Bahawalpur State, 1908

From Indpaedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hindi English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

This article has been extracted from



Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts.Many units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.


Bahawalpur State

Native State under the political control of the Government of the Punjab, lying in the extreme south-west of the Province, between 27 42' and 30 25' N. and 69 31' and 74 1/ E., with an area of 15,91s 1 square miles. On the north-east it adjoins Ferozepore District ; and on the north-west the Sutlej separates it from Montgomery and Multan Districts, and, after its junction with the Chenab, from Muzaffargarh District. The Indus then divides it from the Punjab District of Dera Ghazi Khan and the Upper Sind Frontier District in Sind, the latter also adjoining it on the south. On the south-east it is bordered by the Rajputana States of Jaisalmer

1 These figures do not agree with the area given in Table III of the article on the Punjab, and on p. 197 of this article, which is the area returned in 1901, the year of the latest Census. They represent a more recent survey. and Bikaner. Its length from north-east to south-west is about 300 miles, and its mean breadth 40 miles. Devoid of hills and streams, except the pools and backwaters of the three great rivers, it is divided lengthwise into three great strips. Of these, aspects, the first is a part of the Great Indian Desert, known as the Rohi or Cholistan ; the central tract is chiefly desert, not capable of cultivation, identical with the Bar or Pat uplands of the western Punjab ; and the third, a fertile alluvial tract in the river valley, is called the Sind. The desert is separated from the central tract by a depression known as the Hakra, which must at one time have carried the waters of a large river. Opinions are divided as to whether this river was the Sutlej, the Ghaggar, or the Jumna.

Physical aspects

The State lies entirely in the alluvium. The Cholistan is a deep mass of sand in which wells fail to reach a substratum of clay, and which is at some places overlaid with deposits of amorphous sulphate of lime, while its surface is a succession of sand-dunes, rising in places to a height of 500 feet, and covered with the vegetation peculiar to sandy tracts. The central upland is a stiff clay mixed with sand, and the riverain tract is a micaceous soil with alternating layers of light bluish silt.

The flora of the State is as varied as its natural divisions. The scenery of the fertile riverain with its countless palms is almost Egyptian in character, and the lotus abounds in the pools by the river. In the uplands and in the Sind tamarisk jungles stretch for miles ; and in the Rohi there are stretches of khar (Caroxjlon Griffithhii), from which the State derives an income of more than Rs. 30,000.

Wolves are found in the Sind and Rohi, and the wild ass occurs in the latter. Hog and hog deer abound in the Sind, and antelope, chinkara, or 'ravine deer,' and nilgai in the uplands. Fish are common in the rivers, and the State derives a small income from the fisheries which are leased to the Jhabel, Mor, and Kehal — three indigenous tribes of almost amphibious habits.

' In Bahawalpur,' says a local proverb, ' rain changes into storms of wind.' In July and August showers fall occasionally, but the annual rainfall rarely exceeds 5 inches. This deficiency of rain causes a climate abnormally hot in spite of its extra-tropical latitude ; and from the end of April to the middle or end of June the mean shade temperature is 103 , the air is dry and the wind fiery, so that the growth of vegetation is im- perceptible. During the monsoon clouds soften the temperature, and with only an inch of rain the country becomes fresh and green. After November the mean temperature falls to 6o° or 65 with frosty nights. The climate is generally healthy, except in the Sind during the autumn. The water is bad in some places, and it is to this cause that the frequency of stone and scurvy is attributed. Spleen-disease is common.

Floods are said to be less frequent than they were before the great; Punjab canals were made. The flood of 187 1, which covered some 1,300 square miles of the lowlands, threw large areas out of cultivation for a whole year.


The Abbasi Daudputras, from whom the ruling family of Bahawalpur has sprung, claim descent from the Abbasid Khalifs of Egypt. The tribe originally came from Sind, and assumed independence during the dismemberment of the Durrani empire, the mint at Bahawalpur being opened in 1802 by Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan II with the permission of Shah Mahmud of Kabul. On the rise of Ranjit Singh, the Nawab, Muhammad Bahawal Khan III, made several applications to the British Government for an engagement of protection. These, however, were declined, although the Treaty of Lahore in 1809, whereby Ranjit Singh was confined to the right bank of the Sutlej, in reality effected his object. The first treaty with Bahawalpur was negotiated in 1833, the year after the treaty with Ranjit Singh for regulating traffic on the Indus. It secured the independence of the Nawab within his own territories, and opened up the traffic on the Indus and Sutlej. The political relations of Bahawalpur with the para- mount power, as at present existing, are regulated by a treaty made in October, 1838, when arrangements were in progress for the restoration of Shah Shuja to the Kabul throne.

During the first Afghan War, the Nawab rendered assistance both in facilitating the passage of troops and in furnishing supplies ; and in 1847-8 he co-operated actively with Sir Herbert Edwardes in the expe- dition against Multan. For these services he was rewarded by the grant of the districts of Sabzalkot and Bhung, together with a life -pension of a lakh. On his death a dispute arose regarding the succession. He was succeeded by his third son, whom he had nominated for the throne in supersession of his eldest son. The new ruler was, however, deposed by his elder brother, and obtained asylum in British territory, with a pen- sion from the Bahawalpur revenues ; he broke his promise to abandon his claims, and was confined in the Lahore fort, where he died in 1862. In 1863 and 1866 insurrections broke out against the Nawab, caused by cruelty and misgovernment.

The Nawab successfully crushed the rebellions ; but in Mareh, 1866, he died suddenly, not without suspicion of having been poisoned, and was succeeded by his son, Nawab Sadik Muhammad Khan IV, a boy of four. After several endeavours to arrange for the administration of the country without active interference on the part of Government, it was found necessary, on account of disorganization and disaffection, to place the principality in British hands during his minority. The Nawab attained his majority in 1879, and was invested with full powers, with the advice and assistance of a council of six members. During the Afghan campaigns (1878-80) the Nawab placed the entire resources of his State at the disposal of the British Government, and a contingent of his troops was employed in keeping open communications, and in guarding the Dera Ghazi Khan frontier. On his death in 1899 he was succeeded by Muhammad Bahawal Khan V, the present Nawab 1 , who attained his majority in 1901, and was invested with full powers in 1903. The Nawab of Bahawalpur is entitled to a salute of 1 7 guns.

The principal arehaeological remains are described in the articles on Bijnot, Marot, Pattan Munara, Sarwahi, Sui Vehar, and Uch. The State contains 10 towns and 1,008 villages. The population at the three last enumerations was: (1881) 573,494, (1891) 650,042, and (1901) 720,877. It is divided into the three niza- mats or administrative subdivisions of Bahawalpur, Minchinabad, and Khanpur, which derive their names from their head- quarters. The chief towns are Bahawalpur, the modern capital of the State, Ahmadpur East, Khanpur, Uch, Ahmadpur West, and Khairpur.

The following table gives the chief statistics of population in 1901 : —



NOTE. — The figures for the areas of nisamatS are taken from revenue returns. The total State area is that given in the Census Report. Since 1901,551 square miles have been transferred from Khanpur to Bahawalpur, and the population given in the table is, in the case of each nisamat, the population in 1901 of the territory now comprised in that nizamat.

About 83 per cent, of the people are Muhammadans. Since 9,881 square miles of the State are desert, the density of population appears low as compared with the Provincial average of 185, but the Sind tract is somewhat thickly populated and has gained considerably by immigra- tion from the Punjab. Three-fourths of the people speak the dialect of Western Punjabi known locally as Multani or Bahawalpur!. This is spoken all along the river from Khairpur to Ahmadpur West and south- wards to the Cholistan. Punjabi, also called Jatkl (the Jat speech), and Ubhechar or Eastern, extends from Khairpur to the north-east border, while west of Ahmadpur West and round Kot Sabzal and Fatehpur Alachka. Sindl and Bahawalpur! are spoken. In the Cholistan the Marwari-RathI dialect of Rajasthani prevails.

1 Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan V died at sea in February, 1907, while returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca. His son, who succeeds as Nawab, Haji Sadik Muhammad Khan V, Abbasi, is only two years of age. The most important of the landowning tribes are the Jats, who number 192,000 and comprise 26 per cent, of the population, Rajputs (107,000), and Balochs (65,000). Other agricultural tribes are the Arains (38,000), Daudputras (19,000), Khokhars (17,000), Pathans (11,000), and Kharrals (6,000). The only commercial class, the Aroras, numbers 66,000. Of the menials, the most important are the Machhis (fisher- men, 23,000), Kumhars (potters, 11,000), Mallahs (boatmen, 10,000), Julahas (weavers, 9,000), Mochis (shoemakers, 10,000), Jhinwars (water- carriers, 8,000), and Tarkhans (carpenters, 8,000). Saiyids number 11,000 and Shaikhs 14,000. The native Christians number only 6. About 58 per cent, of the population are dependent on agriculture.

The three natural tracts have already been described. The Rohi or Cholistan, bounded on the north and west by a depression called the Hakra, is pure desert, in which crops depend wholly on the scanty rainfall, and the vegetation is sparse. Unbricked wells are sunk, but their excavation in the sandy soil is a perilous task, as the spring-level is 80 feet below the surface. The second tract runs parallel to the Rohi. Its soil is a stiff clay mixed with sand, and though cultivation depends chiefly on the rainfall, wells are also worked. The third and richest tract in the State is the Sind or alluvial strip along the rivers. Every year its soil is enriched by floods, which leave a deposit of rich silt, and the land yields fine crops with little labour. The supply of water to the Sind is supplemented by a system of inundation canals and by wells. Large areas have been brought under cultivation during the last twenty-five years, owing to the exten- sion of the system of inundation canals. Half a million acres of State land, which now brings in a revenue of 3 lakhs, have been leased to cultivators, the leases in most cases containing the promise of pro- prietary rights after a period of years. There is abundance of room for the extension of colonization in the Khanpur nizamat.

The following table shows the chief statistics of cultivation in 1903-4, areas being in square miles : — ■


The crops which covered the largest area in 1903-4 were wheat (607 square miles), rice (183), spiked millet (90), great millet (85), and gram (82).

Although rules sanctioning advances were passed in 1879, they were not made to any useful extent by the State till 1900, when Rs. 7,20,000 was advanced to cultivators for the sinking of 1,280 new wells and the repair of 159 old ones. Up to 1904 about 8 lakhs had been thus advanced.

The commonest domestic animals are the bullock and the buffalo. There is also a large number of camels in the State, many of which are employed in the Imperial Service Camel Corps.

Of the total area cultivated in 1903-4, 1,361 square miles, or nearly 94 per cent., were irrigated. Of this area, 204 square miles were irrigated from both wells and canals, 14 from wells alone, 993 from canals, and 150 by inundation from the rivers. In that year the State contained 17,220 masonry wells, besides 2,420 unbricked wells. The State has a vast system of inundation canals which take off from the rivers, especially from the Sutlej.

Cash rents are very rare. Produce rents vary from one-fifth on unirri- gated lands to one-half on some of the canal-irrigated and inundated lands in parts of the Khanpur and Bahawalpur nizamats. The rent of canal-irrigated land in these two nizamats rules higher than in Minchinabad, where the tenant is responsible for 'the cost of canal clearance. Throughout the State, landlords realize in addition to the rent a number of dues of varying amounts. The occupancy tenant of the British Punjab is unknown in Bahawalpur. Cash wages have risen very largely in the last few years, but except in towns the wages of labour are generally paid in kind.

Forests cover an area of 412 square miles; but of this a large portion is merely treeless waste, which is being gradually colonized by settlers from British Districts and other States, as well as by the people of Bahawalpur itself. During the minority of the late Nawab extensive plantations were established, and these now yield a large income. The forests, plantations, and gardens realized an income of Rs. r, 60,000 in 1903-4. The chief forest officer is the Mohtamim jangtdt, and the department is controlled by the Mushlr-i-ala.

Kankar abounds in several places, especially in the M c Leodganj ildka of the Minchinabad tahsil. Saltpetre is also made from saline earth in several villages in the Minchinabad and Khairpur tahsils.

Trade and communication

The only arts of any importance are the manufacture of silk iutigis (ornamental turbans) and sufts (silk cloth). Metal cups are made at Bahawalpur and Khanpur towns, while a very lucra- tive industry is the manufacture of impure carbonate commun j ca ti ons of soda, which is exported in large quantities, especially from the Bahawalpur tahsil. Ahmadpur East and Khairpur are noted for their porcelain vessels and shoes, and the latter also for its painted cloth of various kinds. The last decade has witnessed considerable industrial development on modern lines. Nine rice-husking mills have been established — one at Bahawalpur, three at Khanpur, two at Allahabad, and one each at Sadikabad, Kot Samaba, and Naushahra. Cotton-ginning is also carried on in the mills at Bahawalpur and Kot Samaba, and in one of the Khanpur mills.

The trade of the State is free, all transit dues having been abolished under treaty with the British Government. The principal exports are wheat, gram, indigo, dates, mangoes and other fruit, wool, saltpetre, and the manufactured articles mentioned above. Cloth and gur (unrefined sugar) are the chief imports.

The Lahore-Karachi branch of the North-Western State Railway enters the State at the centre of its north-west border by the Adam- wahan bridge across the Sutlej, and leaves it at Walhar in the extreme south-west, with a length of 148 miles within the State. This line is joined at Samasata by the Southern Punjab Railway, which enters the State near M c Leodganj Road, 156 miles from Samasata, and has a branch to Ferozepore. There are 624 miles of unmetalled and about 40 miles of metalled roads.

The postal arrangements are peculiar. In return for an annual payment of Rs. 6,000, they are undertaken by the British Post Office. Official letters are conveyed free within the State, and the Postal department supplies service stamps free of charge to the value of Rs. 1,300 annually, for purposes of official correspondence outside the State. These arrangements have been in force since 1878.


Famine in Rajputana always causes a stream of immigration into Bahawalpur, and in recent years the State has invariably made a point of providing work for the refugees. In 1899 the number of immigrants was 40,000. The able-bodied were employed on the canals, and many of the others were admitted into poorhouses. The total cost to the State of the relief measures was 2 -5 lakhs.


The direct functions of administration are exercised by the Nawab, who is assisted by a council of eleven members, comprising the Mushir-i-ala or Wazir (who is the president of the council), the foreign minister, the revenue minister, the chief judge, the finance minister, the commander-in-chief of the State forces, the minister of public works, the minister of the Nawab's household, the private secretary, the general secretary, and the minis- ter of irrigation. The Political Agent for the Phulkian States and Bahawalpur resides at Patiala.

Each nizamat is divided into three tahsils. The nine tahsils are Minchinabad, Nahr Sadikiyah, Khairpur, Bahawalpur, Ahmadpur, Allahabad, Khanpur, Naushahra, and Ahmadpur Lamina. Each nizamat is in charge of a naziw, and each tahsil is in charge of a tahsildar and a naib-tahsildar.

The Mushir-i-Mal or revenue minister exercises general revenue control in the State. The nazims, tahsildars, and naib-tahsildars are subordinate to him in all matters connected with his functions. The State canals are in charge of a special minister.

Bills are introduced by the member in charge of the department concerned, and, after approval by the council, are submitted to the Nawab for his final assent. A large number of the Acts in force in British India have been adopted, including the Penal Code and the Procedure Codes.

The principal court is the Sadr Adalat, established in 1870. It consists of a single judge called the chief judge, under whom are three district judges and five first-class and three second-class Munsifs. The district judges hear suits up to Rs. 10,000 in value, and also exercise the powers of magistrates with enhanced jurisdiction under sections 30 and 34 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The first-class Munsifs exercise the powers of first-class, and the second-class Munsifs those of second-class magistrates and Munsifs in British territory. The judicial department is also in charge of registration, the chief judge being chief registrar, the district judges registrars, and the Munsifs sub-registrars. Pleaders are not admitted to practise in the State courts. The commonest forms of crime are cattle-theft and the abduction of women.

Prior to 1886 the State issued two rupees, the Bahaivalpuri, worth 12 annas, and the Ahmadpuri, worth 10 annas in British currency. It also coined gold mo/iars, Rs. 16 to Rs. 52 in value. It still coins a copper nikka paisa (or small pice), 2\ of which equal the British quarter anna. British coin is now current throughout the State.

The following table shows the revenue of the State in recent years, in thousands of rupees : —

1 880-1.


Apart from land revenue, the principal receipts in 1903-4 were forests (i-6 lakhs), and stamps (Rs. 98,000). The expenditure was chiefly: on the Nawab's court and household (12-8 lakhs), public works (3 lakhs), army (2-2 lakhs), police (1-5 lakhs), pensions (i-i lakhs), and revenue administration (i-i lakhs). There was a reserve balance in the State treasury at the end of the year of nearly 26 lakhs.

Prior to 1866 the land revenue was mostly collected in kind, by division (batai) of the produce, the State taking one-fourth, one-third, or even two-fifths. In 1868 this system was abolished, and fixed assessments were imposed on each kind of crop. These rates were reduced in 187 1-2, owing to a fall in prices. The summary settle- ments were completed in 1877, resulting in a revenue demand of 9-5 lakhs. The assessments were revised in 1889-91, and the revenue was raised to 11-3 lakhs. A further revision is now in progress. In the Bahawalpur and Khanpur nizdmats, where the reassessment was completed in 1905, the increase amounts to 3-4 lakhs. Members of the Daudputra tribe, to which the Nawab belongs, hold revenue grants of the annual value of Rs. 74,000 on feudal conditions which are now obsolete. The revenue rates on cultivated lands vary from 8 annas per acre (unirrigated) to Rs. 5 per acre for gardens. The income from the grazing tax (lirni) in 1903-4 was 1-3 lakhs.

The Excise department is controlled by the Mushlr-i-Mal. The contract for the manufacture and vend of country spirits is sold by auction annually, and in 1903-4 the State realized Rs. 25,000. The contractor arranges for the retail sale of the liquor, subject to the sanction of the department. The system in regard to the contract for the sale of opium and drugs is similar ; Rs. 34,000 was realized for the contract in 1903-4. The import of opium from Bahawalpur into the British Punjab is prohibited. The State receives an allotment of 15 chests of Malwa opium per annum, each chest containing 1-25 cwt. The State pays a special duty of Rs. 280 per chest, instead of the ordinary duty of Rs. 725 ; but the duty so paid is refunded with a view to securing the co-operation of the State officials in the suppres- sion of smuggling. By the agreement of 1879, the Nawab is bound to prohibit and prevent the manufacture of salt within the State, and in return receives a subsidy of Rs. 80,000 from the British Government.

The State contains sixteen municipalities, the committees being composed of nominated official and non-official members. Each is under the Mushir-i-ala as cx-ojfficio president, and the Bahawalpur committee has one official vice-president, who also supervises the outlying municipalities. In 1903-4 the municipalities had an income, chiefly derived from octroi, of Rs. 88,000, and an expenditure of Rs. 82,000. Octroi is levied on the principles in force in British territory.

The Public Works department is under the control of the Mushlr-i- tamirat, who has a seat on the council. The principal works that have been carried out by the department are the palace at Ahmadpur, and the palace at Bahawalpur, each of which cost 7 lakhs. A new palace at Bahawalpur is in course of construction, on which nearly a lakh had been spent up to the end of Mareh, 1904. The total expenditure on public works in 1903-4 was 2 lakhs.

In 1888 the State organized a force of cavalry (two troops) and 450 infantry as Imperial Service troops; but in 1900 this force was disbanded, and an Imperial Service Silladar Camel Transport Corps raised instead. This consists of 355 men and 1,144 camels. There is also an Imperial Service (Camel) Mounted Rifle Company, with 169 officers, non-commissioned officers, and men. The State further maintains the Nizam Infantry Regiment (492 strong), an orderly troop (103 strong), and an Imperial Service Reserve Company of 80 men. There are 13 serviceable guns. The military expenditure is about 2 lakhs annually.

The police force in 1904-5 consisted of 539 officers and men, including 47 camel-riders and 34 trackers, under a Superintendent, controlled by the Mushlr-i-ala. A training school was opened at Bahawalpur in 1904. Each tahsil is divided into several police circles {thanas), under a deputy-inspector. There are in all 30 circles, with 15 outposts. The expenditure on police in 1903-4 was Rs. 56,000. Village watchmen number 873. There is a central jail at Bahawalpur town in charge of a Superintendent, who is under the Mushir-i-ala. It contains 17 wards, with accommodation for 2,000 prisoners. Female prisoners are kept in a separate ward, and life-prisoners in separate cells. The jail manufactures include daris, carpets, blankets, and paper.

Bahawalpur stands thirty-first among the Districts and States of the Punjab in regard to the literacy of the population, of whom 2-8 per cent. (5-1 males and o-i females) could read and write in 1901. Higher education is confined to Bahawalpur, the capital. The State contains a college, called the Sadik Egerton College, and a high school, both at Bahawalpur, 7 Anglo-vernacular middle schools, 32 primary schools, and 6 Muhammadan theological schools. There is also a Church Mission school at Bahawalpur, to which the Nawab gives a grant-in-aid. Public schools are supervised by an Inspector. The total expenditure on education in 1903-4 was Rs. 33,000.


The State possesses two hospitals at Bahawalpur town, and six out- lying dispensaries. The two hospitals contain accommodation for 36 in-patients. In 1904 the number of cases treated was 27,232, of whom 403 were in-patients, and 3,591 operations were performed. The expenditure of the Medical depart- ment (including vaccination) in the same year was Rs. 29,000. The department is in charge of the State Medical officer. The number of successful vaccinations in 1903-4 amounted to 21-9 per 1,000 of the population.

A revenue survey of the entire inhabited area of the State was made in 1869-74. The maps were revised in 1880, and are now again under revision, those for the Khanpur and Bahawalpur nizamats having been completed in 1904. A 4-inch survey of the riverain tracts and a 2-inch survey of the desert portion were carried out in 1S69-74, the result being published on the i-inch scale in 1876.

[State Gazetteer (in press) ; Shahamat All, History of Bahaivalpur (184S).]

Personal tools