IN 1867 A GAZETTEER was published for the Central Provinces with the following remarks from Sir R. Temple, the then Chief Commissioner of the Provinces: -
" It has long seemed to the Chief Commissioner that a Gazetteer is needed for the Central Provinces. None will dispute that for the good management of districts local knowledge is necessary. The more detailed and intimate such knowledge is, the better. This remark, however general may be its application, is particularly applicable to provinces like these, where the areas are widespread; where the tribes and circumstances are diverse; where the component parts are separated from each other by mountain barriers or other physical obstacles; where information is often difficult of acquisition by reason of the remoteness of localities; and where the annals of the country, though to some extent existing, are for the most part inaccessible to the majority of our countrymen.
" When such knowledge is merely acquired by individuals, it is apt to be of a fugitive character, owing to those frequent changes which are inevitable in Indian administration. It constantly happens that when an officer has, by travelling about, and by communicating with the people, learnt very much regarding his district, he is obliged by ill-health, or by the requirements of the service, or by other reasons, to leave, and then he carries all his knowledge away with him, his successor having to study everything ab initio.
" Thus it becomes of importance that the multiform facts of local interest and value should be recorded by all who have the means of knowing them; and that such record should be embodied in an abiding shape, patent to, and within the reach of all, so that everyone who is concerned to ascertain these things may have the ordinary resources of information ready to hand.
"Therefore it was in 1864 resolved to collect materials for a Gazetteer. With this view all officers serving in these Provinces were furnished with a sketch of the information required. In due course every officer transmitted the data for his district. Advantage was also taken of the Settlement Department being in operation to obtain therefrom all the facts bearing on the subjects in question. Thus in the course of two years a mass of information in manuscript was accumulated.
" The work thus brought out, though probably as complete as it can be made at the present time, is yet avowedly imperfect, and is in some respects only preliminary. The information generally may from year to year be supplemented by
further details, and on numerous points will doubtless be found susceptible of emendation. The statistics especially will constantly be open to enlargement and rectification. Still a broad foundation for future superstructure has at least been raised.[ The Gazetteer of the Central Provinces of India by Charles Grant, 1870, pp. V-VI.]".
The impression of that edition was soon exhausted and a revised edition was prepared in 1870 by Mr. Charles Grant, Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces. The article on Chandrapur in the Volume running into 17 pages and divided into various sections, with the exception of one interpolation, was contributed by Major Lucie Smith, then Deputy Commissioner of Chandrapur. In this edition the alphabetical form was adopted and a full index was added.
The Gazetteers for the various districts of the Central Provinces were compiled in the beginning of this century and the first Chandrapur District Gazetteer was prepared by Mr. L. F. Begbie, I.C.S. and edited by Mr. A, E. Nelson, I.C.S., in 1909. Mr. Nelson in his prefatory note wrote:
" The Chanda District with a population composed of three main elements Marathas, Telugus and Gonds, each speaking more or less an impure variety of their natural language, is of peculiar interest from a linguistic and ethnological point of view. It has also many other claims to distinction. In mineral wealth it is remarkably rich; it possesses vast forests and the area of its Government forest alone surpasses that of many entire Districts; its archaeological remains are of unwonted interest for this part of the country: its systems of agriculture are unusually varied and in some respects unique in the Province; its irrigation system, already very extensive, is now attracting considerable attention on the part of Government, while its sporting possibilities, although no longer what they were in the not distant past, are still, surpassed in few parts of India. The major portion of the Gazetteer has been written by Mr. L. F. Begbie, I.C.S., who possesses in a very special measure the knowledge, enthusiasm and literary gifts required for the task. Unfortunately his health broke down before he could complete the work and he was compelled to leave India. The book has thus lacked the finishing touches of its author and would no doubt have been greatly improved had Mr. Begbie been able to see it through the press. Chapter II, History and Archaeology and the sections on Religion, Caste and Social Life and Customs have been written by the Rev. A. Wood, who gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to the notes supplied by Mr. Hira Lal and to Major Lucie Smith's records in the preparation of all these sections. Some of the Gazetteer articles have also been written by Mr. Wood, who has in addition read the whole book through in proof. Mr. Wood's intimate knowledge of the District gives a peculiar value to his suggestions and criticisms and I cannot be sufficiently grateful for his assistance.
Chapter IX, General Administration, has been written by Mr. J. T. Marten, Deputy Commissioner, who also supplied some notes on the leading families. Mr. Begbie acknowledges his great indebtedness to Colonel Lucie Smith's Settlement Report of 1869, which is a work of considerable distinction and a veritable mine of information. Captain Glasfurd's Settlement Report of the Upper Godavari District (1868), Mr. P. Hemingway's Settlement Report of 1905, and Mr. J. T. Chamberlain's Report on the Settlement of the Zamindaris (1908) have also been freely utilised. The article on Geology was written by Mr. Begbie from notes supplied by Mr. P. N. Datta of the Geological Survey, and has been read and corrected by Mr. L. L. Fermor of the same department. Mr. F. J. Langhorne of the Forest Department supplied Mr. Begbie with notes for the Botany and Forest sections which have also been read by Mr. J. Donald, I.F.S., and for the article on the Ahiri Zamindari. The Chapters on Agriculture and Land Revenue have been read by Mr. P. Hemingway. The reports of the Archaeological Survey of India have been freely borrowed from. The whole book has been read in proof by Mr. J. T. Marten ".
In Bombay Presidency as early as 1843 an attempt was made to arrange for the preparation of Statistical Accounts of the different districts. Government called on the Revenue Commissioners to obtain from all the Collectors as part of their next Annual Report, the fullest available information regarding their districts,
" In obedience to these orders reports were received from the Collectors of Ahmedabad, Broach, Kaira, Thana and Khandesh. Some of the reports contained much interesting information. These five northern reports were practically the only result of the Circular letter of 1843 ".[ Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Vol. I, Part I (History of Guiarat).]
The matter does not seem to have been pursued any further.
In October 1867, the Secretary of State for India desired the Bombay Government to take concrete steps for the compilation of a Gazetteer of the Presidency on the model of the Gazetteer prepared during that year for the Central Provinces. The Government of Bombay then requested some of its responsible officials to submit a scheme for carrying into effect the orders of Secretary of State, and in 1868, appointed the Bombay Gazetteer Committee to supervise and direct the preparation of the Gazetteer. After a few organisational experiments the responsibility was finally entrusted to Mr. James M. Campbell of the Bombay Civil Service, who commenced the compilation in 1874 and completed the series in 1884. The actual publication, however, of these volumes was spread over a period of 27 years between 1877 and 1904 in which year the last General Index Volume was published.
Though a Gazetteer literally means only a geographical index or a geographical dictionary the scope of this particular compilation was much wider. It included not only a description of the physical and natural features of a region but also a broad narrative of the social, political, economic and cultural life of the people living in that region. The purpose which the Gazetteer was intended to serve was made clear in the following remarks of Sir William Hunter, Director-General of Statistics to the Government of India, when his opinion was sought on a draft article on Dharwar District in 1871[Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Vol, I, Part I (History of Gujarat), p. vii.]. He said: -
" My own conception of the work is that, in return for a couple of days' reading, the Account should give a new Collector, a comprehensive, and at the same time a distinct idea of the district which he has been sent to administer. Mere reading can never supersede practical experience in the district administration. But a succinct and well-conceived district account is capable of antedating the acquisition of such personal experience by many months and of both facilitating
and systematising a Collector's personal enquiries
But in all cases a District Account besides dealing with local specialities should furnish a historical narration of its revenue and expenditure since it passed under the British rule, of the sums which we have taken from it in taxes, and of the amount which we have returned to it in the protection of property and person and the other charges of Civil Government.
The Gazetteer was thus intended to give a complete picture of the district to men who were entire strangers to India and its people but who as members of the ruling race carried on their shoulders the responsibility of conducting its administration.
The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency had 27 Volumes, some split up into two or three parts, making a total of 35 books including the General Index which was published in 1904. Some of the Volumes were of a general nature and were not confined to the limits of a particular district. For example, Volume
I dealt with History and was split up into two parts, one dealing with Gujarat and the other with Konkan, Deccan and Southern Maratha Country; Volume IX was devoted to the population of Gujarat and contained two parts, one describing Hindus and the other Musalmans and Parsis, but there was no corresponding Volume devoted to the population of Maharashtra or Karnatak; Volume XXV gave an account of the Botany of the area covered in the whole Presidency. The remaining volumes dealt with various districts of the Presidency and with what were then known as Native States attached to the Bombay Presidency. Some of the District Volumes had two or three parts, for example, those of Thana, Kanara, Poona and Bombay. On the other hand, there was only one combined volume for some districts as for example, Surat and Broach, and Kaira and Panch Mahals.
The scheme of the contents was more or less the same for all the District Volumes though the accounts of particular items varied considerably from district to district. Information was collected from Government offices and, in respect of social and religious practices, from responsible citizens. Eminent scholars, experts and administrators contributed articles on special subjects.
This Gazetteer compiled over many decades ago had long become scarce and entirely out of print. It contained authentic and useful information on several aspects of life in a district and was considered to be of great value to the administrator, and scholar and the general reader. There was a general desire that there should be a new and revised edition of this monumental work. The then Government of Bombay, therefore, decided that the old Gazetteer should be revised and republished, and entrusted the work of revision to an Editorial Board specially created for that purpose in 1949. This new edition has been prepared by the Gazetteers Department under the direction of the Editorial Board. In view of the re-organization of States in 1956 and the coming into existence of the State of Maharashtra in 1960, areas for which no District Gazetteers had previously been compiled are taken up and new District Gazetteers are being compiled in accordance with the common pattern.
In the nature of things, after a lapse of over many decades after their publication, most of the statistical information contained in the old Gazetteer had become entirely out of date and had to be dropped altogether. In this edition an attempt has been made to give an idea of the latest developments whether in regard to the administrative structure or the economic set-up or in regard to social, religious and cultural trends. There are portions in the old Gazetteer bearing on archaeology and history which have the impress of profound scholarship and learning and their worth has not diminished by the mere passage of time. Even in their case, however, some restatement is occasionally necessary in view of later investigations and new archaeological discoveries by scholars, and an attempt has been made to incorporate in this edition, the results of such subsequent research. The revision of old Volumes has, in fact, meant an entire rewriting of most of the chapters and sections. In doing so, statistical and other information is obtained from the relevant Departments of Government, and articles on certain specialised subjects are obtained from competent scholars.
In this dynamic world, circumstances and facts of life change, and so do national requirements and social values. Such significant changes have taken place in India as in other countries during the last half-a-century and more so after the advent of Independence in 1947. The general scheme and contents of this revised series of the Gazetteers have been adapted to the needs of altered conditions. There is inevitably some shift in emphasis in the presentation and interpretation of certain phenomena.
For example, the weighted importance given to caste and community in the old Gazetteer cannot obviously accord with the ideological concepts of a secular democracy, though much of that data may have considerable interest from the functional, sociological or cultural point of view. What is necessary is a change in perspective in presenting that account so that it could be viewed against the background of a broad nationalism and the synthesis of a larger social life. It is also necessary to abridge and even to eliminate, elaborate details about customs and practices which no longer obtain on any extensive scale or which are too insignificant to need any elaboration. In the revised Gazetteer, therefore, only a general outline of the practices and customs of the main sections of the population has been given.
Every attempt has been made to incorporate as up-to-date information as possible. However in a monumental work like this, a time-lag between the date of collection of information and its publication is inevitable. It has, therefore, been decided to issue Statistical Supplementaries to the parent volumes from time to time. The Supplementaries will furnish tabulated statistics pertaining to the important subjects during the subsequent years.
An important addition to the District Volume in this edition is the Directory of Villages and Towns given at the end which contains, in a tabulated form, useful information about every village and town in the district. The district map given in this edition is also fairly large and up-to-date.
The revised Gazetteers are published in two series: -
1. General Series.-This comprises volumes on subjects which can best be treated for the State as a whole and not for the smaller area of a district. As at present planned, they will deal with Geography, Fauna, Maharashtra - Land and its People, History, Language and Literature, Botany, Public Administration and Places of Interest.
2. District Series.-This contains one Volume for every district of the Maharashtra State. The information given in all the Volumes will follow the same pattern, and the table of contents will more or less be the same for all the districts.
In the preparation of this Volume, this Department has received every assistance from the Gazetteers Unit, Ministry of Education, Government of India. A draft copy of this Volume was sent to the Gazetteers Unit and was returned with valuable suggestions which have been incorporated in the Volume.
B. G. KUNTE,
Executive Editor and Secretary.