1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hamirpur
HAMIRPUR, a town and district of British India, in the Allahabad division of the United Provinces. The town stands on a tongue of land near the confluence of the Betwa and Jumna, 110 m. N.W. of Allahabad. Pop. (1901), 6721. It was founded, according to tradition, in the 11th century by Hamir Deo, a Karchuli Rajput expelled from Alwar by the Mahommedans.
The district has an area of 2289 sq. m., and encloses the native states of Sarila, Jigni and Bihat, besides portions of Charkhari and Garrauli. Hamirpur forms part of the great plain of Bundelkhand, which stretches from the banks of the Jumna to the central Vindhyan plateau. The district is in shape an irregular parallelogram, with a general slope northward from the low hills on the southern boundary. The scenery is rendered picturesque by the artificial lakes of Mahoba. These magnificent reservoirs were constructed by the Chandel rajas before the Mahommedan conquest, for purposes of irrigation and as sheets of ornamental water. Many of them enclose craggy islets or peninsulas, crowned by the ruins of granite temples, exquisitely carved and decorated. From the base of this hill and lake country the general plain of the district spreads northward in an arid and treeless level towards the broken banks of the rivers. Of these the principal are the Betwa and its tributary the Dhasan, both of which are unnavigable. There is little waste land, except in the ravines by the river sides. The deep black soil of Bundelkhand, known as mār, retains the moisture under a dried and rifted surface, and renders the district fertile. The staple produce is grain of various sorts, the most important being gram. Cotton is also a valuable crop. Agriculture suffers much from the spread of the kāns grass, a noxious weed which overruns the fields and is found to be almost ineradicable wherever it has once obtained a footing. Droughts and famine are unhappily common. The climate is dry and hot, owing to the absence of shade and the bareness of soil, except in the neighbourhood of the Mahoba lakes, which cool and moisten the atmosphere.
In 1901 the pop. was 458,542, showing a decrease of 11% in the decade, due to the famine of 1895-1897. Export trade is chiefly in agricultural produce and cotton cloth. Rath is the principal commercial centre. The Midland branch of the Great Indian Peninsula railway passes through the south of the district.
From the 9th to the 12th century this district was the centre of the Chandel kingdom, with its capital at Mahoba. The rajas adorned the town with many splendid edifices, remains of which still exist, besides constructing the noble artificial lakes already described. At the end of the 12th century Mahoba fell into the hands of the Mussulmans. In 1680 the district was conquered by Chhatar Sal, the hero of the Bundelas, who assigned at his death one-third of his dominions to his ally the peshwa of the Mahrattas. Until Bundelkhand became British territory in 1803 there was constant warfare between the Bundela princes and the Mahratta chieftains. On the outbreak of the Mutiny in 1857, Hamirpur was the scene of a fierce rebellion, and all the principal towns were plundered by the surrounding chiefs. After a short period of desultory guerrilla warfare the rebels were effectually quelled and the work of reorganization began. The district has since been subject to cycles of varying agricultural prosperity.