1902 Encyclopedia > Rajputana

Rajputana




RAJPUTANA, an immense tract of country in India, consisting of twenty states, having each its own autonomy and separate chief, besides the small British division of Ajmere, which is situated almost in the centre of the province. These territories lie between 23° and 30° N. lat. and between 69 30' and 78° 15' E. long., and their combined area is approximately estimated at 130,000 square miles. Rajputana extends from the province of Sind on the west to the North-Western Provinces on the east, skirting the Bombay presidency on the south, and stretching to the Bunjab on the north. It is traversed from south-west to north-east by the Rajputana State Railway, and from the south to that railway at Ajmere by the Malwa Railway from Khandwa on the Great Indian Peninsula line through Indore. The country is divided by the Aravalli Mountains into two unequal parts (of which the north-western is much the larger), and consists to a great extent of sandy, arid, and unproductive wastes, but it improves gradually to comparatively habitable and fertile tracts towards the north-east. This division includes the Thur or great sandy desert of northern India, covered everywhere by long para1]«l dunes, varying from 50 to 100 feet high, with few wells and streams, and almost destitute of vegetation. The south-eastern division is considerably more elevated and fertile, is diversified in character, and contains extensive hill-ranges and long stretches of rocky wold and woodland ; it is watered by the drainage of the Vindhyas, carried north-east by the Chambal and Banas rivers. In many parts there are wide vales, fertile plateaus, and great stretches of excellent soil, with forests and arti-ficial lakes; but even in this division the surface, for the most part, is stony, rugged, under jungle, and infertile, except close to the river banks.

The chief rivers of Rajputana are the Loni, the Chambal, and the Banas. The first of these, the only river of any consequence in the north-western division, flows for 200 miles from the Pukar valley, close to Ajmere, to the Runn of Cutch. In the south-eastern division the river system is important. The Chambal is by far the largest river in Rajputana, through which it flows for about one-third of its course, while it forms its boundary for another third. The source of the river is in the highlands of the Vindhyas, upwards of 2000 feet above the sea ; it enters the province at Chaurasgarh in Mewar and soon becomes a considerable stream, collecting in its course the waters of other rivers, and finally dis-charging itself into the Jumna after a course of 560 miles. Next in importance ranks the Banas, which rises in the south-west near Kankraoli in Mewar. It collects nearly all the drainage of the Mewar plateau with that of the eastern slopes and hill-tracts of the Aravallis, and joins the Chambal a little beyond the north-eastern extremity of the Bundi state, after a course of about 300 miles. Other rivers are the W. Banas and the Sabarmati, which rise among the south-west hills of Mewar and take a south-westerly course. The river Main, which passes through the states of Partab-garh and Banswara, receiving the Som, drains the south-west corner of Rajputana through Gujrat into the gulfs of Cutch and Cambay. Rajputana possesses no natural freshwater lakes, but there are several important artificial lakes, all of which have been constructed with the object of storing water. The only basin of any extent is the Sambhar salt lake, of about 50 miles in circuit.

Geologically considered the country may be divided into three regions,—a central, and the largest, comprising the whole width of the Aravalli system, formed of very old sub-metamorphic and gneissic rocks ; an eastern region, witli sharply defined boundary, along which the most ancient formations are abruptly replaced by the great basin of the Vindhyan strata, or are overlaid by the still more extensive spread of the Deccan trap, forming the plateau of Malwa ; and a western region, of very ill-defined margin, in which, besides some rocks of imdetermined age, it is more or less known or suspected that Tertiary and Secondary strata stretch across from Sind, beneath the sands of the desert, towards the Hanks of the Aravallis. Rajputana produces a variety of metals. Ore of cobalt is obtained in no other locality in India, and although zinc blend has been found elsewhere it is known to have been extracted only in this province. Copper and lead are found in several parts of the Aravalli range and of the minor ridges in Ulwur and Shekha-wati, and iron ores abound in several states. Alum and blue vitriol (sulphate of copper) are manufactured from decomposed schists at Khetri in Shekhawati. Good building materials are obtained from many of the rocks of the country, amongst which the Riialo limestone (a fine-grained crystalline marble) and the Jaisalmir (Jeysulmere) limestone stand pre-eminent.

Rajputana is of great archaeologic interest, and possesses some fine religions buildings in ruins and others in excellent preserva-tion. Amongst the iatter are the mosque at Ajmere and the temples on Abu. But the finest and most characteristic features of architecture in the country are shown in the forts and palaces of the chiefs and in their cenotaphs.

Herds of camels, horses, and sheep are found wherever there is pasturage, and in the desert and in the southern part of the country wild asses, nylghau, and antelopes, besides lions, leopards, tigers, wolves, hyajnas, jackals, and foxes, are met with.

The climate throughout Rajputana is very dry and hot during summer ; while in the winter it is much colder in the north than in the lower districts, with hard frost and ice on the Bikanir borders. The rainfall is very unequally distributed : in the western part, which comes near to the limits of the rainless region of Asia, it is very scanty, and scarcely averages more than 5 inches ; in the south-west the fall is more copious, sometimes exceeding 100 inches at Abu ; but, except in the south-west highlands of the Aravallis, rain is most abundant in the south-east. Notwith-standing all its drawbacks, Rajputana is reckoned one of the healthiest countries in India, at least for the native inhabitants.

Population.—The census of 1881, which was the first general enumeration of population in Rajputana since England's connexion with India, gave a total number (including Ajmere division) of 10,729,114. Of these 166,343 were Bhils ; but no accurate census
States.

Area in square miles.
Population.
Ajmere-Mhair-wara (British)
Banswara
Bhurtpur
Bikanir
Bundi
Dholpur
Dungarpur ...
Jaipur
Jaisalmir (Jey-
sulmere)
Jhalawar
Karauli
2,711 1,500 1,974
22,340 2,300 1,200 1,000
14,465
16,447
2,694 1,208
460,722 152,045 645,540 509,021 254,701 249,657 153,381 2,534,357
108,143 310,48S 148,070

The great mass of the people are Hindus, numbering in 1881 (excluding Bhils) 9,215,272, as against 919,556 Mohammedans and 3519 Christians. Among the Hindus the paucity of Rajputs is remarkable. It is commonly supposed that, because nearly the whole country is ruled by Rajputs, therefore the population consists mainly of Rajput tribes ; but these are merely the dominant race, and the territory is called Rajputana because it is politically posj sessed by Rajputs. The whole number of this race is roughly estimated at 700,000, and nowhere do they form a majority of the whole population in a state ; but they are strongest, numerically, in the northern states and in Mewar. By rigid precedence the Brahmans occupy the first rank ; they are numerous and influential, and with them may be classed the peculiar and important caste of Charans or Bhats, the keepers of secular tradition and of the genealogies. Next come the mercantile castes, mostly belonging to the Jaina sect of Hinduism ; these are followed by the powerful cultivating tribes, such as the Jats and Gujars, and then come the non-Hindu or so-called aboriginal tribes, chief of whom are the Minas, Bhils, and M hairs.

The mass of the people are occupied in agriculture. In the large towns banking and commerce flourish to a degree beyond what would be expected for so backward a country. In the north the staple products for export are salt, grain, wool, and cotton, in the south opium and cotton ; while the imports consist of sugar, hard-ware, and piece goods. Rajputana is very poor in industrial pro-duction. The principal manufactures are salt, cotton, and woollen goods, carvings in ivory, and working in metals, &c, all of which handicrafts are chiefly carried on in the eastern states. The system of agriculture is very simple ; in the country west of the Aravallis only one crop is raised in the year, while in other parts south and east of the Aravallis two crops are raised annually, and various kinds of cereals, pulses, and fibres are grown.


could be taken of these people owing to their repugnance to be counted. Exclusive of Bhils, the population numbered 10,562,771 (5,710,337 males, 4,852,434 females). The following statement gives the area and population of the several states and of the British division of Ajmere :—

== TABLE ==


History.—Only faint outlines can be traced of the condition of Rajputana previous to the invasion of Upper India by the Moham-medans, and these indicate that the country was subject for the most part to two or three very powerful tribal dynasties. Chief of these were the Rahtors, who ruled at Kanauj ; the Chauhans of Ajmere ; the Solankhyas of Anhilwara, in Gujrat; the Gehlots with the Sesodia sept, still in Mewar or Udaipur; and the Kachwaha clan, still in Jaipur. These tribal dynasties of Rajputs were gradually supplanted by the Moslem invaders of the ilth century and weakened by internal feuds. At the beginning of the 16th century the Rajput power began to revive, but only to be overthrown by Babev at Fatehpur Sikri in 1527. The clans were finally either conquered, overawed, or conciliated by Akbar—all except the distant Sesodia clan, which, however, submitted to Jahangir in 1616. From Akbar's accession to Aurangzeb's death, a period of 151 years, the mogul was India's master. Aurangzeb's death and the invasion of Nadir Shah led to a triple alliance among the three leading chiefs, which internal jealousy so weakened that the Mahrattas, having been called in by the Rahtors to aid them, took possession of Ajmere about 1756 ; thenceforward Rajputana became involved in the general disorganization of India. By 1803 nearly the whole of Rajputana had been virtually subdued by the Mahrattas. The victories of Generals Wellesley and Lake, how-ever, saved the Rajputs ; but on Wellington's departure from India the floodgates of anarchy were reopened for ten years. On the out-break of the Pindari War in 1817 the British Government offered its protection. The Pindaris were put down, Amir Khan sub-mitting and signing a treaty w'hich constituted him the first ruler of the existing state of Tonk. By the end of 1818 similar treaties had been executed by the other Rajput states with the paramount power. Sindhia gave up the district of Ajmere to the British, and the pressure of the great Mahratta powers upon Rajputana was permanently withdrawn. Since then the political history of Rajputana has been comparatively uneventful. The great storm of the mutinies of 1857, though dangerous while it lasted, was short. The capture of the town of Kotah, which had been held by the mutineers of that state, in March 1858, marked the extinction of armed rebellion in the province. (W. T. R.)






The above article was written by: W. T. Ronson, India Office, London.



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