Punjab and Haryana, India & Pakistan
units of land area

The measures of area are the páo-bígha, adh-bígha, pauna-bígha, bígha, [that is, the bígha and fractional parts of a bígha] and so on. The zamíndár [a type of landlord] does not talk of biswas. Inside the village site they measure not by kadams but by gaz.

The ordinary unit of land measurement is the kachcha bígha of 20 square kadams varying from 850 to 1,000 square yards in different parts of the district. In the Government records of last settlement land is measured by the pakka bígha of 3,025 square yards, but for the purpose of the new settlement a fixed kachcha bígha standard has been set up of 1/3rd the pakka bígha. In any case the bígha, whether kachcha or pakka, is divided into 20 biswas. In a few villages in the north of the district the zamíndárs use the kanál and marla standard common everywhere.

Gazetteer of the Ambala District. 1883-84.
“Compiled and Published under authority of the Punjab government.”
Page 55.
“kadam” is a synonym for “karam”.

Metrication

In the 1920's, C. A. Silverrad, who was a member of the Weights and Measures Committee appointed by the government of India in 1913 to consider reform, wrote

Similarly, the acre has now become very widely recognised and used as a unit of area, while the hectare has scarcely even been heard of.

Nature, no. 2770, vol. 119, (Dec. 2 1922), page 735.

Since that time considerable progress has been made in converting Indian land records to meters, with a big push in the 1970s.

The karam = 57.157 inches standard

“In the areas consolidated on the basis of local measure and the non-consolidated areas of Fazilka (Ferozepur), Roper (except Anandpur Sahib) and the erstwhile princely States of Patiala, Nabha and Malerkotla.”¹ Land was measured using the karam or gatha, = 57.157 inches (1.4517 meters). An area 1 karam by 1 karam was a biswansi.

 

(katcha) bigha

 

biswa

20

biswansi

20

400

2.52
sq. yd.

50.42
sq. yd.

1008.31*
sq. yd.

2.11
sq. m

42.15
sq. m

843.08
sq. m

*1008.31 if multiplying up from the dimensions of a biswansi; 1008.33 if a third of the 3,025 sq. yd pakka bigha.

An acre was then defined as 4 bigha plus 16 biswa (4033.24 square yards + 806.72 = 4839.885 square yards, a hair's breadth from 4840). 2.47 acres made 1 hectare.

sources

12. The unit of measurement employed in the tract at last settlement was the karam of 57.157 inches: and the unit of square measurement the katcha bigha, which equals : 208 [sic, i.e., 0.208] of an acre. Though this unit is not a convenient one to work with, the karam bearing no exact ratio to the English linear standard of a mile, and comparison with survey maps being thereby rendered difficult, it was decided, after consultation with the Settlement Commissioner, to maintain it. The reasons for this decision were (i) the people in the greater part of the tract use the katcha bigha as their unit of measurement, and (ii) a change in the unit of measurement would have caused much confusion in the revenue records when comparing old with new measurements.

C. A. H. Townsend.
Final Report of the Third Revised Settlement, 1906-1910 of the Bhiwani, Hansi, Hissr and Fattehabad Tahsils, Hissar District.
Lahore: Printed at the Punjab Government Press, 1912.
Page 4.

The karam = 57.5 inches standard

"In the areas consolidated on the basis of local measure and the non-consolidated areas of Hoshiarpur, Jullundur, Anandpur Sahib (Ropar) and the Shahpur hill circle in Gurdaspur District.”¹ One karam = 57.5 inches (about 1.4605 meters); 1 sarsahi = 1 karam by 1 karam.

ghumao

   

kanal

8

 

marla

20

160

sarsahi

9

180

1440

22.96
sq. ft

22.96
sq. yds

459¼
sq. yds

3674
sq. yd

2.13
sq. m

19.20
sq. m

383.95
sq. m

3071.61
sq. m

The karam = 60 inches standard

“In the areas consolidated on the basis of local measure and the non-consolidated area of Amritsar, Gurdaspur (except Shahpur hill circle and Chak Andar in Pathankot tehsil), Ferozepur (except Fazilka) and the erstwhile princely State of Faridkot.”¹ One karam = 60 inches (about 1.524 meters); 1 biswansi or 1 sarsahi = 1 karam by 1 karam.

         

ghumao

       

bigha

3 3/5

     

kanal

2 2/9

8

   

biswa

9

20

72

 

marla

2 2/9

20

40

144

biswansi or sarsahi

9

20

180

400

1440

25
sq. ft

25
sq. yds

500
sq. ft

500
sq. yds

10,000
sq. ft

4000
sq. yd

2.32
sq. m

20.90
sq. m

46.45
sq. m

418.06
sq. m

929.03
sq. m

3344.51
sq. m

The karam = 66 inches standard

“In all the areas consolidated on the basis of the Standard measure of a karam of 66 inches.”¹ One karam = 66 inches (1.6764 meters); 1 sarsaai = 1 karam by 1 karam. This is the system used in the Canal Colonies of the Punjab, augmented by the marabba. See marabba for a chart and history. This system continues to be used in the 21st century.

       

hectare*

   

ghumáo or acre

2.5

   

kanal

8

20

 

marla

20

160

400

sarsaai

9

180

1440

3600

4356
sq. in

30.25
sq. yd

605
sq. yd

4840
sq. yd

12,100
sq. yd*

2.81
sq. m

25.29
sq. m

505.86
sq. m

4046.86
sq. m

10,117.14
sq. m*

*not exact, but apparently the conversion factor used in computerizing the land records. 2.47 is much better. The hectare is, obviously, not part of the original system.

sources

79. One of the first points for decision was to what extent remeasurements were necessary and what should be the scale of the new maps : the standard measure of length is the karam, or double pace of 66 inches, and the measures of area are as follows:-
9 square karams = 1 marla = 1 pole.
20 marlas = 1 kanál = ½ rood.
8 kanáls = 1 ghumáo = 1 acre.

The people themselves commonly, but by no means invariably, reckon in bighas, the bigha being equal to 4 kanals or half an acre.

W. S. Talbot
Final Report of the Revision of the Settlement of the Jhelum District in the Punjab.
Lahore: The “Civil and Military Gazette” Press, 1901.
Page 41.
Jhelum is now in the Punjab province of Pakistan.

The gatha = 99 inches standard

“In the areas consolidated on the basis of local measure and the non-consolidated area of Ludhiana District and the erstwhile princely state of Jind.”¹ One gatha = 99 inches (2.5146 meters); 1 biswansi = 1 gatha by 1 gatha.

     

hectare*

   

bigha

3.954*

 

biswa

20

79.08*

biswansi

20

40

158.16*

756¼
sq. in

1512½
sq. yd

3025
sq. yd

11,959.9
sq. yd

6.32
sq. m

126.46
sq. m

2529.29
sq. m

10,000
sq. m

*The hectare-bigha conversion factor, and the biswas and biswansis per hectare, are not part of the system but are rough approximations provided by us for the reader's convenience.

notes

1. Punjab Land Records Manual, Third edition.
June 2004.
Pages 183-185. The manual was first issued in 1935.

X

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