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diverted the course of the Indus.

Brahmanakraka. — Village in Nellore District, Madras Presidency.
Houses, 705. Population (1881) 3284, namely, 3169 Hindus and 115
Muhammadans. Up to 1790 it gave its name to a t&luk of the
District.

Brahmanbaria.— Sub-division of Tipperah District, Bengal, lying
between 23 35' 45" and 24 16' 30" n. lat, and between 90 45' 45



9 2 BRAHMANBARIA—BRAHMAPURL

and 91 22' 15" e. long. Area 769 square miles; number of towns
and villages, 1394; number of houses, 66,105, of which 64,386 are
occupied and 1719 unoccupied. Population (1881) 53i>4i7> namely,
Hindus, 234,171; Muhammadans, 297,194; and Buddhists, 52; average
density of population, 691 per square mile; villages per square mile,
1 -8 1 ; persons per village, 381 ; houses per square mile, 89-3 ; inmates
per occupied house, 8*25. The Sub-division was formed in i860, and
consists of the three thdnds (police circles) of Kasba, Gauripura (or
Nabinagar), and Brahmanbaria. In 1883, it contained 2 magisterial
and revenue and 5 civil courts, a regular police force of 78 officers
and men, and a village watch of 873 men.

Brahmanbaria— Town and head-quarters of Brahmanbarid, Sub-
division, in Tipperah District, Bengal ; situated on the north bank of
the Titas river. Lat. 23 58' n., long. 91 9' e. ; population (1881)
17,438, of whom 11,976, or 65 per cent., are Hindus, and 5462
Muhammadans; number of males, 8639 — females, 8799; municipal
income in 1881-82, ^476; incidence of municipal taxation, 6Jd. per
head of population within municipal limits. Considerable trade in
rice ; lock-up and dispensary.

Brahmani. — River of Bengal, formed by the junction of the South
Koel and the Sankh rivers. These rivers meet in Gangpur State,
Chutia Nagpur ; and the united stream, assuming the name of Brah-
mani, passes through Bonai State, Chutia Nagpur, and the Orissa
States of Talcher and Dhenkanal, and enters Cuttack District near
Garh Balrdmpur. It then follows a very winding course from west to
east, and reaches the Bay of Bengal by two mouths, the Dhamra
estuary and the Maipara river, in 20 46' 45" n. lat., and 86° 58' 30"
e. long. The principal branch of the Brahmani on its right bank in
Cuttack District is the Kimiria, which takes off opposite Rajendrapur
village, and, after mixing its waters with the Genguti, Kelo, and Biriipa,
falls again into the parent stream at Indpur. As it approaches the sea,
the Brahmani receives as a tributary the Kharsua, and a short distance
above this point its waters unite with those of the Baitarani, forming
the Dhamra. The confluence of the South Koel and the Sankh— i.e.
the point of origin of the Brahmani — is the prettiest spot in Gangpur
State, and is said by local tradition to be the scene of the amour of the
sage Parasara with the fisherman's daughter, Matsya Gandha, who
became the mother of Vyasa, the reputed compiler of the Vedas and
the Mahdbharata.

Brahmapuri.— Sub-division or tahsil of Chanda District, Central
Provinces, lying between 19 and 20 44 15" N . lat, and between
79° 27' and 8o° 24' e. long. Area, 3321 square miles, comprising
1 28 1 square miles of Government land, and 15 zaminddri estates, with
a total area of 2049 square miles; number of villages, 1262; number



BRAHMAPURI— BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER. 93

of houses, 61,234, of which 57,965 are occupied, and 3269 unoccupied ;
population (1881) 257,205, namely, 129,020 males and 128,185 females ;
average density of population, 77*45 per square mile. Total Govern-
ment land revenue, including cesses, ^9789 ; total rental paid by
cultivators, .£17,363, or an average of is. 6d. per cultivated acre. The
Sub-division contains 1 civil and 1 criminal court ; number of police-
stations (t hands) 3, with 6 outpost stations ; strength of regular police,
94 men; village watchmen (chaukiddrs), 201.

Brahmapuri. — Town in Chanda District, Central Provinces, and
head-quarters of Brahmapuri tahsil. Population (1881) 4818, namely,
Hindus, 4272; Muhammadans, 307; and aboriginal tribes, 239. The
town is prettily situated on undulating rocky ground, surrounded with
picturesque groves. In the highest part is an old fort, the walls of
which have been levelled, and on their site stand the court-house,
school, and police station. Manufacture of fine cotton cloth and
thread, excellent brass and copper utensils, and good bullock-carts.
Post-office and dispensary.

Brahmaputra (literally, 'The Son of Brahma or God '). — A river
of Tibet and North-Eastern India, flowing through the Provinces of
Assam and Bengal, which, for its size and utility to man, ranks among
the most important in the world. Its total estimated length is about
1800 miles, and its drainage area about 361,200 square miles. In its
upper portion in Tibet, it is supposed to take its rise from a small lake
on the south-eastern base of the sacred Kailas hill, on the opposite side
of the same water-parting in which two other of the great rivers of India
— the Sutlej and the Indus — also take their rise. The source of the
Brahmaputra, or Sanpu, as it is called in Tibetan territory, is in about
latitude 31° 30' n., and longitude 82 e., in the vicinity of the great
lakes of Maxiasarowar and Long-cho or Rakhas Tal, in the Hundes
country. It flows eastwards down the Sanpu valley, passing not far to
the north of Lhassa, the religious capital of Tibet; and about 800
miles of its course are spent in the hollow trough north of the
main Himalayan range. After receiving several tributaries from the
confines of the Chinese Empire, the river twists round a lofty eastern
range of the Himalayas ; and after leaving Tibet, flows through an
unexplored and unknown country, inhabited by rude and savage
tribes, until it apparently emerges as the Dihang or Dihong in the
north-east corner of Assam, and enters British territory under that
name.

The connection of the Dihang with the Sanpu has not yet been
determined by actual exploration, but it is now generally agreed that
the two are different sections of the same stream ; although D'Anville,
Dalrymple, and certain French geographers were disposed to regard the
Sanpu as the upper channel of the Irawadi, or great river of Burma.



94 BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER.

This view is also taken by a recent writer, Mr. R. Gordon, C.E., in
an exhaustive Report on the 'Hydrography and Hydraulics of the
IrawadV Our ignorance of the geography of this interesting region
may be assigned to a variety of causes. It is inhabited by savage
tribes, who are sufficiently under the influence of Tibet to resist all
advances on the part of Europeans, and who have ere now murdered
adventurous travellers. It is also an exceedingly difficult country to
traverse, being obstructed by rocky precipices and narrow chasms, where
none but the practised mountaineer can make his way. There is little
hope of a trade route in this direction between India and China. A
recent survey in the cold weather of 1878, under the direction of the
late Captain Harman, R.E., followed the Sanpu considerably to the
east of the portion previously explored, and lower down in the course
of the river, bringing the survey down to Gyala Sindong, a fort situated
within 100 miles of the highest point reached in the survey of the
Dihang river from the Assam side. Captain Harman's survey has
strengthened the hypothesis that the Dihang is the continuation of the
Tibetan Sanpu. This, however, must remain an hypothesis until further
explorations are made, or logs of timber can be floated down from
Gyala Sindong into the Dihang. If it could be arranged that a number
of logs, specially marked, were floated down from Gyala Sindong, and
that these logs were -found -to emerge in the Assam valley, the question
whether the Sanpu eventually enters the Brahmaputra or the Irawadi
would be conclusively disposed of, even without further surveys.

The Dihing, shortly after debouching upon the Assam valley, is
joined by the waters of the Dibang and the Brahmaputra of the
Hindus (known as the Taluka in the upper portion of its course),
which issue from the Abar and Mishmi hills, in latitude 27 70' n.,
and longitude 95" 30' e., about 24 miles west of Sadiya. Each of these
brings down a large volume of water. The Taluka, though apparently
the smallest of the three streams, has been selected by Hindu tradition
as the headwaters of the sacred river. Just below the rapids which it
forms on debouching from the mountains, there is a large and deep
pool called the Brahmakund, the resort of pilgrims from the farthest
corners of the Indian peninsula. From the point of confluence of the
three rivers, the united stream takes its well-known name of Brahma-
putra, literally the Son of Brahma, the Creator. Its summer discharge
at Goalpara, at the Bengal end of the Assam valley, has been computed
at 146,188 cubic feet per second. This calculation, which was made
over 40 years ago, appears from later inquiries to be an under-estimate.
During the cold season of 1877-78, experiments were made by the
late Captain Harman, of the Survey Department, for the purpose of
calculating the discharges of the Brahmaputra and its tributary, the
Subansiri, at the upper end of the valley near Dibrugarh. The result



BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER. 95

of these operations was a discharge from the former river, at the mean
low water level of the year, of 116,484 cubic feet per second, and for
the latter of 16,945 cubic feet, giving a total for both of 133,060 cubic
feet, or only 13,128 cubic feet less than the formerly computed discharge
at Goal para, about 300 miles lower down the valley, after the river has
been joined by several large tributary streams. During the rains the
river rises 30 or 40 feet above its ordinary level, and its flood discharge
at Goalpira is estimated at over 500,000 cubic feet per second.

The united stream forming the Brahmaputra at once assumes in the
valley of Assam the characteristics by which it is generally known. It
rolls along through the plain with a vast expanse of water, broken by
innumerable islands, and exhibiting the operations of alluvion and
diluvion on a gigantic scale. It is so heavily freighted with silt from
the Himalayas, that the least impediment in its stream causes a deposit,
and may give rise to a wide-spreading almond-shaped mud-bank.
Steamers anchoring near the margin for the night are sometimes found
aground next morning on an accumulation of silt caused by their own
obstruction to the current. On either side, the great river throws out
large branches, which rejoin the main channel after a divergence of many
miles. The most important of these divergent channels is the Lohit,
which takes off from the main stream, under the name of the Kherkutia
Suti, opposite Buri Dihing-Mukh. It receives the great volume of the
Subansiri, and is then called the Lohit ; but it seems probable that this
is merely an alternative name for the Brahmaputra. The Lohit, thus
reinforced, rejoins the main stream nearly opposite Dhansiri-Mukh, and
the great island char of Majuli, with an area of 441 square miles, is
enclosed between it and the main stream. Another large divergent
channel of the Brahmaputra is the Kalang, which takes off from the south
bank opposite Bishnath in Darrang District, and traverses the whole of
Nowgong District west of that point, rejoining the Brahmaputra, after
a very tortuous course, a short distance above Gauhati town.

Unlike many rivers that flow through flat low-lying plains, instead of
creeping along in a sluggish channel, the Brahmaputra in the Assam
valley has a comparatively swift current, and possesses no high per-
manent banks. At certain points in its course, it passes between or
by rocky eminences, which give a temporary fixity to its channel, as at
Bishnath, Silghat, Tezpur, Singri-parbat, Gauhati, Hathimora, Goalpara,
and Dhubri. Where not so controlled, it sends its shifting channels
over a vast extent of country, without forming any single continuous
river trough.

After a course of 450 miles south-west down the Assam valley, the
Brahmaputra sweeps southward round the spurs of the Garo Hills,
which form the outwork of the watershed separating the Brahmaputra
of Assam from the Sylhet river system of the Bdrak. Its southerly



96 BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER.

course continues thence for about 180 miles, under the name of the
Jamuna, through the open plains of Eastern Bengal, as far as its con-
tinence with the Padma, or main stream of the Ganges, at Goalanda,
in latitude 23 50' n., and longitude 89 46' E. From that point, the
conjoint deltas of these two rivers may be said to commence. The
great bulk of the waters of the Brahmaputra flow towards the south-
west ; but before they reach the sea, they receive the drainage, by way
of the Surma valley, of the eastern watershed between Bengal and
Burma. That drainage collects into the Meghna river {q.v.) t itself a
broad and magnificent sheet of water.

Shortly after leaving Assam, what is now the chief channel of the
Brahmaputra takes the name of the Jamuna— an alteration of nomen-
clature representing a mighty change in the course of the river within
the last hundred years. The old bed of the Brahmaputra, the only one
recognised by Major Rennel in 1765, lies to the east, and still brings
down a portion of the parent stream — retaining the original name —
past Nasirabad, the civil station of Maimansingh District. It reunites
with the Jamuna or larger body of the Brahmaputra by means of the
Meghna. In fact, the entire lower portion of the Brahmaputra may be
described as an, -elaborate network of interlacing channels, many of
which run dry in the cold season, but are filled to overflowing during
the annual period of inundation. Numerous islands are formed by the
river during its course, one of them, the Majuli char in the Assam
District of Sibsagar, covering an area of 441 square miles, and mainly
formed by the silt brought down by the Subansiri ; others are mere
sandbanks deposited during one rainy season, only to be swept away
by the inundations of the following year. The only towns of importance
situated on the banks of the main river, are Gauhati, Goalpara, and
Dibrugarh ; but there are numerous trading marts or river-side depots
for produce, the principal of which are enumerated below. The more
important tributaries of the Brahmaputra proceeding down stream,
and excluding the three headwaters already mentioned as uniting to
form the main river near Sadiya, are — the Subansiri, Bhoroli, Manas,
Gadadhar or Sankos, Dharla, and Tista" on the right bank ; and the
Noa Dihing, Bun Dihing, Disang, Dikhu, Dhansiri, and Kalang, with
its tributary the Kapili, on the left bank, — for an account of each of
which see the separate articles under their alphabetical headings. All
these rivers are navigable by large-sized cargo boats, and many of them
are open to steamers during the rainy season.

In its agricultural and commercial utility, the Brahmaputra ranks
after the Ganges, and equal with the Indus, among the rivers of
India. Unlike these two rivers, however, its waters are not largely
utilized for the purpose of artificial irrigation, nor are they confined
within embankments. The natural overflow of the periodic inundation



BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER. 97

is sufficient to supply a soil which receives in addition a heavy rainfall ;
and this natural overflow is allowed to find its own lines of drainage
The plains of Eastern Bengal, watered by the Brahmaputra, yield
abundant crops of rice, jute, and mustard, year after year, without
undergoing any visible exhaustion ; the valley of Assam is not less
fertile, although scantily populated, and by a less industrious race. The
Brahmaputra itself is navigable by steamers as high up as Dibrugarh,
about 800 miles from the sea; and in its lower reaches its broad
surface is covered with country craft of all sizes and rigs, down to dug-
out canoes and timber rafts. It is remarkable, however, that com-
paratively little boat traffic is carried on the Brahmaputra within the
Assam valley. Goalpara is the great emporium of the boat trade, and
Gauhati is ordinarily the extreme point reached by boats of large
burthen. Higher up they are almost unknown, and the only craft,
except steamers, to be seen on the river are mere dug-outs. All the
boats which resort to Goalpara and Gauhati come from Bengal.

The largest emporium of trade on the river is Sirajganj (g.v.), in
the Bengal District of Pabna, where the agricultural produce of the
surrounding country is collected for transmission to Calcutta. The
downward traffic consists chiefly of tea, oil-seeds, caoutchouc, and raw
cotton from Assam ; and jute, oil-seeds, tobacco, rice, and other food-
grains from Eastern Bengal. The imports up-stream are European
piece-goods, salt, hardware, rice, tea-seed, liquors, etc. Two river
steam companies, the India General Steam Navigation Company, and
the River Steam Navigation Company, have for several years past kept
up a weekly line of steamers, running from Calcutta to Dibrugarh and
back. The advertised time-tables give 25 days for the up, and 20 for
the down journey, but these dates are not very accurately kept. Nine
days on both the up and down journeys are occupied between Calcutta
and Goalandl But the latter place, being connected with Calcutta by
the Eastern Bengal Railway, is virtually the starting-point for the up,
and the terminus for the down journey, both for passengers and for a
considerable portion of the cargo. Besides these two steamer lines,
the Assam Railways and Trading Company was established in 188 1 to
work a coal, timber, and petroleum concession, and to construct a rail-
way in Lakhimpur District. It runs steamers between Dibrugarh and
Calcutta, but as yet (1883) not at regular dates. A special daily steamer
service for Assam, from the terminus of the Kauma branch of the
Northern Bengal Railway system at Dhubri to Dibrugarh, has been
organized under contract with the local Government by Messrs. Macneil
& Co., a large Calcutta firm; and steamers commenced running about
the middle of 1883. The upward voyage from Dhubri to Dibrugarh
occupies 4, and the downward 3 days. The principal depots and
trading marts, which are also stopping - places for steamers on the

vol. in.



9 3 BRAHUIS, THE.

Brahmaputra, are as follow, proceeding down stream :— Dibrugarh;
Dihing-mukhj Disang-mukh or Dikhu-mukh, for Sibsagar; Kokila-

mukh, for Jorhat and North Lakhimpur ; Nigriting, for Golaghat ;
Dhansiri-mukh ; Bishnath ; Kaliabar or Silghat, for Nowgong; Tezpur;
R;in-amati, for Mangaldai ; Gauhati ; Goalpara; and Dhubri. These
are all in the Assam valley. The Bengal stations are Kaliganj, Siraj-
ganj, Barisal, and Nalchiti. Steamers do not always call at all the
above stations ; and there are a few minor places where they stop when
specially required.

Brahuis, The.— The inhabitants of the highlands of Baluchistan,
whose ruler is the Khan of Khelat. Masson states that the word
Brahui is a corruption of Ba-roh-i, meaning literally 'of the hills or
waste,' and that the race entered Baluchistan originally from the west.
Dr. Caldwell supposes them to be a Dravidian race, and one of their
tribes claims to have come from the shores of the Mediterranean.
Their language, which is known as Brahuiki, is altogether void of
affinity with the Persian, Pushtu, or Baluchi. It contains a Dravidian
element, derived perhaps from some of their first tribes, or offshoots of
other races, being engrafted on a stock akin to that which peopled
Southern India. The discovery of this element beyond the Indus river
indicates that some of the Dravidians, like the Aryans, the Scythians,
and the Turco-Mongolians, entered India by the north-west route. The
Brahuis themselves believe and state that they are the aborigines of the
country which they now occupy, and that their forefathers came from
Halb and Aleppo. Dr. Cook believes that the Brahuis were Tartar
mountaineers, who settled at a very early period in the southern parts
of Asia, where they led an ambulatory life in khels, or societies, headed
and governed by their own chiefs and laws till at length they attained
a footing in Baluchistan, ultimately supplanting the former inhabitants,
whom he supposes to have been of Hindu origin. Pottinger states
that their language contains many ancient Hindu words, and he
believes that it belongs either to the Scythic, or Turanian, or Tamilian
stock. The Sakag who formed part of Alexander's army, and whose
country is stated by Wilson to have been that lying between the Paro-
pamisus mountains and the Sea of Aral, are said to still exist as a tribe
of the Brahuis of Jhalawan. It is not improbable that they accom-
panied Alexander as far as the south of Sind, and returning with
Craterus up or through the Miila pass, settled in their present position.

The Brahuis are most numerous in the provinces of Jhalawar and
Sarawar, and the number of their tribal divisions is great. Pottinger
gives the names of no fewer than seventy-four, each division being ruled
by its own Wahdera or chief. They are as a race essentially nomadic,
and reside in tomans, or collections of tents made of goat's-hair, black
or striped. The furniture of the ordinary tent usually consists of a few



BRAHUIS, THE. 99

metal cooking-pots, a stone hand-mill, some rough carpets or n:
distaff for spinning wool, and a pipe or Jiukka. A chiefs tent may be a
little better furnished, and he is generally richer than his neighbours in
flocks and herds. Dissensions are common, but the Bnihui tribes are
on the whole more compact and united than those of Afghanistan.
They are Sunni Muhammadans of the Hanbeli sect, but not fanatical ;
nor have they any religious men, whether Sayyad, pir, mulla, or fakir.
They consider themselves peculiarly favoured Muhammadans, as the
Prophet, mounted on a dove, paid them a visit one night, and left a
number of saints behind him for their guidance. Forty of these lie
buried under a mountain, called Chihal Tau, or the ' Mountain of
Forty Bodies,' to the north of Baluchistan, a place held sacred and
visited not only by Muhammadans of other tribes, but by the Hindus
also.

In appearance, Brahuis are easily distinguishable from Pathans, and
also from their Baliich fellow-subjects. They are smaller and sparer
than the inhabitants of Afghanistan, and their features are often blunt
and irregular. Their faces perhaps show more intelligence than the
Pathan physiognomy. Their hair and beards are frequently brown.
They have great physical strength, and are hardier than the Baluchis.
They tolerate the scorching sun of Kach-Gandava, equally with the
cold and frost of their own mountains. They are good workers,
many of them in the plains to the south of Khelat being agricultural
labourers. The activity and endurance of the Brahuis is far superior to
that of the inhabitants of Southern Afghanistan, to whom they are not
inferior in courage ; and though as avaricious as the Pathans, they are
less revengeful, less quarrelsome, and more trustworthy. They do not
possess the wild chivalry which distinguishes the Baluchi, but they have
none of the cold-blooded treachery of the Afghan race. They are keen
hunters, and almost without exception good shots. The Jhalawars
claim to excel in the use of firearms, while the Sarawars are superior
with the sword. The Brahui chiefs have considerable power; and
their women are but slightly, if at all, secluded.

The ordinary dress of the Brahuis is the same for summer or winter.
It is made up of a tunic or shirt, generally ornamented with a little
red embroidery; trousers often gathered in about the ankle, but without
any resemblance to the extravagantly wide pantaloons among Pathans ;
and a brown greatcoat or cloak, usually of felt. A kammar-band is
worn round the waist. The head-dress is a round or pointed skull-cap,
without zpagri or turban, but with a small tassel, tuft, or button affixed
to the centre of the crown, those of the higher classes being elaborately
ornamented with gold thread. A few wear turbans. Square-toed
chapplis, or sandals of deer or goat skin, are worn by all classes. Their
arms are a matchlock, sword, and shield ; pistols are earned by the



IOO BRINDABAN.

well-to-do, and the wealthy have rifles. The Afghan knife is unknown,
and for the spear they profess contempt.

Brahuis are not averse to military service, and there are a few in
the so-called Baliich regiments (27th, 29th, and 30th Bombay Native
Infantry) ; but as enlistment in the British Bombay service is practically
for life, the best men hold aloof.



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 12 of 56)