Passage ; Bentinck,
farther out, and the Great Western Torres, farther still to sea in
97° 30' E. ; Malcolm and Owen, off which are the richest pearling-
grounds ; Sullivan's, little known except to the Salons ; and St. Luke's
and St. Matthew's, forming, with Hastings Island, a fine natural
harbour, and also frequented by Salons. Of the islands at the mouth
of the Pakchan river and southwards, the outer ones generally are
British and those near the coast Siamese.

Mergui District. — Southernmost District of Burma and of the
Tenasserim Division, extending on the mainland from Myinmoletkat
mountain (13° 28' N.) on the border of Tavoy District in the north
to the mouth of the Pakchan river (9° 58' N.) and the Isthmus of Kra
in the south, and including the islands of the Mergui Archipelago from
Tavoy Island to the Aladdin Isles in 9° 38' N. On the east it is con-
terminous with Siam, and at one point, in 99° 40' E., the Gulf of Siam


is only lo miles distant. On the west the islands stretch out as lar

as 97° 30' E. The total area is 9,798 square miles.

North of Mergui town the valley of the Great Tenasserim river is

separated from the sea by a mountain range, culminating in Myin-

moletkat, 6,800 feet high, on the northern border.

Physical Between this ran^e and the coast is a fertile plain,


intersected by small streams runnmg east and west,

and to a great extent cultivated. The rest of the District is of a very

different character. There are no mountain ranges of any importance,

and such level lands as exist are mostly covered by the sea at high tide

or, if inland, flooded during the rains. With the exception of the

valleys of the two Tenasserim rivers and the Upper Pakchan, this

part of the District is generally a network of low hills fringed with

mangrove swamps.

The principal rivers are the Great Tenasserim, rising far to the north,
in Tavoy, and entering the District about 140 miles above Tenasserim
village, where it doubles back on itself and flows into the sea, forming
a delta round Mergui town ; its tributary, the Little Tenasserim, which
joins it at Tenasserim village after a northerly course from the Siam
border; the Lenya, to the south-west of the Little Tenasserim, and
nearly parallel with it, but flowing direct into the sea south of Mergui
after a bend to the north-west ; and the Pakchan, rising in the same
neighbourhood as the Lenya, but flowing south to Victoria Point.
The District is thus, with the exception of the Palaw township, where
a few streams run from east to west, a system of rivers flowing from
north to south or south to north, except where a bend is needed to
enable them to reach the sea. The Mergui Archipelago, which
stretches down the entire length of the coast, numbers 804 islands
of every size, from King Lsland, with an area of 170 square miles, to
mere rocks rising abruptly from the sea. Nearly all are forest-clad, and
most are hilly, often fringed with mangrove swamps, but occasionally
displaying a yellow beach of sand or pebble. With the exception of
King Island, which is partly cultivated by Burmans and Karens, and
some fishing villages, more or less deserted during the monsoon, on
the shores of Kisseraing and Sellore, the islands are almost unin-
habited, but for the Salons or sea-gipsies who wander among them.
A remarkable feature of the coast scenery is the presence of limestone
cliffs, towering sheer out of the water for several hundred feet, and
forming caves w'hich recall the interior of a Gothic cathedral, while
others enclose lakes accessible only at low tide through a tunnel in
the rock. They are the home of the tiny swift that builds the edible
bird's-nest of commerce.

Coal, tin, gold, and other minerals are found in the District. They
are referred to in detail in a later paragraph. The coals of Theindaw


and Kawmapyin on the Great Tenasserini are found in association with
shales, sandstones, and conglomerates, which form a Tertiary basin.
The Moulmein group of beds constitute the greater portion of the
sedimentary rocks. Under these is the Mergui group, a series of
essentially pseudomorphic sedimentary beds, with imbedded fragments
of felspar which have so fiir been noticed only near Mergui. Rocks of
the gneissic series with granite, &c., also occur. It is from the disin-
tegration of this granitic rock that the tin ores are derived.

The flora resembles generally that of the adjoining District of
Tavov. There is a good deal of swamp vegetation. Canes are abun-
dant. The thin reed grows in the valley of the Little Tenasserim.
The principal timber trees are referred to under the head of Forests

The District swarms with monkeys, especially the fisher-monkey
{MacacHS cynomolgiis), which may be seen in great numbers on the
banks of the Palaw river cracking cockle-shells by means of stones ;
and the white-handed gibbon {Hylobates lar), usually black but some-
times light brown, with whose cries the forests everywhere resound at
sunrise. Elephants, tigers, sdmbar, barking-deer, and hog are plentiful,
and rhinoceros and bison are also found. The Malay tapir, which is
hardly known north of the Tavoy river, has been seen in Tenasserim.
Game-birds are less plentiful than in the delta Districts. The Archi-
pelago abounds with fish, prawns, and shrimps, especially in the muddy
waters between Mergui and the mouth of the Lenya river. The clearer
waters yield the pearl mollusc and other shell-fish of economic value.
Whales are frequently seen among the islands, and have given its name
to Whale Bay in the middle of the Archipelago.

The District is unusually healthy for a tropical country. Malaria is
little known, even in the lowlands at the foot of hills, where its most
deadly form is usually looked for. Situated on a peninsula between
two great seas, with no high mountain range to keep off the winds from
the Gulf of Siam, its climate is always mild and moist. The mean
maximum temperature at Mergui town is highest in April (93°) and
lowest in August (85°), and the mean minimum ranges from 68° in
December to 75° in April and May.

The rainfall at Mergui town during the five years ending 1901
averaged 103 inches, and at Victoria Point about the same. A strip
of the District, about 10 miles wide, from Bokpyin to Ross and Elphin-
stone Islands, was devastated on May 4, 1902, by a cyclone, which
denuded the hills of forest and utterly destroyed any village that lay
in its path. Fortunately the tract is thinly populated; but many
fishing-boats were lost, and a part of the pearling fleet anchored near
Ross Island was destroyed.

Mergui has for most of its known history been a Siamese province,


with its capital at Tenasserim. The latter may possibly be identical
with Tun Sun, mentioned in the Chinese annals of the Liang dynasty
(a.d. 502-56) as the terminus of a trade route on the
IS ory. western side of the Malay Peninsula. It is certain

that for hundreds of years Tenasserim was the gateway of the most
direct route to the Far East, commodities being brought to it by sea
from India and the Persian Gulf to meet those carried overland from
Siam and China. From early in the fifteenth century, when the port
was visited by Nicolb de' Conti the Venetian, till the massacre of 1687
described below, the place is constantly mentioned by travellers and
merchants as a great port. Abdur Razzak of Samarkand includes the
inhabitants of Tenasserim among the people to be seen at Ormuz
in 1442. Early in the sixteenth century it is described in the voyages
of Tristan d'Acunha as the first mart for spices in India, and Duarte
Barbosa says its ships were to be seen at Cape Guardafui. Large
vessels were then apparently able to reach Tenasserim, though it is
44 miles up the river ; and goods were carried thence overland to
Ayuthia and the Siamese Gulf. Mergui, however, seems always to
have been its seaport, for it is mentioned by Cesare de' Federici
in 1568.

Mergui has ever been a battle-ground of the rival kingdoms of Burma
and Siam. Cesare said in 1568, 'it of right belongeth to the kingdom
of Sion,' but whenever there was a strong Burmese king it became
a Burmese province. The earliest record is an inscription recently
found near the Shinkodaw pagoda, about 10 miles from Mergui. It is
dated 631 b. e. (a.d. 1269), and records a gift to the pagoda by Nga
Pon, the Royal Usurer of Tayokpyemin ('the king who fled from the
Chinese'), who reigned at Pagan from 1248 to 1285.

Siam was repeatedly invaded by the Burmans under Bayin Naung,
first as general and then as king, between 1548 and 1569, and in the
last year the capital, Ayuthia, was sacked. It is during this period that
Cesare de' Federici refers to Tenasserim as being in the kingdom of
Pegu. In 1587 Bayin Naung's son, the Yuva Raja, attempted to
imitate the exploits of his father ; but his army was destroyed, and
another expedition ended in disaster in 1593. Soon after this the
Burmese kingdom was broken up, and Siam enjoyed peace, so far as
the Burmans were concerned, for 150 years, until the rise of Alaung-
paya. In 1683 the king of Siam appointed Richard Burneby, an
ex-servant of the East India Company, as governor of Mergui, with
Samuel White as Shahbandat-, or Port Officer, of Mergui and Tenas-
serim. A number of luiglish traders were attracted to the place, and
there were also French, Dutch, and Portuguese settlements. But the
East India Company at that time claimed the monopoly of all trade by
Englishmen with the East, and the Council at Madras determined to


eject the interlopers. At the same time King James II was growing
anxious at the estabHshment of French influence at the Siamese capital;
and in 1687 the Curtana arrived outside Mergui with letters declaring
war on Siam pending payment of compensation for injuries done to the
Company's trade, and requiring Burneby and White to send all the
English in Mergui on board the frigate. A truce of sixty days was at
the same time allowed. During the truce the Siamese, under White's
direction, strengthened their defences and staked the river. An attempt
by the commander of the Curtana to remove the stakes resulted in
a general massacre of the Englishmen in Mergui, only three escaping
out of sixty. After this the French became supreme, and fortified
themselves in the town ; but in 1688, as the result of a palace revolu-
tion, they were attacked and driven out. For the next seventy years
Siam was torn by incessant civil war, and a further blow was inflicted
on the trade of Mergui by the presence of pirates of all nationalities.
By 1757 Alaungpaya had become all-powerful in Burma, and had
founded the city of Rangoon. The usual invasion of Siam followed
at the end of 1759 by way of Mergui and Tenasserim, which were
occupied without resistance. Ayuthia was reached, but the siege was
abandoned owing to the illness of Alaungpaya, who died on the march
back to Burma. In 1775, however, another army was sent by his son
Sinbyushin under the Burmese general Maha Thihathura, and after
a siege of fifteen months the city was utterly destroyed. The Siamese
founded a new capital at Bangkok, and Tavoy and Mergui remained in
possession of the Burmans.

In 1786 Siam was invaded by Bodawpaya, but without success, and
in 1792 the people of Tavoy rebelled and delivered up the town to the
Siamese. It was soon retaken, and Mergui, which had been success-
fully held by the Burmese governor, was relieved. Another rebellion
was crushed in 1808. Soon after this, friction arose between the British
and Burmese Governments. War was declared in 1824, which resulted
in the annexation of the Arakan and Tenasserim provinces in 1826.
In October, 1824, the East India Company's cruiser Meni/ry, with
Lieutenant-Colonel Miles and 370 men of the 89th Regiment, appeared
before Mergui, and the fort was carried with a loss of six men killed
and two officers and twenty-two men wounded. In 1825 a Siamese
force ravaged the country about Tenasserim, but was driven off; and
the present Mergui subdivision, almost depopulated by incessant wars
and rebellions, at last enjoyed a long period of tranquillity.

The principal pagodas are the Legyunsimi at Mergui, built in 1785
over a smaller one erected soon after Alaungpaya's invasion ; and
the Zedawun pagoda, said to date from 1208, situated on a hill
10 miles up the Tenasserim river and commanding a fine view of
the valley.



The population of Mergui District has increased steadily from 47,192

' in 1872 to 56,559 in 1S81, 73,748 in 1891, and

Population. 00

88,744 in 1901.

The principal statistics of area and population in 1901 are given

below : —








Number of



Percentage of
variation in

population be-
tween i8qi
and looi.

Number of

persons able to

read and


Mergui .
Palaw .
Tenasserim .

District total

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