Santal Parganas, The
district miles east
SANTAL PARGANAS, THE, a British district in the lieutenant-governorship of Bengal, forming the southern portion of the Bhagalpur division, and lying between 23° 48' and 25° 19' N. lat., and between 86° 30' and 87° 58' E. long. The total area of the district is 5456 square miles ; it is bounded on the north by the districts of Bhagalpur and Purniah, on the east by Maldah, Murshi&bad, and Birblim, on the south by Bardwan and Manblim, and on the west by Hazaribagh and Bhagalpur. Three distinct types of country are represented within the area of the Santal Parganas : in the east a sharply defined belt of hills stretches for about a hundred miles from the Ganges to the Naubil River ; west of this point a rolling tract of long ridges with intervening depressions covers an area of about 2500 square miles ; while the third type is exemplified by a narrow strip of flat alluvial country about 170 miles long, lying for the most part along the loop line of the East Indian Railway. The Rajmahal Hills are the only range of any importance in the district, and occupy an area of 1366 square miles ; but they nowhere exceed 2000 feet in height. Several other hill ranges occur, which are with few exceptions covered almost to their summits with dense jungle ; they are all difficult of access; there are, however, numerous passes through all the ranges. Coal and iron are found in almost all parts of the country, but the coal is of such inferior quality that all attempts to work it have failed. -Wild animals, including tigers, leopards, bears, hymnas, deer, and wild pig, with a variety of small game, are common almost everywhere. The climate varies : the alluvial tract has the damp heat and moist soil characteristic of Bengal, while the undulating and hilly portions are swept by the hot westerly winds of Behar, and are very cool in the winter months. The average annual rainfall is over 50 inches. The district is traversed on the east by the loop line, and on the west by the chord line, of the East Indian Railway ; the total length of railway is about 130 miles.
The census of 1881 disclosed a total population in the SantAl ParganAs of 1,568,093 (males 785,330, females 782,763) ; Hindus numbered 847,590, Mohammedans 108,899, and Christians 3057. The total number of persons belonginF to the aboriginal tribes was 605,517, of whom the great majonty (537,546) wero Santdls.
For an account of this interesting tribe, see INDIA, vol, xii. p. 778. The population is almost entirely rural ; only two towns contain over 5000 inhabitants each, viz., Deoghar, which is the only municipality, with a population of 8015, and Shahebgange with 6512. The administrative headquarters are at Naya Dumka.
Rice forms the staple crop of the Santa' Parganis, and is largely grown in the alluvial strip of country which runs along the eastern boundary of the district. Other crops are millets, wheat, barley, maize, various pulses and oil-seeds, jute, flax, sugar-cane, cotton, and indigo. The district is singularly destitute of any local manufactures ; iron is roughly smelted. by Kol settlers from Chutia Nagpur; coarse cloth is woven as a domestic manufacture, and bell-metal utensils are made to a small extent ; indigo is also manufactured. The trade is carried on by means of permanent markets. Exports consist chiefly of rice, Indian corn, oil seeds, tasar-silk cocoons, lac, Small-sized timber, and hill bamboos; while European piece goods, salt, and brass or bell-metal utensils for household use compose the bulk of the imports. In 1883-84 the gross revenue of the district amounted to £45,437, of which the land-tax yielded £22, 556.
Tho Santo's have been known to the British since the latter part of the 18th century. In 1832 two Government officials were deputed to demarcate with solid masonry pillars the present area of the Daman-i-Koh, or skirts of the hills. The permission to Santils to settle in the valleys and on the lower slopes of the Daman stimulated Santal immigration to an enormous extent. The Hindu money-lender soon made his appearance amongst them, and led to the rebellion of 1855-56. The insurrection was not quelled without bloodshed, but it led to the establishment of a form of administration congenial to the immigrants ; and a land settlement has since been carried out on conditions favourable to the occupants of the soil.