Banda District, 1908

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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.


Physical aspects

District in the Allahabad Division of the United Provinces, lying south-west of the Jumna, between 24 53' and 25 55' N. and 79 59' and 8i° 34' E., with an area of 3,060 square miles. On the north and north-east the Jumna divides it from Fatehpur and Allahabad ; Allahabad and the State of Rewah lie on its eastern border ; the States of Panna, Sohawal, Kothi, Patharkachhar, Chaubejaglrs, Charkhari, and Ajaigarh form the southern boundary ; and the States of Charkhari and Gaurihar and Hamlrpur District lie on the west. Banda consists of a varied country, sloping downwards from the Vindhyan range on the south and west to the valley of the Jumna on the north and north-east. The south-eastern or highest portion P r aspects.

is composed of the sandstone hills which form the northward escarpment of the great table-land of Central India. These hills are well wooded and are arranged in a series of terraces with bold and abrupt scarps facing the north, their highest elevations being 1,300 feet above the sea. Their sides are scored by the beds of mountain torrents, which during the rainy months form affluents of the Jumna, but in the dry season gradually diminish, until by the month of May their channels are mostly empty. The Ken, Baghain, and PaisunI, however, the most important among them, are never quite dry. North of this hilly region lies a tract of undulating plains, at first thickly studded with rocky isolated hills, sometimes crowned by ruined fortresses, which rapidly decrease in number and size. The plain itself, the most fertile portion of the District, is widest at its western extremity, and narrows like a wedge as it runs eastward. The Jumna valley rises by a series of terraces, broken by ravines, to the level of the table-land above.

In the greater part of the District the older rocks are concealed by the alluvium of the Gangetic plain. The northern or Bindhachal range of the Vindhyan plateau consists of Kaimur sandstone, while the southern or Panna range is composed of the overlying upper Rewah sandstone, and the space between is made up of the Panna and Jhirl shales. Below the sandstone lies the Archaean gneiss, which is visible only in a few places.

The hills in the south-east are covered with 'reserved' forest, while the rest of the District is fairly well wooded. The flora of Banda has been fully described l . The characteristic feature is that it forms the northern limit of many Central and Southern Indian species, which here meet the plants of bhe Doab. Ai/an/us excelsa and teak are not found farther north in a wild state. The mahua tree (Bassia latifolia) is of great economic value, and is largely planted.

Tigers are occasionally found in the 'reserved' forest, and leopards, hyenas, wolves, and bears are more common in the same tract. Sambar haunt the forests, and antelope are common in the plains, while wild hog abound in many parts. Sand-grouse, partridges, quail, duck, teal, and geese are the commonest game-birds. Fish, including small mahseer and Indian trout, abound in the Ken, Baghain, and Paisunl, and many kinds are common in the Jumna. The crocodile and the porpoise are also found in several rivers.

The cold season is less intense than in the neighbouring Districts of the Doab, frost being rare. The hot season commences in the middle of March, and is distinguished by the absence of dust-storms and comparative clearness of the atmosphere. The heat soon becomes intense and lasts till late in October. The climate is unhealthy for both Europeans and natives, and deaths from exposure to the sun are unusually frequent.


The annual rainfall averages more than 40 inches, but the west of the District receives less than the south near the hills and the east near the Jumna. Large variations from the average are frequent. In 1894 the rainfall was about 82 inches, and in 1896 only 18 inches. According to tradition, Rama and Sita during their exile stayed a while at Chitrakut. The history of the District is that of Bun- delkhand. South of Banda stands the magnificent hill fortress of Kalinjar, one of the chief strongholds of the Chandels, who ruled from about 850 till the rise of Musalman influence. About 1182 PrithwT Raj of Delhi defeated Parmal Deva, the last great Chandel ruler, and in 1203 the Chandels were finally overthrown by Kutb-ud-dln, and became petty Rajas. Mewatls and Bhars then overran the country, and its history for several hunared years is scanty. Though the Muhammadans had overthrown the ruling dynasty, they never acquired a firm hold, and Sher Shah lost his life at the siege of Kalinjar in 1545. Under Mughal rule the District formed part of the Subah of Allahabad ; but early in the eighteenth century the Bundelas, whose power hitherto had not extended perma- nently as far east as Banda, took Kalinjar, and Chhatar Sal, their leader, was recognized by Shah Alam Bahadur as ruler of Bundelkhand. Con- tests with the imperial troops under Muhammad Khan, the Bangash Nawab of Farrukhabad, who was governor of Allahabad, led to the calling in of the Marathas, and by the middle of the eighteenth 1 M. P. Edgeworth in Journal, Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. xxi. century the Bundela dominions gradually split up into small states. Internal dissensions favoured the extension of Maratha power, and in 1776 British troops marched south from KalpT against the intruders.

During the rest of the century misrule increased ; and the Marathas overran Banda under All Bahadur, an illegitimate son of the Peshwa Bajl Rao, in alliance with Himmat Bahadur, a religious mendicant who had turned soldier. All Bahadur fell at a siege of Kalinjar in 1802. The District was ceded to the British by the Treaty of Poona in 1803 ; but Shamsher Bahadur, son of All Bahadur, and several indepen- dent chiefs had to be reduced. Himmat Bahadur, on the other hand, yielded and received a large jaglr along the Jumna, which lapsed to the British shortly after. The District remained quiet under British rule, but its fiscal history, which will be related later, was unfortunate.

On the outbreak of the Mutiny in May, 1857, the ignorant inhabi- tants were easily incited to revolt by the Cawnpore and Allahabad mutineers. The 1st Native Infantry seized on the magazine and public buildings at Banda, and were joined by the troops of the Nawab. Until June 14 every effort was made by the British residents to retain the town, but on that date it was abandoned. The Nawab of Banda, a descendant of All Bahadur, whose name he bore, then put himself at the head of the rebellious movement. The Joint-Magistrate of Karwi, Mr. Cockerell, was murdered at the gate of the Nawab's palace on June 15. The rural population, with a few notable exceptions, rose en masse, and a period of absolute anarchy followed. The Nawab attempted to organize a feeble government ; but his claims were disputed by other pretenders, and he was quite unable to hold in check the mob of plunderers whom the Mutiny had let loose upon the District. The fort of Kalinjar, however, was held throughout by the British forces, aided by the Raja of Panna. The town of Banda was recovered by General Whitlock on April 20, 1858.

The most striking remains in Banda District are contained in the great fort of Kalinjar ; but Chandel temples have survived in many places, and the fort of Marpha also deserves mention. The town of Kalinjar contains a few Muhammadan buildings, and the Marathas have left some memorials at Banda and Karwi. Stone implements have been found at several places in or near the hills, and are collected in many village shrines. A few caves contain ancient rude drawings.


There are 5 towns and 1,188 villages. The population, which had been increasing steadily, received a sudden check in the disastrous series of years from 1892 to 1897. The numbers at the last four enumerations were as follows: (1872) 697,684, (1881) 698,608, (1891) 705,832, and (1901) 631,058. Banda is divided into eight tahsils — Banda, PailanI, Baberu, Kamasin, Mau, Karwi, Babausa, and Girwan — the head-quarters of each being at a town of the same name. The principal towns are the municipality of Banda, the District head-quarters, and Karwi, the head-quarters of a tahsil and subdivision. The following table gives the chief statistics of population in 1901 : —


About 94 per cent, of the population are Hindus and less than 6 per cent. Musalmans. As in all the Bundelkhand Districts, the density of population is less than half the Provincial average. Eastern Hindi is the prevailing language; but it is much mixed with the Bundell dialect of Western Hindi. Various dialects are recognized locally, such as Kundrl, Tirhari, Gahora, and Jurar.

Chamars (leather-workers and cultivators), 98,000, are the most numerous Hindu caste. The following are also important : Brahmans, 92,000; Ahlrs, 59,000; Rajputs, 49,000; Korls (weavers), 28,000; and Kurmls, 24,000. The Kols, a jungle tribe more common in Central India, number 5,700; and the Domars, a depressed labouring caste, 5,000. Among Musalmans the Shaikhs number 17,000 and the Pathaiis 8,000. Agriculture supports 70 per cent, of the population, and general labour 6 per cent. Brahmans, Rajputs, and Kurmls are the chief holders of land ; and the same castes, together with Kachhls and Ahlrs, are the principal cultivators. '

In 1901 there were 147 native Christians, of whom 82 were Angli- cans, 30 Presbyterians, and 1 1 Methodists. The Society for the Propaga- tion of the Gospel Mission commenced work about the time of the Mutiny, and a missionary has been stationed at Banda town since 1873. The American Methodist Mission has two branches in the District.

Like the whole of Bundelkhand, Banda is specially liable to fluctua- tions in agricultural prosperity, and cultivation advances or declines in alternate cycles. The prevailing soils differ con- siderably in composition and fertility. Mar is a rich black soil, which can be easily tilled in favourable seasons and is often very fertile. It is retentive of moisture and can thus, with ordinary Agriculture.rain, produce wheat and other spring crops without irrigation. An excess or too great deficiency of rain makes mar unworkable. Kabar is stiffer and more difficult to work than mar; and although it is also capable of producing spring crops, it is more easily rendered unworkable by variations in the rainfall. Mar and kabar are found in most parts of the District, but especially in the northern plain.

A red or yellow loam called parwa, resembling the ordinary loam soil of the Doab, occurs in many parts. Where the surface is uneven, and especially near the ravines and watercourses which drain into the larger rivers, the natural soil is deprived of its more fertile constituents, and produces only a scanty autumn harvest. The level tracts in the beds of the larger rivers, called tarl or kachhdr, often consist of very fertile alluvium. Near the hills, and on the Vindhyan terraces, a thin layer of red soil is found, which soon becomes exhausted by cultivation. One of the greatest difficulties which the cultivator has to contend with is the growth of a coarse grass called kans (Saccharum spontaneum) t which spreads rapidly. The spring crops are also liable to be attacked by rust in damp and cloudy cold weather.

At cession the prevailing tenure was ryotwari, which under the policy adopted became pattidari and bhaiyachara, with a variety of the latter known as bhej bardr. The transfers of property during the early period of British rule led to an increase in zamindari villages, which are gradually disintegrating into pattidari, though they still include nearly half the estates in the District. A peculiar tenure, named pauth, exists, chiefly in alluvial land, in accordance with which a plot of land passes in annual succession to a different co-sharer or cultivator. The privilege of cultivating land on payment of revenue rates and not rent rates has also survived. The main agricultural statistics for 1903-4 are shown below, in square miles : —


NOTE.— Statistics for the Banda and Pailani tahsils are for 1902-3. The chief food crops, with their areas in 1903-4, were gram (519 square miles) and joivar (299), covering 38 and 22 per cent., respec- tively, of the net cultivated area ; rice, wheat, bdj'ra, and barley are also of importance. Oilseeds (137 square miles) and cotton (75 square miles) are the principal non-food crops.

As in the other Bundelkhand Districts, there has been no improve- ment in agricultural practice in Banda. The area under cultivation varies considerably. Attempts have been made to eradicate kans by a steam-plough and by flooding ; but the former method was too costly, and the latter is difficult owing to the scarcity of water. Nearly 6 lakhs was advanced under the Land Improvement and Agriculturists' Loans Acts between 1891 and 1900, of which 3-4 lakhs was lent in the bad years, 1895-7. In the four more favourable years, 1900-4, the total advances amounted to Rs. 86,000.

There is one well-defined breed of cattle called Kenwariya, chiefly found along the river Ken. The cattle are small, but hardy and active, and thrive on poor food. Attempts are now being made to improve the strain. A little horse-breeding is conducted in the Pailani ta/isll, and the experiment of maintaining a stallion at Banda town has met with considerable success. The goats are of distinctly high standard, and sheep-breeding is an industry of some importance, both for wool and for supplying meat to Cawnpore and Allahabad.

At the present time there is very little irrigation in Banda, owing to the difficulty of obtaining a supply of water, and the unsuitability of mar soil for well-irrigation. The spring-level is 60 to 100 feet below the surface, and temporary wells can be made only in few places. The rivers flow in deep channels through broken country. Thus in 1903-4 only 9 square miles were irrigated. Wells supplied two-thirds of this, a few fields in which garden crops are grown being found in many villages. Many scattered fields, however, are kept sufficiently moist by means of small embankments, and the extension of this system is being tried. A canal, which was begun in 1903 and opened in 1906, draws its supply from the Ken by means of a dam and reservoir. It is designed to serve the tract between the Ken and Baghain rivers, and will protect an area containing 65 per cent, of the total population, in which 33 lakhs was spent on famine relief in 1896-7. The estimated cost of the canal is 37 lakhs.

The forests in the south-east of the District cover an area of 114 square miles, of which 84 are ' reserved.' They are of small commercial importance, but serve to prevent further erosion, and supply the wants of the neighbouring villages for grazing and minor produce. Teak, bamboos, Bosivellia tharifera, Buchanania latifolia, Fiats hitifolia, lagerstroemia parviflora, Odin a IVodier, Sterculia urens, and Ter- minalia tomentosa are the principal trees.

The sandstone in the south of the District is, in places, well adapted for building, for millstones, and for other purposes. Greenstone, pipe- clay, and limestone are also worked. Iron is found and was formerly worked at several places ; but the reservation of the forests has in- creased the cost of fuel. There was formerly a diamond mine in the Bindhachal range, but it has been closed.

Trade and communications

The industries of the District are few "and unimportant. Coarse cotton cloth, cotton prints, metal cooking-vessels, and rough cotton carpets are made in several places for the local market. Agate pebbles, imported from the Nar- communications . bada, are cut and polished, and used for a variety of ornaments. There is a small production of silk-embroidered plush or velvet articles at KarwI. A single cotton gin at the same place employed 180 hands in 1903.

The trade of Banda is chiefly in agricultural produce and in the few articles required by the population. In favourable years gram, millet, and wheat are largely exported. Cotton is a considerable item of export, and the produce of this District has a good reputa- tion. Rice, sugar, tobacco, salt, and metals are the chief imports. Traffic from the greater part of the District was formerly directed towards the Jumna, and was then either carried by river, or taken to Fatehpur on the East Indian Railway ; but the opening of a line through the District has partly diverted this trade, though Bindki and Cawnpore still attract a large share of the commerce of the District. Banda, Karwi, and Rajapur are the most flourishing trade centres.

A branch of the East Indian Railway from Allahabad to Jubbulpore has a length of 47 miles in the south-east of the District. At Manikpur this is met by the Midland section of the Great Indian Peninsula line from Jhansi, which passes through Banda and Karwi. Communica- tions have been greatly improved in recent years ; and the District contains 131 miles of metalled roads, of which 56 are maintained at the cost of Provincial revenues, and 587 miles of unmetalled roads. Avenues of trees are kept up on 120 miles. The chief routes are from Banda town to Chilla on the Jumna, from Banda towards Saugor, and from Banda through Karwi to Manikpur.


Distress in Banda District may be due to excess or deficiency of rain. The former causes a spread of kans or rust, while the latter prevents cultivation. Bundelkhand suffered from famine in 18 13-4 and again in 181 9, when over- assessment aggravated the distress. A series of bad years necessitated large remissions between 1833 and 1837. In 1837-8, however, the people escaped more lightly than in the neighbouring Districts to the north and east. The next famine of 1869 was due to excessive rain in 1867 and a deficiency in 1868. In May, 11,000 persons were employed on relief works, and the people lost many of their cattle. The District was depressed till 1873, when there was a recovery; and vol. vi. A a the drought of 1877 was beneficial, inasmuch as it checked the growth of kans. Another period of depression commenced in 1884, when excessive rain damaged the autumn harvest for several years in succes- sion. In 1888 the rains ceased early and kans again spread. Re- missions of revenue were given; but rust and heavy rain in 1894, and a short fall in 1895, caused actual famine. The misery of the people was completed by the failure of the rains in 1896, when Banda suffered more than any other District in the Provinces.


The three eastern tahsils — Mau, Kamasin, and Karwl — form a sub- division, usually in charge of a member of the Indian Civil Service, . . . who is stationed at Karwl. The Collector is assisted by a member of the Indian Civil Service and by three Deputy-Collectors recruited in India, and a tahsildar is stationed at the head-quarters of each tahsil. The Ken Canal, completed in 1 906, is now in charge of an Executive Engineer.

The District Judge and Sub-Judge of Banda exercise civil jurisdiction throughout Banda and Hamlrpur Districts. The former is also Sessions Judge of both Districts, and in addition tries the sessions cases of Fatehpur. Banda is singularly free from crime. A Special Judge is at present inquiring into the cases of estates brought under the Bundelkhand Encumbered Estates Act.

At cession most of the present Districts of Banda and Hamlrpur and part of Jalaun were formed into a single District called Bundel- khand. This was divided into Northern and Southern Districts in 1 81 9, Banda forming most of the latter. Under the Marathas the revenue system had been ryotwdri, and the assessment was a rack- rent pitched at the highest figure that could be collected. The early British assessments were fixed for short periods as usual, and at first were moderate and well distributed. From 1809, however, a period of over-taxation commenced. The revenue was enhanced nominally by 12 per cent.; but a change in currency made the increase really as much as 29 per cent. The severity of the assessments was only surpassed by the methods of collection, and corrupt native officials and speculators acquired large areas.

A period of agricultural pro- sperity led to still larger enhancements in 181 5. The mistake was partly due to excessive reliance on the existing prosperity, and to ignorance of the peculiarities of Bundelkhand soils ; and it was aggravated by the policy of the time. Bad seasons, commencing in 1 81 9, were not accepted as a sufficient reason for reduction ; but in 1835 remission became absolutely necessary. In 1828 the rains failed, and by 1830 the District was reduced to a condition of almost general bankruptcy. A great part of Banda was then taken for a time under direct management, and collections were made from the culti- vators with some success.

A survey was commenced in 1836, and in 1843-4 the first regular settlement was made; average rent rates were fixed for all the well-known classes of soil, and were applied without sufficient allowance for variations, the total demand being 16-3 lakhs. Bad seasons and rigorous administration had at last led to the sanction of a reduction of revenue when the Mutiny broke out. In 1858-9 the demand was reduced by nearly 18 per cent., and the District recovered rapidly, only to suffer again from excessive rainfall in 1867 and the following years. The next revision of settle- ment, which commenced in 1874, thus coincided with a period of great depression. The assessment, as usual, was based primarily on assumed rates for each class of soil; but these were modified according to the actual condition of each village. The area to which these rates were applied was not, however (except in the Karwl subdivision, which was separately settled), the actual cultivated area, but an assumed standard area which was carefully worked out for each village, and which allowed for a margin of fallow. The result was an assessment of 1 1 -3 lakhs, which was sanctioned for twenty years only.

It has already been stated that a cycle of adverse seasons commenced again in 1888. In 1893 reductions of revenue, amounting to Rs. 19,000, were made, and the settlement was extended for ten years in 1894. Deterioration was already setting in, and large reductions have been made since the famine of 1896-7. The revenue demand in 1903-4 was only 9 lakhs. The District is now under the operation of the Bundelkhand Alienation of Land Act, and in 1905 a system of fluctu- ating assessments was commenced.

Collections on account of land revenue and total revenue have been, in thousands of rupees : —


Banda town is the only municipality in the District, but four towns are administered under Act XX of 1856. Local affairs beyond the limits of these places are managed by the District board, which in 1903-4 had an income and expenditure of 1-5 lakhs. The expenditure includes Rs. 91,000 on roads and buildings. There are 23 police stations. The District Superintendent of police has an Assistant stationed at Karwl, and commands a force of 4 inspectors, no subordinate officers, and 420 constables, besides 78 municipal and town police, and 1,731 rural and road police. The District jail at Banda contained a daily average of 262 prisoners in 1903, and the jail at Karwl 32 in the same year.

Allowing for the absence of towns, Banda is not very backward as A a 2 regards literacy, compared with other Districts in the United Provinces. In 1901, 3 per cent. (5-9 males and o-i females) could read and write. The number of public schools rose from 142 with 3,884 pupils in 1 880-1 to 149 with 4,953 pupils in 1900-1. In 1903-4 there were 172 such institutions with 6,192 pupils, including 198 girls, besides 10 private schools with 204 boys. Two schools were managed by Government, and most of the others by the District or municipal boards. Out of a total expenditure on education o Rs. 37,000, fees supplied only Rs. 2,800, the balance being met from Local funds. There are 6 hospitals and dispensaries, with accommodation for 157 in-patients. In 1903 the number of cases treated was 38,000, including 900 in-patients, and 2,000 operations were performed. The total expenditure was Rs. 11,500, chiefly met from Local funds. About 21,000 persons were successfully vaccinated in 1903-4, repre- senting a proportion of 33 per 1,000 of population. Vaccination is compulsory only in the municipality of Banda. {District Gazetteer (1874, under revision); A. Cadell, Settlement Report (excluding Karwl) (188 1); A. B. Patterson, Settlement Report Kanvi Subdivision (1883).]

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