In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Benares, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing 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]

BENARES, one of the Northwest provinces, Hindoostan, formerly included in that of Allahabad, presid. Bengal. It lies chiefly between latitude 24˚ and 26 N., and longitude 82˚ and 84 30 East and is divided into five districts, the names of which, with their area, population, &c., will be seen in the accompanying table:

About five-sixths of the whole consist of a well-cultivated flat on both sides of the Ganges, abundantly watered by that river, and by the Goomty, Caramnassa, Sone, &c. The climate, which is cold enough in winter to make fires agree able, is in summer scorching, from the northwest winds which set in after March, and continue for three months. Not much rice is grown.

The chief productions are wheat, barley, legumes, flax, indigo, tobacco, betel-nut, sugar, and opium. The last is a Government monopoly, and Benares and Bahar are the only provinces of Bengal presidency in which its cultivation is allowed. Benares is one of the most flourishing provinces in India. The chief manufactures are flowered muslins, brocades, and ornamented gauzes; some salt, of in ferior quality, is made, but the greater part is imported. The principal export is indigo.

In 1775, the Nabob of Oude ceded Benares to the East India Company, and the Rajah has since become merely a stipendiary. [I, 372]


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 22 November 2018