Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
289
MADRAS


Geology.—By far the greater part of Madras is occupied by granitic and gneissic rocks of very ancient date. Among them are the “ charnockites, " a series of associated eruptive rocks characterized by the presence of rhombic pyroxenes. In Bellary and Anantapur districts, as well as in Mysore and Hyderabad, several long narrow strips of a later formation, known as the Dharwar system, are folded or faulted into the gneissic floor. They run from N.N.W. to S.S.E., and consist of conglomerates, lavas and schists. All the quartz reefs which contain gold in paying quantities are found within these Dharwar bands, those of the Kolar goldfield in Mysore being the most important. The gneissic and Dharwar rocks are overlaid unconformable by the sandstones, limestones, shales, &c., of the Cuddapah and Kurnool series. It is in the sandstones and shales of the Kurnool group that most of the diamonds of southern India are found; but as these rocks are of sedimentary origin, it is probable that the diamonds were originally derived from some still unknown source. A strip of Cvondwana beds follows approximately the course of the Godavari. In Hyderabad it includes the important Singareni coalheld, but in the Presidency no good coal seams have yet been found. Upper Gondwana beds also occur in small patches at several other places near the east coast. Marine cretaceous deposits are found in three detached areas, near Trichinopoly, Viruddhachalam and Pondicherry. Some of the coastal sandstones may be of late Tertiary age, but Tertiary fossils have not been found except in a few small patches on the west coast, the most southerly being near Quilon in Travancore.

Climate.—The climate varies in accordance with the height of the mountain chain on the western coast. Where this chain is lofty, as between Malabar and Coimbatore, the rainclouds are intercepted and give a rainfall of 150 in. on the side of the sea, and only 20 in. on the landward side. Where the range is lower, the rainclouds pass over the hills and carry their moisture to the interior districts. The Nilgiri hills enjoy the climate of the temperate zone, with a moderate rainfall. The Malabar coast has a rainfall of 150 in., and the clouds on the Western Ghats sometimes obscure the sun for months at a time. Along the eastern coasts and central table-lands the rainfall is low and the heat excessive. At Madras city the average rainfall is 5o in., but this is considerably above the mean of the east coast.

Minerals.—The mineral wealth of the province is undeveloped. Iron of excellent quality has been smelted by native smiths in many localities from time immemorial; but attempts to work the beds after European methods have proved unsuccessful. Carboniferous sandstone extends across the Godavari valley as far as Ellore, but the coal has been found to be of inferior quality. Among other minerals may be mentioned manganese in Vizagapatam, and mica in Nellore. Garnets are abundant in the sandstone of the Northern Circars, and diamonds of moderate value are found in the same region. Stone and gravel quarries are very numerous.

Forests.—The forest department of Madras was first organized in 1856, and it is estimated that forests cover a total area of more than 19,600 sq. m., the whole of which is under conservancy rules. An area of about 1500 sq. m. is strictly conserved. In the remaining forests, after supplying local wants, timber is either sold direct by the department or licences are granted to wood-cutters. The more valuable timber trees comprise teak, ebony, rosewood, sandal-wood and redwood. The trees artificially reared are teak, sandal-wood, Casuarina and eucalyptus. The finest teak plantation is near Beypur in Malabar. At Mudumalli there are plantations of both teak and sandal-wood; and the eucalyptus or Australian gum-tree grows on the Nilgiris in magnificent clumps.

Fauna.—The wild animals include the elephant, bison, sambur and ibex of the Western Chats and the Nilgiris. Bison are found also in the hill tracts of the Northern Circars. InTravancore state the black leopard is not uncommon. The elephant is protected by law from indiscriminate destruction. The cattle are small, but in Nellore and along the Mysore frontier a superior breed is carefully kept up by the wealthier farmers. The best buffaloes are imported from the Bombay district of Dharwar.

Population.—The population in 1901 was divided into Hindus (37,026,471), Mahommedans (2,732,931), and Christians (1,934,480). The Hindus may be subdivided into Sivaites, Vishnuvites and Lingayats. The Sivaites are most numerous in the extreme south and on the west coast, while the Vishnuvites are chiefly found in the northern districts. The Lingayats, a sect of Sivaite puritans, derive their name from their practice of carrying about on their persons the linga 'or emblem of Siva. The Brahmans follow various pursuits, and some of them are recent immigrants, who came south in the train of the Mahratta armies. A peculiar caste of Brahmans, called Nambudri, is found in Malabar. The most numerous of the hill tribes are the Kondhs and Savaras, two cognate races who inhabit the mountainous tracts of the Eastern Ghats, attached to several of the large estates of Ganjam and Vizagapatam. On the Nilgiris the best known aboriginal tribe is the Todas (q.v.). The Mahommedans are subdivided into Labbai, Moplah, Arab, Sheikh, Sayad, Pathan and Mogul. The Labbais are the descendants of Hindu converts, and are traders by hereditary occupation, although many now employ themselves as sailors and fishermen. The Moplahs are the descendants of Malayalam converts to Islam-the head of the tribe, the raja of Cannanore, being descended from a fisher family in Malabar. They are a hard-working, frugal people, but quite uneducated and fanatical, and under the influence of religious excitement have often disturbed the public peace. Christians are more numerous in Madras than in any other part of India. In Travancore and Cochin states the native Christians constitute as much as one-fourth of the population. The Roman Catholics, whose number throughout

southern India is estimated at upwards of 650,000, owe their establishment to St Francis Xavier and the famous Jesuit mission of Madura; they are partly under the authority of the archbishop of Goa, and partly under twelve Jesuit vicariates. Protestant missions date from the beginning of the 18th century. The Danes were the pioneers; but their work was taken up by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, under whom laboured the great Lutherans of the 18th century—Schultz, Sartorius, Fabricius and Schwartz. The Church Missionary Society entered the field in 1814; and subsequently an American mission joined in the work.

Languages.—Broadly speaking, the entire population of Madras belongs to the five linguistic offshoots of the great Dravidian stock, dominant throughout southern India. At an early period, before the dawn of history, these races appear to have accepted some form of the Brahmanical or Buddhist faiths. Many storms of conquest have since swept over the land, and colonies of Mogul and Mahratta origin are to be found here and there. But the evidence of language proves that the ethnical character of the population has remained stable under all these influences, and that the Madras Hindu, Mahommedan, lain and Christian are of the same stock. Of the five Dravidian languages in British territory Telugu is spoken by over 14,000,000 persons; Tamil by over 15,000,000 persons; Kanarese by over 1,500,000 persons; Malayalam by nearly 3,000,000 persons; and Tulu by about 500,000 persons. Oriya is the native tongue in the extreme north of Ganjam, bordering on Orissa; and various sub-dialects of Dravidian origin are used by the hill tribes of the Eastern Ghats, of whom the Kondhs may be taken as the type.

Agriculture.—Over the greater part of the area of Madras artificial irrigation is impossible, and cultivation is dependent u on the local rainfall, which rarely exceeds 40 in. a year, and is liable to fall irregularly. The Malabar coast is the only part where the rainfall brought by the south-west monsoon may be trusted both for its amount and regularity. Other districts, such as Bellary, are also dependent upon this monsoon; but in their case the rainclouds have spent themselves in passing over the Western Ghats, and cultivation becomes a matter of hazard. Over the greater part of the presidency the rainy season is caused by the south-east monsoon, which breaks about the end of September. The deltas of the Godavari, Kistna and Cauvery rivers are the only spots on the east coast which artihcial irrigation is able to save from the risk of occasional scarcity. The principal food staples are rice, cholam, cambu, ragi and varagu (four kinds of millet). The most common oil-seed is gingelly (sesamum). Garden crops comprise tobacco, sugar-cane, chillies, betel-leaf and plantains. Sugar is chiefly derived from the sap of palms. The fruit trees are coco-nut, areca-nut, palmyra palm, jack, tamarind and mango. Special crops include cotton, indigo, coffee, tea, cinchona. The best cotton is grown in Tinnevelly. The principal coffee tract stretches along the slopes of the Western Ghats from the north of Mysore almost down to Cape Comorin. The larger portion of this area lies within Mysore, Coorg and Travancore states, but the Wynaad and the Nilgiri hills are within Madras. The first coffee plantation was opened in the Wynaad in 1840. Many of the early clearings proved unprofitable, and the enterprise made little progress till about 1855. Coffee, which is much cultivated on the Nilgiris, covers about loo sq. m., though the area fluctuates. The tea plant was also introduced into the Nilgiri hills about 1840, but was not taken up as a commercial speculation till 1865, and is still unimportant. The cinchona plant was successfully introduced into the Nilgiri hills by the government in 1860, and there are now a few plantations belonging to private owners.

The greater part of the soil in Madras is held by the cultivators