William Wilson Hunter.

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67 square miles were returned as under cultivation in 187S. Popula-
tion (1881) 108,981, namely, males 54,546, and females 5.;
living in 67 villages, and occupying 20,576 houses. Numb
families, 22,342. Classified according to religion, Hindus nun/
105,493; Buddhists, 2860; Muhammadans, 547; Christians, 74
Sikhs, 7. The average densitv of the population throughout the «
Sub-division is 1 7 persons per square mile, varying from 1 |
square mile in Spiti to 3 in Lahul, and to 52 in Kiilu taluk. \
the whole of what little cultivation there is, is confined to Kiilu
Proper. The Assistant Commissioner of Kulu has his head-quar:
Nagar on the Beas (Bias). The subordinate officials include— the
tahsilddr of Kiilu, whose head-quarters are at Sultdnpur ; the
tahsilddr of Seoraj, whose head-quarters are at Plach ; the n
head-man of Lahul ; and the nono of Spiti. These 1
over 3 civil and 3 criminal courts; strength of regular police, 20 men,
with 33 village watchmen or chaukiddrs. Revenue of ti
^5598. For further information, see the following article, K I
and also Kangra District.

Kiilu. — A valley and tdluk of Kangra District,
between 31 20' and 32 26' n. lat., and between ;
77 49' 45" e. long. Bounded on the north-east ai.
Central Himalayan range, dividing it from Lahul and n the

south by the river Sutlej (Satlaj) ; on the south-west by the 1
or Outer Himalayan range, the river Beas (Bias) and the N
of Suket and Mandi ; and on the west by the Para BangdhaJ
which separate Kulu from the Bangdhal valley. An
miles: population (1881) 108,981 persons.

Physical Ast>ects.-Thc river Sainj, which rises in the V
range, joining the Beas (Bias) at Par,;,, divides the ttad in!
portions, Kulu Proper and Seoraj. The latter division, lymg bd



the Sainj and the Sutlej (Satlaj), is again separated into Outer and
Inner Seoraj by the Jalorior Suket range. Kulu Proper, to the north
of the Sainj, together with Inner Seoraj, forms a great basin or de-
pression in the midst of the Himalayan systems, having the narrow
gorge of the Beas at Larji as the only outlet for its waters. North and
east, the Bara Bangahal and Mid-Himalayan ranges rise to a mean
elevation of 18,000 feet; while southward, the Jalori and Dhaoladhar
ridges attain the height of 11,000 feet. Within the basin thus defined,
short but lofty buttresses of rock encroach upon the central area,
leaving only a few rare patches of cultivable land between their barren
and snow-clad summits. The greater portion must consequently ever
remain an utter wilderness. The higher villages stand 9000 feet above
the sea; and even the cultivated tracts have probably an average
elevation of 5000 feet.

The Beas (Bias), which, with its tributaries, drains the entire basin,
rises at the crest of the Rohtang Pass, 13,326 feet above the sea, and
has an average fall of 125 feet per mile, although in the lower part
of its course through Kiilu, its average fall does not probably exceed
62 feet per mile. The principal tributaries of the Beas are on the
right bank, the Solang or Beash-khand, the Manali and the Sarwari ;
on the left bank the Rami, the Parbati (with its affluent the Malana),
the Hural, the Sainj or Larji, and the Tirthan. The Beas is bridged
by a steel rope suspension bridge at Shamsi, and by wooden bridges
at five other places. Its course presents a succession of magnificent
scenery, including cataracts, gorges, precipitous cliffs, and mountains
clad with forests of pine, towering above the tiers of deodar on the
lower rocky ledges.

The general appearance of the country is very different from that of
Kangra Proper. There are no low hills ; at every point, before and
behind, high mountains rise up at no great distance, and shut in the
view. The lower slopes are dotted here and there with villages, not
the scattered houses so common in Kangra, but groups of houses standing
as close together as the ground will admit. Some are tower-shaped, four
storeys high, with but one room to each storey. The sloping roof of stone
or wooden slabs with far projecting eaves, and the wooden verandahs
thrown out round the upper storey, and adorned with carved work,
have a very picturesque appearance. The lower storey is occupied by
the cattle and sheep and goats ; and consequently, instead of the fresh-
plastered walls and clean-swept court-yards to be seen in the low hills,
there is as much mud and mess round the houses as in a farm-yard in
England. Round the villages are terraced fields, planted here and
there with walnut and apricot trees, and fringed with belts of khdrsu or
moru, evergreen oaks whose leaves are used for winter fodder ; mixed
up with the fields, and separating them from those of the next village,


are slopes of steep grass and strips of kail pine and

Above the villages, wherever there is some soil and not too I
sun, dark forests of reh and tos pines, lit up here and there
patches of maple or horse chestnut, spread along the upper si
and are succeeded again by straggling woods of stunted oak, I
and white rhododendron. Rounded grassy summits or bare ri
of rock crown the whole ; and here and there, up a valley, or thr
an opening in the mountains, a glimpse is caught of the |
and perpetual snows of the great ranges of which the mount
on which the villages stand are spurs and offshoots. This is the
summer aspect of the country; in the winter the ground is covered
with snow for two or three days, or for months together, according to
situation. Snow does not usually lie long at heights of less than 6000

In the valley of the Beas the mountains stand back on either side
for a distance of one or two miles ; and fine plateaux run down with a
gentle slope from their bases to the banks of the river. These plateaux
are the garden of Kulu. They are closely and carefully cult;
and watered by canals brought from the mountain gorges. The river
banks are high cliffs hung with bush and creeper. Between them the
river winds from side to side, now deep and smooth, now foaming
down rocky rapids in channels fringed with alder, and through meadows
and marshes dotted with ash and poplar. Here and there wooded
islands break the stream into several branches. This part of the
country is remarkably beautiful, and has gained for the Kiilu valley the
reputation of being the prettiest part of the British Himalayas. The
minor rivers have no proper valley ; the mountains rise abrupt!}
the very edge of the water.

Great mineral wealth exists in Kiilu, undeveloped as yet, anion- the
isolated glens, but the isolation of the country and the difficult
transport and labour must for long prevent its proper development.
In the tract known as Waziri Riipi, veins of silver, copper, an.!
have been discovered, and in 1869 a monopoly of working the 1
in this tract was granted to an English private gentleman. His pro-
ceedings, however, were not attended with any marked success, and th
lease was cancelled in 1883. Negotiations with other English
for a fresh lease are now (1884) in progress. In the vail
Beas, various lodes have been discovered ; and traces
white crystal, and of antimony, have been met with at ]
the Beas. Slate of a very fair quality is obtainable th:
the better descriptions being found at Sultanpur. Several 1
exist, much resorted to as places of pilgrimage, and for bath;:.
by persons suffering from rheumatism and skin diseases.


338 KULU.

known of these springs are at Manikarn in the valley of the Parbatf,
and at Basisht and Kalat on the banks of the Beas.

Forests occupy a considerable portion of Kiilu below the snow line.
The finest deodar forests are those of the upper Beas and the Parbatf,
where they lie low in the valley near the water's edge. Higher up on
the hill-side the forests are more dense, the principal timber trees being
the reh or rat (Abies Smithiana), the tos (Abies Webbiana), and several
kinds of oak. Horse chestnut, maple, birch, yew, walnut, and rhodo-
dendron are also very common. In the valleys, Himalayan poplar and
alder are found. Walnut, apricot, and quince trees are much planted
in fields surrounding the villages.

The fauna of Kiilu is rich, and includes two species of bear, the
black and brown ; and two species of leopard, the common spotted
and the white. Ibex and musk deer are found in the hills. The other
animals include the hyaena, wild hog, jackal, fox, marten, wild cat, and
flying squirrel. Several species of hill pheasant abound, but the mundl
and argus pheasants, so prized for their plumage, are only procurable
in the highest ranges. The white-crested pheasant, the koklas, and
the chir, with red jungle-fowl, black and wood partridge, and chikor are
common in the lower hills ; snipe, woodcock, teal, and quail are toler-
ably abundant in the lower grass ground. In winter, the gohind or
snow pheasant, and the snow partridge, can be obtained without diffi-
culty, as also wild geese and duck. Eagles, vultures, kites, and hawks
inhabit the upper fastnesses.

History. — The little principality of Kiilu formed one of the eleven
original Rajput States between the Ravi and the Sutlej, and probably
belonged to some of the minor Katoch dynasties, offshoots from the
great kingdom of Jalandhar (Jullundur). Hiuen Tsiang, the Chinese
Buddhist pilgrim, visited it in the 7th century; and local legends
preserve the names of 87 princes who ruled successively in this remote
mountain valley. Authentic history, however, first recognises Kiilu in
the 15th century, when Raja Sudh Singh ascended the throne, whom
tradition places 74th in descent from the original founder of the
dynasty. His descendants ruled the valley till the beginning of the
present century, their annals being wholly confined to the usual Indian
record of court intrigues, assassinations, and dynastic quarrels. When
the Gurkhas broke out from their home in Nepal, and conquered all
the country up to the banks of the Sutlej, they found Bikrama Singh
upon the throne of Kiilu. Like the other neighbouring chieftains,
Bikrama Singh paid tribute to the invaders for his cis-Sutlej territory,
as well as to Sansar Chand, the Katoch prince of Kangra, for Kiilu
itself. In 1809, however, Ranjit Singh, called in by Sansar Chand,
made himself master of the hills, and obtained tribute from the young
Raja of Kiilu, Ajit Singh, an illegitimate son of Bikrama Singh.


Three years later, the Sikhs demanded an annual payment of /5000 ;
and on the Raja's refusal, marched upon his capital of Sultanpui

sacked his palace. Ajit Singh at length bribed the Sikhs to wit!,
by paying them all the money he could collect. After the expu
of the Gurkhas; the Raja became a feudatory of the British fur tl,
Sutlej tract. In 1839, General Ventura led a Sikh force against the
neighbouring State of Mandt ; after conquering which, one of his
lieutenants attacked Kiilu, on the pretext of hostile dispositions. The
Raja made no resistance, and allowed himself to be taken prisoner;
but the brutal discourtesy shown him by his captors routed the
hereditary loyalty of the hillmen. A secret muster took pla<
the invaders marched out of Seoraj by the Basleo Pass, the hillmen fell
upon them in a narrow ravine, rescued their prince, and massai red the
Sikhs almost to a man.

Ajit Singh retired across the Sutlej to his fief of Shangri, whi< h
he held from the British Government since the expulsion of the
Gurkhas; and so placed himself beyond reach of vengeance
Lahore. A Sikh army soon after marched into Seoraj, but t
it completely deserted, the inhabitants having fled into in..
sible forests on the mountain-sides. Accordingly they handed over
the country in farm to the Raja of Mandi, leaving a garrison in
Kiilu to enforce their supremacy. Ajit Singh died at Shangri in 1
and the Sikhs made over in part their portion of his former dominions
to his first cousin, Thakur Singh, while Shangri remained in the hands
of another relative. In 1846, at the close of the first Sikh war, the
Jalandhar (Jullundur) Doab, with the adjoining hill States, passed into
the power of the British; and Kiilu, with Lahul and Spin, became a
tahsil of the new Kangra District. The Government confirmed Thakur
Singh in his title of Raja, and in the territories which he then pos-
sessed. On his death in 1852, his son, Gyan Singh, of doubtful
legitimacy, obtained the inferior title of Rai, with half the land, and no
political powers. The resumed half has since been restored, with
certain reservations in favour of Government.

Population.— The Gensus of 188 1 returned the number of :
at 100,259, spread over an area of 1934 square miles, distributed amor
48 villages. The people are almost exclusively Hindus in religion, the
ancient faith numbering 99,686 adherents, as against
dans and 7 Christians. The chief castes or tribes ranked .
numerical order in 1868 :— Kanets, S 2 $$ 6 > I);, ~ 1> ' J "
Brahmans, 6615. The Census for 1881 does not return tl
tion of Sub-divisions according to caste or tribe. '1 he I
tribe probably represents impure or degraded Rajputs. Ri
are hill aborigines. The character of the hillmen resem
most other mountaineers in its mixture of simplicity, ind .

34 o KULU.

and superstition. Polyandry still prevails in Seoraj, but the custom
is disappearing, and has almost died out elsewhere. It consists
simply of a community of wives amongst brothers, who hold all their
other goods in common, and regard their women as labourers on the
farm. The temples usually occupy picturesque sites, and are dedicated
rather to local deities than to the greater gods of the Hindu Pantheon.
The language, though peculiar to the valley, belongs essentially to the
Indian or Neo-Sanskritic family, having a basis of Urdu and Pahari,
with an infusion of Tibetan vocables. The only place deserving the
name of town is Sultanpur, the former capital and modern head-
quarters of Kiilu taluk, on the right bank of the Beas. Nagar, also
a capital of the native Rajas, possesses some interest from its fine
old palace or castle, crowning an eminence, which rises above the
Beas to the height of about iooo feet. The castle has been recently
restored, and is now the residence of the Assistant Commissioner in
charge of Kulu Sub-division.

The Pldch or Kulu Mission was founded by the Rev. Dr. Carleton
of the American Presbyterian Mission in 1868, and for ten successive
years he spent the hot season in Plach, engaging in medical work and
preaching. In 1878 he purchased some land on the Kulu side of the
Sutlej basin, about ten miles from the river, and there founded a
Christian village. Since then but little mission work has been done in
Plach. The community of the new village now numbers 28 persons,
all engaged in agriculture ; and their example, under Dr. Carleton's
guidance, has done something towards improving the simple agricul-
tural practice of the neighbourhood. Four years ago a dispensary was
built, and it has become so popular that a new and larger building is
about to be erected.

Pasturage rights and customs. — Pasturage is the occupation of a
considerable proportion of the population, independent of, or subsidiary
to, cultivation. Some villages muster large flocks of sheep and goats.
During the spring or up till about the middle of June, the sheep stay
in the wastes round about the hamlets ; they then move up into the
grazing grounds (gdhr) in the forests above the limits of cultivation,
and graze there promiscuously ; which they leave in July for sheep-runs
(nigdhr) on the grassy slopes above the limits of forest, where they
stay, each flock in its own run, for two months or till the middle of
September ; they then descend again to the lower grounds, and graze
in them for about six weeks or till November. Villages with only a
few sheep and goats, generally winter their flocks in Kulu at the bottom
of the valleys ; but large flocks are sent into Mandi State, where a ban
or run is leased for the purpose from the Raja.

A sort of hereditary title to or interest in each nigdhr is asserted by
by some man or other. He is known as the rdsu, and bases his claim


upon a grant from the Rajas, but can rarely or ever produce ad
Sometimes he is a resident of the village in which the nigdhr i
sometimes he is a man of a distant village in which there are pn
no nigdhr, as the mountains are not high enough.

To each nigdhr is attached a certain number of grazing plots (/
in the lower gdhrs ; but when the flocks ascend in the spring, the gdhr$
are free or open to all comers; the exclusive right to graze them arises
when the flocks come down from the nigdhrs in September. I
nigdhr s and gdhrs have tolerably definite boundaries, which are recog-
nised by' the shepherds, who hand down the knowledge of them ai
themselves. It is not easy to say to what the interest of a rdsu in a nigdhr
and gdhr amounts. It is not in any sense a proprietorship of the soil ;
but rather an hereditary managership to be exercised in the rdsii's own
interest and that of his neighbours than an exclusive right of grazing
vested in one man or one family only. The rdsu in practice always
forms his flock by collecting together all the sheep and goats of his
own and neighbouring hamlets, and he takes nothing from the owners
who accompany him in the shape of fee or due. It is doubtful whether
he could give a preference to strangers, or to the people of other hamlets
than those who have been accustomed to combine their flocks with
his. But of late years the rdsus have often dealt with their nigdhrs in
a fashion not quite consistent with this theory of the limited nature ol
their rights ; for instance, some of them who have lost their flocks and
ceased to be shepherds, have given leave to other men to form flocks
and go to their nigdhrs for the year, and have taken from them two or
three rupees as a presentation fee. It appears, however, that the man
so sent in place of a rdsu has ordinarily been one of his old companions
who used to resort to the run in his company.

In the lowlands in and around the villages, the sheep graze promis-
cuously like the cattle. Ordinarily speaking, a flock belonging to a
man of one hamlet would not be driven to graze in another, but within
the village lands he may drive them where he likes, without reference
to, or nearness, or the contrary, to his own hamlet ; and in waste Ian.
near the boundary of two villages, the neighbouring hamlets oil
sides frequently have a common right of grazing. In some pla<
villages high up in the mountains have by custom a right to send th<
flocks to winter in the waste lands of those lower down, which BJ
so much exposed to frost and snowstorms.

In the times of the Rajds, and down to the Regular Settlem
tax was levied on all sheep and goats in Kiilu at the rate of I
head per annum. This tax was on account of the I * tl

whole year, and therefore no special rents or dues were un]

the nigdhrs or summer sheep-runs. It is said that ^ m «^
kind ought to be done again, as it now happens that the villages whldl

342 KULU.

pay the least revenue graze the most sheep, and Government loses
greatly by the absence of such an impost. Some temples exact a fee
of a sheep or goat from the flock which resorts to certain runs in their
neighbourhood, but this fee, though now claimed as a right, originated
in the idea that the mountain in question was the peculiar haunt of
the temple god who ought to be propitiated, and not in any grant to
the temples by the Rajas. The numerous flocks from Simla territory,
which spend the summer in Kulu, formerly paid i anna per head for
the summer grazing only. In the Waziri Rupi tract, these taxes both
on native and foreign sheep are still collected by the Raja ; but since
the first regular land settlement in 1852, even sheep from other Districts
which resort to nigdhrs belonging to Government villages, have paid
nothing. Nearly all the foreign sheep, however, go to Waziri Rupi,
which contains the best nig&hrs in Kiilu.

By custom, the grazing of beasts of burden in waste lands alongside
the high road is free to all traders or travellers on the march. In
the winter and spring many are to be found encamped in the Beas
valley. Shepherds can use any route they please when on the march
to and from the summer pasture grounds, and halt a day or two, if
necessary, anywhere in the waste. The shepherds from Kangra, before
crossing the Hanta pass into Lahul, spend some days in the forests
above Jagat Sukh.

Agriculture. — Out of a total area of State lands amounting to 799,834
acres, the revised settlement returns in 1872 show 762,467 acres un-
occupied, as against 37,367 acres in occupation. Of the latter amount,
32,884 acres are under actual cultivation, the remainder being set down
as waste or grass lands. The total area under crops, including 14,210
acres, yielding two harvests in the year, is returned at 37,110 acres.
The above figures do not include the tract known as Waziri Riipi,
which has a total area of 433,050 acres, and is alienated mjagir to the
ex-ruling family. The average cultivated area for the five years ending
1881-82 is returned at 41,682 acres. Seven-eighths of the unoccupied
waste lie above the limits of possible cultivation. The staple spring
products include wheat, barley, poppy, tobacco, and oil- seeds; the
autumn crops are maize, rice, pulses, and millets.

The average area under the principal crops for the five years ending
1881-82 is returned as under — wheat, 13,404 acres; barley, 7014
acres; Indian corn, 5666 acres; rice, 4707 acres; and poppy, 145 6
acres. The poppy is a lucrative crop, and cultivators who have no rice
lands rely upon it to pay their land revenue. Opium is but little used
locally, although the poppy seed is freely eaten. The manufactured
opium is bought up by traders for export to the plains, at a price
varying from 6s. to 15s. per lb., the fluctuation in price depending less
on the crop than on the influx of buyers. Rice, the most important of


the autumn crops, is grown wherever water is plentiful, . being

from 3600 to 7000 feet above sea-level.

The cultivation of tea has spread from Kingra Proper into Kulu ;
but the area under cultivation is said to be less than 10c
there seems to be very little land in the Kulu valley well suited :
cultivation of tea. The quality of the leaf is excellent, but ti
turn is light. In the lower part of the main valley, the rainfall .
uncertain; while in the upper valley there is a sufficient rainfall, but
hardly enough warmth. The land is often cold and marsh)
depth below the surface; and a combination of a hot sun .
cold water at the root, appears to kill the plant.

Irrigation is effected by small canals cut from the hill 5fa
much as 19 per cent, of the cultivated area being artificially supplied
with water in the greater part of Kulu Proper.

The tenure of land has been largely assimilated to the ordinary
Indian system, the whole artificial village, made up of separate hai
being held jointly responsible for the entire land revenue Bi
upon it. At the time of the revised land settlement in 1872, there
were 771 holdings with a total area of 567 acres held rent free in lieu
of service, and 3943 holdings with a total area of 5494 acres held by
tenants paying rent either in money or kind. The average an
each holding, three acres, seems very small, and the average Govern-
ment assessment of Rs. 6, or 12s., if compared with the value of the
crops, appears heavy. In a great number of villages the field-
absolutely no income, and nothing is produced in them which it would
pay to export to the nearest market. But in these places the ]
have their flocks to fall back upon by selling a sheep and a little
home-spun cloth or a blanket ; they can make good the whole demand,
or they can earn a good deal of money (as many do), by gathi
roots and herbs in the forests, and selling them in Sultanpur
Rampur for export to the plains. Dhup (Dolomiora man
used as incense in India and China, and karru and chirctta, kin
gentians, used in medicine, are the principal articles so sold,
they have their honey and beeswax; the upper verandahs
houses are often full of beehives formed of short lengths 1
trunks of trees covered at top, and with an entrance hole in the
Again, by snaring a musk deer and selling its |
leopard or bear and claiming the reward, a sum equal to one or two
years' land-tax may be secured at one blow.

Commerce and Trade.— The surplus commodu
of rice, barley, wheat, opium, tobacco, tea, and hoi.
barley, and wheat go chiefly to supply the barren va
though a little grain also finds its way to the plains, 1

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 8) → online text (page 40 of 64)