William Wilson Hunter.

The imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) online

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was severely wounded.

Bolpur— Village in Birbhiim District, Bengal, and a station on the
East Indian Railway; distance from Calcutta (Howrah), 99 miles.
Since the opening of the railway, the village has risen rapidly in
importance, and is now a considerable place of trade.

Bolundra— Petty State in the Mahi Kantha Agency, Bombay
Presidency. The Thaikur is a Rewar Rajput, descended from a
younger branch of the Ranasan family ; he has no sanad authorizing
adoption ; the family follows the rule of primogeniture. The first
Thakur of Bolundra obtained the estate as a maintenance in 1724 a.d.
The land under cultivation is estimated at 5200 bighas. Population
(1881) 875; revenue, ^61; tribute of about ^14 is paid to the
Maharaja of Edar.

Bomanahilli. — Village in Bellary District, Madras Presidency,
which gives its name to a great irrigational project, designed — by
the construction of a reservoir and channels — to irrigate about 64,000
acres of land.

Bombadi. — Township in British Burma. — See Bumawadi.
Bombay Presidency.— Bombay, the Western Presidency of British
India, is divided into four revenue Divisions and twenty-four British
Districts. It also includes numerous Native States, under the protec-
tion of Her Majesty's Indian Government. The territory thus com-
posed extends from 13 53' to 28 45' n. lat., and from 66° 40' to 76
30' e. long. The British Districts, including Sind, contain a total area
of 1 24,123 square miles, and a total population (according to the Census
<t 1 881) of 16,489,274 souls; the Native States under the Bombay


Government, excluding Baroda, cover an additional area estimated at
73,753 square miles, with a population of 6,941,249 souls; grand total
area, 197,876 square miles; grand total population, 23,430,523 souls.
The State of Baroda, with an estimated area of 8570 square miles, and
a population of 2,185,005 souls, although in direct subordination to
the Supreme Government of India, is intricately interlaced with the
Bombay British Districts, and may, from a geographical point of view,
be regarded as forming part of the Bombay Presidency. The Portu-
guese possessions of Goa, Daman, and Diu, with an aggregate area of
about 3806 square kilometres, and population (1881) of 475,172 souls,
are also included within its geographical limits. The capital of the
Presidency, the residence of the Governor, and the head-quarters of
all the administrative departments, is Bombay City, situated on an
island of the same name on the shore of the Arabian Sea, in 18 55' 5"
n. latitude, and 72 53' 55" e. longitude.

Boundaries. — Bombay Presidency is bounded on the north - west,
north, and north-east by Baluchistan and Khelat, the British Province
of the Punjab, and the Native States of Rajputana ; on the east by
the Native States of the Central India Agency, the Central Provinces,
"West Berar, and the Dominions of the Nizam of Haidarabad ; on the
south by the Presidency of Madras and the State of Mysore ; and on
the west by the Arabian Sea.

History. — The territory included within the Bombay Presidency was
in old times partitioned among many independent kingdoms. The most
ancient records and memorials, such as the inscribed rock of Girnar
and the caves of Ajanta, carry us back to the period before and at
the commencement of the Christian era, when Buddhism was the
orthodox creed throughout the peninsula of India. A survival of this
early faith is represented by the Jains, who are still an influential sect
in the Bombay Presidency, adhering with tenacity to their ancient
traditions. The names of the most ancient Hindu kingdoms which
can be localized in Western India are— Maharashtra, the present
Marathd country, which is interpreted to mean either ' the great
country ' or ' the country of the aboriginal tribe of Mahars ; ' Gujarashtra,
or the modern Gujarat (Guzerat), ' the country of the Giijars,' in-
cluding the peninsula of Kathiawar, which was once the head-quarters
of a great kingdom known as Saurashtra, or the country of the Sauras ; '
and lastly, Sindhu or Sind, which is emphatically the land of the Indus
river. A succession of dynasties, of Rajput origin, ruled over these
regions during the first ten centuries of the Christian era. The most
powerful seem to have been, the dynasty which had its capital at
Walabhi, in the modern Gohelwar ; and the Chahikya empire of the
Deccan (Dakshin). Our knowledge of this period is chiefly derived
from coins and charters on stone and copper, which have been found


in great abundance in certain localities. Continuous history begins
with the invasion of the Musalmans. ^

Sind was the first part of India in which the Muhammadans established
a footing. But the best known event in this period of history is the
invasion of Gujardt (Guzerat) by Mahmiid of Ghazni, in 1024, when
the sacred temple of Somnathwas sacked and an immense booty carried
away by the invader. Henceforth the Rajput dynasty of Gujarat,
whose capital was at Anhilwara or Patan, defended themselves with
varying success against successive waves of invasion, until their king-
dom was finally destroyed in 1297 by Alaf Khan, the general of the
Turki Emperor of Delhi, Ala-ud-din Khilji. For about a century, from
1297 to 1403, Gujarat was governed by deputies sent from Delhi. The
last of these governors, Jafar Khan, a Rajput renegade, threw off his
allegiance to the Emperor, and founded an independent dynasty
known as the Ahmadabad kingdom, from the capital built in 141 3 by
Ahmad 1. This dynasty attained to great power and splendour, as is
testified both by the reports of European travellers and by the ruined
buildings still existing at Ahmadabad and Champaner. Its annual
revenue is said to have amounted to n millions sterling. In 1573,
Gujardt was conquered by the Mughal Emperor, iVkbar, who led the
invading army in person, and the Province was again subjected to the
control of Viceroys from Delhi. During the 17th century, Muhammadan
authority was maintained despite the rising power of the Marathas in
the south of the Province. But on the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, all
show of order was swept away; and in 1757 the Province of Gujarat,
with its capital, Ahmadabad, was finally surrendered to the Marathas,
under the joint leadership of a deputy of the Peshwa and Damaji

The Deccan (Dakshin) was first conquered by the Muhammadans in
1294-95, although the difficult nature of the hill tracts, and dissensions
among the invaders, long prevented the subjugation from being complete.
In 1345, the weakness of Muhammad Tughlak, the Turki Emperor of
Delhi, encouraged Ahmad Shah Bahmani to rise in rebellion and to
found an independent dynasty called after his own name. Its capital
was first at Giilbarga, but was subsequently removed to Bidar. About
1490, the Bahmani kingdom fell to pieces, being partitioned among
the feudatory nobles, of whom the two greatest founded the dynasties
of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar. Towards the close of the 16th century,
the Mughal Emperors of Delhi began to press upon these independent
kingdoms from the north ; and the Maratha horsemen, under Sivaji,
found their opportunity in the continual dissensions of the Musalmans.
In 1637, the Nizdm Shahi dynasty of Ahmadnagar was finally over-
thrown, and its territory divided between the Mughals and the Bijdpur
kings. In 1684, Bijapur was itself taken by the Emperor Aurangzeb,


and the Mughals and the Marathds were left face to face. The great
Sivaji was born in 1627. He rose to power by availing himself of the
hill fastnesses of the Ghats, organizing the sturdy Hindu peasantry into
a military confederacy, and alternately playing off the Musalmins of
Bijdpur and Delhi against each other. In 1674, he ventured to declare
his independence openly by being crowned at Raigarh, and six years
afterwards he died. His lineal successors, the Rajds of Satara, did not
inherit his genius for command ; but the Maratha traditions were main-
tained by subordinate officials and generals, who carved out for them-
selves kingdoms in all parts of the peninsula, and only lost the supreme
empire of India by their defeat at the hands of the Afghans at Pdnipat.
The most important members of the Maratha confederacy who played a
part in the history of Bombay, were, — the Peshwa, or over-lord, the
hereditary mayor of the palace to the effete descendants of Sivaji, who
may be said to have established his practical supremacy in 1749, with
Poona (Puna) for his capital ■ and the G^ekwar of Baroda. These two
chiefs collected tribute during the 18th century from the greater part
of what is now the Presidency of Bombay. For the further develop-
ment of the five great Maratha houses, see post, article India.

The first European nation who had dealings with the west coast of
India was the Portuguese. In 1498, Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut ;
five years later, the great Albuquerque conquered Goa ; and as early as
1532, the Portuguese are found in occupation of the island of Bombay.
For a hundred years they maintained their monoply of the Eastern
trade. The first English ship is said to have arrived at Surat, then the
chief emporium of Indian commerce, in 1608. Shortly afterwards the
English merchants fought a sea-battle with the Portuguese off Surat,
and, as a result of their victory, obtained a charter from the Delhi
Emperor Jahangfr in 161 3, entitling them to establish a factory in that
city. The Dutch received a similar authorization in 1618. Bombay
island, comprising the present Bombay City, was ceded to the English
Crown in 1 661, as part of the dower of the Infanta Catharina on her
marriage with Charles 11. A British fleet was sent out under the Earl of
Marlborough to take possession of the island. But a dispute arose with
the Portuguese governor; and in 1668, the king was glad to hand over
his unprofitable acquisition, at that time considered as the grave of
Europeans, to the East India Company, on payment of an annual
rent of £10 in gold. The total revenue was estimated at 75,000
xerap/iins, or about ^6500, paid by a population of about 10,000 souls.
The Company forthwith adopted measures to strengthen the fortifications,
attract European settlers, and encourage manufactures and commerce.
In 1687, the chief control of all the Company's possessions in India
was transferred from Surat to Bombay, which was erected into an
independent Presidency in 1708, on the amalgamation of the two rival



English Companies trading with India. Finally, in 1773 Bombay
unplaced in a position of qualified subordination to the Governor-

General at Calcutta.

For more than a century the position of the English on the west
coast of India was merely that of traders, who had successfully infringed
the monopoly of the Portuguese and the Dutch, but were hemmed in
on the landward side by the rising power of the Marathas. The first
of the Maratha chiefs with whom our countrymen at Bombay city
came into serious collision was Angria, who, from his stronghold on
the island of Kolaba, dominated the entire coast of the Konkan with
a numerous piratical fleet. In 1756, the Governor of Bombay, in
alliance with the Peshwa, despatched an expedition by sea, which
captured Angria's fortified harbour of Savarndnig ; and in the same
year an expedition sent from England, under the joint command of
Admiral Watson and the celebrated Clive, stormed Gheria or Vizia-
driig, and won a booty of ^100,000. The power of the Maratha
pirates was thus broken, but the only territorial acquisition made by the
English, was a few villages on the mainland south of Bombay. In
1774, the Bombay Government commenced the first Maratha war, on
the occasion of a disputed succession to the title of Peshwa. This
war was marked by the inglorious convention of Wargaon (1779), and
the repulse of General Goddard at the foot of the Bhor-Ghat. It was
terminated by the treaty of Salbai (1782) ; in accordance with which the
English retained permanent possession of Salsette, Elephanta, Karanja
and Hog Island, but gave back Bassein and all their conquests in
Gujarat to the Peshwa, and made over Broach to Sindhia. The castle
of Surat had been in British hands since 1759 ; and in 1800, the entire
administration of that city was transferred to them by the Muhammadan
Nawab, whose descendants retained the empty title until 1842.

The second Maratha war was occasioned by the treaty of Bassein
in 1802, by which the Peshw r a accepted the subsidiary system that
formed the keynote to the Marquis of Wellesley's policy. The northern
Maratha houses combined to break down this treaty, and the military
operations known as the second Maratha war followed (1803-04). As
the result of that war, a considerable tract in Gujarat, including the
present Districts of Surat, Broach, and Kaira, was ceded to the British,
and their political influence became predominant at the courts of Poona
and Baroda. During the interval of peace which followed, measures
were taken for destroying the haunts of the pirates who then infested
the gulfs of Cambay and Cutch (Kachchh). In 1807, the States of
Kdthidwar were taken under British protection, and in 1809 the Rao
of Cutch was induced to sign a treaty promising to co-operate in the
suppression of piracy. But no sooner had the Peshwa, Baji Rao, been
restored to his throne at Poona by a British army, than he began to plot


for the expulsion of the British from the Deccan. At last, in 181 7, he
suddenly attacked the Resident, Mr. Elphinstone, who retired to Kirki,
where a small British force was stationed, which a few days afterwards
utterly defeated the whole army of the Peshwa. After a few more
engagements, the fugitive Peshwa surrendered to Sir John Malcolm.
A pension of ^80,000 was guaranteed to him for life, but he was de-
prived of all his dominions. By these measures the Bombay Presidency
was augmented by the annexation of the Districts of Poona, Ahmad-
nagar, Nasik, Sholapur, Belgaum, Kaladgi, Dharwar, Ahmadabad, and
the Konkan ; thus receiving at one time the greater part of its present
territory. At the same date, Holkar made over his rights in Khandesh
District to the British. Satara lapsed to the paramount power in 1848,
on the death of the last lineal descendant of Sivaji without a natural
heir ; the non-regulation tracts of the Panch Mahals were ceded by
Sindhia in i860; and in 1861 the southern limits of the Presidency
were extended by the transfer of the District of North Kanara from

The history of Sind forms a chapter apart from that of the rest of
the Presidency. Shortly after the beginning of the present century, the
Government of that country was assumed by four brothers of Baluchi
origin, known as the Talpur Amirs. The advance of the British power,
and especially the right of passage up the Indus at the time of the
Afghan war, caused complications with the Amirs of Sind. Hostilities
were precipitated by an attack upon the British Residency at Haidar-
abad, and the war that followed was signalized by the decisive victory
of Miani (Meeanee). The Province was annexed to the British Empire
in 1843, and the conquering general, Sir Charles Napier, was appointed
its first ruler. Sind continues to be administered as a non-regulation
Province. A proposal has been under consideration to detach it from
Bombay, and to place it, together with the frontier Districts of the
Punjab, immediately under the Supreme Government of India.

The recent history of Bombay Presidency is destitute of stirring
incidents. Peace has remained unbroken, even during the troublous
season of 1857, when the Bombay troops remained, as a body, loyal.
The local army has done good service in many climes. In Afghanistan
and Persia, in Burma and China, in Aden and Abyssinia, the Sepoys
of Bombay have shown themselves willing to do their duty where-
soever called. But the chief glory of British administration has lain
in the development of the arts of peace. Instead of the chronic
disorder of the Maratha period, absolute security is now guaranteed
to life and property. Where bands of irregular horsemen formerly
collected tribute from the villagers at the spear's point, the land
revenue is now realized by the operation of law, in amounts larger
than could be conceived in the days of military extortion. The rail-


way, a triumph of engineering skill, climbs with ease the famous Bhor-
Ghat, which in old times shut off the fertile plateau of the Deccan
from the sea-coast, and once witnessed the discomfiture of a British
army. A series of administrative reforms, originated by Mountstuart
Elphinstone, Governor of Bombay from 1819 to 1827, have been
continued and developed by the subsequent succession of rulers ; and
the benefits of civilisation have been widely distributed through the
land. The cultivator is no longer a tenant-at-will of the State, liable to
unlimited exactions of revenue ; his position is now that of a part
owner of the soil, with rights which he can transmit by sale or descent,
subject only to the payment of a rent-charge fixed for a term of years.
At the same time, the ambition of the upper classes has been turned
into the peaceful channels of commerce. The growth of the trade in
cotton is at once the cause and the measure of the advance in the
average standard of comfort. Wide Districts in Gujarat and the
Deccan have found their advantage in cultivating a staple which for a
short season brought them a golden return, and still pays better than
the ordinary grain crops. Bombay city bears witness by her splendid
buildings, her docks, and her public works, to the prosperity of the land
over which she rules, and from which she draws a rich tribute.

Physical Aspects. — The Presidency of Bombay presents on the map
the appearance of an irregular strip of land, stretching along the
eastern shore of the Arabian Sea, and extending up the lower portion
of the Indus valley. The continuous coast-line is only broken towards
the north by the gulfs of Cambay and Cutch, between which lies the
projecting peninsula of Kd.thiawa>. The seaboard is generally rock-
bound and difficult of access, although it contains many little estuaries
forming fair-weather ports for vessels engaged in the coasting trade.
Bombay and Karwar alone have harbours sufficiently landlocked to
protect shipping during the prevalence of the south-west monsoon.

Physically as well as historically, Bombay Presidency may be roughly
divided into two distinct portions, the Narbada (Nerbudda) forming
the boundary line. To the north of that river lie the Province of
Gujarat, with the peninsulas of Kathiawdr and Cutch, and the Province
of Sind; to the south the Maratha country, part of the Deccan,
the Karnatic, and the Konkan. The former of these tracts is for the
most part a low plain of alluvial origin. In Southern Gujarat the
valleys of the Tapti and Narbada" form sheets of unbroken cultivation.
But in Northern Gujarat the soil becomes sandy and the rainfall
deficient ; cultivation is largely dependent upon either artificial irriga-
tion or the natural humidity caused by the neighbourhood of the
ocean. In Sind (beyond the delta on the east), the surface is a wide
expanse of desert, interrupted only by low cliffs or undulating sand-
heaps. The geological formation is distinct from that of the rest of


the Indian peninsula, consisting of limestone rocks, continuous with
those found in Persia and Arabia.

Bombay, south of the Narbada\ consists of a level coast strip, rising
into an upland country. Mountains furrowed by deep valleys intercept
the rain-clouds of the monsoons, and blossom with tropical vegetation.
The geological formation is composed of nearly horizontal strata of
basalt and similar rocks, which naturally break into steep terraces and
hog-backed ridges, and have produced by their decomposition the
famous ' black cotton soil,' unsurpassed for its fertility. Perched upon
these rugged eminences stand the impregnable hill forts famous in
Maratha history. The Deccan, the Karnatic, and the Konkan are each
marked by special features of their own. The Deccan, including
Khandesh District, is an elevated plateau behind the Western Ghats.
It is drained by several large rivers, along whose banks are tracts of
great fertility ; but for the rest, the air is dry and the rainfall uncertain.
The Karnatic, or country south of the Krishna (Kistna) river, is a plain
of lower elevation, and contains wide expanses of black soil under
continuous cultivation. The Konkan is the name of the narrow strip
of land lying between the base of the Ghdts and the sea. As a whole,
it is a rugged and difficult country, intersected by numerous creeks, and
abounding in isolated peaks and detached ranges of hills. The cultiva-
tion consists only of a few rich plots of rice-land and groves of cocoa-nut.
The rainfall is excessive. The Districts of the Presidency are classified
as follows, with reference to the natural divisions above described : —

Sind Districts.— -Karachi (Kurrachee), Haidarab^d, Shikarpur, Thar
and Parkar, and Upper Sind Frontier, forming the Sind Division.

Gujardt Districts.— Ahmadabad, Kaira, Panch-Mahals. Broach, and

Konkan Districts. — Thina, Bombay city and island, Koldba, Ratna-
giri, and Kanara.

Deccan Districts. — Kh&idesh, Nasik, Ahmadnagar, Poona (Puna),
Sholapur, and Satara.

Western Karnatic or South Maratha Districts.— Belgium, Dharwdr,
and Kaladgi.

Mountains. — The following are the chief mountain ranges, which all
have a general direction from north to south. In the north-west, on
the right bank of the Indus, the Hala and Khirtan mountains, a
continuation of the great Sulaimdn range, separate British India from
the domains of the Khan of Khelat. In Sind there are low ranges of
sandhills, and in Cutch and Kdthiawar several isolated peaks and
cliffs, which form geologically a continuation of the Aravalli mountains.
Proceeding towards the south-east, an extensive mountain chain is met
with, which may be regarded either as a southern spur of the Aravalli
mountains, or a northern prolongation of the Western Ghdts beyond


the valleys of the Tapti and Narbada. These hills separate Gujarat
from the States of Central India, beginning in the neighbourhood of
Mount Abii, and stretching southwards down to the right bank of the
Narbada. South of the Tapti the country becomes rugged and broken,
with isolated masses of rock and projecting spurs, forming the water-
shed for the great rivers of the Deccan. This rugged region constitutes,
strictly speaking, the northern extremity of the Western Ghats, here
called the Sahyadri Hills. That great range runs southward, parallel
to the sea-coast for upwards of 500 miles, with a general elevation of
about 1800 feet above the sea, though individual peaks rise to more
than double that height. The western declivity is abrupt, and the low
strip of land bordering the sea-shore is seldom more than 40 miles in
width. The Ghats do not descend in one sheer precipice, but, as is
usually the case with a trap formation, the descent is broken by a
succession of terraces. The landward slope is gentle, also falling in
terraces, the crest of the range being in many cases but slightly raised
above the level of the central plateau of the Deccan. Apart from
many minor spurs of the Western Ghats, only two ranges in the
Presidency have a direction from east to west. The Satpura range,
from the neighbourhood of the fort of Asirgarh to its termination in the
east of Gujarat, forms the watershed between the Tapti and Narbada
rivers, separating Khdndesh District from the territories of Indore, and
attaining an elevation of over 5000 feet. The Satmala or Ajanta Hills,
which divide Khandesh from the Nizam's Dominions on the south, are
of less importance, being rather the northern slope of the plateau of the
Deccan than a distinct hill range.

Rivers. — Bombay Presidency has no great rivers which it can call its
own. The outlying Province of Sind is penetrated throughout its entire
length from north to south by the Indus, whose overflowing waters are
almost the sole means of distributing fertility through that parched region.
Its season of flood begins in March and continues until September ;
the discharge of water, calculated at 40,857 cubic feet per second in
December, is said to increase tenfold in August, the average depth of the

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 5 of 56)