William Wilson Hunter.

The imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 4) online

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or infantry from the Dera Ghazi Khan or Rajanpur garrisons, or by the
Baluchi frontier militia.

The Indus forms the eastern boundary of the District. In Sanghar
iahsil it flows under a high bank, but elsew^here the level of the river
is to all appearance very little below that of the surrounding country.
The river is constantly changing its course. At one time the Sitpur
tahsil^ which now forms part of Muzaffargarh District, was on the Dera
Ghazi Khan side of the river ; and the former heads of the Dhiindi,
Kutdb, and Kadra canals can still be traced in Muzaffargarh, whilst
the canals themselves are now on the Dera Ghazi Khan side. Below
the confluence of the Panjnad with the Indus, a series of large islands
have been formed in the Indus, which flows now on one side, and
the next year on the other side of these islands ; and as the river
here forms the boundary between Dera Ghazi Khan District and
Bahavvalpur State, many disputes necessarily arise as to the owner-
ship of land between the villages on either bank. Inundations
from the Indus of a disastrous character frequently occur, which
are locally known as dial. Beginning to rise after the melting of
the interior snows in June, the river gradually swells- till it fills its
channel, in some places as much as nine miles in width, and finds an
outlet at certain points into the country beyond, throwing it under water
for miles around. The river usually rises about 8-J feet in the inunda-
tion season, but occasionally even higher. The greatest floods on record
are those of 1833 ^"^ 1841. In the latter year the river is said to have
travelled as far as Torbela with a velocity of 1 1 miles an hour, and to
have risen to a height of 20 feet at one of the widest parts of the Shayor
valley. In 1856, a flood occurred from which the people still calculate
their dates. The station and cantonment of Dera Gh^zi Khan was
swept away by this flood, which spread some 10 miles inland. These
inundations benefit the villages near which they take their rise, and
in which they deposit their silt. But they impoverish other villages
which they pass over after having left their silt ; and in those villages
in which the water remains stagnant, reh efflorescence soon makes its
appearance.

Among minerals, iron, copper, and lead are said to exist in

VOL. IV. o



2IO DERA GHAZI KHAN.

the hills, but no mines are worked. Coal of a good quality has
been discovered in the hills a iQ.\N miles beyond the border, but
not in veins of sufficient thickness to render its working in any
way remunerative. Alum is excavated and refined in the extreme
south of the District. Earth, salt, and saltpetre are also manu-
factured. Multani 7natti, a saponine earth, of a drab colour and
somewhat resembling fuller's earth, is found in the hills, and is used
both medicinally and as a substitute for soap. True fuller's earth is
also found. Sajji^ a coarse carbonate of soda, is manufactured from the
burnt ashes of a bush called khar (Salsola griffithii). The jungle
products include — niunj grass, which is found in great abundance in the
tracts exposed to the inundations of the Indus. Shakh, a gum obtained
from the tamarisk, is largely collected for medicinal use as a cooling
beverage. The wild animals comprise tigers, deer, wild hog, wild asses,
and numerous feathered game, including black and grey partridges,
duck, teal, sand grouse, etc. Fish of many sorts abound in the
Indus.

History. — The tract between the Sulaiman mountains and the Indus
appears to have been the seat of a Hindu population from a very
remote date. Many towns in the District have close associations with
Hindu legend, and especially with the mythical Punjab hero, Ras^lu.
Ruins still exist at Sanghar and elsewhere, which probably date
back to a period earlier than the Muhamm.adan invasion of India;
while tradition connects the surrounding country with the ancient
kingdom of Multan (Mooltan), of which it historically forms a part.
Like the rest of that territory, it fell in the year 712 a.d. before the ,
young Arab conqueror Muhammad Kasim, the first Musalman in- ]
vader of India. Throughout the period of Muhammadan supremacy,
the District continued to rank as an outlying appanage of the Multan
Province. About the year 1450 a.d., the Nahirs, a branch of the Lodi
family, connected with the dynasty which then sat upon the throne ot ^
Delhi, succeeded in establishing an independent government at Kin j
and Sitpur ; the former town lying in the southern portion of the
present District, while the latter, by a change in the shifting channel
of the Indus, has since been transferred to the eastern bank of the river.
The Nahir dynasty soon extended their dominions for a con-
siderable distance through the Derajat ; but as time went on, their
power was circumscribed by the encroachments of Baluchi moun-
taineers upon the western frontier. Malik Sohrab Baluchi, the first of these
hardy invaders, was followed by the Mahrani chieftain Haji Khan,
whose son, Ghazi Khan, gave his name to the city which he founded,
and to the modern District which lies around it. This event must have
taken place before the end of the 15th century. The new rulers at
first held their dominions as vassals of the Multan Government, but



DERA GHAZI KHAN.



211



in the third generation they found themselves strong enough to throw
off the yoke and proclaim their independence of the Lodi court.
Eighteen princes of the same family held successively the lower
Derajat, and bore alternately the names of their ancestors Haji and
Ghazi Khan. In the extreme south, however, the Nahir rulers con-
tinued to maintain their position until the early part of the i8th cen-
tury. Under the house of Akbar, the dynasty of Ghazi Khan made a
nominal submission to the Mughal Empire ; but though they paid a
quit-rent, and accepted their lands mjdgir, their practical independence
remained undisturbed. During the decline of the Mughals, and the
rise of the rival Durani Empire, the country west of the Indus came
into the hands of Nadir Shah in 1739. The twentieth successor of
Ghazi Khan then sat upon the throne of his barren principality ; but
having made submission to the new suzerain, he was duly confirmed
in the possession of his family estates. He died shortly after, however,
leaving no heirs ; and Dera Ghazi Khan became once more, in name at
least, an integral portion of the Miiltan Province. The date of this
event, though by no means free from doubt, may be placed in or near
the year 1758. About the same time, the District appears to have been
overrun and conquered by the Kalhora kings of Sind, whose relations with
the feudatories of Ahmad Shah Durani in this portion of their dominions
are far from clear. In any case, Ahmad Shah's authority would seem
to have been restored about 1770 by one Mahmiid Giijar, an active
and enterprising governor, who did good service in excavating canals,
and bringing the waste land into cultivation. A series of Afghan
rulers succeeded, under the Durani Emperors; but this period was
much disturbed by internecine warfare among the Baluchi clans, who
now held the whole District. Before long, all semblance of order
disappeared, and a reign of anarchy set in, which only terminated with
British annexation and the introduction of a firm and peaceable
government. Canals fell into disrepair ; cultivation declined ; the
steady and industrious amongst the peasantry emigrated to more
prosperous tracts ; and the whole District sank into a condition more
wretched and desolate than that which had prevailed up to the accession
of Ghazi Khan, three centuries before.

The town of Dera Ghazi Khan was fpunded by Ghazi Khan,
and it was not till his time that the District acquired its present
name. Ghazi Khan died in 1494, and was succeeded by his son
Haji Khan. For fifteen generations successive Ghazi Khans and
Haji Khans ruled at Dera Ghazi. The village round the town
of Dera Ghazi is thus Haji Ghazi. The first grant of the family
estates by way of imperial jdgir is said to have been made by
the Emperor Humayiin. Haji Khan 11., son of Ghazi Khan i.,
i^ade further acquistions of territory towards the south, in addition to



212 DERA GHAZI KHAN.

the estates acquired by his father and grandfather; and during the dis-
tracted state of India which preceded the consolidation of the Empire
under Akbar, the family maintained itself in complete independence.
It was subsequently reduced to a comparatively dependent position,
holding its estates merely as a jdgi?' under the Empire. In 1700,
towards the close of Aurangzeb's reign, one of the Ghazi Khans
rebelled, and was defeated by the Governor of Multan. The last
Ghazi Khan died leaving no direct male heir; in 1739, Muhammad
Shah the Persian ceded all the country west of the Indus to Nadir
Shah. The kings of Khorasan were therefore the actual rulers of Dera
Ghazi Khan for thirty-seven years before the dynasty became extinct.
Nadir Shah was killed in 1747, and was succeeded by Ahmad Snah
Durani, who was followed by a series of short-reigned Durani
and Barakzai princes. Meanwhile the Sikh power had been rising
in the Punjab proper, and culminated under Ranjit Singh in a
great and consolidated empire. In 1819, the aggressive Maharaja
extended his conquests in this direction beyond the Indus, and
annexed the southern portion of the present District. Sadik
Muhammad Khan, Nawab of Bahdwalpur, received the newly-acquired
territory as a fief, on payment of an annual tribute to Lahore. In
1827, the Nawab overran the northern portion of the District, all of
which passed under the suzerainty of the Sikhs. Three years later,
however, in 1830, he was compelled to give up his charge in favour
of General Ventura, the partisan leader of the Lahore forces. In
1832, the famous Sawan Mall of Multan {see Multan District) took
over the District in farm ; and his son Mulraj continued in possession
until the outbreak of hostilities with the British in 1 848. At the close
of the second Sikh war in the succeeding year, Dera Gh^zi Khan passed,
with the remainder of the Punjab Province, into the hands of our Govern-
ment. Since that period, an active and vigilant administration has pre-
served the District from any more serious incident than the occasional
occurrence of a frontier raid. The wild hill-tribes have been brought
into comparative submission, while the restoration of the canals has once
more made tillage profitable, and largely increased the number of in-
habitants. The Mutiny of 1857 found Dera Ghazi Khan so peacefully
disposed, that the protection of the frontier and the civil station could
be safely entrusted to a home levy of 600 men ; while the greater part
of the regular troops were withdrawn for service in the field elsewhere.
On the whole, the District may be cited as a striking instance of the
prosperity and security afforded by a strong but benevolent Govern-
ment in a naturally barren tract, formerly desolated by border strife and
internal anarchy.

Population. — In 1854 the number of inhabitants was returned at
238,964. In 1868 it had reached a total of 308,840, showing an



DERA GHAZl KHAN. 213

increase for the fourteen years of 69,876 persons, or 29*24 per cent.
The last Census, that of 1881, taken over an area of 4517 square
miles, showed a total of 363,346 persons dwelling in 603 villages
or towns, and in 58,543 houses. These figures yield the follow-
ing averages : — Persons per square mile, 80 ; villages per square
mile, -13; houses per square mile, 18; persons per village, 602;
persons per house, 6*2. Classified according to sex, there were —
males, 200,667; females, 162,679; proportion of males, 55*23 per
cent. Classified according to religion, there were 46,697 Hindus;
315,240 Muhammadans ; 1326 Sikhs ; 82 Christians ; and i unspecified.
The Musalman element thus amounted to 8677 per cent, of the
whole population, while the proportion of Hindus and Sikhs together
was only 13-24 per cent. Among the Muhammadans, 160,405 are
classed as Jats, a term which appears to include all the agricultural
tribes, once Hindu, but long since converted to the faith of the
dominant races from the west, who have more recently settled in the
District. Foremost among the latter in social and political im-
portance stand the different Baluchi tribes, who in 1881 numbered
115,749, or 31-86 per cent, of the whole population. A few Pathans
(987 1) and Sayyids represent the later colonists in the District. The
geographical boundary between the Pathan and Baluchi races in the
hills nearly corresponds with the northern limit of the District ; and
it follows that the Baluchi's are more numerous in Dera Ghazi
Khan than in any other portion of the Punjab. The settlers, in
the western half of the District especially, retain in a very marked
manner the tribal organization of their native hills. Each clan owes
allegiance to a hereditary chieftain {tuitianddr)^ assisted by a council
of head-men who represent the sub-divisions of the clan. Though
shorn of certain monarchical prerogatives by the necessity of sub-
mission to an alien rule, the influence of the tiimanddrs still ranks
paramount for good or for evil ; and our Government has found it
desirable to rule the clans through their means. They receive
official recognition, and enjoy certain assignments of land revenue,
fixed in 1873 ^t ^3600. The Baluchi's, inured to toil, and endowed
with great powers of endurance, have a special hatred of control, and
can scarcely be induced to enlist in our army, or to take any regular
service. The mass of the population live in small hamlets, scattered
over the face of the country ; and a vast majority subsist by agricultural
or pastoral pursuits. For further information regarding the Baluchi
tribes, see the article Baluchistan, vol. ii. pp. 27-40.

The District contains five municipal towns, only two of which
have a population exceeding 5000 — Dera Ghazi Khan, 22,309;
I^AjAL, including Naushahra, with which it forms one municipality,
7913; Jampur, 4697; Rajanpur, 4932; and Mithankot, 3353.



214 DERA GHAZI KHAN.

Dera Ghazi Khdn, the civil and military head-quarters, ranks as a
trading mart of considerable activity. Rajanpur, in the south of the
District, 73 miles from head-quarters, is the station of an Assistant
Commissioner and of a regiment of cavalry. Mithankot, once a busy
commercial centre, has now sunk into the position of a quiet country
town. Several Muhammadan shrines of great reputed sanctity are
scattered over the District, the principal being that of Sakhi Sarwar,
which is resorted to by Muhammadans and Hindus alike, and is a
curious mixture of both styles of architecture. One or more annual
fairs are held at each of these shrines and holy places.

Agriculture. — The cultivated area of Dera Ghazi Khan has increased

enormously since the introduction of British rule. Early returns show

the total area under tillage at 261,065 acres in 1849, and ^^ 276,981

acres in. 1859 ; while the Punjab Administration Report for 1880-81

gives a total cultivation of 1,086,413 acres, of which 438,205 received

artificial irrigation, namely, 270,158 acres by Government works, and

168,047 by private individuals. The staple crops of the District consist

of wheat zxi^jodr. The former ranks as the principal produce of the

rabi or spring harvest in the Sind ; the latter is grown as a kharif or

autumn crop in the Pachad. Barley, poppy, gram, peas, turnips, and

mustard also cover a considerable area in the rabi ; while rice, pulses,

cotton, indigo, tobacco, and oil-seeds form the chief supplementary

items of the kharif. The estimated area under the principal crops is

thus returned in 1881 : — Wheat, 180,781 acres; rice, 22,939 acres;

other cereals, such as jodr (great millet), bdjj'a (spiked millet), kangni

(Italian millet), makai (Indian corn), jao (barley), 195,486 acres;

pulses, including gram (Cicer arietinum), moth (Phaseolus aconitifolius),

matar (peas), mash (Phaseolus radiatus), mung (Phaseolus mungo),

w^^//r (Ervum lens), ^r/z^r (Caj anus indicus), 18,314 acres; oil-seeds,

including sarson or mustard, /// (Sesamum orientale), and tdrdmira

(Sinapis eruca), 28,841 acres; cotton, 99,545 acres; and indigo,

11,655 acres. Throughout the whole District, cultivation depends

entirely upon artificial irrigation, derived from three sources,— the

hill streams, the wells, and the inundation canals from the Indus.

The last begin to fill, in prosperous years, towards the end of June,

when the sowings at once commence. The Pachad can only produce

a good autumn crop if the hill torrents fill some time between May

and August ; but when rain does not fall until September, the cuUi-

vator abandons all hope of the kharif and sows his land with wheat

or some other spring staple. The number of main channels drawing

their supplies directly from the Indus is 15, two of which belong to

private proprietors, while the remainder are controlled and kept in

order by the State. A well, unaided by canal supplies, suffices to

irrigate an average of 10 acres; with the assistance of a canal, it can



DERA GHAZr KHAN.



215



water an area of 30 acres. In the latter case, however, only half the
lind is cultivated at a time, and each field lies fallow after every
second crop. The average out-turn of wheat or jodr per acre amounts
to 7^^ cwts. ; that of cotton to i cwt. 14 lbs. of cleaned fibre. The
qcrricultural stock in the District is approximately estimated as follows :
—Cows and bullocks, 81,901; horses, 2913; ponies, 450; donkeys,
4722; sheep and goats, 91,015; camels, 6930; ploughs, 12,125.
The District has no village communities in the sense which the term
usually implies in India. The villages consist of holdings classified
into mere artificial groups for purposes of revenue collection. The
only bond of union between the proprietors consists in their joint
responsibility for the payment of taxes. The proportion of land be-
longino' to each proprietor is stated by wells or fractions of a well in
the Sind, and by band/is or irrigation embankments in the Pachad.
Eight wells form a large holding, while one-fourth of a w-ell would be
the smallest amount capable of supporting a cultivating proprietor.
Rents usually take the shape of a charge in kind upon the produce.
Tenants-at-will pay from one-seventh to one-half the gross out-turn ;
a quarter may be regarded as the average. Agricultural labourers
receive their wages in kind, to the value of from 4id. to 6d. per diem.
Skilled workmen in the towns earn from is. to is. 3d. per diem. Of a
total population of 363,340, 179,821 were returned in 1881 as male
agriculturists, of whom 54,364 were above 15 years of age. Total area
paying Government revenue or quit-rent, 3944 square miles, of which
1404 square miles are cultivated, and 1580 square miles cultivable.
Total Government revenue, including rates and cesses, £^^,2,6^;
estimated value of rental paid by cultivators, ;^92,395. The prevailing
prices per cwt. for the principal agricultural staples in 1880-81, are
returned as follows: — Wheat, 9s. 8d. ; flour, 11 s. 2d.; best rice,
17s. iid. ; barley, 6s. 8d. ; gram, 8s. id. ; Jodr, 6s. 9d. ; bdjra, 8s. 9d. ;
cleaned cotton, ;^2, us. 2d. ; and sugar (refined), ^£2, i6s.

Com77ierce and Trade, etc. — Petty Hindu merchants, settled in almost
every village, entirely control the trade of the District. Their deal-
ings centre chiefly in the commercial town of Dera Ghazi Khan.
The Indus forms the high road of traffic. Mithankot, just below its
junction with the united stream of the Punjab rivers, was long the
mercantile capital of the District ; but a diversion of the navigable
channel 5 miles to the east has turned the course of traffic to the
head-quarters town. Thence, indigo, opium, dates, wheat, cotton,
barley, millet, ghi, and hides, are despatched down the river to Sukkur
(Sakkar) and Karachi (Kurrachee). The annual value of the opium
exported amounts to ;£2 5oo ; that of indigo probably exceeds
;£io,ooo. The grain of all kinds may be estimated at ^60,000.
Sugar, gram, woollen goods, English piece-goods and broadcloth,



2i6 DERA GHAZI KHAN.

metals, salt, and spices form the principal items of the import trade.
Little traffic at present exists with the country beyond the hills, owing
to the turbulence of the independent Baluchi tribes. Commercial
importance has lately attached to the annual religious gathering at
the shrine of a Muhammadan saint, Sakhi Sarwar. The chief means
of communication consist of— the Frontier military road, which passes
through the District from north to south ; the river road from Dera
Ghazi Khan to Sukkur ; and the road from the head-quarters station
to Multan, crossing the Indus at the Kureshi ferry. None of these
are metalled, but they cross the canals and hill-streams for the most
part by means of bridges. The total length of unmetalled roads within
the District amounted in 1882 to 1565 miles. The length of navigable
river communication is 235 miles.

Administration. — The District staff ordinarily comprises a Deputy
Commissioner, with a judicial Assistant Commissioner, two Assistant
and one extra-Assistant Commissioners, besides the usual fiscal, con-
stabulary, and medical officers. The total amount of revenue (ex-
cluding income-tax) raised in the District in 1861-62 was returned at
^2^37, 182. In 1882-83 it had reached the sum of £a9->1Z9' The
land-tax forms the principal item of receipt, yielding (exclusive of
canal collections) in 1882-83 a total of £2>S^o2o, or four-fifths of the
whole. The other chief items are stamps and excise. In 1882-83,
the District contained 16 civil and revenue courts of all grades,
and 18 magistrates' courts. The regular or Imperial police in 1882
consisted of a force of 394 men, of whom 303 were available
for protective or defensive duties, the remainder being employed
as guards over jails, treasuries, etc. There is also a river patrol
of 28, and a municipal force of 84 men. As regards crime, out
of 896 ' cognisable ' cases investigated during the year, convictions
were obtained in 436 ; the total number of persons arrested in
connection with these cases was 1226, of whom 803 were finally
convicted. Cattle theft is described as the normal crime of the Dis-
trict, an offence which, owing to the large tracts of waste and jungle,
is very difficult to deal with; 192 cases occurred in 1881. Murder is
also a common offence; 19 such cases occurred in 1 881, of which
conviction was obtained in 10. The District jail at Dera Ghazi Khan,
a large and substantial building, had a daily average number of 372
prisoners in 1880. The Rajanpur lock-up during the same year had
a daily average of 80 inmates. The military force maintained in the
District for the protection of the frontier comprises 2 regiments of in-
fantry and 2 of cavalry. One regiment of cavalry and one company of
infantry are stationed at Rajanpur ; and the remainder at Dera Ghazi
Khdn. A force of mounted militia, levied among the Baluchi tribes
of the Pachid, assists the regular troops in the maintenance of order.



DERA GHAZI KHAN TAHSIL AND TOWN. 217

In 1882-83, the District had only 40 regularly-inspected schools,
with a total roll of 1895 scholars. There were also, according to Dr.
G. F. Leitner's Report, a total of 179 indigenous village schools, in
which education of some sort is imparted to about 1650 children.
The five municipalities of Dera Ghazi Khan, Jampur, Rajanpur,
Mithankot, and Dijal Avith Naushahra, had an aggregate revenue in
1882-83 oi £^1^'^, and an expenditure of ^5255 ; average incidence
of taxation, is. iid. per head of municipal population.

Medical Aspects. — Dera Ghazi Khan cannot be considered an
unhealthy District, although the heat in summer often reaches an
intense degree. The annual rainfall for the eighteen years ending
1880 averaged only 7-06 inches, the maximum during that period
being io-8 inches in 1869-70. The total rainfall in 1880 was
only 4"2 inches. Fever of the ordinary type prevails in August
and September, when cold nights alternate with hot days. In
June and July, a scorching and unhealthy wind sweeps down from
the hills into the Pachad. Four charitable dispensaries gave relief
in 1881 to 52,781 persons, of whom 1381 were in-patients; total
expenditure on dispensaries in 1881, £\\o(^^ of which jQdio was
derived from local sources, and ^468 contributed by Government.
[For further information regarding Dera Ghazi Khan District, see the
forthcoming /^?^;z/^^ Gazetteer; also Mr. F. W. R. Yry^r's Report 07i the



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 4) → online text (page 26 of 58)