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Chhata / छाता

Excerpts From MATHURA A DISTRICT MEMOIR By F.S. Growse [D.M. Mathura-1874]

Being the very centre of Braj, it includes within its limits many of the groves held sacred by the votaries of Krishna; but, with the exception of these bits of wild woodland, it is but indifferently stocked with timber, and the orchards of fruit trees are small and few in number. The principal crops are joar and chana, there being 63,000 acres under the former, and 29,000 grown with chana out of a total area of 160,433. A large amount of cotton is also raised, the ordinary outturn being about 20,000 mans. But the crop varies greatly according to the season ; and in 1878 did not exceed 1,500 mans, in consequence of the very heavy and continuous rains at the beginning of the monsoon, which prevented the seed from being sown till it was too late for the pod to ripen. The coarse sandstone, which can be obtained in any quantity from the hills of Nand Ganv and Barsana, is not now used to any extent for building purposes, but it is the material out of which the impe rial saries at Chhata and Kosi were constructed, and is there shown to be both durable and architecturally effective. The western side of the pargana is liable to inundation in exceptionally rainy seasons from the overflowing of a large jhil near Kama in Bharatpur territory; its waters being augmented in their sub sequent course by junction with the natural line of drainage extending down from Hodal. In 1861, and again in 1873, the flood passed through Nand Ganv, Barsana, Chiksauli, and Hathiya extended as far even as Govardhan; but no great damage was caused, the deposit left on the surface of the land being beneficial rather than otherwise.


The first assessment, made in 1809, was for Rs.1, 02,906. This was gradually increased to Rs. 1, 77,876, and was further enhanced by the last settlement. Much land, formerly lying waste for want of water, was brought under cultivation on the opening of the Agra Canal. This has a total length of 11 miles in the pargana, from Bhadaval to Little Bharna, with bridges at each of those places and also at Rahera and Sahar. Till 1838 Sher-garh and Sahar were two separate parganas, subordinate to the Aring tahsili : but in that year Sahar was constituted the headquarters of a tahsildar, and so remained till the mutiny, when a transfer was made to Chhata. The latter place has the advantage of being on the highroad, and is tolerably equi-distant from east and west, the only points necessary to be con sidered, on account of the extreme narrowness of the pargana from north to south. Thus, its close proximity to the town of Kosi—only seven miles off—is rather an apparent than a real objection to the maintenance of Chhata as an administrative centre.


The predominant classes in the population are Jats, Mons, and Gaurua Thakurs of the Bachhal sub-division; while several villages are occupied almost exclusively by the exceptional tribe of Ahivasis, who are chiefly engaged in the salt trade. A large proportion of the land—though not quite to so great an extent as in Kosi is still owned by the original Bhaiyachari communities; and hence agrarian outrage on a serious scale is limited to the comparatively small area where, unfortunately, alienation has taken place, more by improvident private sales, or well-deserved confiscation on account of the gravest political offences, than from any defect in the constitution or adminis tration of the law. The two largest estates thus acquired during the present century are enjoyed by non-residents, viz., the heirs of the Lala Babu (see page 258), who are natives of Calcutta, and the Rani Sahib Kunvar, the widow of Raja Gobind Singh, who took his title from the town of Hathras, the old seat of the family, though she now lives with the young Raja at Vrindavan. Of resident landlords, the three largest all belong to the Dhusar caste, and are as follows: First, Kanhaiya Lal, Sukhvasi Lal, Bhajan Lal, and Bihari Lal, sons of Ram Bakhsh of Sahar, where they have property, as also at Bharauli and three other villages, yielding an annual profit of Rs. 3,536. Second, Munshi Nathu Lal, who, for a time, was in Government service as tahsildar—with his son, Sardar Sinh, also of Sahar, who have an assessable estate of Rs. 3,874, derived from Astoli, Tatar-pur, and shares in nine other villages ; Nathu Lal's father, Giridhar Lal, was sometime Munsif of Jalesar, and was descended from one Harsukh Rae, who received from Raja Suraj Mall the grant of Tatar-par, with the title of Munshi, by which all the members of the family are still distinguished. Third in the list is Lala Syam Sundar Das, son of Shiu Sahay Mall, a man of far greater wealth—his annual profits being estimated at a lakh of rupees. He is the head of a firm which has branch houses at Kanpur, Agra, and Amritsar, and other places, and owns the whole of the large village of Naugaon and half of Taroli. For many years he was on the worst possible terms with his tenants; but the dispute between thorns has at last been amicably arranged, and during the recent famine the eldest son, Badri Prasad, came forward as one of the most liberal landlords in the district.

Excerpts From MATHURA A GAZETTEER, edited and compiled by, D.L. DRAKE-BROCKMAN [1911]

In shape the tahsil is almost a square twenty miles broad and equally long, but the northern face is somewhat shortened by an easterly bend in the stream of the Yamuna near Shergarh ghat. The southern portion differs in some respects from the northern, which formed the old pargana of Kosi; and for purposes of detailed description it is better to keep them separate. The southern or Chhata portion, which is situated between the rocky ranges which obtrude on the district in the west and the Yamuna valley on the east, has an exceptionally level and uniform surface. There is no stream or river to break the level of the country, and the one line of drainage known as the western depression, which has already been described, forms a series of depressions only at long and uncertain intervals. At a distance of three miles to the east of it runs a narrow belt of sand which rises slightly above the general level of the country. From this belt to the sand hills and ravines that flank the Janina, the surface is only broken by a line of light sandy soil which runs generally parallel to the Dehli road. With the exception of these sandy ridges the upland soil is a light but firm loam of excellent fertility, containing a sufficient admixture of sand to render it easily workable and friable. The low land along the river, except in the bend in the north-east and between Basai and the border of the Mathura(Muttra) tahsil in the south-east is nowhere extensive. The soil in it is purely alluvial and varies from a pure white sand to a rich and firm dark loam; while the Yamuna ravines are not of sufficient extent to form an important physical feature of the tract.


The uplands of the Kosi or northern portion resemble generally those of Chhata; but there are no hills in it except the low rocky outcrop of Charan Pahar. The level is diversified by low sand ridges. One of these runs parallel to the Bharatpur hills, which can be seen from the district border, and forms the boundary of the tahsil on the west and north-west; whilst on the east there are the usual ravines and sandy downs along the Yamuna. Besides these two sand ridges, there is a star-shaped system of sand ranges, branching out in four directions from a centre at Goheta. One runs northwards into Gurgaon, another north-eastwards to the Yamuna, joining the. ravines of that river near Barhs, a third projects south-westwards into Chhata, and a fourth runs due south. This system divides the upland portion into four distinct plains. The largest of these lies to the west with the Charan Pahar in the centre; it is a level plain of rich friable loam, but the depth of water in it is great and the water itself is brackish. The next largest plain lies between the north-western and north-eastern rays of the star; it resembles the plain just described in many features. The soil is the same, though a trifle lighter, except in depressions; the water also is far from the surface and brackish. The third plain is that on the Chhata side to the south-east; it is a continuation of the great eastern loam plain of Chhata, the description of which applies equally to it. The fourth and smallest plain comprises the northern end of the central loam tract of Chhata and lies between the two southern rays of the star. The surface is not so uniform as in the plains already described but slopes gradually from the edge of the sand hills towards the centre, where there is a depression. In this depression the soil is hard and cloddy, while nearer the sand ranges it become almost bhur. The Yamuna khadar is distinctly marked by a line of cliff that rises abruptly out of it to the height of some twenty-five feet; behind this cliff there is a belt of ravines or sandy downs which separates the bangar from the, khadar. All the village sites bordering on the river are built along this cliff.


The total area of the tahsil is 260,013 acres or 406.2 square miles. Of this 15,358 acres or 5.90 per cent. are returned as barren, and 40,582 or 15.61 per cent. as culturable waste. For the five years ending in 1907 the cultivated area averaged 204,073 acres: this represents a proportion of 78.48 per cent. on total area, and exceeds the percentages of both Mathura and Manth tahsils. The Agra canal traverses the tahsil from north to south and irrigation is extensively practised. The average area irrigated between 1903 and 1907 was 74,152 acres or 34.37 per cent. of that cultivated. Practically the whole of this area was watered from canals and wells, the former irrigating over 83 per cent of the whole. The principal harvest is the kharif, averaging 129,522 acres as against 95,161 acres in the Rabi. The double-cropped area amounts on an average to 20,963 or 10.27 per cent of the cultivation. The principal crops in the kharif are juar, alone or in combination with arhar, cotton and bajra, while a fair amount of guar and khurti are also grown. In the Rabi the bulk of the area sown is occupied by barley, alone or intermixed with gram, and by gram alone. Owing to the introduction of canal irrigation and its subsequent extension to the tract round. Nandgaon the development of agri culture is fairly high. The chief cultivating castes are Jats, Brahmans, Rajputs, Chamars, Kachhis and Gujars. Of the total holdings area in 1908, 18.11 per cent was in the hand of ex-pro prietary and occupancy tenants, 34.49 per cent was tilled by tenants-at-will and 44.60 per cent. by the proprietors themselves, 3,042 acres being rent-free. Chhata contains 172 villages, at present divided into 389 mahals. Of the latter 86, representing 22.07 per cent of the area, are in the hands of single zamindars; 26 or 3.60 per cent are held in perfect and 207 or 63.76 per cent in imperfect pattidari tenure; while 30 or 7.39 per cent. are bhaiyachara and 40 or 3.17 per cent are revenue free. Jats hold the largest area with 70,765 acres; and after them come Rajputs, 55,595; Brahmans 27,270; Kayasths, 17,702; Musalmans, 9,796; and Banias, 9,777 acres. The largest landholders are the Lala Babu, eleven villages paying a revenue of Rs. 23,129; Babu Kalyan Singh of Mathura, the heir of Lala Jagan Prasad, six whole villages and parts of 7 others assessed to Rs. 14,499; Kunwar Mahendra Pratab Singh, 8 villages with a revenue of Rs. 9,414; and the temple of Rangji at Vrindavan which owns one village assessed to Rs. 4,000.


In 1881 the two parganas of Chhata and Kosi had a com bined population of 149,891 souls, and since that time the total has steadily increased. At the following enumeration in 1891 the number had risen to 153,465, while at the last census there were 173,756 inhabitants, of whom 82,161 were females. The average density is 428 persons to the square mile-the smallest figure in the district. Classified according to religions, there were 151,306 Hindus, 21,067 Musalmans, 1,203 Jains, 120 Chris tians, 28 Sikhs, 20 Aryas and 12 Parsis. Chamars are the most numerous Hindu caste, numbering 31,294 persons, while after them come Brahmans, 24,864; Rajputs, 24,448; and Jats, 20,843. Other castes with over two thousand members apiece are Banias, 7,206; Gujars, 5,737; Gadariyas, 3,342; Koris, 3,173; Barhais, 3,054; Kumhars, Nais, Kahars and Bhangis. Jadons are the numerically strongest Rajput clan, exceeding all others by a large number: they are followed by Kachhwahas, Chauhans and Tomars. The chief Muhammadan subdivisions are Qassabs, Sheikhs, Mewatis, converted Rajputs, and Bhangis, Pathans, Bhishtis and Faqirs. The tahsil is mainly agricultural in character, though Kosi is a commercial and industrial centre of growing importance, especially with regard to the cotton trade. The number of cattle-breeders and graziers is also larger than in most parts of the district, as Kosi is a famous cattle-market and the whole tahsil has a long-standing reputation for the quality and breed of its cattle. The only towns in the tahsil are the municipality of Kosi and the Act XX towns of Shergarh and Chhata: besides these there are a few places of importance. Kamar, though now a declining place, was once administered under Act XX of 1856 and is the centre of a small local trade. Nandgaon and Barsana are famous places of pilgrimage; and Sahar was from the days of Akbar up to the Mutiny the headquarters of a pargana. Majhoi possesses a police station; and there are several large villages such as Bathan, Taroli, Hatana and others. Lists of the markets, fairs, schools and post-offices in the tahsil are given in the appendix.


Chhata is well supplied with means of communication. The Agra-Dehli Chord railway traverses it from north to south, and close by, parallel to this, runs the metalled road from Mathura to Dehli. Uumetalled roads run from Chhata to Shergarh, where there is a ferry over the Yamuna, to Barsana and to Sahar; and from Kosi to Kamar, Nandgaon, Shergarh Majhoi and Shahpur. The south-eastern portion of the tahsil is traversed by the road which leaves the Dehli road at Jait and runs to Shergarh. Besides the ferry at Shergarh, there are other ferries at Chaundras near Shahpur, Majhoi, Bahta, Siyara and Bhaugaon: but that at Shergarh is far the most important. In early times Chhata was probably occupied by Meos. Next came the Gujars, Rajputs and Jats who settled in it. In the days of Akbar it fell within the mahals of Sahar and Hodal and possibly Kamah in the sarkar of Agra. The Jats appear to have been responsible for the creation of par ganas Shergarh, Kosi and Shahpur out of the Ain-i-Akbari pargana of Sahar, the last of which became later merged in Kosi. At the cession in 1803 Shergarh was given as a revenue-free jagir to Balla Bai, daughter of Madhoji Sindhia; but was resumed in 1808 along with other parganas in lieu of a cash payment. From the cession until the Mutiny the head-quarters of the old Sahar tahsil remained at Sahar; but the records and establishments were removed to Chhata in 1857 and have ever since remained there. The last change came in 1894 when the tahsil of Kosi was abolished and the Kosi pargana was amalgamated with that of Sahar or Chhata to form the Chhata tahsil. At the present day the tahsil constitutes a revenue and criminal subdivision which is generally entrusted to the senior joint, assistant or deputy magistrate on the district staff. For purposes of police administration there are stations at Chhata, Kosi, Sahar, Barsana, Shergarh and Majhoi.

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