William Wilson Hunter.

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The Imperial Gazetteer of India.


CLE., B.A., LL.D.























Sirohi. — Native State in the Rajputana Agency under the Govern-
ment of India, lying between lat. 24° 22' and 25° 16' n., and between
long. 72° 22' and 73° 18' e. Estimated area, 3020 square miles.
Population (1881) 142,903 souls. Sirohi is bounded on the north by
Marwar or Jodhpur, on the east by Mewar or Udaipur, on the south by
Palanpur and the Mahi Kantha States of Edar and Danta, and on the
west by Jodhpur.

Physical Aspects. — The country is much intersected and broken up
by hills and rocky ranges. The main feature is Mount Abu, the highest
peak of which rises 5653 feet above sea-level ; it is situated at the
extremity of the Aravalli Mountain chain, being partially separated
from the main range by a narrow valley. That range, running from
south-west to north-east, divides the State into two not very unequal
portions. The western half is comparatively open and level, and more
populous and better cultivated than the other. Both portions, beinf'
situated at the foot of the hill range, are intersected by numerous
watercourses or ndlds, which become torrents of greater or less volume
in the rainy season, but are dry during the remainder of the year.
From the line of water-parting the streams discharge into the rivers Loni
and Bands. The lower slopes of the Aravalli range in Sirohi are clothed
with dense forest ; and the country generally is dotted with low rocky
hills, which, as a rule, are thickly covered with jungle, consisting chiefly
of the dhao tree (Anogeissus pendula) mixed with khair (Acacia
Catechu), babul {\c2ic\2i arabica), ber (Zizyphus Jujuba), and Euj:)horbia.

The only river of any importance is the Western Bands. Within the
limits of the State this river is not perennial ; it usually ceases to flow



as the hot season commences, and only deep pools are then to be
found. It is subject, during the rains, to occasional floods ; but these
rapidly subside, leaving the stream fordable and the water clear and
good. The Bands, rising in the Aravalli Hills, flows through the
State into Gujarat, and after passing the cantonment of Disa, is finally
lost in the Rann of Cutch (Kachchh). There are remains of many
fine artificial lakes in Sirohi, but no lakes or jhih at present exist, with
the exception of the Nakhi Talao on Mount Abu. The nature of the
subsoil of Sirohi appears, as a rule, to be unsuited to the artificial
storage of water, for in the village tanks the water generally subsides
very rapidly after the end of the rainy season. The depth at which
water is found below the surface varies a good deal in different parts of
the State. Thus, in the north-east, the wells are from 90 to 100 feet
deep, and the water is generally brackish. In the north-west, water is
more easily found, at from 70 to 90 feet ; while in the eastern Districts,
water of good quality is found at depths varying from 15 to 60 feet, the
depth required to be sunk decreasing towards the south. In the
w^estern Districts, the depth of the wells is generally 60 to 70 feet ; and
at Sirohi town, and in its neighbourhood, water is often scarce and of
inferior quality.

The geological formation of the Aravalli range is granite overlying
blue slate. The valleys exhibit variegated quartz and schistose slate.
Rocks of gneiss and syenite appear at intervals. At the south-east
corner of Sirohi, the Aravalli range takes a sweep to the south-west,
enclosing a hilly tract called the bhakar. In this tract the rocks are
primitive and metamorphic, with schists and limestone. Mica is found
in large quantities. Near the village of Jariwao, on the south-eastern
frontier of the State, are the marble quarries of that name, from which
the celebrated Jain temples of Abu are said to have been built. The
granite of Abu is used to a considerable extent for building, and the
blue slate which underlies the granite is well adapted for paving and
other purposes. It is said that a copper-mine was formerly worked in
the hilly range above the town of Sirohi.

Although a considerable portion of Sirohi is covered with tree and
bush jungle, the forests, strictly speaking, may be considered as con-
fined to the slopes of Abu and the belt of forest round its base. In
the bhaka7\ there are here and there hills and valleys well wooded with
valuable timber, such as the timru or ebony (Diospyros Ebenum),
dJiaman (Cordia Macleodii), siris (Albizzia Lebbek), hu/dru, the large
dhao^ and others. On the slopes of Abu a great variety of trees and
shrubs are found. The most common are the bamboo, mango, siris,
dhao of various kinds, Jdmi/n (Eugenia Jambolana), kachnar, etc.

Tigers are numerous, and destroy a great number of cattle. Bears
and leopards are common. Both sdmbhar and chiial deer were also


numerous, till the great famine of 1868-69, during which numbers of
them either died, or were killed by the Bhils for food. Antelopes are
scarce, but chikara (ravine deer) and the four-horned deer are to be
found in parts. Field rats are abundant in the sandy portions of the
State. Hares are very common. The grey partridge abounds, the
painted and black partridge are rare. Quail of several kinds and sand-
grouse are everywhere met with. Florican visit the country for a short
time during the rains. Jungle and spur fowl are found in the hilly
parts of the State. The fish are few and almost entirely confined to
the Banas river ; they are chiefly the rohu, imirrel^ pat'i, and chilwa.

History. — The present ruling family of Sirohi are Deora Rajputs,
a branch of the great Chauhan clan, and claim to be directly
descended from Deo Raj, a descendant of Prithwi Raj, the Chauhan
King of Delhi. The earliest known inhabitants of Sirohi were the
Bhils. The first Rajputs to settle in the country were the Gehlots.
They were soon followed by the Pramara Rajputs, who appear to have
been a powerfiil race, and to have had their capital at Chandrawati.
The ruins of this place prove it to have been at one time a large and
flourishing city.

The Pramaras were succeeded by the Chauhan Rajputs, who seem to
have first established themselves in the country about 1152 a.d., but
who only dispossessed the Pramaras after a long series of years and
much fighting. The Pramaras are said to have taken up their last
refuge on Mount Abu, where remains of extensive fortifications are still
to be seen. Being unable to drive them from their stronghold, the
Deora Chauhans had recourse to stratagem. They sent a proposal that
the Pramaras should bring twelve of their daughters to be married into
the Chauhan tribe, and thus establish a friendship. The proposal
being accepted, the story runs that the twelve girls were accompanied
to Bhadeli, a village near the southern border of Sirohi, by nearly all
the Pramaras. The Chauhans then fell upon them, massacred the
majority, and pursuing the survivors back to Abu, gained possession of
that place. It is said that the descendants of Pramaras now inhabit
Abu, and, in memory of this act of treachery, never allow their
daughters to go down to the plains to be married.

During the reign of Sains Mall (about 1425 a.d.), the Rana Kambaji
of Chittor obtained permission to take refuge at Achilgarh on Mount
Abu, when flying from the Mughal Emperor. On the retreat of the
imperial army, the son of Sains Mall sent word to the Rana to return to
his own country ; but the latter, having found what a strong position
Abu was, refused to leave, and had eventually to be driven out by
force. In consequence of this, no other Raja was ever allowed to go up
to Abu; and this custom remained in force till 1836, when, through
the intervention of Colonel Spiers (at that time in political charge at


Sirohi), Maharana Jawan Singh of Udaipur was permitted to proceed to
Abu on a pilgrimage to the temples. Since then the prohibition has
been withdrawn, and many chiefs of Rajputana have visited Abu.

During the early years of the present century, the State of Sirohi
suffered much from wars with Jodhpur, and the constant marauding
of the wild Mina tribes. The State became too weak to protect
its subjects. Many of the Thakurs in the south threw off their
allegiance, and placed themselves under the protection of Palanpur ;
and the Sirohi State was nigh being dismembered. Under these cir-
cumstances, in 1817, Rao Sheo Singh, then Regent, sought the pro-
tection of the British Government. Captain Tod was at that time the
Political Agent in Western Rajputana; and after making close
inquiry into the history and relations of the two States, he disallowed
the pretensions of Jodhpur to suzerainty over Sirohi.

In 1823, a treaty was finally coiicluded between the British Govern-
ment and the Sirohi State. Many of the Thakurs were in rebellion,
supported by the wild Minas of the hills ; but they were eventually
reduced to submission. Rao Sheo Singh did good service during the
Mutiny of 1857, in consideration of which he received a remission of
half his tribute, which is now fixed at ^:688. The Rao of Sirohi in
1845 made over to the British Government some lands on Mount Abu,
for the establishment of a sanitarium. The present Rao is named
Kesari Singh ; he is entitled to a salute of 15 guns, and holds a sariad
giving rights of adoption.

Population.— i:hQ Census of 1881 returned the population of Sirohi
State at 142,903, residing in i town and 365 villages, and occupying
30,532 houses. Males 76,132, and females 66,771; proportion of
males, 53-3 per cent. According to the religious classification, Hindus
mimb'er 123,633, or 86-5 per cent.; Jains, 16,137, or 11-3 per cent;
Muhammadans, 2935; Christians, 179; and 'others,' 19. The State
contains a considerable number of Brahmans (13,288) and religious
mendicants. The Baniyas and Mahajans (17,317) fo™ a very nume-
rous class ; they are mostly Oswals and Porewals, followers of the Jain
religion. ^The Rajputs (13,466) are divided into twelve different
clans, or septs of clans. They are the dominant race, although not
numerically the largest class. The greater portion are Deora Chauhans ;
next in order come the Sesodia and Rahtor clans, who are about equal
in number. Rajputs, who are not J a gir da rs or the immediate relatives
oijdgirddrs, gain their living as State servants, soldiers, and cultivators ;
they belong to the diwali band, or protectors of the villages, and culti-
vate free of land-tax. Kalbis, Rabaris, and Dhers are also numerous.
Aboriginal tribes and tribes of half-blood, including Bhils, Girasias, and
Minds, form a considerable section of the population. The Girasias are
principally confined to the bhakar or hilly tract in the south-east corner


of Sirohi. They were formerly great plunderers, but have now settled
down to agriculture. They are said to be the descendants of Rajputs,
married to Bhil women. Minas and Bhi'ls have always been trouble-
some races, with a hereditary taste for plundering. Speaking generally,
the Minas may be said to occupy the north, and the Bhils the western
part of Sirohi. There are some Kolis who are believed to have immi-
grated from Gujarat. They have now settled down as cultivators, and
are principally found in the eastern and southern districts. The
Musalmans mostly consist of tahsilddrs and sepoys, and a few colonies
of Cutch (Kachchh) Bohras at Madar and Sirohi. The language of
Sirohi is a patois of Marwari and Gujarati.

Agriculture^ etc. — The principal spring crops {rabi) are wheat, barley,
gram, and mustard (Brassica campestris), from which a kind of oil is
prepared, much used by the people. Wheat and barley are the staple
crops ; on these being reaped, many of the fields are at once ploughed
up and sown with two kinds of small grain called kardng and chaina^
which come to maturity ver}' quickly, and are cut before the rains set
in. Manure is used every second or third year ; but no rotation of
crops is practised, the same land being sown with wheat or barley year
after year. The chief rain crops {kkarif) are Indian corn, bdjra
(Pennisetum typhoideum), jnung (Phaseolus Mungo), moth (Phaseolus
aconitifoHus), arad (Phaseolus Mungo, var. radiatus), kulath (Dolichos
biflorus), and guar (Cyamopsis psoralioides). Cotton and ambari or
san (Hibiscus cannabinus), a kind of hemp, are grown in small
quantities for local consumption. Til^ kuri (Sesamum indicum), kuri
(Panicum miliaceum), basthi^ kudra, mal, and sai?iwatat scce only grown
in walar cultivation, i.e. by cutting down and burning the jungle on the
hill-sides, and sowing the seed in the ashes. This mode of cultivation
is very popular with the wild tribes of Girasias, Bhils, and Minas, and
has proved most destructive to the Aravalli forests. There is so much
land in the State yet remaining uncultivated that the grazing grounds
are very extensive.

The agricultural tenures in Sirohi correspond with those generally
prevailing throughout Rajputana. The ruler is the actual and sole
owner of the land conquered by his ancestors. Those that came with
him were granted portions of the conquered territory, on certain con-
ditions of fealty and military service, and became his umras or nobles ;
but the ruler still retained the ownership or bhum of the land. To this
there are of course exceptions ; and the Girasias, the original inhabit-
ants of the bhakar, still retain their bhum rights. The cultivators
generally are hereditary tenants, and cannot be ejected so long as they
pay the revenue regularly ; in fact, in such a sparsely populated country
as Sirohi, the cultivator is too valuable to be parted with. There is a
large class in Sirohi called the diiuali band^ consisting of Rajputs, Bhils.


Minds, and Kolfs, who cultivate land rent-free. The safety of the
village is in their hands, and they are bound to protect it. Brahmans,
Charans, and Bhats also cultivate their land free, out of respect for
their religious duties.

In all the jd^ir estates the State receives a portion of the land
revenue and local taxes. The rates vary, but in the principal estates
Rajputs pay three-eighths of the produce, and in others one-half. The
cultivators get from two-thirds to three-fourths of the produce of the
crops, after deducting the haks (dues) of the village servants, as black-
smiths, carpenters, etc. In some portions, especially to the north, the
State and jdgirddrs' shares of the rain crops are collected by a tax on
the ploughs, varying from 4s. to 8s. a plough.

The gross revenue of the State in 1881-82 amounted to ;£i45924-
Since then a new source of income has been secured in the increased
rate of opium duty, which has been assimilated to that prevailing in

Natural Calamities. — Sirohi frequently suffers from drought. The
years 1746, 1785, 181 2, 1813, and 1868-69 ^^^ recorded as having
been years of terrible famine. It is calculated that in the latter year
75 per cent, of the cattle perished. The distress was much increased
and prolonged by a visitation of locusts, which destroyed a great
portion of the rain crops.

Education^ Commu7iicatio7is^ etc. — Education is but little sought after.
There are vernacular schools at the three principal towns, Sirohi,
Rohera, and Madar. In many of the villages, boys of the Baniya class
are taught to write and keep accounts by the village y^///. A dispensary
is supported by the State at the town of Sirohi. There are post-offices
at Erinpura, Sirohi, Anadra, Abu road station, and Abu. The main
road through the State is that from Ajmere, through Marwar, Sirohi,
Palanpur, and the Gaekwar's territory, to Ahmadabad. This road
enters Sirohi at Erinpura; and passing through the capital and along
the western side of Abu, leaves the State again about 2 miles south of
Madar, which is about 26 miles from the cantonment of Disa. The
Rajputana-Malwa Railway, constructed on the metre gauge, which runs
through the length of this State, passing just east of Mount Abu, was
opened in December 1880.

There is a jail at Sirohi. Criminal suits are tried by the minister
at the capital, and by iahsilddrs at the head-quarters of districts.
There are no other courts in Sirohi ; all civil suits are settled by
panchdyats, or village assemblies. The military force of the State
consists of 2 guns, 108 cavalry, and 500 foot-soldiers.

Medical Aspects. — The climate of Sirohi is, on the whole, dry and
healthy ; and there is a general freedom from epidemic diseases, which
is doubtless in a measure due to the sparseness of the population. The


heat is never so intense as in the North-Western Provinces or tlie
Punjab ; but on the other hand, the cold season is of much shorter
duration, and less bracing. In the southern and eastern districts there-
is usually a fair amount of rain ; but over the rest of the State, the rain-
fall is frequently scant. This is chiefly due to Mount Abu and the
Aravalli Hills attracting the clouds driven inland by the south-west
monsoon ; thus at x\bu the average annual rainfall is about 64 inches,
while at Erinpura, less than 50 miles distant in a northerly direction, the
average fall is only between 12 and 15 inches. The prevailing wind is
south-westerly. The principal diseases are malarious fever and ague,
complicated with enlargement of the spleen. Dysentery often occurs at
the close of the rains, and during the early part of the cold season,
especially in the jungle tracts round the base of Abu.

Sirohi. — Capital of the Native State of Sirohi, Rajputana ; situated
in lat. 24° 53' 12" N., and long. 72" 54' 28" e., 28 miles north of Abu
road station on the Rajputana-Malwa Railway, and 171 miles from
Ajmere. Population (18S1) 5699, namely, Hindus 5129, and Muham-
madans 570. Manufacture of sword - blades, daggers, spears, and

Sirol. — Western suburb of Benares City. — See Sikrol.

Sironcha {Siiironchd). — Town in Sironcha iahsil, Chanda District,
Central Provinces; situated in lat. 18° 51' n., and long. 80' i' e., on
the left bank of the Pranhita river, 2 miles above its confluence with
the Godavari, and 120 miles south-south-east of Chanda town. Popu-
lation (1881) 3476, namely, Hindus, 2961; Muhammadans, 452 ; and
Christians, d^. The public buildings and houses of the European
officials stand on a ridge formerly covered with dense jungle, which
slopes gradually northwards down to the village. The summit com-
mands a fine view of the Pranhita, where it winds round a high bluff of
sandstone, crowned by a ruined fort, built 160 years ago by direction of
Wali Haidar, a holy man, whose tomb within is held sacred. Sironcha
has no manufactures, and little trade, except in articles of local con-
sumption. The town contains English and Telugu schools. The soil
is sandy, and the drainage good.

%Y£QTi^.—Parga7ia and town in Tonk State, Rajputana, under the
control of the Bhopal Agency of Central India; situated in lat. 24° 6'
23" N., and long. 77° 43' 30" e., 78 miles north-west of Sagar (Saugor),
and 140 north-east of Ujjain. Population (1881) 1 1,356, namely, males
5625, and females 5731. Hindus number 7383 ; Muhammadans, 3895 ;
and ' others,' 78. Sironj is built at the foot of a pass connecting Malwd
with the table-land to the north. It was once a large town, famed for
its muslins and chintzes, but is now much decayed. One fine hdzdi-
still remains, and there are many mosques. Good water is abundant.
'Sironj, with the appertaining /a/'^w/^f,' writes Thornton, 'was in 179S


granted to Amir Khan by Jaswant Rao Holkar; in 1809, the threaten-
ing attitude assumed towards Nagpur by Amir Khan led to the advance
upon Sironj of a British force under Colonel Close ; subsequently, in
181 7, this town and district, with other territories, were guaranteed by
the British Government to the Amir.'

Sirpur. — Chief town oi ^ix^m pafgand, Basim District, Berar. Lat.
20° 10' 30" N., long. 77° i' E. Population (1867) 3555; not returned
separately in the Census Report of 1881. Here is the shrine of
Antariksh Parasnath, one of the most sacred resorts of the Jains. The
tradition is, that Yelluk, a Raja of Ellichpur, found the idol on the banks
of a river, and his prayers for permission to transport it to his own city
were granted on condition of his not looking back. At Sirpur, however,
his faith became weak, and he looked back. The idol instantly became
immovable, and it thus remained suspended in mid-air for many years.
Here still exists a small but ancient Jain temple or shrine, having
a covered roof with pendants richly carved. Post-office, first-grade
vernacular school, and police station.

Sirsa. — British District in the Lieutenant - Governorship of the
Punjab, lying between 29° 13' and 30° 33' n. lat., and between 73°
56' and 75° 22' E. long. Area, 3004 square miles. Population (1881)
2535275 souls. Sirsa is a District of the Hissar Division. It is
bounded on the north-east by the District of Firozpur and the Native
State of Patiala, on the west by the river Sutlej (Satlaj), on the south-
west by the Native States of Bahawalpur and Bikaner (Bickaneer), and
on the east by the District of Hissar. The administrative head-quarters
are at the town of Sirsa.

Physical Aspects. — The District of Sirsa is intermediate, both in
geographical position and in physical features, between the barren
desert of Bikaner and the sandy but cultivated plains of the cis-Sutlej
States. It forms for the most part a bare and treeless plateau, stretch-
ing from the valley of the little river Ghaggar on the east to the main
stream of the Sutlej on its north-western border. Near the village
tanks, a few straggling bushes may be seen ; but, as a rule, the monotony
of the view is rarely broken by any larger vegetation. In the immediate
neighbourhood of the Sutlej, hoAvever, is a fertile alluvial tract {hitdr,
corresponding to the khddar of the North-Western Provinces), intersected
by branches of the river, and flooded by their overflow during the rainy
season. The surrounding tracts, rising by an abrupt bank from this
favoured region, are irrigated for the autumn crops by means of
temporary wells. Eastward of the hitdr lies the sandy central table-
land, which used to be chiefly employed for purposes of pasturage,
but is now being rapidly brought under the plough. Formerly the
District was covered by excellent grazing grasses, one of the best of
which was that known as dhdinan ; but these are now disappearing


with the increase of cuhivation and consequent necessity for closer
grazing, as the cattle eat down the heads before they have time
to seed. East of this central plateau lies the valley of the Ghaggar,
in which rich crops of rice and wheat are grown. Southward of the
Ohaggar, again, spreads a barren sandy tract, beyond the reach of its
fertilizing inundations, and of small agricultural value. Viewed as a
whole, the District of Sirsa lay desert and abandoned until the British
occupation ; and although colonization has since proceeded rapidly,
bringing most of the soil into a state of comparative cultivation, it is
only in the valleys of the Sutlej and the Ghaggar that rich crops and
valuable pasturage are to be found. The general slope of the country
is from north-east to south-west, from the Himalayas towards the sea,
with a general fall of about i J foot per mile.

The Sutlej, which forms the north-western boundary, is nowhere
fordable at any time of the year ; and in the rainy season, when swollen
by the melted snows of the Himalayas, and the drainage of the low
country, its current is broad, deep, and rapid, and its floods spread far

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 13) → online text (page 1 of 68)