Madras Presidency, 1908

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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.

Madras Presidency

(officially styled the Presidency of Fort St. George). — The southernmost Province of the Indian ICmpire. With the five Native States (Travancore, Cochin, Pudukkottai, Ban- ganapalle, and Sandur) which are subordinate to it, and llie State of Mysore and the liny British Province of Coorg which are all l)ut surrounded by it,' it occupies the whole of the southern portion of the peninsula. The west coast is washed by the Indian Ocean, and the east coast by the Bay of Bengal : but the northern boundary has been formed by the accidents of history and consists, from east to west, of Orissa, the (Jentral Provinces, the State of Hyderabad, and the southernmost Districts of the Presidency of Bombay. Excluding the five Native States, the area of the Presidency is 141,705 square miles, or 20,000 scjuare miles larger tiian the United Kingdom.

The Native States occupy an additional area of about 10,000 square miles. Fort St. George is the fortress of Madras City, the capital of the Presidency, and was so named by its founders in 1640 after England's patron saint. The derivation of the word ' Madras ' has led to much ingenious speculation, but is still uncertain. Most of the etymologies suggested are overthrown by the fact that the place was known as ' Madraspatam ' before ever the English arrived at it.

Physical aspects

The key to the greater part of the conditions prevailing in the Presi- dency — its climate, its rainfall, its rivers and the irrigation dependent upon them, much of its history, its tribes and castes and the varymg customs they follow, the variations m asnects

the density of its population, and the distribution of its languages — is to be found in the conformation of the hill-ranges. Along the whole length of the western coast, at a distance from the sea varying from 50 to 100 miles, runs the range of the western Ghats, a steep and rugged mass averaging 4,000 and rising to 8,000 feet, the only break in which is the Palghat Gap in Malabar, 16 miles wide. Down the eastern coast, but at a greater distance from the sea, sweeps the chain of the Eastern Ghats, a less marked formation usually about 2,000 feet in height. On their way southwards these two ranges eventually meet, and at the point of junction is the striking upheaval known as the Nilgiri Hills. North of this plateau lies an elevated table-land, from 1,000 to 3,000 feet above the sea, upheld by the hills lying east and west of it, and consisting of Coorg, the State of Mysore, and the parts of the Madras Presidency immediately on the fringe of the latter.

Portions of both the Eastern and the estern Ghat ranges are distinguished by special names. The spurs of the former which run through Kurnool District are called the Nallamalais ' ; a range of the latter lying in Coimbatore District and Travancore State is known as the Axalmalals ; and a continuation of the same hills situated in Madura District is called the Palnms. Besides these outliers from the two main chains, several isolated blocks of hills are not connected directly with either. Chief of these are the Shevarovs in Salem, the Pachaimalais and Kollaimalais in the same District and Trichinopoly, and the Jav.adi Hills in North and South Arcot.

The Presidency thus consists of a narrow strip of land between the Western Ghats and the Indian Ocean, a broader strip between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal, and an elevated tract lying mid- way between the two. The .strip along the Bay of Bengal is not, how- ever, homogeneous throughout, as the other two tracts may be said to be. Through the western parts of its three northernmost Districts — Ganjani, Vizagapatam, and Godavari — runs a portion of the Eastern Ghats; and these tracts therefore not only differ in cUmate and physi- cal aspects from the rest of those Districts, but the inhospitable jungle that covers them is occupied by primitive forest tribes which differ in religion, language, customs, and ethnic characteristics from the dwellers in the plains below. Within them the ordinary law of the land is in force to only a limited extent, while the Collectors exercise extended and special judicial authority (both civil and criminal) under the title of Agents to the Governor. These areas are therefore commonly known as the Agencies or Agency tracts. The rest of the strip along the shore of the Bay of Bengal is fairly uniform climatically and geographically ; but the inhabitants of the northern part of it are Telugus, while those in the south arc Tamils. These two races differ in language and other essential particulars to such an extent that it is necessary to treat separately the areas they occupy.

We thus have five natural divisions in the Madras Presidency : namely, (i) the strip facing the Indian Ocean, which may be called the West Coast; (2) the central table-land, usually known as the Deccan ; (3) the Agencies ; (4) the East Coast division proper, run- ning as far south as Nellore District; and (5) the .South division, comprising the remainder of the Presidency. The Districts included within each of these are shown in Table I at the end of this article (p. 350) which gives particulars of their area, population, &c.

The limits of three of them — Godavari, Kistna, and Nellore — have, however, been very recently (1904) altered. The work of administration had become so heavy that, to relieve their Collectors, they have been formed into the four Districts of Godavari, Kistna, Guntur, and Nellore. The first of these comprises the former Godavari District to the north and east of the Godavari river, plus the Agency of Polavaram on the south of it ; Kistna District includes the rest of the tract between the Goda- vari and Kistna rivers ; Guntur is made up of the country south of the Kistna with the Ongole tahtk of Nellore; and Nellore consists of the former District of that name less this one faluk. Another change, made in 1906, which however hardly affects the statistics given in Table I, has been the separation of Anjengo and Tangasseri from the Collectorate of Malabar and their formation into a new District of Anjengo under the administrative control of the Resident in Travancore and Cochin. The two places are small outlying patches of British territory, 211 acres and 96 acres in extent, situated at a long distance from Malabar, within Travancore limits ; and difficulty of access to them had been a strain on the Malabar officials quite incom- mensurate with their intrinsic importance.

The key to the river system of the Presidency, as has already been said, is the conformation of its hills. No river has anywhere burst its way through the Western Ghats ; and, except in the natural division of the West Coast, the whole trend of the drainage is thus from west to east into the Bay of Bengal. Of the three great rivers — the GoDAVARi, the KiSTNA, and the Cauvery — the first two rise in the Bombay Presidency within 50 miles of the Indian Ocean and flow for more than 800 miles right across the peninsula, while the third rises in the Western Ghats in Coorg and similarly passes east- wards across the peninsula into the Bay of Bengal. All three have forced a passage for themselves through the Eastern Ghats. The less important rivers, such as the Penner, the Ponnaivar \ and the Tambraparni, all follow the same general direction. In the early part of their courses these rivers usually serve rather to drain the country than to water it, as they run rapidly in deep beds ; but as they approach the more level ground on the coast, dams have been thrown across all of them and their water has been thereby turned to account for irrigation. The deltas of the Godavari, Kistna, and Cauvery, in particular, are covered with wide expanses of irrigated crops which in even the severest droughts hardly ever fail.

It follows from what has been said regarding the hill ranges or Madras, and from the description below of the great variations in its temperature and rainfall, that the Presidency includes many varieties of climate, and therefore of scenery. Perhaps least inviting are the level, sandy, saline tracts which fringe several of the coast Districts, notably Madura and Tinnevelly. Next in monotony come the treeless stretches of black cotton soil, such as the eastern half of Bellary. The Deccan Districts with their stunted trees, their usually barren soil, and their endless successions of rocky hills, certainly repel admiration by their infertility ; but an artist would find ample compensation in their wonderful colouring, which changes from hour to hour in sympathy with the infinite variety of light and atmosphere. The deltas of the three great rivers are the very opposite of the Deccan, presenting an interminable sea of green or golden rice-fields, dotted with villages surrounded by palm-trees. But in all the low country the most beautiful scenery is that of the West Coast, with its heavy tropical vegetation, always green and always flourishing, and its towering back- ground of the Western Ghats. Among the hills, the lower ranges are always picturesque, each in its own particular manner, while those in which the rainfall is sufficient to nourish the thicker kinds of jungle- growth deserve a stronger epithet. The larger ranges are unsurpassed in boldness and grandeur by anything south of the Himalayas, while on the highest elevations of all — the Nilgiri and Anaimalai plateaux —

' Am is the Tamil for ' liver,' and so appears as a suffi.x to the English form of the names of many rivers.the quieter lialf-English scenery has a special charm which perhaps appeals to the European more strongly than even the more florid beauties of the intermediate levels.

Madras has no lakes, properly so called. The Chilka Lake at its extreme northern point in Ganjam and the Pulicat Lake in Nellore are merely brackish lagoons separated from the sea by narrow ridges of sand, which have been formed by the constant antagonism between the tides and the streams draining the country. The Colair Lake, which lies between the deltas of the Godavari and Kistna, is a natural depression which the land-making efforts of the two rivers on each side of it have not yet succeeded in filling up. Reclamations and em- bankments are yearly reducing its extent. Along the west coast, the struggle between the rivers and the sea has resulted in the formation of a curious string of backwaters, which fringe the greater part of the shore of South Kanara, Malabar, and Travancore. The largest of them, the Cochin backwater, is 120 miles in length. They are much used for navigation.

The only islands of importance are the Laccadives off the coast of Malabar and South Kanara, and the island of Pamban between Madura District and Ceylon.

Though the Presidency is washed by the sea for 1,700 miles, there is not a single natural harbour capable of accommodating ocean-going vessels in the whole of this long line of shore, either on the east coast or on the west. Except Madras city, which possesses an artificial harbour formed by running out masonry groins into the sea, the various ports are merely open roadsteads, in which ships lie at anchor and discharge their cargo into light boats capable of crossing the never- ceasing surf. Such of these road.steads as are situated near the mouths of any of the great rivers are in constant danger of being silted up, and a number of places which within historical times were famous ports have now been left high and dry by the retreat of the sea. The possibility of making an artificial harbour in the small bay. at Vizaga- patam has been investigated, and it is in contemplation to construct a port on Pamban (Rameswaram) Island.

  • Geologically, the Presidency is to a very large extent built up of

Archaean gneisses, schists, and ancient plutonic rocks. These outcrop over all the elevated parts which lie above the deltaic shore belt and are not concealed by younger groups. Upon this platform there repose one large remnant of the younger Purana group, the isolated Cuddapah and Kurnool geological basin ; the south-ea.stern extremity of the still younger Lower Gondwana formation of the

' The account which follows is based on material furnished by Mr. C. .S. Middle- miss of the Geological .Survey of India. Further particulars will be found in the Memoirs and Records of the Survey. Godavari basin ; and a coastward broken belt of Upper Gondwana and Cretaceous rocks.

The Archaean group of ancient crystaUine and metamorphic rocks is one that remained practically undifferentiated for a long time. Two distinct landmarks in the advance of our knowledge stand out prominently in comparatively recent years : namely, the recognition and mapping over large areas by Mr. R. Bruce Foote of a younger sub-group, the Dharwars of Southern India ; and Mr. T. H. Holland's discovery of the charnockite family of genetically related Archaean plutonic intrusive rocks.

The Archaeans of the Madras Presidency may now be divided into: (3) Dharwars: (2) thin-bedded schistose gneiss; and (i) oldest gneiss.

Sub-group No. i probably embraces the oldest-known layer of the earth in this part of the world. It is particularly prominent in the flat elevated plains of Coimbatore and the middle and southern parts of Salem, in the south of Malabar and Bellary, and in the western parts of the Vizagapatam Agency tracts, Ganjam, and Xellore. Steatite, which is a common accessory in some parts, is frequently utilized for small domestic articles, such as fire-proof plates and bowls, while in several places in the south-west of Bellary a hard variety is worked into beautiful carved temples.

Sub-group No. 2 is less homogeneous in aspect than No. i. It contains much mineral wealth. It is sparsely dotted about in Salem and Coimbatore, where it includes crystalline marble and iron ores. Probably, also, the enormous iron ore deposits of Kanjamalai, the Javadi Hills, and other localities belong to it. These have been worked from time immemorial, and were once smelted by the Porto Novo Iron Company. The lowest and richest band at the foot of Kanjamalai is 70 feet thick, and gives an average yield of 40 per cent, of pure iron.

The Dharwars, sub-group No. 3, have an extensive development in Mysore, and are also to be traced through Bellary, Anantapur, Cuddapah, and the extreme northern parts of Salem, and possibly in Coimbatore and the Wynaad. They are of economic importance, because of the bedded hematitic ores of great richness in their lower parts, which are especially abundant in the Native State of Sandur. They also carry all the chief gold-bearing reefs that have yet been discovered in Southern India, including the important Kolar Gold Fields in Mysore.

The Archaean plutonic rocks are distinguished from the three sub-groups already described by possessing more uniformity of structure over large areas, and a mineral composition resembling that of known igneous rocks. Hence they are considered to be consolidated relics of what were once fused magmas. The best known of them is Mr. Holland's charnockite series. Besides its first described locality at St. Thomas's Mount near Madras, this appears in the well-marked, rugged masses of the Nllgiris, Shevaroys, and Palnis, and occurs as bands in Coimbatore, Salem, and Vizagapatam, as well as in Ganjam, South Arcot, and the Wynaad. In the neighbourhood of Palakod in Salem it carries corundum crystals formed as a contact mineral. Test excavations have yielded 78^ lb. of corundum to the ton of matrix. In the upland taluks of Salem a very different and characteristic biotite gneissose granite builds moderately elevated plateaux surmounted by cones and drugs. The same variety is met with in the ^^'ynaad, Bellary, A'izagapatam, and North and South Arcot, where it is fre- quently coarsely porphyritic, forming bold and picturesque domes of rock.

After the formation of these three Archaean sub-groups and their modification and metamorphism by reason of the invasion of the plutonic magmas just considered, a vast interval of time appears to have ensued, during which all the rock stages up to the top of the Dharwars suffered a final compression into closely packed folds, with upheaval and erosion by atmospheric agencies into great table-lands or denudation planes, before being once more depressed below the ocean to receive as sediments the still very ancient Purana group which comes next above them.

About the end of the Eparchaean interval, or during the early parts of the Cuddapah epoch, come a number of younger intrusive igneous rocks. Among the pegmatites in these, especially in Nellore, good mica for economic purposes is found. Other pegmatites have yielded aquamarine crystals in times past (as at Pattalai in Coimbatore), as well as fine quartz crystals and amethyst ; and yet others near Sivamalai in Coimbatore have developed corundum crystals in considerable quantity, which have been dug and used by lapidaries.

Dikes of various descriptions are a very comnion feature over large areas of Central and Eastern Madras— especially in the Deccan Districts, North Arcot, and Salem, where they sometimes form marked features across the plains. There are several examples of dunite or olivine-chromite rock, the principal of which forms a great mass in the Chalk Hii.i.s near Salem, where chromite mines have been worked and veins of magnesite quarried.

The Purana group of azoic sedimentary rocks includes in Madras what are known as the Cuddapah and Kurnool series. These are typically developed in the Districts of the same names, where they form a great crescent-shaped outlier or completely isolated basin, 200 miles long by 100 wide in its widest part. Their much more gently inclined strata give to the country an array of parallel soarps, ridges, and flat-topped plateau-like hills, averaging 1,750 feet in elevation, which easily mark it off from the surrounding lowlands and rugged uplands of Archaean origin.

The lower series, the Cuddapahs, are more than ten limes as thick as the overlying Kurnools. The latter series embraces within the moderate thickness of 1,200 feet four stages in conformable descending order. The last and lowest member of these, the Banganapalle stage, is a sandstone with grits and pebble beds composed of clay, quartzite chert, and jasper pebbles ; and diamonds have been found here by the natives, who have carried considerable workings into the rock and also among the distributed surface gravels derived from them. The diamonds are octahedra with curved facets, and from their freshness it has been considered that they are inherent in the rock and do not occur as pebbles.

The succeeding rock system, the first in the Presidency which is fossiliferous, begins with a formation, the Gondwana, which is a characteristically Indian fresh-water deposit with plant remains and coal-beds. Only the south-eastern extremity of one shallow trough of the Lower Gondwanas stretches into the Madras Presidency. This outcrop occurs on the left bank of the Godavari river between 30 and 40 miles west-north west of Rajahmundry. It includes 5 square miles near Bedadanuru of coarse, pale, felspathic sandstones with coaly seams, and a few similar small patches along the Godavari, partly in the Nizam's Dominions and partly in British territory. The value of the coal-fields here has long been an important question, since they constitute the only known source of that mineral in Madras. The BedadanQru field was originally tested by Dr. W. King, who reported unfavourably on it ; but there has recently been a revival of interest in all the fields, with applications for prospecting licences.

The Upper Gondwanas are represented only by a broken belt of outliers, 15 miles broad in their widest part, along the east coast of the Presidency. This series comprises a threefold division, from 200 to 300 feet thick, of sandstones above and below with shales between. In some of the sandstones plant fossils have been found and in the shales marine fossils— among them ammonites.

In Trichinopoly District a narrow strip of Upper Gondwanas under- lies on the west the Cretaceous beds of that area. They are very richly fossiliferous and have yielded altogether about Soo species, of which a large proportion are cephalopods and gastropods.

Along the east coast, from Rajahmundry to Tinnevelly District, there is a peculiar formation consisting of soft sandstones and grits, which form a low slope dipping at a very slight angle towards the sea. They contain silicified wood in large quantity. Similar beds, the A\arkalli beds, are found on tlie west coast near Quilon in analogous positions.

The formation known as laterite, which is ahiiost pecuHar to India, or at least to the tropical parts of the Old World, has generally the appearance of a soil. In its normal form it is a porous argillaceous rock, much impregnated with iron peroxide. It is mottled with various tints of brown, red, and yellow, and a considerable proportion sometimes consists of white clay. It hardens on exposure and makes a useful building stone. Various forms of it are known. One is found along all the coast regions of Madras, and another on some of the higher plateaux inland (where it is about 80 feet thick), es- pecially in the neighbourhood of Bellary and Cuddapah and in the A'izagapatam Agency, as well as on the Nilgiris and Palnis to a modi- fied extent. The theories to account for it are far from .satisfactory at j)resent. Some of it has recently been shown to contain a large per- centage of hydrates of alumina, the ores from which aluminium is made.

The Billa Surgam cave deposits in Kurnool District are encrusted with stalagmite. They consist of red marl full of mammalian bones, including five species which are now extinct. Some of the living forms are African species.

The recent deposits of Madras include the older alluvium of the larger rivers, such as the Godavari, Kistna, Cauvery, &c. ; the coast and deltaic alluvium, from 50 to 500 feet thick ; and all the younger alluvium of the present river-beds, the mud-banks of the coast, and the peat deposits on plateaux such as the Nilgiris. At Pondicherry this formation has yielded an artesian water supply. In Tinnevelly District evidence of recent subsidence is furnished by a submerged forest.

The botany of Madras is of historic as well as intrinsic interest. While its diversities of configuration and great geographical range from north to south afford room for many different species, the Presidency has been a centre of botanical exploration for at least 250 years.

For a long time, indeed, Madras was the pioneer in the study of Indian botany. The first recorded work comes from Malabar, while it was in the hands of the Dutch. Van Rheede's Hortiis Malabaricus, appearing at the close of the seventeenth century, is still a standard work of reference. Later, the centre of activity was transferred to the east coast, and a long list of enthusiastic collectors might be given. Chief among them should be mentioned Koenig, a follower of Linnaeus, and an officer in the Danish colony of Tranquebar. With him were soon associated the Danish missionaries — Rottler, Klein, and Heyne — who formed the nucleus of the ' United Brothers,' a band of devoted botanical students. Plants were carefully collected and examined, specimens were exchanged, and, as the sphere of their work gradually extended, the flora of the northern part of the Presi- dency, and finally that of Bengal, received attention. Among the later members of the Brotherhood the most prominent South Indian workers were Roxburgh, who resided at Madras and Samalkot, and Sonnerat and Leschenault, who collected many of the mountain plants. Roxburgh described many of his species in his magnificent Coromandel Plants, published almost exactly a hundred years after ^'an Rheede's work.

With the removal of Roxburgh to Calcutta, however, the history of botany in the Madras Presidency practically ceases, the only later works of importance being '\\'ight's Icones Plantanim and Spicilegiuni Ni/gherreusc, and Beddome's F/ora Sylvatica and Ferns of Southern India. Finally, Hooker's monumental Flora Indica contains many hitherto unrecorded facts, as well as a summary of all previous work.

The different species of plants in Madras may be separated con- veniently according to the physical conditions of the country, and thus present to the explorer a number of well-marked and widely differing floras. By far the most interesting series is to be found in the moist, evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. From the borders of the Bombay Presidenc\- to the extreme south of the peninsula a succession of great forests, largely unexplored, abound in botanical rarities and include many timber trees of the greatest value. Here and there the mountains raise their shoulders above the evergreen forests, and a sub-alpine flora is met with of orchids, gentians, and dwarf, large-flowered species. The Xilgiris, Anaimalais, Palnis, and isolated peaks along the whole western range offer examples of this interesting flora.

On the western side, the evergreen forests descend far down towards the coast, and the change to the ordinary- vegetation of the moist tropical plains is gradual and inconspicuous. On the eastern side of the Ghats, however, a very different state of things is found. The evergreen forests are soon left behind, and the flora assumes a drier, harsher appearance. The trees cast their leaves in the hot season, and the prevalence of forest fires has caused large areas to produce nothing but coarse grasses. This ' deciduous ' forest extends all along the eastern side of the Western Ghats, along the borders of the Mysore plateau, and over the whole of the Eastern Ghats as far as the borders of Orissa. It forms the great game country of the Presidency, and abounds in valuable economic products.

The lower hills of the eastern side of the Peninsula are less interesting from the botanical point of view. Their vegetation is a mixture of evergreen and deciduous plants of marked xerophytic or druiight-loving character, low scrub jungle, and thorny bushes, inter- mingled with fleshy Eiiphorbiaceae, Asciepiadeae, and other drought- resisting plants. This dry flora passes over finally into one of almost desert character in the great stretches of uncultivated land in the plains. Of greater interest to the botanist are the red-sand deserts of Tinnevelly, called locally teris ; the salt-collecting grounds, with their fleshy saline flora ; and the mangrove swamps, with their half- submerged brackish-water forms.

Lastly, the great areas of cultivated land, from Orissa to Tinnevelly, abound in a wealth of weeds and shrubs, scattered almost impartially and giving this v/ide region a fairly uniform appearance, altliough their dissemination is largely due to cultivation. Many of these plants are common to other parts of the tropics, and perhaps this portion of the Presidency has the least characteristic flora.

Collections have been made in Madras ever since Van Rheede's time, but few of the older sets are now in the Government Herbarium. An early Madras collection appears to have been formed, but it was broken up many years ago and its contents distributed. To Dr. Bidie and the late Government Botanist, Mr. I^awson, probably belong the credit of the foundation of the present Herbarium, in which many of Wight's specimens arc to be found, as well as later collections by Gamble, Bourdillon, and other botanists. A systematic survey is now being carried on under Government auspices, and the Madras Herbarium is being rapidly added to. The present number of sheets is about 40,000, most of which are purely South Indian forms. The flora, as is to be expected in a peninsula of such extent, has numerous indigenous species. In the extreme south there are indications of relationship with Ceylon, while in the northern hills many of the Central Indian types are met with. For the rest, a great multitude of forest and other plants are not found elsewhere, and this fact alone makes the thorough study of the flora a matter of considerable importance.

The distribution of the larger fauna of the Presidency naturally varies with the climate, the altitude, and the nature of the cover available ; and as the low country seldom contains any considerable jungle the shyer animals are confined to the hills. On the plains, the Indian antelope or 'black buck' is found in most Districts except on the west coast, and is especially common in the Deccan. The hunting leopard and the Indian wolf, botli rare, are also found in the low c(juntry, but not on the west coast. Hyenas occur in the plains of most Districts. On the lower hills among the sparser jungle, the /it/gai and the four-horned antelope are seen here and there, but again not on the west coast ; and the Indian gazelle or ' ravine deer ' {Gazella bennetti) is met with us far south as the Deccan. Tigers, leopards, black bear, spotted deer, and wild hog haunt both the plains and the hills, but require thick cover. In the heavier jungle of the hills are found the little mouse deer, which is common in Malabar, the barking-deer, and the sdmbar.

The last suffer much from the persecution of packs of wild dogs, which in parts are increasing in numbers and boldness. Bison or gaiir are common on the ^^'estern Ghats, including the Anaimalais and the Palnis, and on the Eastern Ghats north of the Kistna river. Some are also left on the Javadi Hills. In the Vizagapatam Agency, but nowhere else in the Presidency, a few wild buffaloes survive. On the Nilgiris, the Palnis, and on the Western Ghats from the Anaimalais to nearly as far south as Cape Comorin the Nilgiri ibex {Hemitragiis hylocrius), which occurs nowhere else, is met with. The shooting of elephants on Government land, except specially proclaimed 'rogues,' is for- bidden. These animals are common in the Western Ghats, and in parts of Malabar are a serious nuisance to cultivators living near the hills. On the Anaimalais a number are annually caught in pits by the Forest department ; and the best of these are broken in and used either for timber-dragging or as baggage animals for the officials in the Agencies, where transport is unusually difficult, while the remainder are sold. Government pays rewards for the destruction of 'rogue' elephants, tigers, leopards, bears, and wolves.

The climate and seasons of the Presidency depend upon the varia- tions in temperature and rainfall in different parts. Table II at the end of this article (p. 351) gives statistics of the temperature at selected stations in four representative months — January, the coolest month ; May, the hottest ; July, when the south-west monsoon has broken ; and November, when the north-east monsoon is blowing. Of the several District head-quarters, Tinnevelly has the highest annual mean temperature (85-4°), closely followed by Cuddapah (84-9°), Nellore (84-7^), and Trichinopoly (84-2°). But Tinnevelly attains this unenviable position less by its great heat in the summer than by the absence of moderate coolness in the cold season. In March, April, and May, Cuddapah is considerably the hottest station in the Presidency. The three northern Districts, with Bellary, Anantapur, and Kurnool, have the advantage of a cooler cold season than any of the rest. The altitude of the Nilgiris gives a temperature totally different from the other Districts. The annual mean at Wellington is only 62°, and in December and January slight frosts are usual.

The local distribution of the rainfall depends mainly upon the conformation of the hill ranges. Two chief currents bring practically the whole of it.

The chief rain-bearing current is the south-west monsoon, which blows from the Indian Ocean from the end of May to the end of September, This carries far more moisture than the north-east monsoon ; but the rain-clouds are unable to pass over the Western Ghats, so that while in Malabar and South Kanara, on the west coast, the rain due to this monsoon varies from loo to as much as 150 inches, the fall in the neighbouring Districts on the other side of the range (except in a tract corresponding roughly to the Agencies in the north) is everywhere under 25 inches, and in many places (e.g. the central plain of Coimbatore and Tinnevelly District) even less than 5 inches.

As the force of the south-west monsoon in north-eastern India dies away, the current curves and drives inland from the Bay of Bengal during October, November, and December, being generally known as the north-east monsoon. The rainfall due to this is heaviest along a strip of the coast running from Pulicat Lake to Point Calimere in Tanjore District, where it averages over 25 inches; but as the clouds drift inland and part with their moisture they give gradually less rain, the amount received dropping to under 25 inches in the belt behind the strip of country above mentioned, and to less than 15 inches in the tract east of that again. Still farther east, the Eastern Ghats check the course of the clouds, and in the areas west of this range, such as the Deccan, the fall is less than 10 inches.

Table III at the end of this article (p. 351) gives the average rain- fall in each month at certain typical stations. For the year as a whole the heaviest fall in the Presidency is in the inland parts of South Kanara, where it is about 180 inches. The Wynaad country in Malabar comes next with 150 inches. In 1882 the amount registered at Vayittiri in the Wynaad was as much as 290 inches. The two driest spots in the Presidency are the centres of Bellary (annual fall 19 inches) and of Coimbatore (21 inches).

Cyclones may be said to be common all along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Some account of those which have visited Madras CiTV, where the record of them is naturally the most complete, will be found in the article on that place. They are usually most severe at the changing of the monsoons. Perhaps the most disastrous on record was that which passed over Masulipatam in Kistna District in 1864. It was accompanied by a storm-wave, which swept over 80 miles of the low coast, reaching in places as far as ry miles inland, and drowned 30,000 people.

Floods are constant, though less so on the west coast, where the rapid streams of the rivers have cut themselves deep beds. Accounts of the more serious will be found in the District articles. The Kistna and the Ponnaiyar rivers are especially liable to heavy floods. About fifty earthquakes were recoided in the Presidency during the last century, but they were all of a mild character.

See also

For a large number of articles about Madras Presidency, extracted from the Gazetteer of 1908 (as well as other articles on Madras Presidency) please either click the 'India, Places' link (below, left) and go to India, Places (under M) or enter 'Madras Presidency ' in the 'Search' box (top, right).

Madras Presidency, 1908

Madras Presidency History, 1908

Madras Presidency Population, 1908

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