William Wilson Hunter.

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greater part of the year, not again appearing above ground until it
reaches the alluvial clay.


The valuable forests of the Eastern Dwars have within the last few
years been placed under Government supervision; and in 1881 an area
of 447 square miles, or just one-quarter of the aggregate area of the
entire tract, had been ' reserved,' and placed under the management
of the Forest Department. About 80 square miles are sal timber,
which is described as the most valuable property in the whole Province
of Assam, and should yield an annual produce of 25,000 trees. At
present, however, owing to the indiscriminate havoc wrought in former
years by the Bengali woodcutters, there are no mature trees left stand-
ing. Besides sal (Shorea robusta) the following timber-trees are care-
fully preserved in an 'open forest': — Sissu (Dalbergia sissu), khair
(Acacia catechu), and chelauni (Schima vel Gordonia mollis) ; all other
timber is free. The great danger to which the forests are exposed is
the spread oi jum cultivation, by which fresh tracts of jungle are fired
every year. Stringent regulations are now enforced against this practice
within Government reserves. The jungle products include lac, bees-
wax, pipali or long pepper (Chavica roxburghii), and a creeper from
which a red dye called dsu is obtained. No metals or mineral products
are known to exist. Wild animals of all kinds abound, including
elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, tiger, bear, hog, and deer.

History. — This tract first became British territory as the result of the
Bhutan war of 1864-65, and does not possess any independent history
of its own. It is known, however, that the despotic rule of the Bhutias
was only of recent date. The earliest dynasty that can be localized in
this tract is that of Visu Singh, the ancestor of the Kuch Behar Rajas,
who founded an empire in the i6th century on the ruins of an earlier
kingdom, extending from Darrang in the upper valley of the Brahma-
putra to the frontier of Purniah in Bengal. But this wide empire
rapidly fell to pieces, owing partly to the anarchical system, by which
large tracts were granted out as appanages to younger sons of the royal
family. In this way the Rajas of Bijni and SidU Dwars, as well as
the Raja of Darrang, acquired their present estates. While the State
thus became enfeebled, invaders were pressing forward from every
quarter. On the west, the Mughals rapidly advanced, and annexed the
permanently-settled portion of Goalpara to their Province of Bengal.
The wild tribe of Ahams spread down the Brahmaputra valley, and
maintained themselves at the ancient capital of Gauhati against the
Musalman armies. At about the same time, the Dwars or lowland passes
along the foot of the mountains fell to the Bhutias, who here found the
cultivable ground that their own bare mountains did not afford. 1 hey
exercised predominant influence over the whole tract from the frontier
of Sikkim as far east as Darrang, and frequently enforced claims of
suzerainty over the enfeebled State of Kuch Behar. They do not
appear to have occupied this tract permanently, but merely to have


exacted a heavy tribute, and subjected the miserable inhabitants
to the cruellest treatment. In contradistinction to the results of
Muhammadan rule, it is to be observed that the Buddhism of the
Bhutias has left no traces in the religion of the native population.
Kuch Behar was delivered from the Bhutia tyranny by the treaty of
1772, in accordance with which the Raja placed himself under British
protection, and paid tribute to the East India Company. The Bhutan
Dwars, as they were called, remained for nearly a century longer in a
state of anarchy. In 1863, a British ambassador was subjected to gross
insults by the Bhutan Government ; and, as a punishment, it was
resolved to annex the Dwars to British territory. Accordingly, in
December 1864, four strong military columns made a simultaneous
advance, and occupied the low country and the hill passes above, after
slight opposition. At the fort of Diwangiri {q.v.) a reverse to the
British arms was experienced; but before the close of 1865, the
Bhutias consented to accept the terms of peace which had been
offered to them before the outbreak of hostilities. By this treaty,
the Dwars were ceded in perpetuity to the British Government, and
an annual allowance of ^£2500' was granted to the Bhutan Raja,
which sum may be increased to ;!^5ooo, or withdrawn altogether, at
the option of the British. Since that date our relations with Bhutan
have been entirely peaceful. The frontier raids, which were formerly
of frequent occurrence, have altogether ceased. A brisk traffic has
sprung up on the frontier, and cultivation is rapidly extending in the
annexed territory.

The Bhutan Dwars were forthwith divided into the two administra-
tive Districts of the Eastern and Western Dwars, of which the latter
has since been apportioned between the Bengal Districts of Jalpaiguri
and Darj fling. The Eastern Dwars were at first placed in charge of a
Deputy Commissioner, with his head-quarters at the village of Datma, in
the QxOdX^ixk pargand of Khuntdghat. In December 1866 they were
completely incorporated with the District of Goalpara, and have since
shared in all the changes of jurisdiction by which that District has been
transferred between Bengal and Assam. Since 1874, when Assam was
erected into an independent Province under a Chief Commissioner, the
Eastern Dwars have been permanently detached from Bengal. But
though the settled portion of Goalpara and the Eastern Dwars are under
the control of a single officer, the system of administration is quite
distinct. By Act xvi. of 1869, all matters relating to immoveable
property, revenue, and rent, are exempted from the jurisdiction of the
civil courts. The property in the soil is vested in the State. By the
settlement which expired in March 1877, leases were granted for seven
years. In some of the Dwdrs these leases were granted direct to the
cultivators, without the interposition of any middle-men ; but in other


cases the Rajas received farming leases of the whole area over which
they claimed to exercise authority. The latter system has not been found
advantageous ; and in regard to the Dwars of Ripu, Guma, and Chirang,
the management has, since the expiry of the previous settlement, been
carried on under the regular Assam Settlement system, by annual pattds
or leases granted direct to the cultivators through representatives of
villages {inauzdddrs). In Sidli and Bijni Dwars it has recently been
decided to recognise the Rajas who derive their titles from those
estates, as zanii7iddrs or proprietors at a permanently-fixed Government
rental, for the greater part of the area, and to conclude a settlement
direct with them for the remainder, protecting the cultivators by a sub-

Population. — At the time of the settlement of 1869-70, the Deputy
Commissioner personally conducted an enumeration of the people,
which showed a total population of 37,047 persons, dwelling in 2863
enclosures or villages and in 6888 houses, on an area of 1569 square
miles. In 1881, the total population was returned at 56,136, but no
details are available. The great bulk of the inhabitants belong to the
two aboriginal tribes of Mech or Cachari and Koch or Rajbansi. The
number of Hindus proper is very small, and the Muhammadans only
number no, who are supposed to represent proselytes made at the time
of the Mughal conquest of Goalpara. The Mechs are returned by the
Deputy Commissioner as numbering in 1870, 8752 adult males, or 70
per cent, of the total. This tribe is generally regarded as cognate to
the Koch, Cachari, and Rabha, all of whom inhabit this part of
the country. The names of Mech and Cachari are indifferently applied
to the same people, the latter name being especially used in the extreme
east of the District. The tribe is widely scattered over all North-
Eastern Bengal, being able to support life in the malarious tardi that
continuously fringes the first slopes of the Himalayas. In the Eastern
Dwars, and especially in Sidli Dwar, where, under the Bhutan Govern-
ment, they remained comparatively free from Hindu influences, they
have preserved their own language and customs in greater purity than
elsewhere. They describe themselves as having originally come from a
place they called Rangsar, on the south side of the upper valley of the
Brahmaputra, whence they were gradually pushed westwards mto Assam.
Owing to the anarchy that prevailed in Assam towards the close of the
last century, a considerable portion of the population of Kamrup
crowded into the frontier District of Goalpara. The upper classes
returned to Assam upon our annexation of the Province in 1824-25 ;
but the poorer wanderers settled permanently in the pargands of
Khuntaghat and Habraghat, whence they have recently moved into
Eastern Dwars. At the present time they are rapidly falling under the
influence of Hinduism, and converts find no difficulty in being received


among the Rajbansi and other mongrel castes. Their indigenous
religion consists in the propitiation of evil spirits by the sacrifice of
fowls. Converts to Hinduism are known as Soronias, but the change
does not seem to be very extensive ; they are only required to bathe, to
call on the name of some guru or spiritual instructor, and to abstain
from beef, pork, and liquor. Their social condition is very low. They do
not appear to have ever achieved any form of polity of their own. They
have but few traditions, no ancient songs, no monuments, no written
character, and no literature of any kind. Their marriage ceremony
preserves the primitive form of abduction. They still retain migratory
habits, which are illustrated by the nomadic form of agriculture known
as jum. On the other hand, they are not destitute of the virtues of
savages. They are more uniformly honest and trustworthy than the
lowland peasantry ; chastity is esteemed a virtue, and crime of any sort
is rare. Above all, the Mechs are possessed of a physical constitution
that enables them to live and flourish all the year through in a malarious
tract which is absolutely fatal to strangers ; and their rude methods of
agriculture are gradually rendering the country habitable for successors
of a superior race. The Rajbansis riumbered in 1870, 2400 adult males,
or 20 per cent, of the total. This tribe is identical with the Koch of
Assam and of Kuch Behar. They are said to have originally inhabited
the lower ranges of hills to the north, and to have first descended into
the plains in about the i6th century. The high-sounding name of
Rajbansi, meaning ' of the royal kindred,' is adopted by those Kochs
who have embraced Hinduism, as well as by converts from other
aboriginal tribes. According to Mr. Brian H. Hodgson, Koch is
beyond doubt simply the name of Hinduized Mechs or Cacharis. Their
original seat in Assam was probably in the Northern Cachar Hills and
in Nowgong and Darrang Districts. The most numerous of the pure
Siidra castes is the Kolita, who acted as priests to the native kings of
Assam, and are now engaged as peons, clerks, and cultivators. The
Bairagis are the religious mendicants of the Vishnuvite sect ; and the
Goswamis or Gosains are their spiritual preceptors. The Brahma
Samaj has no followers in the Eastern Dwars.

The population is absolutely rural, every person being directly
engaged in agriculture. The only village that possesses a permanent
bazar is Bijni, and even small shops are rarely to be seen. There is
abundance of spare land that can easily be brought under cultivation,
and the sparsely-scattered inhabitants are described as being all
prosperous and contented. Immigration is steadily going on from the
neighbouring pargands of Kamrup and Goalpara, and the new-comers
at once amalgamate with the rest of the people, as they are usually of
the same race. An interesting experiment in colonization was begun
in 1880 by the introduction of some Santal families, all professing


Christianity. These settlers now (1882) number about 75 households,
and more are expected to follow.

Agriculture, etc. — The staple crop throughout the Eastern Dwars is
rice, which is cultivated in three principal varieties. The dus or dsu
crop is sown on comparatively high lands in March ; it is not trans-
planted, and is reaped in July. The bdo or bdvd, which is a long-stemmed
variety, is not much grown. The avian, haimantik, or sdli furnishes the
greater portion of the food-supply ; it is sown broadcast in nurseries in
June, transplanted in the following month, and reaped in December.
Mustard seed is extensively grown as a second crop after dus rice.
Minor crops include vegetables, barley, pulse, tobacco, pdn or betel-leaf,
and betel-nut (Areca catechu). According to the Survey of 1869-70,
out of a total area of more than one million acres, only 51,224, or
about one-twentieth, were then under cultivation, — thus sub-divided :
sdli rice, 32,296; dus rice and mustard, 15,498; homestead lands,
2493. The cultivated area in 1882 had increased to 66,572 acres. The
Mechs follow the jum method of cultivation, and raise a good deal of
cotton on their forest clearings in addition to the ordinary crops.
Manure is only used for the pdn plant, and then in the form of refuse
from the cow-sheds. Irrigation is universally practised in the case of
the sdli rice crop. The cultivators combine to cut channels from the
hill streams, by which they distribute the water over their fields. Waste
land is abundant on all sides, and consequently the same fields are
never cultivated after they begin to lose their natural productiveness.
Aus land is generally abandoned after two years ; but sdli land continues
to yield annual crops for a longer period. The entire soil is the
property of Government, and, by the settlement of 1869-70, was leased
out for a term of seven years, on conditions favourable to the spread of
cultivation. The rates of rents then fixed, which still continue in
force under the present system of annual settlements, were the following :
—For homestead and sdli lands, 3s. per acre ; for dus lands, is. 6d. per
acre. The average out-turn from an acre of sdli land is estimated at
about 23 cwts. of paddy or unhusked rice, valued at £2, 15s. ; an acre
of dus land yields about 1 5 cwts. of paddy, and an additional 5 cwts. of
mustard seed, the whole being valued at £2, 5s. Women and children
are largely employed in the fields.

No professional class of day-labourers exists in the Eastern Dwdrs ;
but coolies may sometimes be obtained for 4d. a day. Agricultural
labourers are generally remunerated by being allowed to retain a fixed
share of the produce, without having any interest in the soil. Artisans
also, such as smiths or carpenters, are paid in kind for any odd job they
may do. The price of rice varies regularly with the season of the year.
Best rice shortly after harvest sells at about 5s. 5d. per cwt., which
gradually rises through the year till it reaches 8s. 2d., just before the


dman crop is gathered. Similarly the price of common rice varies from
28. 8d. to 5s. 5d. per cwt. Unhusked paddy fetches from one-third to
one-half the price of cleaned rice. The prices of food-grains were not
affected by the famines of 1866 and 1874.

Since the Eastern Dwars came under British rule in 1864, such a
calamity as the general destruction of the harvest by either flood,
drought, or blight, has been unknown and unthought of. The rice
crops have been occasionally injured by river floods and excessive local
rainfall. The irrigation universally practised by the cultivators furnishes
an efficient guarantee against the effects of drought. If an unpre-
cedented misfortune were to happen, and the price of rice were to rise
to I OS. per cwt. at the beginning of the year, that should be regarded
as a sign of approaching famine. The inhabitants, however, know
how to support life on various jungle products, and the numerous rivers
afford ample means of communication. The only road in the Eastern
Dwars is one that crosses the whole tract from east to west, running
a length of 73 miles. It is interrupted by unbridged rivers and swampy
tracts, and becomes altogether impassable during the rainy season.
Wheeled carts are nowhere used, v

Manufactures, etc. — There is no manufacturing class in the Eastern
Dwars. In addition to their livelihood of agriculture, the people make
for themselves their own houses, their own clothes, baskets, and mats.
Brass utensils and pottery require to be purchased from Goalpara.
The only article manufactured for sale is a coarse silk fabric called erid,
which is woven from the cocoons of a worm fed on the castor-oil plant
(Ricinus communis). A piece, 14 feet long by 4 feet broad, sells for
from I2S. to ;£i, according to the fineness of its texture. The Mechs
also hollow out the trunks of trees into boats, called dungds, which are
floated down the streams in the rainy season for sale on the Brahma-
putra. This industry is mainly supported by advances from the
Goalpara merchants.

The trade of the Eastern Dwars is mainly conducted by barter, and
is in the hands of Marwari merchants from Goalpara and Kamriip.
Boats come up the rivers during the rainy season^ and transact their
business at the villages on the river banks. There are no large
permanent markets. The principal articles of export are rice,
mustard seed, erid cloth, cotton, india-rubber, a dye called dsu, timber,
and boats; in exchange for which are received brass-ware, pottery,
salt, cotton cloth, oil, spices, cocoa-nuts, and miscellaneous hardware.
In ordinary seasons, the crops provide a considerable surplus for

Administration. — The Eastern Dwars consist of the following 5 Dwars :
— BijNi — area 374 square miles, population (1881) 24,882 ; Sidli —
area 361 square miles, population 23,657 ; Chirang — area 495 square


miles, population 1216; Ripu — area 242 square miles, population
3040; GuMA — area 98 square miles, population 3341. The ad-
ministrative statistics cannot be separated from those of the District
of Go^lpard, and are given in the aggregate in the special article on
that District. It is there stated that the total land revenue from
temporarily-settled estates, which may be assumed to be co-extensive
with the Eastern Dwars, amounted in 1874-75 to ^5158, collected
from 27 estates. The tract is entirely administered from Dhubri town,
and no European officer is permanently stationed in it.

A settlement of the land revenue was made for seven years in 1870.
Chirang Dwar was held khds, or, in other words, engagements were
taken from the occupants actually in possession ; for the four other
Dwars collective leases were granted to neighbouring landlords or
chiefs. Provision was made for the protection of occupancy rights,
and permission to extend cultivation was conceded to the leaseholders,
who receive the profits arising from such extension during the currency
of their term. As already mentioned, the Assam system of settlement
has now been substituted for the leases granted in 1870, in all but two
of the Dwars, which have been settled with the Rajas of Sidli and
Bijni, who have been held to be entitled to the position of zaminddrs.
The Eastern Dwars are included within the head-quarters Sub-division
of Dhubri.

Dwars, Western.— A tract lying along the foot of the Himalayas,
and including some of their outermost spurs, in the north-east of
Jalpaiguri District, Bengal. The Western Dwars, together with
their continuation, the Eastern Dwars {q.v.), were annexed to the
Lieutenant-Governorship of Bengal as the result of the Bhutan war of
1864-65. The Eastern Dwars now form part of the Chief-Commis-
sionership of Assam (Goalpara District) ; while the Western Dwars
remain under the Bengal Government. The entire tract contains a large
area of waste land covered with jungle, but intersected by streams from
the mountains, and well suited for reclamation. A considerable popu-
lation of husbandmen has already moved into the Dwars ; and the
Western Dwars have been lately (1881-84) opened for tea-planting on
a large scale. Grants of land for the latter purpose have been taken
up with increasing rapidity, and tea-planting is being pushed forward,
not only by private persons, but also by companies commanding an
amount of capital almost unprecedented in this line of industry.
The labour difficulty which has to be encountered in Assam, occurs
here in a much less serious form. Large numbers of coolies
find their way into the Western Dwdrs under the guidance of native
contractors, without the intervention of the Labour Transport
Laws. They receive high wages in the tea-gardens, and most of
them return to their villages in the interior of Bengal with con-


siderable savings, after a few years. Indeed, the success of free
immigration into the Western Dwars holds out a hopeful promise for
the settlement of the difficulties attending the movement of labour to
other tea-growing tracts. The climate is unhealthy, but this deterrent
influence disappears as the jungle is cleared, and considerable tracts are
opened up, and as substantial houses are built for the planters, and
suitable coolie lines for the labourers.

The Western Dwars, now called parga?zds, extend from the Sankos
river on the east, which forms the boundary between Goalpara and
Jalpaiguri Districts, and the Tista river on the west. They are 9
in number, viz.: — (t) Bhalka, area (1881) 119 square miles; (2)
Bhatibari, area 149 square miles; (3) Baxa, area 300 square miles;
(4) Chakao-Kshattriya, area 138 square miles; (5) Madari, area
194 square miles; (6) Lakshmipur, area 165 square miles; (7)
Maraghat, area 342 square miles ; (8) Mainaguri, area 309 square
miles ; (9) Chengmari, area 146 square miles.


Eastern Dwd,r3. — Tract of country in Goalpara District, Assam. —
See Dwars, Eastern.

Eastern GhdtS. — Mountain range extending along the eastern
coast of India. — See Ghats.

Edapadi. — Town in Salem District, Madras Presidency. Popula-
tion (1881) 3942, namely, 3650 Hindus, 277 Muhammadans, and 15

Edar {Idar), — The principal Rajput State of the Mahi Kantha
Agency in Kathiawar, Gujarat (Guzerat), Bombay Presidency ; bounded
on the north by Sirohi (Sirohee) and Udaipur (Oodeypore), on the east
by Diingarpur, and on the south and west by the territories of the
Bombay Presidency and of the Gaekwar of Baroda. Population (1881)
258,429, including 10,916 Bhils ; estimated gross revenue, including
transit dues, ^52,444. The area of the State, according to the Census
statement of 1881, was returned at 4966 square miles, of which the cul-
tivable waste was estimated at 833 square miles, and the non-cultivable
at about the same. The number of towns and villages in the State,
excluding the hamlets of the Bhils, was returned by the Census at 805,
containing 56,602 occupied and 12,052 unoccupied houses. The Bhil
population occupied 2729 houses in 94 hamlets. In the whole popu-
lation the males numbered 131,823, the females 126,606. Number
of persons per square mile, 52. Classified according to religion,
Hindus numbered 243,399 ':> Muhammadans, 8760; Jains, 6266 ; there
were also 3 Parsis and i Christian. Among the Hindus, 17,441 were

EDAR, 337

Brahmans, and 10,309 Rajputs. The soil of the State is generally
fertile ; in some places it is of a light sandy nature, in others rich and
black ; towards the north and north-eastern parts near the hills, poor
and stony. A peculiar feature of the country is the abundance of
ma/iud, mango, khirni, and other fruit-trees. The jungle in some parts,
particularly at the foot of the hills, is very thick and intersected with
ravines. Principal products — grains, oil-seeds, sugar-cane. Manu-
factures — a small quantity of country soap. There are quarries in the
neighbourhood of Ahmadnagar, and the stone is used for building

The greater part of the population are Kolis, the remainder consists
of Rajputs, Brahmans, Baniyas, Kumbis, etc. The present ruling family,
though Rajputs of the most ancient lineage, only arrived in Edar at a
comparatively recent date. Tradition relates that the original sovereigns
of Edar, as in most of the rest of Gujarat, were Bhalsur Kolis. The
last chief of this tribe was named Sambla. A debauched and vicious
man, his ministers conspired against him, and invited Rao Sonag

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 4) → online text (page 40 of 58)