William Wilson Hunter.

The imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 4) online

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Settlejfient Operations from 1869 to 1874; together with the Punjab
Census Report for 1881, and the Punjab Administration and Depai-t-
mental Reports from 1880 to 1883.]

Dera Ghazi Khan. — Tahsil of Dera Ghazi Khan District, Punjab,
consisting of a narrow strip of land between the Indus and the Sulai-
man mountains. Lat. 29° 36' to 30° 30' 30" n., and long. 70° 11' to
70° 59' E. Area, 1362 square miles. Population (1881) 159,733,
namely, males 88,120, and females 71,613. Persons per square mile,
117. Hindus numbered 22,750; Sikhs, 525; Muhammadans, 136,388;
and 'others,' 70. Revenue of the tahsil, ;£i8,426. The administrative
staff consists of a Deputy Commissioner, a Judicial Assistant, 2 Assistant
or extra-Assistant Commissioners, i tahsilddr, i munsif, and 3 honorary
magistrates. These officers preside over 8 civil and 8 criminal courts.
Number of police stations, 4; strength of regular pohce, 105 men;
with 68 village watchmen.

Dera Ghazi Khan. — Town and administrative head-quarters of
I)era Ghazi Khan District, Punjab. Lat. 30° 3' n., and long. 70° 50' e.
Situated in lat. 30° 3' 57" n., and long. 70° 49' e., about 2
miles west of the present bed of the Indus, which once flowed
past its site. Population (1881) 22,309, namely 10,140 Hindus,
11,687 Muhammadans, 413 Sikhs, and 69 Christians. Number
of houses, 3159. The Kasturi Canal skirts its eastern border,



2i8 DERA ISMAIL KHAN.

fringed with thickly-planted gardens of mango trees ; while ghats line
the banks, thronged in summer by numerous bathers. Above the
town stands a massive dam, erected in 1858 as a protection against
inundations. A mile to the west lies the civil station, and the canton-
ments adjoin the houses of the District officials. The original station
stood to the east of the town, but disappeared during the flood of 1857.
The town owes its foundation to Ghazi Khan Mahrani, a Baluch settler
in the District, who made himself independent in this remote tract
about the year 1475. ^^ ^^^ continued ever since to be the seat of
local administration under the successive Governments which have
ruled the surrounding country. i^See Dera Ghazi Khan District.)
The court-house occupies the reputed site of Ghazi Khan's garden;
while the tahsili and police office replace an ancient fort, levelled
at the time of the English annexation. The other public buildings
include a town hall, school-house, dispensary, staging bungalow, and
post-office. A handsome bazar has several good shops, built on a
uniform plan. Many large and striking mosques adorn the town, the
chief being those of Ghazi Khan, Abdul Jawar, and Chiitd Khan.
The Sikhs converted three of them into temples of their own faith
during their period of supremacy. Two Muhammadan saints are also
honoured with shrines, and the earlier religion has four temples dedi-
cated to Hindu gods. The trade of Dera Ghdzi Khan is not large :
exports — indigo, opium, dates, wheat, cotton, barley, millet, ghi, and
hides ; imports— sugar, Kabul fruits, English piece-goods, metal, salt,
and spices. Silk and cotton manufacture, formerly thriving, has now
declined. Weekly fair on the banks of the canal during the summer
months. Ordinary garrison, i cavalry and 2 infantry regiments of the
Punjab Frontier force. Municipal revenue in 1882-83, ;£26i9; ex-
penditure, ^^3380 ; average incidence of municipal taxation, 2s. 4|d.
per head.

Dera Ismdil Khan. — District in the Derajat Division of the
Lieutenant-Governorship of the Punjab (Panjab), lying between 30° 36'
and 32° 33' N. lat., and between 70° 14' and 72° 2' e. long.; with an
area of 9296 square miles, and a population (1881) of 441^649 persons.
Dera Ismail Khan forms the central District of the Derajat Division.
It consists of a strip of country stretching from the foot of the Sulaiman
Hills, across the hills into the Thai of the Sind Sagar Doab. It is
bounded on the north by Bannu District; on the east by Jhang
and Shahpur ; on the south by Dera Ghazi Khan and Muzaffargarh ;
and on the west by the Sulaiman mountains, which separate India
from Afghanistan. Its average length from north to south is about no
miles, and its average width about 80 miles. It is divided into 5
tahsils, of which that of Tank occupies the extreme north-western
corner of the District. The remainder of the Trans-Indus tract is



DERA ISMAIL KHAN. 219

divided between the tahsils of Dera Ismail Khan and Kulachi. The
cis-Indus area is divided by a line running east and west into the
two tahsils of Bhakkar and Leiah, the former comprising the northern
portion. These two tahsils constitute a separate Sub-division, and are
in charge of an Assistant Commissioner stationed at Bhakkar. The
administrative head-quarters of the District are at the town of Dera
Ismail Khan.

Physical Aspects. — The District of Dera Ismail Khan, a purely arti-
ficial creation for administrative purposes, comprises two distinct tracts
d country, stretching from the Sulaiman mountains across the valley
of the Indus far into the heart of the Sind Sagar Doab. The channel
of the great river thus divides it into two sections, each of which
possesses a history and physical characteristics of its own. To the west,
the Sulaiman mountains rise barren and precipitous above the hard
alluvial plain, ascending in a series of parallel ridges, which culminate
nearly opposite Dera Ismail Khan in the two peaks of Takht-i-Sulaiman,
11,295 and 11,070 feet respectively above the level of the sea. The
range is the home of various independent tribes, responsible to our
Government for the maintenance of peace upon the frontier, and the
prevention of robbery among the passes. Numerous mountain torrents
score the hill-sides, and cut for themselves deep and intricate ravines in
the plain below; but Uttle of their water reaches the Indus even in times
of heavy flood. Only one among them, the Gumal or Lilni, is a perennial
stream. On the north, some low and stony spurs project into the
valley, till finally the Shaikh-Budin range closes the view upward and
separates this District from that of Bannu. Near the Indus, a third
rugged group, the Khisor Hills, intervenes between the Shaikh-Budin
system and the river, which is overhung by its eastern face in a precipi-
tous mass, some 3000 feet above the sea. From this point the plain
stretches southward along the river-side, till it merges in the similar
tract of Dera Ghazi Khan District. Sloping downwards from the
feet of the Sulaiman range through an intermediate barren belt, it
gradually attains a lower level, at which percolation from the Indus
makes its influence felt. Cultivation soon becomes general, and the
soil of this lowland tract supports a population of considerable density.
In the summer months, the river, rising 6 feet above its cold-weather
level, submerges the country for 11 miles inland; while canals and
natural channels convey its fertilizing waters to a still greater distance
from the main stream on either side. The principal channel shifts from
year to year, causing great alteration in the conditions of agriculture.
The eastern or Sind Sagar portion of the District consists in part of a
similar irrigated lowland, lying along the edge of the Indus. The limit
of this favoured tract is marked by an abrupt bank, the outer margin of
a high plateau, the Thai, which stretches across the Doab to the valley



2 20 DERA ISMAIL KHAN.

of the Jehlam (Jhelum). Below this bank, wide patches of closely-
cultivated soil, interspersed with stretches of rank grass, or broken by-
occasional clumps of trees, meet the eye; but above appears the
ordinary monotony of a Punjab desert, extending in a level surface
of sand, or rolling into rounded hillocks and long undulating dunes.
Yet the soil beneath is naturally rich ; and unless the rainfall entirely
fails, a yearly crop of grass pushes its way through the sandy covering,
and suffices to support vast flocks of sheep and cattle. Patches of
scrubby jungle here and there diversify the scene ; while the coarse
vegetation of the general surface affords excellent fodder for camels.
Cultivation, however, can only be carried on by means of laborious
artificial irrigation from deep wells, and nothing but the brave and
steady industry of the inhabitants renders life possible in this sterile
region.

Iron is produced in the Waziri hills, but no metals exist within
the District itself. Traces of lignite and a little alum, naphtha, yellow
ochre, and saltpetre are found in the Shaikh-Budin range. Sajji^ an
impure carbonate of soda, is sometimes manufactured for sale, but
chiefly by washermen for their private use. No quarries of any sort
are worked. The hills supply abundance of limestone for building
purposes. As regards wild animals, the antelope is unknown, and
only a i^"^ ravine and hog-deer are found. Game is rapidly disap-
pearing, owing to the increase of cultivation. The tiger is extinct ;
and even wild hog are only to be found in certain outlying tracts.
The wild ass {ghor-k/ior) has entirely disappeared from the District.
Hares were formerly numerous, but were drowned out during a high
flood in 1874, and hardly one is now left. Occasionally wolves, foxes,
and jackals are found, and a few leopards haunt the Shaikh-Budin
hills. Otters are common in the Indus, where they are caught by
the Kehars, a wandering tribe, and used in hunting fish. A species
of field mouse is often very destructive to the crops. Game birds
consist of wild duck, wild goose, sand grouse, quail, grey and black
partridges, chikor^ snipe, etc. The great bustard is occasionally met
with, and the small bustard affords good sport for hawking. The
fisheries are confined to the Indus and its tributaries.

History. — The massive ruins of two ancient forts, overlooking the
Indus from projecting spurs of the northern hills, alone bear witness to
an early civilisation in the Upper Derajat. Both bear the name of
Kafir Kot (infidel's fort), probably connecting their origin with the
Grae'co-Bactrian period of Punjab history. The plain portion of the
District contains none of those ancient mounds which elsewhere mark
the sites of ruined cities. But the earliest traditions current in this
remote quarter refer to its later colonization by immigrants from the
south, who found the country entirely unoccupied. The Baluchi



DERA ISMAIL KHAN. 221

settlers, under Malik Sohrab, arrived in the District towards the end of
the 15th century. Plis two sons, Ismail Khan and Fateh Khan,
founded the towns which still bear their names. The Hot family, as
this Baluchi dynasty was termed, in contradistinction to the Mahrani
house of Dera Ghazi Khan, held sway over the upper Derajat for 300
years, with practical independence, until reduced to vassalage by
Ahmad Shah Durani about 1750 a.d. Beyond the Indus, too, the
first important colony settled under the auspices of another Baluchi
chieftain, whose descendants, surnamed Jaskani, placed their capital for
nearly three centuries at Bhakkar in the eastern lowlands of the great
river. Farther south, the family of Ghazi Khan established several
settlements, the chief of which gathered round the tow^n of Leiah.
About the year 1759, the Khans of Leiah were involved in the conquest
of the parent family by the Kalhora kings of Sind. Shortly afterwards,
Ahmad Shah Durdni became supreme over the whole of the present
District. In 1792, Shah Zaman, then occupying the Durani throne,
conferred the government of this dependency, together with the title
of Nawab, upon Muhammad Khan, an Afghan of the Sadozai tribe,
related to the famous governors of Multan (Mooltan). Armed with
the royal grant, Muhammad Khan made himself master of almost all
the District, and built himself a new capital at Mankera. He died in
1815, after a prosperous reign of twenty-three years. His grandson, Sher
Muhammad Khdn, succeeded to the principality, under the guardian-
ship of his father, the late Nawab's son-in-law. Ranjit Singh, however,
was then engaged in consolidating his powxr by the subjection of the
lower Punjab. Nothing daunted by the difficulties of a march across
the desert, the great Sikh leader advanced upon Mankera, sinking wells
as he approached for the supply of his army. After a siege of twxnty-five
days, the fortress surrendered, and the w^hole Sind Sagar Doab lay at the
mercy of the conqueror. The young Nawdb retired beyond the Indus
to Dera Ismail Khan, retaining his dominions in the Derajat for fifteen
years, subject to a quit-rent to the Sikhs, but otherwise holding the
position of a semi-independent -prince. His tribute, how^ever, fell into
arrears; and in 1836, Nao Nihal Singh crossed the Indus at the head
of a Sikh army, and annexed the remaining portion of the District
to the territories of Lahore. The Nawab received an assignment of
revenue for his maintenance, still retained by his descendants, together
with their ancestral title.

Under Sikh rule, the cis-Indus tract formed part of the Multan
Province, administered by Sdwan Mall and his son Mulraj {see Multan
District). The upper Derajat, on the other hand, was farmed
out to the Diwan Laki Mall, from whom it passed to his son,
Daulat Rai. British influence first made itself felt in 1847, when
Lieutenant (afterwards Sir Herbert) Edwardes, being despatched



22 2 DERA ISMAIL KHAN.

to the frontier as Political Officer under the Council of Regency at
Lahore, effected a summary assessment of the land-tax. In the suc-
ceeding year, levies from Dera Ismail Khan followed Edwardes to
Multan, and served loyally throughout the war that ended in the
annexation of the Punjab. The District then passed quietly under
British rule. On the first sub-division of the Province, Dera Ismail
Khan became the head-quarters of a District, which also originally
included the trans-Indus portion of Bannu ; Leiah was erected into
the centre of a second District east of the river. The present arrange-
ment took effect in 1861, Bannu being entrusted to a separate officer,
and the southern half of Leiah District being incorporated with Dera
Ismail Khan. In 1857, some traces of a mutinous spirit appeared
amongst the troops in garrison at the head-quarters station ; but the
promptitude and vigour of the Deputy Commissioner, Colonel Coxe,
loyally aided by a hasty levy of local horse averted the danger
without serious difficulty. In 1870, the District attracted for a time
a melancholy attention through the death of Sir Henry Durand,
Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, who struck against an arch and
was precipitated from his elephant as he entered a gateway in the town
of Tank. His remains were interred at Dera Ismail Khan.

Population. — The changes of territory in the cis Indus portion of the
District since the Census of 1855, render it impossible to institute a
comparison between that enumeration and the returns of 1868 and
1 88 1. In the trans-Indus Sub-division, however, which remains sub-
stantially unaltered in extent, a considerable increase took place between
those dates. The Census of 1881 was taken over a total area of 9296
square miles, and it disclosed a total population of 441,649 persons,
distributed among 746 villages or townships, and inhabiting an aggre-
gate of 88,908 houses. These figures yield the following averages : —
Persons per square mile, 47 ; villages per square mile, o*o8 ; houses per
square mile, 9'56 ; persons per village, 592 ; persons per house, 4*95.
Classified according to sex, there were — males, 238,468 ; females,
203,181 ; proportion of males, 53*99 per cent. As regards the religious
distinctions of the people, Dera Ismail Khan contains an essentially
Muhammadan population, as might be expected from the late date and
quarter of its colonization. The Census showed 385,244 Musalmans,
54,446 Hindus, 1691 Sikhs, 2 Jains, 13 Parsis, and 253 Christians.
Amongst the Hindus, the Aroras form by far the largest element,
numbering as many as 44,146 persons; they comprise the principal
trading classes of the District, a few wealthy families being found in the
larger towns, while the majority carry on business as petty dealers in
corn or money throughout the country villages. The mass of the
agricultural population are Jats, the great majority of whom profess the
Muhammadan religion, but are of Hindu or Scythian origin. Their



DERA ISMAIL KHAN. 223

ancestors, according to tradition, accompanied the Baluchi chieftains on
the first colonization of the District. The Pathans or Afghans occupy a
strip of country extending immediately below the Sulaiman hills, through-
out their whole length from north to south. Most of them belong to
inconspicuous tribes, the highest in social position being connected
with the Sadozai Nawabs of Dera Ismail Khan. In 1881, Pathans
numbered 73,022. Only three towns contained a population exceeding
5000 in 1881 — namely, Dera Ismail Khan, Kulachi, and Leiah.
The municipal towns in 1881 were as follows: — (i) Dera Ismail
[Khan, 22,164; (2) Kulachi, 7834; (3) Leiah, 5899; (4) Bhakkar,
4402; (5) Karor, 2723; (6) Paharpur, 2496. Tank (population,
2364) is the capital of an Afghan Principality till lately ruled by its
semi-independent Nawab, but now brought directly under British
administration. The sanitarium of Shaikh-Budin, at an elevation of
4516 feet above sea-level, occupies the highest point in the hills which
separate this District from Bannu. The seven municipal towns con-
tained in 1881 a total of 47,882 inhabitants, leaving 393,767, or 89"i
per cent., for the rural population. With regard to occupation, the
Census Report returns the male population under the following seven
main divisions: — Class (i) Professional, including civil and military
officials and the learned professions, 6671 ; (2) domestic servants,
lodging-house keepers, etc., 2631 ; (3) commercial class, including mer-
chants, dealers, carriers, etc., 9960; (4) agricultural and pastoral,
including gardeners, 68,931 ; (5) industrial and artisan and manufac-
turing class, 23,634 ; (6) labourers, and unspecified, 29,576 ; (7) male
children below 15 years of age, 97,065.

Agriculture. — Throughout all portions of Dera Ismail Khan District,
tillage depends entirely upon artificial irrigation. The hill streams
render but scanty service in this respect, their volume being speedily
lost in the intricate ravines which they have cut for themselves through
the hard clay of the submontane tract. Nevertheless they afford to the
Afghans of the border a chance of raising some few crops, sufficient for
their own frugal subsistence. In the low-lying lands within the influence
of the Indus, canals and wells offer an easy and abundant supply of
water ; but in the Thai or Sind Sagar uplands, wells can only be worked
at an enormous depth. Even here, however, the indomitable energy
of the Jat cultivators succeeds in producing harvests not inferior to
those of the richest alluvial tracts. The State does not maintain any
irrigation works in this District; but in 1880, a total of 370,579 acres
were artificially watered by private enterprise. The area cultivated
without irrigation amounted to 435,432 acres, giving a grand total of
806,011 acres under cultivation. The remainder of the District falls
under the following heads: — Grazing lands, 806,791 acres; cultivable
waste, 3,204,918 acres; uncultivable waste, 1,131,900 acres. Wheat



2 24 DERA ISMAIL KHAN.

and barley form the staple products of the rabi or spring harvest, while
the common millets, /(^i/- and bdji'a^ constitute the principal kharifoi
autumn crops. Sugar and tobacco are grown in the lowlands of the
Indus, but not in sufficient quantities to meet the local demand. In
1880, the area in acres under the principal staples were returned as
follows : — Wheat, 283,433 acres ; rice, 1673 ; jodr (great millet), 18,360
bdjra (spiked millet), 110,825 ; 7nakai (Indian corn), 542 ; Jao (barley),
28,358; china (Panicum miliaceum), 600 acres; pulses, including gram
(Cicer arietinum), jnoth (Phaseolus aconitium), matar or peas (Pisum
sativum), 77iash (Phaseolus radiatus), miuig (Phaseolus mungo), masiii
(Ervum lens), arhar (Cajanus indica), 39,270 acres; oil-seeds, 33,723
acres; cotton, 9939 acres. Of a total population of 441,649, 215,714
are returned as male agriculturists, of whom 60,925 were above fifteen
years of age. Total area paying Government revenue or quit-rent, 7989
square miles, of which 1056 square miles are returned as cultivated,
and 4329 as cultivable. Total Government revenue, including rates
and cesses in 1881, ;£"49,86o; estimated value of rental, including
cesses, actually paid by cultivators, ;£^io7,54i.

Throughout the District, village communities of the ordinary types
prevail, though many of them, especially among the Pathans of the
frontier, appear to have adopted the communal system only as a con-
sequence of British fiscal arrangements. Elsewhere, in the Jat villages,
the existence of immemorial common lands attests the indigenous
nature of the institution. Rents are universally paid in kind, at rates
which range as high as one-half of the gross produce. The agricultural
stock in the District is approximately estimated as follows : — Cows and
bullocks, 182,257; horses, 3228; ponies, 496 ; donkeys, 11,146; sheep
and goats, 485,308; camels, 10,738; ploughs, 58,940. Unskilled,
labourers in towns received from 4jd. to 6d. per diem in 1881 ; while
skilled workmen obtained from is. to is. 3d. The prevailing prices
per cwt. for the principal food-grains and agricultural staples in January
1881 is stated as under: — Wheat, los. lod. ; flour, 12s. 5d. ; barley,
7s. 3d. ; gram, 8s. ; Indian corn, 6s. i id. ; jodr, 6s. ; bdjra, 7s. 6d. ; rice
(best), j[^\, 4s. 2d. ; cotton, £^2, i6s. od. ; sugar (refined), j[^2, iis. 2d.

Commerce and Trade, etc. — One of the main streams of caravan traffic
between India and Khordsan traverses the District twice a year. The
Povindah merchants cross the Gumal Pass between Tank and Kulachi
from early in October till the middle of December, and, after passing,
on into India proper, return again in April or May. They seldom, |
however, unpack any portion of their wares in the local markets. The
traffic of the District centres in the towns of Dera Ismail Khan, Leiah,
and Bhakkar. Wheat, millet, and wool are thence despatched down
the Indus to Multan (Mooltan), Sukkur (Sakkar), or Karachi (Kur-
rachee), while Indian and English piece-goods form the staples of



DERA ISMAIL KHAN. 225

import trade. Hides from Shahpur and Jhang, salt from Kohat and
Find Dadan Khan, and fancy ware of various kinds from Multan and
Sukkur, also figure upon the list of entries. Dera Ismail Khan town
and many villages have considerable manufactures of coarse cloth fur
domestic use. The main channels of communication consist of — the
Frontier military road, which skirts the base of the hills from north to
south ; the Multan and Rawal Pindi road, which follows the high right
bank of the Indus, via Kot Sultan, Leiah, Kharor, and Bhakkar; and
the line from Dera Ismail Khan to Jhang, and thence to Chichawatni
on the Lahore and Multan Railway. They are all practicable in
ordinary seasons by wheeled conveyances or artillery. The Indus is
bridged at Dera Ismail Khan, opposite the cantonments, by a bridge
of boats, from early in October till the end of April. This boat bridge
is the longest of the kind in the Punjab, if not in India. The total
length of roads within the District in i88o-8r amounted to 31 miles of
metalled and 1538 miles of unmetalled roads. Water communication
is afforded by 120 miles of navigable river (the Indus).

Administration. — The District staff ordinarily comprises a Deputy
Commissioner, with one Assistant and three extra-Assistant Commis-
sioners, besides the usual fiscal, constabulary, and medical officers.
The total amount of revenue raised in the District during the year
1880-81 was returned at;^59,286; of which sum, ^17,542 was con-
tributed by the land-tax. A local revenue of about ^5000 provides
for objects of public utility within the District itself In 1880-81,
Dera Ismail Khan possessed 16 civil and revenue judges of all grades,
2 of whom were covenanted civilians ; there were also 2 1 magistrates
with criminal jurisdiction. The regular or Imperial police in 1881
consisted of a force of 505 men, of whom 387 were available for pro-
tective or defensive duties, the remainder being employed as guards
over jails, treasuries, etc. There was also in the same year a municii)al
force of 68 men, and a ferry police of 9 men. As regards crime, out
of 633 ' cognisable ' cases investigated by the police during the year,



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 4) → online text (page 27 of 58)