1902 Encyclopedia > North-Western Provinces

North-Western Provinces

NORTH-WESTERN PROVINCES, THE, a lieutenant-governorship of British India, lying between 23° 51' and 31° 5' N. lat. and between 77° 3' and 84° 43' E. long., is bounded on the N. by Tibet, on the N.E. by Nepal and Oudh, on the S. by the Chutia Nagpur districts of Bengal, Rewah, the Bundelkhand states, and the Central Provinces, and on the W. by Gwalior, Rajputana, and the Punjab, with an area under British administration of 81,858 square miles. The administrative headquarters and seat of the lieutenant-governor are at Allahabad.

Physical Aspects. - The North-Western Provinces occupy, roughly speaking, the upper basin of the Ganges and the Jumna. The province of Oumi (q.v.) has since 1877 been under the administrative charge of the lieutenant-governor at Allahabad, but in respect of its land and courts it still remains a distinct chief-commissionership. With this exception, the North-Western Provinces include the whole upper portion of the Gangetic basin from the Himalayas and the Punjab plain to the Vindhyan plateau and the low-lying rice-fields of Bengal. Taken as a whole, the lieutenant-governorship consists of the richest wheat-bearing country in India. It contains many of the most famous cities of Indian history and is studded with thriving villages, interspersed at distances with large commercial towns. Except during the hot months, when the crops are off the fields, the general aspect is that of a verdant and well-tilled but monotonous plain, merging into hilly or mountainous country at the extreme northern and southern edges of the basin.

The extreme north-western or Himalayan region comprises the native state of Garhwal, with the British districts of Dehra Dan, Garhwal, and Kumaun. The economic value of this mountainous tract is confined to the growth of tea in Kumaun and the export of forest produce. South of the Himalayas, from which it is separated by valleys or thins, is the Siwalik range, which slopes down to the fruitful plain of the Dodb (two waters), a large irregular horn-shaped tongue of land enclosed between the Ganges and Jumna. The great boundary rivers flow through low-lying valleys fertilized by their overflow or percolation, while a high bank leads up to the central upland, which, though naturally dry and unproductive except where irrigated by wells, has been transformed into an almost unbroken sheet of cultivation by various canals and their distributaries. This favoured inter-fluvial region may be fitly regarded as the granary of upper India. North of the Ganges, and enclosed between that river and the Himalayas and Oudh, lies the triangular plain of Rohilkhand. This tract presents the same general features as the Gangetic valley, varied by the damp and pestilential submontane region of the Tarai on the north-east, at the foot of the Kumaun hills. South of the Jumna is the poor and backward region of Bundelkhand, comprising the districts of Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Hamirpur, and Banda, besides several petty native states under the administrative control of the Government of India. The soil is generally rocky and unfertile, and the population impoverished, scanty, and ignorant. The southernmost portion of Bundelkhand is much cut up by spurs of sandstone and granite hills, running down from the Vindhyan system ; but the northern half near the Jumna has a somewhat richer soil, and comes nearer in character to the plain of the Doab. Below the junction of the Ganges and the Jumna at Allahabad the country begins to assume the appearance of the Bengal plains, and also once more expands northwards to the foot of the Nepal Himalayas. This tract consists of three portions, separated by the Ganges and the Gogra. The division south of the Ganges comprises portions of Allahabad, Benares, and Ghazipur, together with the whole of Mirzapur, and in general features somewhat resembles Bundelkhand, but the lowlands along the river bank are more fertile. The triangular tract between the Ganges and the Gogra and the boundary of Oudh is the most fertile corner of the Gangetic plain, and contains the densest population. It comprises part of Allahabad, Jaunpur, parts of Benares and Ghazipur, and the whole of Azamgarh. The trans-Gogra region, comprising Basti and Gorakhpur districts, presents a wilder, submontane appearance. But even here cultivation has widely extended, and the general aspect is that of a well-tilled and verdant plain.

Besides the three great rivers - the Ganges, Jumna, and Gogra - there are the following secondary streams, each with numerous minor tributaries : - the East and West Kali and the Hindan flow through the Doab ; the Chambal intersects the trans-Jumna tract ; in Bundelkhand the principal streams are the Betwa and the Ken ; the Rainganga, rising in Garhwal, pursues a very tortuous course through Rohilkhand ; the Gumti enters the Provinces from Oudh, and flows past Jaunpur to join the Ganges ; the trans-Gogra region is divided into two nearly equal parts by the Rapti. All the drainage of the country falls directly or indirectly into the Ganges.

Climate, &c. - The climate of the North-Western Provinces as a whole may be classed as hot and dry. The Himalayan districts are, of course, cool, and have a much greater rainfall than the plains. They are succeeded by a broad submontane belt, the Tarii, which is rendered moist by the mountain torrents, and is covered by forest from end to end. This region bears a singularly bad reputation as the most unhealthy in all India, and in many parts only the acclimatized aborigines can withstand its deadly malaria. The plain country is generally warm and dry, the heat becoming more oppressive as the general level of the country sinks towards Allahabad and Benares, or among the hills of Bundelkhand. The monthly temperature of twelve stations in 1881-82 was as follows : - maximum, 112° Fahr. ; minimum, 40°.1 Fahr. ; general mean, 77°48 Fahr. The maximum was 82° at Chakrata in Debra Dim, 109° in Meerut, 114° in Allahabtid, and 116° in Jbansi ; the minimum was 28° at Chakrata, 35° at Meerut, 41° at Allababid, and 44° at Jhansi. The general mean was 57°•7 at Chakrata, 76°'8 at Meerut, 78°•4 at Allahabad, 78°•8 at Benares, and 79'1 at Jhansi. The total rainfall during the same year amounted to 54.03 inches at Chakrata, 97.49 at Dehra, 29.63 at Meerut, 35.43 at Bareli, 34.01 at Allahabad, 33.77 at Benares, and 52.62 at Jhansi. The chief disease is fever, to which a large proportion of deaths are due.

Population. - The North-Western Provinces contain a denser population than any country of Europe, excepting Belgium and England. The census of 1881 returned the population of the British districts at 32,720,128 (males 17,060,901, females 15,659,227), distributed among 81,274 villages and towns. Including the two attached native states of Garhwal and Rampur, the area amounted to 86,983 square miles, and the population to 33,461,878. The following table exhibits the area (in square miles) and population of each district and state separately (exclusive of Oudh).

Mohammedans muster strongest in the northern divisions of Meerut and Rohilkhand, where they number 2,327,620. In Benares, Allahabad, Agra, and Kumaun divisions they form a percentage respectively of 10.7, 9.5, 8.7, and 8.4 of the population. Many of the descendants of converts forced to embrace Islam at the sword's point retain several Hindu customs and adhere to purely Hindu observances and ceremonies.

Most of the people are gathered into small villages. There are, however, no fewer than 238 towns with a population exceeding 5000, and containing an aggregate of 3,513,107 inhabitants. No other part of India contains so large a proportion of celebrated cities, though recent changes have made over Delhi, the most famous of all, to the adjacent province of the Punjab. Thirteen towns contained in 1872 a population exceeding 50,000 - namely, (1) Benares, 199,700; (2) Agra, 160,203; (3) Cawnpur, 155,444; (4) Allahabad, 148,547; (5) Bareli (Bareilly), 113,417; (6) Meerut, 99,565 ; (7) Shahjahanpur, 74,830 ; (8) Muradabad, 67,387 ; (9) Farrukhabad, 62,437 ; (10) Koil (Aligarh), 61,730 ; (11) Saharanpur, 59,194 ; (12) Gorakhpur, 57,922 ; and (13) Mirzapur, 56,378. Eighteen towns contain a population of between 20,000 and 50,000. The other places of interest in the provinces are - the hill sanataria of NEM. Tal, Masari (Mussooree), and Landaur, the sacred town of Hardwar, the ruined sites of Kanauj and Hastinapur, the deserted Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sikri, and the ancient temples and fortresses of Mahoha and Kalinjar. Most of the great towns lie along the banks of the Ganges and the Jumna.

Agriculture. - Of a total area of 81,858 square miles, 38,169 were returned as under cultivation in 1881-82. Eleven great canal irrigation works have been undertaken by Government : - (1) Ganges Canal, (2) Eastern Jumna Canal, (3) Agra Canal, (4) Thin Canals, (5) Rohilkhand Canals, (6) Bijnaur Canals, (7) Bundelkhand Lakes, (8) Lower Ganges Canal, (9) Bundelkhand survey, (10) Sardah Canal survey, and (11) Betwa Canal. The total area irrigated in 1881-82 by Government works amounted to 1,395,217 acres. There are two principal harvests, in autumn and spring. The great agricultural staple is wheat. The chief commercial crops include indigo, cotton, sugar, oil-seeds, and opium. The cultivation of tea is confined to the submontane districts of Kumann, Garhwil, and Dehra Dim. The produce is chiefly manufactured into green tea, which finds a ready sale across the frontier in Central Asia, and is also exported to England. Rice and sugar-cane grow chiefly in the river valleys or in irrigated fields ; wheat is raised. on the uplands by the aid of canals and wells ' • millets and cotton grow on the drier soils, while tobacco, vegetables, and other richer crops occupy manured plots in the neighbourhood of villages. The three principal recognized tenures are - (1) zamiaddri, in which the whole land is held and managed in common, the rents and profits of the entire estate being thrown into a common stock and divided among the shareholders ; (2) pattidicri, in which the lands are held severally by the different proprietors, all of whom are jointly responsible for the Government revenue ; (3) bhciyachara, in which portions of the soil are held severally, while other portions may be held in common, with joint responsibility for the Government demand. In the hill tracts the peasantry are well off and independent ; in the more favoured plain districts they are in fairly comfortable circumstances ; but in Bundelkhand they still suffer from the effects of former misrule and from the effects of recent famines.

Commerce and Trade ; Communication, &c. - The exports of the North-Western Provinces are principally confined to its raw agricultural produce - wheat, oil-seeds, cotton, indigo, sugar, molasses, timber and forest produce, dye-stuffs, g111, opium, and tobacco. The imports consist mainly of Manchester piece-goods, metal-work, manufactured wares, salt, and European goods. The principal manufactures are sugar, indigo, and coarse cotton cloth. Ornamental metal-work is made at Benares. The only factories on the English model are the Elgin and Muir cotton mills at Cawnpnr, the Shahjahanpur rum distillery, and breweries at Masari and NEM Tal. The largest and most valuable portion of the trade of the Provinces is now conducted by rail direct with Calcutta, but the great waterways of the Ganges and Jumna still carry a large part of the heavy traffic. The Gogra forms the main channel for the grain and cotton of Gorakhpur, Basti, and Azamgarh, and for the forest produce of Nepal. The lines of railway are the East Indian, which enters the North-Western Provinces from Bengal, and has its terminus at Delhi ; the Sind, Punjab, and Delhi line ; the Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway; and the Rajputana State Railway, connecting Agra with Bhartpur. The great trunk road traverses the heart of the Provinces.

Administration. - The North-Western Provinces are under the administrative charge of a lieutenant-governor, who resides at Allahabad. The total revenue (including that of Oudh) in 1881-82 amounted to £9,075,727, and the expenditure to £4,362,274. The chief item of receipt is the land-tax, which produced during the same year £5,751,104. Education is making steady progress throughout the central Gangetic plain, though still very backward in the Himalayan districts, in Bundelkhand, and in the remoter parts of Rohilkhand and the trans-Gogra tract. The total number of colleges and schools in the North-Western Provinces in 1881-82 was 5063, with a roll of 170,966 pupils, of whom 142,190 were Hindus and 24,437 Mohammedans. The principal institutions for higher English education are the Muir Central College at Allahabid, and the Government and Church Missionary Society's Colleges at Agra. The Benares College gives high Sanskrit education, while Delhi College, just beyond. the borders, gives instruction in Arabic and Persian. Primary education is afforded by a complete system of village schools, the Provinces being divided into three circles of inspection and elementary instruction is now brought within easy reach of all who choose to avail themselves of it.

History. - The traditions of the Malabharata cluster round the city of Hastinapur in Meerut district, which, with Indraprastha, whose shapeless ruins are still to be seen near Delhi, formed the respective capitals of the Pandavas and Kauravas. The earliest empire in this part of India, however, of which any certain monuments remain was that of the Buddhist dynasty of Magadha, which attained its greatest development under Asoka (see vol. xii. p. 784 sq.).

Continuous history begins with the Mohammedan invasion of Mahmdd of Ghazni, who sacked the sacred cities of Kanauj and Muttra in 1017 A.D. Mohammed Ghori, however, was the real founder of the Moslem power in Hindustan. In 1193 the seat of the Moslem empire was fixed at Delhi, where it remained, with few intermissions, till the British conquest.

The British first came into connexion with the North-Western Provinces as they advanced along the valley of the Ganges from Bengal. In 1763 the nawab wazir of Oudh, with the phantom emperor Shah Alam, invaded Bengal. They received a crushing defeat at Baxar, and the emperor; with Baiwant Sinh, raja of Benares, joined the British camp. In 1775 the nawab of Oudh' Asaf-ud-daula, ceded Benares, Jaunpur, and Ghazipur to the British, retaining Allahahad and Korah, which had been taken from the emperor in the previous year, when the British sold them to Oudh.

The nawab wazir, having agreed to pay a subsidy for the English troops maintained for his aid, and being always in arrcar, signed in 1801 the treaty of Lucknoiv, by which he made over to the British the whole of his Ondh dominions in the Hood), together with Rohilkhand. For Lord Lake's campaign in 1803 against Sindhia, which brought the whole remaining portion of the North-Western Provinces under British rule, see vol. xii. p. 804. The Himalayan districts of Kumann and Garhwal were not acquired until after the Gurkha war of 1814-15, while the Delhi territory remained the personal apanage of the Mughal royal family until 1832, when it passed to the direct government of the East India Company.

The first half-century of the British occupation was a period of peaceful progress. The Dotib especially rose into a great agricultural and commercial tract, filled with new and growing cities, such as Cawnpur, Meerut, Aligarh, Thirki (Roorkee), and Saharanpur. This peaceful period was interrupted by the mutiny of 1857, which first broke out in the North- Western Provinces, and produced more disastrous effects in this tract than in any other part of India. Since the repression of the rebellion the principal event of importance in the Provinces has been the rapid development of the railway system, which is revolutionizing the commercial condition of the country and throwing open fresh outlets for its agricultural wealth. The outlying chief-commissionership of Oudh was placed under the administration of the lieutenant-governor of the North-Western Provinces from January 1877. (W. W. H.)

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