1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Circar

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CIRCAR, an Indian term applied to the component parts of a subah or province, each of which is administered by a deputy-governor. In English it is principally employed in the name of the Northern Circars, used to designate a now obsolete division of the Madras presidency, which consisted of a narrow slip of territory lying along the western side of the Bay of Bengal from 15° 40′ to 20° 17′ N. lat. These Northern Circars were five in number, Chicacole, Rajahmundry, Ellore, Kondapalli and Guntur, and their total area was about 30,000 sq. m.

The district corresponds in the main to the modern districts of Kistna, Godavari, Vizagapatam, Ganjam and a part of Nellore. It was first invaded by the Mahommedans in 1471; in 1541 they conquered Kondapalli, and nine years later they extended their conquests over all Guntur and the districts of Masulipatam. But the invaders appear to have acquired only an imperfect possession of the country, as it was again wrested from the Hindu princes of Orissa about the year 1571, during the reign of Ibrahim, of the Kutb Shahi dynasty of Hyderabad or Golconda. In 1687 the Circars were added, along with the empire of Hyderabad, to the extensive empire of Aurangzeb. Salabat Jang, the son of the nizam ul mulk Asaf Jah, who was indebted for his elevation to the throne to the French East India Company, granted them in return for their services the district of Kondavid or Guntur, and soon afterwards the other Circars. In 1759, by the conquest of the fortress of Masulipatam, the dominion of the maritime provinces on both sides, from the river Gundlakamma to the Chilka lake, was necessarily transferred from the French to the British. But the latter left them under the administration of the nizam, with the exception of the town and fortress of Masulipatam, which were retained by the English East India Company. In 1765 Lord Clive obtained from the Mogul emperor Shah Alam a grant of the five Circars. Hereupon the fort of Kondapalli was seized by the British, and on the 12th of November 1766 a treaty of alliance was signed with Nizam Ali by which the Company, in return for the grant of the Circars, undertook to maintain troops for the nizam’s assistance. By a second treaty, signed on the 1st of March 1768, the nizam acknowledged the validity of Shah Alam’s grant and resigned the Circars to the Company, receiving as a mark of friendship an annuity of £50,000. Guntur, as the personal estate of the nizam’s brother Basalat Jang, was excepted during his lifetime under both treaties. He died in 1782, but it was not till 1788 that Guntur came under British administration. Finally, in 1823, the claims of the nizam over the Northern Circars were bought outright by the Company, and they became a British possession.