Gujrat - Encyclopedia

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GUJRAT, a town and district of British India, in the Rawalpindi division of the Punjab, lying on the south-western border of Kashmir. The town stands about 5 m. from the right bank of the river Chenab, 70 m. N. of Lahore by rail. Pop. (1901) 19,410. It is built upon an ancient site, formerly occupied, according to tradition, by two successive cities, the second of which is supposed to have been destroyed in 1303, the year of a Mongol invasion. More than 200 years later either Sher Shah or Akbar founded the existing town. Though standing in the midst of a Jat neighbourhood, the fort was first garrisoned by Gujars, and took the name of Gujrat. Akbar's fort, largely improved by Gujar Singh, stands in the centre of the town. The neighbouring shrine of the saint Shah Daula serves as a kind of native asylum for lunatics. The town has manufactures of furniture, inlaid work in gold and iron, brass-ware, boots, cotton goods and shawls.

The District Of Gujrat comprises a narrow wedge of subHimalayan plain country, possessing few natural advantages. From the basin of the Chenab on the south the general level rises rapidly towards the interior, which, owing to the great distance of the water beneath the surface, assumes a dreary and desert aspect. A range of low hills, known as the Pabbi, traverses the northern angle of Gujrat. They are composed of a friable Tertiary sandstone and conglomerate, destitute of vegetation, and presenting a mere barren chaos of naked rock, deeply scored with precipitous ravines. Immediately below the Pabbi stretches a high plateau, terminating abruptly in a precipitous bluff some zoo ft. in height. At the foot of this plateau is a plain, which forms the actual valley of the Chenab and participates in the irrigation from the river bed.

Numerous relics of antiquity stud the surface of the district. Mounds of ancient construction yield early coins, and bricks are found whose size and type prove them to belong to the prehistoric period. A mound now occupied by the village of Moga or Mong has been identified as the site of Nicaea, the city built by Alexander the Great on the field of his victory over Porus. The Delhi empire established its authority in this district under Bahlol Lodi (1451-1489). A century later it was visited by Akbar, who founded Gujrat as the seat of government. During the decay of the Mogul power, the Ghakkars of Rawalpindi overran this portion of the Punjab and established themselves in Gujrat about 1741. Meanwhile the Sikh power had been asserting itself in the eastern Punjab, and in 1765 the Ghakkar chief was defeated by Sirdar Gujar Singh, chief of the Bhangi confederacy. On his death, his son succeeded him, but after a few months' warfare, in 1798, he submitted himself as vassal to the Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In 1846 Gujrat first came under the supervision of British officials. Two years later the district became the theatre for the important engagements which decided the event of the second Sikh war. After several bloody battles in which the British were unsuccessful, the Sikh power was irretrievably broken at the engagement which took place at Gujrat on the 22nd of February 1849. The Punjab then passed by annexation under British rule.

The district comprises an area of 2051 sq. m. In 1901 the population was 750,548, showing a decrease of r %, compared with an increase of 10% in the previous decade. The district has a large export trade in wheat and other grains, oil, wool, cotton and hides. The main line and the Sind-Sagar branch of the North-Western railway traverse it.

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