Kota/ Kotah City

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Kotah City, 1908

This article has been extracted from



Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Capital of the State of the same name in Rajputana, situated on the right bank of the Chambal in 25 degree 11' N. and 75 degree 51' E., about 45 miles by metalled road west of Baran station on the Blna- Baran branch of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, and about 120 miles south-east of Ajmer. It is said that, in the fourteenth century, some Bhils of the Koteah clan who then lived here were attacked and ousted by Jet Singh, the grandson of Rao Dewa of Bundi, who settled in the place, and built a town which he called Kotah. It was held by Bundi till 1625, when, with its dependencies, it was granted by Jahangir to Madho Singh, the first chief of Kotah, and became the capital of the State then formed. It has since increased in size and importance, and is now one of the eight cities of Rajputana. It is surrounded on three sides by a high and massive crenelated wall, with well-fortified bastions at regular intervals, while on the west the river Chambal— 400 yards wide and crossed by an iron pontoon-bridge, except in the rains, when the passage is made by ferry — forms a natural barrier. The city possesses six massive double gates closed nightly at 1 1 p.m., and may be divided into three well-defined and distinct areas, each separated from the next by a high wall : namely, Ladpura, Ram- pura, and the city proper, the latter including the old town or purdni basti. In the southern extremity is the old palace, an imposing pile of buildings overlooking the river. Of the numerous temples, the most famous is that of MathureshjT, the idol in which is said to have been brought from Gokul in Muttra, while the oldest is probably that of Nilkanth Mahadeo.

The population has been gradually decreasing, as the following figures show : in 1881, 40,270; in 1891, 38,620; and in 1901, 33,657. This is said to be due partly to the fact that the place, situated on the western border of the State and at a considerable distance from the railway, is not a general trade centre, and partly because, with the improved administration and the greater security afforded to life and property, the people have spread more into the country. Another probable reason for the falling off in population is the unhealthiness of the site, caused by the water of the Kishor Sagar (or lake) on the east percolating through the soil to the river on the west. The greater pro- portional decrease in the last decade is certainly due to the famine of 1 899-1900 and the severe outbreak of malarial fever that im- mediately followed it. Of the total population in 1901, Hindus num- bered 23,132, or nearly 69 per cent., and Musalmans 9,027, or about 27 per cent. The principal manufactures are muslins, both white and coloured, silver table-ornaments, and a little country paper. An oppor- tunity for seeing the various industries occurs each year, when an exhibition is held generally in February. A municipal committee, which was formed in 1874, has done much to improve the sanitation of the place. The income (derived mainly from an octroi duty on all imports) and the expenditure are each about Rs. 20,000 a year. The Central jail is a commodious and well-managed building, with accommodation for 468 prisoners. The daily average number in 1904 was 428, the expenditure exceeded Rs. 23,000, and the profits from manufactures (carpets, rugs, cotton cloth, &c.) were about Rs. 2,000. Excluding private educational institutions, there are 4 schools main- tained by the State, which were attended in 1904-5 by about 400 boys and 30 girls. The Maharao's high school and the nobles' school teach up to the matriculation standard of the Allahabad University. Attached to the high school is a class recently started for flafte'dris, in which sur- veying is taught; and the nobles' school has a boarding-house where the boys are fed and lodged free by the State. Including the hospital attached to the jail, there are four medical institutions at Kotah, with accommodation for 79 in-patients. The Victoria Hospital, reserved for females, was opened in 1890 and has 22 beds. Among places of interest in the neighbourhood of the city may be mentioned the Maharao's new palace, called after him the Umed Bhawan, which is lighted with electricity ; the extensive and well-kept gardens, containing a public library and reading-room ; and several palaces, such as the Amar Niwas, the Brij Bilas, and the Chhatarpura.

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