(e) FLORA (Botany)

 

            The flora of the district is of varied character and is typical of a tract well suited for the growth of vegetation. The soil is fairly rich and deep and the spring-level is high enough for the roots to absorb adequate moisture. Moreover, there is rainfall of moderate amount and fair certainty. These favourable conditions enable trees to grow luxuriantly. Shisham (Dalbergia sissoo) and kikar (Acacia arabica) are the main timber-trees and are very much liked for their hard wood, which is used for making furniture and agricultural implements, Jaman (Eugenia jambolana) and mango (Mangifera indica) are planted in many places on account of the value of their fruit and dense shade. Pipal (Ficus religiosa) and borh (Ficus bengalensis) which are the favourate and sacred trees of the Hindus are much in evidence on wells and near shrines, both in the towns and villages. Other trees which have received special attention are some varieties of mulberry, such as shahtut (Morus alba) and tut (Morus Idevigata); ber (zizyphus jujuba); dhrek or Persian lilac (Melia azadirachta); siris (Albizzia lebbek), a quick-growing tree; and vilyati kikar (Acacia farnesiana) with fragrant flowers. A few plants of economic importance, such as sohanjana (Moringa ptergyosperma), the flowers and long pods of which are used for making pickles; kachnar (Bauhinia variegata), whose flowers have a culinary use; and lasura (Cordia muxa), the fruits of which are pickled, are found around wells and in gardens. Besides the above trees, which are cultivated for special purposes, there are many others found in parks, gardens, etc. Eucalyptus has taken to the soil very well. It was originally introduced for its strong aromatic leaves and flowers which have medicinal properties, and occupies a prominent place. Toon (Cedrela toona) is a fine large shade0tree. Simbal or silk-cotton-tree (Bombax malabaricum) is a huge tree and many have been grown in different places. Some graceful evergreen trees, like arjan (Terminalia arjuna), bahera (Terminalia belerica), sukhchain (Pongamia glabra), maulsari (Mimusop elengi) and amaltas or Indian laburnum (Cassiafistula) have also been planted in several orchards.

 

            Amritsar provides excellent conditions for intensive cultivation of various kinds of economic plants which give a handsome return from small areas. One of these is sucha gulab (Rosa damascena), the flowers of which are candied and also used for distilling ark and iter. Motia (Jasminum sambac), chambeli (Jasminum grandiflorum) and bed mushak (Salix capera) are of similar commercial value.

 

            The old arboreal vegetation of the waste places consists of jand (Prosopis spicigera), karil (Capparis aphylla), whose berries are collected for pickling, and dhak or chichara (Butea frondosa), whose flowers are used as a dye and the leaves are stitched for making doonas or containers for sweetmeats, etc. Along the Ravi and other moist places, there are found sar (Saccharum sara), kans (Saccharum spontaneum), pilchi (Tamarix diocal) and kundar (Typha angustata), which are used for making ropes, baskets, thatch and mats.

 

            Among the grasses, baru (Sorghum hbalepense) and dab (Eragrosits cynosuroides) are very troublesome and make cultivation of the soil difficult. Grasses useful for fodder are khabbal (Cynodon dactylon) and madhana (Eleusine degyptica). Palwan (Andropogon pertusus) and chimbar (Eleusine flagellifera) which come up in profusion after rains, although of poor quality, are used by poor people for feeding cattle.

 

            The large weeds which infest uncultivated tracts are ak or milk-plant (Calotropis procera), arind (Ricinus communis), dhatura (Datura fastuosa) and thor (Opnuntia dillenii). Other noxious weeds and those which appear in crops are pohli or thistle (Carthamus oxyacantha), bhukar or piazi (Asphodelus fistulosis), shial kanta (Argemone mexicana), bhakhra (Tribulus terriestris), kandyari (Solanum xanthocarpum) and dhang (Cannabis sativa).

 

            In ponds and other large bodies of water, there are found, either in wild condition or specially grown, several aquatic plants which are useful in various ways. Sanghara or water-nut (Trapa dispinosa) is cultivated for its fruit which is roasted, and on removing the skin, the kernel, which is rich in carbohydrate, is eaten. The shoots of the kanwal or bhen (Nelumbium speciosum) are relished as a vegetable. khundar or bater (Typha angustata) grows wild on the banks of canals, rivers, ponds and lakes. Its long and thick leaves are used for making mats.

 

            The fertile soil and ample water-supply of the district provide very favourable conditions for growing fruits. The chief fruit is nashpati or pear (Pyrus communis). Other successful fruits are the peach or aru (Prunus persica), the plum or alucha (Prunus communis), and various citrus fruits such as malta (Citrus aurantium var sinensis), sangtra (Citrus surantium) and lemon (Citrus medica). Banana (Musa sapientum) was once grown largely but was discarded, as its quality was poor compared with that of the fruits from Calcutta and Bombay. Falsa (Grewia asiatica) is very remunerative for its high yield of small blue berries which are eaten or made into syrup. Loquat (Eryobotrya japonica) is also fairly common and successful. Litchi (Litchi chinensis), although not fully adapted to the climate, has been grown with special care and is yielding fruit. Mangoes (Mangifera indica) of fairly good quality are also found. The cultivation of grapes of different varieties has also been introduced.

 

(f) FAUNA (Zoology)

 

            Game of all kinds are scarce in the district. An occasional nilgai and chinkara can still be found in the long grass in the river-bed on the border of Kapurthala. A few black bucks wander about the barani area from Gaggarbhana to Chohla and, with the spread of cultivation and canal irrigation, it is rather remarkable that they have not disappeared altogether. A few wild hogs are still to be found in the bed of the Beas. They hide in the thick grass in the Kapurthala District during the day and only pay night visits to this district. Hares are fairly numerous and it is a common sight to see parties of youths hunting them especially after the rabi crops are cut. Wild geese and ducks of various kinds are to be found near and in the Beas and the Ravi in large flocks during the winter. The geese come in during the night and feed on the young wheat plants. If there are good autumn and winter rains, ducks may still be found in fair numbers in the chhambs in the Ajnala and Tarn Taran tahsils. Black partridges are found near the river-beds and in the central part of the Tarn Taran Tahsil, but they are few and far between. Grey partridges are more widespread, but they also are very few. A few snipe are found at Jastarwal in the Ajnala Tahsil and in pools in the Beas bet. The common crane is common the early winter but the demoiselle crane is hardly ever seen. The black curlew is to be met with inland, and the more wary jackcurlew on the sandy stretches of the Beas valley. Quail come in, as elsewhere, in April and September, whereas sandgrouse of the two common varieties may always be seen on the moth stuble of the Jandiala sand ridge, and on the sandier parts of the Ajnala Uthar near Chamiari. Green pigeons frequent the papal trees and canal plantations but not in large numbers. The blue rock-pigeon is much commoner, and there are many in the cliffs overlooking the Beas. The Punjab Wild Birds and Wild Animals Protection Act, 1933, has had the effect, if not of increasing game, at least of calling a halt to their further depletion. The only venomous snakes which are met with are the cobra, the karait, the Russell’s viper and the small keel-scaled viper (Echis carinata). Of these, the echis is commonest and perhaps the karait is next in abundance. The kallar wastes of Ajnala are notorious for harbouring venomous snakes. The canal contains many fresh-water snakes but they are all harmless. Jackals are common everywhere.

 

(g) CLIMATE

 

(i) Climatic Divisions and Seasons and Their Durations

 

            The climate of this district is characterized by general dryness, except during the brief south-west monsoon season, a hot summer and a bracing winter. The year may be divided into four seasons. The cold season is from November to March. The period from April to June is the hot season. The south-west monsoon season is from about the beginning of July to the first week of September. The succeeding period lasting till the beginning of November is the post-monsoon or transition period.

 

(ii) Temperature and Humidity

 

            Temperature.-There is a meteorological observatory in the district at Amritsar and the records of this observatory may be taken as representative of the meteorological conditions prevailing in the district, in general. From about the end of March, temperatures increase steadily till June, which is the hottest month, with the mean daily maximum temperature at 40.5°C (104.9°F) and the mean daily minimum at 25.3°C(77.5°F). The heat during the summer is intense and the hot dust-laden winds which blow during the afternoons add to the discomfort. With the onset of the monsoon in the district by about the end of June or in the beginning of July, there is an appreciable drop in the day temperature. The nights are, however, as warm during the monsoon season as in summer and, owing to the increased moisture in the air, the weather is often oppressive. After the withdrawal of the monsoon early in September, whereas the day temperatures remain as in the monsoon season, nights become progressively cool. From October, there is a rapid drop in temperature. January is generally the coldest month, with the mean daily maximum temperature of 18.9°C (66.0°F) and the mean daily minimum at 4.7°C (40.5°F). During the cold season, the district is affected by cold waves in the wake of the passing western disturbances and the minimum temperature occasionally drops by a degree or two below the freezing-point of water. Frosts are common during the cold season.

 

            The highest maximum temperature recorded at Amritsar was 46.7°C (116.1°F) on June 11, 1953. The lowest minimum was 2.8°C (27.0°F) on December 25, 1950.

 

            Humidity.-Relative humidity is generally high in the mornings, exceeding 70 per cent, except during the summer season when it is less than 50 per cent. The humidity is comparatively low in the afternoons. The driest part of the year is the summer season when the relative humidity in the afternoons is about 25 per cent or less.

 

            Table I gives the normals of temperature and relative humidity during the different months of the year in the Amritsar District :

 


TABLE I

 

Normals of temperature and relative humidity

 

(AMRITSAR)

 

Month

Mean daily maximum temperature 

Mean daily minimum temperature 

Highest maximum ever recorded

Lowest minimum ever recorded

Relative humidity Hours (Indian Standard Time)

 

°C

°C

°C

Date

 

°C

Date

 

0830

Per cent

1730

Per cent

January

18.9

4.7

25.0

1952 January

24

-1.7

1955 January

1

91

61

February

22.1

6.3

32.2

1953 February

28

-0.6

1958 February

10

85

45

March

27.3

11.4

35.6

1953 March

25

3.9

1954 March

5

73

40

April

34.3

16.2

43.3

1958 April

27

6.9

1960 April

10

49

23

May

39.4

21.8

46.1

1954 May

31

12.9

1960 May

7

39

19

June

40.5

25.3

46.7

1953 June

11

15.6

1958 June

1

47

26

July

35.5

25.9

45.6

1954 July

1

20.6

1955 July

20

76

57

August

34.2

25.5

40.0

1954 August

4

19.3

1957 August

8

82

65

September

34.4

23.4

40.6

1949 September

13

17.2

1953 September

17

77

53

October

32.0

16.6

38.3

1951 October

6

8.3

1953 October

31

74

45

November

26.5

8.3

32.2

1952 November

1

-0.6

1949 November

24

78

45

December

21.2

4.5

27.7

1958 December

3

-2.8

1950 December

25

86

54

Annual

30.5

15.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

71

44

 

 

 


AMRITSAR

 

(iii) Rainfall

 

            Records of rainfall in the district are available for 7 stations for periods ranging from 66 to 98 years. The details of the rainfall at these stations and for the district, as a whole, are given in Tables 2 and 3. The average annual rainfall in the district is 541.9 mm (21.33"). The rainfall in the district increases generally from the south-west towards the north-east and varies from 435.5 mm (17.14”) at Khara to 591.7 mm (23.29”) at Rayya. About 74 per cent of the annual normal rainfall in the district is received during the period from June to September and as much as about 18 per cent of the annual rainfall occurs during December to February. The variation in the rainfall from year to year is large. In the 50-year period from 1901 to 1950, the highest annual rainfall amounting to 184 per cent of the normal occurred in 1917, whereas the very next year was one with the lowest annual rainfall, which was 54 per cent of the normal. In this 50-year period, the annual rainfall in the district was less than 80 per cent of the normal in 13 years, with two consecutive years of such low rainfall occurring twice. Considering the annual rainfall at the individual stations, two consecutive years of such low rainfall occurred 6 times at Khara and 4 times at Amritsar. Three such consecutive years also occurred once each at 4 out of the 7 stations. Even 4 consecutive years of such low rainfall occurred once at Tarn Taran. It will be seen from Table 3 that the annual rainfall in the district was between 400 and 700 mm (15.75” and 27.56”) in 33 years out of 50.

 

            On an average, there are 30 rainy days (i.e. days with rainfall of 2.5 mm or more) in a year in the district. This number varies from 24 at Khara to 34 at Rayya.

 

            The heaviest rainfall in 24 hours recorded at any station in the district was 457.2 mm (18”) at Khara on October 5, 1955.

 

TABLE NO. 2

 

Normals and extremes of rainfall in the Amritsar District

 


TABLE 2

 

Normals and extremes of rainfall in the Amritsar District

 

Station

Number of years of data

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

Bhuchar

50 (a)

27.2

25.7

25.9

17.0

9.7

34.8

157.5

154.2

70.4

7.9

 

     (b)

1.9

2.1

1.9

1.3

1.1

2.1

6.2

6.0

2.7

0.5

Khara

50 (a)

24.9

24.1

22.9

12.2

8.4

23.4

122.2

118.4

54.1

9.7

 

     (b)

1.8

2.1

1.6

1.2

0.9

1.7

5.8

5.3

2.2

0.4

Tarn Taran

50 (a)

30.5

26.7

28.2

15.0

11.7

30.7

153.7

149.9

71.9

12.2

 

     (b)

2.1

2.5

2.3

1.5

1.4

2.3

7.1

6.2

3.1

0.6

Rayya

50 (a)

35.6

34.5

29.7

15.2

14.5

34.8

169.9

151.4

76.5

10.2

 

     (b)

2.5

2.7

2.1

1.5

1.2

2.8

8.1

7.2

3.4

0.6

Amritsar

50 (a)

30.0

28.2

27.9

15.5

10.4

40.1

161.5

148.6

71.9

9.9

 

     (b)

2.3

2.4

2.4

1.5

1.3

2.8

7.2

7.2

3.5

0.7

Ajnala

50 (a)

30.2

27.4

30.2

17.5

14.5

39.9

161.0

149.9

74.4

7.9

 

     (b)

2.4

2.6

2.5

1.6

1.3

2.7

7.4

7.5

3.2

0.6

Begey

40 (a)

26.2

28.2

30.0

17.0

12.5

39.1

146.1

138.7

75.7

7.9

 

     (b)

1.7

2.2

1.9

1.4

1.0

2.1

5.5

5.3

2.6

0.5

Amritsar (District)

     (a)

29.2

27.8

27.8

15.6

11.7

34.7

153.1

144.4

70.7

9.4

 

     (b)

2.1

2.4

2.1

1.4

1.2

2.4

6.8

6.4

3.0

0.6

 

 

 

Station

Number of years of data

November

December

Annual

Highest annual rainfall as % of normal and year*

Lowest annual rainfall as % of normal and year*

Heaviest rainfall in 24 hours **

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amount (mm)

Date

Bhuchar

50 (a)

3.6

12.9

546.8

184

(1908)

30

(1921)

235.2

1894 June 19

 

     (b)

0.2

1.0

27.0

 

 

 

 

Khara

50 (a)

2.3

12.9

435.5

223

(1917)

35

(1905)

457.2

1955 October 5

 

     (b)

0.2

1.0

24.2

 

 

 

 

Tarn Taran

50 (a)

3.3

16.0

549.8

214

(1917)

38

(1932)

258.3

1894 June 19

 

     (b)

0.3

1.1

30.5

 

 

 

 

Rayya

50 (a)

3.1

16.3

591.7

198

(1917)

26

(1902)

367.0

1955 October 5

 

     (b)

0.3

1.2

33.6

 

 

 

 

Amritsar

50 (a)

3.1

16.0

563.1

180

(1908)

50

(1922)

396.2

1881 July 10

 

     (b)

0.3

1.3

32.6

 

 

 

 

Ajnala

50 (a)

3.3

13.7

569.9

161

(1950)

39

(1902)

198.1

1888 August 23

 

     (b)

0.3

1.0

33.1

 

 

 

 

Begey

40 (a)

4.3

11.9

537.9

172

(1917)

44

(1918)

271.8

1904 August 7

 

     (b)

0.3

0.8

25.3

 

 

 

 

Amritsar (District)

     (a)

3.3

14.2

541.9

184

(1917)

54

(1918)

 

 

 

     (b)

0.3

1.1

29.8

 

 

 

 

 

            (a) Normal rainfall in mm

            (b) Average number of rainy days (days with rain of 2.5 mm or more)

            *Years given in brackets

            ** Based on all available data up to 1961

 

 


AMRITSAR

 

TABLE 3

 

Frequency of annual rainfall in the Amritsar District

 

(Data 1901-1950)

 

Range in mm

Number of years

Range in mm

Number of years

201-300

1

601-700

9

301-400

8

701-800

5

401-500

11

801-900

2

501-600

13

901-1000

1

 

(iv) Atmospheric Pressure and Winds

 

            Cloudiness.-The skies are generally partly to heavily clouded and occasionally overcast during the monsoon season and for brief spells of a day or two in association with the passing western disturbances during the cold season. During the rest of the year, the skies are mostly clear or lightly clouded.

 

            Winds.-Winds are generally light, with some strengthening in the summer and early part of the monsoon season. In the post-monsoon and cold season, winds are light and variable in direction in the mornings and mostly from the west or north-west in the afternoons. In April and May, winds are mainly from directions between north-west and north-east in the mornings and between west and north-east in the afternoons. By June, the easterlies and south-easterlies also blow and, in the south-west, monsoon season winds are more commonly from the directions between north-east and south-east.

 

            Special Weather Phenomena.-The western disturbances affect the weather over the district during the cold season, causing widespread rain and gusty winds. Duststorms and thunderstorms occur in the summer season. Occasional fogs occur in the cold season.

 

            Tables 4 and 5 give the mean wind speed and the special weather phenomena respectively for Amritsar:


TABLE 4

 

Mean wind speed in kilometer/houa

(Amritsar)

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Annual

6.7

7.9

9.2

9.6

11.5

11.6

10.9

8.8

7.1

6.3

5.2

5.4

8.4

 

TABLE 5

Special weather phenomena

(Amritsar)

 

Mean number of days with

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Annual

Thunder

1.9

1.9

4.0

4.6

4.2

6.2

8.5

9.2

4.2

1.9

0.8

0.7

48.1

Hail

0.2

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.6

Dust-storm

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.9

2.7

4.6

0.9

0.3

0.3

0.1

0.0

0.0

10.0

Squall

0.2

0.1

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.6

0.3

0.7

0.7

0.1

0.3

0.0

3.2

Fog

0.4

0.2

0.0

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.1

0.7

1.5

 

 


CHAPTER II

 

HISTORY

(a)

Early History

(b)

Muhammadan Supermacy

©

Rise of the Sikhs

(d)

British Rule

(e)

Independence and After

 

(a)   Early History

 

Special interest in the history of this portion of the Punjab, the fertile central doabs, commences with the rise of the Sikh religion and power. There is no mention of any important city or seat of Government having existed in what is now the Amritsar District during the early period of history. Presumably all through the early period, the area remained under the Lahore rulers, a purely agricultural tract, peopled by the progenitors of the Jats, the peasant proprietors of today.

 

(b) Muhammadan Supremacy

 

            After the final overthrow of the Shahi Kingdom in 1008, then ruled by Anangpal, son of Jaipal, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni launched a series of predatory invasions of the Punjab. From that time, until the final overthrow of the Muhammadan supremacy, the Amritsar District was attached to the Suba or Province of Lahore. The district lies on the road usually taken by the invading Muhammadan armies, and was liable to be plundered and devastated at each incursion, but, as it does not appear to have then contained cities famous for their wealth, it is possible that it may have been looted and laid waste to a less extent than the adjoining territories, the invaders preferring to push on to Sirhind and Delhi after leaving Lahore. This may partly account for the comparative absence of the extensive mounds or thehs, marking the sites of deserted villages, which are so often found in districts to the west of Amritsar.

 

(c) Rise of the Sikhs

 

I. THE SIKH GURUS

 

            From the eleventh century to the end of the fifteenth century, there is little to call for special notice in the history of this part of the Punjab. It was shortly after the middle of the fifteenth century in 1469 that Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru, the founder of the Sikh religion, was born at the village of Talwandi (now Nankana Sahib in the Sheikhupura District of Pakistan). His father is said to have been a village accountant (Patwari) of the Khatri caste. Nanak Dev himself early took to the life of a devotee, and traveled over most of India, but his history is in no way specially connected with that of the Amritsar District. He died at Kartarpur (now in the Sialkot District in Pakistan) in 1539, leaving behind him the writings which contain the exposition of the faith of the Sikhs (literally, disciples) and a numerous bank of disciples. He does not appear to have claimed for himself any special divinity. Guru Nanak Dev’s reforms were in their immediate effect religious and moral only. His name is perhaps more closely associated with Vairowal and Ramdas than with other villages in District Amritsar. From the former came several of his disciples, and the temple at Ramdas was founded by Baba Buddha, one of his immediate followers.

 

            Amritsar District Gazetteer, 1947, p.18

            Ibid., p.19

 

            The second Guru, Angad Dev, was the most trusted disciple of Nanak Dev, on whose death he was acknowledged as the teacher of the new faith. He continued to stay until his death in 1552 at Khadur Sahib, a large village to the east of Tarn Taran, where there are a temple and a tank sacred to his memory, supported by a jagir from the Government. Little is known of his ministry and, on his death, his mantle passed on to Guru Amar Das, one of the most devoted of his followers.

 

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