William Wilson Hunter.

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its principal confluents, the Chambal assumes the dimensions
of a great river; and continuing a north-easterly course, is crossed,
45 miles farther down, by a ferry on the Gwalior and Nasirabad
(Nusseerabad) road. Maintaining the same direction for 55 miles, it
flows under the city of Dholpur, on its left bank, and runs through a
picturesque valley, bounded by fantastic hills in every variety of outline
and contour. The river here is crossed by the Sindhia State Railway
from Asra to Gwalior. At length, after passing into the British District


of Etawah, it flows in a deep bed, surrounded by wild gorges and
ravines, to join the main channel of the Jumna, 40 miles below Etawah
town, in lat. 26 15' o" n. and long. 79 15' 2" e. Its total length,
including the various windings, amounts to 650 miles ; the distance in
a straight line, from the source near Mhow to the junction with the
Jumna, may be taken at about 330 miles. The Chambal is liable to
sudden floods, and during heavy rain it discharges a greater volume of
water than the Jumna itself. After the two rivers have united, the
crystal current of the mountain stream may be distinguished for some
distance from the muddy waters of the main river. In times of flood,
communication between the two banks is often interrupted for days
together, no boat being able to live in the turbulent rapids. The
Chambal is identified with the Charmanwati of Sanskrit writers. The
chief ferries are at Udi, Bahraich, Sahaswan, and Pali. The average
fall of the river may be estimated at 2f feet per mile.

Chambal. — Town in the head-quarters Sub-division of Chittagong
District, Bengal. Population (1881) 5000, namely, 2341 males and
2659 females.

Chambra Mala. — Mountain peak in Wainad taluk, Malabar
District, Madras Presidency; situated 19 miles south of Manantoddy
(Manantadi), in the richest coffee tract of the Wainad. Lat. n° 32' n.,
long. 76 7' e. Height, 6500 feet above the sea.

ChamianL — Town in Unao District, Oudh ; situated about ij mile
from the Lon river, 20 miles south-west of Unao town. Population (1881)
4010, namely, Hindus, 2623 ; and Muhammadans, 1387. Village school.

Chamomeril (or Iso Moriri). — Lake in Ladakh, Kashmir State, in
the elevated table-land of Rupshu, lying between the valleys of the Sutlej
(Satlaj) and the Indus. Lat. 32 55' n., long. 78 15' e. Elevation
above sea-level, 14,900 feet. Surrounded by mountains, some of which
rise to a height of 5000 feet from the water's edge. The water is
brackish, and not good for drinking purposes, although horses and goats
drink it. Though it receives several considerable streams, it has no
efflux, the level being maintained by evaporation. Length from north
to south, 15 miles; breadth, from 3 to 5 miles.

Champa (Chdpa). — Estate or zaminddri in Bilaspur District, Central
Provinces. Area, 120 square miles, with 65 villages and 6377 occu-
pied houses. Population (1881) 23,819, namely, males 11,716, and
females 12,103; average density of population, 198*5 per square mile.
The chief is a Kunwar. At Champa, his head-quarters (lat. 22 2 o''n.,
long. 82 ° 43' o" e.), dwell a considerable number of weavers, whose
manufactures find a ready sale in the adjoining market of Bamnidehi.

Champahati. — Small village and station on the Calcutta and South-
Eastern State Railway, 15 miles south-west of Calcutta, in the District
of the Twenty-four Parganas, Bengal.


Champ anagar. — Village forming the western part of Bhagalpur
town, Bhagalpur District, Bengal. Contains the mausoleum of a
Muhammadan saint, with an inscription bearing the date 1622-23.
Residence of the pujdris belonging to the Jain sect of Oswals, of whom
there is a small community at Bhagalpur. The village is the head-
quarters of the tasar silk manufacture in the District.

Champaner. — Hill fort and village in the District of the Panch
Mahals, Gujarat (Guzerat), Bombay Presidency ; situated on an isolated
rock of great height, 250 miles north by east of Bombay, and 27 miles
north-east of Baroda. Lat. 22 31' n., long. 73 36' e. The fortifications
enclose a space about three-quarters of a mile in length by three furlongs
in breadth. Within this enclosure are two forts, an upper and a lower.
The upper fort, which, from its natural situation, is almost impregnable,
contains a temple to the goddess Kali, of much local reputation. The
lower fort, also very difficult of access, possesses some curious Hindu
monuments of remote antiquity. Till late in the 15th century, the
strength of this citadel preserved their territory and capital to a line
of Rajput chiefs; but in 1482, Mahmiid (Begara), King of Ahmadabad,
enraged at certain acts of aggression on the part of the ruler of Cham-
paner, overran his territory, and laid siege to his stronghold. According
to Hindu accounts, the upper fortress resisted all the efforts of the
besiegers, and yielded only after a blockade of twelve years. Pleased
with its situation, Mahmiid determined to make Champaner his capital,
and accordingly he founded a new city at some distance from the
former town, adorning it with large and beautiful mosques. Muham-
madabad Champaner, as it was now called, became a place of great
wealth ; trade soon developed ; and until about 1560, the place remained
the capital of the Gujarat kings.

During the Emperor Humayun's rapid conquest of Gujarat, the fort
of Champaner was taken in August 1535. According to local legend,
the Emperor himself, with a small band of followers, climbed up by
means of iron spikes driven into the face of the rock, won an entrance,
and admitted the main body of his troops. On the dismemberment of
the Delhi Empire in the latter part of the 18th century, Champaner was
seized by the Marathas, and ultimately fell into the hands of Madhuji
Sindhia. It was entirely neglected by his successor, Daulat Rao Sindhia,
and on the 17th September 1802, surrendered without resistance to a
small British detachment under the command of Colonel YVoodington.
It was restored in 1803 to Daulat Rao Sindhia by the treaty of Serji
Anjangaon. Subsequently, in 186 1, the town was, with the whole
District of the Panch Mahals, transferred to the British Government.
During the 18th century, Champaner was deserted, and its neighbour-
hood has relapsed into jungle. So unhealthy, indeed, has the place
become, that several attempts to colonize it have failed. Though now


almost without inhabitants, its magnificent hill, the fortifications, the
site of the old Hindu town, and the ruins of the Musalman capital, still
make Champaner a place of much interest.

Champaran. — District of the Patna Division, occupying the north-
west corner of Behar, under the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal;
lying between 26 16' and 27° 30' n., and between 83 55' and 85 21' e.
long. Total area, 3531 square miles; population, according to the
Census of 188 1, 1,721,608 souls. The administrative head-quarters are
at the town of Motihari, situated in lat. 26 39' n., and long. 84 58' e.

Champaran District is bounded north by the Independent State of
Nepal ; east by Muzaffarpur District ; south by Muzaffarpur and Saran ;
and west by Gorakhpur District, in the North- Western Provinces, and
by a portion of Nepal territory called Raj Botwal. The northern
frontier, where not naturally formed by rivers, is marked by ditches and
masonry pillars; for some distance it runs along the summit of the
Sumeswar range. On the east, the Baghmati river constitutes a natural
boundary with Muzaffarpur for a distance of 35 miles; and similarly
the Gandak is the continuous south-western boundary from Tribeni
Ghat to Sattar Ghdt. Owing to changes in the course of the Gandak,
a tract of land, consisting of 35 villages, on the farther bank of the
river is now arbitrarily included within the jurisdiction of Champaran.

History. — This tract of country has no history of its own. It was
separated from Saran, and erected into an independent District, as
recently as 1866; and at the present time the judge of Saran periodi-
cally visits Motihari to hold the Sessions. But though Champaran
contains no large towns or sites that can be connected with historical
events, there are local traditions and ruins of archaeological interest
that point back to a prehistoric past. The earliest remains show that
Champaran formed an integral part of the great kingdom of Magadha,
which flourished before the Christian era. At the village of Lauriya
Navanagarh there are three rows of huge tumuli, which have been
visited by General Cunningham. A small silver coin of a date anterior
to the invasion of Alexander the Great, and a seal of black earthen-
ware with an inscription in the Gupta character, have been found.
From these and other indications, General Cunningham is induced to
believe that the tumuli contain the graves of early kings, who lived
between 1500 and 600 B.C. In the same neighbourhood stands a pillar,
inscribed with the Buddhist edicts of Asoka. It is a single block of
polished sandstone, 33 feet high, the diameter tapering from 35 inches
at the base to 26 inches at the top. The capital supports a statue of
a lion facing the north, and the abacus is ornamented with a row of
Brahmani geese. A similar column, of less graceful dimensions, is to
be seen at the village of Araraj. At Kesariya is a large brick mound,
supporting a solid tower or stupa of the same material 62 feet high and


68 feet in diameter, which is supposed by General Cunningham to have
been erected to commemorate one of the acts of Buddha. Close by are
the ruins of a small temple, and the head and shoulders of a colossal
image of Buddha. Another class of remains bear witness to a later
generation of kings, who are described in local legend as Rdjput immi-
grants. Their capital was at Simraun, on the Nepal frontier, where
there are extensive ruins of fortifications and tanks now overgrown with
jungle. Tradition says that Simrdun was founded by Nanuapd Deva in
1097 a.d. ; and that the seventh and last of the royal line was driven
northwards into Nepal by the Muhammadans in 1322.

The Musalman sarkdr of Champdran was considerably smaller than
the present British District. In 1582, according to the rent-roll of
Todar Mall, Akbar's finance minister, it was composed of three par ga /ids,
covering a total area of 85,711 big/ids, and paying a gross revenue that
may be computed at ^14,000. When the East India Company
obtained possession of the diwdni of Bengal in 1765, the area was
estimated at 2546 square miles, and the revenue was ^34,000. The
whole was settled with the sons of Jagal Kishori Singh, the owner of
the Bettia Raj, which family still owns the larger half of the soil of the
District. The remainder is held principally by two other great land-
owners, the Rdja of Ramnagar on the Nepal frontier, and the family
known as the Madhubani Babus, founded by Abdul Singh, a member
of the Bettia family. In recent times, the only historical event that has
taken place in Champaran is connected with the Mutiny of 1857. The
1 2th regiment of Irregular Horse was then stationed at Segauli. The
commandant, Major Holmes, expressed himself confident of the loyalty
of his men. But one day in July, the soivdrs or troopers suddenly rose
in mutiny, massacred their commandant, his wife and children, and all
the Europeans in the cantonments. Still more recently, Champaran
has been severely visited by the two famines of 1866 and 1874, both of
which were caused by seasons of deficient rainfall. The District is
peculiarly exposed to such calamities. It is backward in civilisation,
has comparatively little trade or accumulated wealth ; and, till the open-
ing of the branch of the Tirhut State Railway, it lay remote from the
ordinary channels of communication. It has now, however, been
placed in direct communication with the principal marts and seats
of commerce.

Physical Aspects. — Champaran consists of an irregular triangle, with
its apex toward the south-east Its sides are formed by the two border-
ing rivers, the Gandak and the Baghmati ; its base on the north is
closed by the low hills on the Nepal frontier ; while it is bisected
throughout its entire length by the Buri or Old Gandak. The southern
portion resembles in all respects the adjoining Districts of Saran and
MuzarTarpur, and perhaps exceeds them in fertility. The land is almost


uniformly level, and under continuous cultivation. Towards the north
the country becomes undulating and broken, until it reaches its highest
elevation in the Sumeswar range, which averages 1500 feet above sea-
level, the highest point being 2270 feet. In some places these hills are
inaccessible to man. The character of the surface varies, being rocky
and barren in some places, while in others it is studded with trees or
covered with grass. At the eastern extremity of the Sumeswar range
is situated the pass leading to Deoghat in Nepal, through which the
British army successfully marched during the Gurkha War in 18 14-15.
The other principal passes are the Sumeswar, Kapan and Harlau

The ascent to the Sumeswar pass lies up the bed of the Juri Pani
river, amid romantic scenery. About 200 feet below the summit
there is sufficient ground for a small sanitarium, where the temperature
does not exceed 8o° F. in the hot weather, and pure water is to be
found ; and to which a good road might be constructed. It overlooks
the Mauri valley in Nepal ; and from the summit, the enormous moun-
tains of Diwalagiri, Gosainthan, Urnapiirna, and Everest are clearly
visible. This northern tract is covered with forest, from which the
finest timber-trees have long ago been carried away. It also contains
large grass prairies, low-lying and watered by many streams, which
afford pasturage to numerous herds of cattle. The large rivers,
navigable throughout the year by boats. of 100 maunds, are: — The
Gandak, locally known as the Salignami, flows southwards from Nepal,
touches on Champaran at Tribenf^/wV in the extreme north-west, whence
it flows south-westwards partly through the District, but for the most
part marking its western boundary, till it leaves Champaran at its south-
west corner. The river is reported to be navigable throughout the
year by boats of about forty tons burthen, but navigation is rendered
difficult, owing to the narrow and tortuous course during the hot and
cold season, and to its impetuous current in the rains. The breadth of
the stream is two or three miles at places during the rains, but in the
cold weather the stream is rarely more than a quarter of a mile across.
The river is nowhere fordable ; it changes its course nearly every year,
exhibiting the operations of alluvion and diluvion on a large scale.
The Little Gandak, which is known by a variety of names in different
parts of its course, takes its rise in the Sumeswar hills, and flows through
the centre of the District from north-west to south-east till it enters
Muzaffarpur. Navigable throughout the year for the greater part of its
course by boats of from 7 to 15 tons. In the dry weather it is fordable
in many places, but in the rains the many hill streams which join it
make it an impetuous torrent. The Baghmati forms part of the
eastern boundary of the District for a distance of about 35 miles.
Navigable by boats of 15 or iS tons burthen for a portion of its course.



Its current is very rapid, sometimes reaching seven miles an hour in its
upper reaches, during freshes. A few days' rain causes the river to
rise rapidly, and its floods inundate the country far inland. It has
changed its course several times, the soil being very light and loose
along its banks, which are being constantly washed away. Through
the centre of the District runs a long chain of shallow lakes or j/ii/s, 43
in number, which cover a total area of 139 square miles, and which
evidently mark the former bed of a large river which has now taken
another course.

Champaran suffers from the effects of an irregular water-supply.
Droughts are of common occurrence ; in 1866, and again in 1874,
they caused widespread scarcity. The District, which was formerly
subject to destructive inundations from the Gandak and the Baghmati,
has been protected, so far as the floods of the former river are
concerned, by an extensive embankment constructed by Govern-
ment engineers. In the north, the small drainage channels or ndlds
are inadequate to carry off the rainfall of the hills, which often lays
the country under water. The natural products of the District are
chiefly found in the hilly tract to the north. Gold is washed in the
beds of the hill streams, and it is said that a considerable revenue was
formerly derived from this source. Copper is also found in small
quantities, and the discovery has been reported of a bed of coal.
Building-stone exists, though it has not been utilized. A stratum of
kankar or nodular limestone runs throughout the whole District ; the
stone is used both for metalling the roads and for burning into lime.
Apart from timber and firewood, the chief jungle products are a grass
called sobitd (used for making ropes), the narkat reed (used for mats),
honey and beeswax, lac, long pepper, and various medicinal plants.
The forests of Ramnagar, which have been leased by the Raja to a
European capitalist, at an annual rental of ^1000, are estimated to
yield to the lessee a profit of ten times that amount. The total value
of all the fisheries in the District is insignificant.

People. — Several early enumerations of the inhabitants exist, but not
one of them can be accepted as accurate. The highest estimate, in
1869, gave a total of 932,322 souls. The first regular Census, in 1872,
returned the population at 1,440,815 souls, spread over an area of 3531
square miles, or an average of 408 per square mile. In 1881, with the
area of the District the same as in 1872, the Census showed that the
population numbered 1,721,608, being a nominal increase of 280,793,
or 19 \ per cent, in the nine years. A considerable proportion of the
reported increase of the population, however, the Collector states is due
to better enumeration in 1881 than in 1872. The male population in
1881 numbered 870,627, and the females 850,981 ; proportion of males
in total population, 50*57 per cent. Area of District, 3531 square miles ;



number of villages, 7766 ; number of houses, 293,709, of which 282,821
are occupied and 10,888 unoccupied. Average density of population,
48757 per square mile; villages per square mile, 2-20; persons per
village, 22i ; persons per occupied house, 6*09. Classified according
to religion the population consists of: — Hindus, 1,476,985; Muham-
madans, 242,687; and Christians, 1936.

Among the aboriginal population are included the Tharus, who
with the Nepalis (although not returned separately in the Census
Report) are almost entirely confined to the two frontier thdnds of
Lauriya and Bagaha. The Tharus are a race of Indo-Chinese origin,
inhabiting the malarious tardi along the foot of the Himalayas.
They are honest and industrious people, who utilize the water of
the hill streams for their scanty patches of rice cultivation. Another
tribe almost peculiar to Champaran is the Maghya Dom, whose num-
bers are not given separately in the Census Report, but probably
do not exceed 800 souls. They are a nomad tribe, with inveterate
habits of thieving; and it has been proposed to break up their
organization by special police measures. An attempt was made in
1882 to induce these Doras to settle down in a small colony, and
was so far successful that in 1883 about 250 Doms were settled in the
northern half of the District, under the supervision of the magistrate
and police authorities. They are reported to be living an orderly life
like their neighbours, subsisting by the cultivation of their fields, in
basket-weaving, or as day-labourers, etc. The Gonds, an aboriginal
tribe, are returned at 11,055, out °f a tota ^ aboriginal population of
various tribes and castes of 40,949.

The superior castes of Hindus are well represented. The Brahmans,
who are specially encouraged to settle on the Bettia estate, number
76,284; the Rajputs, 80,764; the Babhans or military Brahmans, to
which caste the Raja of Bettia himself belongs, 42,280. Of the
Siidra castes, the most respectable are the Kayasth, or writer caste,
who form the majority of subordinate Government officers, 28,411
in number; Baniya, or traders, 25,821 ; Napit, barbers, 21,109; Lohar,
blacksmiths, 26,911; Kumbhar, potters, 18,807; Kurmi, 88,721,
and Koeri, 103,893, the two chief cultivating castes; Kandu, con-
fectioners, 66,563; Barui, growers of the betel plant, 10,455; Goala,
herdsmen, the most numerous caste in the District, who bear a bad
reputation for honesty, 169,274; Kahar, domestic servants and
palanquin-bearers, 19,430; Dhobi, washermen, 17,892; Sonar, gold-
smiths, 14,990; Tatwa, weavers, 24,319; Telf, trades and oil-
sellers, 52,842; and Mallas, boatmen, 55,411. The lowest castes, or
semi-Hinduized aborigines, comprise : — Nuniya, saltpetre makers by
hereditary occupation, who also supply the best labourers and spades-
men to be found in the District, 45,324; Kalwar, spirit-sellers, 30,357;


and the cognate degraded castes of Chamars, 112,789; Dosadh,
81,961; Musahar, 37,913; Bind, 23,569; and Dhanuk, 15,235. The
number of Hindus not recognising caste was returned at 3051, of whom
2345 were Vaishnavs. Many of the Musalmans are immigrants from
Patna and the North-Western Provinces. By sect, they are divided
into 209,398 Shias and 1326 Sunnfs.

The Christians include 18 14 native converts, under the charge of
two Roman Catholic missions at Bettia and Chuharf. The former was
founded in 1746 by an Italian priest, who had been invited into the
District by the Raja of Bettia. The Chuhari mission was established in
1770 by three priests who had been expelled from Nepal. The mission
represents all that is now left of the famous Tibetan Mission which so
greatly excited the interest of Europe in the last century, with its
wonderful accounts of Lhassa and its Grand Lamas.

The population of Champaran is entirely rural. The villages are
somewhat larger than in the rest of Behar, but this is no indication
of a tendency towards urban life. The largest town is Bettia, with
a population of 21,263. Motihari, the civil station, has 10,307
inhabitants. The other towns containing upwards of 5000 inhabitants,
are Madhubani, with 7025 ; and Kesariya, with 5256. Segauli, about
15 miles from Motihari, the scene of the Mutiny of 1857, is still occu-
pied by a regiment of native cavalry. Large fairs for religious objects
and for trade are held annually at Bettia, Sitakund, Araraj, and
Tribeni Ghat. The chief centres of trade are Bettia, Champattia, and
Bagaha, on the Gandak. Of the 7766 towns and villages comprising the
District, 5004 are returned as containing less than 200 inhabitants ; 2048
from 200 to 500 ; 593 from 500 to 1000 ; 107 from 1000 to 2000 ; 7
from 2000 to 3000 ; 3 from 3000 to 5000 ; 2 from 5000 to 10,000 ; 1
from 10,000 to 15,000; and 1 upwards of 50,000 inhabitants. The
primitive organization of village officials is represented at the present
day by the j'eth rayat or head-man and the patwdri or accountant.
Both these, however, have now become servants of the zaminddr rather
than officials of the community.

The people of the District are, as a rule, badly off. The whole
agricultural population is in debt to the mahdjdn, or village money-
lender, who has advanced money or grain on the security of the next
crop. Though rents are low, and the produce of the land good, the
cultivators are in constant difficulties, partly through this system of
mortgaging their future crops, and partly from improvidence. The
droughts and floods to which the District is liable, render matters
worse ; and Champaran, with one of the most fertile soils in Behar, is
probably the poorest District in that Province. The influence of the
few great proprietors, who practically own the entire District, the
general ignorance of the peasantry, the system of rack-renting and short


leases, have all combined to hinder the cultivator from acquiring any
permanent interest in the soil. To the general rule of poverty, how-
ever, the Tharus form a marked exception. They cultivate with great
care the fertile tarai or sub-montane lands in the north of Ramnagar
pargand ; and their general prudence and foresight have raised them

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 40 of 56)