Rajshahi - Encyclopedia

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RAJSHAHI, a district and division of British India, in the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. The administrative headquarters are at Rampur Boalia. The area of the district is 2593 sq. m., comprising an alluvial plain seamed with old river-beds and studded with marshes. The Ganges and the Mahananda are its principal rivers; the former constitutes a great natural boundary-line to the south and south-west, and the latter, which rises in the Himalayas, borders the district on the west for a few miles before joining the Ganges. Other rivers are the Narad and Baral, important offshoots of the Ganges; the Atrai, a channel of the Tista; and the Jamuna, a tributary of the Atrai. Both the Atrai and the Jamuna belong to the Brahmaputra system and are navigable throughout the year for small cargo boats. The drainage of Rajshahi is not carried off by means of its rivers, but through the chains of marshes and swamps, the most important of which is the Chalan bhil or lake, which discharges itself into the Brahmaputra. In 1901 the population was 1,462,407, showing an increase of. 1.6% in the decade. Rice is the staple crop, with pulses, oilseeds and jute. Indigo has disappeared. Sericulture has received a stimulus from the efforts of the agricultural department, supported by private enterprise, to improve the breed of silkworms. The hemp grown on a small tract in the north of the district supplies all the ganja that is consumed in Bengal. The district is traversed from south to north by the main line of the Eastern Bengal railway to Darjeeling, with a branch to Bogra. Most of the permanent buildings in the district were severely damaged by the earthquake of the 12th of June 1897. When the East India Company took over the administration of Bengal in 1765, the zamindari of Rajshahi or Nattor was one of the largest and most important in the province. It appears to have extended from Bhagalpur on the west to Dacca on the east, and to have included an important subdivision called NijChakla Rajshahi on the south of the Ganges. The total area was estimated at 13,000 sq. m., or more than five times the size of the present district. Having been found much too large to be effectually administered by one central authority, Rajshahi was stripped in 1793 of a considerable portion of its outlying territory, and a natural boundary-line was drawn to the west, south and east along the Ganges and Brahmaputra. Its north-western limits were reduced in 1813, when the present district of Malda was constituted. The erection of Bogra into a separate jurisdiction in 1821 still further reduced its area; and in 1832 the limits of Rajshahi were fixed by the constitution of Pabna into an independent jurisdiction.

The Division Of Rajshahi is coextensive with northern Bengal, from the Ganges to the mountains. It comprises the seven districts of Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Malda, Rangpur, Bogra and Pabna. Total area, 18,091 sq. m. Pop.

(1901) 9,130,072.

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