Bellary District

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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.


Bellary District

Physical aspects

The westernmost of the four Ceded Districts in the Madras Presidency, lying between 14° 28' and 15° 58' N. and 75° 40' and 77° 38 E., with an area of 5,714 square miles. It is bounded on the west and north by the river Tungabhadra, which divides it from the Bombay Presidency and the Nizam's Dominions ; on the east by Kurnool and Anantapur Districts ; and on the south by the State of Mysore.

Bellary lies on the northern slope of the Deccan plateau, and the trend of the country is towards the north-east, ranging from elevation of over 2,000 feet above the sea on the south to about 1,000 feet in the north-east corner. The District is divided east and west by the range of hills in the midst of which lies the Native State of Sandur. To the west the surtace of the country is broken by various ranges of small hills, especially in the Kudligi and Harpanahalli taluks, where the land rises to join the Mysore plateau, and is often well wooded and generally picturesque. To the east lies a vast expanse of level, almost treeless, dreary, black cotton soil, forming two-thirds of the District, which is broken only by two small groups of hills in the extreme north and south, and by those granite masses, springing abruptly from the surrounding country, which form such a characteristic feature of the Deccan. The central rock of these is usually surrounded by loose boulders, sometimes of enormous size, split off by the action of the weather, and of every variety of colouring from warm reds and browns to pale slaty greys. The principal hills outside of Sandur are those round Kampli, Adoni, and Rayadrug, and the Copper Mountain range. The Kampli group is an irregular semicircle of barren hills lying to the north of Sandur on the banks of the Tungabhadra, and is mainly interesting as forming the site and natural fortification of the ancient city of Vijayanagar. The Copper Mountain, so called from mines no longer worked, is a small range 7 miles west of Bellary town, running parallel to the Sandur hills and rising to a height of 3,285 feet. The hills at Adoni and Rayadrug, on which stand the ancient forts of those towns, run up to 2,000 and 2,727 feet respectively. With the exception of the Sandur range, there is very little vegetation on any of these elevations, and no real forest.

The river system of the District consists of the Tungabhadra and its tributaries. The Tungabhadra, formed by the junction of the Tunga and Bhadra, both rising near the south-western frontier of Mysore, skirts the District on its western and northern borders for about 195 miles and eventually falls into the Kistna near Kurnool. During the hot season its stream is low and easily fordable in many places ; but from June to October, after the south-west monsoon, the waters rise from 15 to 25 feet and the river in several places exceeds half a mile in breadth. When not fordable, it is crossed (except in heavy floods) by means of coracles made of bamboo frames covered with hides. At Vijayanagar the river passes through a fine granite gorge, and below this its course is studded with rocks which render navigation impossible in the dry season. Its waters abound with crocodiles, and considerable quantities of fish are netted. It is crossed by the Southern Mahratta and Madras Railways at Hosuru and Rampuram respectively. The more notable places upon its banks are Vijayanagar, Kampli, and Mailar. The Hagari or Vedavati, the main tributary of the Tunga- bhadra in the District, rises in Mysore, and after flowing through the Rayadrug and Bellary fdiiiks falls into the Tungabhadra at Halekota. It is a very broad and shallow stream, with a total length of about 280 miles, of which 125 are in this District, and rarely has any flow of water for more than five months in the year. The sand from its bed, carried by the prevailing south-westerly winds, is perpetually encroach- ing on the land along its eastern banks. At Moka, 12 miles from Bellary, the sand-beds are nearly 2 miles broad. The channel of the river varies from a quarter to three-quarters of a mile in width, and even at flood-time the water rarely exceeds 4 feet in depth. The Southern Mahratta Railway bridges it at Paramadevanahalli. The Chikka Hagari is a small stream, also rising in Mysore, which, after crossing the western taluks, falls into the Tungabhadra at Kittanuru. Though it comes down occasionally in heavy floods during the monsoons, it is perfectly dry for many months in the year. The irrigation from these rivers is referred to below.

Five-sixths of Bellary is covered with Archaean rocks, granitoid and gneissic, and the little barren hills, characteristic of the Deccan, are formed of these. Superimposed upon them are four well-marked bands of the younger Dharwar series, which run right across the District from north-west to south-east. The chief of these is the line forming the Sandur hills, which is remarkable for the immense quantities of rich hematite it contains. There is also an old gold-mine in it. Quartz tops several of the hills, and trap dikes of great length and width are further characteristics of the geology of the District.

In the drier eastern taluks the flora consists largely of such drought- resisting plants as Euphorbias, acacias, and Asclepiads, and the Acacia arabica and the margosa (Melia Azadirachta) are the characteristic trees. In the west the growth is more luxuriant and date-palms flourish in the damper hollows. Over all the waste lands grow the yellow- flowered Cassia auriculata and the Dodonaea. The chief trees in such forests as the District possesses are referred to under Forests below.

Leopards are fairly numerous in the hills of Sandur and in the Kudligi and Harpanahalli taluks, where their depredations on cattle are considerable. Bears are found in the western hills, and hyenas and wolves in Harpanahalli. Wild hog infest the Kampli hills and parts of the Kudligi taluk, and do much damage to crops. There are also a considerable number of chinkdra (gazelle) and antelope in the western taluks and in Adoni, but they are not often to be seen in the flatter eastern taluks. Of the larger game-birds, peafowl and bustard are found in Hadagalli and Harpanahalli. The former are especially common along the banks of the Tungabhadra.

The climate of the District is exceedingly dry throughout and correspondingly healthy. The only parts which are at all malarious are the Kudligi taluk, where there are numerous hills and tanks (artificial irrigation reservoirs), and the irrigated cultivation along the Tunga- bhadra. The western taluks, especially Harpanahalli, where the temperature approximates to that of the Mysore plateau, are consider- ably cooler than the eastern. The average mean of the year at Bellary town is 82°, but this is considerably exceeded at Adoni. Ramandrug, the little military sanitarium on the Sandur hills, has an average temperature about 12° cooler than Bellary.

Lying almost in the middle of the Peninsula, the District gets rain from both monsoons, but only after their supply is almost exhausted. Though everywhere very light, the fall varies considerably in different parts. It is heaviest at Ramandrug (39 inches), and the Adoni and Hospet taluks (27 inches) receive a good deal more than the western taluks or Bellary and Rayadrug. In these last two the average fall is only 19 inches, and they form one of the driest tracts in the Presidency. Rather more than half the year's supply is received during the south- west monsoon. The rainfall is not only small but also very uncertain, and Bellary has suffered constantly from prolonged droughts and fre- quent deficiencies in the monsoons. Except for famine, it has, how- ever, been peculiarly free of late years from serious natural calamities. In 1804, during the south-west monsoon, there was a series of terrific storms during which hunareds of tanks were breached ; and again in 1851 a cyclone swept through the District, washing away several villages, and destroying many roads and irrigation works. The Hagari rose suddenly during this storm and overwhelmed the town of Guliam on its right bank, drowning many of the inhabitants.


The country round Vijayanagar is the traditional scene of some of the most notable events in the Ramayana. Inscriptions show that Bellary was intimately connected with the fortunes of the early dynasties of the Western Chalukyas and their successors the Hoysala Ballalas. But little definite is known of the history of the District before the fourteenth century. In 1336 was founded on the banks of the Tungabhadra, near the present hamlet of Hampi, the famous town of Vijayanagar, ' the city of victory.' The town rapidly became the nucleus of a kingdom, and the kingdom grew into an empire. For two centuries its rulers succeeded in uniting the Hindus of Southern India and holding in check the Musalmans who were advancing from the north. In 1565, at the battle of Talikota, Vijayanagar was utterly overthrown by a combination of the Sultans of the Deccan. The Musalman dominion which followed was weak, and the country was split up into small principalities under chieftains known to history as poligdrs. Locally, their powers were absolute and they used them mercilessly, so that the common people were everywhere ground into the dust. Aurangzeb annexed the dominions of the Musalman kings ; the Marathas, and after them Haidar All of Mysore, followed and seized much of the District ; the Nizam's rule succeeded ; but through all these changes the poligdrs continued to hold all local authority, and it was with them that the British had to deal when the District was ceded to the Company. Bellary had fallen into the power of Haidar All of Mysore and his son Tipti in the latter part of the eighteenth century. At the partition of Tipu's territory in 1792, part of the District fell to the Nizam. At the further partition which occurred after Tipu's defeat and death at Seringapatam in 1799, the Nizam obtained the rest of it ; but he ceded both portions and other adjoining territory to the British in 1800. Major (afterwards Sir Thomas) Munro was the first Collector of the country so obtained, called the Ceded Districts, which included the present Districts of Cuddapah, Bellary, Anantapur, and much of Kurnool ; and his first care was to reduce to order the eight poligars whom he found within it. Some of these were pensioned and the estates of the remainder were resumed. In 1808 the tract was split into two Districts, Cuddapah and Bellary. The latter then included the present District of Ananta- pur. This was formed into a separate Collectorate in 1882, and Bellary District as it now stands has thus been a separate Collectorate for only twenty-four years.

More palaeolithic and neolithic settlements and implements have been found in Bellary than in any other District in Madras, and some of them are of great interest. Round Gollapalle in the Rayadrug taluk are hundreds of kistvaens of the usual pattern, some of which have been found to contain pottery, bones, &c. Jain temples are numerous, and in the western taluks are a number of little Chalukyan shrines, covered with most delicate carving in steatite. These are described and illustrated in Mr. Rea's Chalukyan Architecture. At Adoni, Bellary, Rayadrug, and elsewhere are ancient hill fortresses of much interest. But the most important antiquities in the District are the extensive and impressive ruins, near Hampi, of the great capital of the Vijayanagar empire.


The District contains 10 towns and 929 villages. It is divided into 8 taluks, the head-quarters of which are at the places from which each is named. Statistics of population according to the Census of 1901 are given ni the table on next page. The principal towns are the two municipalities of Bellary, the Dis- trict head-quarters, and Adoni ; and the eight Unions of Hospet, Yemmiganur, Rayadrug, Kampli, Harpanahalli, Kosigi, Kotturu, and Siruguppa. The population of the District in 1871 was 911,755 ; in 1881, 726,275 ; in 1891, 880,950; and in 1901, 947,214. Hindus form 89 per cent, of the total and Musalmans 10 per cent. The famine of 1876-8 was very severely felt, and it was not until over twenty years afterwards that the population recovered the loss it then suffered. The percentage of increase during the last decade was a little above the average for the Presidency, in spite of considerable emigration to Mysore. The apparent decline in the Hadagalli taluk is due to the total for 1891 having been unduly inflated by the presence of numerous pilgrims at the great festival at Mailar. Bellary is the least sparsely peopled Dis- trict in the Deccan, the density being as much as 100 per square mile below the Presidency average. Kanarese is the prevailing language in the west and Telugu in the east. On the whole, 57 per cent, of the people speak the former and 30 per cent, the latter tongue.


The majority of the Hindus are Telugus or Kanarese. Of the Telugus, the Boyas (shikaris and cultivators, and formerly the material from which many of the troops of the poligars and of Haidar were raised) are the strongest community, numbering 121,000, or more than in any other District. Then come the Madiga leather-workers (77,000), followed by the Kapus, the great agriculturist class (48,000). Among Kanarese castes, the Kurubas (shepherds) are the most numerous (97,000). The Lingayats, a sect of Hindus who worship Siva and his symbol the lingam, and disregard the sacerdotal authority of Brahmans, number 96,000 (which is nearly two-thirds of the total of the sect within the Presidency). The castes which speak neither Telugu nor Kanarese are divided almost equally between Marathas, Tamils, and Lambadis, the last of whom, a wandering gipsy com- munity, are more numerous in Bellary than in any other District. The majority of the Musalmans are Shaikhs, but there are nearly 10,000 of the mixed race of Dudekulas. By occupation, nearly three- fourths of the total population are agriculturists or shepherds. Weavers are, however, more than usually numerous.

The number of Christians in the District is 5,066, or about five in every 1,000 of the population. About 3,700 of them are natives, and nearly three-quarters are Roman Catholics. The first priest to visit this part of the country was a Father Joachim D'Souza, who came to Bellary from Goa in 1775 and died in 1829. The natives called him Adikanada, and his memory is still held in veneration. The Bellary mission continued under the charge of the Goa priests until 1837. In that year a chaplain was appointed by Government for the Roman Catholic troops at Bellary, and under the double jurisdiction which ensued many more churches and chapels were erected than the number of Catholics required. The Goa jurisdiction ceased with the establishment of the regular hierarchy by an apostolic letter of Pope Leo XIII in 1886. The mission is at present under the direc- tion of the Roman Catholic chaplain, assisted by four Fathers from the Missionary Society of St. Joseph, London. The only Protestant mission in the District is that of the London Missionary Society. It was established in 181 o and has a staff of five missionaries, one of whom is a lady.

The soils of the District are classed as red, mixed, and black ; the two former preponderate in the hilly western id Inks, and the latter in the level tracts of Bellary, Alur, Adoni, and Rayadrug. The red ferruginous soils are derived from the decomposition of the granitic rocks, and are loams of a more or less sandy character. They are much less fertile than the black cotton soil of the eastern taluks. The average depth of this latter is about 4 feet, but a much greater thickness is found in certain localities. In Alur it is of particular richness, and the rates of assessment there are the highest in the District. A disadvantage, however, is that, owing perhaps to the underlying beds of soft calcareous limestone, trees will not flourish in it and the water in the wells is frequently brackish.

The seasons of cultivation on the red and mixed soils differ alto- gether from those on the black. On the former, ' dry ' crops are sown at the beginning of the south-west monsoon in June ; but the latter is held to require the thorough soaking obtainable only from the later rains of that monsoon, and korra (Setaria italiai) and cotton are sown on it in August and other crops in November. On ' wet ' lands rice is sown in May and January and sugar-cane in March. Like the other Deccan Districts, Bellary possesses several ingenious agricultural implements which are almost unknown elsewhere, among them the bamboo seed-drill, the bullock-hoe, and the big iron plough used for eradicating deep-rooted grasses.

There are no Zamindaris in the District, but more than a fifth of the total area is indm land. Of the total of 5,714 square miles, the village accounts give particulars for 5,697. Details by taluks for 1903-4 are given in the table on the next page, areas being in square miles.

The two principal food-grains are cholain (Sorghum vulgare) and the korra already mentioned. The area under the former in 1903-4 amounted to nearly one-third of the total area cropped. Both are largely grown in all taluks, but arc especially favourite crops in Bellary, Alur, and Adoni in the east. Pulses are grown to a considerable extent; but, except in Rayadrug, they are usually mixed with the cereals on no fixed principles, and the exact area is not ascertainable. Irrigation being rare, the rice crop is small, occupying only 63 square miles in 1903-4. The chief industrial crop is cotton, grown mainly on the black cotton soil in the four eastern taluks and in Hadagalli. In the red soils of Kudligi, Harpanahalli, and Hadagalli, large quantities of castor and other oilseeds are raised. Sugar-cane is grown mainly in Hospet, where it occupies 5 per cent, of the culti- vated area. It has not yet developed the disease which has appeared in other Districts, and the area under it is steadily increasing.


Except in Kudligi, the proportion of arable land to the total extent is high, but a considerable amount is still unoccupied, especially in the western taluks. The poorer soils there are frequently cultivated for a single year, and then abandoned and left to recuperate. The area occupied fluctuates considerably owing to the numerous bad seasons which have visited the District, but there has been a net increase during the last thirty years of rather more than 10 per cent. Except for the general introduction of iron ploughs during recent years, little has been done in the way of agricultural improvement. Attempts to introduce foreign varieties of cotton have been unsuccessful ; and wells, owing largely to the great expense of constructing them in both the loose cotton -soil and the rocky red land, are not popular.

About 13/2 lakhs was advanced during the sixteen years following 1888 under the Land Improvement Loans Act. The greater part of this has been spent upon the reclamation of land overrun with deep-rooted grass and prickly-pear (Opuntia). Considerable sums have also been borrowed under the Agriculturists' Loans Act for the relief of distress, purchase of seed, and similar purposes.

The indigenous breed of cattle is small and weak. The best draught animals in use in the eastern taluks are brought from Nellore by travelling drovers. In the west, large numbers of cattle are imported from Mysore and sold at the two great annual fairs on the Tungabhadra at Mailar and Ruruvatti, A fine breed of pack-buffaloes, bred in the Nizam's Dominions, is used in Kampli and the neighbouring villages. Ponies are not raised in the District in any number. There are two varieties of sheep, the black or long-fieeced and the white and reddish- brown long-legged variety. The latter are kept chiefly for their manure and flesh ; but the former give a fair wool, which is largely used in Rayadrug, Kudligi, and Harpanahalli for the manufacture of the cheap black or black and white blankets which serve the ryot as bed, umbrella, portmanteau, or great-coat, as need may require. Goats are reared in large numbers for both milk and manure.

Cattle for the plough and milch kine are fed mainly on cholam stalks and cotton-seed. Sheep and the younger cattle are grazed in forest Reserves and on waste lands. Goats, owing to their destructive habits, are confined to waste lands and roadsides.

The area irrigated in 1903-4 was 90 square miles, or little more than 2 per cent, of the total area under cultivation. This was watered in almost equal proportions from Government channels, from tanks, and from wells. Practically the whole of the irrigation from channels is that fed by the Tungabhadra canals. This river is perennial, and provides the only unfailing source of supply in the District. There are ten dams across it, all of which were originally constructed by the Vijayanagar kings, though English engineers have done much to improve and regulate the supply drawn from them. Near one of them is an in- scription recording its construction in a.d. 1521 by the famous king Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagar. The area irrigated by them collectively in 1933-4 was about 17,000 acres, of which 12,500 were in the Hospet tahik. The Tungabhadra runs in a deep bed and the ground slopes down towards it, so that it is impossible for them to command much land. Channels dug annually in the beds of the Hagari and Chinna Hagari irrigate small areas in the Rayadrug and Kudligi taluks. The great Tungabhadra irrigation project, designed to benefit not only Bellary but several other Districts also, is described in the separate account of that river.

The tanks of the District are usually small, irrigating on an average less than 50 acres apiece. The two largest are the Kanekallu tank in Rayadrug and the Daroji tank in Hospet. The former, which is supplied by a channel from the Hagari, waters 2,300 acres. The Daroji tank, which is said to have been constructed by Tipu Sultan, has an embankment 5/2 miles in length and in some places 60 feet in height. It irrigates about 1,800 acres. Irrigation from wells is com- monest in Kudligi and Rayadrug. There is room for more of these sources in Harpanahalli and Hadagalli, l)Ut in the cotton-soil taluks irrigation is not popular.


Though there is a considerable area in each taluk of so-called forest, the Reserves mainly consist of patches of more or less scanty scrub jungle, in which it is hoped that careful preservation extended over a number of years may induce a growth of larger timber. Tradition says that there were originally extensive forests in the District ; but none has existed within living memory, and at present the resources of the Reserves are severely taxed to produce even the firewood required locally. Timber and bamboos are largely imported, chiefly from the Nallamalais. The Kudligi Reserves contain the largest growth, including a small amount of teak. Anogeissus iatifolia, acacias, Prosopis, Carissa, and Terminalia tomentosa are the commonest forest trees. The growth on the hills in the Sandur State is finer than anywhere in the District proper ; and 40,000 acres of this range are leased from the Raja at a rental of Rs. 10,000 and worked as part of the Bellary forests. The characteristic tree here is Hardwickia binata, one of the hardest and heaviest woods in India. A small amount of sandal-wood and teak is also cut, and it is hoped that it may eventually be possible to supply the Southern Mahratta Railway with fuel from these hills. Like other forest areas in the District they suffer severely from fires, owing to the extreme dryness of the climate.

Very little has been done to exploit the mineral resources of the District, though they are considerable. Iron used until recently to be smelted in small quantities in Hospet and Kudligi to make boilers for the local manufacture of sugar, but it has now been ousted by the cheaper English product. With greater facilities for obtaining fuel this industry might be enormously extended, as the supply of hematite is unlimited and the Sandur hills contain what is possibly the richest ore in the whole of India. Manganese deposits also occur on this range, and several beds of mineral pigments. A small quantity of gold has been won in the past by washing in some of the jungle streams in Harpanahalli, but this part of the District has been prospected under European supervision without result. Among building materials may be mentioned seven beautiful porphyries, eminently suitable for decora- tive work, and the splendid varieties of ribbon jasper which occur in the Sandur hills. Neither of these has ever been worked.

Trade and Communications

Cotton and silk-weaving are important in all parts of the District, and the proportion of the population engaged in the former industry is unusually large. The cotton stuffs woven are of the ordinary coarse variety ; but at the centres of the silk-weaving communications industry in Kampli, Hampasagaram, Rayadrug, and elsewhere handsome fabrics of various patterns are manufactured, which are exported to the Nizam's Dominions and Bombay. Both the cotton and silk are largely dyed locally. Coloured cotton rugs, manufactured at Adoni, mainly by Muhammadans, have a considerable sale all over the Presidency and also in other parts of India. Woollen blankets are woven in a large number of villages in the Kudligi and Harpanahalli taluks, chiefly by Kurubas, the wool being obtained locally. They are exported in large numbers to other Districts. A small amount of ordinary brass-ware is made at Hospet and one or two other villages ; and a family or two in the Kudligi and Harpanahalli taluks make from soapstone small vessels and little images of Basava, the bull in whose form the founder of the Lingayat sect is worshipped.

There are seven steam cotton-presses or ginning factories in the District, two at Bellary and five at Adoni. The total number of hands employed in 1904 was 660. A spinning mill established at Bellary in 1894, which is fitted with machinery of the latest pattern, employed an average of 520 hands in 1903-4. The number of spindles was 17,800, producing 650 tons of yarn valued at 4^ lakhs. Several tanneries are at work, but the only one of any size is at Rayadrug, where 45 hands were employed in 1904. About 45,000 skins were dealt with, producing leather valued at Rs. 40,000. A small distillery at Bellary had an out-turn of 32,000 gallons of spirit, valued at Rs. 37,000.

As is natural from its geographical position, the chief trade of Bellary is with Bombay, the Nizam's Dominions, and Mysore, rather than with the rest of the Madras Presidency. From Bombay are imported rice, turmeric, chillies, metal and metal work (especially brass-ware from Hubli) ; and in return cereals, silk fabrics, cotton carpets, blankets, and jaggery (coarse sugar) are exported. Cattle, rice, timber, and coco-nut oil are received from Mysore, blankets, oilseeds, and cotton stuffs being exported thither. To the Nizam's Dominions Bellary sends cholani, jaggery, cotton and silk fabrics, and receives in return chiefly raw cotton. Trade with other parts of the Presidency is principally in manufactured goods, the raw products of the District being sent in exchange. About three-quarters of the total output of cotton is sent to Madras city.

The chief centres of general trade are Bellary, Adoni, and Hospet, the large trade in cotton being confined to the first two of these. Hospet serves as an entrepot for the exchange of the products of the western taluks with the Dharwar District of Bombay and the Nizam's Dominions, while a great deal of business with both Mysore and Bom- bay is transacted at the annual fairs at Mailar and Kuruvatti. From the southern parts of the western taluks large quantities of merchandise are taken to Davangere in the Chitaldroog District of Mysore. The ordinary trade is mostly in the hands of the Chetti caste, but a colony of Marwaris at Bellary controls the export grain trade there. Besider the fairs above mentioned, there are numerous local markets for in- ternal trade. The fees levied at them by the local boards yield about Rs. 7,000 annually.

The north-west line of the Madras Railway (standard gauge) traverses the two eastern tiluks, passing through the town of Adoni and leaving the District by a large girder-bridge over the Tungabhadra at Rampuram. This section was opened in 1870. At Guntakal, just beyond the borders of Bellary, there is a junction between the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railways. The metre-gauge line of the latter crosses the District in a westerly direction, connecting Guntakal with Bellary and Bellary with Hospet and with Dharwar in Bombay. Through Guntakal, Bellary is also connected southwards with Anantapur and Bangalore, and to the east with the Districts of Kurnool, Cuddapah, Guntur, and Kistna. The line from Guntakal to Bellary was finished in 1871, and was originally part of the Madras Railway and on the standard gauge. It was converted to the metre gauge in 1887. Two metre-gauge famine protective lines from Bellary to Rayadrug and from Hospet to Kotturu, 33 and 38 miles in length respectively, have recently been constructed.

Bellary has 271 miles of metalled and 582 miles of unmetalled roads, all of which are under the management of the local boards. More avenues along them are badly needed, only 112 miles being planted with trees, a shorter length than in any other Madras District except the Nilgiris. The main routes are the road from Bangalore, which passes through Bellary and Adoni on the way to Raichur and Secunderabad, and that from Madras to Bombay through Bellary and Hospet. The eastern and western taluks are joined by roads passing to the north and south of the Sandur hills, and by a third which crosses the State of Sandur by means of two narrow gorges through the hills which enclose it. Were the roads kept in proper repair, the District would be amply supplied with means of communication ; but money for bridges is scarce, and in the cotton-soil taluks road-metal is difficult to obtain.


The whole of Bellary lies within the famine zone, irrigation works are few, and any shortage in its scanty rainfall is liable to produce distress. It has in consequence suffered perhaps more than any other District in Madras from severe and protracted famines. There were scarcities in 1802-4, 1805-7, 1824, 1884-5, and 1900; and famines in 1833, 1854, 1866, 1876-8, 1891-2, and 1896-7; and it has been truly said that 'the unfortunate ryot has hardly emerged from one famine before he is submerged under another.'

It has been calculated that during the last half-century alone the expenditure on relief and the loss of revenue due to bad seasons in Bellary have amounted to no less than 196 lakhs. The worst years were 1854, 1866, 1876-8, and 1896-7. In the famine of 1876-8 Bellary was very severely affected ; more than a fifth of the population is computed to have perished from starvation or disease, and the mortality in the Adoni and Alur taluks was as high as one-third. At the Census of 1891, fourteen years after the famine, the population of the District continued to be less than at the Census of 1871, before this visitation. At the height of the famine one-half of the population were in receipt of relief in one form or other. The supreme difficulty that baffled the authorities was the absolute impossibility of getting grain to an area where the only means of transport was by bullock-cart and there was no fodder for the bullocks. The railways will now prevent the recurrence of such a disaster. The famine of 1896-7 was severely felt in all but the Rayadrug and Harpanahalli taluks. In July, 1897, about 18,000 persons were receiving gratuitous relief by grain doles and 78,000 were employed on relief works. There was con- siderable mortality from cholera and measles, but, as far as could be ascertained, no deaths occurred from privation alone.


For administrative purposes Bellary is arranged into three subdivisions. The four western taluks of Hospet, Hadagalli, Harpanahalli, and Kudligi form one charge, known as the Hospet subdivision, under a Covenanted Civilian. The Bellary subdivi- sion, consisting of Bellary and Rayadrug, and the Adoni subdivision, consisting of Alur and Adoni, are usually under Deputy-Collectors recruited in India. Besides the eight tahs'ildars in charge of these eight taluks, deputy-tahsildars are stationed at Siruguppa in the Bellary taluk and at Yemmiganur in Adoni; and stationary sub-magistrates at Bellary, Hospet, Kudligi, and Adoni. The District Forest officer and the Dis- trict Superintendent of police reside at Bellary, which is also the head- quarters of the Inspector of Schools, Second Circle, of the Superin- tending Engineer, Third Circle, and of the Assistant Commissioner of Salt and Abkari Revenue, Bellary Subdivision.

For purposes of civil justice, part of Anantapur (which was originally included in the old Bellary District) comes under the jurisdiction of the District Judge at Bellary ; but on the other hand the Adoni taluk is within the Munsifi of Gooty, outside the District, appeals from which area lie to the District Court of Kurnool. There are two District Munsifs, one at Bellary and the other at Hospet. As a rule, fewer cases are dealt with by Village Munsifs in Bellary than in any other District. The number of revenue suits is also extremely small, there being no Zamindaris and but few large indms.

The arrangements regarding criminal justice are also anomalous, the Court of Sessions at Bellary taking cognizance of sessions cases in all the taluks of Anantapur except Gooty and Tadpatri, as well as those in Bellary. The Collector and the three divisional officers are first-class magistrates with the usual powers. All tahsildars and deputy-tahsildars, as well as the stationary sub-magistrates, have second-class powers, and in some cases the idluk sheristaddrs are third-class magistrates. Usually very few of the village magistrates use the petty powers with which they are entrusted.

The distinctive criminal caste of the District is the Korachas, an incorrigible class who wander about in gangs. Several of their gangs have settled permanently in Bellary, and are greatly aided in their depredations by the_ proximity of the Nizam's Dominions, where they can easily take refuge and are difficult to trace. They are some of the most daring and best-organized dacoits in the Presidency. Murders, which are numerous, are mostly due to village factions. Other crimes, such as cattle-theft, are also common, and are traceable to the natural poverty of the District and the uncertainty of the seasons.

Nothing is definitely known of the revenue system under the Vijaya- nagar kings, but according to tradition the revenue was paid in kind in the proportion of half the gross produce. The Musalman governments which followed apparently continued the same system, though, by some method not clearly ascertainable, a minimum amount was fixed as the assessment for the whole region now constituting the Ceded Districts. This was called the kdinil assessment, and was retained by Aurangzeb and afterwards by Haidar All, though the latter and his son and successor Tipu Sultan increased the revenue by a large resumption of indms. After the overthrow of the Vijayanagar empire, the country was largely in the hands of the poligdrs already mentioned, through whom a great part of the revenue was nominally collected. The amount which reached the central government naturally varied according to the relative power of the poligdrs^ and the result was an ever-increasing impoverishment of the cultivating classes.

When the Ceded Districts were transferred to the East India Company in 1800, the whole tract was placed in charge of Munro. His first step was to do away with the interference of the eighty or more poligars who were scattered over them, and to introduce a system of direct engage- ments with every cultivator for the revenue, the assessment varying according to the amount of land occupied. In conjunction with this, he instituted a survey, which ascertained not only the extent of the fields, but also the quality of the different kinds of soil.

While this settlement was in progress, the Government of India directed that, as a preliminary step towards a permanent settlement of the land revenue on the Bengal system, the villages should be leased to renters for a fixed sum for three years, the lessee making his own arrangements with the cultivators. In spite of the strenuous representa- tions of Munro and the opposition of the Governor of Madras, Lord William Bentinck, this system came into force in the Ceded Districts in 1808. Munro had taken leave shortly before this, and, on his departure, the present Districts of Bellary and Anantapur were constituted a Col- lectorate by themselves. Though the Collector reported very strongly against the triennial leases and their damaging effect on the condition of his charge, an extension in the shape of decennial leases was intro- duced by order of Government in 1812. The result was a complete failure. The renters were incompetent and merciless, the ryots were contumacious and obstructive, and large numbers of the former became unable to pay their dues to Government. Eventually the Court of Directors ordered a return to the ryotwdri settlement on the expiration of the leases, and the immediate surrender of the leases was accepted in all cases where the renters were willing to relinquish them at once. The result of this disastrous experiment was a great reduction in the wealth of the District, the villages being given up by the renters with their resources much impaired. From the introduction of the ryotwdri settlement in 18 18 down to 1859 there were several general reductions in the assessment, rendered necessary both by a succession of bad seasons and also by the fact that Munro's original settlement had imposed a higher rate than the land was capable of bearing, especially since it was calculated on the basis of the grain prices in force at the beginning of the century and these had since fallen very greatly.

In 1882 seven of the southern taluks were formed into the separate District of Anantapur, A survey and settlement of the remaining taluks which constitute the present Bellary District were carried out between 1884 and 1896. The excess discovered in the cultivated area was about 5 per cent., and the increase in the assessment effected (which was especially lenient in consideration of the infertility of the District and its losses by bad seasons) was Rs. 85,000, or rather less than 7 per cent. The average assessment on 'dry' land in the cotton-soil taluks of Adoni, Alur, and Bellary is now R, 0-15-7 per acre (maximum Rs. 2-8, mini- mum 2 annas), and on 'wet' land Rs. 6-14-11 (maximum Rs. ir, minimum R. 1) ; while in the remaining red soil taluks the average 'dry' rate is R. 0-8-8 (maximum Rs. 2-4, minimum 2 annas), and the average 'wet' rate Rs. 5-6-3 (maximum Rs. 11, minimum R. 1). Owing partly to the small extent of irrigated land, the average extent of a holding is 15 acres, being greater than in any other Madras District except the Nilgiris.

The revenue from land and the total revenue in recent years are given below, in thousands of rupees : —


There are two municipalities in the District, Bellary and Adoni, both e.stablished in 1867. Outside their limits local affairs are managed by the District board, and the three tdhik boards of Bellary, Hospet, and Adoni, the jurisdictions of which correspond to the subdivisions of the same names. The expenditure of all these boards in 1903-4 was 5/2 lakhs, of which nearly half was laid out on roads and buildings. The chief item in the receipts, as usual, is the land cess. Nineteen towns and villages have been constituted Unions under (Madras) Act V of 1884.

The police force is controlled by a District Superintendent and an Assistant Superintendent. In 1904 there were 61 police stations, and the force consisted of 13 inspectors and 1,141 constables, with a reserve of 89 men. There were also 974 rural police working in conjunction with the regular force.

The District jail at Bellary town has accommodation for 323 males and 23 females, exclusive of the observation cells and hospital, which will hold 27 and 36 inmates respectively. As this does not sufficiently provide for the needs of adjoining Districts, from which prisoners are sent to this jail, 100 more cells are being constructed. The only manufacture carried on in the jail is the weaving of the woollen blankets of the country. There are nine subsidiary jails. Seven are situated at the taluk head-quarters (except Bellary), and the other two at the deputy-tahsildars' stations at Siruguppa and Yemmiganur. They pro- vide accommodation for a total of 161 prisoners.

As regards education, Bellary is one of the most backward areas in Madras. At the Census of 1901 it stood seventeenth among the twenty- two Districts of the Presidency in the literacy of its male population, and last in that of its females. Persons who could read and write formed only 4-6 per cent. (8-6 males and 0-3 females) of the total. The Bellary taluk contained a considerably higher proportion than any other, but in Rayadrug only 3 per cent, were returned as literate. The total number of pupils under instruction in 1881-2 was 10,368; in 1890-1, 18,858 ; in 1900-1, 26,283 ; and in 1903-4 only 14,861. The number of educational institutions of all kinds in March, 1904, was 627, of which 604 were classed as public, and the remainder as private. Of the former, 11 were managed by the Educational department, 36 by the local boards, and 8 by the two municipalities; 314 received grants-in-aid, and 235, though not aided, conformed to the rules of the department. These institutions included 591 primary, 9 secondary, 3 training and other special schools, and the Wardlaw College at Bellary town. The number of girls in them was 1,504. As usual, the majority of the pupils were only in primary classes. The percentage of boys of school-going age in these classes was 18, and of girls 2. Among Musalmans the corre- sponding figures were 19 and 2. There are 13 Panchama schools in the District, with 479 pupils. The total expenditure on education in 1903-4 was 1-22 lakhs, of which Rs. 34,000 was derived from fees. Of the total, Rs. 8,500 was devoted to primary education.

Bellary possesses seven hospitals. Two are maintained by the municipalities ; of the other five, which are all kept up by the local boards, four are at taluk and one at a deputy-tahsildars head-quarters. They have a total accommodation of 95 beds, 57 for males and 38 for females. The Bellary hospital, founded in 1842, with a small endow- ment of Rs. 2,500, has 40 beds. There are also five dispensaries maintained by the boards in certain of the larger villages, and two more by the municipality at Bellary. The total number of cases treated in 1903 was 129,000, of whom 900 were in-patients, and 3,000 operations were performed. The total expenditure was Rs. 31,000. There is a hospital for women at Bellary town, built from subscriptions to the Victoria Memorial Fund, and two others are to be opened shortly at Adoni and Hospet.

Vaccination has been efficiently performed in late years. In 1903-4 the number of persons protected was 32 per 1,000 of the population, compared with the average of 30 for the whole Presidency. Vaccination is compulsory in the two municipalities of Bellary and Adoni, but in none of the nineteen Unions.

[For further particulars of the District see the Bellary Gazetteer, by W. Francis (1904).]

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