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cal and a temperate region are combined to enhance the charm of one of the most magnificent of landscapes.
“We have now completed,” to quote again from the historian of the canals, “our account of existing Canals of Irrigation in the provinces subject to the government of Agra. We find, that since these works first occupied the attention of the British authorities, they have expended upon them a sum of nearly £557,000, and have drawn from them, in direct canal revenue, nearly £546,000. They have brought under the influence of irrigation, and secured, in a condition of the highest productiveness, an area of 1,300,000 acres, yielding produce to the annual value of not less than two and a half millions sterling, and supporting a population of 600,000 souls, of which a considerable proportion has been reclaimed from habits subversive of all good government, destructive to themselves, and mischievous to their neighbors. Great tracts of land, formerly waste, now sustain a dense, industrious, and thriving peasantry, well supplied with every material comfort they desire, placed beyond the reach of the vicissitudes of the seasons, bearing, with use to themselves, a proportion of the state burdens considerably in excess of that imposed upon their less favored fellow-subjects, and so sensible of the advantages they enjoy, that, even in the very worst of those localities, where inconvenience has arisen from the imperfections of the canal works, the general superiority of their circumstances is willingly admitted, and the desire for canal irrigation unhesitatingly expressed. So long as the control of the canals is vested in the local government, the progress of improvement will be encouraged to its utmost extent; and we doubt not but that, as each year passes by, the admitted evils will gradually become less and less in number and extent, until, under the skilful employment of liberal expenditure, they shall have entirely disappeared.”
Such a statement, as the preceding, of the advantages that have been derived from existing canals, is a good introduction to the still more interesting part of our subject, — the account of those in progress of execution by the British government, — and chiefly of the great Ganges Canal.
The idea of making the great sacred river the source of prosperity and civilization to the people who had so long regarded it with superstitious veneration, of making it pour benignant waters over the fields of those who had so long ignorantly worshipped its unused stream, was one that possesses
a fine element of poetry, which will always add a beauty to its noble practical application. The first suggestion of it seems to be due to Colonel Colvin, of whom we have already spoken ; but it was left to Colonel Cautley, whose name will be inseparably connected with the work as long as even a remembrance of it exists, to make the first surveys, and to prove the practicability of the undertaking. The contrasts presented during the famine of 1837 - 8 between the districts through which the existing canals passed, and the other portions of the country, were such as to direct the attention of government in the most forcible manner to the importance of extending irrigation. The necessary surveys on the upper part of the line of the proposed Ganges Canal were accordingly ordered, and in 1840 Colonel Cautley presented his first report, showing that no insuperable difficulties existed, and urging that the canal should be constructed on the largest possible scale, so as to appropriate the whole visible stream at Hurdwar, its proposed head. In the course of the next year, the Court of Directors gave their approval to the work, and directed that a committee of engineer officers should be associated with Colonel Cautley, to determine on the best method of carrying the project into effect. This committee “ submitted their report in February, 1842, and recommended that the canal should be constructed of such dimensions as would admit of its discharge being 6,750 cubic feet per second, which supply was considered sufficient for the irrigation of the whole Doab," that is, the country lying between the Ganges, Hindun, and Jumna, and forming the principal part of the North-West Provinces. But orders for the prosecution of the work had hardly been given when Lord Ellenborough reached India as Governor-General, and put a stop to all measures of peaceful improvement, while he played the poor, low part of a pompous military chief. Through the discouraging years of his administration, no advance was made on the canal. At length, in 1847, Lord Ellenborough having been succeeded by Lord Hardinge, a man of a different stamp, arrangements were made for the vigorous prosecution of the works; and, wrote Captain Smith in 1848, “twelve years after the first line of levels for the project had been taken, the Ganges Canal may be said to be fairly in progress, on a scale commensurate with its importance, and on the plan which its projector advocated from the first, and, amidst all opposing influences, never ceased to advocate, — that, namely, of a canal primarily of irrigation, but provided with all works necessary for purposes of navigation.” The delay of so many years had but made the necessity for the work more urgent, while the accuracy and completeness of the calculations and surveys on which the project was based had been thoroughly tested.
The canal which, since 1848, has been going on steadily till it is now approaching its completion, is the most magni. ficent public work in India, and hardly surpassed by any in the world. Starting from Hurdwar, where the Ganges breaks through the rocky outworks of the Himalayas, it continues its abundant course through the heart of the Doab, throwing off branches on either side " which rival the largest of the existing canals," till it reaches its terminus at Allahabad, having traversed, with its branches, a total distance of 898 miles from its commencement. “ The only obstacles,” says Captain Smith, “ to the construction of the canal are met with on the first twenty miles from the head, or between Hurdwar and Roorkhi. These difficulties arise from the course of the canal intersecting at right angles the whole of the drainage of the SubHimalayas, of which the western valley of the Ganges is the receptacle."
The town of Hurdwar, where the canal begins, is a picturesque and curious place. It is a sort of miniature Benares. Nowhere can be found a contrast more striking between the beauties and excellence of nature, and the perverse superstitions which men have associated with her noblest displays. The town lies on a narrow strip of land between the wooded hills, whose steep sides rise abruptly over it, and the river that flows at their feet. Here is the gateway through which the Ganges passes from the mountains which guard its source, down to the open plains; and to this spot multitudes of pilgrims resort to bathe in the unpolluted stream, and to carry away the purifying waters to the furthest limits of India. The narrow, dirty streets of the town are crowded with priests, devotees, and mendicants, many of whom are hardly more human in their aspect than the monkeys that run over the
tiled roofs of the bazaar. The river bank is lined with pagodas and other edifices of stone, from which broad flights of steps lead down to the sacred bathing place. When the canal was commenced, the Bramins, who gained their livelihood from the pilgrims attracted by the reputed sanctity of the place, were alarmed lest the sacred character of Hurdwar might be destroyed. But care was taken to remove their fear by dealing with it in the most considerate manner, by improving the place for bathing, and by clearing the bed of the river where it passes by the town. A more general feeling among the natives was, that the work was one of most unmitigated presumption, and that nothing could be more absurd than to suppose that the mighty Gunga would ever so far forget herself as to forsake her ancient channel and consent to flow in a new one made by sacrilegious hands.* It was not, as we have heard, until after the water had been actually let on to a small portion of the works, that their doubts began to give way.
The first masonry works are at Myapur, a mile and a half south of Hurdwar. A branch of the river having been taken possession of up to this point, it is here that the artificial channel commences, “having a constant width at bottom of 140 feet, and a variable width at top dependent on the depth of excavation, but which may be stated generally to be about 200 feet. The depth of water provided for, is 10 feet and the slope of the bed about 18 inches per mile.” It might be wearisome to describe the various works by which the canal is brought over the frequent difficulties which present themselves in the few next miles, – though in neglecting to do
* Mr. Raikes, in his very useful and interesting “ Notes on the North-West Provinces,” gives an entertaining account of the difficulties of a native Deputy Collector in getting the children of his district to go to school. The story is told by Rung Lal, the deputy. Part of it illustrates the popular belief to which we have alluded above. " When the people gave up this notion, a new fancy was brought out: sixteen schools, out of four-and-twenty in the jurisdiction of your humble servant, were stopped ; yes, absolutely closed ; and what, sir, do you suppose, was the reason? The old women spread a report that the Ganges Canal, which has been so long cutting, would not chul, that the water would not run in it, and that the boys were not really wanted for education, but for sacrifice to propitiate Gunga-jee ! The schools, as I say, were deserted until I went round to the villages, and swore upon the Ganges water that there was no real cause for alarm."
this, we are obliged to omit the account of many things worthy of note. But we cannot pass over the works in the Solani valley, not quite twenty miles from Hurdwar, with the same silence, both because they are the most important works on the line of the canal, and because some of our own pleasantest associations with India belong to them and to the station of Roorkhi, which overlooks their course. And here, again, we will make use of Captain Smith's words, being unable to improve and unwilling to alter them. After passing through a high ridge of land, about two miles in breadth, the canal enters the valley of the Solani, which, at this point, is two and a quarter miles wide.
“ The level of the canal bed begins to rise at once above the surface of the country; and the great work of embanking the channel, or forming the earthen aqueduct, commences.
" This work, by which the canal is brought through the valley to the Solani river, will consist of an earthen embankment, or platform, raised to an average height of about 16. 1-2 feet above the country, having a base of about 350 feet in width, and a breadth at top of about 290 feet. On this platform, the banks of the canal will be formed, 30 feet in width at top and 12 feet in depth. These banks will be protected from the action of the water by lines of masonry, retaining walls formed in steps, extending along their entire length, or for nearly 2. 1.4 miles north of the Solani.
“ The river itself is crossed by a masonry aqueduct, which will be not merely the largest work of the kind in India, but one of the most remarkable for its dimensions in the world.
“ The total length of the Solani aqueduct is 920 feet. Its clear waterway is 750 feet, in 15 arches of 50 feet span each. The breadth of each arch is 192 feet. Its thickness is 5 feet: its form is that of the segment of a circle, with a rise of 8 feet. The piers rest upon blocks of masonry, sunk 20 feet deep in the bed of the river, and being cubes of 20 feet side, pierced with four wells each, and undersunk in the manner practised by natives of India, in constructing their wells. These foundations, throughout the whole structure, are secured by every device that knowledge or experience could suggest; and the quantity of masonry sunk beneath the surface will be scarcely less than that visible above it. The piers are 10 feet thick at the springing of the arches, and 12. 1-2 feet in height. The total height of the structure, above the valley of the river, will be 38 feet. It will not, therefore, be