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valley, which they ruled until a recent period. They are pure Bhutias
or Tibetans by blood, but affect a Rajput ancestry. The Kanets, who
make up the mass of the population, have a mixed Indian and Mon-
golian origin, the latter element predominating. In religion, the people
belong to the Buddhist faith, though a Hinduizing tendency exhibits
itself in the distinctions of caste and the prohibition of beef as an article
of food, a tendency which is much encouraged by the Thakurs. A
few pure Hindus, of Brahman rank, live in the lower villages, while a
mixture of the two faiths occurs commonly in the intervening tract,
although they have all returned themselves as Hindus in the Census
Report. The use of the Tibetan praying-wheel is nevertheless almost
universal. Numerous monasteries stud the hills, the largest being that
of Guru Gantal, at the point of confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga
rivers. Polyandry was formerly customary throughout Lahul, but is
now fast dying out; the practice is generally considered shameful,
and is not admitted to exist by the people themselves. The Lahulis
bear a good character as peaceable and honest mountaineers, but are
much addicted to drunkenness and unchastity. The chief villages
are Kielang, Kardong, and Kolang.

The houses in Lahul are two and sometimes three storeys high, with
flat roofs. The lower storey is occupied by the cattle, horses, sheep,
and goats; the upper one contains the rooms lived in by the family.
Ordinarily the upper storey consists of an interior or winter room, an
outer or summer room, and a verandah room open on the fourth side.
In this verandah stands the loom \ inside will be found large corn-
chests made of slate set in wooden frames, large stone bowls from
Iskardo, iron cauldrons, and cooking-pots, an iron tripod or pot-stand,
some wooden dishes, and a few earthen pots from Kiilu. Many pack-
saddles for sheep and goats are strewed about, and a few blankets and
thick sheep-skin coats hang on the walls. Small holes in the wall serve
the purpose both of windows and chimneys; bedsteads are unknown.
Grass is stacked on the roof, and wood for fuel inside. Many of the
houses are built together in one block with connecting passages, by



422 LAHUL.

which communication is kept up in the winter without going out, which
when the snow is very deep, may be scarcely possible. Spinning thread
is the chief occupation in winter; on fine days the loom is brought out,
and some weaving done. Both men and women work the loom. The
Moravian Church has a mission station at Kielang village, with a small
following of about 30 members.

Agriculture, Trade, etc.— Out of a total area of 2255 square miles, only
5 square miles are returned as under cultivation. Barley forms the
principal crop, but wheat grows in the lower glens. Cultivation depends
entirely on small irrigation canals, constructed and kept in repair by the
village landowners. The grain produced does not suffice for local con-
sumption, and has therefore to be supplemented by imports from Kiilu.
The Lahulis hold in their hands the trade between Ladakh and Central
Asia on the one hand, and Kiilu and the Punjab on the other. Collect-
ing their merchandise from the north, they pass annually into Kiilu at
the end of summer, driving their ponies and donkeys, goats and sheep,
laden with pashm or shawl-wool, borax, and cloth ; while on their
return journey they bring metal vessels, sugar, rice, wheat, tobacco,
pepper, ginger, and turmeric.

The Lahulis keep only a few sheep and goats, as the snow lies too
long and too deep in the winter for the flocks to live out of doors as
they do in Ladakh. For a very long time, therefore, the upper ends of
the main valleys, which are uninhabited, and the grounds high above
the villages in the inhabited parts, have been utilized by the shepherds
of Kangra, Chamba, and Kiilu. The snow begins to disappear in these
places about the beginning of June ; the shepherds do not ordinarily
enter Lahul before the end of that month, and they leave it again early
in September, by which time the frost is keen, and the rainy season in
the outer Himalayas has come to an end. In the fine dry climate of
Lahul the sheep escape foot-rot and other diseases which constantly
attack flocks kept during the rains on the southern slopes of the outer
Himalayas. The sheep arrive wretchedly thin, but by the time they
are ready to leave are in splendid condition. A short fine grass
of a dull bluish-green colour, called niru, is their favourite food ; mat
and morar are names of other good kinds of grasses. The goats
depend very much on the leaves and twigs of the birch and bush
willow.

Administration. — The valley forms part of Kiilu tahsil. The revenue
amounts to ,£185. The Government established a school at Kielang,
where, till recently, Urdu and Tibetan were taught, under the super-
vision of the Moravian missionaries. It was found necessary to close
the school in 1882; but it is expected to be reopened, the principal
Thakurs being willing to contribute towards its maintenance. A post-
office is kept open at Kielang during the summer months. The mean



LAICHANPUR—LA-KA-D ONG. 4 2 3

temperature at Kardong is 46 F. in March, 59 F. in June, and 29 F.
in September.

Laichanpur. — Port on the Kansbans river, Balasor District, Bengal.
The mouth of the river has now nearly silted up, and is concealed by
a dense fringe of jungle. It is not navigable by vessels of more than
45 tons burden. The rice sloops taking in cargoes at this port load
while at anchor several miles out to sea, the rice being carried to them
in small boats. The sloops come as near the coast as the high tide
permits, and when the water recedes they are left resting on a soft and
yielding cushion of mud ; the vessels are thus secure in case of storms.
In 1873-74, the value of the imports of Laichanpur, and its sister port
Churaman, amounted to ^251, and that of the exports to ;£i3> 8 3 T -
In 1881-82, the imports were valued at ^3062, and the exports at
^8710.

Laira (^>/^>rt). — Estate or zambiddri in Sambalpur tahsil, Sambalpur
District, Central Provinces. Lat. 21 44' n., long. 84 17' e. ; 17 miles
north-east of Sambalpur town. Area, 46 square miles, nearly the whole
of which is cultivated. Chief products — rice, pulses, oil-seeds, and sugar-
cane. Iron-ore is found. Number of villages 25, with a total of 1543
houses. Total population (1881) 5932, namely, males 2974, and
females 2958. The high road to Ranchi passes through the western
portion of the estate. The estate was originally granted as a jdgir to
the ancestor of the present chief in 1777, by the Raja of Sambalpur, as
a reward for military services rendered. The jdgir was afterwards
resumed and converted into an ordinary estate held on zaminddri
tenure. The late zaminddr, Sibnath Singh, was noted as being the only
Gond chief who did not join the mutineers in the disturbances of 1857
and 1858. He died a few years ago, and was succeeded by his son
Bindraban Singh, who is still (1884) a minor.

Lait-mao-doh.— Mountain range in the Khasi Hills, Assam. Highest
peak, 5377 feet above sea-level.

La-ka-dong (or Umat). — Village in the south of the Jaintia Hills,
Assam ; 2200 feet above sea-level. There is a coal-field here, with an
estimated area of 0*394 square mile, and a marketable out-turn of
1,100,000 tons. The mineral is of an excellent quality either for
producing gas or coke. From its composition, quick combustion, and
irregular cleavage, it is computed to be about 6 per cent, inferior to good
English coal. The great difficulty in its profitable working lies in the
want of means of communication. La-ka-dong is 6 miles from Borghat,
a village on the Thantidu or Hari river, a tributary of the Surma, which
is navigable all the year round by boats of about 28 mannds burden ; but
from La-ka-dong to Borghat only coolie-carriage is at present available.
The mine is the sole property of Government, which leased the rights
of working to a succession of European capitalists from 1848 to 1859.



4 2 4 LAKAPADAR— LAKHI.

During that period about 5000 tons of coal were raised for exportation.
The mine is no longer worked.

Lakapadar. — Petty State in the Thalawar division of Kathiawar,
Bombay Presidency, consisting of 1 village, with 1 proprietor. Situated
20 miles south of Amreli, and 9 west-south-west of Kandla. Area, 5
square miles. Population (1881) 413. Estimated revenue (1881),
^300; tribute of ^15, 8s. is paid to the Gaekwar of Baroda, and
^2, 8s. to the Nawab of Junagarh. Post-office and school.

Lakhandai. — Tributary of the Baghmati river, Bengal ; a small
stream, which rises in Nepal, and enters Muzaffarpur District at Itarwa.
After being joined by the Sauran and Basiad, it becomes more impor-
tant; its breadth here is 40 yards, and depth 15 feet. Flows south
and joins the Baghmati 7 or 8 miles south of the Darbhangah-Muzaffar-
pur road, which is carried over it by an iron girder bridge. In the
rains, the Lakhandai is navigable as far as Sitamarhi by boats of nearly
20 tons burden ; but above this village a rapid current renders naviga-
tion dangerous. The Rajapati, Dumra, Belahi, Serpur, and Rajkhand
indigo factories draw their water from this stream.

Lakhat. — Village on the border of Sylhet District, Assam, at the
south foot of the Khasi Hills. The market, which is held every fourth
day, is frequented by Khasi and Santeng traders, who bring down
potatoes, betel-nuts, /#//, oranges, and other produce of their hills to
exchange for cotton goods, salt, rice, and hardware.

Lakhi {Laki). — Mountain range in Sind, Bombay Presidency. Con-
nected with the Hala or Brahui mountains in Baluchistan ; the most
easterly of a number of hill ranges in the western part of Sind, extending
between Baluchistan and the alluvial tract of the Indus, and also
between the desert of Shikarpur and Karachi (Kurrachee). Length of
range, about 50 miles; greatest elevation, 1500 to 2000 feet. Lat.
(centre) 26 n., long. 67 50' e. The mountains are for the most part
of recent formation, containing marine remains in great quantities.
Huge fissures, apparently produced by earthquakes, traverse this range ;
and the frequent occurrence of hot springs and of sulphurous exhala-
tions is a sign of volcanic action. Some parts, again, appear to be
of more ancient formation, as they yield lead, antimony, and copper.
The whole tract is wild and dreary. Near the town of Sehwan, the
Lakhi range terminates abruptly on the Indus, in a nearly perpendicular
face of rock 600 feet high, which presents an imposing appearance from
the river.

Lakhi (Laki). — Village and railway station in Sehwan Sub-division,
Karachi (Kurrachee) District, Sind, Bombay Presidency; situated close
to the west bank of the Indus, and adjacent to the entrance of what is
known as the Lakhi Pass, through which runs the Sind, Punjab, and
Delhi Railway. The place is picturesquely situated, the Lakhi Moun-



LAKHI—LAKHIMPUR. 4 2 5

tains, here of considerable elevation, sloping down to the west of the
town, which is on the main road leading from Kotri to Sehwan.
Branch road to the Dhara Tirth or ' hot springs,' distant about 2 miles.
From Sehwan this village is distant 12 miles south, and from Manjhand
32 miles north-west. Post-office, dharmsdla, and police lines. Popula-
tion in 1881, inconsiderable.

Lakhi (Laki). — Town in Shikarpur District, Sind, Bombay Presi-
dency. Lat. 2 7 51' 30'' n., long. 68° 44' e. ; elevation above sea, 234
feet. Lakhi is 3 J miles distant from the junction station, Ruk, of the
Sind, Punjab, and Delhi line, and is situated on the main road between
Shikarpur and Sukkur (8 miles south of the former), and has road com-
munication also with the villages of Mari and Kazi-Wahan. Lakhi is the
head-quarters station of a tapadar, and contains a travellers' bungalow,
school, and cattle pound. Police post of 6 men. Population in 1881,
inconsiderable. The town of Lakhi is of ancient date, and was the
chief place of that part of Sind known as Burdika and Larkhana, at a
time when the present site of Shikarpur was covered with thick forest.
Soon after the founding of Shikarpur, Lakhi dwindled away in size
and importance.

Lakhimpur. — British District occupying the extreme eastern
portion of the Province of Assam ; situated on both banks of the
Brahmaputra, and lying between 2 6° 51' and 27 54' n. lat, and between
93 49' and 96 4' e. long. The area within these limits is estimated at
about 11,500 square miles, but the greater portion is sparsely occupied
by hill tribes, who do not acknowledge the regular authority of the
British Government. The settled portion of the District was ascer-
tained by the recent Survey to cover an area of 3723 square miles, with
a population, including certain hill tribes in the unsurveyed tracts, of
179,893, according to the Census of 1881. The administrative head-
quarters are at Dibrugarh, near the confluence of the Dibru river with
the Brahmaputra.

The District, in its wider sense, is bounded on the north by the
Daphla, Miri, Abar, and Mishmi Hills ; east by the Mishmf and Singpho
Hills; south by the watershed of the Patkai range and the Naga
Hills; west by the Districts of Darrang and Sibsagar, the former
District being separated by the Maramarnai river, and the latter by the
Dihing and Disang rivers. To the north and east the frontier remains
undefined and undeclared ; on the extreme south, an agreement has
been arrived at between the British and Burmese Governments, but
a debateable land is occupied by various savage communities who
cling to their independence.

Physical Aspects. — Lakhimpur consists of a narrow strip of level
country fringing both banks of the Brahmaputra, from which the hills
rise abruptly north, south, and east. It is situated at the head of



42 6 LAKHIMPUR.

the Assam valley, where the Brahmaputra and its great tributaries
burst through the gorges of the Himalayas. The scenery is both
varied and picturesque. Along the banks of the river grow gigantic
grasses and reeds. Farther inland are seen extensive paddy fields,
dotted with villages, which are encircled by groves of bamboo and fruit-
trees. In the distance, black, pathless forests stretch away from the
lower slopes high up towards the snow-capped mountains. Except in
the unsurveyed tracts, there are no hills within the District. In the
south-east, however, near Jaipur, there are a few small knolls, rising 200
or 300 feet above the plain.

The river system is constituted by the Brahmaputra and its numerous
tributaries and offshoots. The great river itself flows through the Dis-
trict for a distance of 400 miles. As far as Dibrugarh, it is navigable
for steamers and large native boats at all seasons of the year. During
the rains, steamers can get up to Sadiya ; above that place the current
is rapid, but the passage of canoes is possible almost to the Brahmakund.
The real source and early channel of the Brahmaputra has not yet been
definitely ascertained. The same may be said of its two great tributaries,
the Dibang and Dihang, the latter of which breaks through the Himalayas,
and both of which join the Brahmaputra in Lakhimpur District. It is
now, however, almost certain that the Dihang is identical with the
Tsanpu or great river of Tibet, and is the main source of the Brahma-
putra. Neither the Dibang nor Dihang is at any season navigable by
craft larger than canoes. The other important tributaries of the Brah-
maputra are — on the north bank, the Subansiri, which is navigable for
some distance by steamers, and itself receives numerous hill streams ;
on the south bank, the Noa Dihing, the Dibru and Buri Dihing,
Tingrai-nadi, and Sessa. The Lohit is a large branch of the Brahma-
putra, said to have been produced by the floods of the Subansiri ; it
flows parallel to the main stream for a winding course of about 70 miles.
No rivers or marshes have been embanked for the purpose of extend-
ing cultivation since the British annexation of the country, but some of
the embankments constructed by the old Assamese rulers of the Province
have been repaired and kept in order. There are large tracts of river
and marsh land which could be reclaimed if required, but at present the
population is not sufficiently numerous to bring under tillage the lands
already cultivable. The wild reeds indigenous to the marshes are
utilized for walling the houses. In 1882, the right of fishing in the
rivers was leased out by Government for ^463.

In the settled portion of the District, forests are estimated to cover
an area of 2950 square miles ; and a considerable area has been
brought under the supervision of the Forest Department. Owing to
an improvident system of leasing, and for other reasons, the plains have
now been nearly stripped of the valuable caoutchouc or india-rubber



LAKHIMPUR. 427

tree. Uncultivated pasture lands of wide extent are to be found all
over the District, but their area and extent cannot be estimated, as
they have never been defined or separated from the interminable jungle
waste which stretches around in every direction. None of the inhabi-
tants gain their livelihood by pasturing cattle in the forests. The
principal jungle products are silk, beeswax, and various drugs and
dyes, brought to the market by the hill tribes, who combine this
pursuit with agriculture.

Wild animals of all kinds abound, including elephants, rhinoceros,
buffaloes, the mithun or wild cow, bears, and deer. The right of
capturing wild elephants is a Government monopoly, and is annually
farmed out. From ^2000 to ^3000 a year used to be realized
from this source, in addition to a royalty of ^10 on each elephant
captured, which increased the sum above mentioned by about one-
half. Of late years, very much reduced prices have been received for
these elephant farms, the reason being that to make elephant-hunting
profitable, a large initial expense is required, which any ordinary
lessee cannot afford. There is no lack of elephants, however, in the
District, and a Government kheddah might very profitably be established
here.

The mineral wealth of Lakhimpur has not yet been developed.
Coal and petroleum are known to exist in many spots near Jaipur
and Makum, and arrangements have been recently made to open out
these localities by means of a railway from Dibrugarh, the head-quarters
town. A large demand for coal by the River Steamer Company is
anticipated, and also an increased use of coal or coke in the tea
factories. In January 1883, prior to the opening up of the Makum
railway, coal was difficult to procure at 4s. a cwt. in Dibrugarh, but it
is thought that the railway company will probably be able to supply
it at one-third of this cost. Limestone is found in the bed of the
Brahmaputra, near Sadiya, and in its tributaries from the Mishmi Hills,
but not in any large masses. Traces of iron exist, and the coal near
Makum contains sulphur in rather large quantities. Fine clay also
occurs in connection with the coal. From time immemorial, gold has
been washed in many of the rivers, particularly the Subansiri and its
tributaries north of the Brahmaputra. Formerly a class of gold-washers,
called Sonwals (from Son, gold), used, it is believed, to make con-
siderable profits from this source; but the great demand for labour
caused by the introduction of tea cultivation, and the consequent
increase in wages and prices, has almost entirely put a stop to the
industry. In 1883, the right of searching for gold in the Subansiri river
and its tributaries was let at a nominal rate for a period of ten years to
a European planter of the District, Mr. Scott-Campbell ; and it is pos-
sible that there may be a resuscitation of the industry, although the



4 23 LAKHIMPUR.

results of Mr. Campbell's operations are not known. Many salt and
mineral springs are found in the low hillocks throughout the District.
The most noticeable are the brine springs at Borhat, which at one
time yielded great quantities of salt, but are now hardly worked at all.

Two picturesque gorges worthy of notice are situated in Lakhimpur.
The Brahmakund or Parasuramkund is the gorge through which the
smallest and most southerly branch of the Brahmaputra (which alone
bears the name of the great river) finds its way to the plains. It is a
famous place of pilgrimage, and is annually resorted to by large numbers
of Hindu devotees, although the journey to it is both difficult and
dangerous. The Deo Dubi or Pool of the Demon is a dark pool of
great depth in the gorge through which the Disang river leaves the Naga
Hills.

History. — This tract of country figures largely in the annals of Assam,
as the region where successive invaders from the east first reached
the Brahmaputra, and as being always inhabited by a turbulent popula-
tion. The earliest traditions, if trustworthy, indicate that Lakhimpur
was in remote times the centre of a flourishing Hindu civilisation,
connected with the name of a Pal dynasty. The first invaders were the
Bara (or twelve) Bhuiyas, who are supposed to have been leaders of
a colony, driven from the western Provinces of India by domestic con-
vulsions. To these chiefs is attributed the construction of the large
tanks still to be seen in the neighbourhood of Banskata and Lakhimpur
town ; but they have left no traces in the present population of the country.
The Bara Bhuiyas are said to have been driven out by the Chutias,
the first of the races of Shan origin who penetrated into Assam. The
Chutia kingdom appears to have centred on the banks of the Subansiri
river, and to have been of no long duration. The Chutias were
in their turn driven out by the Ahams, whose arrival is placed in the
13th century. The Chutias sustained the struggle for some years, but
in the end were completely defeated, many of them being removed
to the tract now known as Chutia, in the adjoining District of Darrang.
The Ahams are also a tribe of Shan descent, whose original home was
in the hilly tract of country known as the Kingdom of Pong. Their
modern representatives are quiet agriculturists ; but at the time of the
conquest the Ahams were undoubtedly a fierce and warlike race, with
great capacity for administration. They gradually extended their rule
down the valley of the Brahmaputra ; and on the frontier of Bengal
defended themselves successfully against the generals of the Mughal
Emperor, Aurangzeb. It is also said that the neighbouring hill tribes
acknowledged an allegiance to the Aham kings, which some of them
now refuse to British authority. The greatest of the dynasty was Raja
Rudra Singh, under whom all Assam was flourishing and peaceful.
The downfall of Aham rule in Lakhimpur is assigned to the reign of



LAKHIMPUR. 429

Gaurinath Singh, who was driven out of his capital into Lower Assam,
and left this prosperous tract to be devastated by the insurgents. It was
at this time that the race known as Moamaria or Maran established their
independence on the south bank of the Brahmaputra; while the Khamtis
ravaged the north-east corner in the neighbourhood of Sadiya. Order
had scarcely been restored under the administration of the Bara
Gosain, when the Burmese commenced their series of invasions which
finally depopulated the whole country. On one occasion the inhabit-
ants made a desperate stand in the neighbourhood of Lakhimpur town,
but they were completely defeated, and the survivors were exposed to
most wanton cruelties.

The misfortunes of Lakhimpur did not cease even with the
expulsion of the Burmese in 1825. For several years after the
British had nominally annexed the whole Province of Assam, they
were unable to spare a single European officer for the civil admini-
stration of this remote tract. The southern region, known as Matak,
and now included within the Sub-division of Dibrugarh, was allowed to
remain under its native chief, whose rule was of a mild and patriarchal
character. But on the death of the old chief in 1839, the conditions
proposed to his successor were not accepted, and the country was then
taken under direct British management. In the same year, it was
resolved to dispossess Raja Purandar Singh, who had been placed over
a tract stretching across both banks of the Brahmaputra, which corre-
sponds to the eastern half of the Sub-division of North Lakhimpur and
all Sibsagar District. The misrule of the governor, the exactions of
his subordinates, and the aggressions of the hill tribes, had reduced
this tract to extreme desolation. So late as 1853, it was described
as ' a wilderness from which it will take years to recover ; ' and even



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 8) → online text (page 50 of 64)