Shimoga District, 1908

From Indpaedia
Jump to: navigation, search


Shimoga District, 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.

District in the north-west of the State of Mysore, lying between 13 degree 27' and 14 degree 39' N. and 74 38' and 76 4' E,, with an area of 4,025 square miles. It is bounded on the north by the Dharwar District of Bombay; on the east by Chitaldroog; on the south by Kadur; and on the west by South and North Kanara Dis- tricts.

Physical aspects

The greater part of the District is Malnad (' hill country '), which includes the whole area west of a line drawn from Shikarpur to Gajanur; the east is Maidan or Bayal-sime ('plain country'). The first is a region of tropical forests aspects and mountain wilds. Trees of the largest size stand thickly together in miles of unbroken ranks, their giant trunks entwined with python-like creepers, their massive arms decked with a thousand bright blossoming' orchids. Birds of rare plumage flit from bough to bough. From the thick woods, which abruptly terminate on verdant swards, bison issue forth at dawn and afternoon to browse on the rich herbage, while large herds of sdmbar pass rapidly across the hill-sides. Packs of wild dogs cross the path, hunting in company, and the warning boom of the great langur monkey is heard from the lofty trees. The bamboo forest has beauties of its own. The elegant areca-palms of Nagar ; the kans of Sorab, with the rich hues of wild cinnamon and the sombre green of the jack, intermingled with the truncated leaf of the a#z-palm, and the waving branches of the pepper-vine \ the mag- nificent avenues of the dhupa-\x.s& in Sagar all unite to vary the attractions of this region of natural beauty. The view from the head of the descent to the Gersoppa Falls is probably one of the choicest bits of scenery in the world. The features of the open country are tame in comparison with those of the woodland tracts, but there is much that is picturesque in the fertile taluk of Channagiri, with its splendid Sulekere tank.

The main part of the District consists of the western slopes of the upper Tungabhadra valley. This river is formed by the union at Kudali in the Shimoga taluk of the twin streams Tunga and Bhadra, of which the former runs for most of its course within this District, in a north-easterly direction. From the point of confluence the united river runs north to the frontier. The Sharavati rises near Kavaledurga in the south-west, and runs north-west to the frontier, where it turns west and hurls itself down the Ghats in the Jog or far-famed GERSOPPA FALLS, a sheer descent of 830 feet. The streams between Kodachadri and Kavaledurga flow west or south-west into Kanara. The west of the District, resting upon the Ghats, is very mountainous, the high- est point being Kodachadri, 4,411 feet above the sea. Govardhan- giri and Chandragutti are also conspicuous hills, the latter rising to 2,794 feet. A chain of hills runs from Mandagadde on the Tunga north by Anantapur towards Sorab, with a ridge west from Atavadi to Talguppa. On the east are two lines of low stony hills stretching from the south of Channagiri to the frontier, one following the course of the Tungabhadra northwards, the other crossing the river near Holehonnur and passing near Shikarpur. The south-west around Nagar and Kavaledurga is full of hills.

The Shimoga schist band is a southern continuation of that on which the town of Dharwar is situated. Crossing the Tungabhadra near Harihar, it extends southwards into Kadur District. Its western boundary is probably continuous from Anantapur to the Kudremukh. West from Anantapur to Talguppa the country is covered by a great spread of laterite, beneath which gneiss is exposed in deep nullahs. In places the laterite is over 100 feet in thickness. It is quarried in square blocks, which form the most common building material, being used not only for dwelling-houses but for bridges and other public structures. Broken up, it forms metal for roads.

Magnificent evergreen forest covers the west, many of the hills being heavily wooded up to their summits. On all sides trunks with clear stems of from 80 to 100 feet to the first branch meet the eye. The more valuable kinds are poon (Calophyttum tomentosum) wild jack, ebony, some (Soymida febrifuga) keigm (Hopea Wightiana), eruol, dhupa (Vateria indicd], the large devadaram (Erythroxylon), gamboge, and a species of cedar. Farther east is a rich belt, in which the more important trees are teak, black-wood, honne (Pterocarpus Marsupium) matti (Terminalia tomentosa, sampagi (Michelia Champaca) arsentega (Adina cordifolid), alale (Terminalia Chebula), bagi (Albizzia Lebbek), dindiga (Anogeissus latifolia), and others. Sorab abounds with kdns, apparently the remains of old forests. Many are cultivated with pepper-vines, and sometimes coffee. The sago-palm (Caryota urens) is also grown for the sake of its toddy. From Mandagadde a long stretch of wooded country runs north, in which are found good teak, and much second-class timber, with a large quantity of Inga ocylocarpa, used for making charcoal for the iron mines.

The rainfall rapidly diminishes eastwards from the Ghat region. Thus, while the annual fall at Nagar averages about 190 inches, at Tlrthahalli 114, at Sagar 70, and at Sorab 57, it is only about 35 at Shimoga and 25 at Channagiri. For about 25 miles from the Ghats the south-west monsoon is felt in full force. At Shimoga town, which is 40 miles distant, it often produces nothing more than driving clouds, with occasional drizzle and a few days of moderately heavy rain. East of the Tungabhadra the wind blows with much force, but the clouds rarely break. The heaviest rains on this side are in May and October, and come in thunderstorms from the eastward. The mean temperature at Shimoga town may be stated as ranging from 55 to 87 The sea- breeze relieves the heat in the hot season, and is distinctly felt at Shimoga.


The Mauryas are said in inscriptions to have ruled over Kuntala, which included some parts of this District. A Chandra Gupta is described as having ruled Nagarakhanda (the Shikar- History pur taluk). Asoka sent a Buddhist missionary to Banavasi, on the north-west frontier, in the third century B.C. The next record is of the Satavahanas, containing a grant by Satakarni at Malavalli in the Shikarpur taluk, probably of the second century A.D. They were followed by the Kadambas, whose capital was Banavasi, but their place of origin was Sthanakundur (Talagunda in the Shikarpur taluk), where the interesting story of their rise is recorded on a pillar. Their progenitor, who was a Brahman, went to the Pallava capital Kanchi (Conjeeveram) in order to complete his Vedic studies. While there, he had a violent quarrel with Pallava horsemen, and in order to be revenged adopted the life of a Kshattriya. Perfecting himself in the use of arms, he overcame the frontier guards, and established himself in the inaccessible forests near Srlparvata (Kurnool District), where he became so powerful that he levied tribute from the great Bana and other kings. The Pallavas tried to put him down, but he defeated them in various ways, till they were compelled to make peace with him, and recognize him as king of the Kadamba territory. These events must be assigned to the second or third century. Among his suc- cessors, Kakustha gave his daughter in marriage to the Gupta king, perhaps Samudra Gupta, whose expedition to the South in the fourth century is recorded on the pillar in the fort at Allahabad.

While the Kadambas were ruling in the west of the District, the Gangas were established in the east. The story of their rise is recorded in inscriptions at Humcha and near Shimoga. In the fourth century the Ganga king married the Kadamba king's sister. In the fifth century the Chalukyas from the north had subdued the whole of Kuntala, and made Vatapi (Badami in Bijapur District) their capital. They profess to have subjected the Kadambas in the sixth century.

In the seventh century they separated into two families, of whom the Western Chalukyas continued to rule from Badami. Shimoga District was formed into the Banavase 'twelve thousand' 1 province, with its seat of government at Belgami (Shikarpur tahtk). But in the eighth century they were overcome by the Rashtrakutas, and did not regain supremacy for 200 years. The Rashtrakutas had their capital at Manya- kheta (Malkhed in the Nizam's Dominions). They first seized and imprisoned the Ganga king, appointing their own viceroys to govern his territories. But eventually they reinstated him and entered into alliance with the Gangas. Intermarriages now took place between the two families ; and in the tenth century, in return for their help in defeating the Cholas, the Banavase 'twelve thousand' and other provinces were again added to the Ganga kingdom by the Rashtra- kutas. Meanwhile, in the seventh or eighth century, a Jain principality was established at Pomburchchha or Hombucha (Humcha) by Jina- datta, a prince of the Ugra family and Solar race from Muttra. His line assumed the name of Santara; and, bringing under their control all the country as far as Kalasa (Kadur District), they descended the Ghats to Sisila or Sisukali, and finally established their capital at Karkala (South Kanara), appointing lieutenants at Barkur, Bangadi, Mudu-Bidare, and Mulki. The territories thus acquired yielded a revenue of 9 lakhs of pagodas above and 9 lakhs below the Ghats. In course of time the kings became Lingayats, and under the name of Bhairarasa Wodeyars continued in power down to the sixteenth century, being subordinate in turn to the Chalukyas, Hoysalas, and Vijayanagar, till their territories were subdued by the Keladi chiefs.

In 973 the Rashtrakutas were overthrown, and the Western Chalukyas regained their ascendancy. Their capital was now estab- lished at Kalyani. The Banavase ' twelve thousand ' was one of the most important provinces of their empire. But in 1155 the Chalukyas were supplanted by their minister Bijjala, of the Kalachuri family. In his reign the Lingayat religion, which prevails throughout the Kannada and Telugu countries, was founded by Basava, who was his minister, and who gave his sister to the king in marriage. But the dynasty lasted for only three generations, till 1183. By this time the Hoysalas of Dorasamudra (Halebid in Hassan District) had sub- dued the whole of Mysore, and Banavase was one of their provinces. They pushed on to the Kistna, and thus came into collision with the Seunas, or Yadavas, of Deogiri (Daulatabad). The latter made some head in the thirteenth century, and established themselves in parts of the north of the country. But in the next century, both Seunas

1 These numerical designations, almost invariably attached to the names of ancient divisions in Mysore, apparently refer to their revenue capacity or to the number of their nads. and Hoysalas fell victims to the Musalman invasions from Delhi. The Vijayanagar kingdom then arose, which ultimately ruled over all the countries south of the Kistna. Under it, in the sixteenth century, were established the line of the Keladi, Ikkeri, or Bednur chiefs in the west of the District, and of the Basavapatna or Tarikere chiefs in the east. The Keladi chiefs were Lingayats ; and their founder, Sadasiva Raya Naik, who took his name from his overlord, first received the government of Barkur, Mangalore, and Chandragutti. His successor removed the capital to Ikkeri. After the fall of Vijaya- nagar, Venkatappa Naik (whom the Portuguese called Venkapor, king of Kanara) assumed independence, and in the next reign the capital was finally removed to Bednur (now Nagar). Sivappa Naik, who came to the throne in 1645, overran all the country east to Shimoga, south to Manjarabad, and west throughout the whole of Kanara. The fugitive king of Vijayanagar, who came to him for protection, was established by him at Belur and Sakkarepatna, and he even attempted to besiege Seringapatam on his behalf. Sivappa Naik died in 1660; and his successors held the country till 1763, when Haidar All captured Bednur, and brought their power to an end. Haidar formed the design of making here a new capital for himself, and gave it the name of Haidarnagar, the present Nagar. The Basavapatna chiefs were driven from their seat by the Bijapur invasions, and retired first to Sante-Bennur, and finally to Tarikere (Kadur District). In 1783, in the war between the British and Mysore, troops from Bombay captured Bednur, but it was recovered by Tipu Sultan. After the fall of Seringapatam in 1799, a Maratha chief named Dhundia Wagh ravaged Shimoga and the east, but was pursued and slain by a force under Colonel Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington). In 1830 a rebellion broke out in the Nagar country, owing to the Raja's misrule, and the Tarikere chief escaped from Mysore to join the insurgents. When the insurrec- tion had been put down, the Mysore State was placed under a British Commission, which continued to govern the country till the rendition in 1881.

The Shikarpur taluk is full of antiquities. The Satakarni inscription at Malavalli, perhaps of the second century, is the oldest, and on the same pillar, in the same Prakrit language, is a Kadamba inscription. But the remains at Belgami, the former capital of this Banavase province, throw all the others into the shade. They include many ruined temples remarkable for their carving, and numerous inscriptions, mostly of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The fine Bherundesvara pillar is an elegant monolith, 30^ feet high and if thick, with a double- headed eagle of human form, 4 feet high, at the top, called Ganda- bherunda. At Bandanikke, the chief city of Nagarakhanda, are also richly carved temples, all in ruins. At Humcha are the remains of what must have been splendid Jain temples, and at Ikkeri is a fine Aghoresvara temple. The latter is Dravidian, but the others are Chalukyan in style. The inscriptions of the District have been trans- lated and published.


The population at each Census in the last thirty years was: (1871) 507,856, (1881) 507,424, (1891) 528,996, and (1901) 531,736- The decline in the first decade was due to the famine of 1876-8. By religion, in 1901 there were 468,435 Hindus, 32,593 Musalmans, 9,506 Animists, 3,523 Jains, and 1,967 Christians. The density is 132 persons per square mile, that for the State being 185, The number of towns is 14, and of villages 2,017. The largest place is SHIMOGA TOWN, the head-quarters, with a popula- tion of 6,240 in 1901, reduced from 11,340 in 1891 owing to plague.

The following table gives the principal statistics of population in 1901 :

Among castes, Lingayats preponderate, numbering 119,000^ Wok- kaligas or cultivators number 90,000 ; the outcaste Holeyas and Madigas, 31,000 and 22,000; Kurubas or shepherds, 24,000; Bedas, 23,000. The number of Brahmans is 26,000. Of Musalman sects the Shaikhs form three-fourths, being 24,000 in number. Among the nomad tribes Lambanis number 17,000; Iruligas, 4,000; and Koramas, 3,800. By occupation, 72-5 per cent, are engaged in agriculture and pasture, 10-9 per cent, in unskilled labour not agricultural, 7-2 per cent, in the preparation and supply of material substances, and 2-8 per cent, in the State service.


Christians number 1,967, of whom 1,897 are natives. The Roman Catholic and Wesleyan Missions are located at Shimoga town, and visit various out-stations.

The general substratum of laterite in the western taluks, wherever it approaches the surface, checks vegetation. The soil in the rice valleys, characteristic of the Malnad, is loose and sandy, while that of garden lands is stiff and clayey. The richest soil is in the north-east, from the Sulekere northwards.

The black soil prevails here, and also around Nyamti and Belgutti in the Honnali taluk*

Rice is the principal crop. Areca-nut is extensively grown in the Nagar, Sagar, and Tirthahalli taluks, that of the first-named tract being considered superior to any in the State. Sugar-cane is largely raised in Shikarpur. Honnali chiefly produces different kinds of ' dry J grains, as well as cotton. Pepper grows wild in the forests of Nagar and Sorab, while cardamoms are produced in the jungles about Agumbi, though they are not so good as those raised in areca gardens. All kinds of 'wet' cultivation are carried on from the Sulekere tank. The area occupied by rice in 1903-4 was 383 square miles; by ragi, 141 ; gram, 72 ; other food-grains, 294; garden produce, 26 ; oilseeds, 27 ; sugar-cane, 14.

During the twelve years ending 1904 a sum of Rs. 9,000 was advanced for land improvement, in addition to Rs. 14,300 for irri- gation wells, and Rs. 7,000 for field embankments.

The area irrigated from channels is 7 square miles, from tanks and wells 232, and from other sources 187 square miles. The number of tanks is 8,358, of which 583 are classed as 'major.'

The State forests cover an area of 343 square miles, * reserved ' lands 153, and plantations 4. Teak, other timber, bamboos, and sandal- wood are the chief sources of forest income. The receipts in 1903-4 amounted to 4-6 lakhs.

Iron is extracted in some parts. On the summit of the Ghats stones are frequently found possessing magnetic properties, as at Kodachadri. Laterite is abundant in the west, and extensively quarried for building purposes. Gold is widely diffused, and a broad auriferous tract extends throughout the eastern half of the District. The Honnali gold-mines, which were commenced some time ago, have suspended work, owing partly to the influx of water. The Mysore-Nagar Company started work near Benkipur, but no good results have been obtained. Deposits of manganese have been discovered to the west of Shimoga, and large quantities have been raised.

Trade and Communications

The District is noted for its beautiful sandal-wood carving, of which industry Sorab is the principal seat. The chief articles of manufac- ture are coarse cotton cloth, woollen blankets, iron

commwicattins. articles > brass and c PP er vessels ' earth enware, jag- gery, and oils. A few striped carpets are made at Shikarpur; pieces of chintz at Shimoga and Ayanurj stone jugs at Tlrthahalli; handmills in the Honnali tahik, and ropes of various kinds. There are reported to be 970 looms for cotton, 402 for wool, 48 for other fibres, 424 iron-works, 12 brass and copper- works, 88 oil- mills, and 1,845 jaggery-mills.

The recent opening of a branch railway from Shimoga to Birur will no doubt stimulate trade. The most important articles of export are jaggery, earthenware, leathern goods, woollen blankets, and oils. Of im- ported articles, piece-goods take the first place, then woollen blankets, oils, gold ornaments, and vessels of brass, copper, and bell-metal.

A branch of the Southern Mahratta Railway runs from Birur (Kadur District) to Shimoga town, of which 16 miles lie in the south-east of this District. A short line from Shimoga westwards is proposed, for the transport of the manganese ore discovered there. The length of Provincial roads is 219 miles, and of District fund roads 450 miles.


The District is divided into eight taluks : CHANNAGIRI, HONNALI, NAGAR, SAGAR, SHIKARPUR, SHIMOGA, SORAB, and TIRTHAHALLI.

The following subdivisions were formed in 1903. and placed in charge of Assistant Commissioners :

Shimoga and Tirthahalli, with head-quarters at Shimoga; Honnali, Shikarpur, and Channagiri, with head-quarters at Shimoga; Sagar, Sorab, and Nagar, with head-quarters at Sagar.

The District court at Shimoga exercises jurisdiction over Shimoga, Kadur, and Chitaldroog Districts, while the Subordinate Judge's court at Shimoga deals with Shimoga District and a part of Kadur and Chitaldroog Districts. There are also Munsifs' courts at Shimoga and Honnali. In the border tract there is a certain amount of serious crime.

The land revenue and total revenue are shown in the table on the next page, in thousands of rupees.

The revenue survey and settlement were introduced into the north of the District between 1870 and 1874, and into the south between 1875 and 1878. In 1903-4 the incidence of land revenue per acre of cultivated area was Rs. 1-14-1. The average rate of assessment per acre on ' dry ' land is R. o-i 1-5 (maximum scale Rs. 2-8, minimum scale R. 0-0-6) ; on { wet ' land, Rs. 3 (maximum scale Rs. 6-8, minimum scale R. 0-2) ; and on garden land, Rs. 12-12-11 (maximum scale Rs. 25, minimum scale Rs. 1-8).

In 1903-4 there were ten municipalities Shimoga, Kumsi, Chan- nagiri, Honnali, Nyamti, Shikarpur, Sorab, Sagar, Kalurkatte, and Tirthahalli with a total income of Rs. 36,000 and an expenditure of Rs. 46,500. There were also four village Unions Benkipur, Hole- honnur, Siralkoppa, and Nagar whose income and expenditure were Rs. 6,000 and Rs. 15,000. The District and taluk boards had an income of Rs. 90,000 in 1903-4, chiefly derived from a share of the Local fund cess, and spent Rs. 78,000, including Rs. 70,000 on roads and buildings.

The strength of the police force in 1904 was one superior officer, 93 subordinate officers, and 493 constables, of whom 2 officers and 30 constables formed the special reserve. In the 8 lock-ups the daily average of prisoners was 32,,

In 1901 the percentage of literate persons was 5-3 (9-6 males and 0-4 females). The number of schools increased from 369 with 9,329 pupils in 1890-1 to 406 with 11,828 pupils in 1900-1. In 1903-4 there were 359 schools (242 public and 117 private) with 9,802 pupils, of whom 1,418 were girls.

Besides the civil hospital at Shimoga town, there are 13 dispen- saries, in which 101,732 patients were treated in 1904, of whom 434 were in-patients, the number of beds available being 32 for men and 26 for women. The total expenditure was Rs. 34,000.

There were 2,685 persons vaccinated in 1904, or 5 per 1,000 of the population.

Personal tools