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The Gazetteer of India: History and Culture (Volume Two)

The Gazetteer of India: History and Culture (Volume Two)
Item Code: IDF411
Author: Dr. P. N. Chopra
Publisher: Publications Division, Government of India
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9788123019505
Pages: 884
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.4" X 6.2"
weight of the book: 1.330 kg

From the Back of the Book:

This volume deals with the history and culture of India. The approach to the subjects treated in this volume is essentially Indian and the emphasis has been on the social, cultural, economic and artistic life of the people. The necessary background of political history has also been given along with chapters on economic life, society, religion, literature, art and architecture. As this book is a reprint the original foreword and preface to the first edition have been retained.

Eminent scholars in different fields are contributors to this volume. Dr. P. N. Chopra has edited this book.



I have pleasure in introducing to the reading public the Second Volume of the Gazetteer of India which deals with “History and Culture”. It is not to be considered as a revised of the corresponding volume of the Imperial Gazetteer of India. It has been entirely re-written, following a completely different plan. Emphasis has been shifted form political history, which has been given only as a background. The many facets of our rich and varied culture life through the ages have been given due importance. Important landmark in the development of various regional languages of India have been mentioned. It has been shown that in spite of the apparent diversity, there is an underlying unity and the volume presents a coherent picture of our history and culture from the earliest times.

The approach to the subjects treated in this volume is essentially Indian. Every effort has been made to analyse the various forces and influences that were at work at different times and which contributed to the process of social change and shaped subsequent history. The history of India’s struggle for freedom has been given proper emphasis and every effort has been made to tell the story of our country’s emancipation with veracity and precision.

The contributors to this volume are men of distinction in their chosen fields. They have lent to this work the benefit of their profound scholarship. I hope it will be welcomed not only by students and scholars of history, but by all those interested in the history and culture of India, whether in this country or abroad.



We are happy to present the second volume of the Gazetteer of India which deals with the history and culture of our ancient land. This volume follows an entirely new scheme of treatment which is more systematic and more informative than the relevant volume of the earlier series. The Imperial Gazetteer Volume on History had been written from the point of view of an imperial power. It was felt that a fresh treatment was necessary in order to present the history of a free nation in its correct perspective. Although many works exist on Indian history, Prof. Humayun Kabir, the then Minister of State for Cultural Affairs, felt that there was need for a standard book on history written with a new approach. He expressed the hope that it would serve as an authoritative text-book on history for the people not only in India but outside as well. It was proposed by him that the English version should be translated into all the major Indian Languages. He was also of the view that an abridged edition of about 300 pages might be issued for students. In view of the importance attached to these volumes, a Central Advisory Board was constituted for the revision of Gazetteers. It was presided over by Prof. Humayun Kabir and several eminent persons were its members. The Board appointed a number of sub-committees for finalizing the plan of Volume II History and Cultural particularly as regards the periodization of Indian history, separate treatment of social, economic and cultural aspects as also the history of South India. The views of several eminent historians such as Dr. K.C. Majumdar, Dr. Tara Chand, Prof. K.A. N. Sastri, Dr. K.K. Datta, Dr. B.P. Saksena, Dr. N.K. Sinha and Dr. K.K. Pillai were solicited. In the new plan, It was decided to adopt a chronological division of Indian history into' Ancient', 'Medieval' and Modem' periods. Most of the scholars agreed that the 'Ancient' period should end at A.D. 1206, while the 'Modem' period may be taken to commence from A.D. 1761.

The main emphasis in this volume has been on the social, cultural, economic and artistic life of the people. The necessary background of political history has, of course, been given with it. The political history of each period is followed by chapters on economic life, society, religion, literature, art and architecture. For instance in the 'Ancient' period, we have three chapters devoted to cultural studies, government and economic life, society, religion, literature and art and architecture. Indeed, the attention paid in the old gazetteer to the life of the common man and the cultural heritage of the country was not only inadequate but also unsystematic. The new plan has sought to correct this shortcoming. The history of South India has been with, so far as possible, as an integral part of the general history of the country. It may be recalled that the old gazetteer had a separate chapter on the Hindu period in South India up to the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire. It was also decided that the clash between the rising Indian political organizations and the British rulers should be examined in a separate chapter entitled the 'Indian National Movement'. Besides, an exhaustive chapter on the source-materials of Indian history has also been added. It has been our endeavour to mention almost all the important sources-Indian and foreign-which throw light on the history of India. This chapter will be of immense use to scholars for research purposes. It would not perhaps be incorrect to say that this volume as the only authoritative history of India published by the Government of India and written with the cooperation of a very large number of distinguished scholars.

Eminent scholars in different fields were appointed as contributors to the various sections in this volume. It was however, found that there were a number of points on which there was difference of opinion among the scholars. In view of this, it was decided to set up a small Advisory Committee with Prof. Sher Singh, the then Minister of State for Education, as Chairman. The members of the Committee were Dr. R.C. Majumdar, Dr. A.D. Pusalker, Dr. A.L. Srivastava, Dr. P.C. Gupta, Prof. P.K.K. Menon, Prof. S.H. Askari, Shri Jai Chandra Vidyalankar and the Editor (Gazetteers) The members of the Committee were required to go through the drafts of the chapters in which they had specialized and to offer suggestions. I am grateful to Prof. K.N. V. Sastri for his help and co-operation in scrutinizing the draft and to Dr. Bhabani Bhattacharya for having seen it from the literary point of view.

It was, indeed a challenging task for the Editor and the officers of the Gazetteers Unit to scrutinize the contributions of over a hundred scholars, verify the facts, introduce uniformity, and also avoid overlapping, as far as possible. The task of giving diacritical marks on all vernacular terms was equally trying. It was rendered all the more difficult in view of the fact that there are more than fourteen major Indian languages besides Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic. The printing of the volume presented quite a problem as there are very few presses in the country which could provide diacritical marks and were willing to take up thebig assignment of printing this volume.

To give the readers an idea of the important places which occur in the volume, 4 maps have been included. The system of transliteration, followed is generally the same as that standardized by the Indian National Bibliography, Calcutta. In accordance with the decision of the Advisory Committee, no diacritical marks have been given on proper names occurring from the nineteenth century onwards. In the case of place-names, the system adopted by the Survey of India has been followed. The same system would be used in the next (third) volume which is in the press.

I would like to take this opportunity to think Prof. S. Nurul Hasan. Minister of Education, Social Welfare and Culture, Shri I.D.N. Sahi, Education Secretary and Shri Mohan Mukerji, Additional Secretary, Department of Culture, who have been taking keen interest in the work.



Derivation of the Name 'India'. The name 'India' is derived from Sindhu (Indus) the name of the great river in the North-west, the zone where developed for first contacts of the country with the external world. The Sindhu assumed an intermediate form in Iranian of which Persian Hind is an echo, and from which Greeks and Romans got the name India. The name was doubtless first applied to the part of the country best known to them before being extended to the whole. In the traditional and legendary cosmography of the Hindus, it is called Bharakhanda, part of Bharatavarsa to the south of the Meru (golden mountain); by another account, it is Jambudvipa, one of the seven concentric islands comprising the earth.

Geographical and Political Unity. India is a vast subcontinent which juts from the middle of South Asia into the Indian Ocean. It extends from south to north for 3,200 km. between 8°4' and 37.6' North parallels of latitude and its greatest breadth from east to west is 3,000 k.m. between 68°7' and 97°25' East meridians of longitude. Striking physical features of mountain and sea combine the whole vast area of 32,80,483 sq. km. into a single natural region. The early realization of the natural geographical unity of India by the thinkers of the land finds expression in the formulation of the ideal of a universal emperor, Cakravarti or Sarvabhauma Samrat, the ceremonial of his installation is detailed in the Aitareya Brahmana, and in the defenition of Cakravartiksetra by Kautilya as including the whole of India from the Himalayas to the seas and a thousand yojanas across. Religion reinforced this sense of geographical unity by fixing centres of pilgrimage at the extremities-Hinglaj, Badri, Puri (Puri), Kanya Kumari (Kanya Kumari) and Dvaraka (Dwarka). Seldom, however, did this unity materialize as a political fact; it was nearly attained under the Mauryas and the Mughals, and again fully under British rule in the 19th century. During most of the historical period, the land was divided into a number of states of varying sizes and constantly shifting boundaries.

The Himalayas. The Himalayas constitute a formidable crescent-shaped barrier separating Sinkiang and Tibet from India along its wide northern frontier and containing the highest mountain peaks in the world. They are formed in immemorial legend and literature, as the abode of gods and sages, as the home of Parvati-the throne of her consort (Mount-Kailas) adjoining one of the holiest tirthas, lake Manasarowar; and as the source in innumerable life-giving rivers of India including the Ganga the holiest of them all. Two mighty rivers, the Sindhu in the north-west and the Brahmaputra in the east, garland the Himalayas at either end of their length of over 2,500 km. The perenial snows of the Himalayas are as important for the hydrography of India as the two monsoons or seasonal winds from the north-east (November-May) and the south-west (June-October). The Brahmaputra is continuation of the Tibetan Tsangpu, called Dibang or Siang after its entry into India; the union of Dihang with two other confluents, the Dibang and the Luhit (Tellu). produces the Brahmaputra. From the great central range of snowy peaks to the Indo-Ganga plain there is a width of about 150 to 400 km. of mountain country. The Himalayan valleys must have been occupied by Indians fairly early in the development of Indo-Aryan civilization. The magnificence of the forest scenery of the Himalayas is indescribable. The outer ranges of the Siwaliks, a more recent formation of broken and disintegrating hills that form the first step upward from the plains are famous in geological annals for the wealth of palacontological evidence which they have given to the world. The Central Himalayas are burdered by fever-haunted jungles known as tarai or, on the extreme east, duars; within their embrace, however, immediately south of Nepal, are hidden the buried remains of some of the most famous medieval Buddhist cities. The passes across the Himalayas are few, very elevated, and precarious; and all of them strike into the elevated tableland of Tibet ‘the roof of the world'. None of them except Natu La and Jelep La is usable except for small-scale trade, and none contributes anything new to the material prosperity of India. Simla and Darjeeling are the chief hill-stations naturally connected with the main roads intersecting the mountains. Simla is situated on the parting of the waters between the Sutlej and the Yamuna (Yamuna) and marks the great divide of the Indo-Ganga plain.

The Hindu Kush. The Himalayas are continued by the Hindu Kush and its offshoots in the west and the Lushai hills on the east. The Hindu Kush is the range par excellence of Northern Afghanistan where the province of Kabul touches the very heart of the mountain masses which buttress the Pamirs. Though rugged and elevated, the Hindu Kush is not Himalayan in its mountain characteristics. There are few high peaks, and several depressions which allow easy access between north and south. However, it is not the Hindu Kush itself but the inconceivably difficult approaches to which its passes lead, that form the northern barrier to India. Historically, the most important of the Hindu Kush passes is that which gives its name to the mountain, meaning 'Hindu Killer', from the fate which once befell a Hindu force on its summit; it is but one of a group of passes leading from the Oxus basin to Kabul. This way came the Aryans into India and Alexander with his Greek legions and many successive tides of human migration, Scythian, Mongol, etc. Below the Hindu Kush stretch the narrow irregular border districts of the Pathan highlands, full of wild tribes, a country all mountainous, through which run the Tochi and the Gomal in succession from north to south. The Kabul river at the north foot of the Safed Koh drains the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush which, from the far north, extends its long level spurs parting the waters of many historic rivers such as the Kunar, the Panjkora region and the Swat. On the western border of India between this mountain region and the Arabian Sea lies Baluchistan with its banded formation of hills rising in altitude one behind the other from the lower Indus valley plains to the great limestone backbone of the Sulaimain system. Sometimes these ranges present an impassable wall of great natural strength for hundreds of kilometres like the Kirthar range stretching northwards from the Karachi frontier to the passes of Kalat, Elsewhere, the transverse lines of drainage open up narrow rock guarded gateways leading upwards from the plains to the plateau, such as the passes of Mula, Mashkat and Bolan. South of Quetta, about the latitude of Kalat, a division occurs in this banded gridiron formation. The outer easternmost ridges retain their original strike and reach down southwards to the sea. The inner ridges curve westwards and run east to west in Makran in rough lines parallel to the border of the Arabian Sea and through Iran to the north of the Persian Gulf, Makran, which is now mostly a desert, had at one time better water supply and was not only habitable but also fertile; even now it includes long narrow valleys of great fertility where date-palms flourish and fruit is cultivated amid fields of wheat and maize. Alexander used the difficult land route across Makran to withdraw from India with a part of his troops.

The North-west: The North-west is the key to India proper and to much of her history. It is continuous on the south with the vast plain of Hindustan, the Aryavarta of Manu. More than once in our long history, the North-west has for some time formed part of the Western and Central Asian State system. The Achamenid rulers of Persia (Iran), Cyrus and Darius I, conquered the Punjab and Part of Sind, annexed them as the satrapies of Gandhara and India, and started political and cultural contacts between India and Iran. These contacts, often broken but always revived, characterize the history of the region destined in the 20th century to become Pakistan.

Kashmir. The square block of Kashmir territory is traversed across its breadth by the deep trough of the Indus which change suddenly to a south-westerly course a little to the east of Gilgit to make its way to the plains of Peshawar through wild and unapproachable mountains. The beauty of its western and southern districts where Nanga Parbat overlooks the Indus or Haramukh is reflected in the purple waters of the Wular lake. In Kashmir are contained the great reservoirs from which is drawn the water-supply that irrigates the vast flat plains of the Punjabi. Kashmir was from early times an influential center of Hindi culture; it was a home of Sanskrit scholars and poets, it helped in spreading Indian culture to Central Asia and produced in Kalhana the only true Indian historian of antiquity.

The Brahmaputra. The Brahmaputra and its confluents with their potentialities for the cultivation of tea, coffee and fruit, dominate the North Eastern Frontier, where live the sub-Himalayan, tribes (the Daflas, Abors, Moubas, Mishmis and others) There are no easy road in this region and the tracks and promotes a dense growth of forest. Thanks to the impossible Tibetan plateau and the difficulty of the eastern frontier (pace occasional Burmese and Shan raids on Assam), the meeting points of Chinese and Indian cultures were found only in Turkestan by way of Balkh (Bactria) in the Oxus valley and in North Annam by way of the sea.

bes (the Daflas, Abors, Moubas, Mishmis and others) There are no easy road in this region and the tracks and promotes a dense growth of forest. Thanks to the impossible Tibetan plateau and the difficulty of the eastern frontier (pace occasional Burmese and Shan raids on Assam), the meeting points of Chinese and Indian cultures were found only in Turkestan by way of Balkh (Bactria) in the Oxus valley and in North Annam by way of the sea.


Source Materials of Indian History   XV
  PART I  
I. Pre-Historic and Proto-Historic Periods 3
II. Historical Period-Early History of India upto A.D. 1206 43
III. Government and Economic Life 111
IV. Society, Religion and Literature 145
V. Art and Architecture 211
I. History of Medieval India (A. D. 1206-1761) 267
II. Government and Economic Life 361
III. Society, Religion and Literature 405
IV. Art and Architecture 471
I. History of Modern India (1761-1947) 503
II. Indian National Movement 549
III. Government and Economic Life 587
IV. Society, Religion and Literature 633
New Horizons   719
Bibliography   739
Index   749


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