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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 6, p. 15.


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It is doubtful also whether either the Ahoms themselves, or the tribes
they found in occupation of the country, would use a Sanskrit term to
denote the dominant race.
The Province falls into three natural divisions: the valley of the
Surma or Barak, the valley of the Brahmaputra or Assam proper,
and the intervening range of hills. The Native
State of Manipur, which lies east of Cachar, is Physical
under the control of the Local Administration, and
the hills to the south of that District inhabited by the Lushais
have recently been brought under British rule.
The Surma Valley is a flat plain about I25 miles long by 60 wide,
shut in on three sides by ranges of hills. The river from which the
valley takes its name rises on the southern slopes of the mountain
ranges on the borders of the Naga Hills District, and flows south
through the Manipur hills. At Tipaimukh, it turns sharply to the north
and takes a tortuous course, with a generally westward direction, through
Cachar District. On the western boundary of Cachar it divides into
two branches, the northern of which, known as the SURMA, flows near
the Khasi Hills past Sylhet and Chhatak, till it turns south at Sunam-
ganj. The southern branch, called at first the Kusiyara, again divides
into two streams, known as the Barak and the Bibiyana, or Kalni, but
both branches rejoin the Surma on the western boundary of the
Province. The chief tributaries of the river on the north, after it enters
British territory, are the JIRI and JATINGA from the North Cachar Hills,
and the BOGAPANI and JADUKATA from the Khasi and Jaintia Hills.
On the south it receives from the Lushai Hills the SONAI, the DHALES-
WARI with its second channel the Katakhal, and the SINGLA; and the
LANGAI, MANU, and KHOWAI from Hill Tippera.
The western end of the valley lies very low, and at Sylhet the low-
water level of the Surmi is only 22-7 feet above the sea. The banks of
the rivers are raised by deposits of silt above the level of the surround-
ing country, and are lined with villages, which in the rainy season appear
to be standing in a huge lake. Farther east the country rises, and
fields covered with sail (transplanted winter rice) take the place of
swamps, in which only the longest-stemmed varieties of paddy can be
grown; but even here there are numerous depressions, or haors as they
are called, in the lowest parts of which water remains during the dry
season, and which can be used only for grazing or the growth of winter
crops. In western Sylhet the houses of the villagers are crowded
together, gardens and fruit trees are scarce, and the scenery at all
seasons of the year is tame and uninteresting. Cachar and the eastern
portion of Sylhet have,. on the other hand, much to please the eye.
Blue hills bound the view on almost every side, the villages are buried
in groves of slender palms, feathery bamboos, and broad-leaved plan-



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