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great facility; and here also is found an inexhaustible store of timber for boat-building. The breadth of the lower part of the Delta is upwards of 180 miles, to which, if we add that of the two branches of the river that bound it, we shall have about 200 for the distance which the Ganges expands its branches at its junction with the sea. There are two distinct passages through the Sunderbunds, one named the S. or Sunderbund Passage; the other, the Baligot passage. The first is the farthest about, and leads through the deepest and widest rivers; it opens into the Calcutta river, through Channel Creek, about 65 miles below the town. The Baligot Passage opens into a lake on the E. side of Calcutta, from whence, some years since, a small canal was cut, to join the lake with the river.
The bore, (which is known to be a sudden and abrupt influx of the tide into a river or narrow strait), prevails in the principal branches of the Ganges, and in the Megna; but the Hughley River is more subject to them than the others. In the Hughley, or Calcutta River, the bore commences at Hughley Point (the place where the river first contracts itself), and is perceptible above Hughley Town; and so quick is its motion, that it hardly employs four hours in travelling from one to the other, although the distance is nearly 70 miles. At Calcutta it sometimes occasions an instantaneous rise of five feet; and both here and in every part of its track, the boats on its approach immediately quit the shore, and make for safety to the middle of the river.
The intricate and dangerous navigation of the entrance to the Hughley requires great skill and experience. Full directions have been published by CAPT. HORSBURGH (India Directory, &c.) and CAPT. MAXFIELD, (Directions for sailing from False Point Palmiras to the Sand Heads, &c.). The pilot vessels cruise, during the N. E. monsoon, about the vicinity of the E. reef and Sagor Sand, in latitude 21° 3′ N.; and in the interval, between the monsoons, for about a month, in the S. or W. channel. In the early part of the S. W. monsoon, they are more frequently met between the parallel of Point Palmiras reef, and latitude 20° 51′ N. In the latter part they cruise off Point Palmiras, but never very far S. of it; they are brigs of 200 tons. On shewing a jack at the fore, they answer with a red at the main : carefully abserve their movements and signals (Marriott's) as they are sometimes in perilous situations; attend carefully to the lead, and keep a good look-out.
Burrampooter and Megna are names belonging to the same river in different parts of its course. The Megna falls into the Burrampooter, and though a much smaller river, communicates its name to the other during the rest of its course to the sea. The Burrampooter, for a distance of 400 miles
through Bengal, bears a resemblance to the Ganges, except that during the last 60 miles, before its junction with the Ganges, it forms a stream, which is regularly from four to five miles wide, and but for its freshness, might pass for an arm of the sea. In the channels between the islands in the mouth of the Megna, the height of the bore is said to exceed 12 feet, and is so terrific in its appearance, and dangerous in its consequences, that no boat will venture to pass at spring tide.
KEDGEREE is a small village on the W. bank of the river, where the ships of war frequenting this river, usually anchor. The European residents are the agent who has the care of the post-office, loading and unloading the Company's ships, and another agent who supplies shipping with provisions and other necessaries. The village is small, but the land around it flat and low, and the situation considered unhealthy during the months of July, August, and September, when the periodical rains take place, and the heats are excessive.
PROVISIONS AND REFRESHMENTS of all kinds are abundant here, and very cheap. Fowls, ducks, geese, pine-apples, plantains, limes, shaddocks, &c. are all extremely reasonable.
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DIAMOND HARBOUR is on the E. bank of the river. a good carriage road hence to Calcutta, distance 31 miles. Company's regular ships usually remain to unload their outward, and the greater part of their homeward-bound cargoes; the remainder is taken in lower down the river, in Sagor Roads. The Company have mooring chains laid down, and warehouses, or bankshalls, for the reception of ships' stores, rigging, &c.; and a regular market is held, where all sorts of provisions and refreshments are to be procured in abundance, and cheap. The only European residents are an agent, as at Kedgeree, the Port Master (who acts as Post Master), and his assistant.
A short distance above this anchorage, the bed of the river turns to the left; and a little further is the mouth of a large river, improperly called the Old Ganges, but its true name is the Roopnarain. The place where it unites with the Hughley, is the most dangerous part of the navigation of the river.
FULTA is a short distance higher up on the right side of the river. The village is considerable, and has a bazar well supplied with provisions, vegetables, fruits, &c. There is generally an European residing here, who undertakes to supply the homeward-bound East Indiamen with sheep, poultry, and other stock at reasonable prices.
The settlements above Calcutta are the following:
BARNAGORE, a small village on the E. bank of the river, about five
miles from Calcutta. Various kinds of piece-goods are manufactured here, particularly a coarse kind of blue handkerchiefs; and Surat piecegoods are imitated, but they are generally of a thin and open texture.
SERHAMPORE, OR SERAMPORE.-This town is situated on the W. bank, about five miles from Barnagore. The town extends about two miles in length, but its breadth is inconsiderable; it has no fortifications, only a battery for saluting. Nearly opposite, on the other bank of the river, are the cantonments of Barrackpore.
BANKIBAZAR.—About three miles higher up the river, on its E. bank, is this small village, where the East India Company of Ostend had formerly a factory.
CHANDERNAGORE is situated on the W. bank, about four miles above the latter place. The territory attached to it extends about two miles along the banks of the river, and about 1 mile inland. The fort, now in ruins, is nearly at an equal distance between the N. and S. extremities of the territory, and about thirty yards from the river. The town is of considerable extent, and much trade used to be carried on here.
CHINSURAH is also on the W. bank. The town is built along the river, in an irregular manner, and many of the houses are large and handsome: on the land side it is closed by barrier gates. Here is a handsome church. The Dutch fort, which bears the name of Fort Gustavus, is constructed in a large open space, about 500 feet from the river. There are three gates; one towards the river, one on the land side to the N., and the other to the S. The warehouses and residence of the Chief are within the fort. A battery of 21 guns is on the river-side, for the purpose of firing salutes.
HUGHLEY, OR HOOGLEY, is about two miles above Chinsurah. The town extends near three miles along the banks of the river. At its N. extremity is a fort, now in ruins.
BANDEL is a native village of considerable extent, about three miles to the N. of Hughley. The trade carried on is very trifling.
The following are the estimated distances between the under-mentioned stations, from Point Palmiras up the Hughley to Calcutta, by the channels navigated by shipping.
From Point Palmiras to the Floating Light Vessel, stationed in the centre of the eastern channel, 85 miles; thence to Sagor Point, 37 miles ; thence to the New Anchorage, 13 miles; thence to Diamond Harbour, 30 miles; from Sagor Point to Kedgeree Point, 18 miles; thence to Diamond Harbour, 30 miles; thence to Fulta House, 20 miles; thence to the Meyapore Magazine, 11 miles; thence to Fort Gloster, 9 miles; thence to
the Old Powder Mills, 10 miles; thence to Raj Gunge, 3 miles; thence to Kidderpore Dock, 7 miles; thence to Chandpaul Ghaut, S. W. extremity of Calcutta, 3 miles.
CALCUTTA, the principal settlement belonging to the English in the East Indies, and the residence of the Governor-General, to which all their other settlements are subordinate, is situated on the E. bank of the river, in latitude 22° 33′ N., and longitude 88° 26′ E.
The town extends along the banks of the river about four miles and a half; its breadth in many places is inconsiderable. On landing, and entering the town, a very extensive square presents itself, with a large piece of water in the middle, for the public use. The pond has a grass-plot round it, and the whole is enclosed by a wall with a railing on the top; the sides of this enclosure are each nearly five hundred yards in length. The square itself is composed of magnificent houses, which render Calcutta not only the handsomest town in Asia, but one of the finest in the world. One side of the square consists of a range of buildings occupied by persons in the civil service of the Company, and is called the Writers' Buildings. Part of the side towards the river is taken up by the old fort, the first citadel built by the English after their establishment in Bengal. It is no longer used as a fortification; the ramparts are converted into gardens, and on the bastions, and in the inside of the fort, houses have been built for persons in the service of the Government, particularly the Officers of the Custom House. Between the old fort, and the right wing of the Writers' Buildings, is erected a monument in remembrance of the barbarous conduct of the Nabob, on the capture of the fort in 1756.
There are several churches of the established religion at Calcutta, and also churches for the Portuguese Catholics, another of the Greek persuasion, an Armenian conventicle, a synagogue, several mosques, and a great number of pagodas; so that nearly all the religions in the world are assembled in this capital.
The Black Town is to the N. of Calcutta, and contiguous to it; it is extremely large and populous, with very narrow, confined, and crooked streets, a few of which are paved. The houses are variously built, some with brick, others with mud, and a greater proportion with bamboos and mats. These different kinds of buildings, standing intermixed with each other, form a curious appearance. Those of the latter kind are invariably of one story, and covered with thatch; those of brick seldom exceed two stories, and have flat terraced roofs. Most of the streets have a small canal on each side, about a foot and a half to two feet wide.
Fort William is situated about a quarter of a mile below the town, and makes a noble appearance from the river. It was built by the English soon after the battle of Plassey, and immense sums have been expended upon it.
The fort contains only such buildings as are necessary, such as the residence of the Commandant, quarters for the officers and troops, and the arsenal. Exclusive of these, the interior of the fort is perfectly open, presenting to the sight large grass plots, gravel walks occasionally planted with trees, piles of cannon, bombs, balls, and whatever can give to the place a grand, noble, and military appearance. Each gate has a house over it, destined for the residence of a Major; they are large and handsome buildings.
Between the fort and the town a level space intervenes, called the Esplanade. The Government House, and Chowringhee Road, a line of detached houses belonging to Europeans, make a very interesting figure: they are detached from each other, and insulated in a great space, the general approach to which is by a flight of steps, with large projecting porticoes, which give an elegant and handsome appearance. The Government House is situated on the W. side of the Esplanade.
The aforegoing account is probably a very imperfect picture of the present state of Calcutta. Every year witnesses astonishing improvements there, in the enlargement of old roads, the formation of new ones, the erecting of churches and splendid public and private edifices, the removal of nuisances, &c. Under the administration of Marquis Hastings, Calcutta almost changed its aspect.
The population of Calcutta, which was formerly estimated at 700,000, was ascertained in 1822, during the new assessment, when the numbers were found to be as follow:
Christians, 13,138; Mahommedans, 48,162; Hindoos, 118,203; Chinese, 414; making a total of 179,917 only. Besides the resident population, about 100,000 persons enter Calcutta daily, from the suburbs and opposite side of the river.