Great Britain. India Office.

Imperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 17) online

. (page 39 of 51)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 17) → online text (page 39 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


marvellous feats of long-distance tracking.

The fiscal conditions which obtain in the north are very different
from those of the southern iahslls, and even the two northern tahsils
have widely different histories. Mianwali appears to have paid the
large sum of i^- lakhs under Sikh rule. Lump assessments were made
on annexation and in 1850, until in 1853 the Deputy-Commissioner
of Leiah made a summary settlement of all the country west and south
of the Salt Range, including the modern tahsils of Mianwali, Leiah,
and Bhakkar. Leiah and Bhakkar had been summarily settled once
before, and a careful measurement of all the cultivation was made.
The demand for the three tahsils was more than 3^ lakhs. Various
other summary settlements were made in these tahsils, but the Leiah
District was broken up in 1861.

Isa Khel became subject to the Durranis on the downfall of the
Mughal empire, and paid revenue to them, sometimes without, but
more often after, coercion. In 1836 the Sikhs established themselves
here. The annual amount they realized is not known, but after
annexation a quarter of the estimated value of the crops was collected
for four years. In 1853 John Nicholson made a summary settlement,
based on these collections, imposing a severe assessment which lasted
for five years. In 1857 another and more lenient summary assess-
ment was made, which remained in force for eighteen years.

The regular settlement of Bannu District, made in 187 1-9, treated
the tahsils of Mianwali and Isa Khel very lightly. A fluctuating
assessment was generally levied in the riverain tracts, Rs. 1-4 per acre
being charged on all land sown in any year, except land newly broken
up, which paid 12 annas. These tahsils came under revision (jf
settlement in 1903, and an increase of Rs. 72,000, or 39 per cent.,
on the old revenue of 1-9 lakhs is expected.

The regular settlement of Dera Ismail Khan District v,as carried
out from 1872 to 1879. The Thai tract of the Bhakkar and Leiah
tahsils was as.sessed at a fixed revenue, but the assessment broke down,
and since 1887 a semi-fluctuating system has been in force. The
Indus valley portion of these two tahsils was originally assessed at
a fluctuating acreage rate. At the latest settlement, 1 898-1 904, the
same system of semi-fluctuating assessment, somewhat modified in
its details, has been continued in the Thai of both tahsils. The
principle is that, when a share equal to from one-fourth to three-fourths
of the area irrigated by a well falls out of cultivation, a corresponding
fraction of the assessment will be remitted. The revenue on the 'dry'
cultivation and the grazing revenue are fixed. In the Indus valley
a system of fluctuating crop-rates has been introduced, and the whole



ADMINISTRA TION 3 2 5

revenue varies. The demand, including cesses, for the whole District in
1903-4 amounted to nearly 5-7 lakhs. The average size of a proprietary
holding is 57 acres, but some very large holdings raise the average.

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





1900-1.


1903-4.


Land revenue
Total revenue .


4,27
6,08


4,06
6,07



The District contains six municipalities : Mianwali, Isa Khel,
Kalabagh, Bhakkar, Leiah, and Karor. Outside these, local affairs
are managed by a District board, whose income in 1903-4 was
Rs. 40,000, mainly derived from a local rate. The expenditure in
the same year was Rs. 45,000, the largest item being Rs. 17,000
spent on education.

The police force numbers 492 of all ranks, including 81 municipal
and 8 ferry police, under a Superintendent, who usually has 3 inspectors
under him. There are 15 police stations and 5 police posts. The
District jail at head-quarters has accommodation for 317 prisoners
of all classes.

The District stands sixteenth among the twenty-eight Districts of
the Province in respect of the literacy of its population. In 1901 the
proportion of literate persons was 3-7 per cent. (6'7 males, 0-3 females).
The number of pupils under instruction was 7,589 in 1 900-1, and
8,290 in 1903-4. In the latter year there were 4 secondary, 72 primary,
and 3 special (public) schools, 13 advanced and 208 elementary (private)
schools, with 412 girls in the public and 967 in the private schools.
The principal school is the high school at Mianwali town. Industrial
schools for girls are maintained at Isa Khel and Mankera. The total
expenditure on education in 1903-4 was Rs. 27,000, of which Local
funds contributed Rs. 15,000, municipal funds Rs. 2,600, and fees
Rs. 4,000.

Besides the Mianwali civil hospital, the District has five out-lying
dispensaries. These institutions in 1904 treated a total of 98,407 out-
patients and 2,349 in-patients, and 4,962 operations were performed.
The expenditure was Rs. 15,000, District and municipal funds con-
tributing Rs. 5,000 each, and Government Rs. 5,000.

The number of successful vaccinations in 1903-4 was 10,464,
representing 24-7 per 1,000 of the population. The Vaccination Act
has been extended to the towns of Mianwali, Isa Khel, and Leiah.

[D. C. J. Ibbetson, District Gazetteers of Bannu and Dera Ismail
Khan (1883-4) ; S. S. Thorburn, Settlement Report of Bannu (1879);
H. St. G. I'ucker, Settlement Report of Dera Ismail Khan (1879).]



326 MIANWALI TAHSiL

Mianwali Tahsil. — Head-ciiuirters iahs'il of Mianwali District:,
Punjab, lying between 32° 11' and ^^-^ 2'N. and 71° 16' and 7i°58''E.,
with an area of 1,478 square miles. The population in 1901 was
111,883, compared with 103,909 in 1S91. It contains the town of
Mianwali' (population, 3,591), the head-quarters; and 69 villages.
'i"he land revenue and cesses in 1903-4 amounted to Rs. 72,000.
Tlie northern part of the tahsil is enclosed between the western slopes
of the Salt Range on the east and the Indus on the west, forming
a picturesque corner, which contrasts with the monotonous level of
the remainder of tlie cis-Indus territory of the District, in whicli its
southern part lies.

Mianwali Town'. — Head-cjuarters of the District and taJis'il of
Mianwali, Punjab, situated in 32° 35' N. and 71° 31'' E., on the high
left bank of the Indus, 655 feet above sea-level. It is the residence
of a notable Saiyid family, the Mians of Mianwali, descended from
a local Muhammadan saint, and themselves possessing a great reputa-
tion for sanctity. Population (1901), 3,591. Mianwali was long the
head-quarters of the Mianwali subdivision of Bannu District, and was
made the head-cjuarters of the new Mianwali District in 1901. The
civil lines are situated about half a mile from Mianwali, which is
little more than a village, and has no commercial importance. It was
made a municipality in 1903 4, and contains a hospital and a model
Government high school.

Michni. — Fort in the District and tahsil of Peshawar, Xorth-\\'est
Frontier Province, situated in 34° 11' N. and 71° 27' E., on the left
bank of the Kabul river, close to where it issues from the hills, and
15 miles north of Peshawar city. The fort, which commands an
important ferry over the Kabul river, was constructed in 1851 2 on
account of the numerous raids by Mohmands from beyond the frontiei'.
Lieutenant Boulnois, in conmiand of the party constructing the fort,
was murdered here by Mohmands in 1852 : and in 1873 Major
MacDonald, the commandant of the post, was murdered in its vicinity.
There is no village of Michni ; but tlie Tarakzai Mohmands have settle-
ments all round, those on the south side of the river being in British
territory. Fort Michni was formerly under the command of a field
officer, subordinate to the Brigadier-Cicneral at Peshawar ; but in
1.885 '^'^ w^s handed over to the border miHlary p(jlice, who now hold
it with a garrison of twenty men.

Midagesidurga. — Fortified hill, 3,376 feet high, in the north-east
of 'I'umkur District, Mysore, situated in 13° 50' N. and 77° 12' E.
It is said to be named after a princess who was burned here with the
corpse of her husband. Ranis of the same family held it till it was

' Created a municipality since llie last Census, and hence noi shown as a lown in
tlie table on p. 319.



MIDXAPORE DISTRICT 327

taken a])oiit 1670 by the Maddagiri chiefs, in wliose hands it remained
till captured by Haidar All in 1761. 7'he Marathas took it in 1767,
but it was recovered by Tipfi Sultan in 1774.

Midnapore District {Medinipur). — Southernmost District in the
Burdwan Division of Bengal, lying between 21° 36' and 22° 57' N. and
86° ^Tj' and 88° 1 1' E., with an area of 5,186 square miles. Midnapore
is the largest and most populous of the Bengal Regulation Districts ;
and it is proposed to subdivide it into two Districts in order to ensure
greater efficiency of administration. Its western boundary marches
with Balasore District and the Mayurbhanj Tributary State of Orissa
and with the Singhbhum and Manl)hum Districts of Chota Nagpur,
while its southern boundary is the coast-line of the Bay of Bengal-
To the east the Hooghly river and its tributary the Rupnarayan
separate it from the Twenty-four Parganas, Howrah, and Hooghly
Districts, while on the north it is bounded by Bankura.

This extensive District comprises three tracts of well-marked charac-
teristics : the north and west are of laterite formation, the east is
deltaic, and the south is seaboard. The Contai
and Tamluk subdivisions, on the sea-coast and the Physical
estuary of the Hooghly, contain the mouths of the
Rasulpur and Haldi rivers. They are comparatively free from malaria
and produce very rich crops of rice. The Ghatal subdivision, farther
north, slopes back from the bank of the Rupnarayan ; the soil is a rich
alluvium, but much of its area is liable to floods, and, though excellent
crops are reaped, the inhabitants suffer greatly from malaria. The
head-quarters subdivision consists in the north and west of thinly
wooded and rocky uplands forming part of the fringe of the Chota
Nagpur plateau ; here the climate is good, though the laterite soil is
dry and infertile. Towards the east and south the level dips, and
a swampy hollow is formed between the elevated country to the west
and the comparatively high ground along the coast. The conditions
in this tract are very similar to those in the Ghatal subdivision which
it adjoins. In the north-west corner there are several hills over 1,000
feet in height, but the rest of the District is nearly level. The scenery
is varied in the north and west, where there are extensive sal forests
and the country is undulating and picturesque.

The chief rivers are the Hooghly and its three tidal tributaries, the
Rupnarayan, the Haldi, and the RastJlpur. The Rupnarayan joins
the Hooghly opposite Hooghly Point : its chief tributary is the Silai,
flowing in a tortuous course through the north of the District and
navigable as far as Ghatal. The Haldi falls into the Hooghly opposite
the northern point of Sagar Island. Its principal tributaries are
the Kaliaghai and the Kasai, neither of which is navigable ; the latter
rises in Manbhum District and flows past Midnapore town. The



328 MIDXAPORE DISTRICT

Rasulpur rises in the south of the District, and joins the Hooghly a
little below Kedgeree and the CowcoUy lighthouse. The Subarna-
REKHA enters the District from Singhbhum, and passes through the
jungle tract of Western Midnapore into Balasore District ; it is not
navigable.

In the extreme north-west corner of the District there is a low ridge,
formed of grey and bluish grey micacean schists with bands of a more
igneous character. The plains are covered in the north and west by
lateritic rocks', which gradually give way in the south and east to the
ordinary alluvium of the Oangetic delta. At the surface the laterite
invariably contains small rounded fragments of other rocks, and in
places these become conglomeratic, pebbles of quartz coated with oxide
of iron and rounded fragments of other rocks being frequently formed.
Close to Midnapore town, where a section is exposed, more than
50 feet of solid laterite are seen superposed in large tabular masses
upon a soft soapy greyish white and reddish clay, resembling the kaolin
clays which result from the decomposition of felspathic rocks.

In land under rice cultivation are found the usual marsh weeds of
the Gangetic plain and many sedges, while the surface of ponds,
ditches, and still streams is covered with aquatic plants. The home-
steads are embedded in shrubberies of semi-spontaneous growth.
Some species of figs, notably the plpal and the banyan, make up, along
with the red cotton-tree {Bovibax malal>aricum), Afangifera, Moritiga,
and Odi/ia IVodier, the arborescent [)art of these thickets, in which
numbers of Phoctiix dactylifera and palmyra palms {Borassus flabelli-
fer) are often present. Hedges and waste [)laces are covered with
climbing creepers and various milkweeds.

Bears and deer are still plentiful in the west, and leopards and
hyenas are not uncommon. There arc a few wild elephants and
wolves, and a tiger is occasionally seen. Wild buffaloes were formerly
common in the .south, but these have disappeared with the extension
of cultivation. Small game is plentiful, including wild geese, ducks,
snipe, ortolans, teal, and hares ; but, excepting the migratory birds, all
game is decreasing. Snakes are numerous.

The climate of the arid tract in the north and west is very different
from that of the swamjos in the east and south. The average mean
temperature for the whole District is about 80°. The coast-line is
wetter and cooler than the higher portion. In the north and west,
where the surface is of red laterite and the hot westerly winds from
Central India penetrate, exceptionally high day temperatures are a
feature of the hot months, and the mean maximum temperature rises
to 102° in :\pril and May. The monthly rainfall averages less than an
inch for November, December, January, and I"'ebruary, and between
I and x\ inches in March and April, after which there is a rapid



HISTORY 329

increase. The rainfall in June averages 9-80 inches, in July i2'42, in
August 13-18, in September 9-04, and in October 4-43 inches. The
annual total averages 59 inches.

The great cyclone of 1864 caused serious loss of life and property
in the south-east ; no less than 53,000 deaths were reported, and the
returns were far from complete. The immediate losses were equalled,
if not exceeded, by the mortality caused by the scarcity and pestilence
that resulted from the destruction of the crops and the pollution of the
drinking-water supply. Heavy storms, all causing more or less damage
to life and property, have occurred on twelve other occasions during
the last seventy years. In the alluvial tract the rivers frequently over-
flow their banks and cause widespread havoc to the crops ; owing to
silt the mouth of the rivers are obstructed, and large tracts of country
remain submerged for weeks after a flood. In 1889 the Bengal
Government found it necessary to appoint a Commission to investigate
the causes of the frequent occurrence of these floods, and as a result
the cross-damming of tidal channels for agricultural purposes has been
restricted.

The eastern portion of Midnapore originally formed part of the
kingdom of Suhma or Tamralipta, the ancient name of Tamluk, which
is now the head-quarters of a subdivision on the
Rupnarayan river. It derives its name from idmra
('copper'), which was once an important article of export. The
earliest traditional kings of Tamluk were Kshattriyas of the Peacock
dynasty, who were succeeded by Kaibarttas. The whole District, with
Kalinga or Orissa, came under Buddhist influence in the fifth century
ij. c. Early in the fifth century a.d. the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hian spent
two years at Tamluk and thence took ship for Ceylon. Another
Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsiang, wrote of Tamluk in the seventh
century as still an important harbour, with 10 Buddhist monasteries
containing 1,000 monks and a pillar of king Asoka. Midnapore
District nearly coincides with the Muhammadan division known as
sarkdr Jaleswar, which had for its capital the town of that name now
situated in Balasore District, and was included in Orissa at the time
of Todar Mai's settlement in 1582. This sarkdr paid to the Mughal
emperor a revenue of i2| lakhs, but during the last half-century of
Muhammadan rule the Marathas collected revenue from the southern
portions of the District.

It was at Hijill, at the mouth of the Rasulpur river, that Job
Charnock with a small force defended himself successfully in 1687
against an overwhelming army of Mughals, and it was from this place
that he sailed to found Calcutta. The British occupation of the
District dates from the year 1760, when Mir Kasim, who had been
made Subahdar of Bengal by the British, assigned to the East India



330 .\fIDXArORE DISTRICT

Company the three Districis of lUirdwan, Midnapore, and ("hittagong
to meet its military expenses. By a subsequent treaty, dated July lo,
1763, Mir Jafar, who had been reinstated in place of Mir Kasim,
confirmed the cession of these Districts, which were then estimated to
furnish nearly a third of the whole revenue of Bengal. As a result of
the decisive battle of ]>uxar, the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa
was conferred in perpetuity on the East India Company in 1765. The
Orissa therein referred to included only the District of Midnapore
and a part of Hooghly ; Orissa proper was not conciuercd from the
Marathas until 1803. The principal officer of the C()ni[)any in this
province was the Chief or Resident at Midnapore.

In the early years of British administration much tremble was given
by the chiefs of the hilly country within as well as without the boun-
dary, and frequent expeditions had to be made against them. The
southern portion of the District, now the Tamluk and Contai sub-
divisions, was at first administered by a Salt Agent and Collector at
HijilT. Tamluk was transferred to Midnapore in 1789; but Hijili
remained a separate Collectorate up to 1836, when a quarter of it was
amalgamated with Midnapore and the rest with Balasore. 1 )hall)hum
originally formed part of Midnapore, but it was transferred in 1833 to
Manbhum and subsequently to Singhbhum ; in 1876, however, forty-
five outlying villages were again included in Midnapore. In 1872 the
parganas of Chandrakona and Barda were transferred from Hooghly
District.

The principal object of archaeological interest is the temple at
Tamluk, which is of Buddhist origin, but is now dedicated to the
goddess Barga-Bhlma, or Kali. In the high lands there are various
old gar/is or forts of the petty jungle Rajas, of which litde is left but
the sites. Many of the large tanks are of great age, and some of the
embankments constructed to restrain the rivers are anterior to the
British occupation.

The population fell from 2,542,920 in 1S72 to 2,515,565 in 1881,
but rose again to 2,631,466 in 1891 and to 2,789,114 in 1901. The
decrease in 1881 was due to the prevalence of an
Popu ation. epitiernic of malaria known as the ' Burdwan fever,'
but since that year there has been a steady increase. During the last
decade there was an advance of about 6 per cent. Midnapore is
now faidy healthy, with the excei)ti()n of the low tracts of the Ghatal
subdivision and the centre of the District, where malaria is prevalent.
Hepatitis is not uncommon, and elephantiasis exists in the swampy
parts of the alluvial portion of the District, (liolera has diminished
since the opening of the railway, as the pilgrims to and from Purl no
longer throng the roads spreading the disease in their train. The
])rincipal statistics of the Census of 1901 are shown below : —



POPULA TION



2>Z^



Subdi\ision.


Area in square
miles.


Number of


Population.


D .

Oi

391

874

893
710

538




^2


c


H


>


m.0.2 " 0-

1.2 J P-W
1- d i c

1- :i C - rt


Number

persons al

read ai

write.


Midnapore
Ghatal .
Tamluk .
Contai

District total


3,271
372
653
849

5,186*


5

I

7.


3-782
1,042

1,578
2,062


I. -2 7 7- 749
324,99'
583,238
603,136


-i- 4-5

- 0.9
+ 9-0
+ 10.6


95,598
38,100

92,139
69,227


8,464


2,789,114


+ 6.0


295,064



* Includes 41 square miles returned as uninhabited river-beds.

Five of the towns — Gh.^tal, Chaxdkakona, Kharar, Ramji-
r.ANPUR, and Khirpai — are situated in the north-east of the District,
which suffered from the ' Burdwan fever ' epidemic, and they have
scarcely yet regained the population they then lost. The remaining
towns are Midnapore, the head-quarters station, and Tamluk. The
l)ressure of population is greatest along the banks of the Rupnarayan
and the estuary of the Hooghly, the maximum density being found
in the Tamluk f/nliia, where there are 1,156 persons per square mile.
Farther inland the climate is bad and the density gradually de-
creases. In the west the cultivable area is small, and the density
steadily diminishes until, on the confines of .Singhbhum and Mayur-
bhanj, it drops to 259 per scjuare mile. The Contai subdivision is the
most progressive part of the District, the increase being greatest in the
Contai thdna, which in the course of ten years has added nearly a si.xth
to its population, and in the other three coast thdnas. On the other
hand, the C.hatal subdivision and the Debra, Sabang, and Narayangarh
thdnas in the head-quarters subdivision are decadent. This is due, not
only to the prevalence of fever, but also to a movement of the popula-
tion from the densely crowded and waterlogged tracts in the north-east
and centre of the District to the newly reclaimed lands along the coast
and tidal rivers in the Contai and Tamluk subdivisions. There is
a small loss by emigration. The railway has attracted coolies and
employes, but it has also facihtated temporary migration to Calcutta
and Hooghly. Of every 100 persons, 80 speak Bengali, 10 Oriya,
3 Hindi, and the remainder other languages. Oriya is spoken in the
Contai subdivision and also in the western thdnas of the head-quarters
subdivision. Hindus number 2,467,047, or 88 per cent, of the total ;
Muhammadans, 184,958, or 7 per cent. ; and Animists, 135,050, or
5 per cent. The Hindus and Muhammadans have increased slightly
at the expense of the Animists, who are found only in the north and
west of the District.

The Kaibarttas are the great race or caste, numbering no less than
883,000, or nearly a third of the whole population. The Bagdis

VOL. xvii. Y



33^



MJP.W irOA'J: DISTRICT



(142,000), another aboriginal ca.sle, who gave their name to the aneicni
Bagri (South Bengal), are also strongly represented : and so are the
Sidgops (131,000), a euUivating branch of the Goalas. 'IMie Santals
(148,000) are numerous in the north-west of the District. Of the
higher castes, Brahmans (114,000) are more numerous than elsewhere
in Bengal j)roper, and the Kayasths with the Karans, the indigenous
writer caste of Orissa, number 91,000. The Baishnabs (93.000) have
considerably increased during the last decade, but the Tantis or
weavers have lost ground. Of the Muhammadans, 121,000 are Shaikhs
and 22,000 are Pathans. Agriculture supports 77 per cent, of the
j)opulation, industry 10 per cent., and the professions 3 per cent. The
population is more distinctively agricultural than in any other part of
"West or Central Bengal.

The ("hristian {)opulation is increasing, and in 1901 numbered 1,974,
of whom 1,545 were natives. The American Free Baptist Mission
works among both the Bengalis and the Santals; there is a small
Roman Catholic mission to the Santals ; and Church of England
missions are established at Midnapore town and Kharakimr.

The new alluvium in the east and south produces abundant rice
crops. In the west and north rice is grown in the depressions between
successive ridges b\- terracing the slopes, and maize,
millets, oilseeds, and pulses are grown on the uplands;
but the crests of the ridges are very infertile. Along the sea board and
on the banks of tidal rivers and creeks, dikes are necessary to keep out
the salt water, and similar eml)ankments are erected to protect the
lowlands in the interior from inundation by Hoods. The non-tidal
rivers are dammed for irrigation purposes, so that the alluvial tract
is covered with a network of embankments and cross-dams, which
seriously impede the drainage, and in years of heavy rainfall large
areas are waterlogged. 'J"he chief agricultural statistics for 1903-4
arc shown below, in square miles : —



Agriculture.



Subdivision.


Total.


Cultivated.


Irrigated
from canals.



Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 17) → online text (page 39 of 51)