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Charles Alfred Browne.

An introduction to the geography and history of India, and the countries adjacent; online

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barley, chenna, and other grains ; indigo,
cotton, silk, hemp, tobacco, opium, sugar,
mustard, ginger, madder, lac, dyeing and
medicinal drugs and gums, various seed
oils, betel, wax, ivory, iron, saltpetre,
limestone, shell lime, coal, and salt. Its
manufactures of silk, and of muslins, cal-
icoes, and other descriptions of cotton
goods have long been the most cele-
brated in India. Amongst its fruits are
oranges of the finest kind, which are
produced in Silhet in such quantities that
they have been sold at the rate of 1,000
for a rupee. The sheep and cattle are
small, as are also the horses, of which
there are some breeds of a remarka-
bly diminutive size. Elephants abound,
with tigers, bears, apes, monkeys, and
other wild animals, and snakes of all
descriptions. The rhinoceros is likewise
found in this province, chiefly in the
northern and north-western parts, and
otters are numerous.

The silk, of which mention has been
made above, comes from a small worm
which feeds upon the leaves of the mul-
berry tree. The worm, when full grown,
spins from its body, like the spider, a
fine thread, which it winds round itself



134? HINDOOSTAX PliOPER.

Produo- so as to form a ball. This ball, which is
called a cocoon, is thrown into hot water
to kill the worm inside, and then the silk
is wound off on a wheel. If the worm be
not killed in this way, it changes into a
moth, and eating its way out of the co-
coon spoils the silk.

Towns. Purnea, Rangamatty, Goal para, Chel-

rnaree, Dinajpoor, Nussurabad, Silhet,
Chera Poonjee, Moorshedabad, Burham-
poor, Cossimbazar, Nattoor, Dacca, Fu-
reedpoor, Narraingunj, Burdvvan, Ban-
koora, Midnapoor, Jellasore, Chunderna-
gore, Serampore, Calcutta, Kishenagur,
Moorlee, Burrishol, Lukhipoor, Komilla,
Chittagong, and Cox's Bazar.

Goa/para is chiefly noticed as a fron-
tier town, and the principal trading mart
between Bengal and Assam. Lat. 26
8' N. long. 90 38' E.

Chera Poonjee is a small English sta-
tion in the Cassiya hills, about 20 miles
to the north of Silhet.

Moorshedabad is situated on both
sides of the most sacred branch of the
Ganges, named the Bhageratty or Cos-
simbazar river, about 120 miles above
Calcutta, in lat. 24 IT N. long. 88 15'
E. It is a large but very meanly built
city, and contains about 160,000 inhab-
itants. In 1704, it became the capital
of Bengal, and continued so until su-
perseded by Calcutta. It is now the
principal civil station of the district, and
a place of extensive inland traffic.

About 30 miles south of Moorsheda-
bad is the town or village of Plassey,
celebrated on account of a battle fought



BENGAL AND ITS DEPENDENCIES. 135

Towns, there in 1757, between the English, under
the command of dive, and the Nabob
Serajood Dowlut, which decided the fate
of Bengal, and, eventually, of all Hiri-
doostan.

Cossimbazar, or Kasimbazar, is situ-
ated about a mile south from Moorsheda-
bad, of which city it may be considered
the port. It is particularly noted for its
silk manufactures, this district being per-
haps, next to China, the most productive
silk country in the world.

Dacca is situated on a branch of the
Ganges in lat. 23 42' N. long. 90 17' E.
This was formerly one of the largest and
richest cities in India, and was the capi-
tal of the eastern division of the Maho-
medan government of Bengal. It is a
large but irregularly built town, contain-
ing about 180,000 inhabitants, and is
now probably the second in the province
with respect to size and population. It
is a place of extensive trade, and has
long been celebrated throughout Europe
as well as Asia, for its beautiful muslins
and other fine cotton fabrics. As a proof
of the fertility of this part of the pro-
vince, it is related that, during the
government of the viceroy Shaista Khan,
in 1689, rice was so cheap at Dacca,
that 320 seers were sold for a rupee.

Travelling distance from Calcutta, by
land, 180 miles.

Calcutta, the capital of India, and the
"emporium of the east," is situated on
the east side of the western branch of
the Ganges, called, by Europeans, the
Hoogly, but by the Natives, the Bhagi-
ratty, about 100 miles from the sea, the



136 HINDOOSTAN PROPER,

Towns. whole of which distance is navigable for
ships, the river at Calcutta itself being
more than a mile in breadth. Calcutta
owes its origin entirely to the English.
In 1717 it was a petty village of mud
huts, it is now a city of palaces. In
1756 Calcutta was beseiged and taken
from the English by Surajood Dowlut,
the nabob of Bengal, on which occasion
the English prisoners, to the number of
146, were confined by him in a small
room, called the Black Hole, about 20
feet square ; where in one night all, ex-
cept 23, perished from suffocation. The
fort, named Fort William, stands about
a quarter of a mile below the city. It
was commenced by Lord Clive, shortly
after the battle of Plassey, and is consi-
dered the strongest in India. The total
population of Calcutta, amongst which
are to be found Natives of every part of
Asia, is estimated at about 550,000
persons.

A few miles distant from Calcutta,
higher up the river, are the towns of Se-
rampore and Chundernagore.

Serampore is an exceedingly neat
town, and beautifully clean, on the west
side of the Hoogly. It belongs to the
Danes. This place has long been cele-
brated as a missionary station.

Chundernagore, distant 16 miles from
Calcutta, on the west bank of the Hoo-
gly, belongs to the French. It contains
about 45,000 inhabitants.

Chittagong, or, properly, Islamabad^
is a seaport, situated in lat. 22 22' N.
long. 9142 / E. It is a place of consi-
derable trade, particularly for teak and



BENGAL AND ITS DEPENDENCIES. 137

Towns. other woods, and numbers of large ships
are constructed in its dockyards.

Travelling distance from Calcutta 320
miles.

About 20 miles to the northward of
Islamabad is a hot spring, called Seeta-
koond, and about eight miles from Seeta-
koond there is a small volcano.

Name, In Hindoo books this province is gene-

rally designated as the Gour or Bunya
Desa. The lower part of the province
was anciently called Bung, from which,
probably, has been derived its present
general appellation of Bungalee or Ben-
gal. The upper parts of the province,
not liable to inundation, were distin-
guished by the term Barindra.

inhabit- Hindoos of various classes, and Ma-
homedans. The Hindoos of the central
parts of the province are styled Ben-
gallies or Bengalese, and are distinguished
for their effeminate and timid character,
though, in words, forward and litigious.
There are also connected with this pro-
vince several savage tribes, probably the
original inhabitants, dwelling in the woods
and hills. The principal of these are
the Garrows, Cosseahs or Khasiyas, and
Kookees.

The Garrows occupy the mountainous
tracts along the borders of Mymoon
Singh and Silhet, spreading eastward
towards Assam and Gentia. In person
they are quite distinct from the Ben-
galese, being strong limbed active people,
with broad flat features like the Chinese.
They are in an exceedingly savage state,



138 HINDOOSTAK PROPER.

I "nts >it " an( ^ amon ther brutal practices, they
are accustomed to eat the heads of their
enemies, keeping the skulls, which, af-
terwards, are used by them as money,
their value depending upon the rank of
the individual to whom they belonged.
They are divided into a number of tribes
or classes, each having a distinct name,
but none acknowledging that of G arrow,
which appears to have been given them
by the Bengalese.

The Khasiyas, or, as they style them-
selves, Khyrs, inhabit the mountainous
tracts along the east of Silhet, southward
of the G arrows, towards Assam and
Kachar. They differ in appeai-ance from
the Garrows and others, not having the
peculiar Tartar features by which those
tribes are distinguished, and they are,
on the whole, somewhat more civilized.
They are under the government of a
number of petty chiefs, amongst the
principal of whom is the raja of Gentia.
They are partially followers of the Brah-
minical system of religion, but mixed with
many other superstitions of their own.
Their language differs from that of the
neighbouring tribes, and has no written
character. For purposes of correspon-
dence, however, they use the Bengalee.

The Kookees occupy the mountainous
districts on the confines of Tipera and
Chittagong, whence they spread over an
extensive space northward and eastward.
They are divided into numerous distinct
tribes constantly at feud amongst them-
selves, living in an exceedingly savage
state, many of the tribes going quite
naked and dwelling in hollow trees.



BENGAL AND ITS DEP*:NDENCIES. 139

inhabit- They are of a remarkably vindictive dis-
position, and think that nothing is more
pleasing to their Creator than destroying
the greatest possible number of their
enemies. In person they are stout, and
generally fairer than the Bengalese, with
Tartar features.

It appears probable that these tribes
are all of them aboriginal, that is, the
first inhabitants of the country.

In the jungles of Midnapoor there is
a poor, miserable, proscribed race of men,
called Sontals, despised by the other
Hindoos as outcasts, and not allowed to
abide in any village ; yet they are a mild,
sober, industrious people, and remarkable
for sincerity and good faith, in which res-
pect they are greatly superior to those
who think themselves their betters.

A large proportion of the inhabitants'
of Chittagong are Mugs, for information
concerning whom the student is referred
to the description of Arracan.

History. There is no record of the existence, at
any former period, of the present pro-
vince of Bengal as a separate Hindoo
kingdom. In the Mahabharat it is no-
ticed as forming part of the empire of
Moogadha or Bahar, and it appears sub-
sequently to have been divided under
different rajas. It was twice entered and
plundered, in 1017 and 1018, by Sooltan
Mahmood of Ghuznee. In 1203 it was
invaded by a Mahomedan army from
Delhi. The capital was surprised, and
the greater part of the province subdued,
the raja Lukhyaman making his escape



140 HINDOOSTAK PROPER.

History, to Jugganat, where he died. From this
era Bengal was ruled by governors del-
egated from Delhi until 1340, when a
revolt took place, and it became an in-
dependent sovereignty. The history of
Bengal, from 1340 to 1538, presents no-
thing but one continued series of assassi-
nation and bloodshed. In 1538 Mah-
mood Shah was expelled by Sher Shah,
the Afghan, with whose family the pro-
vince remained until 1576, when it was
conquered by the armies of the Emperor
Akbar, and once more annexed to the
dominions of Delhi. In the early part
of the eighteenth century, Bengal again
became independent under its soobadar
usually styled in English writings
the nabob Jaffeer Khan. In 1576,
the nabob, Sura jood Dowlut, attacked
the English and captured Calcutta, and
the war which ensued terminated in
the eventual establishment of the Bri-
tish authority over the whole province.

Religion. Hindooism and Mahomedanism.

Language. The prevailing language of the pro-
vince is called Bengalee, and is written
in the Deva-Nagree character. Hin-
doostanee or Hindee is also general.



BENGAL DEPENDENCIES



Included in the province of Bengal, and
lying along its northern and eastern
frontiers, are the following petty districts,
before referred to, and which will now be



BENGAL AND ITS DEPENDENCIES,



141



separately noticed : Sikkim, Kooch Ba-
har, Bijnee, Gentia, and Kachar.



SIKKIM

is bounded on the north by the Himalaya
mountains, which separate it from the
Chinese dominions in Tibet ; east by
Bhootan, from which it is divided by
the river Teesta and Kooch Bahar ;
south by Rungpoor and part of Morung ;
and west by Morung. In length it may
be estimated at 60 miles, from west to
east, by an average breadth of 40 miles
from north to south.



Produc-
tions.



Towns.



Name,



It is a mountainous district, but fertile
and well cultivated. Its principal pro-
ductions are rice, madder or munjeet,
bees wax, and timber of various kinds.

Its towns are few, and none of any
importance. The principal are Sikkim,
Tasiding, and Bilsee. Sikkim is the ca-
pital, and stands in lat. 27 16' N. long.
88 3' E. about 110 miles northerly from
the town of Purnea.

A short distance to the south-eastward
of Sikkim, and about 350 miles from
Calcutta, is Darjeling, a station in the
hills, which is resorted to by the English
from the low country for change of air,
the climate being cold and healthful.

This district is called Sikkim, or Sik-
kim Bhoot, from the name of its capital,
and from its being subject to a Bhootiya
chief.



142 H1NDOOSTAN PROPER.

inhabit- Its inhabitants are composed princi-
pally of a hill tribe, called Lapchas.
There are also some Bhootiyas, and the
hills are said to contain many of the
Limboo tribe.

History. This state was formerly much more
extensive than it now is, and is said to
have included a great part of the north-
ern division of Rungpoor. In 1788, it
was invaded and conquered by the
Goorkhas, the raja taking refuge in Ti-
bet, after vainly attempting, with the
help of a force sent to his assistance
from Bhootan, to recover his dominions,
In 1814, on the breaking out of a war
between the Goorkhas and British, the
dethroned raja gave all the aid in his
power to the latter, who, in consequence,
rewarded him, at the conclusion of peace
in 1816, by the restoration of his terri-
tory, which he has since held as their
ally. The rajas of Sikkim are of Bhoo-
tiya origin, and trace their descent from
a chief family of Lassa.

Religion, The system of religion most prevalent
in Sikkim is that of Tibet, or Lama
Booddhism.

Language. The prevailing dialect is believed to be
the Bhootiya.



KOOCH BAHAR

is situated between Bhootan on the
north, Bijeen on the east, Rungpoor on
the south, and Sikkim on the west.



BENGAL AND ITS DEPENDENCIES. 143

Descrip- The southern portion of this district

Product is fertile and well cultivated, but to the

tions. north of Bahar, approaching to the

mountains, the land becomes marshy,

covered with thick jungle, intersected

by numerous nullahs, and completely

choaked up with rank grass, reeds, and

ferns. Its principal article of produce is

opium.

Towns. its chief town is Bahar, (or Vihar,)

situated in lat. 26 18' N. long. 89 22'
E. about thirty miles north-easterly from
Rungpoor.

Name. It derived its name from that of its

capital Bahar, with the addition of Kooch,
to distinguish it from the Indian province
of Bahar.

inhabit- The inhabitants of this country are
generally styled Kooch, or Koochee, and
the Bengalese generally look upon them
as a low and impure race. This opinion,
however, is very disagreeable to their
chiefs, who reject the name of Kooch,
and assert that they are of divine origin.
The people style themselves Rajbung-
sees.

History. Very little is known of the early his-
tory of this state. In 1582, Abool Fazil
describes the chief of Kooch as a power-
ful sovereign, having Assam and Kam-
roop under subjection. In 1661 it was
conquered by Meer Joomla, Aurungzeb's
general, and thenceforward became a
dependency of the province of Bengal.



144 HINDOOSTAN PROPER.

Religion. The Brahminical system appears to
have been introduced at an early period,
and is now nearly general; some, however,
of the original Kooch tribes, who still re-
main in a very rude state, follow their
ancient practices.

Language. The prevailing dialect is believed to be
the Bengalee.



BIJNEE

adjoins Kooch Bahar, having on the
north, Bhootan ; east, Assam and the
Garrows ; and, on the south, the Rung-
poor district of Bengal. This district is
separated by the Brahmapootra into two
divisions, the northern called Khuuta-
ghat, and the southern Howraghat.

Descrip- It i s fertile, and, if well cultivated,

P^oduc" would be a very valuable district, being

tions. W ell watered and open, and having an

excellent soil. The chief productions

are rice, wheat, barley, betel, and sugar.

It also possesses the mulberry tree,

which, however, has not as yet been

made use of for the Bearing of silk

worms.

Towns. The principal town is Bijnee, situated

in lat. 26 29' N. long. 89 47' E.

Name. [ jj ag itg na me from that of its princi-

pal town.

Inhabit- The inhabitants are of the Kooch
tribe, and take the general name of Raj-
bungsees.



BENGAL AND ITS DEPENDENCIES. 145

As far as is known of this principality,
it has always been under the rule of its
own chief, or, as he is at present styled,
zumeendar ; but always tributary to the
government of Bengal, and sometimes,
also, to that of Bhootan. The right of
nomination to the succession, on the
death of a zumeendar, is exercised by
the British.

Their religion consists of a mixture
of the Brahminical system, with various
other superstitions of their own.



Language. Bengalee.



GENTIA OR GENTIAPOOR

lies between Assam on the north, Kachar
on the east, Silhet on the south, and
the G arrows on the west. Its extreme
length, from east to west, is estimated at
100 miles ; and its extreme breadth,
from north to south, at about 80.

For some miles from its borders, north
and south, this territory consists partly
of thickly wooded hills, and partly of
low land ; but the intermediate country,
about 50 miles in extent, is an undulat-
ing plain, free from jungle, and well
adapted for pasturage, but very thinly
inhabited and not cultivated. ,

Chiefly cotton, rice, and a coarse kind
of silk, called tussur, from the wild silk-
worm. Elephants and ivory also are ex-
ported, and amongst the minerals are
iron, limestone, and coal.



146 HIXDOOSTAN PROPER.

Towns. The only town is Gentiapoor, tlie resi-

dence of the raja, situated about 30
miles to the northward of Silhet.

Name. j^ j s ca }ied Gentia or Juntiya from its

capital.



inhabit- The inhabitants of this district appear

ants. _. _ _ * *

to be
char.



to be of the same class as those of Ka-



History. This territory, although of such
limited extent, is ruled by a number of
petty chiefs, nominally subject to the
raja of Gentiapoor, but paying very little
real deference to his authority. The
people are, in consequence, harassed with
incessant feuds, and remain in a very
wretched and barbarous condition.

Reiigiop. Their present religion is that of the
Hindoos, which has been introduced
among them from Bengal,

Language. Their language very much resembles
the Chinese, but has no written character,
The Bengalee, however, has latterly
been adopted by their chiefs, and will
probably soon become their general lan-
guage.



KACHAR

is bounded on the north by Assam ; east,
by Cassey ; south, by Tippera and Sil-
het ; and west, by Gentia. It extends
about 140 miles from north to south, and
100 from east to west.



BENGAL AND ITS DEPENDENCIES.



147



Divisions. It is composed of two divisions, the
northern called Dhurmapoor, and the
southern Kachar, separated from each
other hy a ridge of mountains.

Rivera. jf-g principal rivers are the Kapili and

Boorak, both of which rise in the east-
ern mountains, and flow south-westerly
into the Megna.



country is, for the greater part,
mountainous and much overrun with jun-
gle and swamps. In the level parts the
soil is fertile, but not well cultivated.

Cotton, coarse silk, wax, timber, lime-
stone, iron ore, and salt, with rice and
other grains.

Dhurmapoor, Doodputtee, and Kos-
poor.

Dhurmapoor is situated in an exten-
sive valley on the banks of the Kapili,
about 60 miles northerly from Kospoor.

Doodputtee stands on the banks of the
Boorak, in lat. 25 3' N. long. 92 42' E.
Since 1811 it has been the residence of
the raja, and, consequently, the capital of
the country. It is also noted as the
scene of an action which took place in
1824, between the Burmese and a Bri-
tish detachment, in which the latter was
defeated with much loss.

Kospoor, the former capital, is situated
in lat. 24 45' N. long. 92 45' E. about
60 miles easterly from the town of Sil-
het. Previous to the raja's removal to
Doodputtee, it was a flourishing town,
but has since greatly decayed.



148 HINDOOSTAN PROPER.

Name. The original and correct name of this

country was Hairumbo. It has acquired
its present denomination of Kachar from
the tribe composing its inhabitants.

inhabit- The inhabitants are called Kacharees,
and are part of a numerous tribe scat-
tered over this quarter of Asia, though
the name is usually limited to the Ka-
char principality. They are a robust
race, of fairer complexion than the Ben-
galese, and of Tartar features.

History. There are no distinct accounts of the
early state of this country. In 1774 it
was invaded by the Burmese, who, how-
ever, were compelled to abandon their
design, their troops being seized with the
jungle fever, and the greater number
perishing. They subsequently sent ano-
ther expedition, which had better success,
and Kachar thenceforward became tribu-
tary to Ava. In 1810, Marjeet, the. raja
of Cassay, being driven out of his country
by the Burmese, retired with his follow-
ers into Kachar, and expelled the raja,
Govind Chandra, who took refuge in the
British territories. The country now re-
mained, for several years, in a state of
extreme disorder ; Murjeet and his two
brothers, Gumbheer Sing and Choorjeet,
contesting possession amongst themselves,
and each in turn expelling the other. In
1823, Kachar was again invaded by the
Burmese, and Gumbheer Sing, the last in
possession, fled into Silhet. The British
government now determined to restore
the legitimate raja, Govind Chandra.
Their troops accordingly entered Kachar



KHANDESH. 149

History. an( j drove out the Burmese, who, on the
conclusion of peace in 1826, finally relin-
quished all claim to its possession, and it
has since remained under its own raja,
tributary to the British.

Keiigion. The present religion of Kachar is that
of the Hindoos, which was introduced in
1780.

Language. The Bengalee recently introduced.
The original Hairumbian dialect has
now become extinct.



CHAP. VII.
BBHLZLAN,

1-
KJhandesli.



Bound- North, Guzerat and Malwa ; east,

Gondwana and Berar ; south, Berar and
Aurungabad ; west, Aurungabad and
Guzerat.

Divisions. This province may be considered as
consisting of three divisions: British
Khandesh, Holkar, and Sindia. The
British portion comprises the whole of



150 DEKKAN.

Divisions. Khandesh Proper, and occupies the west-
ern part of the province from north to
south. Holkar's portion occupies a small
space in the centre, and Sindia's, a tract
along the eastern side.

Rivers, Nurbudda, Tuptee, Poorna, and others.

General This province in general is hilly, and

Descrip- C 6 T , .. **

tion. traversed centrally and along its eastern,
southern, and western sides, b} 7 ranges of
mountains. It is, however, for the great-
er part remarkably fertile and copiously
watered, and, until the commencement of
the present century, well cultivated and
thickly peopled. In 1802 it was rava-
ged by the Holkar Mahrattas, and the
year following it was nearly depopulated
by a severe famine. From this period
it rapidly declined. Oppressed by a ra-
pacious government, and continually de-
vastated by Bheels and Pindarees, it was
rendered almost a desert, and when en-
tered by the British in 1818, the larger
portion of the province was found to be
overspread with jungle and abandoned
without inhabitants to the wild beasts.
A long period of time will probably be
required ere this territory can be restor-
ed to its original prosperity.

Produc- This province is capable of producing
in abundance every thing found in the
adjoining countries. Its fruits and vege-
tables are excellent, particularly grapes,
which are considered the finest in India.
Amongst the wild animals, tigers and
wolves are very numerous and trouble-
some.



KHANDESH. 151

Towns, In British Kbandesh, Nunderbar,

Sindwa, Dowlea, Chopra, Jamneer, Mal-
ligaum, and Chundoor.

In Holkar's . districts, Kurgoon and
Bejagur.

In Sindia's, Hoshungabad, Hindia,
Hurdwa, Charwa, Asseergurh, and Boor-
hanpoor.

Nunderbar is situated in lat. 21 25'
N. long. 74 15' E.

Sindiva is a fortress situated in lat. 21
34' N. long. 75 7' E. which commands
one of the principal passes through the
Satpoora mountains communicating with
Malwa.

Doolea is a large town, situated in lat.



Online LibraryCharles Alfred BrowneAn introduction to the geography and history of India, and the countries adjacent; → online text (page 9 of 26)