Darrang - Encyclopedia

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DARRANG, a district of British India, in the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. It lies between the Bhutan and Daphla Hills and the Brahmaputra, including many islands in the river. The administrative headquarters are at Tezpur. Its area is 3418 sq. m. It is for the most part a level plain watered by many tributaries of the Brahmaputra. The two subdivisions of Tezpur Mangaldai differ greatly in character. Tezpur is part of Upper Assam and shares in the prosperity which tea cultivation has brought to that part of the valley. In this portion of the district there are still large areas of excellent land awaiting settlement, and the cultivator finds a market for his produce in the flourishing tea-gardens, to which large quantities of coolies are imported every year. In Mangaldai, on the other hand, most of the good rice land was settled about 1880-1890 when the subdivision had a population of 146 to the square mile, as against 42 for Tezpur; the soil is not favourable for tea, and the population is stationary or receding. In 1901 the population of the whole district was 337,313, showing an increase of 10% in the decade. The principal grain-crop is rice. The principal means of communication is by river. A steam tramway of 22 ft. gauge has been opened from Tezpur to Balipara, a distance of 20 m.

Darrang originally formed, according to tradition, part of the dominions of Bana Raja, who was defeated by Krishna in a battle near Tezpur ("the town of blood"). The massive granite ruins found near by prove that the place must have been the seat of powerful and civilized rulers. In the 16th century Darrang was subject to the Koch king of Kamarupa, Nar Narayan, and on the division of his dominions among his heirs passed to an independent line of rajas. Early in the 17th century the raja Bali Narayan invoked the aid of the Ahoms of Upper Assam against the Mussulman invaders; after his defeat and death in 1637 the Ahoms dominated the whole district, and the Darrang rajas sank into petty feudatories. About 1785 they took advantage of the decay of the Ahom kingdom to try and re-establish their independence, but they were defeated by a British expedition in 1792, and in 1826 Darrang, with the rest of Assam, passed under British control.

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