In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Agra, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing, subtitles, and links. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851. This discussion of a major city in British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]
AGRA, is a government, province, and district in Hindoostan. The government includes the northwest provinces of Delhi, Meerut, Rohilcund, Agra, Allahabad, and Benares (which see), contain ing an area of 51,861 square miles and a population of 19,733,742.
The province of Agra, capitol of the same name, is situated chiefly between latitude 25˚ and 28˚ North and is bounded on the Easy by by Oude and Allahabad, on the South by Malwa, the Wesy by Ajmeer, and North by Delhi. It is about 250 miles long, and 180 broad, and is subdivided into five districts, which, with their area, population, &c., are exhibited in the following table:
The average rate of the land tax on the total cultivation, according to the table by Mr. Thornton in the Journal of the Statistical Society, from which the preceding is an extract, is 4s. &d. per acre. The province is watered by the Ganges, the Jumna, the Chumbul, and various smaller streams. It is generally flat, and destitute of wood, but the South and Westare hilly, and abound in jungles, which swarm with peacocks. In many parts there is a great deficiency of water, the smaller streams being either absorbed by the heat, or turned aside by the cultivators of the soil, for purposes of irrigation, before they reach the larger; wells are, therefore, the only other resource of the inhabitants.
Climate and Agriculture
The climate, except during the prevalence of the hot winds, is temperate and healthy, and, in winter nights, cool; but, on the whole, unfavourable to European constitutions. The soil is well adapted for the cultivation of indigo, cotton, tobacco, and sugar. Various kinds of grain and pulse, includ ing millet, barley, wheat, &c., are also raised. Wheat and barley, however, form the principal crops ; rye and oats being hardly known. Owing to the scarcity of water, rice is little cultivated except in the vicinity of rivers. Cotton is the staple product. Agra has the common breeds of cattle and sheep, with horses of a good description.
There are some marble and sandstone quarries ; and copper has been found, but not in a situation favourable to mining. Silks and muslins were formerly manufactured, but the principal article of manufacture is coarse cotton cloth, the exportation of which has latterly much declined. This province, which was marked out by the Emperor Akbar, is now entirely either in possession, or under the control, of Great Britain.
Population and Languages
The natives, who are principally Hindoos and Mahometans, are handsome and robust, and much superior to the natives of the more E. pro vinces. The Hindoostanee is the colloquial, and the Persian, or English, the official language.
The District of Agra
The DISTRICT of Agra extends in a southeast direction along both banks of the Jumna, to its junction with the Chumbul. The portion of the district within these two rivers is a table land, about 60 ft. above the beds of these streams, and is composed of a light soil. In the dry season, the tanks and rivulets are without water. The entire area of the district is 1,188,414 acres The quantity of cultivated land is 813,655 acres, and of culturable land 92,931. The natives of Agra, and of many of the contiguous territories, have long been notorious for their predatory habits, which, previously to British ascendency, were connived at, and encouraged by, the Zemindars, or landholders, who shared in the plunder thus obtained. The total population amounts to 657,182; of which 586,256 are Hindoos, and 70,926 Mahometans and others, not Hindoos.
Sources of this entry: (Hamilton’s East India Gazetteer: Historical and Descriptive Account of British India; Journal of the Statistical Society of London, 1847.)