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high as 23 feet, and can bear submersion for two or three weeks
together without suffering much injury.' Large forests formerly existed
in this District, but they have in most cases been ruthlessly cut down,
a few large patches remaining only in the police divisions of Panchbibi
and Sherpur. At the same time, the country is still fairly wooded, and
many valuable forest trees are indigenous to it. The jungle products
consist of various dyes, and beeswax. Ample pasture ground is found
along the older sandy banks or chars of the Brahmaputra, which are
always covered with coarse grass, and in places with the fine dub grass.
These latter lands are left uncultivated, not in consequence of any
infertility, but from fear of floods. The larger sorts of game in the
District are the tiger, leopard, buffalo, deer, and wild pig. Small game,
such as hares, pea-fowl, snipe, quail, ortolan, wild geese, wild duck, teal,
and pigeons, is plentiful. Fish abound, being represented principally
by the perch, carp, siluroid, and herring families; the fisheries form
valuable properties.

History. — Bogra has no political history of its own. The District
was first formed in 182 1, out of certain thd?ids or police divisions taken
from Rajshahf, Dinajpur, and Rangpur. It was found necessary at
that time to provide additional facilities for the administration of
criminal justice in these outlying tracts, which could not be properly
supervised from the head-quarters of their several Districts. This
region, also, was then rising into notice as a remunerative field for
European enterprise, in the form of indigo-planting and silk-winding.
For these reasons, a Joint-Magistrate was stationed at Bogra town, in
whom only criminal jurisdiction was vested. The duties of revenue
collection, together with the title of Deputy-Collector, were added in
1832 ■ but it was not till 1859 that Bogra was erected into an inde-
pendent District with a Magistrate-Collector of its own. Even at the
present day, traces may be found of the gradual growth of the several
administrations, and much perplexity still exists with regard to the
boundaries of the fiscal and magisterial areas. In accordance with a
principle which has long lost its original utility, large estates were
permitted, on removal from the criminal supervision of their old
Districts, to continue to pay revenue into the parent treasury. The
fiscal jurisdiction thus broken up has never been again reunited under
a single authority. Again, considerable portions of Bogra were
surveyed with the neighbouring Districts to which they had been once
attached ; and the numerous series of papers, which guarantee the
efficiency of local administration, lie scattered at Rampur Beauleah,
Nasirabad, and Dinajpur. In addition to these fundamental causes of
confusion, Bogra has experienced its full share of those frequent recti-


fications of the executive frontier, which so greatly destroy the value of
all statistical comparisons throughout Bengal.

The historical interest of the District centres round Mahasthax
Garh, and the town of Sherpur. The former place is now a great
mound of earth, bounded on one side by the dwindling stream of the
Karatoya, and strewn with bricks and a few carvings in stone. But
when the Karatoya was a great river, Mahasthin was the capital of an
early Hindu dynasty, of which numerous traditions still live in the
memories of the people. In later times it has become a Muhammadan
place of pilgrimage, being associated with the name of Shah Sultan, a
fakir who figures prominently in the story of the Musalman conquest.
Sherpur town represents a more trustworthy epoch in Bengal history.
It is mentioned by the Mughal chroniclers of the 16th century,
and appears under the disguise of ' Ceerpoor Mirts ' in the map of
Bengal by Von den Broucke, the Dutch Governor of India in 1660.
These notices it owed to its importance as a frontier post of the
Muhammadans, previous to the establishment of the Nawabs of Dacca.
It is now the residence of three Brahman families, who rank among the
wealthiest landholders in the district.

Population. — Various early estimates of the number of the population
are extant, but it is not known that any of them were based upon
trustworthy principles. The most plausible conjecture places the total
at 900,000 souls, at a time when the District was larger by about one-
third than it is now. The Census of 1872, with the District area the
same as at present, disclosed a population of 689,467 persons. The
latest enumeration, in 1881, returned the inhabitants of the District at
734,358, showing an increase of 44,891, or 6*5 per cent., in the nine
years between 1872 and 1881. Area of District, 1498 square miles;
number of villages, 4202 ; number of houses, 103,643, of which 99,473
were occupied and 4170 unoccupied. Average density of population,
490*23 per square mile; villages per square mile, 2*81; houses per
square mile, 69*19; persons per village, 175; persons per occupied
house, 7*38. Divided according to sex, the males numbered 372,677,
and the females 361,681. Classified according to religion, the
Muhammadans numbered 593,411, or 80-80 per cent, of the entire
population ; Hindus 140,860, or 19-18 per cent. ; Jains, 54; Buddhists,
2; Christians, 27; and 'others,' 4. It was one of the surprises re-
vealed by the first regular Census of the District in 1872, that the
Musalmans constitute more than four -fifths of the inhabitants of
the District. There can be no doubt that in Bogra, as throughout
the rest of the Brahmaputra valley, the great bulk of the people are
of aboriginal descent ; and that the majority willingly adopted the
conquering faith of Islam, in preference to remaining outcastes beyond
the pale of Hinduism. As elsewhere throughout India, almost the

2 3 BOGRA.

entire Muhammadan population belong to the Hanafi sect of Sunnfs.
A certain proportion of them are said to be indoctrinated with the
fanaticism of the reformed Faraizi sect; and so late as 187 1, there was
a State prosecution for Wahabi disaffection. The Musalman fairs and
places of pilgrimage are well attended, especially the ceremonies
connected with the name of Ghazi Miyan. Of the semi-Hinduized
aborigines, the three cognate tribes of Koch, Pali, and Raj bans! make
up a total of 19,955 souls; and it is known that many of the Muham-
madans belong to the same ethnical stock. Among the Hindus
proper, Brahmans number 4614; Rajputs, 372; Kayasths, 3759; and
Baniyas, 7486. The most numerous caste is the Kaibartta, 15,566
members; and next, the Chandal, 9892; the Hari, 6999; and the
Sunri, with 6688. The boating and fishing castes collectively are
strongly represented. Hindus not recognising caste are returned at
11,314, of whom 11,101 are set down as Vaishnavs. The Brahma Samaj
is represented by a few followers in Bogra town, who assemble weekly
in a meeting-house erected for the purpose. The occupations of the
male inhabitants are classified in the Census report under one of
the following six main divisions: — (1) Professional class, including
Government officials and learned professions, 6295; (2) domestic
servants, keepers of lodging-houses, etc., 3583 ; (3) commercial class,
including merchants, general dealers, carriers, etc., 6412; (4) agri-
cultural and pastoral class, including gardeners, 186,118; (5) manu-
facturing, artisan, and other industrial classes, 22,512; (6) indefinite
and unproductive (comprising 10,137 labourers, 27 men of rank
and property without occupation, and 137,593 unspecified), 147,757.
Emigration from the District is unknown.

The population is almost entirely rural, and Bogra town, with
6179 souls, is the only place with a population exceeding 5000.
No tendency is observed on the part of the people towards urban
life, but rather the reverse. Of the 4202 villages, 3003 are returned as
containing less than two hundred inhabitants ; 969 from two to five
hundred ; 194 from five hundred to a thousand ; 32 from one to two
thousand ; 2 from two to three thousand ; 1 from three to five
thousand ; and 1 from five to ten thousand.

The material condition of the people is said to have very much improved
of late years, in consequence of the enhancement of prices of agricultural
produce. This is due principally to better means of communication
with the great commercial centres of Calcutta and Dacca, since the
opening of the Eastern Bengal and Northern Bengal State Railways.
The increased demand for fine rice has done much to enrich the
inhabitants of the western portion of the District, whilst the rapid
growth of the jute trade has done even more for those in the eastern
portion. The people generally are advancing in wealth, social self-


respect and education ; and the number of those seriously in debt, that
is, in the hands of the rice lender, is few. The Collector of the
District in 1 87 2- 73, while reporting on the steadily increasing
prosperity of the people, remarked: 'I learn, however, that in the
northern parts of the District, a small section of the population are the
victims of the merciless system of usury known as adhidri, which,
literally translated, means 50 per cent. A peasant borrows a maund
of rice, undertaking to pay a maund and a half in the following year.
If he fails, the maund and a half is treated as a debt bearing
compound interest. In course of time he assigns the produce
of his holding to the creditor, and lives on such loans as it suits the
latter to advance him until he becomes a mere serf.'

Agriculture, etc. — Rice constitutes the staple crop throughout the
District, being especially predominant in the clay tract west of the
Karatoya. The dman or winter rice crop, grown on low lands, is estimated
to furnish 65 per cent, of the total food-supply ; and the dus or early
crop, grown on high lands, about 30 per cent. In the Brahmaputra
valley, oil-seeds are largely grown, and the cultivation of jute is on the
increase. In 1872, the total area under jute was nearly 50,000 acres,
chiefly in the police division Shariakandf. The cultivation of sugar-
cane has fallen off since the early years of the present century.
Leguminous plants and pulses are usually grown as a second crop in
the east of the District after the rice harvest. The other crops,
which include wheat, barley, gdnjd, and mulberry, are insignificant.
The principle of the rotation of crops is not practised, but fields are
occasionally allowed to lie waste, and jute is never sown on the same
land for more than three consecutive years. There is a considerable
extent of waste land in most parts of the District, which is now in
process of being reclaimed by hillmen from Chutia Nagpur. River and
tank water are both largely taken advantage of for irrigation purposes
in the higher lands in the west of the District ; but in the eastern
tracts, the annual floods of the Brahmaputra afford sufficient moisture
to the soil, even when the rainfall is scanty. The rate of rent
for rice land varies from is. 6d. to 12s. per acre. Special crops, such
as mulberry, gdnjd, and pan, pay exceptional rates. The total amount
received by the zaminddrs under the name of rent is almost uni-
versally augmented by the exaction of dbwdbs or customary cesses.
There is little that is peculiar in the land tenures of Bogra. At the
time of the Permanent Settlement the greater part of the District was
in the hands of three families, the Raja of Dinajpur, the Raja of Nattor,
and the Muhammadan zaminddr of Silbarsd. Considerable portions
have at one time or another been severed from the revenue-paying
estates, and are now held as Idkhirdj. Old Musalman endowments of
this kind are particularly numerous.

3 o BOGRA.

The ordinary rates of wages, and also the prices of food-grains,
have approximately doubled of late. In 187 1, coolies and agricultural
day-labourers received a little more than 4d. a day ; smiths and car-
penters, about 8d. In the same year, common rice sold at 4s. per cwt
In 1 88 1, as the result of an unusually abundant harvest, the price of
common rice fell to 3s. 4d. a cwt, or about 3s. a cwt. below the average
of the three previous years. The highest price reached by rice during
the scarcity of 1874 was 17s. per cwt., which was recorded in the month
of July.

Bogra is liable, to some extent, to the calamity of drought ; but a
general destruction of the crops from floods is unknown. In 1866, the
year of the Orissa famine, the local supply fell short, and not a little
distress was caused by the concurrent increase of the exports to
other Districts. In 1874, the failure of the rice crop was more severe,
but actual suffering was anticipated by the prompt intervention of
Government. More than 8000 tons of food-grain were imported from
Calcutta and Goalaada; and £50,000 in all was expended in relief.
Since the opening of the Northern Bengal State Railway, and the com-
pletion of a system of minor roads to serve as feeders, every part of
Bogra is now sufficiently provided with means of communication to
prevent a local scarcity from intensifying into famine.

Manufactures, eti. — The growth and preparation of indigo, which
formerly attracted a large amount of European capital, has now entirely
disappeared from the District. The industry of silk-spinning still lingers
in the neighbourhood of Bogra* town, but most of the other filatures
have been closed, being unable to compete with the Chinese and
Mediterranean producers. The manufacture of a coarse paper from
jute is conducted in a few villages. The East India Company is said
to have established its silk factories at Sherpur and Nandapani in this
District, in the first decade of this century, and to have annually dis-
tributed £50,000 in the shape of advances to the rearers of cocoons.
The Company abandoned manufacture on its own account in 1834.

River traffic is brisk in all parts of the District. The chief exports
are — rice, jute, mustard-seed, sugar, hides, tobacco, and gdnjd, The
imports are — salt, piece-goods, pulses, spices, brass ware, cocoa-nuts, and
betel-nuts. The principal marts are — Hilli, Damdama, Jamalganj,
Balubhard, Naugaon, and Dubalhati, on the Jamund. river ; Gobindganj,
Fakirganj, Gumaniganj, Sibganj, Sultanganj, and Sherpur, on the Kara-
toya; Dhupchanchia on the Nagar. Some of these are situated just
beyond the District boundaries, but the business of all is chiefly
concerned with Bogra produce. According to the registration
returns for the year 1876-77 (the latest date for which I have
information), the total exports from the District were valued at
£247,479; the imports at ,£85,990. In addition, it is supposed that


a large portion of the Bogra trade, especially in the case of imports, is
credited to the neighbouring Districts of Pabna and Rajshahi. The
chief exports were — rice, 584,000 maunds, and paddy, 46,100 maunds,
valued together at ,£121,400 ; jute, 266,900 maunds, valued at
,£80,070. The imports comprised piece-goods (,£35,190) and salt
(39,800 maunds, valued at ,£19,900). The single mart of Hilli, which
deals almost exclusively with Calcutta and Chandarnagar, despatched
just one-third in value of the exports, including 359,600 maimds of rice.
Next come Dhiipchanchia, with an export of 62,300 maimds of rice :
Mathurapard, which exported 51,000 maimds of jute ; Diwantola,
42,500 maimds ; Maurechar, 36,900 maunds ; Gosainbarf, 28,300
maunds. Of the imports of piece-goods, Bogra town alone received
^£23,680. In 1 88 1, the export of rice from Bogra District amounted
to 1,400,000 maunds.

The Northern Bengal State Railway runs through Bogra District for
a distance of 39 miles. Advantage was taken of the famine relief
operations in 1874 to construct a system of minor roads to serve as
feeders to the railway. These roads, which have an average width of
16 feet, are 15 in number, with an aggregate length of 137 miles. The
total cost was about ,£30,000. Not a single road in the District is
metalled. The chief means of communication are the natural water-
courses, by which every village can be approached during the rainy

Administration. — In 1870-71, the net revenue of Bogra District
amounted to ,£60,639, towards which the land - tax contributed
^43,981, or 70 per cent; the net expenditure was .£14,857, or
about one-quarter of the revenue. In 1881-82, the total revenue
amounted to ,£64,238, of which .£46,328, or 72*12 per cent, was
derived from the land revenue. In the same year there was one
covenanted officer stationed in the District, 5 magisterial courts open,
and three Benches of 15 honorary magistrates. For police purposes the
District is divided into 8 thdnds or police circles, with three outposts.
In 1 88 1, the regular police force numbered 230 men of all ranks,
maintained at a total cost of ,£4650. In addition, there was a municipal
police of 32 officers and men, maintained at a cost of .£286, and a
rural police or village watch of 1864 men, maintained by the villagers
and landholders. The total machinery, therefore, for the protection of
person and property consisted of 2126 officers and men, giving 1 man
to every 70 square mile of area, or to every 345 in the population.
The District jail at Bogra town contained in 1881 a daily average of
184 prisoners.

Education has widely spread of recent years, chiefly owing to the
changes by which grants-in-aid were assigned, first to the middle-class
vernacular schools, and afterwards to the village schools or pdthsdlds.


In 1856, there were only 8 inspected schools in the District, attended
by 593 pupils. In 1870, the numbers had increased to 29 schools and
122 1 pupils; and in 1881-82, to 127, with 3540 pupils. This is
exclusive of uninspected indigenous schools ; and the Census Report
in 1881 returned 14,795 b °y s and io 44 girls as under instruction,
besides 26,405 other males and 195 1 females as able to read and
write, but not under instruction. The higher class English school at
Bogra town was attended in 1881-82 by 223 pupils.

The sub-divisional system has not been extended to Bogra District.
There are 32 pargands or Fiscal Divisions, with an aggregate of 656
revenue-paying estates. In 1881, there were 2 civil judges and 5
stipendiary magistrates. The two municipalities of Bogra town and
Sherpur contain together a total population of 10,175. In 1881-82,
their aggregate municipal income was ^832, the average rate of
taxation being is. 3|d. per head.

Medical Aspects. — The climate of Bogra is somewhat less hot than
that of the Districts farther to the west. It has been observed that the
wind, when blowing from the east, is perceptibly cooled by passing over
the wide stream of the Brahmaputra. The average mean temperature
is 7 8 7 7 F. The average annual rainfall for a period of 20 years
ending in 1881, was 80*22 inches; but in 1873, only 36*64 inches
fell, a deficiency which caused the scarcity of the following year.
In 1 88 1, the rainfall was 70*74 inches, or 9*48 inches below the

The prevailing diseases are fevers and bowel complaints of various
kinds. Cholera is said to be endemic towards the south-west of the
District, which is not far from the Chalan HI; and this disease occa-
sionally breaks out with extreme epidemic severity. Small-pox has
been checked in recent years by the increasing popularity of vaccination,
especially among the Muhammadans. Goitre is reported to be preva-
lent in the tract where jute is grown and steeped. The vital statistics
show a registered number of 15,349 deaths in 1881, or a rate of
24 01 per thousand. There were, in 1882, three charitable dispensaries
in the District, at which 81 19 in-door and out-door patients were treated
during the year. [For further particulars regarding Bogra District, see
my Statistical Account of Bengal, vol. viii. pp. 129 to 317 (Triibner &
Co., London, 1876); see also the Bengal Census Report for 1881, and
the Annual Provincial Adtninistration Reports from 1880 to 1883.]

Bogra (Bagurd). — Chief town and administrative head-quarters of
Bogra District, Bengal; situated on the west bank of the Karatoya
river. Lat. 24 50' 45" n., long. 89 25' 50" e. Population (1881)
6179, namely, 2667 Hindus, 3463 Muhammadans, and 49 'others.'
Municipal income in 1881-82, ,£483 ; incidence of municipal taxation,
is. 6|d. per head of population within municipal limits. The town has


no interesting buildings ; there are two markets, known as the Kdlitala
and Malthinagar hats.

Bokaro. — Coal-field in Hazaribagh District, Bengal ; lies between
23° 40' and 2 3 50' n. lat., and between 85 ° 30' and 86° 10' e. long.,
covering an area of 220 square miles; greatest length from east to west,
40 miles ; maximum breadth from north to south, 6\ miles. It takes
its name from the river Bokaro, which flows through the field for a
distance of 27 miles. The coal series represented are the Talcher,
Damodar, and Panchet ; the amount of available fuel has been estimated
at 1500 millions of tons. Coal has of late years been regularly cut
near the villages of Charhi, Phusro, Tapin-Pindra, and Bangahra, to
supply fuel for burning bricks in Hazaribagh, and some has been carted
to Gaya. Bokaro stands third in order of importance among the fields
of the Ddmodar valley which have already been examined and
reported on.

Bolan. — Pass leading over the Brahui Mountains, from the plains
of Kachhi to the highlands of Sarawan and Baluchistan. It commences
in lat. 29 30' n., long. 67 40' e., about 5 miles north-west of Dadar,
and rises in a succession of narrow valleys between high ranges, having
a north-westerly course, until it culminates in a broad plain called the
Dasht-i-Bedaulat. The total length of the pass is about 60 miles ;
elevation of the top, about 5800 feet ; average ascent, 90 feet in the
mile. From the foot of the pass the halting-places are — Khundilani,
7 miles south ; Kirta, 5 miles ; Bibi-N^ni, 13J miles ; Ab-i-gum, 14 miles ;
Sar-i-Bolan, 6 miles ; and from Sar-i-Bolan to the top of the pass,
Dasht-i-Bedaulat, the distance is nf miles. The Bolan river, a hill
torrent rising beyond Sar-i-Bolan, flows through the whole length of
the pass, and is frequently crossed in the first march from the foot.
This torrent is, like all mountain streams, subject to sudden floods.
In 1 841, a British detachment was lost with its baggage in such a flood.
When the river is not swollen, however, artillery can be conveyed
through without any serious difficulty ; and the pass is consequently of
great importance from a military point of view. In 1839, a Bengal
column with its artillery, consisting of 8-inch mortars, 24-pound
howitzers, and 18-pounder guns, went through the Bolan in six days.
At two principal points the pass is very narrow — namely, just above
Khundilani, and beyond Sar-i-Bolan ; at these places it might be held
by a very small force against immensely superior numbers. At the
first-mentioned point, the cliffs of conglomerate on either side rise to a
height of from 400 to 800 feet, and when the river is in flood, the
stream completely fills the narrow gorge ; at the other point, the rocks
are of limestone, and the passage is so narrow that only three or four
men can ride abreast. The temperature in the pass during May is
very high ; water is abundant and good, but firewood is scarcely pro-

vol. 111. c



( urab l e . There is little or no cultivation owing to the stony ^nature of
Z Lund, and the route being infested by the Mam and Kakar tribes
of Ifcluchis and Pathans, who, until very recently, lived principally by
plundering caravans proceeding from Khorasan to Sind, and ^deterred
pcaceablv-disposed tribes from settling in the valleys. From Bftn-Nam
J mountain road leads to Khelat, via Baradi, Rodbar, Nurmah Takhi,
and Kishan ; distance, no miles. Distance from top of pass to Quetta,
25 miles; road good. ... ,

' Bolaram —Military cantonment in Haidarabad (Hyderabad), the
Nizam's Dominions; situated in lat. 17° 32' N., long. 78° 34' e., on a
piece of high ground 6 or 8 miles in circumference, having on its
summit an open plain extending east of the cantonment. Elevation
above sea, 1890 feet; distance from Haidarabad (Hyderabad), 11 miles
north, and from Sikandarabid (Secunderabad), 6 miles north. The
troops stationed here belong to the Haidarabad Contingent. The
place is healthy. Several kinds of English vegetables and fruits thrive
well. A disturbance occurred among the men of one of the Nizam's
cavalry regiments stationed here in 1855, and Brigadier Colin Mackenzie

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 56)