Nagpur City

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Nagpur 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 Central Provinces, and head-quarters of the District and tahsil of the same name, situated in 21° 9' N. and 79° 7" E., on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, 520 miles from Bombay, and on the Bengal-Nagpur Railway, 701 miles from Calcutta, the two lines meeting here. The city stands on a small stream called the Nag, from which it takes its name. Its site is somewhat low, sloping to the south-east, with an open plain beyond, while to the north and west rise small basaltic hills, on one side of which is situated the fort of SItabaldT, on another the residence of the Chief Commissioner, and on a third the great reservoir which supplies the city with water. Nagpur is steadily increasing in importance, the population at the last four enumerations having been: (1872) 84,441, (1881) 98,229, (1891) 117,014, and (1901) 127,734. The population in 1901 included 104,476 Hindus, 17,368 Muhammadans, 760 Jains, 436 ParsTs, and 3,794 Christians, of whom 1,780 were Europeans and Eurasians.

Nagpur was founded at the beginning of the eighteenth century by the Gond Raja, Bakht Buland. It subsequently became the head- quarters of the Bhonsla Rajas, and in 1861 of the Central Provinces Administration. The battles of Sitabaldl and Nagpur were fought here in 1817. Two small riots have occurred in recent years — one in 1896 at the commencement of the famine, and one in 1899 on the enforce- ment of plague measures — but both were immediately suppressed without loss of life. Nagpur itself possesses no archaeological remains of interest, but some sculptures and inscribed slabs have been collected in the Museum from various parts of the Province. The city is also singularly bare of notable buildings ; and since the Bhonsla palace was burnt down in 1864, there is nothing deserving of mention. The residence of the present representative of the family is situated in the Sakardara Bagh, about a mile from the city, where a small menagerie is maintained. But the two fine reservoirs of Ambajheri and Telinkheri to the west of the city, the Juma talao (tank) between the city and the railway station, and the Maharajbagh and Telinkheri gardens form worthy monuments of the best period of Bhonsla rule, and have been greatly improved under British administration. The Maharajbagh also contains a menagerie. The hill and fort of Sitabaldl form a small cantonment, at which a detachment of infantry from the Kamptee garrison is stationed. Nagpur is the head-quarters of two Volunteer battalions, whose combined strength in the station itself is five companies.

Nagpur was constituted a municipality in 1864. The municipal receipts and expenditure during the decade ending 1901 averaged Rs. 3,28,000. In 1903-4 the income was Rs. 4,63,000, including octroi (Rs. 2,31,000), water rate (Rs. 34,000), and conservancy (Rs. 26,000); and the expenditure was Rs. 4,51,000, the chief items being refunds (Rs. 68,000), water-supply (Rs. 91,000), conservancy (Rs. 65,000), up-keep of roads (Rs. 15,000), drainage (Rs. 14,000), and repayment of loans (Rs. 22,000). The water-supply is obtained from the Amba- jheri reservoir, distant four miles from the city. The works were first constructed in 1873, the embankment of the old tank being raised 1 7 feet, and pipes laid to carry water to the city by means of gravitation at a cost of 4 lakhs. In 1890 an extension was carried out at a cost of 3 lakhs to serve the higher parts of the city and civil station, which could not previously be supplied through want of sufficient head. The embankment was again raised by famine labour in 1900, and its present length is 1,033 yards, the greatest height being 35 feet. The catchment area of the tank is 6^ square miles, and the water surface 412 acres. In order to prevent the waterlogging of the site of the city, as a result of the constant intake from an extraneous source of supply, a scheme for a surface drainage system has now been undertaken. In addition to the drainage scheme a sewage farm is proposed, and the cost of the whole project is estimated at about 10 lakhs. A concession has recently been granted by the municipal committee for the construc- tion of a system of electric tramway lines along the principal roads.

Nagpur is the leading industrial and commercial town of the centre of India, its trade being principally with Bombay. The Empress Mills, in which the late J. N. Tata was the chief shareholder, were opened in 1877. They contain 1,400 looms and 67,000 spindles, the present capital being 47 lakhs. Their out-turn of yarn and cloth in 1904 was valued at 61 lakhs, and they employ 4,300 operatives. The Swadeshi Spinning and Weaving Mills were opened in 1892 with a capital of 15 lakhs; they have 180 looms and 16,500 spindles, employ 1,100 operatives, and produced goods to the value of 14 lakhs in 1904. In addition to the mills, twelve cotton-ginning and pressing factories con- taining 287 gins and 11 presses are now working, with an aggregate capital of 16-47 lakhs. The city contains eleven printing presses, with English, Hindi, and Marathi type, and one English weekly and two native papers are published, besides the Central Provinces Law Reports. The principal hand industry is cotton-weaving, in which about 5,000 persons are engaged. They produce cotton cloths with silk borders and ornamented with gold and silver lace. Numbers of orange gardens have been planted in the vicinity of the city, and the fruit grown bears a verj' high reputation.

Nagpur is the head-quarters of the Central Provinces Administration and of all the Provincial heads of departments, besides the Commis- sioner and Divisional Judge, Nagpur Division, a Deputy-Postmaster- General, an Inspector of Schools, and Executive Engineers for Roads and Buildings and Irrigation. The Inspector-General of Agriculture for India, the Deputy-Comptroller of Post Ofifices, Bombay Circle, and the Archdeacon of Nagpur also have their head-quarters here. It contains one of the two Provincial lunatic asylums and one of the three Central jails. Numerous industries are carried on in the Central jail, among which may be mentioned printing and binding, woodwork (in- cluding Burmese carving), cane-work, and cloth-weaving. All the forms and registers used in the public offices of the Province, amounting to about ten million sheets annually, are printed or lithographed in the Nagpur jail, which contains thirty presses of different sizes. The Agricul- tural department maintains a model farm, which is devoted to agricul- tural experiment and research. The Victoria Technical Institute is now under construction as a memorial to the late Queen Empress. When finished it will take over the Agricultural and Engineering classes in the schools, and also teach various handicrafts. Nagpur is the head- quarters of a Roman Catholic diocese, with a cathedral and convent. There is also a mission of the Free Church of Scotland, of which the Rev. S. Hislop, whose ethnographical and other writings on the Central I'rovinces are well-known, was for long a member. The Morris and Hislop Colleges prepare candidates for degrees in Arts ; they are aided, but not maintained, by Government, and had 207 students in 1903-4. The Morris College also prepares candidates for degrees in Law, and 42 students are taking this course. The other educational institutions comprise three aided high schools, containing together 404 students ; and, besides middle school branches attached to the high schools, four English middle schools, of which two are for Muhammadan and Telugu boys respectively, and forty-five primary schools. The St. Francis de Sales and Bishop's schools are for European boys, and the St. Joseph's Convent school for girls. They are attended by 520 children. The special institutions consist of male and female normal schools for teachers, and the agricultural school. The normal schools train stu- dents to qualify for teaching in rural schools. They are entirely sup- ported from Provincial revenues, and contain 39 male and 19 female students, both classes of whom receive stipends or scholarships. The agricultural school has 42 students ; it is connected with the model farm, and gives instruction in improved methods and implements of agriculture to subordinate Government officials and the sons of land- owners. The medical institutions comprise the Mayo and Dufferin Hospitals for males and females respectively, with combined accom- modation for 112 in-patients, and 9 other dispensaries.

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