Gurdaspur - Encyclopedia

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GURDASPUR, a town and district of British India, in the Lahore division of the Punjab. The town had a population in 1901 of 5764. It has a fort (now containing a Brahman monastery) which was famous for the siege it sustained in 1712 from the Moguls. The Sikh leader, Banda, was only reduced by starvation, when he and his men were tortured to death after capitulating.

The District comprises an area of 1889 sq. m. It is bounded on the N. by the native states of Kashmir and Chamba, on the E. by Kangra district and the river Beas, on the S.W. by Amritsar district, and on the W. by Sialkot, and occupies the submontane portion of the Bari Doab, or tract between the Beas and the Ravi. An intrusive spur of the British dominions runs northward into the lower Himalayan ranges, to include the mountain sanatorium of Dalhousie, 7687 ft. above sea-level. This station, which has a large fluctuating population during the warmer months, crowns the most westerly shoulder of a magnificent snowy range, the Dhaoladhar, between which and the plain two minor ranges intervene. Below the hills stretches a picturesque and undulating plateau covered with abundant timber, made green by a copious rainfall, and watered by the streams of the Bari Doab, which, diverted by dams and embankments, now empty their waters into the Beas directly, in order that their channels may not interfere with the Bari Doab canal. The district contains several large jhils or swampy lakes, and is famous for its snipe-shooting. It is historically important in connexion with the rise of the Sikh confederacy. The whole of the Punjab was then distributed among the Sikh chiefs who triumphed over the imperial governors. In the course of a few years, however, the maharaja Ranjit Singh acquired all the territory which those chiefs had held. Pathankot and the neighbouring villages in the plain, together with the whole hill portion of the district, formed part of the area ceded by the Sikhs to the British after the first Sikh war in 1846. In 1862, after receiving one or two additions, the district was brought into its present shape. In 1901 the population was 94 0 ,334, showing a slight decrease, compared with an increase of 15% in the previous decade. A branch of the North-Western railway runs through the district. The largest town and chief commercial centre is Batala. There are important woollen mills at Dhariwal, and besides their products the district exports cotton, sugar, grain and oil-seeds.

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