BILASPUR , a
See also:town and
See also:district of
See also:British India in the
See also:Chhattisgarh division of the Central Provinces . The town is situated on the right
See also:bank of the
See also:river Arpa . It is said to have been founded by a fisherwoman named Bilasa in the 17th century, and it still retains her name . The place, however, came into note only after 1741, the
See also:year of the Mahratta invasion (see below), when a Mahratta official took up his abode there and began to build a fort which was never completed . In 1862 it was made the headquarters of the district . The population in 1901 was 18,937 . It is an important junction on the Bengal-
See also:Nagpur railway, where the two lines from the west meet on their way to
See also:Calcutta, 255 M. from Nagpur . The DISTRICT OF BILASPUR has an
See also:area of 7602 sq . M . It forms the upper
See also:half of the
See also:basin of the river Mahanadi . It is almost enclosed on the
See also:north, west and east by ranges of hills, while its
See also:southern boundary is generally open and accessible, well cultivated, and closely dotted with villages embedded in groups of fruit trees . The
See also:principal hills are—(1) the Maikal range, situated in the north-western extremity of the district; (2) a chain of hills forming
See also:part of the Vindhyan range, on the north; (3) the Korba hills, an off-shoot of the Vindhyas, on the eastern boundary; and (4) the Sonakhan
See also:block of hills, in the vicinity of the Mahanadi river .
The Mahanadi is the principal river of the district, and governs the whole drainage and river
See also:system of the surrounding
See also:country . It takes its rise in a mountainous region which is described as the wildest of all
See also:wild parts of the Central Provinces, crosses the Bilaspur boundary near Seorinarain, and after a course of 25 M. in the south-eastern extremity of the district enters
See also:Sambalpur district . Within Bilaspur the river is everywhere navigable for six months in the year . Minor
See also:rivers are the Sakri, Hamp, Tesua, Agar, Maniari, Arpa, Kharod, Lilagar, Jonk and Bareri . The most important affluents of the Mahanadi are the Seonath and Hasdu . Besides the natural
See also:water supply afforded by the rivers, Bilaspur abounds in tanks . There are large
See also:forest areas, those belonging to the
See also:government covering over 600 sq. m . Sal (Shorea robusta) is the chief
See also:tree . TT 930 Bilaspur, which was formerly a very isolated
See also:tract, is now traversed in three directions by lines of the Bengal-Nagpur railway . It suffered severely from the
See also:famine of 1896-1897 . In 1897 the general
See also:rate was as high as 90 per thousand, rising to 297 in Bilaspur town . It suffered no less severely in 19oo, when in May the number of persons relieved
See also:rose to one-
See also:fourth of the
See also:total population .
In 1901 the population was 1,012,972, showing a decrease of 13 %, compared with an increase of 14 % in the preceding
See also:decade . In 1906, however, the new district of
See also:Drug was formed, which took away 739 sq. m. from Bilaspur; the population on this reduced area of Bilaspur in 1901 was 917, 240 . Among the
See also:Hindu inhabitants of the district, the Chamars and Pankas deserve particular
See also:notice . The former, who
See also:form the shoemaker and
See also:leather-dealing caste of the Hindu community, had always been held in utter contempt by the other Hindu castes . But between 1820 and 183o a religious
See also:movement, having for its
See also:object their freedom from the trammels of caste, was inaugurated by a member of the caste, named Ghasi Das, who preached the unity of
See also:God and the equality of men . Ghasi Das gave himself out as a messenger of God; he prohibited the adoration of idols, and enjoined the worship of the Supreme Being without any visible sign or
See also:representation . The followers of the new faith
See also:call themselves Satnamis, or the worshippers of Satnam or God . They do not keep the Hindu festivals and they defy the contempt of the Brahmans . Ghasi Das, the founder of the faith, was their first high
See also:priest . He died in r85o; his son succeeded him, but was assassinated (it was said by the
See also:Hindus), and the
See also:grandson succeeded him . The Pankas, who form about a
See also:sixth of the population, are all Kabirpanthis, or followers of
See also:Kabir, a religious reformer of the 15th century . There is no
See also:great difference between the Kabir Pankas and the Satnamis .
They both abstain from
See also:meat and •liquo'r, marry at the age of puberty, ordinarily celebrate their ceremonies through the agency of the elders of their own caste and bury their dead . The Pankas worship the Supreme Being under the name of Kabir, and the Chamars under the name of Satnam; while each community has a high priest to whom reverence is paid . At
See also:present the majority of the Pankas are cultivators, though formerly all were weavers . The Gonds are the most numerous among the aboriginal tribes, but so great an intermixture has taken place between them and the Hindu races that they have lost their language and most of their ethnical characteristics, such as the
See also:flat forehead, squat
See also:nose, prominent nostril, dark skin, &c., and are scarcely distinguishable from the other classes of the Hindu labouring population . In addition to some of the Hindu deities which they worship, the Gonds have their own gods—Bara Deva and Dula Deva . The Kan-
See also:wars are the next largest section of the aboriginal population . The upper class among them claim to be Rajputs, and are divided into numerous septs . Although an aboriginal tribe, the
See also:census returns them as a Hindu caste . All the
See also:northern landholders of Bilaspur belong to this tribe, which consequently occupies an influential position . The chief
See also:wealth of the district consists in its agricultural produce .
See also:Rice, wheat, pulses,
See also:mustard, oil-seeds and
See also:cotton are the chief crops . Rice, the chief export, is sent to Bombay,
See also:Berar and northern India .
See also:industry is of considerable importance, and the silk is reputed the best in the Central Provinces . Sal and other timber is exported .
See also:Lac is sent in large quantities to Calcutta and
See also:Mirzapur .
See also:Coal and iron are the chief minerals;
See also:sandstone for
See also:building purposes is quarried near Bilaspur and Seorinarain . Among
See also:industries the most important is the
See also:trade . The early
See also:history of the district is very obscure . From remote ages it was governed by
See also:kings of the Haihai
See also:dynasty of Ratanpur and
See also:Raipur, known as the Chhattisgarh rajas, on account of
See also:thirty-six forts (garbs), of which they were the lords . A genealogical
See also:list of kings of this dynasty was carefully kept up to the fifty-fifth representative in the year 1741, when the country was seized without a struggle by the
See also:Mahrattas of Nagpur . From 1818 to 1830 Bilaspur came under the management of the Britishgovernment, the Mahratta chief of Nagpur being then a minor . In 1854 the country finally lapsed to the British government, the chief having died without issue . During the
See also:mutiny a
See also:hill chief of the district gave some trouble, but he was speedily captured and executed .
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