Moulmein Town

From Indpaedia
Revision as of 10:57, 12 February 2015 by Parvez Dewan (Pdewan) (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
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, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Moulmein Town

(Burmese, Mawiamyaing). — Head-quarters of Amherst District and of the Tenasserim Division of Lower Burma, situated in 16° 29' N. and 97° 38' E., 28 miles from the sea, on the left bank of the Salween, at its confluence with the Gyaing and Ataran. In configuration the town has roughly the form of an inverted ' L, the portion represented by the horizontal line following the course of the Salween, and that represented by the vertical line the course of the Ataran. The former contains four divisions of the town, the latter one.

As a British settlement, Moulmein dates from the year 1827, when it was selected by General Sir Archibald Campbell as the capital for the newly acquired Tenasserim province, its claims being held superior to those of Amherst in the south and Martaban in the west. One of Moulmein's chief titles to fame is the great beauty of the scenery in which it is set. The visitor entering the river from the Gulf of INIartaban is met by banks crowned with the most varied of evergreen foliage, a marked contrast to the low-lying muddy flats that characterize the mouths of the Hooghly or Irrawaddy. Right and left, parallel with the banks, are low ranges of hills, on which are perched pagodas here and there ; and up the river beyond the town a limestone eminence about 2,000 feet in height, known as the Duke of York's Nose, stands in bold relief against the sky. From the plains surrounding the town isolated limestone rocks rise abruptly, forming one of the most marked characteristics of the Moulmein scenery.

Coming to the town itself, through the horizontal arm of the inverted ' L ' runs a range of hills 300 feet in height, on which are built two magnificent pagodas, the Uzina and Kyaikthanlan, the former in the centre, the latter at the northern end. Midway between the two is a third pagoda, from which the midday gun is fired and ships are signalled. From this ridge a view, hardly to be equalled in Burma for beauty, is obtained of Moulmein nestling among the trees on the western slopes. To the north and west lie the meeting-place of the rivers, the shipping in the stream, the wooded islands in the channel, Martaban with its glistening pagoda overhanging the water, and the dark hills of Bilugyun. To the east, the Ataran may be seen winding through the green plain, and the Taungwaing hills rise up in the south.

The town, which has an area of 15 square miles, is laid out on a fairly regular plan, but is not altogether worthy of its gorgeous setting. It stretches, long and narrow, along the bank of the Sahveen. Three main roads run north and south, parallel to the river, two throughout the entire length of the town, and one for about 2 miles.

Numerous cross- roads, mostly unmetalled, run east and west, one being continued by means of the Nyaungbinzeik ferry into the country beyond the Ataran, thus forming the main avenue by which food-supplies are brought into Moulmein. The European residences are situated to the west of the central ridge, for the most part in spacious and well-kept grounds. The most notable buildings are Salween House, the official residence of the Commissioner, built on the ridge ; the masonry law courts and Government offices, at the foot of the rising ground ; the General Hospital ; the Government schools ; and three churches, St. Matthew's, St. Patrick's, and St. Augustine's. The old cantonment, from which the troops have now been removed, centres around a parade-ground towards the north of the town.

The business quarter adjoins the river bank in the west. The new jail lies at the foot of the ridge towards the northern end of the town in the old cantonment area. A blot on Moulmein at present is the indiscriminate way in which cooly barracks, native hamlets {bastis), and lodging-houses have been allowed to spring up in all the quarters. The Imstis are composed of long narrow houses on three sides of a square, divided into small window- less compartments. The back-yard is common to the inmates of all the houses, and contains a shallow well from which both bathing and drinking water is obtained. Near it are cesspits ; goats and calves find a hospitable refuge in the living rooms and cooking-places, and a herd of cows is usually accommodated under a lean-to shed in the back-yard. Reconstruction and improvements in sanitation are now, however, being undertaken.

The population of Moulmein was 46,472 in 1872 ; 53,107 in 1881 ; 55,785 in 1891; and 58,446 in 1901. The last figure includes 8,544 Musalmans and 19,081 Hindus, the increase of population in the last decade being almost entirely due to Hindu immigration from Madras. The chief native industries pursued are gold- and silver-work and ivory- carving ; but Moulmein also contains 14 steam saw-mills, 3 rice-mills, and 4 mills in which both sawing and milling are carried on, besides a steam joinery (also dealing with rice), and a foundry.

The port of Moulmein has an interesting history. Between the years 1830 and 1858 ship-building was carried on to a considerable extent, ample supplies of teak being drawn from the rich forests in the sur- rounding country. The advent of the iron ship and the steamer has destroyed the larger branch of this industry, which is now confined to the construction of small country craft. Of late a great obstruction to the prosperity of the oversea trade of Moulmein has been the presence of bars in the channel of the Salween near its mouth, but Government has lately taken steps to keep the lower reaches of the river open to steamers of deep draught by means of a powerful dredger. The growth in the trade of the port appears from the foUoAving figures. The imports in 1880-1 were valued at 98 lakhs, in 1890-1 at 99 lakhs, in 1900-1 at 1-2 crores, and in 1903-4 at 1-5 crores; while the exports were valued in 1880-1 at 1-48 crores, in 1890-1 at 1-28 crores, in 1900-r at i-88 crores, and in 1903-4 at 2 crores. Of the imports, only about one- tenth come direct from foreign (extra-Indian) ports, the greater part being received, more or less equally, from Calcutta and Rangoon. From foreign ports the chief imports (mainly from the Straits) are betel- nuts, sugar, and provisions of various kinds. The imports from Bengal consist mainly of specie in payment for rice and other exports, and those from Rangoon of re-exported foreign goods.

The exports, on the other hand, go mainly to foreign ports, this portion being valued in 1903-4 at 1-35 crores, of which by far the greater part was partially husked rice (valued at r crore), teak and rice-bran being the next most important commodities. About half the rice is shipped to Suez, where it is to a large extent reconsigned to European ports. The exports from Moulmein to the Straits for Farther Asian ports were valued in 1903-4 at 36 lakhs, and those to England at 2 2| lakhs, while those to Indian ports were valued in the .same year at 68 lakhs, of which 21 lakhs went to Calcutta, 18 to other Burmese ports, and 24 to Bombay. The British India Steam Navigation Company runs three fast steamers a week between Moulmein and Rangoon, as well as a boat between Moulmein and the other ports on the Tenasserim coast. The inland waters are served by the steamers of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company.

The port of ^Moulmein is in charge of a Port Officer, belonging to the Royal Indian Marine, and is buoyed and lighted by the Port fund, which had an income and expenditure of 1-56 lakhs and 1-79 lakhs respectively, in 1903-4. The Port and Customs offices are near the main wharf, close to the river's edge. Up to 1874 the town was under the control of a town magistrate, the funds required for administration being provided by a night-watch tax and Government contributions and from a few local sources.

In 1874 a municipal committee was formed, and the income and expenditure during the decade ending 1901 averaged Rs. 1,42,800. In 1903-4 the former amounted to 7-2 lakhs (including a loan of 3-96 lakhs). The principal sources of revenue were house and land tax (Rs. 72,600), and water rate (Rs. 90,000). The expenditure in the same year was 6-4 lakhs. The chief heads of outlay were Rs. 42,000 spent on conservancy, Rs. 43,000 on roads, Rs. 44,000 on lighting, and Rs. 59,000 on public works. The water-supply, constructed at a cost of 9^ lakhs, has recently been completed. The water is impounded in a reservoir 4 miles to the south of Moulmein, at the foot of the Taungwaing hills, and is distributed through each division of the town by gravitation.

It i.s hoped that the provision of a supply of good drinking-water will put a stop to the cholera epidemics that have visited Moulmein regularly in the past. A sum of nearly 3 lakhs is to be expended on surface drainage, of which the town is badly in need. Since 1898 the town has been lit by oil gas. The gas-works are a municipal concern, the plant being capable of generating 12,500 cubic feet of gas daily. The municipality makes no contribution to education, but maintains a hospital with 100 beds. Other public institutions are the leper asylum (where 29 in-patients and 23 out-patients were treated in 1903), and numerous schools. There is a branch of the Bank of Bengal in Moulmein, and two newspapers are published, one in English and one in Burmese.

Personal tools