1902 Encyclopedia > Monghyr, Bengal


MONGHYR, or MUNGIE, a district in the lieutenant-governorship of Bengal, lying between 24° 22' and 25° 49' N. lat., and 85° 40' and 86° 52' E. long., is bounded on the N. by Darbhangah and Bhâgalpur, on the E. by Bhâgal-pur, on the S. by the Santal Parganâs and Hazâribâgh, and on the W. by Gayâ, Patnâ, and Darbhangah, with an area of 3922 square miles. The Ganges divides the district into two portions. The northern, intersected by the Burl Gandak and Tiljugâ, two important tributaries of the Ganges, is always liable to inundation during the rainy season, and is a rich, flat, wheat and rice country, support-ing a large population. A considerable area, immedi-ately bordering the banks of the great rivers, is devoted to permanent pasture. Immense quantities of buffaloes are sent every hot season to graze on these marshy prairies ; and the ghi, or clarified butter, made from their milk forms an important article of export to Calcutta. To the south of the Ganges the country is dry, much less fertile, and broken up by fragmentary ridges. The soil consists of quartz, mixed in varying proportions with mica. Ranges of hills intersect this part of the district, and in the extreme south form conical peaks, densely covered with jungle, but of no great height. Irrigation is necessary throughout the section lying on the south of the Ganges.
In 1872 the population of Monghyr was 1,812,986 (males, 897,074 ; females 915,912): Hindus, 1,613,546 ; Mohammedans, 182,269 ; the remainder, consisting mainly of aboriginal tribes and hill races, profess primitive forms of faith. There are also a few Buddhists and Christians. Seven towns contained upwards of 5000 inhabitants in 1872—Monghyr, 59,698 ; Shaikhpura, 11,536 ; Jamalpur, 10,453; Barhiya, 10,405 ; Surajgarha, 7935 ; Barbigha, 6362; and Jamui, 5197. No trustworthy statistics of the area under cultivation exist since the revenue survey in 1847, when it was returned at 1,311,768 acres ; it is known, however, that cultiva-tion has largely extended since then. The land is held principally under the tenure known as bhdoli-jot, by which the tenant pays rent, either in money or in kind, according to the out-turn of his crops in each year. It is of ancient standing, and popular with the tenantry. Monghyr is famous for its manufactures of iron : firearms, swords, and iron articles of every kind are produced in abundance, but are noted for cheapness rather than quality. The art of inlaying sword-hilts and other articles with gold and silver affords employment to a few families. The most important manu-facture, however, is that of indigo, conducted by means of Euro-pean capital and under European supervision. The total area under indigo is estimated at about 10,000 acres, with an average out-turn of 2900 cwts. of dye. Minor industries include weaving, dyeing, cabinet-making, boot-making, soap-boiling, and pottery. The principal exports, sent to Calcutta both by rail and river, are oil-seeds, wheat, rice, indigo, gram and pulse, hides, and tobacco ; and the chief imports consist of European piece goods, salt, and sugar. The value of the former in 1876-77 was £430,000, and of the latter £314,000. Education is making fair progress, and in 1874-75 there were 229 Government and aided schools, attended by 6675 pupils. The climate is dry and healthy. The temperature is high in the hot weather, reaching 107° Fahr. in May ; but the cold weather is cool and pleasant. The average annual rainfall is 46J inches. Malarial fever is comparatively uncommon, but epidemics of cholera occur frequently.

Monghyr was one of the principal centres of the Mohammedan administration in Bengal. In the early years of British rule, Monghyr formed a part of Bhagalpur, and was not created a separate district till 1832.

MONGHYE, chief town and administrative headquarters of the above district, is situated on the south bank of the Ganges (25° 22' N. lat., 86° 30' E. long.). The population in 1872 was 59,698: viz., Hindus, 44,900; Mohammedans, 14,346; Buddhists, 33; Christians, 305; "others," 24.

In 1195 Monghyr, a fortress of great natural strength, appears to-have been taken by Muhammad Bakhtyar Khilji, the first Moslem conqueror of Bengal. Henceforth it is often mentioned by the Mohammedan chroniclers as a place of military importance, and w-as frequently chosen as the seat of the local government. After 1590, when Akbar established his supremacy over the Afghan chiefs of Bengal, Monghyr was long the headquarters of his general, Todar Mall; and it also figures prominently during the rebellion of Sultan Shuja against his brother, Aurangzeb. In more recent times Nawab Mir Kasim, in his war with the English, selected it as his residence and the centre of his military preparations. The-fame of Monghyr armourers is said to date from the arsenal which he established. The town is now purely a civil station, and in-some respects one of the most picturesque in Bengal.

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