A Revised and Enlarged Account of the Bobbili Zemindari/Bobbili Zemindari
THIS is one of the most ancient Zemindaries in India. It is included in the Vizagapatam District, Madras Presidency, and possesses a very interesting history. It is situated in lat. 18°22′ to 18°46′ N., long. 83°10′ to 83°20′ E., is surrounded by the British taluks of Chipurupalli, Gajapatinagaram, Salur, Parvatipur, Palconda and Chicacole, and consists of the Pergunnahs (Tanas) of Bobbili, Rajam, Kavitey and Sitanagaram, and each is under the charge of an officer called Ameen. The ancient Zemindari is about 300 square miles in area, and contains 139 Jeroyati villages, 53 Agraharams, and 5 Mokhasas. Its revenue is about Rs. 4,36,800 including the value of about 3,407 garces of paddy, which is rent paid in kind. The peishcush is Rs. 83,651 and the land-cess Rs. 30,832. There are about 8,116 tenants with pattas or leases. The average rate of rent per acre of wet land is Rs.7 ½, and of dry land Rs. 2. There are about 241 inams, which yield annually Rs. 18,501 enjoyed by Velama Doras, 243 inams yielding Rs. 4,896 enjoyed by Desasthulu and hill-peons, and 643 Akarams yielding Rs.38,624 enjoyed by the ryots. All the above inams are given from Jeroyati lands and are held on service tenure. As a rule they descend from father to son, subject to the will and pleasure of the raja. The population, which is about entirely Telugu Hindu, is 157,879 according to the census of 1881, 150,878 according to that of 1891, and 158,506 according to that of 1901. The estate is well supplied with tanks and irrigation channels, the former numbering about 1,725. The irrigation channels are mostly connected with the rivers Janjhavati, Vegavati and Nagavali, which run through the Zemindari. The principal wet crops are rice and sugar-cane. The dry crops are ragi, gingelly, oil-seeds, horse-gram, red-gram, green-gram, black-gram, tobacco, &c. The following estates and other villages and lands have been eventually purchased and added to the Samasthanam.
1. Tummapala, Annamrajupeta and six other villages leased to the Vizianagaram Zemindari. — The annual rent of this Hunda is Rs. 22,495.
2. Karakavalasa and Mulagavalasa estates. — The annual rent of these estates is Rs. 33,112 peishcush Rs.7,992, and land-cess Rs. 2,160. The Jeroyati and other villages number 53, and the number of pattadars is 1,021. The population according to the census of 1901 is 14,102. 3. Pedapenki Hunda and certain villages and lands situated in and about the ancient Zemindari. — The annual rent of this portion is Rs. 47,482 including the rent in kind, peishcush Rs. 9,322, and land-cess Rs. 2,902. The Jeroyati and other villages are 24 in number, and the number of tenants is 892. The population according to the census of 1901 is 14,405.
4. Siripuram Thana consisting of portions of Kirlampudi, Arempudi, Rayavaram and Dantamur Estates, all situated in the Godaveri District. — The annual rent of this Thana is Rs.85,364, peishcush Rs.18, 116, and land-cess Rs.4,927. The Jeroyati and other villages are 18 in number, while the number of pattadars is 516. The population of this Thana (census 1901) is 19,321.
5. Thiruvur Thana situated in the Chingleput District. — The annual rent is Rs.26,403, peishcush Rs.7,790, and land-cess Rs. 1,234. The number of Jeroyati and other villages is 12, and that of the pattadars 1,522. The population (census 1901) is 6,907.
The annual rent of the villages and other lands which were presented to the temples at Bobbili and Sitarampur by the former Rajas of the Samasthanam is Rs.30,668. The number of pattadars is 490.
The total annual income of the Samasthanam and of the other estates eventually bought amounts at present to about Rs.6,5 1,670. The total population living within the limits of the ancient Zemindari and the Estates added to the Zemindari excluding the first item is 213,241 according to the census of 1901. The total number of tenants is 12,067.
The chief town is Bobbili, the residence of the Maharajah. Lat.l8° 34 -N., long. 18° 25-E. It is about 70 miles north-west of Vizagapatam. Sir M. E. Grant Duff, who visited Bobbili in 1883, describes it as "a clean and well-kept town, furnished with all the appliances of Anglo-Indian civilisation— schools, hospitals and what not — all within a walk of the remains of the Old Fort, where 126 years ago was enacted one of the most ghastly stories which even Indian History has to record."
The population of the town with its suburbs Gollapalli, Pata-Bobbili and Mallammapettah, according to the census of 1891, is 14,468; of this number 14,075 are Hindus, 333 Muhammadans, and 60 Christians. And again the population, according to the census of 1901, is 18,025; of this number 17,373 are Hindus, 333 Muhammadans, and 59 Christians. There is a Canadian Baptist Mission in the town. This Mission maintains a Girls' School. There is also a Roman Catholic Chapel with a small congregation.
There are a Vishnu and a Siva temple; the other public institutions are : — The Sub-Magistrate's Office, the Police-station, the Sub-Registrar's Office, the Post and Telegraph Office, the Local Fund Dispensary, the Samasthanam Gosha Hospital, the Samasthanam Offices, the Samasthanam High School, Sri Maharani Caste Girls' School, the Victoria Town Hall, the Maharajah's Chattram, the Samasthanam Poor House, and the Travellers' Bungalow for Europeans. There is also a Local Fund Union or Panchayet subordinate to the Parvatipur Taluk Board. The town is supplied with drinking-water by four tanks, which are situated on the four sides of the town.
The weaving of cloths and the manufacture of brass and bell-metal articles are the chief industries carried on.
The Bobbili family belongs to the tribe known as Velama Doras, who (according to Orme) "esteem themselves the highest blood of Native Indians next to the Brahmins, equal to the Rajputs, and support this pre-eminence by the haughtiest observances, insomuch that the breath of a different religion, and even of the meaner Indians, requires ablution." The men of this race are, as a rule, well-built and of a warlike disposition. They are proverbially haughty, so much so that they are not known to serve any but the chiefs of their own caste. Most of them are very backward in education and full of prejudices. They are very daring and reckless of life when their feelings are hurt, or when anything happens to offend their notions of respect. The gallantry shown by Rajah Ranga-Rao and his followers, who consisted of Velama Doras and Desastulu (Talagas), in the memorable siege of Bobbili in 1758, made such a deep impression on the Hindus that it has been commemorated in ballads which are sung to this day by wandering minstrels in many parts of the Presidency. A Prabandha called "Ranga Raya Charitra" (History of Ranga-Rao) contains a description of the battle of Bobbili.
The following is a brief sketch of the important events in the lives of the successive Rajahs of Bobbili. It must be mentioned that in consequence of the destruction of the Bobbili Fort in 1758, and the anarchy which followed that destruction, there were hardly any records from which sufficient information regarding some of the Rajahs could be gathered.