Ludhiana 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, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.


Ludhiana District

Physical aspects

District in the Jullundur Division of the Punjab, lying between 30° 34' and 31° i' N. and 75° 22' and 76 24' E., with an area of 1,455 square miles. It is bounded on the north by the Sutlej, which separates it from the District of Jullundur ; on the east by Ambala District and the Patiala State ; on the south by the territories of the chiefs of Patiala, Nabha, and Maler Kotla ; and on the west by the District of Ferozepore. In the south, several of its outlying villages are scattered among the States of Patiala, Jind, Nabha, and Maler Kotla ; while, on the other hand, in the east two or three groups of Patiala villages lie within its territory. It is divided into two portions by the high bank which marks the ancient bed of the Sutlej.

Beneath lies a half-deserted watercourse, called the Budha nullah, still full in all but the driest seasons, and once the main channel of the Sutlej. The principal stream of that river now runs farther north, leaving a broad alluvial strip, 2 to 6 miles in width, between its ancient and its modern beds. This strip, known as the Bet, forms the wider channel of the river, and is partly inundated after heavy rain. It is intersected in every direction by minor water- courses or nullahs, and, being composed of recent alluvium, is for the most part very fertile, but its eastern extremity has been injuriously affected by percolation from the Sirhind Canal. The uplands to the south of the high bank consist of a level plain, sloping gently to the south-west and broken only by some lines of sandhills which are very common in the Jangal, the south-western portion of the uplands ; this tract is traversed throughout by the Sirhind Canal.

There is nothing of geological interest in the District, which is situated entirely in the alluvium. It includes the extreme north-west comer of the Upper Gangetic plain, but to the south-west it approxi- mates to the desert region. Trees are few, unless where planted ; but the reru {Acacia leucophloea) is frequent locally, and the klkar {Acacia arabica), which is perhaps not aboriginal, is plentiful. The ber {Zizy- phusjujuba) is common in gardens and near homesteads.

Wolves are not uncommon. Ntlgai, antelope, and 'ravine deer' (Indian gazelle) are found throughout the southern part of the District, and hog in the rank grass near the Sutlej and Budha nullah.

The heat in May and June is intense, but no worse than in most parts of the Punjab plains. During the monsoon the air is damp and the climate relaxing, except in the Jangal with its dry climate and pure water ; and this tract is free from the outbreaks of autumnal fever, which sometimes occur after heavy rains in September. The Bet is peculiarly liable to these epidemics, and enlarged spleen and anaemia due to malarial poisoning are there common.

The rainfall is normal for the Punjab plains, ranging from 29 inches per annum at Samrala to 22 at Jagraon.


The early history of the District is obscure. Sunet, near Ludhiana, Machhiwara, and Tihara are all places of some antiquity, dating from the pre-Muhammadan period. The last, which lies in the north-west corner of the District, is identified by tradition with the Vairata of the Mahabharata, and was a place of some importance ; but the ancient site has long been washed away by the Sutlej. The town of Ludhiana dates only from the Lodi period, and the principality of Raikot originated in a grant of the Saiyid kings of Delhi. Under Akbar the tract formed a part of the sarkdr of Sirhind, but the later Mughals leased the western part of the present District to the Rais of Raikot.

Early in the eighteenth century they became semi-independent ; and though the imperial forces successfully withstood Ahmad Shah near Khanna in 1747, his subse- quent invasions so weakened the Mughal power that the Rais were suffered to take possession of Ludhiana town in 1760. Meanwhile the Sikhs had become a political power, especially on the south and south- west borders of the District ; and after their capture of Sirhind the Samrala tahsil fell into the hands of Sikh leaders, while the Rais retained most of the Ludhiana and Jagraon Tahsils. In 1798 the Rai, a minor, was attacked by the Sikhs under Bedi Sahib Singh of Una, who invested Ludhiana, but raised the siege when the Rai called in George Thomas. Finally, in 1806, Ranjlt Singh crossed the Sutlej on his first expedition against the Cis-Sutlej chiefs, and stripped the Rais of their possessions, leaving a couple of villages for the maintenance of two widows, who were the only remaining representatives of the ruling family.

In 1809, after Ranjit Singh's third invasion, a treaty was concluded between him and the British Government, by which his further con- quests were stopped, although he was allowed to retain all territories acquired in his first two expeditions. At the same time, all the Cis- SuTLEj States that had not been absorbed were taken under British protection. In the same year (1809) a cantonment for British troops was placed at Ludhiana, compensation being made to the Raja of jTnd, in whose possession it then was. In 1835, on the failure of the direct line of the Jlnd family, a tract of country round Ludhiana town came into British possession by lapse, and this formed the nucleus of the present District.

On the outbreak of the first Sikh War, Ludhiana was left with a small garrison, insufficient to prevent part of the cantonments being burnt by the chief of Ladwa or to oppose the passage of the Sutlej by Ranjodh Singh. Sir Harry Smith threw some 4,000 men into the place, after losing nearly all his baggage at the action of Baddowal. This reverse was, however, retrieved by the battle fought at AlTwal, close to the Sutlej, in which Ranjodh Singh was driven across the river, and the upper Sutlej cleared of the enemy.

On the conclusion of the first Sikh War in 1846, the District assumed very nearly its present limits, by the addition of territory annexed from the Lahore government and its adherents south of the Sutlej. Since the British occupation, the town of Ludhiana has grown in wealth and population, but its history has been marked by few noticeable events. The cantonment was abandoned in 1854. During the Mutiny in 1857 an unsuccessful attempt was made by the Deputy- Commissioner, Mr. Ricketts, with a small force, to stop the rebellious sepoys from JuUundur on their way to Delhi ; but, with the assistance rendered by the chiefs of Nabha and Maler Kotla, he was able to pre- vent an outbreak in the turbulent and disaffected town of Ludhiana.

In the villages the Muhammadan Gujars were the only people to show signs of disaffection, the Hindu and Sikh Jats remaining steadfastly loyal. In 1872 occurred an outbreak of the fanatical sect of Kukas, 150 of whom, starting from Bhaini in this District, made a raid upon Malaudh and the Muhammadan State of Maler Kotla. No adherents joined them, and the outbreak was at once suppressed ; Ram Singh, the leader of the sect, was deported from India. Since the first Afghan War (1838-42), Ludhiana town has been the residence of the exiled family of Shah Shuja.

Besides the ruins of Sunet above mentioned there are no antiqui- ties of importance. Under the Mughal emperors the imperial road from Lahore to Delhi ran through the District, and is marked by kos mindrs and by a large sarai^ built in the reign of Aurangzeb, at Khanna.


The population of the District at the last four enumerations was : (1868) 585,547, (1881) 618,835, (1891) 648,722, and (1901) 673,097, dwelling in 5 towns and 864 villages. The District is divided into three tahsils — Ludhiana, Jagraon, and Samrala — the head-quarters of each being at the place from which it is named. The towns are the municipalities of Ludhiana, the head-quarters of the District, Jagraon, Khanna, Raikot, and Machhiwara.

The following table shows the chief statistics of population in I 901 : —


Hindus number 269,076, or 40 per cent, of the total; Muham- madans, 235,937, or 35 per cent. ; and Sikhs, 164,919, or 24 per cent. The language of the District is Punjabi.

The tribes and castes are distinguished by no local peculiarities. Jats or Jats number 235,000, or 35 per cent, of the total, 132,000 being Sikhs and 77,000 Hindus. If the Jats are the best peasantry in India, the Jats of the Malwa (i.e. those of Ferozepore and Ludhiana) possess in a greater degree than any other branch of the tribe the qualities which have earned for them this distinction. They have a finer physique, and as farmers are more prudent and thrifty, than their brethren in Lahore and Amritsar. The Rajputs (29,000) are un- doubtedly the oldest of the agricultural tribes now found in the District. They are almost all Muhammadans, and present a striking contrast to the Sikh and Hindu Jats, being indolent and thriftless cultivators.

The Gujars (33,000) are mainly Muhammadans, inferior to the Jats in general ability, and as a tribe turbulent, lawless, and discontented. Lastly come the Arains (32,000), who are invariably Muhammadans, excelling as market-gardeners and making more than any one else out of a small plot of land, but incapable of managing large areas. The religious castes include Brahmans (25,000), who generally live on the Jats of the uplands, and the Muhammadan Madaris (6,000). About 17,000 persons (including the Madaris) are classed as Fakirs. The Suds (200) deserve mention, as Ludhiana is considered the head-quarters of their tribe. They are intelligent, and take readily to clerical service under Government. Among the artisan and menial castes may be mentioned the Chamars (leather-workers), 63,000 ; Chuhras (scavengers), 22,000 ; Jhinwars (water-carriers), 18,000; Kumhars (potters), 10,000; Lohars (blacksmiths), 9,000; Julahas (weavers), 17,000; Mochis (cobblers), 9,000; Nais (barbers), 12,000; Sonars (goldsmiths), 7,000; Tarkhans (carpenters), 21,000; and Telis (oil-pressers), 14,000. About 55 per cent, of the total popu- lation are returned as agricultural.

Ludhiana is the chief station in India of the American Presbyterian Mission. Founded here in 1834, the mission has established many branches throughout the Punjab and United Provinces, and main- tains a large number of dispensaries and schools, among which the Forman Christian College at Lahore is the best known. In 1901 the District contained 415 native Christians.


The soil of the Sutlej riverain is a stiff moist loam, constantly ferti- lized in the immediate neighbourhood of the river by the silt deposited by it. In the uplands south of the high bank every .

variety of soil is found, from stiff clay to the lightest of sand, the lighter soils prevailing along the high bank and to the south-west of the District, while those of the eastern parts are much stiffer. Where there is no irrigation, the light sandy loam is the safest soil ; although with copious rain its yield is much less than that of the stiffer soils, it is far more able to resist drought.

The District is held almost entirely by communities of peasant proprietors, estates belonging to large landowners covering only about 24 square miles.

The area for which details are available from the revenue records of 1903-4 is 1,394 square miles, as shown below : —


The principal crops of the spring harvest are wheat and gram, the areas under which were 364 and 285 square miles in 1903-4. Barley covered 32 square miles and rapeseed 35 square miles. Maize is the chief crop of the autumn harvest, with 1x5 square miles ; pulses covered 145 square miles, great millet 47 square miles, and spiked millet 4,110 acres. Sugar-cane covered only 18 square miles, but it is the most valuable autumn crop.

During the twenty years ending 1901 the cultivated area increased by more than 30,000 acres, the increase being chiefly due to the con- struction of the Sirhind Canal, As no more canal water can be spared for this District, the cultivated area, which now amounts to more than four-fifths of the total, is not likely to increase much farther. Loans under the Land Improvement Loans Act are not very popular, about Rs. 2,000 having been advanced during the five years ending 1904.

Ludhiana is not a great cattle-breeding District, owing to the small area available for grazing, and a large proportion of the cattle are imported from the breeding tracts to the south. The horses of the Jangal tract, in which part of the Jagraon tahs'tl lies, are a famous breed descended from Arab stallions kept dt Bhatinda by the Mughal emperors. The District board maintains 4 horse and 11 donkey stallions. Sheep and goats are kept in almost every village, and camels in the Jangal tract. A large number of ducks and geese are reared in the old cantonment for the Simla market.

Of the total area cultivated in 1903-4, 309 square miles, or 26 per cent., were classed as irrigated. Of this area, 219 square miles were irrigated from wells, 513 acres from wells and canals, 89 square miles from canals, and 103 acres from streams and tanks. In addition, 66 square miles, or 6 per cent, were subject to inundation from the Sutlej. The canal-irrigation is from the Sirhind Canal. The main line traverses the Samrala tahs'il without irrigating \K, and then below Doraha (in Patiala State) gives off the Abohar and Bhatinda branches ; the former passes through the Ludhiana and Jagraon taksi/s, supplying them from six distributaries, while the extreme south of the District is watered by a distributary of the Bhatinda branch. Wells in the uplands are of masonry, worked by bullocks on the rope-and-bucket system ; in the riverain tract, owing to the nearness of the water to the surface, lever and unbricked wells are largely used. In 1903-4 the District contained 10,481 masonry wells, and 362 unbricked and lever wells and water-lifts.

The only forests are two plantations of shisham [Dalbergia Sissoo) on the banks of the Sutlej, ' reserved ' under the Forest Act, with an area of 197 acres. There are also 179 acres of forest land under the District board. Kankar or nodular limestone is found in many places.

Trade and Communication

The chief industry is the weaving of shawls, known as Rampur chddars, from the wool of the Tibetan goat and other fine wools. The industry is chiefly carried on by a colony of communications. Kashmiris, who in 1833 migrated from Kashmir on account of a famine, and settled in Ludhiana town, where shawls used to be made until the trade was killed by the Franco- German War. Cotton stuffs are produced largely, and Ludhiana is famous for its turbans, which are imported from Hoshiarpur and embroidered in the town. Many regiments of the Indian army are suppHed with turbans from Ludhiana. Check cloths known as gah-utis are also made in large quantities from English and American yarns.

Ivory billiard-balls are turned at Ludhiana and Jagraon. The sugar industry is important, and a great deal of oil is expressed and exported. The District possesses two factories for ginning cotton, and two flour- mills. Both the ginning factories and one of the flour-mills are at Khanna, and the other flour-mill is at Ludhiana town. The number of employes in the ginning factories in 1904 was 145, and in the flour- mills 44.

There is a large export of wheat to Karachi, and of rapeseed, oil^ maize, millets, and pulses to the United Provinces and Bengal ; woollen and cotton goods are exported all over India. The chief imports are piece-goods, cotton yarn, sugar from the Jullundur Doab, and iron, salt, brass and copper vessels, and barley and inferior grains from the Native States to the south.

The main line of the North-Western Railway passes through Lud- hiana town, from which place the Ludhiana-Dhuri-Jakhal Railway (also broad gauge) runs to Dhuri on the Rajpura-Bhatinda line and Jakhal on the Southern Punjab Railway. A line connecting Ludhiana with Ferozepore, Fazilka, and M'Leodganj on the Southern Punjab Railway has recently been opened. The grand trunk road passes through the District by the side of the main line of railway, and an important metalled road runs from Ludhiana town via Ferozepore to Lahore. The total length of metalled roads is 165 miles and of unmetalled roads 207 miles ; of the former, 75 miles are under the Public Works department and the rest under the District board. The main line and Abohar branches of the Sirhind Canal are navigable, as is the Sutlej during the rains. The Sutlej is crossed by twelve ferries.


The District suffered, like the rest of the country, in the chalisa famine of 1783, and famines occurred in 1813 and 1833. In 1861 and 1869 there was considerable scarcity, and Rs. 6,000 and Rs. 7,000 respectively was spent on famine relief. Ludhiana was unaffected by the scarcity of 1878. The opening of the Sirhind Canal has made the District secure against drought, and food- grains were exported during the famines of 1897 and 1900. The area of crops matured in the famine year 1 899-1 900 amounted to 72 per cent, of the normal.


The District is in charge of a Deputy-Commissioner, aided by four Assistant or Extra- Assistant Commissioners, of whom one IS m charge of the District treasury. It is divided into the three Tahsils of Ludhiana, Samrala, and Jagraon, each under a tahs'dddr assisted by a naib-tahsildar, The Deputy-Commissioner as District Magistrate is responsible for criminal justice. The civil judicial work is under a District Judge, subordinate to the Divisional Judge of the Ambala Civil Division, who is also Sessions Judge. There are four Munsifs, two at head-quarters and one at each outlying tahstl. There are nine honorary magistrates. The crime of the District presents no features of special interest.

Under Akbar the District formed part of the Sirhind division or sarkdr. The revenue system was elaborate, being based on uniform measurements of the land and a careful classification of soils. Produce estimates were made, and the Government share fixed at one-third of the gross out-turn. Under Akbar's successors, and still more under the Sikhs, revenue assessment degenerated into a system of direct or vicarious extortion. The government, when it was strong enough, and its lessees when it was not, were restrained in their exactions only by the fear of losing their cultivators altogether. A summary assessment was made in 1847-9, ^ reduction varying from 3 to 6 annas in the rupee beiqg allowed on the existing demand. The regular settlement further reduced the demand by 11 per cent., the amount fixed in 1850 being 9-3 lakhs. This assessment worked well. Despite two periods of scarcity the revenue was punctually paid, and in no case were coercive measures found necessary. Transfers of land were few and credit remained generally good. The current settlement, carried out in 1879-83, was based on an estimated rise since i860 of 50 per cent, in prices, and an increase of 8 per cent, in cultivation ; but the propor- tion of the ' assets ' taken was one-half instead of two-thirds, and the enhancement amounted to 18 per cent. The revenue rates average Rs. 2-7 (maximum Rs. 4, minimum Rs. 1-6) on irrigated land, and Rs. 1-9 (maximum Rs. 2-10, minimum 8 annas) on unirrigated. The demand for the first year was 10-9 lakhs, including i-6 lakhs jdgir revenue; and in 1903-4, including cesses, it amounted to over 12-4 lakhs. The average size of a holding cultivated by an owner is 3-2 acres, by an occupancy tenant i'9, and by a tenant-at-will i'6 acres.

The collections of land revenue alone and of total revenue are shown below, in thousands of rupees : —


The District contains five municipalities : Ludhiana, Jagraon, Khanna, Raikot, and Machhiwara. Outside these, local affairs are managed by a District board, whose income in 1903-4 was Rs. 1,35,000, and expenditure Rs. 1,47,000. Education is the principal item of local expenditure.

The regular police force consists of 508 of all ranks, including 1 1 7 municipal police, under a Superintendent, •who usually has three inspectors to assist him. The village watchmen number 917. There are 12 police stations, 2 outposts, and 16 road-posts. The District jail at head-quarters has accommodation for 318 prisoners.

The District stands fourth among the twenty-eight Districts of the Province in respect of the literacy of its population. In 1901 the pro- portion of literate persons was 4-7 per cent. (8-3 males and o-i females). The number of pupils under instruction was 3,977 in 1880-1, 8,875 in 1890-1, 10,825 in 1900-1, and 8,763 in 1903-4. In the last year the District possessed 19 secondary, 104 primary, and 2 special (public) schools, and 8 advanced and 73 elementary (private) schools, with 633 girls in the public and 351 in the private schools. The com- paratively high standard of education is largely due to the energy of the missionaries. The two mission high schools at Ludhiana, one of them a boarding-school, are aided by Government. There are fifteen middle schools throughout the District, including one for girls at Gujarwal. The District board maintains a technical school, teaching up to the middle standard, at Ludhiana. The North India School of Medicine for Christian Women gives professional teaching. The total expendi- ture on education in 1903-4 was i-i lakhs, of which District funds supplied Rs. 25,000 and municipal funds Rs. 18,000. Government grants came to Rs. 5,000, and fees brought in Rs. 28,000.

Besides the civil hospital and branch dispensary at Ludhiana town, the District has six outlying dispensaries. At these institutions 103,764 out-patients and 1,336 in-patients were treated in 1904, and 5,206 operations were performed. The expenditure was Rs. 20,000, of which about half came from municipal funds.

The number of successful vaccinations in 1903-4 was 12,090, repre- senting 18 per 1,000 of the population.

[H. A. Rose, District Gazetteer (in press) ; T. G. 'Walker, Settlement Report (1884), and The Customary Law of the Ludhiana District (1885).]

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