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Santal Parganas

SANTAL PARGANAS (or SONTHAL) PARGANAS, THE, a district of India, in the Bhagalpur division of Bengal. Area 5470 sq. m.

In the east a sharply denned belt of hills stretches for about loo m. from the Ganges to the river Naubil; west of this a rolling tract of long ridges with intervening depressions covers about 2500 sq. m. ; while there is a narrow strip of alluvial country about 170 m. long, lying for the most part along the loop line of the East Indian railway. The Rajmahal hills occupy an area of 1366 sq. m. ; they nowhere exceed 2000 ft. There are several other hill ranges which with few exceptions are 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, but of inferior quality. 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 annual rainfall averages 52 in. In 1901 the population was 1,809,737, showing an increase of 3 % in the decade.

The Santals, who give their name to the district, are the most numerous aboriginal tribe in Bengal; they work the coal-mines of Raniganj and Karharbari and migrate to the tea-gardens of Assam. In 1832 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 Santals to settle in the valleys and on the lower slopes stimulated Santal immigration to an enormous extent. The Hindu money-lender soon made his appearance among them, and caused the rebellion of 1855-56. The insurrection 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. The Church Missionary Society and the Scandinavian Home Mission have been very successful, especially in promoting education. The district is traversed by both the chord and loop lines of the East Indian railway. It contains the old Mahommedan city of Rajmahal and the modern commercial mart of Sahibganj, both on the Ganges; and also the Hindu place of pilgrimage of Deogarh, which is important enough to have a branch railway. The administrative headquarters are at Dumka, or Naya Dumka: pop. (1901) 5326.

See F. B. Bradley-Birt, The Story of the Indian Upland (1905).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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