In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Cawnpoor, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing and links. The illustration is in the original. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851. This discussion of this city in British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the events there during the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]

The Town of Cawnpoor

CAWNPOOR, or CAUNPORE, a town and district of Hindoostan, in the presidency of Bengal, Northwest provinces. The TOWN, on right bank of the Ganges, which is here about a mile in breadth, is 115 miles from Northwest of Allahabad; latitude 26˚ 30 North; Longitude 80˚ 12 East. It is of considerable extent, but is, on the whole, mean-looking and dirty, with exception of the chowk or principal street, which is composed of well-built brick houses, two or three stories high, with balconies in front. Hardly any of its temples or mosques are worth noticing, with exception of one small musjid, an elegant little structure, ornamented with three egg-shaped domes, a large one in the centre, and a smaller on each side, and having a tall and graceful minaret at either end. Saddlery, harness, gloves, and jewellery are manufactured here to some extent.

Mosque at Cawpore. 1856. “From an original drawing by Captain R. Smith, 44th Reg[imen]t.” Source: The Imperial Gazetteer, I, 8. Click on image to enlarge it.

Cawnpoor is one of the most important military stations in India. The cantonments extend along the right bank of the Ganges for nearly 7 miles , comprising many hundred bungalows, the barracks for the troops, and the bazaars, the whole presenting a very imposing appearance. Several of the bungalows are most picturesquely situated on the lofty banks of the river, which here rise to a height of 100 feet; they are fitted up luxuriously, and have extensive gardens, in which tamarinds, mangoes, bananas, neemes, acacias, and fig-trees overshadow a rich expanse of flowers, of the most brilliant colours and grateful perfume. The bungalows are mostly built of cucha or sun-baked bricks, and roofed with tiles or thatch ; the latter, however, is preferred, on account of its keeping the apartments much cooler, the tiles becoming so heated by the sun as to render the house inside like an oven. Within the cantonments are a handsome suit of assembly-rooms, supported by voluntary subscription; and a commodious and elegant theatre, a public drive, called the Course, a fashionable resort after sunset; a race-course, and several club-rooms. There are here, also, a Protestant church, a Roman Catholic chapel, and schools for the children of the soldiers.

Cawnpoor is well supplied with every description of goods, both European and native, which are to be had on very moderate terms. In May and June the thermometer ranges from 98 [Fahrenheit] to 104; and in the winter months falls as low as 42 at night, but in the day stands at 70. During at least half the year, the roads through and about the cantonment are ankle-deep in dust, which, when a Northwest wind blows, is whirled into the air in dense clouds, so thick, that frequently an object cannot be seen half a dozen yards off; totally obscuring the sun, and penetrating into every room in the house, notwithstanding the precaution of instantly closing every door and window. About 2 miles Northeast stands the old town of Cawnpoor, where there is a long range of handsome ghauts, adorned with a few temples, and terminated by the palace of the Rajah, a striking and picturesque object, but now falling into ruin. The military force quartered at Cawnpoor usually amounts to 8000 men, of various arms.

The District of Cawnpoor

The DISTRICT, composed of cessions to the British Government by the Nabob of Oude, is bounded, East by the Ganges, and on the other sides by the districts of Etawah, Futtehpoor, and Bundelcund; area, 2650 square miles ; flat, but productive in wheat, barley, maize, rice, sugar-cane, cotton, grain, Indian millet, and indigo. Potatoes, pease, cauliflower, and many other vegetables grow in the gardens, but the former are insipid. [I, 632-33]

Related material


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 8 November 2018