Surat District, 1908

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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.


Surat District, 1908

Physical aspects

District in the Northern Division of the Bombay Presidency, lying between 20° 17' and 21° 28' N. and 72° 35' and 73° 29' E., with an area of 1,653 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Broach District and the Native State of Baroda ; on the east by the States of Baroda, Rajpipla, Bansda, and Dharampur ; on the south by Thana District and the Portuguese territory of Daman ; and on the west by the Arabian Sea. A broad strip of Baroda (Gaikwar's) territory separates the north-western from the south-eastern portion of the District.

Surat District consists of a wide alluvial plain, stretching between the Dang hills and the coast, from the Kim river on the north to the Damanganga on the south, a distance of about 80 miles. The coast-line runs along the Arabian Sea where it begins to narrow into the Gulf of Cambay. Small hillocks of drifted sand fringe the greater part of the shore, in some parts dry and barren, but in others watered by springs, enclosed by hedges, and covered with a thick growth of creepers and date-palms. Through the openings of the river mouths, however, the tide runs up behind the barrier of sandhills, and floods either permanently or temporarily a large area (estimated at 100,000 acres in 1876 and at 12,019 acres in 1904) of salt marshes. Beyond spreads a central alluvial belt of highly cultivated land, with a width of about 60 miles in the north, where the river Tapti, carrying down a deposit of loam, forms a deep and fertile delta ; but as the coast-line trends towards the south, the hills at the same lime draw nearer to the coast, and restrict the alluvial country to a breadth of little more than 15 miles on the Daman border. The deep loam brought down by the Tapti gives a level aspect to the northern tract ; but farther south, a number of small and rapid rivers have cut themselves ravine-like beds, between which lie rougher uplands with a scantier soil and poorer vegetation. In the hollows, and often on the open plain, rich deposits of black cotton soil overlie the alluvium. The eastern border of the District consists of less fruitful lands, cut up by small torrents, and interspersed with mounds of rising ground. Here the huts of an ill-fed and almost unsettled peasantry replace the rich villages of skilled cultivators in the central lowland. On the border, this wild region passes gradually into the hills and forests of the Dangs, an unhealthy jungle which none but the aboriginal tribes can inhabit save at special periods of the year. The Dangs are leased from Bhil chiefs.

The average elevation of the District is not much more than 150 feet above sea-level. In the north are chains of flat-topped hills which reach a height of between 200 and 300 feet ; south of the Tapti a series of high lands separate the plains of Surat from those of Khandesh. Five miles from the ruined fort of Pardi is the hill of Parnera, with an estimated elevation of 500 feet above the sea. Except the Kim and the Tapti in the north, the District has no large rivers ; but in the south are deep and navigable creeks, which form admirable outlets for produce, and supply a secure shelter to the smaller coasting craft. The Kim rises in the Rajpipla hills and, after a course of 70 miles, falls into the Gulf of Cambay. Its waters are useful for neither navigation nor irrigation. The Tapti gives rise to the largest alluvial lowland in the District ; but its frequent floods have caused great loss of life and damage to property. The course of this river through Surat District is 50 miles in a direct line, but 70 miles including windings. For 32 miles it is tidal, and passes through a highly cultivated plain, but it is navigable only as far as Surat, 20 miles from its mouth. The Warli is a considerable tributary. Of creeks, the northernmost formed by the Sina river has on its right bank, about 4 miles from the coast, the harbour of Bhagva. Farther south, about 8 miles north of the Tapti mouth, the Tena creek runs inland for about 8 miles. Four miles north of the Ambika in the west of Jalalpur is the large inlet known as the Kanai creek. The District contains no natural lakes, but reservoirs or tanks cover a total area of 16 square miles. With one exception they consist of small ponds, formed by throwing horse- shoe embankments across the natural lines of drainage, and are used for irrigation. The reservoir at Palan has an area of 153 acres.

Three geological formations occur in the lands of Surat District. Of these, the lowest is the Deccan trap ; the middle is the Tertiary, represented by gravel, conglomerates, sandstone, and limestone, with and without Nummulites ; the highest is the recent, represented by cotton soil, alluvium, and river-beds. The Deccan trap extends from the hilly country on the east as far west as Tadkesar, about 22 miles north-east of the city of Surat. From Tadkesar, though its limit is concealed by the alluvium of the plains, the trap appears to strike south by west, coming out upon the sea-shore near Bulsar. The formation consists mostly of basalt flows with some intercalations of laterite, intersected by numerous dikes, most of them porphyritic. Intervening between the trap and the Tertiary is laterite, which is also interbedded with the lower beds of the Tertiary. The Tertiary includes representatives of the groups known in Sind as Upper Kirthar (Spintangi of Baluchistan), Gaj, and Manchhar (Siwaliks of the sub- Himalayas). The Tertiary beds spread in gentle undulations under a large portion of the District. In every case they form a fringe to the rocky trap country and border the alluvium of Gujarat, by which on the west they are concealed. The lower beds of the series, those which correspond with the upper part of the Kirthar group in Sind, are of middle eocene age (Lutetian). T'hey contain bands of limestone, usually sandy and impure, abounding in Nummulites and other fossils, resting on laterite and containing numerous intercalations, towards their base, of ferruginous lateritic clays. The Nummulitic series includes beds of agate conglomerate, apparently of considerable thickness. The upper beds, including representatives of the Gaj and Manchhar, are principally of miocene age. They consist of gravel with a large propor- tion of agate pebbles, sandy clays, and calcareous sandstone, frequently nodular. The gravels are often cemented into a conglomerate. Fossils both of marine and terrestrial origin occur in some of the beds. Alluvium extends over a considerable portion of the District, conceal- ing and covering up the rocks in the low ground, and forming the high banks which overhang all the larger streams at a little distance from the sea. Throughout almost the entire District the surface of the ground consists of ' black soil,' resulting from the decomposition of the basalt or of an alluvium largely made up of basaltic materials. In Surat, as in nearly all the lands surrounding the Gulf of Cambay, the wells often yield brackish water, owing to the presence of salt in the Tertiary sediments, principally in those of the upper division '.

The common toddy-yielding wild date-tree grows more or less freely over the whole District. Near village sites and on garden lands, groves of mango, tamarind, banian, limbdo (Melia Azadirachta), plpal (Ficus

1 A. B. Wynne, ‘Geological Notes on the Siiiat Collectorale,' Records, Geological Survey of India, vol. i, pp. 27-32; W. T. Blanford, 'Geology of the Taptee and Lower Nerbudda,' Memoirs, Geological Survey of India, vol. vi, pt. iii. religiosa), and other fruit and shade trees are commonly found. The mangoes of some Surat gardens approach the Bombay ' Alphonso ' and ‘ Pairi in flavour and sweetness. There are no good timber trees. The babul is found in small bushes in most parts of the District, springing up freely in fields set apart for the cultivation of grass. Wild flowering-plants are not numerous, the commonest being Hibiscus, Abutilon, Sida, Clerodendron, Phlomis, Salvadora, Celosia, and Leucas.

The fauna of Surat includes a few tigers, stragglers from the jungles of Bansda and Dharampur, besides leopards (which are found throughout the District), bears, wild hog, wolves, hyenas, spotted deer, and antelope. Otters and grey foxes are also met with. Duck, wild geese, teal, and other wild-fowl abound during the cold season on the ponds and reservoirs ; and hares, partridges, and quail are common.

The climate varies greatly with the distance from the sea. In the neighbourhood of the coast, under the influence of the sea-breeze, which is carried up the creeks, an equable temperature prevails ; but from 8 to 10 miles inland the breeze ceases to blow. The temperature rises in places to 109° in April, the minimum being 44° in December. The mean temperature at Surat city is 82°.

The coast possesses a much lighter rainfall than the interior, the annual average ranging from 35 inches in Chorasi to 72 inches in Pardi. The average at Surat city for the twenty-fiive years ending 1903 amounted to 39.5 inches. In the District it varies from 38 to 80 inches. Pardi in the south and Mandvi in the north-east have a bad reputation for unhealthiness, as shown by the proverb, 'Bagvada is half death ; Mandvi is whole death.'


Surat was one of the earliest portions of India brought into close relations with European countries, and its history merges almost entirely into that of its capital, long the greatest maritime city of the peninsula. Ptolemy, the Greek geographer (A.D. 150), speaks of the trade centre of Pulipula, perhaps Phulpada, the sacred part of Surat city. The city itself appears to be comparatively modern, though the Musalman historians assert that at the commencement of the thirteenth century Kutb-ud-din, after defeating Bhim Deo, Rajput king of Anhilvada, penetrated as far south as Rander and Surat. The District then formed part of the dominions ruled over by a Hindu chief, who fled from his fortress at Kanrej, 13 miles east of Surat city, and submitted to the Musalman conqueror, so obtaining leave to retain his principality. In 1347, during the Gujarat rebellion in the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlak, Surat was plundered by the troops of the king. In 1373 Firoz Tughlak built a fort at Surat to protect the place against the Bhils. During the fifteenth century no notice of Surat occurs in the chronicles of the Musaliman kings of Ahmadabad. Tradition generally assigns the foundation of the modern city to the beginning of the sixteenth century, when a rich Hindu trader, Gopi by name, settled here, and made many improvements. As early as 1514 the Portuguese traveller Barbosa describes Surat as a very important seaport, ' frequented by many ships from Malabar and all other parts.' Two years before the Portuguese had burnt the town, an outrage which they repeated in 1530 and 1531. Thereupon the Ahmadabad king gave orders for building a stronger fort, completed about 1546. In 1572 Surat fell into the hands of the Mirzas, then in rebellion against the emperor Akbar. Early in the succeeding year Akbar arrived in person before the town, which he captured after a vigorous siege. For 160 years the city and District remained under the administration of otftcers appointed by the Mughal court. During the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan, Surat enjoyed unbroken peace, and rose to be one of the first mercantile cities of India. In Akbar's great revenue survey the city is mentioned as a first-class port, ruled by two distinct officers.

After 1573 the Portuguese remained undisputed masters of the Surat seas. But in 1608 an English ship arrived at the mouth of the Tapti, bringing letters from James I. to the emperor Jahangir. Mukarrab Khan, the Mughal governor, allowed the captain to bring his merchan- dise into the town. Next year a second English ship arrived off Gujarat, but was wrecked on the Surat coast. The Portuguese en- deavoured to prevent the shipwrecked crew from settling in the town, and they accordingly went up to x\gra with their captain. In 1609 the son of the last Musalman king of Ahmadabad attempted unsuccess- fully to recover Surat from the Mughals. Two years later a small fleet of three English ships arrived in the Tapti ; but as the Portuguese occupied the coast and entrance, the English admiral, Sir H. Middleton, was compelled to anchor outside. Small skirmishes took place between the rival traders, until in the end the English withdrew. In 16 12, how- ever, the governor of Gujarat concluded a treaty, by which the English were permitted to trade at Surat, Cambay, Ahmadabad, and Gogha. After a fierce fight with the Portuguese, they made good their position, established their first factory in India, and shortly afterwards obtained a charter (farman) from the emperor. Surat thus became the seat of a presidency of the East India Company. The Company's ships usually anchored in a roadstead north of the mouth of the Tapti, called in old books ' Swally ' or ' Swally Hole,' but correctly Suvali. Con- tinued intrigues between the Portuguese and the Mughals made the position of the English traders long uncertain, till Sir Thomas Roe arrived in 1615, and went on to Ajmer, where Jahangir then held his court. After three years' residence there, Roe returned to the coast in 1618, bringing important privileges for the English. Mean- while the Dutch also had made a settlement in Surat, and obtained leave to establish a factory.

Early travellers describe the city as populous and wealthy, with handsome houses and a busy trade. The fifty years between the establishment of the English and Dutch and the accession of Aurang- zeb were remarkable for increasing prosperity. With the access of wealth the city improved greatly in appearance. During the busy winter months lodgings could hardly be obtained owing to the influx of people. Caravans passed between Surat and Golconda, Agra, Delhi, and Lahore. Ships arrived from the Konkan and the Malabar coast ; while from the outer world, besides the flourishing European trade, merchants came from Arabia, the Persian Gulf, Ceylon, and Acheen in Sumatra. Silk and cotton cloth formed the chief articles of export. European ships did not complete the lading and unlading of their cargoes at Surat ; but having disposed of a part of their goods, and laid in a stock of indigo for the home market, they took on board a supply of Gujarat manufactures for the eastern trade, and sailed to Acheen and Bantam, where they exchanged the remainder of their European and Indian merchandise for spices. The Dutch in particular made Surat their principal factory in India, while the French also had a small settlement here.

Under Aurangzeb the District suffered from frequent Maratha raids, which, however, did little to impair its mercantile position. The silting up of the head of the Cambay Gulf, the disturbed state of Northern Gujarat, and the destruction of Diu by the Maskat Arabs in 1670, combined to centre the trade of the province upon Surat. Its position as ' the gate of Mecca ' or the ' blessed port ' (Bandar Mubarak) was further increased in importance by the religious zeal of Aurangzeb. But the rise of the predatory Maratha power put a temporary check on its prosperity. The first considerable Maratha raid took place in 1664, when Sivajl suddenly appeared before Surat, and pillaged the city unopposed for three days. He collected in that short time a booty estimated at a million sterling. The English and Dutch factories were bravely defended by their inmates, who succeeded in saving a portion of the city. Encouraged by this success, the Maratha leader returned in the year 1669, and once more plundered Surat. Thenceforward for several years a Maratha raid was almost an annual certainty. The Europeans usually retired to their factories on these occasions, and endeavoured, by conciliating the Marathas, to save their own interests. Nevertheless the city probably reached its highest pitch of wealth during this troublous period at the end of the seventeenth century. It contained a population estimated at 200,000 persons, and its buildings, especially two handsome mosques, were not unworthy of its commercial greatness. In 1695 it is described as 'the prime mart of India,— all nations of the world trading there ; no ship trading in the Indian Ocean but what puts into Surat to buy, sell, or load.'

But the importance of Surat to the English East India Company declined considerably during the later part of Aurangzeb's reign, partly owing to the growing value of Bombay, and partly to disorders in the city itself. In 1678 the settlement was reduced to an agency, though three years later it once more became a presidency. In 1684 orders were received to transfer the chief seat of the Company's trade to Bombay— a transfer actually effected in 1687. During the greater part of this period the Dutch were the most successful traders in Surat.

From the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the authority of the Delhi court gradually declined, and the Marathas established their power up to the very walls of Surat. The governors nominally appointed by the Mughals employed themselves chiefly in fighting with the Hindu intruders for the country just beyond the gates. At length, in 1733, Teg Bakht Khan, governor of the city, declared himself independent ; and for twenty-seven years Surat remained under a native dynasty. For the first thirteen years of this period Teg Bakht Khan maintained unbroken control over the city; but after his death in 1746 complete anarchy for a time prevailed. The English and Dutch took an active part in the struggles for the succession, sometimes in concert and sometimes as partisans of the rival competitors. In 1759 internal faction had rendered trade so insecure that the authorities at Bombay determined to make an attack upon Surat, with the sanction of the Marathas, now practically masters of Western India. After a slight resistance the governor capitulated, and the English became supreme in Surat. For forty-one years the government of the new dependency was practically carried on by the conquerors, but the governors or Nawabs still retained a show of independence until 1800. The earlier years of English rule brought prosperity again to the city, which increased in size, owing partly to the security of British protection and partly to the sudden development of a great export trade in raw cotton with China. The population of the city was estimated at 800,000 persons, though this figure is doubtless excessive. Towards the close of the century, however, the general disorder of all Central and Western India, and the repeated wars in Europe, combined to weaken its prosperity. Two local events, the storm of 1782 and the famine of 1790, also contributed to drive away trade, the greater part of which now centred in Bombay.

In 1799 the last nominally independent Nawab died, and an arrangement was effected with his brother by which the government became wholly vested in the British, the new Nawab retaining only the title and a considerable pension. The political management of Surat, up to May 14, iSoo, hud first I^een under ;ui officfr styled ' Chief for the Affairs of the British Nation, and Governor of the Mughal Castle and Fleet of Surat,' and subsequently under a lieutenant-governor. The last of these was Mr. Daniel Seton, whose monument is in the cathedral at Bombay. By the proclamation of Jonathan Duncan, dated May 15, 1800, Surat District was placed under a Collector, Mr. E. Galley, and a Judge and Magistrate, Mr. Alexander Ramsay, one of whom, generally the Judge, was also in political charge of the titular Nawabs and the small chiefs in the neighbourhood as Agent to the Governor of Bombay. The arrangements of 1800 put the English in possession of Surat and Rander. Subsequent cessions under the Treaties of Bassein (1802) and Poona (181 7), together with the lapse of the Mandvi State in 1839, brought the District into its present shape. The title of Nawab became extinct in 1842. Since the introduction of British rule Surat has remained free from external attacks and from internal anarchy, the only considerable breach of the public peace having been occasioned by a Musalman disturbance in 1810. During the Mutiny of 1857 Surat enjoyed unbroken tranquillity, due in great measure to the steadfast loyalty of its leading Muhammadan family, that of the late Saiyid Edroos.

The District contains many buildings upwards of three centuries old. Some of the mosques have been constructed out of Jain temples, as, for example, the Jama Masjid, the Mian, Kharwa, and Munshi's mosque at Rander. Specimens of excellent wood-carving are to be found on many of the older houses in Surat city. There are famous Dutch and English cemeteries outside the city. Vaux's tomb at the mouth of the Tapti deserves mention. The tomb bears no inscription, but in the upper part is a chamber used by the English in former times as a meeting-place for parties of pleasure. Vaux was a book-keeper to Sir Josiah Child, and finally rose to be Deputy-Governor of Bombay. He was drowned in the Tapti in 1697.


The Census of 1851 returned the total number of inhabitants at 492,684. The population at each of the last four enumerations was: (1872) 607,087, (1881) 614,198, (1891) Population. 649,989, and (1901) 637,017. The decline in the last decade was due to the famine of 1899-1900. The area, population, &c., of the eight talukas in 1901 are given in the table on the next page.

The District contains 770 villages and 8 towns, the largest being Surat City, the head-quarters and chief commercial centre, Bulsar, Rander, Bardoli, and Pardi. The density of population is 385 persons per square mile, and it thus stands second for density among the 24 Districts of the Presidency. The Mandvi taluka is sparsely peopled, on account of the unhealthiness of the climate. The lan- guage in ordinary use is Gujarat!, spoken by 608,254, or 95 per cent. of the population. Hindus form 86 per cent, of the total ; Musalmans, 8 per cent. ; ParsTs and Jains, 2 per cent. each.

The chief cultivating castes are the Anavla Brahmans (25,000), Kunbis (38,000), and Kolls (100,000). Rajputs (9,000), Musalman Bohras (15,000), and a few Parsis are also to be found among agricul- turists. Of the aboriginal races, Dublas (78,000) with their numerous sections, Dhodias (51,000), and Chodhras (30,000) are the most im- portant. The leading artisan classes are Ghanchis (oilmen, 12,000), Golas (rice-huskers, 8,000), Khattris (weavers, 11,ooo), and Kumbhars (potters, 11,000). The Vanis or traders number 12,000. Among depressed classes, the Dhers (30,000) are numerically important. The Dhers of Surat are active and intelligent, and are largely employed by Europeans as domestic servants. Surat, in spite of the commercial importance of its chief town, is still essentially a rural District. Nearly 60 per cent, of the population are supported by agriculture, while the industrial class forms 35 per cent.

The Christian population of Surat District in 1901 was 1,092. Of these, about 600 are native Christians. A branch of the Irish Pres- byterian Mission has been established in Surat city since 1846, and maintains 2 high schools, 18 primary schools, an orphanage with 125 inmates, and a printing-press, established by the London Missionary Society in 1820, which published thirty-six English and vernacular books in 1904. In 1894 the Dunker Brethren, an American mission, was established at Bulsar, and now maintains an orphanage, a technical school, and several village schools.


The soils, all more or less alluvial in character, belong for agricul- tural purposes to three chief classes : black, light, and the hesar or medium. Apart from the Olpad taluka, where black soil is most common, two broad belts of black soil run through the District. Of these, one passes along the sea-coast, the other through the Pardi and Chikli talukas near the foot of the eastern hills. Light soil is commonest near the banks of the Tapti, Ambika, and Auranga rivers. This is the richest soil of the District, producing in rapid succession the most luxuriant crops. Patches of besar are to be found in almost every part of the District. The most striking feature in agriculture is the difference between the tillage of the ujli or fair races, and that of the kdla or dark aboriginal cultiva- tors. The dark races ordinarily use only the rudest processes ; grow little save the coarser kinds of grain, seldom attempting to raise wheat or millet ; and have no implements for weeding or cleaning the fields. After sowing their crops they leave the land, and only return some months later for the harvest. As soon as they have gathered in their crops, they barter the surplus grain for liquor. In the more settled parts of the District, however, the dark races are now improving their mode of tillage. The fair cultivators, on the other hand, who own the rich alluvial soil of the lowlands, are among the most industrious and intelligent in Western India.

The District is almost entirely ryotivdri, with some inam lands. The chief statistics of cultivation in 1903-4 are shown below, in square miles : —


Rice and jowdr are the staple crops, with an area of 157 and 172 square miles respectively. Rice is grown chiefly on the black or red soil in the neighbourhood of tanks or ponds, with vdl or castor oil as a second crop. Joivdr is largely grown in the northern part of the District. Cotton covers 154 square mile.s, chiefly in the Tapti valley; it is also spreading south. Kodra forms the food of the poorest classes. Among pulses the most important is tiir (37 square miles); vdl occupies 74 square miles. Wheat and bajra occupy 56 and 14 square miles respectively. In the south of the District castor oil is extensively cultivated. Efforts have from time to time been made to improve the staple of the local cotton, and an improved variety of sugar-cane from Mauritius was introduced in 1836. It is now the favourite crop in irrigated land in the Jalalpur and Bulsar talukas. There is an experi- mental farm in the District, but the results so far attained are not sufficiently important to claim notice. During the decade ending 1903-4, nearly 9 lakhs were advanced to cultivators for land improve- ments and the purchase of seed and cattle, of which 4.1 lakhs was lent in 1899-1900 and 2.5 lakhs in the two succeeding years.

The indigenous or talabda bullock is generally,of medium size, and is used chiefly for agricultural purposes. The large muscular bullocks or hedia are brought from Northern Gujarat. A third class of bullock, small but hardy and swift, is much used in harness. The cows and buffaloes of the District are much esteemed -the cows for their appear- ance and the buffaloes for their yield of milk.

The Bulsar taluka is famous for its breed of patiri goats, which are good milkers, and are highly prized in Bombay.

Of the total cultivated area, 22 square miles, or 3 percent., were irrigated in 1903-4: 13 from tanks and 9 from wells. The chief sources are: Government works, 301 in number; wells, 7,147; tanks, 1,114; 'others,' 42. Of the total irrigated area, about 3,200 acres are under sugar-cane.

There are no fresh-water fisheries, but the rivers contain fish of large size. The sea fisheries employ a fleet of many hundred boats.

Though on the whole well clothed with trees, the District does not possess many revenue-yielding trees, except toddy-palms, which are tapped for liquor. In the Chikhli taluka a small area under teak has been set apart as a forest Reserve. A rough hilly tract in the east and north-east of Mandvi is the only area suitable for forest. The total area of forests is 72 square miles, which is almost entirely in the charge of the Forest department, represented by a divisional Forest officer assisted by an Extra-Assistant Conservator. The forest revenue in 1903-4, including the revenue from the Dangs, was Rs. 37,500.

Surat is well supplied with building stone. Good material for road metal, though scarce, can be obtained at from Rs. 3 to Rs. 7/2 per 100 cubic feet from Pardi and Bulsar. Ironstone is common, but iron is not worked. Metallic sand accumulates at the mouths of rivers, and is used instead of blotting-paper by the writing classes. Agate or carnelian, locally known as hakik, is obtained from the trap and sold to the lapidaries of Cambay.

Trade and communications

The brocades of Surat, worked with gold and silver flowers on a silk ground; had a reputation in former times. Surat city was also famed for its coarse and coloured cottons, while Broach had a name for muslins. From Surat also came elegant targets of rhinoceros hide, which was brought over from Africa, and polished in Surat until it glistened like tortoise-shell.

The shield was studded with silver nails and then sold at a price vary- ing from Rs. 30 to Rs. 50. Ship-building was at one time an important industry, to a great extent in the hands of the Parsis. The largest vessels were engaged in the China trade, and were from 500 to 1,000 tons burden. Many of the ships were built on European lines. They were mostly manned by English crews and flew the English flag. The sea-borne trade from the ports has greatly fallen off of late years. The industries of Surat city suffered from the damage done to the houses and workshops in the great fire of 1889, when property valued at 25 lakhs was destroyed. At the present time the weaving of cotton and silk goods is the chief industry of the District. There are three steam factories in Surat city, containing 34,290 spindles and 180 looms, which spin and weave annually nearly 3 million pounds of cotton yarn and about half a million pounds of cotton cloth. They employ 1,288 persons. Except among the aboriginal tribes, hand-weaving is every- where common. Silk brocades and embroideries are still manufactured in Surat city. They have a widespread reputation, and exhibit skill of a high order. Nowhere in the Presidency are finer fabrics woven on hand-looms. There is one salt-work in the District, which yields annually 300,000 maunds, valued at 13/2 lakhs.

Trade centres chiefly in the towns of Surat and Bulsar, as well as in the seaport of Bilimora (Baroda territory). The total value of the exports from the seven seaports which afforded an outlet for the produce of the District in 1874 amounted to nearly 89/2 lakhs, and that of the imports to 7 lakhs. These figures include the value of com- modities shipped and received at Baroda ports. The two principal seaports are Surat city and Bulsar. The value of the exports from these taken together was 13 lakhs in 1903-4; and of the imports about 18 lakhs. The exports include grain, cotton, pulse, mahud fruit, timber, and bamboos ; the imports include tobacco, cotton-seed, iron, coco-nuts, and European goods.

There are 462 miles of road, of which 100 miles are metalled, con- necting the principal towns with the railway. Of the metalled roads, 2i miles of provincial and 142/2 of local roads are maintained by the Public Works department. Avenues of trees are maintained along 190 miles. The only important bridges for cart traffic are those over the Tapti at Surat, and over the Tena creek near Olpad. The Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway runs through the District parallel to the coast for about 60 miles, crossing the Tapti at Surat city on a fine iron-girder bridge. The Tapti Valley Railway, 155 miles in length, which joins Surat to the Great Indian Peninsula system at Amalner in Khandesh District, was opened in 1900. It traverses the District for 11 miles.


History records severe famine in the years 1623, 1717, 1747, and 1803. From the commencement of British rule, however, until 1899 no famine was sufficiently intense to cause suffering to the people. Owing to the failure of the late rains in 1899 distress rapidly developed ; and, in December of that year, there were 4,700 persons on relief works. By March, 1900, the number had increased to 15,000. In July, 1900, there were 35,000 on the works, including 29,000 in receipt of gratuitous relief. Surat, however, escaped the severity of the famine in the adjoining Districts.

The total increase in the number of deaths from all causes during the famine was 30,000, and the population decreased 2 per cent, between 1891 and 1901. The total expenditure in connexion with famine relief in this and the adjacent District of Broach exceeded 97/2 lakhs, and 4 lakhs of land revenue was remitted in Surat District. It is calculated that over 50,000 cattle perished in the drought. Floods on the Tapti river have frequently caused great damage to Surat City, in the article on which some particulars of the most disastrous floods are given.


The District is divided into three subdivisions, in charge of an Assistant Collector and two Deputy-Collectors. It contains 8 talukas : namely, Bardoli, Bulsar, Chikhli, Chorasi, Jalalpur, Mandvi,

olpad, and Pardi. Bardoli includes the petty sub- division (pefha) of Valod. The Collector is Political Agent for Sachin State, which is administered by the Assistant Col- lector, subject to his control. The States of Bansda and Dharampur and the Dangs estate are also under his political control, the Assistant Political Agent for the latter estate being the divisional Forest officer.

The District and Sessions Judge, with whom is associated a Judge of a Small Cause Court, is assisted by one Assistant Judge and four Sub- ordinate Judges, sitting one at Olpad, two at Surat, and one at Bulsar. There are twelve officers to administer criminal justice. The city of Surat forms a separate magisterial charge under a City Magistrate. The District is remarkably free from crime, offences against the excise law being the most numerous.

At the time of annexation, the garasias, or large landowners of Surat, claimed, as the representatives of the original Hindu proprietors, a share of the land revenue, and levied their dues at the head of an armed force. In 1813 Government undertook to collect the amount of these claims by its own officers. In addition to the garasias, there were numerous desais or middlemen to whom the land revenue was farmed under the old regime. To decrease the power and influence of these desais, the British Government (181 4) appointed accountants to each village, who collected the revenue direct from the cultivators, thus rendering the practice of farming unnecessary. No change was made in the old rates until 1833, when, in consequence of the fall in prices, they were revised and con- siderably reduced. In 1836 committees were appointed to divide the soil into classes and fix equitable rates; and between 1863 and 1882 the survey settlement was introduced, which raised the total revenue demand from 37/2 to 43/2 lakhs. A revision was made between 1897 and 1905. The new survey found an excess in the cultivated area of 4 per cent, over the amount shown in the accounts, and the settlement enhanced the total revenue by 4 per cent., or nearly one lakh. The average rates of assessment are: 'dry' land, Rs. 2-11 (maximum scale, Rs. 7-8; minimum scale, R. 1); rice land, Rs. 8-1 (maximum scale, Rs. 7-8; minimum scale, Rs. 1-4); and garden land, Rs. 8-11 (maxi- mum scale, Rs. 12 ; minimum scale, Rs. 5).

Collections on account of land revenue and revenue from all sources have been, in thousands of rupees : —


There are four municipaUties in the District : namely, Surat, Rander, BULSAR, and Mandvi. Outside of these, local affairs are managed by the District board and eight tdluka boards. The receipts of the local boards amounted in 1903-4 to about 3 lakhs, and the expenditure to 5/2 lakhs, including one lakh spent on roads and buildings.

The District Superintendent of police is assisted by 2 inspectors. There are altogether 11 police stations. The total number of police- men is 881, under 11 chief constables, besides 14 mounted police under 2 daffadars. There are 9 subsidiary jails and 9 lock-ups in the District, with accommodation for 208 persons. The daily average number of prisoners in 1904 was 69, of whom 5 were females.

Surat stands second among the twenty-four Districts of the Presi- dency for the literacy of its inhabitants, of whom 13.3 per cent. (24.5 males and 2.4 females) could read and write in 1901. In 1880-1 the District contained 293 schools with 19,363 pupils. The latter had increased to 28,658 in 1890-1, and to 31,902 in 1900-1. In 1903-4 the District possessed 480 schools, attended by 31,719 pupils, includ- ing 6,363 girls. Of these institutions, 6 are high schools, 26 middle, 341 primary, and one a special industrial school. Of the 374 public institutions, 2 are managed by Government, 312 by local or muni- cipal boards, 36 are aided, and 24 unaided. The total expenditure on education in 1903-4 amounted to nearly 5/2 lakhs, of which 64 per cent, was devoted to primary education.

In 1904 the District possessed one hospital and twelve dispen- saries, including one for women at Surat. These institutions con- tain accommodation for 120 in-patients. Including 1,541 in-patients, the number of persons treated in 1904 was 86,000 and the number of operations performed 2,721. The expenditure on medical relief was Rs. 39,000, of which Rs. 17,000 was met from Local and municipal funds.

The number of persons successfully vaccinated in 1903-4 was 16,091, representing the proportion of 25.3 per 1,000 of population, which is slightly above the average for the Presidency.

[Sir J. M, Campbell, Bombay Gazetteer, vol. ii (Surat and Broach)


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