RANCHI, a town and district of British India, in the Chota Nagpur division of Bengal. The town, which is situated on the Chota Nagpur plateau, about 2100 ft. above sea-level, is the headquarters of both the division and the district. Pop. (1901) 25,970. It is an important centre of local trade and the headquarters of the German Lutheran mission. There are a high school and an industrial school, and it is proposed to found here a residential college for all Bengal. The cantonments, formerly called Doranda, accommodate a detachment of native infantry.
The District Of Ranch', formerly called Lohardaga after the town which was its headquarters, has an area of 7128 sq. m. It consists of two tablelands, of which the higher rises to about 2000 ft. The whole area is broken by hills and undulations, which are terraced for rice. The steep slopes are covered with a dense forest, where wild animals still abound, but no profit is derived from the timber. The principal rivers are the Subanarekha and the North and South Koel. In 1901 the population was 1,187,925, showing an increase of 5-2% in the decade. Christians form 10% of the total. The district was affected by the famine of 1896-1897, and still more severely by that of 1900. Rice is everywhere the staple crop, with some millets and pulses. Tea cultivation has been introduced, but does not flourish. The only industry on a large scale is the manufacture of shellac. Myrobalans are also exported. Iron and soapstone are worked in small quantities. Hopes of profitable gold-mining in the quartz veins of the schist formation have proved abortive. There is no railway in the district, though surveys have been made to connect with the BengalNagpur line.
See F. B. Bradley-Birt, Chota Nagpur (1903).
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