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and south, the soil consists of a poor red gravel, the detritus of the under-
lying rocks ; but on the central table-land, and in isolated valleys else-
where, there are wide patches of black alluvial soil, known here as moti,
but elsewhere as mar. The plain has a general elevation of about 1500
feet above the level of the sea, and is broken by numerous detached
hills and peaks, most of which are mere bosses of crystalline rock,
overgrown with thick jungle. To the north, these hills run together,
forming low wooded ranges, which finally dip into the deep valley
of the Betwa.

The whole District is traversed or surrounded by considerable
rivers, which take their rise in the Vindhyan chain and flow in a
general northerly direction to join the main channel of the Jumna
(Jamuna). The principal of these rivers are the Betwa, which marks
the western and north-western boundary ; the Dhasan on the south-
eastern boundary ; and the Jamni, which after intersecting the Mahroni
tahsil forms the eastern and north-eastern boundary, till it unites
with the Betwa at the northern apex of the District. These rivers,
however, are of no practical value either for purposes of navigation
or irrigation. Lalitpur is also minutely intersected by a network of
smaller streams, which drain off the surface water through converging


ravines with excessive rapidity, and so contribute to impoverish the
soil ; while, in times of heavy rain, they pour their swollen torrents
too suddenly into the larger channels, and carry away before them
roads, banks, and bridges, causing a stoppage of communication, and
frequently endangering human life.

Several artificial lakes and tanks have been constructed in past times,
the largest being Talbehat, among the northern hills, which forms a
fine sheet of water covering an area of upwards of 453 acres. Similar
old tanks exist at Dhauri Sagar, Dudhi, Bar, and other places. During
the famine of 1868-69, tne excavation of tanks and the construction
of embankments were undertaken as relief works in several villages.
Owing to the nature of the soil, however, the area susceptible of
profitable irrigation is small, and the cultivators are unwilling to
pay a sufficiently high water-rate to yield a moderate return for the
heavy outlay.

There is little cultivation in the District, and that of a poor class,
although with the recent increase of population a considerable improve-
ment is observable in this respect. A very large proportion (174,740
acres) of the assessed area is covered with forest jungle. Of these,
90,694 acres were demarcated as Government forest at the time of the
land settlement, while 10,900 acres of waste land, in which no proprie-
tary rights existed, have been marked off and reserved. Nomadic
(dahya) cultivation so destructive to forests is prohibited, and all
villages within the demarcated tracts have been removed elsewhere.
Besides timber trees, there is an abundant growth of bamboos. Grass,
however, forms the most important jungle product. Large herds of
cattle are sent every year to graze in the jungles of the Vindhya hills,
and in ordinary years the supply of grass exceeds the demand. In
years of drought (as in 1868-69), when the grass fails in the plains,
these high grass lands prove of inestimable value, and cattle are sent
in large numbers from considerable distances to graze in the Balabahat
and Lakhanjir jungles. The other forest products are mahud and
chironji fruit, lac, honey, wax, gums, and various esculent roots, the
names of which are unknown, but which form part of the food of the
jungle tribe of Sahariyas.

Tigers, leopards, bears, hyaenas, wolves, wild dogs, wild pigs,
sambhdr, chitdl deer, antelope, chausingha, and ravine deer are all
found in the District. One of the great obstacles to the extension
and improvement of cultivation is the extensive damage done to the
crops by wild animals, especially by wild pigs, which are so abundant
that, without strong thorny hedges around every field, it is almost
useless to attempt cultivation at any distance from the village site.
During the year 1883, the number of registered deaths caused by wild
beasts or snake-bite was 89. The fish most commonly found in tlie


rivers of the District are the rohu, mdhsir, c/iikca, bam, tengra, parhdn,
gauriya, sauri, and mirgal.

History. The earliest inhabitants of Lalitpur whom tradition com-
memorates were the aboriginal tribe of Gonds, traces of whom still
exist in the temples which crown the peaks of the Vindhyan range j
while a remnant of the people themselves is to be found in a few
scattered villages upon its slopes. After the Aryan immigration,
they appear to have adopted a form of the Hindu religion; and
the high civilization which they once attained is attested both by
their architectural works and their splendid irrigation reservoirs. They
were succeeded by the Chandel princes of Mahoba, whose history
has been briefly related in connection with the Districts of Banda
and Hamirpur. After the fall of the Chandels in the end of the
1 2th century, the country became subject to several petty princes,
independent of the Muhammadans at Delhi, till the irruption of
the Bundelas in the 14th century. Those warlike southern adventurers
established themselves first in the District of Jhansi, and gradually
spread their authority over the whole region which still bears their

The modern District of Lalitpur formed part of the Bundela State
of Chanderi, whose Rajas were descendants of the great chieftain
Rudra Pratap. Nine princes of his line reigned in Chanderi from
1602 to 1788, with little interference from the Delhi court, until, in
the time of Ram Chand the ninth, the Marathas, whose interposition
in the affairs of Bundelkhand has been narrated in the article on
Banda, first gained a footing in the principality during the absence of
the Raja on a pilgrimage to Ajodhya. Their authority, however, was
here much less durable than elsewhere, and the son of Ram Chand
was permitted to succeed to the greater portion of his father's dominions
in 1800. Within two years, this prince was murdered at the instigation
of a vassal, and his brother, Miir Pahlad, was placed upon the throne.
He proved a dissolute and inefficient ruler, totally unable to curb his
vassal Thakurs, who, freebooters by training and hereditary disposition,
made constant plundering expeditions into the territories of neighbour-
ing princes, until at last, in 181 1, their incursions on the villages of
Gwalior provoked Sindhia to measures of retaliation. The Maharaja
sent an army to capture Chanderi, under his partisan leader, Colonel
Jean Baptiste; on whose approach, after capturing in succession the
forts of Kotra, Bansi, Rajwara, and Lalitpur, Miir Pahlad fled precipi-
tately to Jhansi, leaving the defence of his capital to his generals. Despite
a determined resistance, Chanderi was captured after a siege of several
weeks through the treachery of one of the Chanderi Thakurs ; and
Talbehat soon afterwards surrendered. Sindhia then assumed the
government, and appointed Colonel Baptiste as its administrator. The


jagirs were restored to their former owners, 3 1 villages being assigned
for the support of Raja Miir Pahlad.

For fifteen years this arrangement worked smoothly; but in 1829,
the native Bundela turbulence showed itself once more in an insurrec-
tion, headed by the former Raja. Colonel Baptiste again returned ;
and an agreement was entered into by which the Chanderi State was
divided, one-third being retained by Miir Pahlad, and two-thirds falling
to the share of Sindhia. Even in these restricted dominions, Miir
Pahlad continued to have frequent quarrels with his subordinate
chieftains until his death in 1842. He was succeeded by his son,
Mardan Singh. Two years later, after the battle of Maharajpur,
Sindhia ceded to the British Government all his share of the Chanderi
State, as a guarantee for the maintenance of the Gwalior Contingent.

The territory so acquired was formed into a District, under the
stipulation that the sovereignty of the Maharaja and the rights of the
inhabitants should be respected. This arrangement continued in
force until the outbreak of the Mutiny. Murdan Singh, known as
the Raja of Banpur, had for some time considered himself aggrieved by
the withholding of certain honours ; and by his advice, the Bundela
chiefs rose in rebellion in June 1857. The Raja himself occupied the
passes to the south, and entered into communication with the mutineers
at Jhansi. On the 12th of June, the 6th Gwalior Regiment mutinied,
and its officers were forced to fly. Quarrels of the usual type then
broke out between the mutineers and the Raja of Banpur ; but after a
short time, the latter succeeded in making his authority good, and
many native officials in the Government service took posts under him.
The Raja asserted his complete independence, raised revenues in his
own name, extorted money from the trading classes, plundered all who
were supposed to favour the British Government, and established a
cannon factory at Banpur. He even extended his rule into the northern
portions of Sagar (Saugor) District, which he held until the arrival of
Sir Hugh Rose's force in January 1858, when, on being defeated at
Banawadhia, he withdrew into Chanderi territory. On the 3rd of
March 1858, the British army succeeded in forcing the passes leading
into the plains of Lalitpur, and the Raja fell back towards Banpur and
Talbahat. The District was then partially pacified ; but before the
work could be completed, the revolt at Gwalior compelled the with-
drawal of our troops, and the whole Chanderi country fell once more
into the hands of the rebels. It was not till October 1858 that
Lalitpur was finally recovered, and even then only after a desperate

Throughout the whole of this troubled period, it is noticeable that
the Bundela Thakurs themselves were in the forefront of disaffection,
revolting long before the mutiny of the troops at Lalitpur, and



remaining hostile after the main centres of rebellion had been effectually
reduced. They are in fact a body of half-savage chieftains, accustomed
for centuries to a state of perpetual feud, and little adapted for the
regular industrial life which the Government is endeavouring to render
possible. Since the Mutiny, Lalitpur has been regularly organized as
a British District, and has been free from any of those greater social
disturbances which marked its early history. It has, however, been
subject to the natural calamities of famine and pestilence, which
have combined with the ravages of the Mutiny to impoverish still
further its sterile soil, and to lessen by death or emigration its scanty

Population. — Lalitpur exhibits in the highest degree that decrease of
inhabitants noticeable throughout the whole of Bundelkhand after the
famine of 1868-69. The Census of 1865 gave the total population as
248,146. At the Census of 1872, the numbers had fallen to 212,661,
showing a loss of 35,485 persons, or 14*31 per cent., in seven years.
This large depopulation must be attributed partly to the deaths by
starvation and disease during the famine of 1868-69, but partly, also,
to the exodus of labourers which then took place to more favoured
tracts. Since 1872 the District has been free from serious calamity;
and an increasing population, with extended cultivation, marks a con-
siderable advancement in the former wretched condition of the people.
The Census of 188 1 returned the population at 249,088, or an increase
of 36,427 (i7'i per cent.), showing that the people have now recovered
from the effects of the calamities of 1868-69. There were 750 villages
in the District in 1865, 646 in 1872, and 670 in 1881.

The results of the Census of 1881 may be briefly summarized as
follows: — Area of District, 1947*4 square miles; 670 inhabited and 79
uninhabited villages, and 34,181 occupied houses or enclosures. Total
population, 249,088, namely, males 129,799, and females 119,289;
proportion of males, 52*1 per cent. Children under 15 years of age
— males 51,333, and females 45,304 ; total children, 96,637, or 38-8 per
cent, of population. Adults, males 78,466, and females 73,985 ; total
adults 152,451, or6i - 2per cent. Density of population, 128 persons
per square mile ; towns and villages per square mile, "34 ; persons per
village, 371; houses per square mile, 17 '5; persons per house, 7-2.
With regard to religious divisions, Lalitpur District, like the remainder
of Bundelkhand, is essentially Hindu; as many as 233,636, or 9379 per
cent, of the inhabitants, professing some form of Hinduism ; while the
Musalmans number only 5368, or 2T1 percent. The remainder of
the population consists of — Jains, 10,029, or 4' 10 P er cent - \ Sikhs, 30;
and Christians, 25.

Of the superior classes of Hindus, the Brahmans number 22,074
persons, and form a large proportion of the cultivators. The Rajputs or


Thakurs number 14,807, amongst whom the Jajhariyas are the most
numerous clan ; but the Bundelas, who still retain much of their old
supremacy, are socially and politically the most important. They were
formerly a turbulent and aggressive race, averse to labour, and living by
plunder. Under British rule, they have settled down into a peaceful
landholding class, and now exist as a sort of feudal nobility. Their
estates have much improved, and are not now heavily mortgaged to
money-lenders as was formerly the case. The trading classes, or Baniyas,
including the Jains, who formerly represented the Vaisya or third class
in the ancient fourfold Hindu social organization, number 12,233 souls >
and they are the most active and money-making class in the Dis-
trict. The purely Hindu Baniyas number 2204. The Kayasths or
writer class, who mostly fill the ranks of the subordinate Government
service, and are also landholders, clerks, etc., number 2449.

The great body of the population belongs to the clans enumerated in
the Census returns as 'other castes.' Of these there are 192,102. The
principal of these ' Siidra ' or low castes, arranged in numerical order,
and not according to social rank, are as follow :— Chamars, leather-
workers and labourers, 29,766 ; Lodhis, landholders and cultivators,
26,122; Kachhis, gardeners, cultivators, and field labourers, 24,045;
Ahirs, cattle-breeders, milk-sellers, and cultivators, 23,978; Kahars,
palanquin-bearers, water-earners, and fishermen, 6256 ; Telis, oil-
makers, 6186; Kiirmis, landholders and cultivators, 6091; Nais,
barbers, 6008 ; Gadarias, sheep and goat breeders and wool-spinners,
5237. The other Hindu castes are all under 5000 in number.

The aboriginal races are represented by a few Gonds in the southern
pargands, and about 11,000 Sahariyas, scattered all over the District
in the thickly wooded tracts. The latter are a very degraded type of
humanity, subsisting till lately on the produce of the jungle, and by
theft, and popularly described as more like monkeys than men. They
have, however, much improved in circumstances of late years. They
profess a low form of Hinduism, and are returned as Hindus in the
Census Report, and in the religious classification given above. The
Muhammadans are, almost without exception, Sunnis by religion, but
as a class they possess neither wealth nor influence. The Christian
population consists of 18 Europeans, 1 Eurasian, and 6 natives.

Town and Rural Population. — Only two towns contain a population
exceeding five thousand inhabitants, namely Lalitpur (10,684) and
Talbahat (5293), making a total urban population of 15,977, or a
fraction less than 6J per cent, of the population of the District.
The villages are mostly very small, and are thinly scattered over the
plain. Very many villages were entirely deserted during the great
famine of 1868-69; ancl although the population has recovered itself
to the number at which it stood prior to that calamity, there were


still 79 villages uninhabited in 1881. The Census Report classifies
the 670 inhabited villages as follows 1—303 with less than two hundred
inhabitants, 229 from two to five hundred, 97 from five hundred to a
thousand, 32 from one to two thousand, 6 from two to three thousand,
1 from three to five thousand, and 2 with upwards of five thousand
inhabitants. In the villages, the houses of the lambarddrs (or headmen)
stand out conspicuously. They are built of small burnt bricks, set in
mud or lime, with an upper storey and a loopholed wall. The
villagers' huts are generally low mud-huts roofed with tiles or thatch,
and plastered with cow-dung ; although of late years, with the returning
prosperity of the country, strongly-built slate and stone houses have
become common. As a rule, the people are now comfortably clothed
and shod, and well fed. Even the wild Sahariyas are able to wear
decent clothing and shoes. The condition of field labourers is
one of comfort, and the demand for labour has increased to such an
extent that farm labourers by means of a strike have been able to
enforce their demand for a payment in kind, of one-fifth and sometimes
even one-fourth of a crop oljoar.

One peculiarity of the District is the number of old forts met with
in every part of the country. These are, for the most part, in ruins ;
those of most importance near towns and villages were dismantled by
Sir Hugh Rose's force in 1858. Many of these were the residences of
robber Thakurs, whose practice of levying black-mail on all passers-by
has only been restrained since the introduction of British rule.
Numerous remains of old temples, the work of the Gonds, are scat-
tered over the south of the District, especially in the neighbourhood
of the Vindhyan hills, where there is an unlimited supply of good
building stone. Modern Jain temples, erected as an act of piety by
the Jain dealers and money-lenders, are common.

Classified according to occupation, the Census Report returned the
male population under the following six main headings: — (1) Profes-
sional, including all Government servants, and the learned professions,
2478; (2) domestic and menial servants, 102; (3) commercial, in-
cluding bankers, traders, carriers, etc., 2744; (4) agricultural, includ-
ing gardeners, herdsmen, and shepherds, 57,911 ; (5) manufacturers
and artisans, 17,783; (6) indefinite and non-productive (comprising
general labourers 5083, male children, etc.), 48,781.

Agriculture. — Out of a total area amounting to 1947 square miles,
only 366 square miles (or less than one-fifth) were under tillage in
1872. By 1883-84, the area under cultivation had increased to 401-8
square miles. The principal crops are wheat, gram, barley, jodr, the
coarser sorts of millet, pulses of various kinds, and other inferior food-
grains, enumerated below. J oar is now the staple crop of the District,
and its production has enormously increased of late years. In 1S77,


during a local famine in Bhind Bhadawar in Gwalior State, thousands
of the inhabitants passed through this District on their way to Malwa,
purchasing grain by the way. On their return to their own homes,
they apparently reported favourably on the Lalitpur>a>, for since then
many carts come here every year for the grain. To keep pace
with the demand, the area under this crop is steadily increasing, and
even in Districts north of Lalitpur a large area is now sown with jodr
where it was never grown prior to 1877.

Cotton is grown in small quantities sufficient to supply local wants ;
but there is no surplus for export. Every village has a few small fields
of tobacco, but vegetables are rarely cultivated, and garden produce is
very scanty. Betel gardens occupy a small area ; the produce of the
Pali gardens is renowned, and it forms a considerable item of export.
Two varieties of wheat (gehan) are grown ; one sort is grown in black
alluvial soil known as moti with irrigation; and a smaller variety (pisiyd)
is grown in light irrigated soil. Sugar-cane of three varieties is grown,
but in very small quantities, and its cultivation is principally confined to
pargand Banpur.

The crops are almost entirely dependent upon the rainfall, except
on the soil known as moti. Accordingly, the rabi or spring harvest,
locally called unhdri, is very small, amounting to only 24 J per cent,
of the total out-turn ; while the kharif or autumn harvest, locally
called saydri, yields 75 h per cent. The total area under kharif crops
in 1883, was 245,202 acres, and rabi, 79,102 acres; grand total,
324,304 acres, or 505*5 square miles. This, however, includes lands
bearing two crops in the year, the area of which is counted twice over.
The acreage under the principal crops in 1883 was returned as follows :
— Kharif— jodr (Sorghum vulgare), 78,109 acres; maize, 9644; rice,
10,802; urd or mung (Phaseolus mungo), 7744; kodon (Paspalum
scrobiculatum), 37,616; rati (Panicum miliaceum), 22,600; kutki,
(Panicum miliare), 16,551; phikar, 8129; sawdn (Panicum frumen-
taceum), 5769 ; cotton, 2846 ; and al dye, 42,408 acres. Rabi — wheat,
38,655 acres; wheat, mixed with barley or gram, 15,279; gram,
20,322 ; and masuri (Ervum lens), 2062 acres.

Irrigation is little practised, not more than one-tenth of the cul-
tivated area being artificially watered. Irrigation is carried on by
means of wells fitted with the Persian wheel ; by means of small
canoes hollowed out of trunks of trees, weighted at one end, and
worked by men at the other; also from tanks chiefly in the north
of the District. The total irrigated area was returned at 22,222
acres in 1867, and 31,105 acres in 1883. On the red soil of the hilly
tract no cold-weather crops can be grown at all without artificial water-
supply ; yet the people are very slow to avail themselves even of exist-
ing advantages. Rotation of crops is almost unknown, but land lies


fallow for long periods, except where the rich black moti soil prevails.
Manuring is generally practised in the case of all the more important
products. Lalitpur has not escaped the common plague of kdns grass,
which throughout all Bundelkhand has thrown many villages out of

Ten acres form the average farm held with rights of occupancy,
and seven acres the ordinary holding of a tenant-at-will. The latter,
who form the most numerous class, are almost without exception in
debt to the village banker. The total adult agricultural population
(male and female) was returned by the Census of 1881 at 98,360,
consisting of 2793 landholders, 75,346 cultivators, and 20,221
agricultural labourers and others. The total population, however,
dependent on the soil was 165,197, or 66-32 per cent, of the
entire inhabitants of the District. Of the total area of Lalitpur,
1947 square miles, 403 square miles are held revenue free, leaving
1544 square miles assessed for Government revenue. Of the assessed
area, 402 square miles are returned as under cultivation, 835 square
miles as cultivable but not under tillage, and 307 square miles as
uncultivable waste. Total Government assessment, including local
rates and cesses, ;£i 7,557, or an average of is. 4d. per cultivated
acre. Total rental, including rates and cesses (expressed in a money
value), paid by the cultivators, ^34,029, or an average of 2s. 3^d. per
cultivated acre.

Rents are usually fixed in proportion to the crops. The average
rates (expressed in money) are — for irrigated black soil, on two-
crop lands, 8s. — on one-crop lands, 6s. ; for irrigated red soil on
two-crop lands, 6s. — on one-crop lands, 5s.; for unirrigated soil,
black, 3s. 6d. — mixed, 2s. 6d. — red, is. 3d. The labourers belong to
all castes, and are generally paid in grain. Non-agricultural wages are
reported as follows : — Coolies, i^d. to 3d. per diem : — smiths, car-
penters, masons, tailors, etc. — first-class, 6d. ; second-class, 4^d.
Lalitpur has not participated in the general rise of wages which has
taken place throughout the greater part of Bundelkhand during the
last twenty years, these rates being the same as those current in 1858 ;
the exception is probably owing to the remoteness of the District,
which has been little affected by the development of the railway system.
Prices, however, have nearly doubled during the same period. The
following were the average current rates of food-grains in 1883 : — Com-
mon rice, 15 sers per rupee, or 7s. 6d. per cwt. ; wheat, 20J sers per
rupee, or 5s. 5d. per cwt. ; gram and Jodr, 36 sers per rupee, or 3s. id.

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 8) → online text (page 53 of 64)