Great Britain. India Office.

Imperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 6) online

. (page 46 of 51)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 6) → online text (page 46 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

have been but for the large emigration which takes place. The
emigrants are for the most part hardy aborigines from the south and
west of the District, who are attracted by the high wages paid in the
coal fields of Asansol and in the Assam tea gardens, or who supplement
their scanty harvests by working as labourers in the metropolitan
Districts in the off-season. The three towns are Bankura, the head-
quarters, BlSHNUPUR, and Sonamukhi. The vernacular of the District
is the dialect known as Rarhi boli or Western Bengali, but Santali
is spoken by nearly 9 per cent, of the population. By religion 975,746
are Hindus, 51,114 Musalmans, and 89,157 Animists. The last
mentioned are chiefly Santals of the head-quarters subdivision, who
number altogether 106,000.





7) &

Bankura .
Hi sh nu pur

District total









+ 2.85

+ 7.17



2,62 1



1,1 16,411


+ 4-37


The Musalmans are almost all Shaikhs (44,000). Among Hindus
the semi-aboriginal castes of Bauri (113,000) and Bagdi (91,000) are
largely represented, the former predominating in the west and the latter
towards the east of the District. Brahmans (93,000) and Telis (74,000)
are also numerous. Of the total population, 60-7 per cent, are supported
by agriculture, 15-9 per cent, by industries, 0-7 by commerce, and
22 by the professions. The proportion of agriculturists is considerably
below the general average for Bengal.

Christians number 363. A Wesleyan mission, which commenced
work in 1877, maintains several schools. It has opened classes in
Bankura town to teach carpentry, weaving, and basket-making, and
also built a public library in 1899 and a leper asylum with accom-
modation for 72 inmates in 1902. An Armenian mission possesses an
orphanage near Mejia.

The alluvial soil in the east of the Bishnupur subdivision is fertile ;
elsewhere valleys are generally rich and productive,
while the higher lands are comparatively barren, and
are for the most part covered with jungle.

The chief agricultural statistics for 1903-4 are shown in the table on
the next page, in square miles.

The chief crop is rice, covering 535 square miles. By far the most
important harvest is the aman or winter rice, which is sown in April




or May, after three or four ploughings, transplanted in July or August,
and reaped in December. The aus or early rice is sown broadcast in
May and reaped in September. Sugar-cane covers 20 square miles ;
maize is cultivated on the higher lands, and oilseeds, pulses, wheat,
flax, and cotton are also grown. Indigo, formerly an important crop,
has now almost disappeared. Rich black mud, scraped from the
bottom of tanks or reservoirs, is used as manure mixed with ashes and
stubble, while for the more valuable crops cow-dung is added. In the
case of lands growing sugar-cane and other exhausting staples, rotation
is observed, sugar-cane being generally followed by til (Sesamum
indicum), after which a crop of early rice is taken, followed by mustard
and peas mixed.








45 1
J 95



646 1,298

Note.— It is estimated tliat 51 square miles are twice cropped.

The cultivated area is being gradually extended. During the last
decade Rs. 62,000 was advanced under the Land Improvement and
Agriculturists' Loans Acts for the excavation and re-excavation of
irrigation tanks and other miscellaneous improvements.

The local cattle are weak and poor, though the pasturage is ample
except in the east of the District.

Irrigation is necessary everywhere except in the low country to the
east, and it is estimated that one-third of the cultivated area is artificially
irrigated. The usual method is to throw a dam across a watercourse,
but wells and tanks are also utilized.

There are two small coal-mines in the north of the District, the
output in 1903-4 being 10,634 tons. Ferruginous laterite is common,
and the quartz, sandstone, trap, gravel, and clay which it produces are
largely utilized for road-making and brick-burning, building stone
exists in unlimited quantities in the hills. A white lithomarge is
obtained under the laterite at a point about 12 miles north-east of
Bankura town. Gold occurs in small quantities in the sands of the
Dhalkisor and Kasai rivers.

Silk-spinning, silk and cotton-weaving, the manufacture of brass
and bell-metal ware, and the preparation of shellac are the principal
industries. Bishnupur town contains a large weaving ^ d

population, and is noted for its prettily embroidered commun ications.
scarves and fine silk cloth. Tasar silk is manu
factured at Bankura town, Bishnupur, and Birsinghpur, and coarse
cotton cloths at Bankura town, Gopinathpur, Barjora, Rajgram, and

c c 2


Blrsinghpur, though they are being ousted from the market by cheap
Manchester goods. Sonamukhi is the centre of the shellac industry,
but profits have been reduced by a fall in prices; about 5,000 maunds
wen sent to Calcutta in 1903-4. Other industries are the manufacture
o\ gold and silver ornaments, iron implements, shell bangles, and
lac beads.

Rice, brass and bell-metal ware, silk stuffs, and hides are the chief
articles of export, while the imports are tobacco, salt, spices, betel-nuts,
poppy-heads, cotton and cotton twist, and European piece-goods. A
small part of the trade passes through the Raniganj and Panagarh
stations of the East Indian Railway, but most of it is conveyed by
the Midnapore-Jherria extension of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway, which
passes through the District. There is some bullock-cart traffic with
Ghatal in Midnapore District.

The East Indian Railway skirts the north-east boundary. The Mid-
napore-Jherria extension of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway, which passes
through the District, has recently been opened, and a chord-line from
Howrah to Bankura is under construction. The chief roads are the
Ranlganj-Midnapore road maintained from Provincial funds, the old
military grand trunk road which runs across the District, the Bankura-
Burdwan road via Sonamukhi, the Bankura-Raipur road, and the
Bishnupur-Panagarh road. These are maintained by the District board,
which has altogether under its charge 24 miles of metalled and 575
miles of unmetalled roads, in addition to 105 miles of village tracks.

River-borne traffic is practically confined to the floating of long rafts
(locally called murs) down the Damodar ; the trade is declining, owing
to the supply of timber near the river having been practically

The District is subject to drought and required Government relief
in 1866 and 1874, and again in 1897. On the last occasion a daily
. average of 2,377 persons were employed on relief

works, and 6,528 were gratuitously relieved from
May to September at a cost of Rs. 1,20,000, of which Rs. 35,000 was
contributed by the District board, while the balance was met by

For administrative purposes the District is divided into two sub-
divisions, with head-quarters at Bankura and Bishnupur. The

. . . . District Magistrate has at Bankura a staff of three

Administration. _ ,, . _ .. ..... . ,

Deputy-Magistrate Collectors, while a fourth, assisted

by a Sub-Deputy-Collector, is in charge of the Bishnupur sub-

For civil judicial work there are, subordinate to the District and
Sessions Judge, a Sub-Judge and three Munsifs at Bankura, one
Munsif at Khatra, one at Kotalpur, and two at Bishnupur, one of



whom occasionally sits at Kotalpur. For many years past the District
has been notorious as a centre of gangs of professional dacoits, one of
which has been traced back as far as the Mutiny of 1857. These
gangs, which mainly commit their crimes in the neighbouring Districts,
are now being broken up.

Nearly the whole of the District, as at present constituted, was
originally comprised in the Bishnupur pargana, which formed the
estate of the Raja. This was gradually broken up, owing to his
unpunctuality in paying the land revenue ; but in 1835-6, when
Bankura was first constituted a separate Collectorate, it still contained
only 56 estates. The number had by 1903-4 increased to 1,046, with
a current demand of 4-74 lakhs. Of these, 983, paying a revenue of
4-73 lakhs, are permanently settled ; 51 are temporarily settled estates,
consisting of the surplus side lands of the Raniganj-Midnapore road ;
and 12 petty estates are the property of Government. The incidence
of the land revenue is lower than elsewhere in the Division, being only
R. 0-12-4 P er cultivated acre. Tenures peculiar to the District are:
nayabadi, under which a tenant who takes up waste land is allowed
to hold a certain portion of it free of rent or to obtain a deduction
from the rent of the entire tenure ; jalsasan, an improvement lease
under, which a tenant constructs tanks or reservoirs on similar terms ;
and itmdmdari, under which the tenure-holder enjoys the land rent-free
as remuneration for performing the duties of a rent-collector. Ghat-
wali estates were formerly held for services rendered in defending the
ghats or frontier passes against the inroads of Marathas and other
plunderers. A quit-rent was originally payable to the Raja of Bishnu-
pur, and was included in the ' assets ' of the Decennial Settlement, but
on the Raja's application these lands were subsequently resumed by
Government. The ghatwdh have now been abolished and their
estates settled. The maximum, minimum, and average rates per acre
assessed on the ghativali lands were Rs. 7-8, Rs. 3-12, and Rs. 5-10
for low lands, and Rs. 12, Rs. 3, and Rs. 7-8 for high lands. Through-
out the District generally, the average holding of a tenant is 6 acres.
Rents rule higher in the east than in the west of the District, rice land
bringing in from Rs. 3-12 to Rs. 6 an acre in the west, and from
Rs. 4-8 to Rs. 7-8 in the Bishnupur subdivision. For rabi land the
rates vary between Rs. 5-4 and Rs. 12 per acre, though as little as
Rs. 3 per acre is paid for the less fertile lands in the north-west.

The collections of land revenue and of total revenue (principal heads
only), in thousands of rupees, are shown in the following table : —




1903 4-

Land revenue
Total revenue .


4,58 4,60
s ," 9,45




Outside the municipalities of Bankura, Bishnupur, and Sona-, local affairs arc managed by the District board and the two
subdivisional local boards subordinate to it. The income of the board
in 1903-4 was Rs. 1,31,000, of which Rs. 52,500 was derived from
rates ; and the expenditure was Rs. 1,16,000, half of which was spent
on public works and Rs. 40,000 on education.

The District contains 13 police stations and 9 outposts. The
force subordinate to the District Superintendent in 1903 consisted
of 2 inspectors, 27 sub-inspectors, 25 head constables, and 321 con-
stables. There was in addition a village police consisting of 250 dajfa-
dars and 2,931 chaukiddrs, of whom 401 are remunerated by service
tenures. The cost of maintenance of the regular force was Rs. 77,000,
and there was one policeman to every io-i square miles and to every
4,327 persons. The District jail at Bankura has accommodation for
309 prisoners, and a subsidiary jail at Bishnupur for 15.

Education is making steady progress, and 9*3 per cent, of the popu-
lation (18-3 males and 0-5 females) were literate in 1901. The total
number of pupils under instruction increased from 38,512 in 1892-3
to 39,092 in 1900-1. In 1903-4 37,695 boys and 4,708 girls were
at school, being respectively 45-7 and 5-5 per cent, of the children
of school-going age. The number of educational institutions, public
and private, in that year was 1,388, including one Arts college,
65 secondary, 1,241 primary, and 81 special schools. The last-men-
tioned institutions include two Santal schools under mission manage-
ment, and two aided music schools at Bankura and Bishnupur, at
which both vocal and instrumental music are taught. The total
expenditure on education was Rs. 1,84,000, of which Rs. 22,000 was
met from Provincial funds, Rs. 38,000 from District funds, Rs. 2,000
from municipal funds, and Rs. 84,000 from fees.

In 1903 the District contained 10 dispensaries, of which 3 had
accommodation for 34 in-patients. The cases of 38,000 out-patients
and 318 in-patients were treated, and 2,890 operations were performed.
The expenditure was Rs. 11,000, of which Rs. 2,000 was met from
Government contributions, Rs. 4,000 from Local and Rs. 3,000 from
municipal funds, and Rs. 2,000 from subscriptions. A leper asylum
is maintained at Bankura town.

Vaccination is compulsory only within municipal areas ; it appears
to be gaining ground, though the number of operations varies widely
from year to year. In 1903-4 the number of persons successfully
vaccinated was 38,450, representing 36 per 1,000 of the population.

[Sir W. W. Hunter, Statistical Account of Bengal, \o\. iv (1876); and
Annals of Rural Bengal (1868).]

Bankura Subdivision. — Western subdivision of Bankura District,
Bengal, lying between 22° 38' and 23° 38' N. and 86° 36' and


87 25' E., with an area of 1,921 square miles. The subdivision is
composed of undulating country, covered in places with low scrubby
jungle and coppice wood. To the east it merges in the alluvial plain,
but to the west the surface is more irregular, the undulations become
more marked, and numerous isolated hills appear. The population in
1901 was 712,055, compared with 692,357 in 1891. It contains one town,
Bankura. (population, 20,737), its head-quarters ; and 4,069 villages.
The subdivision, which lies on the fringe of the Chota Nagpur plateau,
is much less fertile and less densely populated than the Bishnupur
subdivision, and supports only 371 persons to the square mile.

Bankura Town.— Head-quarters of Bankura District, Bengal, situ-
ated in 23 14/ N. and 87 4' E., on the north bank of the Dhalkisor
river. The population in 1901 was 20,737, °f whom 19,553 were
Hindus, 993 Muhammadans, and 158 Christians. Bankura is said to
be named after an early settler named Banku Rai, whose descendants
still reside in the town. The climate is dry and very healthy. The
town lies on the grand trunk road from Calcutta to the north-west.
The newly-constructed Midnapore-Jherria branch of the Bengal-Nagpur
Railway passes through it, and a direct line from Howrah is con-
templated. Tasar silk is largely manufactured. Considerable trade is
carried on, the chief exports being rice, oilseeds, lac, cotton and silk
cloth, silk cocoons, &c, and the imports English piece-goods, salt,
tobacco, spices, coco-nuts, and pulses. Bankura was constituted
a municipality in 1869. The income during the decade ending
1 901-2 averaged Rs. 13,000, and the expenditure Rs. 12,000. In
1903-4 the income was Rs. 20,000, a third of which was derived
from a tax on persons (or property tax) ; and the expenditure was
Rs. 14,000. The town contains the usual public offices. The District
jail has accommodation for 309 prisoners, the chief industries being
mustard-oil pressing, brick-making, dart and cloth-weaving, and cane
and bamboo work. A leper asylum built in 1902 is administered by
the Wesleyan Mission; it has accommodation for 72 inmates.

Banmauk. - North-western subdivision and township of Katha
District, Upper Burma, lying between 24 10' and 24 59' N. and
95 15' and 95 59' E., with an area of 1,235 square miles. It was
formerly part of the Wuntho State and was annexed in 1891. The
population in 1901 was 28,360, distributed in 338 villages. The head-
quarters are at Banmauk (population, 389), near tin- south-eastern
corner. The township is hilly throughout, especially in the north, in
the old Mansi township. Near Mansi may still he seen the stockades
constructed by the Wuntho Sawbwa during his rebellion. The principal
occupations of the inhabitants are rice and tea cultivation. The
cultivated area under supplementary survey in 1903 4 was 23 square
miles, and the land revenue anil thathameda amounted to Rs. 82,500.


Bannu District. One of the four trans-Indus Districts of the
Xmth West Frontier Province, lying between 32 16' and $£ 5' N. and
70 23' and 71 i' E., with an area of 1,670 square miles. The Dis-
trict forms a basin drained l>y two rivers from the hills of Waziristan,

the Murrain and the Gamblla or Tochi, which unite at Lakki and

How into the Indus south of Kalabagh. It is shut in on every side by

mountains: on the north by those in the Teri lahsll

PllYSlC'tl • •

as ts of Kohat District; on the east by the southern extre-

mity of the Maidani Pahar or Khattak Niazi range
and the northern spur of the Marwat range, which separate the District
from the Isa Khel tahsll of Mianwali District in the Punjab; on the
south-east and south the Marwat and Bhittanni ranges divide it from
Dera Ismail Khan ; and on the west and north-west lie Waziristan and
independent territory inhabited by the Bhittanni tribe. These hills
nowhere attain any great height. The highest point of the Maidani
range at its centre, near the hamlet and valley of Maidan, has an alti-
tude of only 4,256 feet. The Marwat range culminates in Sheikh
Budln, the hill which rises abruptly from its south-west end to a height
of 4,516 feet, and forms the summer retreat for this District and Dera
Ismail Khan. From these ranges numerous spurs jut out into the
bannu plains, but no other hills break their level expanse. Of the
rivers the larger is the Kurram, which, entering the District at its north-
western corner close to Bannu town, runs at first south-east, then south,
and finally winds eastward through the Darra Tang or 'narrow gorge'
which lies between the extremities of the Maidani Pahar and Marwat
ranges. The Tochi river enters the District about 6 miles south of the
Kurram and flows in the same direction, gradually drawing closer to it
until their streams unite about 6 or 7 miles west of the Darra Tang.
Between these rivers, and on the left bank of the Kurram in the upper
portion of its course, lie the only tracts which are perennially irrigated.
For the first 10 miles of its passage through the District the Kurram
runs between banks of stiff clay which rise abruptly to a height of 10 to
30 feet, and its bed is full of stones and boulders ; but lower down it
spreads over long stretches of marsh land. Its flow is rapid, but it
is highly charged with a rich silt which renders it most valuable for

At the south-east edge the western flanks of the hills bounding
Mianwali and Dera Ismail Khan Districts expose Tertiary lower
Siwalik soft sandstone and upper Siwalik conglomerates, a thickness of
which dips regularly under the alluvium and gravels forming the greater
part of the great Bannu plain. On its western side the border area has
been examined along one line of route only, namely, the Tochi valley \

1 F. II. Smith, ' Geology of the Tochi Valley,' Records, Geological Survey of Itidia,
vol. xxviii, \\. ii.


Here long ridges striking north and south expose upper and lower
Siwaliks, Nummulitic limestone, sandstone and shales, some mesozoic
limestone in the ridge east of Minim Shah, and a great mass of Tertiary
igneous rocks (diorites, gabbros, and serpentines) west of Muhammad

In the irrigated portions of the District trees abound of the same
species as are common in Peshawar ; elsewhere there is little but thorny
shrubs of the same kinds as are found in Kohat. The more common
plants are Reptonia buxifolia, Dodonaea viscosa, Capparis aphy/Ia, Fla-
courtia sapida, F. sepiari'a, several species of Grewia, Zizyphus num mil-
iaria, Acacia Jacquemontii, Alhagi camelorunt, Crotalaria Burlu'a,
Prosopis spicigera, several species of Tamarix, Nerium odorum, Rhazya
stricta, Calotropis procera, Periploca ap/iylla, Tecoma undulata, Lycium
europaeam, Withania coagulans, W. somnifera, Nannorhops Ritchieana,
Fagom'a, Tribulus, Peganum Harmala, Calligonum polygonoides, Poly-
gonum aviculare, P. plebejum, Rumex vesicarius, Chrozophora plicata,
and species of Aristida, Atit/iistiria, Cenchrus, and Pennisetum.

Bears occasionally come from Wazlristan and leopards still frequent
the hills, while hyenas are sometimes found where there are ravines.
Wolves are common, rewards having been paid for destroying 168 from
1900 to 1904. The Sulaimani markhor is found on all the higher hills,
including Sheikh Budln. Uridl are also to be found on the hills, and
' ravine deer ' (gazelle) in the neighbourhood of Jani Khel.

The general elevation of the plains is about 1,000 feet, and the
temperature would be much the same all over the District did not
special local causes affect it. Trees, excessive irrigation round the
town, and the closeness of the hills combine to make Bannu moist and
close in the hot season, and to equalize the temperature throughout the
twenty-four hours. The sandy plain of Marwat is hotter by day and
cooler by night, and far more healthy in spite of the intense heat.
Fevers are common from September to November, and respiratory
diseases cause considerable mortality.

The annual rainfall averages \2\ inches, rarely rising above 16, but
at Bannu in 1891-2 less than 5 inches fell in the year. The fall is
frequently unseasonable.

The population of Bannu is, and has been for many centuries, essen-
tially Afghan. There are, however, remains which tell of an older
Hindu population, and afford proof that the District .

came within the pale of the ancient Graeco-Bactrian
civilization of the Punjab. The close of the era of prosperity indicated
by these remains is attributed in local tradition to the ravages of Mahmud
of Ghazni, who is said to have utterly demolished the ancient Hindu
strongholds, leaving no stone standing upon another. For upwards of
a century the country appears to have lain waste, till at length the


Bannu valley was gradually colonized by immigrants from the western
hills, the Bannuwals or Bannuchis, who still remain, and the Nia/.ai,
who subsequently gave place to the Marwats. The advent of the
Marwats is placed in the reign of Akbar. The Nia/.ai, whom they
expelled, spread across the Khattak-Niazai hills, and colonized the
plains upon both banks of the Indus. The Marwats still hold the
southern portion of the Bannu valley.

At this time, and for two centuries later, the country paid a nominal
allegiance to the Delhi emperors. In 1738 it was conquered by Nadir
Shah, who laid it completely waste. Ahmad Shah Durrani subsequently
led his army three or four times through the Bannu valley, levying what
he could by way of tribute on each occasion. So stubborn, however,
was the opposition of the inhabitants, that neither conqueror made any
attempt to establish a permanent government. In 1818 the Nawab
of Mankera annexed Marwat, but was speedily forced to give way to
RanjTt Singh, who first crossed the Indus in 1823. From that year to
1836 the Sikh troops and those of the Nawab in turn harried the
country. In 1838 the valley passed by cession to the Sikhs. Ranjit
Singh lost no time in attempting to occupy his new territory. Else-
where in the District he had met with little opposition; but in the
bannu valley he was forced, after several efforts, to fall back upon the
expedient of his predecessors, and to content himself with the periodical
dispatch of a force to levy what he was pleased to term arrears of
revenue : in reality to devastate the country, and carry off whatever
booty could be secured.

Such was the state of affairs when, after the first Sikh War, the
District first came under British influence. In the winter months
of 1847-8, Lieutenant (afterwards Sir Herbert) Edwardes was dispatched
to the frontier as the representative of the Lahore Darbar, and accom-
panied by a Sikh army under General Van Cortlandt. Arrived in
Bannu, he found a large portion of the District practically independent.
In the Bannu valley every village was a fort, and frequently at war with
its neighbours, while the Wazir tribes on the frontier were ever seek-
ing opportunities for aggression. Within a few months Edwardes

Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 6) → online text (page 46 of 51)