William Wilson Hunter.

The imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) online

. (page 21 of 56)
Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 21 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


sandbanks render navigation by large boats impossible from Monghyr
District upwards to Nagarbasti, in Darbhangah District. It is navigable
all the year round for boats of 200 maands (7 tons). In the rains,
boats of 2000 maunds (75 tons) can go as far as Rusera; boats
of 1000 maunds (37J tons) up to Muzaffarpur; and boats of 100
maunds (3J tons) as far as Sigauli, in the north of Champaran Dis-
trict. The Buri Gandak and the Baghmati, which flows into it above
Rusera, convey the produce of Darbhangah to Calcutta. Principal
marts — Darbhangah, Muzaffarpur, Somastipur, Rusera, and
Khargaria.

Buriganga ('Old Ganges ').— River in Dacca District, Bengal; a
branch of the Dhaleswari, about 26 miles in length, leaving that river a
short distance below Sabhar village, and rejoining it at Fatulla on the
Narayanganj road. The city of Dacca is situated on the northern bank
of this river. The tract between the Buriganga and the Dhaleswari is



BURIRHAT— BURMA, BRITISH. 167

known as Paschimdi Island. There is no doubt that the Bu

was at one time the principal channel of the Ganges, the land to the

south being a new formation.

Burirhat. — Trading village and produce depot in Rangpur I >istri< t,
Bengal. Lat. 25 29' n., long. 89 16' 30'' e. Chief exports, jute and

tobacco.

Biiriya. — Town in Jagadhri tahsil, Arabala (Umballa) District,

Punjab. Lat. 30 9' 30'' *•> lon g- 77° 23' 45" *■ \ population (188 1)
741 1, namely 3586 Hindus, 3553 Muhammadans, 156 Sikhs, and
116 Jains; houses, 1578. Situated near the west bank of the Jumna
Canal, 3^ miles north of the Sind, Punjab, and Delhi Railway. Built
in the' reign of the Emperor Humayun, by Biira, a Jat zaminddr; taken
by the Sikhs about 1760, and erected into the capital of a considerable
chieftainship, which was one of the nine states exempted from the
reforms of 1849 {see Amballa District), and permitted to retain
independent jurisdiction after the reduction of the other chiefs to the
position of jdgirddrs. Part of the territory has since lapsed, but the
remainder still forms the estate of Jidn Singh, the present representative
of the family, who resides in a handsome fort within the town. Other
Sikh gentlemen have residences in the place. Considerable manufacture
of country cloth ; no trade of more than local importance. Municipal
revenue in 1881-82, ^401, derived from octroi duties.

Burma, British, is the name given by the English to the long strip
of the Malay Peninsula, stretching down the eastern shore of the Bay
of Bengal, and lying between 9 ° 55' and 21° 55' *■ ^ and between
Q2° 10' and 99° 30' e. long. British Burma was added to our Indian
Empire by the wars of 1824 and 1852. The territory left to the dynasty
of Alaungpava is known to us as Independent Burma; and to the
Shans and others as Ava, from the name of a recent capital British
Burma covers an area of 87,220 square miles, and is bounded on the
north by Upper or Independent Burma and Eastern Bengal, on the
east by Karenni and the Siamese kingdom, and on the south and west
by the sea. For administrative purposes British Burma is divided into
four Divisions-Arakan, Irawadi, Pegu, and Tena^m^on^ng
2 o Districts, inclusive of the Salwin Tracts and Northern Araka
The northern boundary line, separating the Irawadi and Pegu
Divisions from the territory of the King of Burma, leaves the A-k
Yoma hills at a point called the 'ever visible peak,' and, runrnng due
east, passes the river Irawadi at its fiftieth »f;™ d *\ P ^
range 43 miles farther on; thence, 3 3 miles farther on, it crosses the
Sittaunt 3 nver, finally losing itself in a wilderness of moun a ins 3 «M
miles farther east. The population in 1881 was 3,73M7^
following table shows the details of area and population, as ascertained
by the Census of that year :—



i68



BURMA, BRITISH.



Area and Population of Territory under the Administration
of the Chief Commissioner of British Burma, according to
the Census of 1881.



British Distric



Area in
square
miles.



a b /Akvab
53 o ' - J



a s Northern Arakan,
S> j Kyaukpyu, 1
'• 3 VSandoway,



Towns

and

Villages



Houses
Occupied.



Population. P °Pulat'n
(1S81). ^ er

sq. mile



. f Rangoon Town,
3 o I Hanthawadi,-
JP| \ Pegu, . .
*» I Tharrawadi,
P iProme,

Total,



:g c fThayetmyo

g ■« 1 Henzada^

g "jsj j Bassein,

-* Q iThongwa,



Total



Maulmain Town,
Amherst,
Tavoy,
Mergui,



|p Shwegyin,
Joung-gu



Sal win Hill Tract's
Total, .

Grand total, .




I F °»-merly called Ramri.

==SS5=^fS5 M^K rat a

4^Ltr^: b t s a ha s p :; f „ th t e T mce ' as ft figures ° nthe

wide-extended wings The no ^ g t0 "' ards the east " ith

from the extreme no rt h7nH^xr/ mi ° n W ° U ' d be Arakan > str «ching
confined in T™tZ tr ^ITI l ° ^^ a " d ™ lv
sea. The body wS • ^T^, *' Vomsi Mou »tains and the
Si«.aung, reac b h 7 g inZi Jne f *' ^ ° f the Irawadi a " d
would include 1.^^*^ *Me the southern wing
vane> of the Sahvin and Tenasserim, com-



BURMA, BRITISH. I -

prised between the mouths of the Sittaung and the Pakchan river, in
the Isthmus of Kraw. The extreme length of this stretch of country is
close upon iooo miles.

The Arakan Division, from the Naaf estuary down to Bluff Point, is
bounded on the north and east by the high chain of mountains known
as the Arakan Yoma range, extending in a southerly direction from the
south-eastern extremities of Sylhet and Cachar, and gradually diminish-
ing till it ends at the rocky promontory of Cape Xegrais. Though of
considerable height to the north, this chain diminishes in altitude as it
reaches Arakan, none of the passes across it, in the centre portion, being
more than 4000 feet above the sea ; the Ayeng pass into the valley of the
Irawadi is considerably less. The coast between the Naaf estuary and
Sandoway is a labyrinth of creeks and tidal channels, but studded with
fertile islands, the largest of which are Cheduba and Ramri. Farther
south, the coast between Sandoway and Cape Negrais is rugged and
rocky, offering few or no harbours for ships. Owing to the nearness to
the coast of the Arakan Yoma range, there are no large streams flowing
into the sea. Of the marine inlets the principal are the Naaf estuary,
about 30 miles in length, and 3 miles broad at its mouth, shallowing
considerably towards its head ; the Mayu river, an arm of the sea running
inland more than 50 miles, and from 3 to 4 miles broad at its mouth
and the Kuladan or Arakan river, rising in the Lushai hills, near the Blue
mountain, in lat. 23° n., with Akyab, the chief Divisional town, situated
on the right bank close to its mouth. The Kuladan is navigable for 40
miles from its mouth by vessels of 300 or 400 tons burthen. The other
rivers in this portion of the province are the Talak, the Ayeng, the
Sandowav, and the Gwa, the last named being a good haven for small
steamers,' or vessels of from 9 to 10 feet draught. The soil throughout
is alluvial, mixed in places with sand ; the islands are of volcanic
formation, and though rocky are fertile.

The Pegu and Irawadi Divisions, the most productive of the whole
Province, comprise the whole of the lower portions of the valleys of the
Irawadi and Sittaung, the watershed between being the Pegu Yoma
range of hills, which terminate in low hills at Rangoon; the Paung-
laung range running to the east of the Sittaung valley. In this portion
of the Province, the main rivers are the Irawadi, the Hlamg o
Rangoon, the Pegu, and the Sittaung. The Irawadi flows from
undiscovered sources about 800 miles before teaching- Bnt-h^
sions. Through these, its waters roll on in a south-south-wes diction
for 240 miles, when the river empties itself by ten mouths into te sea.
As it approaches the coast, the Irawadi divides into numerous bran hes,
converting the lower portion of the valley into a network of t^™**
The first branch from the main stream is given off from a point about
9 miles above Henzada town, flowing westwards past the town <



■7° BURMA, BRITISH.

Bassein, and entering the Bay of Bengal by two main mouths; this
branch, usually known as the Bassein river, is navigable by vessels of
heavy burthen for a distance of 80 miles, or up to Bassein, a port of
some importance. The Irawadi is navigable for river steamers as far
as Bhamo, 600 miles beyond the frontier. The velocity of its waters
when the river is full is five miles an hour; the river commences to rise
in March, and continues to rise until September (flooding the surround-
ing lowlands), when it begins to fall. The Hlaing rises close to Prome
and flows in a southerly direction till, passing Rangoon, it is joined by
the Pegu and Pii-zwun-daung rivers, coming from the north-east and the
east. The two latter streams rise close together in the Yoma range
about 58 miles above the town of Pegu. The Rangoon river also
communicates by numerous channels with the principal delta branch of
the Irawadi. The Sittaung river rises far north of British territory and
during the dry weather is with difficulty navigable by boats of any
draught. Below Shwe-gyin, where it receives the waters of the Shwe-
gyin river, it gradually widens ; and after a backward curve, it issues
through a funnel-shaped basin into the Gulf of Martaban, spreading so
rapidly that it is difficult to distinguish where the river ends and the
gulf begins The valleys of the Irawadi and the Sittaung unite towards
their mouths to form an extensive plain, stretching from Cape Negrais
to the head of the Gulf of Martaban. The plains portion of these two
valleys is highly cultivated, and is the richest part of the whole Province

vail™ n°f A 6 T tS ^ r ° Wn ° Ut by the Pe § u Yoma ran § e . th e ™in
on f A , ; SWadl and S ' ttaUng are divided int ° se °"al smaller
or To mi' T ° f / 0UMr >' in the Sittaung valley on the west, about 2 5

as 1° To mh £ " "^ ** denSe im ^' which fetches down
as far south as Shwe-gyin. The coast line from Cape Negrais to the
Gulf of Martaban is low and flat. g

alon^Z^TK" 1 DiViS !° n ' ° r SOUthem P° rtion of the Pr °™ce, lying
t e" J a Td , ^ "^ ° f IO ° a " d l8 ° N " lat - is bo ™ded on
hifls in som, T 3 ° t0 4 ° mi ' eS fr ° m the COaSt > «* a chain of

th chain near P M eS f T l" S *° * ^ ° f 5 °°° feet ' The breadth of
itotf a f neVCT b£en asc «ained, but near Tavoy

mi eTnear Mertffi 0U Vh° 7^' "^ * ^^ ™ to '°
mi e inland bfln V TT'^ '* ** ^^ and low for s °™
thinly SpuikS a „; I. SUrf3Ce ° f thC C ° Umry iS ™™™°™,
northe™ion of T '"^^ by streams. The soil of the

pre alnl P rk il H™-^ ^^ Stratlfied sandsto ^ * the

Its T stfcTVr n e:e th h Tena T mDiviSi0n ' S * e SaI ™ (Sal-en).



BURMA, BRITISH. 17 ■

flows a rolling torrent, with a shingle bed 140 yards wide. Owing to
numerous rapids and rocks, it is only navigable for a few miles from
Maulmain, the point at which it enters the sea. Near Maulmain the
Salwin is joined by the Gein Mayu and its tributaries. The other riv<
Of the Tenasserim Division are the Bilin, which rises in the Paung
laung hills, and, flowing south, enters the Gulf of Martaban between the
Salwin and the Sittaung ; theZami; the Tavoy, whose mouth affords
excellent anchorage for ships; and the Tenasserim, which rises in
about 1 5° N. lat., and flows past the town which gives its name both
to the stream and the Division. It enters the sea by two mouths, the
northern channel being navigable by boats for about 100 miles.

Three chief ranges of hills traverse the Province of British Burmah,
from north to south. Their configuration has been well described by
Colonel Yule. To the west is the Arakan Yoma, a cramped and
stunted prolongation of the great multiple congeries of mountains which
start from the Assam chain. Seven hundred miles from its origin in
the Naga wilds, it sinks into the sea by Cape Negrais ; the last bluff is
crowned by the Hmawden pagoda, gleaming far to seaward, a Burmese
Sunium. The Pegu Yoma, the range which separates the Sittaung from
the Irawadi valley, starts from Yeme-thin in Upper Burma, and stretches
south with a general direction in the meridian to a parallel a little higher
than the head of the delta. Here it branches out into several low
terminal spurs, the extremity of one being crowned by the Burman
cathedral of Buddhism, the great shrine of Shwe Dagon. The Paung-
laung, which divides the Sittaung and the Salwin valleys, is a meridional
chain, some of the peaks of which, in the neighbourhood of Toung-gu,
reach an altitude of more than 6000 feet. The Tenasserim Hills may
be regarded as a prolongation of this range. They form the boundary
between the territory of Tenasserim and Siam. The Yoma ranges are
composed mainly of brown or grey-slate clay, alternating with beds of
sandstone, assuming at times a basaltic character.

The lakes in the Province would be more properly entitled lagunes,
and there are few of any importance. The best known is the kan-
daw-gyi, or 'Royal Lake,' near Rangoon. The Tu Lake, m Henzada
District, is 9 miles in circumference and 2± miles across ; there are also
two lakes in Bassein District, each about 5 miles in circumference. A
canal connects the Pegu and Sittaung rivers ; and another, the RangOO
and Irawadi rivers. . Twor K

The country throughout the Delta is flat and unmterestmg. I owards
Prome the valley of the Irawadi contracts, and the monotony o. da-
plain is diversified by a wooded range of hills, winch chng to the western
bank nearlv all the way to the frontier. The Salwfa valley conmns
occasional harmonies of forest, crag, and mountain stream : but they
bear the same relation to the wild sublimity of the Himalayas as the



"72 BURMA, BRITISH.

Trossachs to the Alps. On the other hand, the scenery in Tavoy and
Mergui, and among the myriad islets which fringe the Tenasserim coast
is almost English in its verdure and repose. A large part of the Pro-
vince is covered with forests, a small part of them being reserved by the
State. The teak plantations lie in the valleys of the Irawadi and the
Sittaung. — See Amherst District.

History.— The Golden Chersonese, as Ptolemy designated it has
played a quite insignificant role in the world's history, as compared' with
the other two great peninsulas of Asia— India and Arabia. Each of the
three has been the home and stronghold of a colossal creed But
while Arabia and India are indissolubly connected with the fabric of
modern civilisation, the Burman peninsula has remained isolated and
unknown, the battle-ground and grave of strange races and kingdoms
who appear and disappear with scarcely an echo from their existence
penetrating to the outer world. Onr present possessions comprise the
sites of at least four ancient kingdoms-Arakan, Thah-tun, Martaban,
and Pegu. The meagre annals which remain ascribe to each an Indian
ongm and it is from India, no doubt, that their literature and religion
have been derived. Indeed, several of the names which we find in the
lables of Ptolemy assigned to the Golden Chersonese (properly in his
geography the delta of the Irawadi) are purely Indian, and show that
of British tT" 6 alreai V revailed °» the coast. The ancient history

a,™ 7 m \' S t0 a ' arge 6Xtent imolved in that of ^dependent

Burma ; and to that article the reader is also referred. The researches

for a cnl C S a T er ' ° f RanS °° n ' are 0peni "S U P Stores of trials
tor a complete treatment of the archeology and epigraphy of the

Province I regret that the limited scope of this article precludes me
from utilizing his valuable labours. precludes me

The Arakanese chronicle (see Akyab District) relates how the

IZZ^Zlt was - , rst co,onized by a p— f ™ *~

the Bu me I 1 "^ " Sand0Way - The next irru P d °» was ^

gainst X 7nd " 5* "*' "^ ^^ ^ made ^ head

"mi fine gen ° U V nb \ S ' •*" ^^ Iegend '^ P rince ^ «™ °f
uautama s line) arrived as then champion and king His dvnastv wis

■Co 1:^1 by a fresh invas,on from Bu ™ a > 0-4 - : -

ntrodueed h " 0g> '' '" ** *' Si and the Buddhis t ^l|ion was

>" a d I j ur 7h : r gn of the ^^^ — h of g t„ e „ ew

the Shan's th'n , „ r *"" 97 ° ^ the country was attacked by
dvnastv 1 h ° ret ' red aftCT ei S hteen y^' Possession! One of the old

Pag ' n d n SST2. the kingd ° m ' "* th£ hdP ° f tHe Bu ™ eSe ' a

reb'e, neari Z^ars .a^ ZZ * ^ 1 J* - 00 — — < a

the throne about H, T' K f * g " ° f ^"^ wh ° asCended

are said to hav |™ P H /^ , g4 P6gU ' Pagan ' a " d S ' am
nave acknowledged Arakanese supremacy. During the



BURMA, BRITISH. 173

next century and a half the country suffered largely from inroads made
by the Shans and the Takings, till King Minti, in 1294, repulsed
the invaders, and in his turn carried his arms against Pagan and Pegu.
This resulted in a long period of comparative immunity, till an act oi
tyranny, committed by the reigning prince, Min Saw Miin, m 1404,
raised a rebellion against him, and cost the kingdom its independem
The dethroned monarch took refuge in Bengal, and was restored some
years later by Musalman aid. Thenceforth the coins of the Arakan
kings bore on the reverse their names and titles in corrupt mutations oi
Persian and Nagari characters, and the custom was continued long after
their connection had been severed with Bengal.

The subsequent history of Burma forms a confused record of intestine
strife and foreign war. Despite its mountain barrier, it lay at the mercy
of both Burmese and Talaings, and its rulers were generally subject
to the one or the other power. The close of the .Oth century
witnessed the last great struggle between Ava and Pegu ; and the
Kin. of Arakan availed himself of the weakness of his neighbours in
Bengal to extend his dominion over Chittagong, and northwards as far
as the Meghna river. His son aided the Viceroy of Toung-gu ,n com-
pleting the ruin of the Peguan Empire, and endeavoured to retain the
Province through the agency of the Portuguese adventurer, Phihp de
Brito y Nicote, whom he left in charge of Synam. Nicote, once in
power, disclaimed all allegiance, and maintained possession for thirteen
ears till subdued and slain by the King of Ava in ,613.
Durmg the 17th century Arakan is described by Bernier as the
resort of all loose European adventurers. Sebastian Gonzales, a
worthy successor to Nicote, established himself on Sandiva (Sandwip)
island at the mouth of the Meghna, and was for years a terror
to the country, till crushed with the help of the Duteh. Hm
middle of the 18th century saw the rise of Alaungpaya ( Alompra ) :
and Arakan, exhausted by intestine dissension, fell an easy prey, in
I7 8 4 , to Bodaw Paya, the son of that monarch, and was permanently
annexed to the Avan dominion. It was this conquest which .to
brought the Burmese into contact with our Bengal frontier ; and it was
mainly acts of aggression from Arakan which led to the war of .824,
and he treaty of Yandabu two years later, which added Arakan and
lenassenm to our Indian Emp.re. For thirty-eight years lev we*
administered under the Bengal Government, whose unwieldj buk
tttched over Assam and across the Arakan and Pegu *»**»
the Sittaung and Salwin watershed, with the Iraw ad, dUta a
unacquired intervening »*%££ Tn^^t, S Proving

rtiderr e on:"hh Br s;: h i:!hur «■*.•- ». » «-

Commissioner.



174 BURMA, BRITISH.

Tha-htun, Pegu, and Martaban were the chief towns in the territory
of Ramanna (Ramaniya), called by the Burmese the three places of the
Talaings. The Miins or Takings are a distinct family from the Burmese,
and their language is cognate with those of Kambodia and Assam. Tha-
htun was probably founded by Indian emigrants from the Coromandel
coast several hundred years before the Christian era. The ruins of the
city still exist, on a small stream about 10 miles from the sea-shore and
44 miles north-north-west from Martaban. The silting up of the channel
has destroyed its position as a port, but it was known in India as a
considerable emporium. We possess but scanty records of its history.
In the 3rd century before Christ, two missionaries were despatched to
Tha-htun (known then as Suvarna-bhumi or Golden Land, the Sobana
Emporium of Ptolemy) from the third great Buddhist assembly. Tradi-
tion falsely relates that Gautama visited the country thirty-seven years
before attaining Nirvana, and was badiy treated by the rude inhabitants
of the coast. Another event of importance was the introduction of the
Buddhist scriptures by Buddhaghosa, from Ceylon, a.d. 403. The
kingdom existed till the close of the nth century, and the names of 59
monarchs are recorded, whose reigns extended over 1683 years. It was
then utterly destroyed by Anawrata, the famous Emperor of Pagan;
and the ruthless devastation to which the whole Talaing territory was
subjected probably accounts for the paucity of surviving chronicles.

The city of Pegu, according to native tradition, was founded by
emigrants from Tha-htun in a.d. 573. Martaban was built three years
later. The conflict between Brahman and Buddhist then going on in
Southern India no doubt affected the coast of Ramanna, and the new
kingdom is mentioned as having successfully repelled an invasion from
the adjacent continent. Gradually it came to embrace the whole
country between Bassein and Martaban. It is related of the seventeenth
ruler, Tissa, that he was converted from heretical doctrines through the
courage of a young girl. With him terminated the native dynasty.
After Anawrata's conquest, about 1050, Pegu remained subject to
Burma for nearly 200 years. Its fortunes began to revive after the
capture of Pagan by the forces of Kublai Khan. Magadu, an adven-
turer who is described as a native of Takaw-wiin, near Martaban, raised
the standard of revolt, and speedily found himself in possession of
Martaban and Pegu. He defeated the Pagan forces sent to subdue
him, and recovered all the Talaing country as far as Henzada and
Bassein. He was in some degree feudatory to the King of Siam, in
whose service he had been, and who had granted him royal insignia.
He died in 1296, after a reign of twenty-two years.

In 1321, Tavoy and Tenasserim were added to the kingdom, which
led to never-ending strife with Siam. During the reign of Binya-ii,
who succeeded in i 34 8, the country was in great peril from the



BURMA, BRITISH. 175

Chieng-mai Shans and from internal revolt. The king shifted his capital
from Martaban to Pegu ; and though he conciliated the Shans, he v.
unable to crush the rebellion. Finally, in 1385, he was deposed by his
son, Binya-nwe, the most famous of this line, who ruled under the name
of Razadirit. He reigned for thirty-five years, in perpetual strife with
Ava. His chief task was to repel invasion, though in 1404 he led a
successful expedition into the very heart of the enemy's country. His
kingdom embraced the Tenasserim Provinces and the Irawadi and
Sittaung delta nearly as far north as Prome. For more than a century
after his death Pegu remained in plenty and quiet, under a succession

of able rulers.

u The last monarch, Taka-rwut, came to the throne in 1526.
His father had quarrelled with the King of Toung-gu, who, now
that Ava had fallen to a race of Shan chieftains, was considered
the representative of the ancient Burmese monarchy. Tabin Shwe-ti
succeeded to this inheritance in 1530, and for four successive years
attacked Pegu without avail. At length, in the year 1535, he obtained
possession of the capital, and his brother-in-law, Burin-naung, having
captured Martaban after a siege of over seven months, the new dynasty
was established without further resistance among the Talaings. It is
about this period that we begin to have notices of Pegu by Portuguese
voyagers Foreign mercenaries were employed by the new monarch in
his subsequent wars both against Ava and Siam ; and native historians
ascribe his degraded habits and consequent loss of power to his intimacy
with western strangers. He reigned for ten years in Pegu, and was
succeeded by Burin-naung in 1550, known in Portuguese annals under
the name Branginoco. This monarch, after crushing a formidable
rebellion among his new subjects, extended his conquests over Prome,
\va and the Shan States, as far as the Assam frontier. In 1563, he
attacked Siam, and subjected it to his sway. On its rebellion six years
later, he crushed the insurrection with another huge expedition. He
died in 1581, while preparing for an invasion of Arakan. The wealth
and magnificence of the Pegu Empire at this time have been described



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 21 of 56)