1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sialkot

SIALKOT, or Sealkote, a town and district of British India, in the Lahore division of the Punjab. The town, which has a station on the North-Western railway, is 72 m. N.E. of Lahore. Pop. (1901) 57,956. It is a military cantonment, being the headquarters of a brigade in the 2nd division of the northern army. There are remains of a fort dating from about the 10th century; but the mound on which they stand is traditionally supposed to mark the site of a much earlier stronghold, and some authorities identify it with the ancient Sakala or Sagal. Other ancient buildings are the shrine of Baba Nanak, the first Sikh Guru, that of the Mahommedan Imam Ali-ul-hakk and Raja Tej Singh's temple. The town has an extensive trade, and manufactures of sporting implements, boots, paper, cotton, cloth and shawl-edging. There are Scottish and American missions, a Scottish mission training institution and an arts college.

The District of Sealkote has an area of 1991 sq. m. It is an oblong tract of country occupying the submontane portion of the Rechna (Ravi-Chenab) Doab, fringed on either side by a line of fresh alluvial soil, above which rise the high banks that form the limits of the river-beds. The Degh, which rises in the Jammu hills, traverses the district parallel to the Ravi, and is likewise fringed by low alluvial soil. The north-eastern boundary is 20 m. distant from the outer line of the Himalayas; but about midway between the Ravi and the Chenab is a high dorsal tract, extending from beyond the border and stretching far into the district. Sialkot is above the average of the Punjab in fertility. The upper portion is very productive; but the southern portion, farther removed from the influence of the rains, shows a marked decrease of fertility. The district is also watered by numerous small torrents; and several swamps or jhils, scattered over the face of the country, are of considerable value as reservoirs of surplus water for purposes of irrigation. Sialkot is reputed to be healthy; it is free from excessive heat, judged by the common standard of the Punjab; and its average annual rainfall varies from 35 in. near the hills to 22 in. in the parts farthest from them. The population in 1901 was 1,083,909, showing a decrease of 3% as against an increase of 11% in the previous decade. This is explained by the fact that Sialkot contributed over 100,000 persons to the Chenab colony (q.v.). The principal crops are wheat, barley, maize, millets and sugar-cane. The district is crossed by a branch of the North-Western railway from Wazirabad to Jammu.

The early history of Sialkot is closely interwoven with that of the rest of the Punjab. It was annexed by the British after the second Sikh war in 1849; since then its area has been considerably reduced, assuming its present proportions in 1867. During the Mutiny of 1857 the native troops plundered the treasury and destroyed all the records, when most of the European residents took refuge in the fort.