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Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan

Book I – Geography of Rajasthan or Rajputana

Geography of Rajasthan or Rajputana

Boundaries of Rajputana

Rajasthan is the collective and classical denomination of that portion of India which is ‘the abode36 of (Rajput) princes.’ In the familiar dialect of these countries it is termed Rajwara, but by the more refined Raethana, corrupted to Rajputana, the common designation amongst the British to denote the Rajput principalities.

What might have been the nominal extent of Rajasthan prior to the Muhammadan conqueror Shihabu-d-din (when it probably reached beyond the Jumna and Ganges, even to the base of the Himalaya) cannot now be known. At present we may adhere to its restrictive definition, still comprehending a wide space and a variety of interesting races.

Previous to the erection of the minor Muhammadan monarchies of Mandu and Ahmadabad (the capitals of Malwa and Gujarat), on the ruins of Dhar and Anhilwara Patan, the term Rajasthan would have been appropriated to the space comprehended in the map prefixed to this work: the valley of the Indus on the west, and Bundelkhand37 on the east; to the north, the sandy tracts (south of the Sutlej) termed Jangaldes; and the Vindhya mountains to the south.

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This space comprehends nearly 8° of latitude and 9° of longitude, being from 22° to 30° north latitude, and 69° to 78° east longitude, embracing a superficial area of 350,000 square miles38. [2]

Although it is proposed to touch upon the annals of all the States in this extensive tract, with their past and present condition, those in the centre will claim the most prominent regard; especially Mewar, which, copiously treated of, will afford a specimen, obviating the necessity of like details of the rest.

The States of Rajputana

The order in which these States will be reviewed is as follows:-

Mewar, or Udaipur.

Marwar, or Jodhpur.

Bikaner and Kishangarh.


Bundi or Haraoti.

Amber, or Jaipur, with its branches, dependent and independent.


The Indian desert to the valley of the Indus.

History of Geographical Surveys

The basis of this work is the geography of the country, the historical and statistical portion being consequent and subordinate thereto. It was, indeed, originally designed to be essentially geographical; but circumstances have rendered it impossible to execute the intended details, or even to make the map39 so perfect as the superabundant material at the command of the author might have enabled him to do; a matter of regret to himself rather than of loss to the general reader, to whom geographic details, however important, are usually dry and uninteresting.

It was also intended to institute a comparison between the map and such remains of ancient geography as can be extracted from the Puranas and other Hindu authorities; which, however, must be deferred to a future period, when the deficiency of the

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present rapid and general sketch may be supplied, should the author be enabled to resume his labours.

The laborious research, in the course of which these data were accumulated, commenced in 1806, when the author was attached to the embassy sent, at the close of the Mahratta wars, to the court of Sindhia. This chieftain’s army was then in Mewar, at that period almost a terra incognita, the position of whose two capitals, Udaipur and Chitor, in the best existing maps, was precisely reversed; [3] that is, Chitor was inserted S.E. of Udaipur instead of E.N.E., a proof of the scanty knowledge possessed at that period.

In other respects there was almost a total blank. In the maps prior to 1806 nearly all the western and central States of Rajasthan will be found wanting. It had been imagined, but a little time before, that the rivers had a southerly course into the Nerbudda; a notion corrected by the father of Indian geography, the distinguished Rennell40.

This blank the author filled up; and in 1815, for the first time, the geography of Rajasthan was put into combined form and presented to the Marquess of Hastings, on the eve of a general war, when the labour of ten years was amply rewarded by its becoming in part the foundation of that illustrious commander’s plans of the campaign. It is a duty owing to himself to state that every map, without exception, printed since this period has its foundation, as regards Central and Western India, in the labours of the author41.

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The Author’s Surveys

The route of the embassy was from Agra, through the southern frontier of Jaipur to Udaipur. A portion of this had been surveyed and points laid down from celestial observation, by Dr. W. Hunter, which I adopted as the basis of my enterprise. The Resident Envoy42 to the court of Sindhia was possessed of the valuable sketch of the route of Colonel Palmer’s embassy in 1791, as laid down by Dr. Hunter, the foundation of my subsequent surveys, as it merited from its importance and general accuracy. It embraced all the extreme points of Central India: Agra, Narwar, Datia, Jhansi, Bhopal, Sarangpur, Ujjain, and on return from this, the first meridian of the Hindus, by Kotah; Bundi, Rampura (Tonk), Bayana, to Agra. The position of all these places was more or less accurately fixed, according to the time which could be bestowed, by astronomical observation. [4]

At Rampura Hunter ceased to be my guide: and from this point commenced the new survey of Udaipur, where we arrived in June 1806. The position then assigned to it, with most inadequate instruments, has been changed only 1´ of longitude, though the latitude amounted to about 5´.

From Udaipur the subsequent march of the army with which we moved led past the celebrated Chitor, and through the centre of Malwa, crossing in detail all the grand streams flowing from the Vindhya, till we halted for a season on the Bundelkhand frontier at Khimlasa. In this journey of seven hundred miles I twice crossed the lines of route of the former embassy, and was gratified to find my first attempts generally coincide with their established points.

In 1807, the army having undertaken the siege of Rahatgarh, I determined to avail myself of the time which Mahrattas waste in such a process, and to pursue my favourite project. With a small guard I determined to push through untrodden fields, by the banks of the Betwa to Chanderi, and in its latitude proceed in a westerly direction towards Kotah, trace the course once more of all those streams from the south, and the points of junction of the most important (the Kali Sind, Parbati, and Banas) with the Chambal; and having effected this, continue my journey to Agra. This I accomplished in times very different from the

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present, being often obliged to strike my tents and march at midnight, and more than once the object of plunder43. The chief points in this route were Khimlasa, Rajwara, Kotra on the Betwa, Kanyadana44, Buradungar45, Shahabad, Barah46, Puleta47, Baroda, Sheopur, Pali48, Ranthambhor, Karauli, Sri Mathura, and Agra.

On my return to the Mahratta camp I resolved further to increase the sphere, and proceeded westward by Bharatpur, Katumbar, Sentri, to Jaipur, Tonk, Indargarh, Gugal Chhapra, Raghugarh, Aron, Kurwai, Borasa, to Sagar: a journey of more than one thousand miles. I found the camp nearly where I left it.

With this ambulatory court I moved everywhere within this region, constantly employed in surveying till 1812, when Sindhia’s court became stationary. It was then I formed my plans for obtaining a knowledge of those countries into which I could not personally penetrate. [5]

Survey Parties

In 1810–11 I had despatched two parties, one to the Indus, the other to the desert south of the Sutlej. The first party, under Shaikh Abu-l Barakat, journeyed westward, by Udaipur, through Gujarat, Saurashtra and Cutch, Lakhpat and Hyderabad (the capital of the Sindi government); crossed the Indus to Tatta, proceeded up the right bank to Sehwan; recrossed, and continued on the left bank as far as Khairpur, the residence of one of the triumvirate governors of Sind, and having reached the insulated Bakhar49 (the capital of the Sogdoi of Alexander), returned by the desert of Umrasumra to Jaisalmer, Marwar, and Jaipur, and joined me in camp at Narwar. It was

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a perilous undertaking; but the Shaikh was a fearless and enterprising character, and moreover a man with some tincture of learning. His journals contained many hints and directions for future research in the geography, statistics, and manners of the various races amongst whom he travelled.

The other party was conducted by a most valuable. man, Madari Lal, who became a perfect adept in these expeditions of geographical discovery, and other knowledge resulting therefrom. There is not a district of any consequence in the wide space before the reader which was not traversed by this spirited individual, whose qualifications for such complicated and hazardous journeys were never excelled. Ardent, persevering, prepossessing, and generally well-informed, he made his way when others might have perished50.

From these remote regions the best-informed native inhabitants were, by persuasion and recompense, conducted to me; and I could at all times, in the Mahratta camp at Gwalior, from 1812 to 1817, have provided a native of the valley of the Indus, the deserts of Dhat, Umrasumra, or any of the States of Rajasthan.

The precision with which Kasids and other public conveyers of letters, in countries where posts are little used, can detail the peculiarities of a long line of route, and the accuracy of their distances would scarcely be credited in Europe. I have no hesitation in asserting that if a correct estimate were obtained of the measured [6] toss of a country, a line might be laid down upon a flat surface with great exactitude. I have heard it affirmed that it was the custom of the old Hindu governments to have measurements made of the roads from town to town, and that the Abu Mahatma51 contains a notice of an instrument for that purpose. Indeed, the singular coincidence between lines measured by the perambulator and the estimated distances of the natives is the best proof that the latter are deduced from some more certain method than mere computation.

I never rested satisfied with the result of one set of my parties,

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with the single exception of Madari’s, always making the information of one a basis for the instruction of another, who went over the same ground; but with additional views and advantages, and with the aid of the natives brought successively by each, till I exhausted every field.

Thus, in a few years, I had filled Several volumes with lines of route throughout this space; and having many frontier and intermediate points, the positions of which were fixed, a general outline of the result was constructed, wherein all this information was laid down. I speak more particularly of the western States, as the central portion, or that watered by the Chambal and its tributary streams, whether from the elevated Aravalli on the west, or from the Vindhya mountains on the south, has been personally surveyed and measured in every direction, with an accuracy sufficient for every political or military purpose, until the grand trigonometrical survey from the peninsula shall be ‘extended throughout India. These countries form an extended plain to the Sutlej north, and west to the Indus, rendering the amalgamation of geographical materials much less difficult than where mountainous regions intervene.

After having laid down these varied lines in the outline described, I determined to check and confirm its accuracy by recommencing the survey on a new plan, viz. trigonometrically.

My parties were again despatched to resume their labours over fields now familiar to them. They commenced from points whose positions were fixed (and my knowledge enabled me to give a series of such), from each of which, as a centre, they collected every radiating route to every town within the distance of twenty miles. The points selected were generally such as to approach equilateral [7] triangles; and although to digest the information became a severe toil, the method will appear, even to the casual observer, one which must throw out its own errors; for these lines crossed in every direction, and consequently corrected each other. By such means did I work my way in those unknown tracts, and the result is in part before the reader. I say, in part; for my health compels me reluctantly to leave out much which could be combined from ten folios of journeys extending throughout these regions.

The Author’s Map

In 1815, as before stated, an outline map containing all the information thus obtained, and which the

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subsequent crisis rendered of essential importance, was presented by me to the Governor-General of India. Upon the very eve of the war I constructed and presented another, of the greater portion of Malwa, to which it appeared expedient to confine the operations against the Pindaris. The material feature in this small map was the general position of the Vindhya mountains, the sources and course of every river originating thence, and the passes in this chain, an object of primary importance. The boundaries of the various countries in this tract were likewise defined, and it became essentially useful in the subsequent dismemberment of the Peshwa’s dominions.

In the construction of this map I had many fixed points, both of Dr. Hunter’s and my own, to work from; and it is gratifying to observe that though several measured lines have since been run through this space, not only the general, but often the identical features of mine have been preserved in the maps since given to the world. As considerable improvement has been made by several measured lines through this tract, and many positions affixed by a scientific and zealous geographer, I have had 110 hesitation in incorporating a small portion of this improved geography in the map now presented52.

Many surveyed lines were made by me from 1817 to 1822; and here I express my obligations to my kinsman53, to whom alone I owe any aid for improving this portion of my geographical labours. This officer made a circuitous survey, which comprehended nearly the extreme points of Mewar, from the capital, by Chitor, Mandalgarh, Jahazpur, Rajmahall, and in return by Banal, Badnor, Deogarh, [8] to the point of outset. From these extreme points he was enabled to place many intermediate ones, for which Mewar is so favourable, by reason of its isolated hills.

In 1820 I made an important journey across the Aravalli, by Kumbhalmer, Pali, to Jodhpur, the capital of Marwar, and thence by Merta, tracing the course of the Luni to its source at Ajmer; and from this celebrated residence of the Chauhan

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kings and Mogul emperors; returning through the central lands of Mewar, by Banai and Banera, to the capital.

I had the peculiar satisfaction to find that my position of Jodhpur, which has been used as a capital point in fixing the geography west and north, was only 3´ of space out in latitude, and little more in longitude; which accounted for the coincidence of my position of Bikaner with that assigned by Mr. Elphinstone in his account of the embassy to Kabul.

Besides Udaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer, etc., whose positions I had fixed by observations, and the points laid down by Hunter, I availed myself of a few positions given to me by that enterprising traveller, the author of the journey into Khorasan54, who marched from Delhi, by Nagor and Jodhpur, to Udaipur.

The outline of the countries of Gujarat55, the Saurashtra peninsula, and Cutch, inserted chiefly by way of connexion, is entirely taken from the labours of that distinguished geographer, the late General Reynolds. We had both gone over a great portion of the same field, and my testimony is due to the value of his researches in countries into which he never personally penetrated, evincing what may be done by industry, and the use of such materials as I have described.

Physiography of Rajputana

I shall conclude with a rapid sketch of the physiognomy of these regions; minute and local descriptions will appear more appropriately in the respective historical portions

Rajasthan presents a great variety of feature. Let me place the reader on the highest peak of the insulated Abu, the saint’s pinnacle56,’ as it is termed, and guide his eye in a survey over this wide expanse, from the ‘blue waters’ of the Indus west to the ‘withy-covered57’ Betwa on the east. From this, the most [9] elevated spot in Hindustan, overlooking by fifteen hundred feet the Aravalli mountains, his eye descends to the plains of Medpat58

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(the classic term for Mewar), whose chief streams, flowing from the base of the Aravalli, join the Berach and Bangs, and are prevented from uniting with the Chambal only by the Patar59 or plateau of Central India.

Ascending this plateau near the celebrated Chitor, let the eye deviate slightly from the direct eastern line, and pursue the only practicable path by Ratangarh, and Singoli, to Kotah, and he will observe its three successive steppes, the miniature representation of those of Russian Tartary. Let the observer here glance across the Chambal and traverse Haraoti to its eastern frontier, guarded by the fortress of Shahabad: thence abruptly descend the plateau to the level of the Sind, still proceeding eastward, until the table-mountain, the western limit of Bundelkhand. affords a resting-point.

To render this more distinct, I present a profile of the tract described from Abu to Kotra on the Betwa60: from Abu to the Chambal, the result of barometrical measurement, and from the latter to the Betwa from my general observations61 of the irregularities of surface. The result is, that the Betwa at Kotra is one thousand feet above the sea-level, and one thousand lower than the city and valley of Udaipur, which again is on the same level with the base of Abu, two thousand feet above the sea. This line, the general direction of which is but a short distance from the tropic, is about six geographic degrees in length: yet is this small space highly diversified, both in its inhabitants and the production of the soil, whether hidden or revealed.

Illustration: Section of the country from Abu to the Betwa

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Let us now from our elevated station (still turned to the east) carry the eye both south and north of the line described, which nearly bisects Madhyadesa62, ‘the central land’ of Rajasthan; best defined by the course of the Chambal and [10] its tributary streams, to its confluence with the Jumna: while the regions west of the transalpine Aravalli63 may as justly be defined Western Rajasthan.

Looking to the south, the eye rests on the long-extended and strongly - defined line of the Vindhya, mountains, the proper bounds of Hindustan and the Deccan. Though, from our elevated stand on ‘the Saint’s Pinnacle’ of Abu, we look down on the Vindhya as a range of diminished importance, it is that our position is the least favourable to viewing its grandeur, which would be most apparent from the south; though throughout this skirt of descent, irregular elevations attain a height of many hundred feet above such points of its abrupt descent.

The Aravalli itself may be said to connect with the Vindhya, and the point of junction to be towards Champaner; though it might be as correct to say the Aravalli thence rose upon and stretched from the Vindhya. Whilst it is much less elevated than snore to the north, it presents bold features throughout64, south by Lunawara, Dungarpur, and Idar, to Amba Bhawani and Udaipur.

Still looking from Abu over the tableland of Malwa, we observe her plains of black loam furrowed by the numerous streams from the highest points of the Vindhya, pursuing their northerly course; some meandering through valleys or falling over precipices; others bearing down all opposition, and actually forcing an exit through the central plateau to join the Chambal.

The Aravalli Range

Having thus glanced at the south, let us cast the eye north of this line, and pause on the alpine Aravalli65.

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Let us take a section of it, from the capital, Udaipur, the line of our station on Abu, passing through Oghna Panarwa, and Mirpur, to the western descent near Sirohi, a space of nearly sixty miles in a direct line, where “hills o’er hills and alps on alps arise,” from the ascent at Udaipur, to the descent to Marwar. All this space to the Sirohi frontier is inhabited by communities of the aboriginal races, living in a state of primeval and almost savage independence, owning no paramount power, paying no tribute, but with all the simplicity of republics; their leaders, with the title of Rawat, being hereditary. ‘Thus the Rawat of the Oghna commune can assemble five thousand bows, and several others [11] can on occasion muster considerable numbers. Their habitations are dispersed through the valleys in small rude hamlets, near their pastures or places of defence66.

Let me now transport the reader to the citadel pinnacle of Kumbhalmer67, thence surveying the range running north to Ajmer, where, shortly after, it loses its tabular form, and breaking into lofty ridges, sends numerous branches through the Shaikhavati federation, and Alwar, till in low heights it terminates at Delhi.

From Kumbhalmer to Ajmer the whole space is termed Merwara, and is inhabited by the mountain race of Mer or Mair, the habits and history of which singular class will be hereafter related. The range averages from six to fifteen miles in breadth,

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having upwards of one hundred and fifty villages and hamlets scattered over its valleys and rocks, abundantly watered, not deficient in pasture, and with cultivation enough for all internal wants, though it is raised with infinite labour on terraces, as the vine is cultivated in Switzerland and on the Rhine.

In vain does the eye search for any trace of wheel-carriage across this compound range from Idar to Ajmer; and it consequently well merits its appellation ara, ‘the barrier,’ for the strongest arm of modern warfare, artillery, would have to turn the chain by the north to avoid the impracticable descent to the west68.

Views from the Aravalli Hills

Guiding the eye along the chain, several fortresses are observed on pinnacles guarding the passes on either side, while numerous rills descend, pouring over the declivities, seeking their devious exit between the projecting ribs of the mountain. The Berach, the Banas, the Kothari, the Khari, the Dahi all unite with the Banas to the east, while to the west the still more numerous streams which fertilize the rich province of Godwar, unite to ‘the Salt River,’ the Luni, and mark the true line of the desert. Of these the chief are the Sukri and the [12] Bandi; while others which are not perennial, and depend on atmospheric causes for their supply, receive the general denomination of rela, indicative of rapid mountain torrents, carrying in their descent a vast volume of alluvial deposit, to enrich the siliceous soil below.

However grand the view of the chaotic mass of rock from this elevated site of Kumbhalmer, it is from the plains of Marwar that its majesty is most apparent; where its ‘splintered pinnacles’ are seen rising over each other in varied form, or frowning over the dark indented recesses of its forest-covered and rugged declivities.

On reflection, I am led to pronounce the Aravalli a connexion of the ‘Apennines of India’; the Ghats on the Malabar coast of

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the peninsula: nor does the passage of the Nerbudda or the Tapti, through its diminished centre, militate against the hypothesis, which might be better substantiated by the comparison of their intrinsic character and structure.

Geology of the Aravallis

The general character of the Aravalli is its primitive formation69: granite, reposing in variety of angle (the general dip is to the cast) on massive, compact, dark blue slate, the latter rarely appearing much above the surface or base of the superincumbent granite. The internal valleys abound in variegated quartz and a variety of sehistous slate of every hue, which gives a most singular appearance to the roofs of the houses and temples when the sun shines upon them. Rocks of gneiss and of syenitc appear in the intervals; and in the diverging ridges west of Ajmer the summits are quite dazzling with the enormous masses of vitreous rose-coloured quartz.

The Aravalli and its subordinate hills are rich in both mineral and metallic products; and, as stated in the annals of Mewar, to the latter alone can be attributed the resources which enabled this family so long to struggle against superior power, and to raise those magnificent structures which would do honour to the most potent kingdoms of the west.

The mines are royalties; their produce a monopoly, increasing the personal revenue of their prince. An-Dan-Khan is a triple figurative expression, which comprehends the sum of sovereign rights in Rajasthan, being allegiance, commercial duties, mines. The tin-mines of Mewar were once very productive, and yielded, it is asserted, no inconsiderable portion of silver: but the caste of miners is extinct, and political reasons, during the Mogul domination, led to the [13] concealment of such sources of wealth. Copper of a very fine description is likewise abundant, and supplies the currency; and the chief of Salumbar even coins by sufferance from the mines on his own estate. Surma, or the oxide of antimony,

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is found on the western frontier. The garnet, amethystine quartz, rock crystal, the chrysolite, and inferior kinds of the emerald family are all to be found within Mewar; and though I have seen no specimens decidedly valuable, the Rana has often told me that, according to tradition, his native hills contained every species of mineral wealth.

The Patar Plateau

Let us now quit our alpine station on the Aravalli, and make a tour of the Patar, or plateau of Central India, not the least important feature of this interesting region. It possesses a most decided character, and is distinct from the Vindhya to the south and the Aravalli to the west, being of the secondary formation, or trap, of the most regular horizontal stratification.

The circumference of the plateau is best explained in the map, though its surface is most unequally detailed, and is continually alternating its character between the tabular form and clustering ridges.

Commencing the tour of Mandalgarh, let us proceed south, skirting Chitor (both on insulated rocks detached from the plateau), thence by Jawad, Dantoli, Rampura70, Bhanpura, the Mukunddarra Pass71, to Gagraun (where the Kali Sind forces an entrance through its table - barrier to Eklera72) and Margwas (where the Parbati, taking advantage of the diminished elevation, passes from Malwa to Haraoti), and by Raghugarh, Shahabad, Ghazigarh, Gaswani, to Jadonwati, where the plateau terminates on the Chambal, east; while from the same point of outset, Mandalgarh, soon losing much of its table form, it stretches away in bold ranges, occasionally tabular, as in the Bundi fortress, by Dablana, Indargarh and Lakheri73, to Ranthambhor and Karauli, terminating at Dholpur Bari.

The elevation and inequalities of this plateau are best seen by crossing it from west to east, from the plains to the level of the Chambal, where, with the exception of the short flat between Kotah and Pali ferry, this noble stream is seen rushing through the rocky barrier.

At Ranthambhor the plateau breaks into lofty ranges, their

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white summits [14] sparkling in the sun; cragged but not peaked, and preserving the characteristic formation, though disunited from the mass. Here there are no less than seven distinct ranges (Satpara), through all of which the Banas has to force a passage to unite with the Chambal. Beyond Ranthambhor, and the whole way from Karauli to the river, is an irregular tableland, on the edge of whose summit are the fortresses of Utgir, Mandrel, and that more celebrated of Thum But east of the eastern side there is still another steppe of descent, which may be said to originate near the fountain of the Sind at Latoti, and passing by Chanderi, Kanyadana, Narwar, and Gwalior, terminates at Deogarh, in the plains of Gohad. The descent from this second steppe is into Bundelkhand and the valley of the Betwa.

Distinguished as is this elevated region of the surface of Central India, its summit is but little higher than the general elevation of the crest of the Vindhya, and upon a level with the valley of Udaipur and base of the Aravalli. The slope or descent, therefore, from both these ranges to the skirts of the plateau is great and abrupt, of which the most intelligible and simple proof appears in the course of these streams. Few portions of the globe attest more powerfully the force exerted by the action of waters to subdue every obstacle, than a view of the rock-bound channels of these streams in this adamantine barrier. Four streams – one of which, the Chambal, would rank with the Rhine and almost with the Rhone – have here forced their way, laying bare the stratification from the water’s level to the summit, from three to six hundred feet in perpendicular height, the rock appearing as if chiselled by the hand of man. Here the geologist may read the book of nature in distinct character; few tracts (from Rampura to Kotah) will be found more interesting to him, to the antiquarian, or to the lover of nature in her most rugged attire.

The surface of this extensive plateau is greatly diversified. At Kotah the bare protruding rock in some places presents not a trace of vegetation; but where it bevels off to the banks of the Par it is one of the richest and most productive soils in India, and better cultivated than any spot even of British India. In its indented sides are glens of the most romantic description (as the fountain of ‘the snake King’ near Hinglaj), and deep dells, the source of small streams, where many treasures of art74,

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in temples and ancient dwellings, yet remain to reward the traveller. [15]

This central elevation, as before described, is of the secondary formation, called trap. Its prevailing colour, where laid hare by the Chambal, is milk-white: it is compact and close-grained, and though perhaps the mineral offering the greatest resistance to the chisel, the sculptures at the celebrated Barolli evince its utility to the artist. White is also the prevailing colour to the westward. About Kotah it is often mixed white and porphyritic, and about Shababad of a mixed red and brown tint. When exposed to the action of the atmosphere in its eastern declivity the decomposed and rough surface would almost cause it to be mistaken for gritstone.

This formation is not favourable to mineral wealth. The only metals are lead and iron; but their ores, especially the latter, are abundant. There are mines, said to be of value, of sulphuret of lead (galena) in the Gwalior province, from which I have had specimens, but these also are closed. The natives fear to extract their mineral wealth; and though abounding in lead, tin, and copper, they are indebted almost entirely to Europe even for the materials of their culinary utensils.

Without attempting a delineation of inferior ranges, I will only further direct the reader’s attention to an important deduction from this superficial review of the physiognomy of Rajwara.

The Mountain System of Central India

There are two distinctly marked declivities or slopes in Central India: the chief is that from west to east, from the great rampart, the Aravalli (interposed to prevent the drifting of the sands into the central plains, bisected by the Chambal and his hundred arms) to the Betwa; the other slope is from south to north, from the Vindhya, the southern buttress of Central India, to the Jumna.,

Extending our definition, we may pronounce the course of the Jumna to indicate the central fall of that immense vale which has its northern slope from the base of the Himalaya, and the southern from that of the Vindhya mountains.

It is not in contemplation to delineate the varied course of the magnificent Nerbudda, though I have abundant means; for the moment we ascend the summit of the tropical75 Vindhya, to

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descend into the valley of the Nerbudda, we abandon Rajasthan and the Rajputs for the aboriginal. races, the first proprietors of the land. These I shall leave to others, and commence and end with the Chambal, the paramount lord of the floods of Central India. [16]

The Chambal River

The Chambal has his fountains in a very elevated point of the Vindhya, amidst a cluster of hills on which is bestowed the local appellation of Janapao. It has three coequal sources from the same cluster, the Chambal, Chambela, and Gambhir; while no less than nine other streams have their origin on the south side, and pour their waters into the Nerbudda.

The Sipra from Pipalda, the little Sind76 from Dewas, and other minor streams passing Ujjain, all unite with the Chambal in different stages before he breaks through the plateau.

The Kali Sind, from Bagri, and its petty branch, the Sodwia, from Raghugarh; the Niwaz (or Jamniri), from Morsukri and Magarda; the Parbati, from the pass of Amlakhera, with its more eastern arm from Daulatpur, uniting at Pharhar, are all points in the crest of the Vindhya range, whence they pursue their course through the plateau, rolling over precipices77, till engulfed in the Chambal at the ferries of Nunera and Pali. All these unite on the right bank.

On the left bank his flood is increased by the Banas, fed by the perennial streams from the Aravalli, and the Berach from the lakes of Udaipur; and after watering Mewar, the southern frontier of Jaipur, and the highlands of Karauli, the river turns south to unite at the holy Sangam78, Rameswar. Minor streams contribute (unworthy, however, of separate notice), and after a thousand involutions he reaches the Jumna, at the holy Triveni79, or ‘triple-allied’ stream, between Etawa and Kalpi.

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The course of the Chambal, not reckoning the minor sinuosities, is upwards of five hundred miles80; and along its banks specimens of nearly every race now existing in India may be found: Sondis, Chandarawats, Sesodias, Haras, Gaur, Jadon, Sakarwal, Gujar, Jat81, Tuar, Chauhan, Bhadauria, Kachhwaha, Sengar, Bundela; each in associations of various magnitudes, from the substantive state of the little republic communes between the Chambal and Kuwari82. [17]

The Western Desert

Having thus sketched the central portion of Rajasthan, or that eastward of the Aravalli, I shall give a rapid general83 view of that to the west, conducting the reader over the ‘Thal ka Tiba,’ or ‘sand hills’ of the desert, to the valley of the Indus.

The Luni River

Let the reader again take post on Abu, by which he may be saved a painful journey over the Thal84. The most interesting object in this arid ‘region of death’ is the ‘salt river,’ the Luni, with its many arms falling from the Aravalli to enrich the best portion of the principality of Jodhpur, and distinctly marking the line of that extensive plain of ever-shifting sand, termed in Hindu geography Marusthali, corrupted to Marwar.

The Luni, from its sources, the sacred lakes of Pushkar and Ajmer, and the more remote arm from Parbatsar to its embouchure in the great western salt marsh, the Rann, has a course of more than three hundred miles.

In the term Eirinon of the historians of Alexander, we have the corruption of the word Ran or Rann85, still used to describe that extensive fen formed by the deposits of the Luni, and the equally saturated saline streams from the southern desert of Dhat. It is one hundred and fifty miles in length; and where broadest, from Bhuj to Baliari, about seventy86: in which direction

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the caravans cross, having as a place of halt an insulated oasis in this mediterranean salt marsh. In the dry season, nothing meets the eye but an extensive and glaring sheet of salt, spread over its insidious surface, full of dangerous quicksands: and in the rains it is a dirty saline solution, up to the camels’ girths in many places. The little oasis, the Khari Kaba, furnishes pasture for this useful animal and rest for the traveller pursuing his journey to either bank.

The Mirage

It is on the desiccated borders87 of this vast salt marsh that the illusory phenomenon, the mirage, presents its fantastic appearance, pleasing to all but the wearied traveller, who sees a haven of rest in the embattled towers, the peaceful hamlet88, [18] or shady grove, to which he hastens in vain; receding as he advances, till “the sun in his might,” dissipating these “cloud-capp’d towers,” reveals the vanity of his pursuit.

Such phenomena are common to the desert, more particularly where these extensive saline depositions exist, but varying from certain causes. In most cases, this powerfully magnifying and reflecting medium is a vertical stratum; at first dense and opaque, it gradually attenuates with increased temperature, till the maximum of heat, which it can no longer resist, drives it off in an ethereal vapour. This optical deception, well known to the Rajputs, is called sikol, or ‘winter castles,’ because chiefly visible in the cold season: hence, possibly, originated the equally illusory and delightful ‘Chateau en Espagne,’ so well known in the west89.

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The Desert

From the north bank of the Luni to the south, and the Shaikhavat frontier to the east, the sandy region commences. Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer are all sandy plains, increasing in volume as you proceed westward. All this portion of territory is incumbent on a sandstone formation: soundings of all the new wells made from Jodhpur to Ajmer yielded the same result: sand, concrete siliceous deposits, and chalk.

Jaisalmer is everywhere encircled by desert; and that portion round the capital might not be improperly termed an oasis, in which wheat, barley, and even rice are produced. The fortress is erected on the extremity of a range of some hundred feet in elevation, which can be traced beyond its southern confines to the ruins of the ancient Chhotan erected upon them, and which tradition has preserved as the capital of a tribe, or prince, termed Hapa, of whom no other trace exists. It is not unlikely that this ridge may be connected with that which runs through the rich province of Jalor; consequently an offset from the base of Abu.

Though all these regions collectively bear the term Marusthali, or ‘region of death’ (the emphatic and figurative phrase for the desert), the restrictive definition applies to a part only, that under the dominion of the Rathor race. [19]

From Balotra on the Luni, throughout the whole of Dhat and Umrasumra, the western portion of Jaisalmer, and a broad strip between the southern limits of Daudputra and Bikaner, there is real solitude and desolation. But from the Sutlej to the Rann, a space of five hundred miles of longitudinal distance, and varying in breadth from fifty to one hundred miles, numerous oases are found, where the shepherds from the valley of the Indus and the Thal pasture their flocks. The springs of water in these places have various appellations, tar, par, rar, dar, all expressive of the element, round which assemble the Rajars, Sodhas, Mangalias, and Sahariyas90, inhabiting the desert.

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I will not touch on the salt lakes or natron beds, or the other products of the desert, vegetable or mineral; though the latter might soon be described, being confined to the jasper rock near Jaisalmer, which has been much used in the beautiful arabesques of that fairy fabric, at Agra, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s queen.

Neither shall I describe the valley of the Indus, or that portion eastward of the stream, the termination of the sand ridges of the desert. I will merely remark, that the small stream which breaks from the Indus at Dara, seven miles north of the insulated Bakhar, and falls into the ocean at Lakhpat, shows the breadth of this eastern portion of the valley, which forms the western boundary of the desert. A traveller proceeding from the Khichi or flats of Sind to the east, sees the line of the desert distinctly marked, with its elevated tibas or sand ridges under which flows the Sankra, which is generally dry except at periodical inundations. These sand-hills are of considerable elevation, and may be considered the limit of the inundation of the sweet river,’ the Mitha Maran, a Scythic or Tatar name for river, and by which alone the Indus is known, from the Panjnad91 to the ocean. [20]


36. Or ‘regal (raj) dwelling (than).’

37. It is rather singular that the Sind River will mark this eastern boundary, as does the Indus (or great Sind) that to the west. East of this minor Sind the Hindu princes are not of pure blood, and are excluded from Rajasthan or Rajwara.

38. [Rajputana, as now officially defined, lies between lat. 23° 3´ and 30° 12´ N., and long. 69° 30´ and 78° 17´ E., the total area, according to the Census Report, 1911, including Ajmer–Merwara, being 131,698 square miles.]

39. Engraved by that meritorious artist Mr. Walker, engraver to the East India Company, who, I trust, will be able to make a fuller use of my materials hereafter. [This has been replaced by a modern map.]

40. [James Rennell, 1742–1830.]

41. When the war of 1817 broke out, copies of my map on a reduced scale were sent to all the divisions of the armies in the field, and came into possession of many of the staff. Transcripts were made which were brought to Europe, and portions introduced into every recent map of India. One map has, indeed, been given, in a manner to induce a supposition that the furnisher of the materials was the author of them. It has fulfilled a prediction of the Marquess of Hastings, who, foreseeing the impossibility of such materials remaining private property, “and the danger of their being appropriated by others,” and desirous that the author should derive the full advantage of his labours, had it signified that the claims for recompense, on the records of successive governments, should not be deferred. It will not be inferred the author is surprised at what he remarks. While he claims priority for himself, he is the last person to wish to see a halt in science – “For emulation has a thousand sons.”

42. My esteemed friend, Graeme Mercer, Esq. (of Maevisbank), who stimulated my exertions with his approbation.

43. Many incidents in these journeys would require no aid of imagination to touch on the romantic, but they can have no place here.

44. Eastern tableland.

45. Sind River.

46. Parbati River.

47. Kali Sind River.

48. Passage of the Chambal and junction of the Par.

49. The Shaikh brought me specimens of the rock, which is siliceous; and also a piece of brick of the very ancient fortress of Sehwan, and some of the grain from its pits, charred and alleged by tradition to have lain there since the period of Raja Bhartarihari, the brother of Vikramaditya. It. is not impossible that it might be owing to Alexander’s terrific progress, and to their supplies being destroyed by fire. Sehwan is conjectured by Captain Pottinger to be the capital of Musicanus. [The capital of the Sogdoi has been identified with Alor or Aror; but Cunningham places it between Alor and Uchh. The capital of Mousikanos was possibly Alor, and Sehwan the Sindimana of the Greeks. But, owing to changes in the course of the Lower Indus, it is very difficult to identify ancient sites (McCrindle, Alexander, 157, 354 f.).]

50. His health was worn out at length, and he because the victim of depressed spirits. He died suddenly: I believe poisoned. Fateh, almost as zealous as Madari, also died in the pursuit. Geography has been destructive to all who have pursued it with ardour in the East.

51. A valuable and ancient work, which I presented to the Royal Asiatic Society.

52. It is, however, limited to Malwa, whose geography was greatly improved and enlarged by the labours of Captain Dangerfield; and though my materials could fill up the whole of this province, I merely insert the chief points to connect it with Rajasthan.

53. Captain P. T. Waugh, 10th Regiment Light Cavalry, Bengal.

54. Mr. J. B. Fraser [whose book was published in 1825].

55. My last journey, in 1822–23, was from Udaipur, through these countries towards the Delta of the Indus, but more with a view to historical and antiquarian than geographical research. It proved the most fruitful of all my many journeys. [The results are recorded in Travels in Western India, published in 1839, after the author’s death.]

56. Guru Sikhar

57. Its classic name is Vetravati, Vetra being the common willow [or reed] in Sanskrit; said by Wilford to be the same in Welsh.

58. Literally ‘the central (madhya) flat.’ [It means ‘Land of the Med tribe.’]

59. Meaning ‘table (pat) mountain (ar).’ – Although ar may not be found in any Sanskrit dictionary with the signification ‘mountain,’ yet it appears to be a primitive root possessing such meaning – instance, Ar-buddha, ‘hill of Buddha’; Aravalli, ‘hill of strength.’ Ar is Hebrew for ‘mountain’ (qu. Ararat?) “Ορος in Greek? The common word for a mountain in Sanskrit, gir, is equally so in Hebrew. [These derivations are out of date. The origin of the word patar is obscure. Sir G. Grierson, to whom the question was referred, suggests a connexion with Marathi pathar, ‘a tableland,’ or Gujarati pathar (Skr. prastara, ‘expanse, extent’). The word is probably not connected with Hindi pat, ‘a board.’]

60. The Betwa River runs under the tableland just alluded to, on the east.

61. I am familiar with these regions, and confidently predict that when a similar measurement shall be made from the Betwa to Kotah, these results will little err, and the error will be in having made Kotah somewhat too elevated, and the bed of the Betwa a little too low. [Udaipur city is 1950 feet above sea-level.]

62. Central India, a term which I first applied as the title of the map presented to the Marquess of Hastings, in 1815, ‘of Central and Western India,’ and since become familiar. [Usually applied to the Ganges-Jumna Duab).]

63. Let it be remembered that the Aravalli, though it loses its tabular form, sends its branches north, terminating at Delhi.

64. Those who have marched from Baroda towards Malwa and marked the irregularities of surface will admit this chain of connexion of the Vindhya and Aravalli.

65. The ‘refuge of strength’ [?], a title justly merited, from its affording protection to the most ancient sovereign race which holds dominion, whether in the east or west – the ancient stock of the Suryavans, the Heliadai of India, our ‘children of the sun,’ the princes of Mewar. [Aravalli probably means ‘Corner Line.’]

66. It was my intention to have penetrated through their singular abodes; and I had negotiated, and obtained of these ‘forest lords’ a promise of hospitable passport, of which I have never allowed myself to doubt, as the virtues of pledged faith and hospitality are ever to be found in stronger keeping in the inverse ratio of civilization. Many years ago one of my parties was permitted to range through this tract. In one of the passes of their lengthened valleys ‘The Lord of the Mountain’ was dead: the men were all abroad, and his widow alone in the hut. Madari told his story, and claimed her surety and passport; which the Bhilni delivered from the quiver of her late lord; and the arrow carried in his hand was as well recognised as the cumbrous roll with all its seals and appendages of a traveller in Europe.

67. Meru signifies ‘a hill’ in Sanskrit, hence Komal, or properly Kumbhalmer, is ‘the hill’ or ‘mountain of Kumbha,’ a prince whose exploits are narrated. Likewise Ajmer is the ‘hill of Ajaya,’ the ‘Invincible’ hill. Mer is with the long è, like Mère in French, in classical orthography. [Ajmer, ‘hill of Aja, Chauhan’]

68. At the point of my descent this was characteristically illustrated by my Rajput friend of Semar, whose domain had been invaded and cow-pens emptied, but a few days before, by the mountain bandit of Sirohi. With their booty they took the shortest and not most practicable road: but though their alpine kine are pretty well accustomed to leaping in such abodes, it would appear they had hesitated here. The difficulty was soon got over by one of the Minas, who with his dagger transfixed one and rolled him over the height, his carcase serving at once as a precedent and a stepping-stone for his horned kindred.

69. [“Oldest of all the physical features which intersect the continent is the range of mountains known as the Aravallis, which strikes across the Peninsula from north-east to south-west, overlooking the sandy wastes of Rajputana. The Aravallis are but the depressed and degraded relics of a far more prominent mountain system, which stood, in Palaeozoic times, on the edge of the Rajputana Sea. The disintegrated rocks which once formed part of the Aravallis are now spread out in wide red-stone plains to the east.” (IGI, i. 1).]

70. Near this the Chambal first breaks into the Patar.

71. Here is the celebrated pass through the mountains.

72. Here the Niwaz breaks the chain.

73. Both celebrated passes, where the ranges are very complicated.

74. I have rescued a few of these from oblivion to present to my countrymen.

75. Hence its name, Vindhya, ‘the barrier,’ to the further progress of the sun in his northern declination. [Skr. root, bind, bid, to divide.’]

76. This is the fourth Sind of India. We have, first, the Sind or Indus; this little Sind; then the Kali Sind, or ‘black river’; and again the Sind rising at Latoti, on the plateau west and above Sironj. Sin is a Scythic word for river (now unused), so applied by the Hindus. [Skr. Sindhu, probably from the root syand, ‘to flow.’]

77. The falls of the Kali Sind through the rocks at Gagraun and the Parbati at Chapra (Gugal) are well worthy of a visit. The latter, though encamped twice at Chapra, from which it was reputed five miles, I did not see.

78. Sangant is the point of confluence of two or more rivers, always sacred to Mahadeva.

79. The Jumna, Chambal, and Sind [triveni, ‘triple braid’].

80. [650 miles.]

81. The only tribes not of Rajput blood.

82. The ‘virgin’ stream.

83. I do not repeat the names of towns forming the arrondissements of the various States; they are distinctly laid down in the boundary lines of each.

84. Thal is the general term for the sand ridges of the desert. [Skr. sthala ‘firm ground.’]

85. Most probably a corruption of aranya, or desert; [or irina, ‘desert, salt soil’], so that the Greek mode of writing it is more correct than the present.

86. [The area of the Rann is about 9000 square miles: its length 150, breadth, 60 miles. Bhuj lies inland, not on the banks of the Rann.]

87. It is here the wild ass (gorkhar) roams at large, untamable as in the day of the Arabian Patriarch of Uz, “whose house I have made the wilderness, the barren land (or, according to the Hebrew, salt places), his dwelling. He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver” (Job xxxix. 6, 7).

88. Purwa.

89. I have beheld it from the top of the ruined fortress of Hissar with unlimited range of vision, no object to diverge its ray, save the miniature forests; the entire circle of the horizon a chain of more than fancy could form of palaces, towers, and these airy ‘pillars of heaven’ terminating in turn their ephemeral existence. But in the deserts of Dhat and Umrasumra, where the shepherds pasture their flocks, and especially where the alkaline plant is produced, the stratification is more horizontal, and produces more of the watery deception. It is this illusion to which the inspired writer refers, when he says, “the mock pool of the desert shall become real water” [Isaiah xxv. 7]. The inhabitants of the desert term it Chitram, literally the ‘picture,’ by no means an unhappy designation.

90. Sehraie [in the text], from sahra, ‘desert.’ Hence Sarrazin, or Saracen, is a corruption from sahra, ‘desert,’ and zadan, ‘to strike,’ contracted. Rahzani, ‘to strike on the road’ (rah). Rahbar, ‘on the road,’ corrupted by the Pindaris to labar, the designation of their forays. [The true name is Sahariya, which has been connected with that of the Savara, a tribe in Eastern India. Saracen comes to us from the late Latin Saraceni, of which the origin is unknown; it cannot be derived from the Arabic Sharqi, ‘eastern’ (see New English Dictionary, s.v.).]

91. The confluent arms or sources of the Indus.

This collection transcribed by Chris Gage
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