In the Forbidden Land
by Arnold Henry Savage Landor
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


Times: "The ordinary reader will be struck with the portraits, which show that in a very few weeks he must have endured a lifetime of concentrated misery. Other travellers, no doubt, have gone further, but none who have escaped with their lives have fared worse.... Mr. Landor tells a plain and manly tale, without affectation or bravado. It is a book, certainly, that will be read with interest and excitement."

Athenaeum: "The account he has written of his travels and adventures is vivid and often fascinating. His frequent notices of curious customs are full of interest, and numerous illustrations from photographs or sketches taken on the spot render this one of the most attractive records of travel published recently."

Guardian: "Life, according to Mr. Landor, has 'barely a dull moment,' and the gloomiest of us will admit that this is at least true of that part of life which may be devoted to the reading of his latest book."

World: "He has contrived, even in circumstances of cruel disadvantage, to present a wonderfully minute and impressive series of pictures of the life, manners, and customs of the Tibetans. No less powerful and vivid are his descriptions of the scenery and natural phenomena of the Forbidden Land, which are reinforced by an ample series of illustrations that attain a high standard of artistic excellence. Mr. Landor's bitter experiences have had at least the advantage of providing him with material for the most absorbing travel book produced within recent times."

Daily Telegraph: "Mr. Landor's story is one of the most extraordinary tales of modern times, yet even the most sceptical reader will admire the vigour with which it is told, and the endurance with which the explorer and his faithful servants bore up against their savage captors."

Standard: "The book fascinates ... The verbal pictures it gives are extremely vivid, and the effect of them is greatly heightened by the numerous drawings and photographs by the author. Mr. Landor is an artist as well as traveller and writer, and he knows how to use his pencil and brush to emphasise his letter-press. Whatever may be said of the wisdom of his enterprises, his book is certainly a remarkable contribution to the literature of modern travel."

Daily News: "The great library of travel in the East has not received for many a year a more important addition than this bright, picturesque, and instructive volume."

Daily Chronicle: "Mr. Landor is an artist as well as a writer, and this handsome volume is most lavishly illustrated with sketches and photographs. Apart from its intense interest as a story of stirring adventure, the book is a valuable storehouse of information on Southern Tibet and its people, and on the little known Indian district of Northern Kumaon. This is surely a record of devotion to geographical science such as no previous explorer has been able to show."














With Two Hundred and Fifty-one Illustrations And a Map




First Edition (2 Vols. 8vo), October 1898 New Impression (2 Vols. 8vo), November 1898 New Edition (1 Vol. 8vo), May 1899

This Edition enjoys copyright in all Countries signatory to the Berne Treaty, and is not to be imported into the United States of America.





IN this book I have set down the record of a journey in Tibet undertaken by me during the spring, summer and autumn of 1897. It is illustrated partly from my photographs and partly from sketches made by me on the spot. Only as regards the torture scenes have I had to draw from memory, but it will be easily conceded that their impression must be vivid enough with me.

The map is made entirely from my surveys of an area of twelve thousand five hundred square miles in Tibet proper. In Chapter VI. the altitudes of such high peaks in India as Nanda Devi and others are taken from the Trigonometrical Survey, and so are the positions fixed by astronomical observations of the starting and terminating points of my surveys at the places where I entered and left Tibet.

In the orthography of geographical names I have adopted the course advised by the Royal Geographical Society—viz., to give the names their true sound as they are locally pronounced, and I have made no exception even for the grand and poetic "Himahlya" which is in English usually distorted into the unmusical and unromantic word "Himalayas."

I submit with all deference the following geographical results of my expedition:

The solution of the uncertainty regarding the division of the Mansarowar and Rakstal Lakes.

The ascent to so great an altitude as 22,000 feet, and the pictures of some of the great Himahlyan glaciers.

The visit to and the fixing of the position of the two principal sources of the Brahmaputra, never before reached by a European.

The fact that with only two men I was able to travel for so long in the most populated part of Tibet.

In addition to the above, I am glad to state that owing to the publicity which I gave on my return to the outrageous Tibetan abuses taking place on British soil, the Government of India at last, in the summer of 1898, notified the Tibetan authorities that they will no longer be permitted to collect Land Revenue from British subjects there. This fact gives me special satisfaction, because of the exceptional courtesy and kindness bestowed on me by our mountain tribesmen, the Shokas.

The Government Report of the official Investigation of my case, as well as other documents substantiating the details of my narrative, are printed in an appendix.

A. H. S. L.

May 1899





II Loads—A set of useful pack-saddle cases—Provisions and scientific outfit—Clothes and shoes—Medicines—Under way—The first march—Servants—How I came to employ faithful Chanden Sing pp. 4-10

III Pithoragarh—Fakir women—A well-ventilated abode—Askote—The Rajiwar and his people Pp. 11-16

IV The Raots—A slippery journey—Superstitious notions—Anger and jealousy—Friends—To the homes of the savages—Photography—Habitations Pp. 17-26

V A pilgrim from Mansarowar Lake—The spirits of the mountains—A safeguard against them—Tibetan encampments—The Rajiwar—A waterfall—Watermills Pp. 27-34

VI Highways and trade routes—The Darma route—The Dholi River—A rough track connecting two valleys—Glaciers—Three ranges and their peaks—Altitudes—Darma, Johar, and the Painkhanda Parganas—The highest peak in the British Empire—Natural boundaries Pp. 35-40

VII The word Bhot and its meaning—Tibetan influence—Tibetan abuses—The ever-helpful Chanden Sing—The first Shoka village—Chanden Sing in disgrace—Weaving-loom—Fabrics—All's well that ends well Pp. 41-45

VIII Prayers by wind-power—Photography under difficulties—A night of misery—Drying up—Two lady missionaries—Their valuable work—An interesting dinner party—An "eccentric" man's tea party Pp. 46-52

IX Discouraging reports—A steep ascent—How I came to deserve the name of "monkey"—Hard at work—Promoted in rank—Collapse in a gale of wind—Time and labour lost Pp. 53-56

X The Nerpani, or "waterless track"—Exaggerated accounts—A long shot—The rescue of two coolies—Picturesque Nature—An involuntary shower-bath—The Chai Pass Pp. 57-62

XI A series of misfortunes—Tibetan atrocities on British subjects—Tibetan exactions—Revolting cruelty to one of her Majesty's subjects—Assault on a British officer—A smart British Envoy Pp. 63-68

XII Tibetan threats—My birthday—Ravenous dogs—A big dinner—Shoka hospitality Pp. 69-73

XIII Shoka hospitality—How I obtained much information—On a reconnoitring trip—A terrible slide Pp. 74-80

XIV A palaver—To see is to believe—Dangers and perils on the snow and ice—Thar and Ghural—Stalking—A tiring climb to 16,000 feet—The collapse of a snow bridge Pp. 81-85

XV An earthquake—Curious notions of the natives—A Shoka tailor and his ways—The arrival of silver cash—Two rocks in the Kali—Arrogance of a Tibetan spy Pp. 86-91

XVI The Rambang—Shoka music—Love-songs—Doleful singing—Abrupt ending—Solos—Smoking—When marriage is contemplated—The Delang—Adultery—Punishment Pp. 92-97

XVII FUNERAL RITES: Departure of the Soul—Cremation—Amusement of the dead man's soul—The lay figure—Feasting—Doleful dance—Transmigration of the soul—Expensive ceremonies—Offerings before the lay figure—Dancing and contortions—Martial dances—Solo dances—The animal to be sacrificed and the lay figure—Chasing the animal from the village—Tearing out its heart—The yak driven over a precipice—Head shaving—A sacred cave Pp. 98-110

XVIII Touching Shoka farewell—Feelings curiously expressed—Sobs and tears—The start—A funereal procession—Distressed father and mother—Kachi and Dola the worse for drink—Anxious moments—The bridge destroyed Pp. 111-115

XIX A dangerous track—Perilous passage—A curious bridge over a precipice—Pathetic Shoka custom—Small misadventures—A grand reception—Tea for all tastes Pp. 116-119

XX Dr. Wilson joins my expedition for a few marches—What misdeeds a photographic camera can do—Weighing, dividing, and packing provisions—Two extra men wanted—The last friendly faces Pp. 120-122

XXI The Kuti Castle—Under way—Our first disaster—A cheerful and a sulky coolie—Mansing—A brigand—A strange medley of followers—A character—Tailoring—Fields of stones—Troublesome rivers—The Jolinkan or Lebung Pass—Sense of humour—Pleased with small comforts Pp. 123-130

XXII Want of fuel—Cooking under difficulty—Mansing lost and found—Saved from summary justice—Tibetan visitors—We purchase sheep—The snow-line—Cold streams—The petrified chapati and human hand Pp. 131-136

XXIII The scout's return—A small exploring party—The Mangshan glacier Pp. 137-140

XXIV Snow and troublesome debris—The doctor's sufferings—Kachi disabled—Further trials—A weird apparition—Delirium—All safe—The descent Pp. 141-147

XXV The sources of the Kuti River—The Lumpiya glacier—The summit of the range—Bird's-eye view of Tibet—Rubso frozen almost to death—The Lumpiya Pass—Two coolies in distress Pp. 148-153

XXVI Mysterious footprints—Brigand or spy?—Passes and tracks—Intense cold—No fuel—A high flat plateau—Fuel at last!—Two spies in disguise—What they took us for Pp. 154-157

XXVII Lama Chokden—A Tibetan guard—The sacred Kelas—Reverence of my men for the sacred Mountain—Trying hard to keep friends with the gods—Obos—Water flowing to us Pp. 158-161

XXVIII An extensive valley—Kiang, or wild horse—Their strange ways—The Gyanema fort—Apprehension at our appearance—A parley—"Cut off our heads!"—Revolt and murder contemplated—Hypocritica ways of Tibetan officials—Help summoned from everywhere—Preparing for war Pp. 162-166

XXIX Arrival of a high official—The Barca Tarjum—A tedious palaver—The Tarjum's anxiety—Permission to proceed—A traitor—Entreated to retrace our steps—Thirty armed horsemen—A pretty speech Pp. 167-173

XXX Spying our movements—Disguised sepoys—A gloomy look-out—Troublesome followers—Another march back—An amusing incident Pp. 174-177

XXXI An attempt that failed—A resolution—A smart Shoka lad—The plucky Chanden Sing proposes to accompany me—Mansing the leper becomes my servant's servant Pp. 178-181

XXXII "Devil's Camp"—A fierce snowstorm—Abandoning our tents—Dangers and perils in prospect—Collecting the men—One load too many!—Another man wanted and found—A propitious night—Good-bye to Wilson—The escape—Brigands Pp. 182-186

XXXIII S.E. wind—Hungry and half frozen—Lakes at 18,960 feet above sea-level—Cold food at high altitudes—Buried in snow—Mansing's sufferings—Fuel at last Pp. 187-191

XXXIV Dacoits—No nonsense allowed—A much-frequented region—A plateau—The Gyanema-Taklakot track—A dangerous spot—Soldiers waiting for us—Burying our baggage—Out of provisions—A fall into the Gakkon River—A bright idea—Nettles our only diet Pp. 192-197

XXXV All that remained of my men's provisions—The plan to enter the fort—Appearance of yaks—A band of brigands—Erecting fortifications—Changes in the temperature—Soldiers in search of us Pp. 198-201

XXXVI "Terror Camp"—Two more messengers leave camp—A tribe of Dogpas—A strange sahib—Our messengers return from Taklakot—The account and adventures of their mission—In great distress—Two fakirs who suffered through me—Five hundred rupees offered for my head—The Shokas want to abandon me—A plot—How it failed Pp. 202-206

XXXVII A Tibetan guard's encampment—Nattoo volunteers to be a guide—Treachery and punishment of the Shokas—All ways forward barred to me—Evading the soldiers by another perilous march at night—Mansing again lost—A marvellous phenomenon—Sufferings of my men—Severe cold Pp. 207-210

XXXVIII Night marching—The Lafan and Mafan Lakes—Tize, the sacred Kelas—Rhubarb—Butterflies—A hermit Lama—More Dacoits—Surrounded by them—Routed Pp. 211-216

XXXIX Spied and followed by robbers—Jogpas' hospitality—Hares—Tibetan charms resisted—Attempt to snatch Chanden Sing's rifle out of his hands—The ridge between the Rakas and Mansarowar Lakes Pp. 217-219

XL More robbers—The friends of Tibetan authorities—A snap-shot—A meek lot—Prepossessing female and her curious ways—The purchase of two yaks Pp. 220-224

XLI Tibetan coats, hats, and boots—Why a Tibetan prefers to leave half the chest and one arm bare—Ornamentations—Manner and speech—Ignorance and superstition—Way of eating—Jogpa women and children—Head-dress Pp. 225-230

XLII A Daku's strange ideas—The ridge between the two lakes—Black tents—Confronting the two lakes—A chain of high peaks—Gombas—Change in the weather Pp. 231-234

XLIII The Langa Tsangpo—A terrific storm—Drenched to the skin—Heavy marching—Against the gods—Difficulty in finding the Lamasery and village—A bark!—Arrival at last—Gentle tapping—Under a roof Pp. 235-238

XLIV The interior of a serai—Vermin—Fish, local jewellery, and pottery for sale—Favourite shapes and patterns—How pottery is made Pp. 239-241

XLV Friendly Lamas—Chanden Sing and Mansing purified—Mansing's sarcasm—Pilgrims to Mansarowar and their privileges—For luck!—Outside the Gomba Pp. 242-244

XLVI Entering the Lamasery—The Lama's dwelling—Novices—Were we in a trap?—Images—Oblations—Urghin—The holy water, the veil of friendship, and absolution—Musical instruments, books, &c.—God and the Trinity—Heaven and hell—A mystery Pp. 245-248

XLVII The Jong Pen's statements regarding me—Sects of Lamas—Lamaseries—Government allowance—Ignorance of the crowds—How Lamas are recruited—Lamas, novices, and menials—Dances and hypnotism—Infallibility—Celibacy and vice—Sculptors—Prayer-wheels and revolving instruments—Nunneries—Human bones for eating vessels and musical instruments—Blood-drinking Pp. 249-256

XLVIII Illnesses and remedies—Curious theories about fever—Evil spirits—Blacksmith and dentist—Exorcisms—Surgical operations—Massage and cupping—Incurable illnesses—Deformities—Deafness—Fits and insanity—Melancholia—Suicides Pp. 257-264

XLIX A Tibetan medicine-man—Lumbago, and a startling cure for it—Combustible fuses—Fire and butter—Prayers, agony and distortions—Strange ideas on medicine Pp. 265-267

L Tucker village—Chokdens—Houses—Flying prayers—Soldiers or robbers?—A stampede—Fresh provisions—Disappointment—Treachery—Shokas leave me—Observations—Five men, all counted! Pp. 268-270

LI The start with a further reduced party—A reconnaissance—Natural fortress—Black tents and animals—On the wrong tack—Slings and their use—A visit to a Tibetan camp—Mistaken for brigands—Bargaining and begging Pp. 271-275

LII What the men were like—Their timidity—Leather work—Metal work—Blades and swords—Filigree—Saddles and harness—Pack saddles Pp. 276-279

LIII Rain in torrents—A miserable night—A gorge—A gigantic inscription—Sheltered under boulders—A fresh surprise—Only two followers left Pp. 280-282

LIV My time fully occupied—Our own yak drivers—A heavy blow—Along the stream—Soldiers in pursuit of us—Discovered Pp. 283-286

LV An interview—Peace or war?—Gifts and the scarf of friendship—The Kata—The end of a friendly visit Pp. 287-289

LVI Rain in torrents—A swampy plain—The sun at last—Our yaks stolen and recovered Pp. 290-294

LVII Travelling Tibetans—Over a high pass—A friendly meeting—A proffered banquet—Ascent to 20,000 feet—Looking for the Gunkyo Lake—Surprised by a phantom army Pp. 295-297

LVIII A sleepless night—Watching our enemy—A picturesque sight—A messenger—Soldiers from Lhassa—Taken for a Kashmeree—The Gunkyo Lake Pp. 298-301

LIX In pleasant company—Unpopularity of the Lamas—Soldiers—Towards the Maium Pass—Grass—Threats—Puzzled Tibetans—The Maium Pass—Obos Pp. 302-305

LX The Maium Pass—Into the Yutzang province—Its capital—The Doktol province—Orders disregarded—The sources of the Brahmaputra—Change in the climate—The valley of the Brahmaputra—Running risks Pp. 306-308

LXI Expecting trouble—Along the Brahmaputra—A thunderstorm—A dilemma—A dangerous river—Swamped—Saved—Night disturbers—A new friend Pp. 309-312

LXII Leaving the course of the river—A pass—An arid plain—More vanishing soldiers—Another river—A mani wall—Mirage?—A large Tibetan encampment—The chain of mountains north of us Pp. 313-315

LXIII A commotion—An invitation declined—The tents—Delicacies—The Chokseh Pp. 316-320

LXIV Refusal to sell food—Women—Their looks and characteristics—The Tchukti—A Lhassa lady Pp. 321-326

LXV Polyandry—Marriage ceremonies—Jealousy—Divorce—Identification of children—Courtship—Illegitimacy—Adultery Pp. 327-333

LXVI Tibetan funerals—Disposal of their dead—By cremation—By water—Cannibalism—Strange beliefs—Revolting barbarity—Drinking human blood—The saints of Tibet Pp. 334-337

LXVII Another commotion—Two hundred soldiers—A stampede—Easy travelling—A long mani wall—Mosquitoes Pp. 338-341

LXVIII Washing-day—A long march—Kiang and antelope—Benighted—The purchase of a goat—Ramifications of the Brahmaputra—A detour—Through a swamp—Mansing again lost and found Pp. 342-345

LXIX The alarm given—Our bad manners—A peaceful settlement—A large river—Gigantic peak—Again on marshy soil Pp. 346-348

LXX Another Tibetan encampment—Uncontrollable animals—A big stream—Washed away—In dreadful suspense—Rescuing the yak—Diving at great altitudes and its effects—How my two followers got across—A precarious outlook and a little comfort Pp. 349-351

LXXI Hungry and worn—A sense of humour—Two buckets of milk—No food to be obtained—Chanden Sing and Mansing in a wretched state—Their fidelity—Exhaustion Pp. 352-354

LXXII Eighty black tents—Starved—Kindly natives—Presents—Ando and his promises—A Friendly Lama—A low pass—My plans Pp. 355-357

LXXIII Strange noises—Ando the traitor—Purchasing provisions and ponies—A handsome pony—Decoyed away from my tent and rifles—Pounced upon—The fight—A prisoner Pp. 358-361

LXXIV Chanden Sing's plucky resistance—Mansing secured—A signal—A treacherous Lama—Confiscation of baggage—Watches, compasses and aneroids—Fear and avidity—The air-cushion—Dragged into the encampment Pp. 362-366

LXXV A warning to my men—Calm and coolness—The Pombo's tent—Chanden Sing cross-examined and flogged Pp. 367-369

LXXVI Led before the tribunal—The Pombo—Classical Tibetan beyond me—Chanden Sing lashed—The Lamas puzzled—A sudden change in the Pombo's attitude Pp. 370-373

LXXVII My note-books and maps—What the Lamas wanted me to say—My refusal—Anger and threats—Ando the traitor—Chanden Sing's heroism—A scene of cruelty—Rain Pp. 374-376

LXXVIII A high military officer—A likely friend—A soldier and not a Lama—His sympathy—Facts about the Tibetan army Pp. 377-379

LXXIX Sarcasm appreciated—Kindness—A change for the worse—The place for an Englishman—Vermin—A Tibetan prayer Pp. 380-382

LXXX The Rupun as a friend—Treated with respect and deference—Fed by the Rupun and soldiers—Improving my knowledge of Tibetan Pp. 383-385

LXXXI A bearer of bad news—Marched off to the mud-house—Mansing—Insults and humiliations—Iron handcuffs instead of ropes—The Rupun's sympathy—No more hope—In the hands of the mob Pp. 386-389

LXXXII A pitiful scene—A struggle to get to Chanden Sing—Brutally treated—A torturing saddle—Across country at a gallop—A spirited pony—Sand deposits and hills—Speculation—More horsemen coming towards us Pp. 390-392

LXXXIII At an unpleasant pace—Drawing near the cavalcade—A picturesque sight—A shot fired at me—Terrible effects of the spikes along my spine—The rope breaks—An ill omen—A second shot misses me—Arrows—The end of my terrible ride Pp. 393-397

LXXXIV Intense pain—Hustled to the execution-ground—Stretched and tied—Thirsting for blood—A parade of torturing appliances—The music—The Taram Pp. 398-401

LXXXV Bleeding all over—Insulted and spat upon—"Kill him!"—Urging on the executioner—Refusal to stoop—An unpleasant sword exercise—The execution suspended Pp. 402-405

LXXXVI Mansing arrives—A pretence of killing him—Our execution postponed—Fed by the Lamas Pp. 406-407

LXXXVII Happiness checked—Stretched on the rack—Mansing shares my fate—Drenched and in rags—An unsolved mystery Pp. 408-410

LXXXVIII Mansing partially untied after twelve hours on the rack—Numbed—How the brain works under such circumstances—My scientific instruments—The end of my photographic plates—A paint-box accused of occult powers—An offer refused—Courtesy and cruelty combined Pp. 411-412

LXXXIX An unknown article in Tibet—My sponge bewitched—A Lama fires my Martini-Henry—The rifle bursts Pp. 413-415

XC A consultation—Untied from the rack—The most terrible twenty-four hours of my life—I lose the use of my feet—Circulation returning—Intense pain—Sports Pp. 416-417

XCI A great relief—The Pombo's attentions—A weird hypnotic dance Pp. 418-420

XCII Compliments exchanged—A poisoned drink proffered—In acute pain—Uncertainty as to our fate—Working the oracle—My webbed fingers Pp. 421-423

XCIII Our lives to be spared—An unpleasant march—Chanden Sing still alive—A sleepless night—Towards the frontier—Long and painful marches—How we slept at night—A map drawn with blood Pp. 424-428

XCIV South of the outward journey—Severity of our guard—Ventriloquism and its effects—Terrible but instructive days—The Southern source of the Brahmaputra—Leaving Yutzang Pp. 429-430

XCV Easier times—Large encampments—Suffocating a goat—A Tarjum's encampment—Tokchim—Old friends—Musicians—Charity Pp. 431-434

XCVI Towards Mansarowar—Mansing's vision—Bathing in Mansarowar Pp. 435-437

XCVII Suna—Wilson and the Political Peshkar across the frontier—A messenger—Our progress stopped—Diverting us over the Lumpiya Pass—Condemned to certain death—We attack our guard—Lapsang and the Jong Pen's private secretary—A document—Nearing Kardam—Retracing our steps—Dogmar Pp. 438-444

XCVIII A Commotion—The arrival of an army—Elected General-in-chief—How we were to slaughter the Jong Pen's soldiers—My men lay down their arms—Towards Taklakot—Delaling and Sibling—Taklakot at last Pp. 445-449

XCIX Free at last—Among friends—Forgetting our past troubles—Confiscated baggage returned—A scene with Nerba—Suna's message delivered—How our release was brought about—Across the frontier—Photography at Gungi Pp. 450-456

C Civilisation once more—Paralysis—The Tinker Pass in Nepal—Kindly natives—Mr. Larkin—Government Inquiry—Back to Tibet—Final good-bye to the Forbidden Land—The return journey—Farewell to Mansing—Home again Pp. 457-470

APPENDIX Pp. 471-501

INDEX Pp. 503-508



A. Henry Savage Landor and his Two Faithful Servants Frontispiece A Chinese Passport 1 My Faithful Companion 7 My Start from Naini Tal 9 Castle at Pithoragarh 12 Lepers 13 My Abode at Askote 14 A Young Man 17 Raot on Tree 18 Raots 19 Head of Young Man 21 Two Men with Children sitting down 22 A Young Man 24 Raot Women of the Forest 26 The Rajiwar of Askote, his Brother and Son 27 Fakir Returning from Mansarowar 28 The Rajiwar and his Brother in Dandies 32 View of the Himahlyas—showing Nanda Devi and Trisul Peaks 35 Darma Shokas and Tibetans 36 View of the Himahlyas. Showing Nanda Devi and Trisul Peaks 37 Shoka Weavers 42 Shrine and Flying Prayers 46 Wrinkled Shoka 48 Lal Sing Tokudar and his Brother 49 House of a Wealthy Shoka 51 The Tent 55 Nerpani Road 57 The Nerpani Road 58 The Nerpani Track 59 The Nerpani Road 59 The Chai-Lek (Pass) 60 A Narrow Gorge between Two Mountains 61 The Gates of Garbyang 64 Matan Sing Chaprassi 66 Narenghiri Chaprassi 66 Garbyang 67 The House where I Stayed at Garbyang 69 Shoka House with Strange Ladder 71 Shoka Houses 72 Shoka Child Smeared with Butter which is Left to be Absorbed in the Sun 73 Shoka Child being Smeared with Butter 75 The Master of a High School, Altitude 10,940 Feet 76 Gungi Shankom 77 Zazzela Mount, near Gungi 78 Involuntary Tobogganing 79 Chiram 80 Kuti 82 Snow Bridges over the Kuti River 83 Old Shoka Woman Smoking 84 A Well-attended School 87 My Banker and Agent 88 The Valley of Garbyang 89 Chanden Sing and the Daku Rolling up my Bedding 91 Motema, a Shoka Beauty 92 On the Way to the Rambang 93 Shoka Earrings 94 Silver Earrings of Tibetan Origin with Coral Beads 95 Shoka Woman Weaving 96 Rambang Girls with Ornaments 97 Weeping Women under White Cloth 99 Shoka Funeral Pile 100 Women Dusting and Caressing the Lay Figure 101 Women Dancing Round the Lay Figure 102 Dance in Front of Deceased Man's House 103 The Goat with Soul of Deceased being Fed 104 Goat with Soul and Clothes of Deceased 105 Sending the Goat away from the Village 106 Martial Dance round Lay Figure 107 Tearing out the Heart of the Goat 108 Yak driven over Precipice 109 Kachi and his Relations 111 The Patan Summoning my Coolies from the Roof of his House 112 The Chongur Bridge Previous to being Destroyed 114 A Perilous Passage 117 The Photograph that Caused the Child's Death 121 Plan of Kuti Castle 123 The Kuti Castle 125 Mansing the Leper showing his Hands 126 The Jolinkan or Lebung Pass 128 Camping in Snow 133 The Snow-Line at 16,000 Feet 135 The Mangshan Glacier 139 The Spectre and Circular Rainbow 145 "I Roused the Rongba" 146 Ascending the Lumpiya Pass 149 The Lumpiya Glacier and Pass 151 Spied 155 My Men Salaaming Kelas at Lama Chokden 159 The Arrival of Reinforcements 169 The Barca Tarjum and his Officers 171 "At Night I led my men up the mountain in a fierce snowstorm" 183 Buried in Snow 189 Sheep Carrying Load 193 Dacoits with a Booty of Sheep 195 Behind our Bulwarks 199 Our First View of Rakastal 212 Rakastal and Mansarowar Lakes 214 A Dacoit 219 The Bandits laid down their Arms 221 Pack-saddles for Yaks 223 White Woollen Coat and Sashes 226 Woollen Socks 226 Man's Boot, Made at Sigatz; Snow Boot 227 Woman's Boot; Boot Made in Lhassa 227 Hat, as Worn by Officials 228 A Black Yak 232 A Tibetan Fortune Teller 234 My Two Yaks 237 Silver Lhassa Coins 239 Copper Coins; Earring Worn by Men 240 Silver Charm 240 Gold and Malachite Brooch 240 Mansarowar Pottery 241 Entrance to the Tucker Temple 246 Tucker Village and Gomba 251 Stone with Inscription 254 Prayer-wheels—Ancient and Modern. Showing Rolls of Prayers to Go Inside 255 Stone with Inscription 256 Branch with Thorns to Prevent Return of Evil Spirits 260 The Tokchim Tarjum 264 A Medicine-man 267 The Panku Gomba 269 Sling 272 A Natural Castle 273 Woman carrying Child in Basket 274 Tibetan Young Man 277 Swords 278 Saddle 279 Camp with Gigantic Inscription 281 Yak with Cases of Scientific Instruments 284 With only Two Men I proceeded towards Lhassa 285 A Kala 288 Torrential Rain 291 Head of Brigand 292 Brigands with Sheep 293 Saddle Bags 294 Phantom-like Visitors 296 The Gunkyo Lake 299 "I am only a Messenger" 300 Flying Prayers on the Maium Pass 303 Matchlocks 304 Source of the Brahmaputra 307 Tibetan Dog 310 Small Mani Wall 311 An Effect of Mirage 314 Black Tent 317 A Dongbo, or Tea Churn 318 The Interior of a Tent 319 Tsamgo 320 Small Tsamba Bag, carried on the Person by Tibetans 320 Tibetan Hair-brushes and Flint-and-steel Pouch 322 Tibetan Women and Children 323 The Tchukti 324 A Lady from Lhassa 325 Money Bags 326 Woman whose Face is Smeared with Black Ointment 328 Tibetan Woman 329 The Lady in Question 330 Tibetan Children 331 A Young Lama 334 A Red Lama 335 Cup made of a Human Skull 336 Chokden, or Tomb of a Saint 336 A Mani Wall on the Road to Lhassa 339 "And I give you this to make you go back" 340 Kiang 343 Our Yaks Sinking in Mud 344 Carpenter and Saddle-maker 347 Old Woman 348 Contrivance for Carrying Loads 349 Rescuing a Yak 350 Drinking out of a Bucket 353 Shrine inside Tent 354 Mud Guard-house 356 Tibetan Bellows 357 A Distaff 358 Purchasing Ponies 359 I was a Prisoner 360 Rope Riding-whip 361 Earring worn by High Officials 362 Dragged into the Settlement 363 A Spear 364 Tibetans overhauling our Baggage 365 The Pombo's Tent 368 Chanden Sing being Lashed 371 The Pombo 372 A Soldier 374 Soldier with Pigtail wound round his Head 375 An Officer 376 Purse; Flint and Steel; Snuff-box 377 Flint-and-steel Pouch 378 Leather Horse-whip 379 Charm-box 380 Pukus, or Wooden Cups 383 Soldier laying before me the Programme of Tortures 387 Handcuffs 388 Padlock and Key 389 "Sir, sir, I am dying" 391 Spiked Saddle 392 Nerba Firing at Me 394 The Ride on a Spiked Saddle 395 Coat I Wore at the Time of My Capture, Showing Effect of Spikes 396 A Display of Various Instruments of Torture 398 Lama Musicians 399 The Hot Iron Torture 399 The Taram 400 A Bannerman 403 The Executioner Brought the Sword Down to My Neck 404 Thus Elapsed Twenty-four terrible Hours 409 Belt, with Bullet and Powder Pouches, Dagger, Needle-case, and Flint and Steel 414 Martini-Henry Exploded 415 The Pombo's Contortions 419 The Finale of the Dance 420 Chanden Sing tied to a Post 425 A White Yak 426 Map Drawn with Blood during Captivity 427 One of Our Guard 430 Soldier Suffocating Goat 432 Strolling Musicians 433 Old Beggar 434 A Tibetan Shepherd 436 Interior of a Serai 437 Tea Churn (open) 438 A Bearer of Bad News 439 A Shoka Tibetan Half-caste 440 Sheep Loads for Borax and Grain 441 A Jumli Shed 442 We Attacked our Guard with Stones 443 Lapsang and the Jong Pen's Private Secretary 444 Jumli Trader and His Wife in Tibet 446 Cliff Habitations 447 Chokdens near Taklakot 448 Taklakot Fort 449 Pundit Gobaria 450 Dr. Wilson 451 Karak Sing Pal, the Political Peshkar 452 Mansing Showing Cuts under his Feet 453 A Glance at the Forbidden Land from the Lippu Pass 454 The Author, February and October 455 Chanden Sing's Legs, Showing Marks of Lashes and Wounds Healed 456 Mr. J. Larkin 457 Chanden Sing and Mansing enjoying their first Meal according to the Rules of their Castes 458 A Tibetan Temporary Shed 459 A Shaky Passage on the Nerpani Road 460 View of Askote, Showing Rajiwar's Palace 461 Snapshot of Shoka Villagers being Routed 461 Dr. Wilson, Myself, Mr. Larkin, the Political Peshkar, and Jagat Sing ready to ascend the Lippu Pass 462 Tinker in Nepal 463 On the Lippu Pass 464 Mr. Larkin's Party and Mine Halting near the Lippu Pass 465 Mr. Larkin looking out for the Jong Pen from the Lippu Pass 466 Bathing at 16,300 Feet 467 Dharchula. Deserted Habitations of Shokas 467 "I told you," exclaimed the old savage, "that whoever visits the home of the Raots will have misfortune" 468 A Picturesque Bit of Almora 469 Raots Listening to the Account of My Misfortunes 470 Map of South-Western Tibet, showing Author's Route and Return, Journey 470



ON leaving London, I intended to proceed via Germany to Russia, traverse Russian Turkestan, Bokhara and Chinese Turkestan, and from there enter Tibet. The Russian Government had readily granted me a special permission to take free of duty through their territory my firearms, ammunition, provisions, photographic cameras, surveying and other scientific instruments, and moreover informed me, through H.E. Sir Nicholas O'Conor, then our Ambassador in St. Petersburg, that I should be privileged to travel on the military railway through Turkestan, as far as the terminus at Samarakand. I feel under a great obligation to the Russian Embassy in London for the extreme courtesy shown me, and I desire to acknowledge this at the outset, especially because that route might very likely have saved me much of the suffering and disappointment I was subjected to through going by way of India.

I was provided with introductions and credentials from the Marquis of Salisbury, the British Museum of Natural History, etc., I was carrying scientific instruments for the Royal Geographical Society, and I had a British and two Chinese passports.

Having forwarded all my explosives by an ammunition vessel to Russia (the German railways absolutely refusing to carry cartridges), I heard to my dismay, only a few days previous to leaving London, that the steamer had stranded just before reaching her port of destination, and that grave doubts were entertained as to the possibility of saving even a portion of her cargo. This was at the time of the outbreak of the Turco-Greek War, and the Russians were reported to be mobilising their troops along the Afghan frontier. I did not wish to delay my journey, and although my preparations were complete for going through Russia, I nevertheless decided to abandon that plan and go to India, with a view to penetrating over the Himahlya into Tibet. I sailed for India on March 19, on the P. and O. ss. Peninsular, and reached Bombay three weeks later.

It was my first visit to India, and my first impression was certainly not a good one. The heat was intense, and signs of the plague were discernible everywhere. The streets were deserted and the hotels bad and dirty for want of servants, who had abandoned the town in fear of the scourge.

Accompanied by a Parsee friend, I went to several of the districts of Bombay chiefly affected by the disease, but I noticed, wherever I went, little else than a strong odour of disinfectants. It is true there were few houses in those parts which had not ten, twenty, and even more circular red marks, denoting as many deaths, and on one door, which I photographed, I counted no less than forty-nine circles. But I was unable to gauge personally with any sort of accuracy the nature or extent of the disease, beyond seeing in the hospitals a few violent cases of bubonic attacks.

On the day following my arrival in Bombay, I proceeded by rail to Bareilly, which was reached in three days, and from there one more night brought me to Kathgodam, the terminus of the railway line. Travelling partly by Tonga (a two-wheeled vehicle drawn by two horses) and partly on horseback, I found myself at last at Naini Tal, a hill station in the lower Himahlyas and the summer seat of the Government of the North-West Provinces and Oudh, from whence I wrote to the Lieutenant-Governor, informing him of my intention to proceed to Tibet. I also called on the Deputy-Commissioner and made him fully acquainted with my plans. Neither one nor the other of these gentlemen raised the slightest objection to my intended journey into the sacred Land of the Lamas.


Loads—A set of useful pack-saddle cases—Provisions and scientific outfit—Clothes and shoes—Medicines—Under way—The first march—Servants—How I came to employ faithful Chanden Sing.

I KNEW that from Naini Tal, 6407 feet (sixty feet above lake level), all my loads would have to be transported on the backs of coolies, and therefore they had to be divided into equal weights not exceeding twenty-five seers, or fifty pounds. I packed instruments, negatives, and articles liable to get damaged, in cases of my own make designed especially for rough usage. A set of four such cases, of well-seasoned deal wood, carefully joined and fitted, zinc-lined, and soaked in a special preparation of mine by which they were rendered water and air tight, could be made useful in many ways. Taken separately, they could be used as seats; four placed in a row answered the purpose of bedstead; three could be used as seat and table; and the combination of four used in a certain manner made a punt or boat of quick, solid, and easy construction, by which an unfordable river could be crossed or soundings taken in the still waters of a lake. The cases could also be used as baths for myself and my followers (if I could induce these to so far indulge), and also in the developing of my negatives as tanks to properly wash my plates. I conjectured even that in case of emergency they might serve as water casks in arid regions, if I should have to traverse any. One of these boxes packed was exactly a coolie load, and two could be easily slung over a pack-saddle by means of straps and rings. It was due mainly to the stoutness and strength of these cases that, notwithstanding the amount of knocking about they got, my photographic and painting work, as well as my maps, instruments, etc., were really in no way injured until we fell into the hands of the Tibetans. Fortunately, the most important part of my work, from a scientific point of view, had already been accomplished. My provisions were prepared for me by the Bovril Company after instructions furnished by me, with a view to the severe Tibetan climate and the altitudes we should find ourselves in. They contained a vast amount of fat and carbonaceous food, as well as ingredients easily digestible and calculated to maintain one's strength even in moments of unusual stress. I had them packed in tin cases and skin bags. I carried in a water-tight box 1000 cartridges for my 256 deg. Mannlicher rifle, besides 500 cartridges for my revolver, and a number of hunting knives, skinning implements, wire traps of several sizes for capturing small mammals, butterfly nets, bottles for preserving reptiles in alcohol, insect-killing bottles (cyanide of potassium), a quantity of arsenical soap, bone nippers, scalpels, and all other accessories necessary for the collection of natural history specimens. There were three sets of photographic apparatus in my outfit, and one hundred and fifty-eight dozen dry plates, as well as all adjuncts for the developing, fixing, etc. of the negatives as they were taken. The collecting materials were given me by the British Museum of Natural History, to which institution I had promised to present all specimens of fauna and flora I might collect during my journey. I had two sets of instruments for astronomical observation and for use in surveying (one of which had been furnished me by the Royal Geographical Society), such as the six-inch sextant, hypsometrical apparatus for measuring heights, with boiling-point thermometers specially constructed for very great altitudes; two aneroids, one to 20,000 feet, the other to 25,000 feet; three artificial horizons (one mercury, the others plate-glass with levels); a powerful telescope with astronomical eyepiece and stand; a prismatic, a luminous, a floating, and two pocket compasses; maximum and minimum thermometers, a case of drawing instruments, protractors, parallel rules, tape rules, a silver water-tight half-chronometer watch and three other watches, section paper in books and in large sheets, Raper's and the Nautical Almanac for 1897 and 1898.

Not to neglect the artistic aspect of my expedition, I had provided myself with ample painting and drawing materials, and I trust to the appearance of my sketches in these volumes to prove that I did not carry them in vain.

I was provided with a very light mountain tente-d'abri seven feet long, four feet wide, and three feet high. Well accustomed to the sort of travelling I was in for, I decided that I required for myself only a camel-hair blanket in the way of bedding. I reduced my clothing also to a minimum and made no difference in it from start to finish. The only thing I ever missed was my straw hat, which I wore up in the Himahlyas just as I had worn it in the broiling plains, because it seemed to me always the most comfortable headgear. It was rendered unwearable through the clumsiness of one of my Shokas to whom I had lent it to carry in it some swan eggs (presented by a friendly Shoka), and who fell with it, or on it, to the detriment and destruction both of vessel and load. After that I generally went about with my head uncovered, as I only had a small cap left, which was not comfortable. I wore medium thick shoes without nails, and never carried a stick, and I think it was due largely to the simplicity of my personal equipment that I was able, as will be seen presently, to climb to one of the greatest altitudes ever reached by a human being.[1]

My provision of medicines cost me only half-a-crown, firm as I am in the belief that man, living naturally under natural conditions, and giving himself plenty of exercise, can be helped very little by drugs.

And thus I started.

On the first day I rode from Naini Tal to Almora, thirty miles by the lower and well-known road via Khairna.

Almora (5510 feet) is the last hill station towards the frontier where I expected to find a European, or rather an Anglo-Indian, community, and I made it my headquarters for a few days. It was my intention to obtain some reliable hill men, possibly Gourkhas, to accompany me. I applied in vain for this purpose to the Lieut.-Colonel of the 1st 3rd Gourkha Regiment quartered in the station, duly showing letters, introductions, and documents from the highest authorities and institutions in England, plainly demonstrating the scientific object of my journey to Tibet.

The superior authorities seemed open to negotiations had I been able to afford a wait of several months; but, as this would have involved the postponement of my journey for a year on account of the passes leading into Tibet becoming impassable at the end of the summer, I decided to snap my fingers at all the red tape the job required, and to start on my journey without the Gourkhas.

As luck would have it, I came across a gentleman at Almora, a Mr. J. Larkin, who showed me great politeness and gave me much useful information with regard to the roads, the mode of travelling, etc. on the British side of the Tibetan frontier. He had himself travelled nearly up to the boundary the previous year, and knew that part of Kumaon better than any Anglo-Indian in the province. In fact, with the exception of Colonel Grigg, Commissioner of Kumaon, Mr. Larkin is the only other official who has any knowledge at all of the north-east of Kumaon, now so neglected by the Government of the N.W.P.

Gourkhas being unobtainable, the question weighed heavily on my mind of obtaining plucky, honest, wiry, healthy servants, of whatever caste they might be, who would be ready for the sake of a good salary and a handsome reward to brave the many discomforts, hardships, and perils my expedition was likely to involve. Both at Naini Tal and here scores of servants and Shikaris (sporting attendants) offered themselves. They one and all produced "certificates" of good conduct, irreproachable honesty, good-nature and willingness to work, and praises unbounded of all possible virtues that a servant could possess. Each certificate was duly ornamented with the signature of a General, a Captain, a Lieut.-Governor, or some other considerable personage, but each bearer of such testimonial seemed sadly neglected by those who had been so enthusiastically pleased with his services, for he invariably commenced by asking for a loan of several rupees to purchase boots and blankets, and to enable him to support a wife with or without a family whom he would be leaving behind.

I decided that my means did not permit of my supporting "the dear ones at home" of the two or three dozen followers I should require, and I made up my mind to wait and see whether I could not find men to suit me farther on my road without involving myself in the liability of supporting the entire population I left behind me. I made only one exception. I was sitting one fine day in my room at the Dak Bungalow (post resting-house) when an odd creature entered and offered his services, salaaming me.

"Where are your certificates?" I asked.

"Sahib, hum 'certificates' ne hai!" ("Sir, I have no certificates.")

"Well, then I may employ you."

I had previously had a good look at the fellow. His facial lines showed considerably more character and force than I had noticed in the features of other local natives. His attire was peculiar. He wore a white turban, and from under a short velvet waistcoat there protruded a gaudy flannel shirt in yellow and black stripes, which he wore oddly outside of his pyjamas instead of in them. He had no shoes, and carried in his right hand an old cricket stump, with which he "presented arms," as it were, every time that I came in and went out of the room. I at once decided to try him. It was about nine o'clock in the morning, when I, having many people to see, handed Chanden Sing, for that was his name, a pair of shoes and some blacking.

"Mind I find them clean when I return."

"Acha, Sahib." ("All right, sir!")

"You will find some brushes in my room."

"Bahut acha, Sahib." ("Very good, sir!")

I left. At six p.m. when I returned to my quarters I found Chanden Sing still polishing my footgear with all his might. He had been at it the whole day and had used for the purpose my best hair and clothes brushes.

"Oh, you budmash! crab log, pagal!" ("Oh! you bad character! bad man, fool!") I exclaimed, disgusted, making as much display as possible of the only three or four words I then knew of Hindustani. I snatched the blackened articles of toilet out of his hands, while he, with an air of wounded feelings, pointed out the wonderful results he had achieved.

It was clear that Chanden Sing was not much of a valet, neither was he a master at opening soda-water bottles. He generally managed to give you a spray bath if he did not actually shoot the flying cork in your face. It was owing to one (by no means the first) of these accidents that Chanden Sing, having hit me full, was a few days later flung bodily out of the front door. I am very adverse to the habit of punishing the natives injudiciously and unjustly, but I believe that firm if not too severe a punishment administered in time is absolutely necessary with native servants, and generally saves much trouble and unpleasantness in the end. Anyhow Chanden Sing, none the worse, returned the next day to fetch his cricket stump which he had forgotten in his hurried and involuntary departure. He seized this opportunity to offer his humblest apologies for his clumsiness, and produced the following letter which he had got written in English by a Babu in the Bazaar:

"DEAR SIR,—I am a stupid man, but I hear you intend to take two Gourkha soldiers with you to Tibet. I am a good and very stout man and therefore far superior to any Gourkha. Please employ me.

"Your faithful servant,


This was touching, and I forgave him and allowed him to stay. He improved as time went on, and after a while became quite tolerable. One morning Mr. Larkin called when Chanden Sing happened to be about.

"Who is that?" said Larkin.

"That is my bearer."

"But he is not a bearer! He was once a policeman, and a smart fellow too. He worked out a good case in his own village and had many people arrested and convicted for theft. As a reward they sacked him."

"I am thinking of taking him with me."

"He is a good lad," replied Mr. Larkin. "You can anyhow take him as far as the frontier, but I would not advise you to take him into Tibet."

Mr. Larkin counselled Chanden Sing to be diligent and attentive, and the ex-policeman beamed all over with joy when I told him definitely that he might accompany me to Bhot. He turned out to be the one plucky man among all my followers, and he stood by me through thick and thin.

[1] See Appendix. Letter by Dr. H. Wilson.


Pithoragarh—Fakir women—A well-ventilated abode—Askote—The Rajiwar and his people.

THE country up to Bhot is comparatively well-known, therefore I will not dwell at length on the first portion of my journey.

On May 9 all my baggage, accompanied by two Chaprassis, left on its way to the frontier, and I followed on the next day. Two days' marching, at the rate of twenty-five miles a day, brought me to Shor, otherwise called Pithoragarh.

The road is good all the way, running through thick forests of pine and fir trees, and you get here and there pretty views of wooded mountain ranges. Nevertheless, it is tiring owing to the many ascents and descents, as will be seen from the following figures showing the principal elevations. From 5510 feet we climbed to 7650 feet, descended to 2475 feet, climbed again up to 6020 feet at Gangoli Hat, and re-descended by a steep incline to 2500 feet. The intense heat prevented me from walking at my usual pace, and I did not, therefore, reach my destination before sundown. Walking on in the dark, we saw the distant flickering forest fires crawling here and there like incandescent snakes along or up the mountain-side: these are caused by the igniting of the grass, shrubs, and undergrowth by the natives, the flames not unfrequently spreading and playing havoc among the finest trees of the forest.

At Pithoragarh (6650 feet) there is the old London Gourkha fort to be seen, on a hilltop, also a well-kept leper hospital, a school, and a mission-house. The soil is fertile and there are many stretches of well-cultivated land dotted with habitations. Water is plentiful, and though the scenery certainly lacks trees except in the immediate neighbourhood of the villages and houses, it has, nevertheless, a certain picturesqueness on account of its background of wooded mountains. I started from Pithoragarh at 6.30 A.M.; leaving the road to Tal on the left, I followed the track at a medium elevation of 6250 feet, arriving at Shadgora (6350 feet) just in time to witness the blessing of a calf by a Brahmin. Inside a diminutive shrine—into the door of which I was curious enough to peep—I discovered two skinny, repulsive old women, with sunken, discoloured eyes, untidy locks of scanty hair, long unwashed, bony arms and legs, and finger and toe nails of abnormal length. They were clad in a few dirty rags, and were busily attending to the lights burning on several primitive stone candlesticks along the walls of the shrine. There were also some curiously-shaped stones standing upright among the candlesticks. The ceiling of this place of worship was not high enough to allow the women to stand, and they were compelled to crawl about inside on all fours. When they saw me they stretched out their angular arms towards me, begging for money. I gave them a silver coin, which they shoved under one of the peculiar stones, and then, turning round, immediately made violent gestures suggesting to me that I was to depart.

Farther on I came upon a point where three roads branched off to Deolthal (six miles) on the left, to Askote (twelve and three-quarter miles) in the centre, and to Pithoragarh (eleven and a quarter miles), a different route from the one followed, on the right. I took the middle one, and travelled on in a storm of hail and wind with a constant deafening roar of thunder and splendid flashes of lightning, which produced magical effects on the ever-changing and fantastic clouds and the weird mountain-sides along which I ploughed my way.

I arrived late in the evening at Askote, where there is neither Dak Bungalow nor Daramsalla,[2] and found to my disgust that none of my carriers had yet arrived. I was offered hospitality by Pundit Jibanand, who put me up in his schoolroom, a structure consisting of a number of planks put together regardless of width, height, length, or shape, and supporting a roof of straw and grass. The ventilation of my abode was all one could wish for, and as during the night I lay wrapped up in my blanket under the sheltering roof, I could admire through the disconnected portions of the walls the brilliancy of the star-studded heaven above. When the sun arose, bits of scenery appeared between plank and plank, until by degrees the gaps were all stopped up by figures of natives, who took possession of these points of vantage to gaze to their hearts' content on the sahib, who, with signs of evident suspense on the part of these spectators, managed even to shave. Hilarity, on the other hand, was caused when I smeared myself all over with soap while bathing. Admiration followed at my putting on my last starched shirt and other mysterious garments, but the excitement grew almost to fever-heat when I went through the daily nuisance of winding up my watches and registering daily observations of temperature, etc. The strain was too much, I fancy, and a general stampede followed the moment I touched my unloaded rifle.

The town of Askote is not unlike an old feudal castle such as are found in many parts of Central Italy. Perched on the crown of a central hill, the Rajiwar's palace overlooks a fine panorama of mountains encircling it on all sides. Among the higher peaks discernible from the palace are the Chipla Mountain and the Dafia. Then across the Kali River, forming the boundary of Nepal, is Mount Dooti. The "gown" or town itself numbers some two hundred houses scattered on the slope of the hill, and includes a school, a post-office, and two Mahommedan shops. The Rajiwar had on my arrival just completed building a new Court, a simple and dignified structure of brown stone, with fine wooden carvings on the windows and doors, and with chimneys in European fashion in each room. One wall in each room was left open, and formed a charming verandah, commanding a magnificent view of mountain scenery.

The Rajiwar of Askote occupies a unique position in Kumaon. Having repurchased his right to the tenure of land in the Askote Pargana as late as 1855, he now possesses the right of zamindar (translated literally, landed proprietor), and he is the only person to whom has been granted to retain this privilege in the Kumaon Division. Jagat Sing Pal, the Rajiwar's nephew, assured me that the people of the Askote Pargana are brave and good-natured. They never give any trouble to the Rajiwar, who, on the other hand, is almost a father to them. They apply to him in every difficulty, in sickness and distress, and he looks after them in true patriarchal fashion. The Rajiwar is not rich, probably because he spends so much for the benefit of his people and of the strangers who pass through Askote. Many of these are little more than beggars, of course, even when they travel as fakirs, or other religious fanatics, going to or returning from the sacred Mansarowar Lake in Tibet. The present Rajiwar,[3] Pushkar Pal, belongs to the Ramchanda family, and he is a descendant of the Solar dynasty. His ancestors lived in Aoudh or Ayodye (as it was formerly called), whence they migrated to the hills of Katyur in Kumaon, where they built a palace. The hill regions up to Killakanjia and the Jumua River were under the Raja of Katyur's rule, he assuming the title of Maharaja. A branch of the family came from Katyur to Askote, its chief retaining the hereditary title of Rajiwar beside that of Pal, which each male assumes. The Rajiwar pays a yearly tribute of 1800 rupees to the Government of India. In the time of the Gourkhas he paid nothing except occasional gifts of Nafas or musk-deer to his neighbour the King of Nepal, with whom he is still in very close relation. He was then practically an independent king. Still Rajiwar Pushkar Pal has always been perfectly loyal to the Government of India.

"Are the people very obsequious to the Rajiwar?" I asked of Jagat Sing Pal.

"Yes, sir. For instance, when the Rajiwar sits on his Karoka (a kind of throne) he is saluted with a particularly respectful salaam. His subjects bring their hand up to the forehead and support the elbow with the left hand, as a sign that this salutation is so weighty that it requires the support of the other hand."

At Court functions, the male relatives, friends, and servants sit near the Rajiwar, his brother first, his son next, then his nephews, etc. Women are of course not admitted, and although no strict code of etiquette exists, the Rajiwar and his family are nevertheless always treated with Eastern deference.

[2] Daramsalla, a stone-walled shelter for the use of travellers and natives.

[3] Rajiwar: head of kingdom.


The Raots—A slippery journey—Superstitious notions—Anger and jealousy—Friends—To the homes of the savages—Photography—Habitations.

WE had walked seventy-eight miles in three marches, and my men being footsore, I gave them a day's rest, which I employed in going to the haunts of the "Wild men of the forest," or Raots or Rajis, as they style themselves. They live in the woods several miles off, and to reach them I had to descend a steep incline covered by an uncommonly slippery carpet of dried grass and pine needles. I had to take off shoes and stockings to get along, and even bare-footed I found it difficult to maintain my hold. I was accompanied by one of my chaprassis and a man from Askote, and we were forced down more swiftly than comfortably till we reached a faint track, which we followed until we came upon a man hiding behind some trees. He was a wild-looking creature, naked and unkempt, with flowing hair and scanty beard and moustache, and, regarding us with an air of suspicion, he was most reluctant to show us the way to the homes of his tribe. He was a Raot, and his reluctance to let us approach his home seemed justified enough when he said to my guide, "No white man has ever visited our home, and should one ever come we shall all die. The spirits of the mountains will prevent your progress—not we. You will suffer pain, for the spirit who watches over the Raots will let no one enter their homes."

I gave the man a rupee, which he turned and weighed in his hand.

"You can come," he muttered, "but you will regret it. You will have great misfortune."

There was something so weirdly peculiar in the tone of voice in which the man spoke, as if he had been in a trance, himself only the channel through which the threat of some occult being was conveyed to us, that for some minutes I could not get his words out of my head. I followed him as best I could, for he climbed up huge boulders with the agility of a monkey. It was no easy job, for we bounded and leapt from rock to rock and vaulted over fallen trees. The track became more marked and went up along the incline of a steep ravine. We continued until, hot and panting, we arrived at a large hollow high up in the cliff of clay. There, on a semicircular platform with entrenchments of felled trees, were about a dozen men almost devoid of clothing, some sitting on their heels and resting their arms on their knees, others lying down flat. One fellow smoked dry leaves inside a pipe of Hindoo origin. I snatched a photo of the group as, with an air of suspicion mingled with surprise and sadness, but no apparent fear, they stared at the unexpected visitors. Two of the elder men having overcome their first stupor sprang to their feet and with mad gesticulations refused to let me come nearer. But I penetrated right into their circle, and found myself surrounded by a sulky and angry crowd.

"No man has ever been here but a Raot. You will soon die. You have offended God!" screamed an old man, in a sudden outburst of temper. He bent his knees and curved his spine, protruding his head towards me. He shook his fists in my face, waved them about in the air, opened and tightly clenched them, digging his nails furiously into his palms. Instead of contracting the scalp of his forehead, the old Raot raised his eyebrows and turned his polished forehead into a succession of deep wrinkles, stretching in a straight line across almost from ear to ear, and showing only a dark dimple over his nose. His nostrils, flat and broad to begin with, became widely expanded and raised so as to cause two deep lines to diverge from the nose along his cheeks. His mouth was open and a peculiar vacillation of the lower lip demonstrated plainly that its owner had but little command over speech and articulation. His eyes, which may have been brown originally, were discoloured, probably through the abuse of excessive animal powers, to the possession of which the formation of his skull strongly testified, but they assumed extraordinary brilliancy as his fury increased. He opened them wide, apparently with an effort, and showed the entire circle of his iris. The pupils were dilated, notwithstanding that the light upon his face was strong at the time.

Following his example, some of the rest displayed their discontent in a similar fashion, but others, among whom I especially noticed two youths with sad languishing faces, drooping large eyes, and luxuriant growth of black hair, stood apathetically apart, with head reclining towards the right shoulder, their features perfectly composed, and supporting their chins on their hands. Even if they had overcome their stupor, they did certainly not betray it, and appeared perfectly emotionless as far as their countenances were concerned.

One fellow with an extraordinary head, a mixture it seemed of a Mongolian and a Negroid type, was the first to calm himself of those who were so madly excited. With piercing though unsteady eyes, and with nervous twitching movements, he scrutinised my face more closely than the others, and seemed to reassure them all that I had not come to hurt them. He made signs to the rest to desist from their threats, and then, squatting down himself, invited me to follow his example, by sitting on my heels. When the storm had subsided and they had all sat down, I drew out of my pocket some coins and gave one to each of them, with the exception of one man on whom I thought I might study the passion of jealousy in its most primitive form. I watched the man closely, and soon saw him draw apart from the others and become sulky. The others were by now comparatively calm. They seemed predisposed towards sadness, and I could with difficulty extract from any of them more than a very faint sort of a smile. They turned and twisted the coins in their hands, and compared them among one another, jabbering and apparently content. The jealous man kept his head turned away from them determinedly, pretending not to see what was going on, and, resting his chin on his hand, he began to sing a weird, melancholy, guttural song, assuming an air of contempt, especially when the others chaffed him. Having allowed him to suffer enough, I gave him two coins instead of one, and with them the satisfaction of the last grin.

I then tried to photograph them, but my camera was looked upon with suspicion, and as plate after plate was exposed in portraying single individuals or groups, they shuddered at each "click" of the spring.

"The gods will be angry with you for doing that," said a Raot, pointing at the camera, "unless you give us a large white coin."

I took advantage of this, and promised them as best I could through my guide "two large coins" if they would take me to their huts, some few hundred yards below the lofty eyrie in the cliff, but I must for the sum be allowed not only to see but to touch and have explained to me anything I liked.

They consented, and we began our descent of the precipitous track leading to their habitations, a track fit really only for monkeys. Several women and children, who had come up attracted by the sight of strangers, joined with the men in giving us a helping hand, and in fact, I believe there cannot have been a single paw in the company that did not at one time or other during the descent clutch some portion of my clothing in the friendliest spirit. Holding on to one another, we proceeded in a body, not always at a pleasant pace, down the dangerous cliff. Two or three times one of the natives or myself tripped and almost dragged the remainder of the party over the precipice, while the piercing yells and screams of the women seemed to echo back for miles around. I was not sorry when we at last reached the small huts by the river which made up their village.

The habitations were squalid beyond measure. Constructed with a rough frame of tree-branches, fortified by wooden posts and rafters, roofed over with a thatch of dried grass, the majority of them measured about ten feet. They were built against the hillside, a strong bi-forked pole in the centre of the structure supporting the roof, and were usually divided into two sections, so as to give shelter each of them to two families. They contained no furniture, and but few utensils of the most primitive make. There were circular wooden bowls scooped out in the past by means of sharp-edged stones, and more recently by cheap blades, which were of Indian manufacture. For such cultivation as they were capable of these people used primitive earth rakes, and they also possessed coarse mallets, sticks, and net bags in which they kept their stores. Their staple food in former days was river fish, flesh of wild animals, and roots of certain trees; but they now eat grain also, and, like all savages, they have a craving for liquor. The interior of Raot habitations was so primitive and lacking of furniture, that it hardly requires to be described, and the odours that emanated from these huts are also better left to the imagination of the reader.

Entering one of the dwellings, I found squatted round a fire of wood some women and men, the women wearing silver bangles and glass bead necklaces, the men very little more than string earrings. Only one of the men had on as much as a diminutive loin-cloth, and the women had scanty dresses of Indian manufacture, obtained in Askote.

Scanning their features carefully, it struck me that in their facial lines many points could be traced which would make one feel inclined to attribute to them a remote Mongolian origin, modified largely by the climate, the nature of the country, and probably by intermarriage. In the scale of standard human races the Raots stood extremely low, as can be judged from the accompanying photographs. The women, as will be seen, had abnormally small skulls with low foreheads, and although they looked devoid even of a glint of reason, they were actually fairly intelligent. They had high cheek-bones; long, flattish noses, broad and rounded as in the Mongolian type. The chin was in most instances round, very receding, though the lips were in their normal position, thin, and very tightly closed with up-turned corners to the mouth. The lower jaw was extremely short and narrow, whereas the upper one seemed quite out of proportion to the size of the skull. Their ears were large, outstanding, and unmodelled, but capable of catching sounds at great distances.

The men had better heads than the women, underdeveloped yet comparatively well balanced. They had higher and broader foreheads, similar though shorter noses, chins not quite so receding, the whole lower jaw extraordinarily narrow, but the upper lip, as with the women, huge and out of all proportion.

Undoubtedly the Raots are not a pure race, and even among the few I came across variations so considerable occurred as to puzzle one in tracing their origin. They invariably possess luxuriant coal-black hair, which never attains more than a moderate length. It is not coarse in texture, but is usually so dirty that it appears coarser than it really is. They have very little hair on their bodies except in the arm-pits, and their moustaches and beards hardly deserve the name.

The men generally part the crop on their head in the middle, so that it flows on either side of the skull, just covering the ears, and I found the same strange custom that I observed years ago among the Ainu of Yezo of shaving a lozenge-shaped portion of the scalp in the centre of the forehead directly above the nose. The women, using their fingers as a comb, draw their hair to the back of the head and tie it in a knot.

The bodies of the better specimens I saw were slight and agile, with no superfluous fat or flesh. Supple to a degree, yet solid and muscular, with well-proportioned limbs and a skin of a rich tinge between bronze and terra-cotta colour, these savages, dirty and unclothed as they were, certainly appealed to the artistic side of my temperament, particularly on account of their very majestic deportment. I noticed their regular breathing, which they usually did through the nose, keeping their mouths tightly closed, and also one very curious peculiarity about their feet, viz., the length of the second toe, protruding considerably beyond the others, and giving them no doubt the power of using their toes almost as we should our fingers. The palms of their hands were almost without lines, the finger-nails flat, and their thumbs stumpy with the last phalange curiously short.

If the Raots to-day have adopted some articles of clothing and ornament, besides altering their diet to a certain extent, it is due entirely to the Rajiwar of Askote, who, taking a great interest in the tribes he rules over, provides them in a patriarchal way with all sorts of necessaries of life. Very few Raots have of late years visited Askote, as they are of a retiring nature and seem contented with their primitive abodes in the forests of Chipula, which they claim as their own. Their only occupations are fishing and hunting, and they are said to have a predilection for the flesh of the larger Himahlyan monkey, although from my own observation I should have said that they would eat almost anything they could get. It has generally been assumed that the Raot women are kept in strict seclusion and hidden from strangers, and I cannot better prove the absurdity of this than by reproducing in these pages one of several photographs of the Raot women, for which they posed at my request without the slightest objection from the men. They are generally believed to be chaste, and my photographs prove, I think, that whatever charm they may possess for the Raot men, their peculiar beauty offers but little temptation to others.

They are rapidly diminishing in numbers, chiefly no doubt on account of constant intermarriage. I was assured that the women are not sterile, but that there is enormous mortality among the young children. They bury their dead, and for several days afterwards offer food and water to the spirit of the departed.

I was unable to ascertain what their marriage ceremonies were like, or if they had any to speak of, but it appeared that there was a considerable family feeling among couples living maritally together. They are superstitious and hold in curious awe the spirits of the mountains, the sun, the moon, fire, water, and wind. Whether this amounts to a definite form of worship I cannot say: I certainly saw no signs of the offering of prayers or sacrifices.

The Raots claim to be the descendants of kings, and they refuse allegiance to any one. They will neither salute you nor bow to you.

"It is for other people to salute us. Our blood is the blood of kings, and though for choice we have for centuries retired to the jungle, we are none the less the sons of kings."

After a while, and when I had spent some considerable time among them, these royal savages seemed uncomfortable and apprehensive. I had turned over, examined, drawn or photographed every household article I had seen, had measured every one, male and female, who consented to be measured, and paid them the stipulated money. As I was about to leave, the grey-haired man approached me again.

"You have seen the home of the Raots. You are the first stranger who has done so, and you will suffer much. The gods are very angry with you."

"Yes," rejoined another savage, pointing at the ravine, "whoever treads along that track and is not a Raot will be afflicted by a great calamity."

"Kush paruani, Sahib" ("Never mind, sir"), interrupted the guide, "they are only barbarians, they know no better. I have myself never been here, so I suppose I shall also come in for my share."

"You too will suffer," said the old Raot, with self-assurance.

The Raots stood round me silently as I packed up the camera, and I felt that they looked upon me as a man whose fate was settled. They did not acknowledge my farewell, and, had I been in the least superstitious, might have made me thoroughly uncomfortable with their solemn, stolid gravity.


A pilgrim from Mansarowar Lake—The spirits of the mountains—A safeguard against them—Tibetan encampments—The Rajiwar—A waterfall—Watermills.

HAVING returned to Askote from my excursion, I saw while going round the town with Jagat Sing, in a low stone shed by the side of the palace, the tall gaunt figure of a man emerging from a cloud of smoke.

"Who is that?" I inquired of my companion.

"Oh, that is a fakir returning from a pilgrimage to the sacred lake of Mansarowar in Tibet. Many of these fanatics pass through here during the summer on their religious journeys."

My curiosity drew me towards the weird individual. He was over six feet in height, and his slim body had been covered with ashes, giving the dark skin a tinge of ghastly grey. I asked him to come out into the light. His masses of long hair had been plaited into small tresses which were wound round his head in the fashion of a turban—the "Tatta." The hair, too, had been whitened, while the long thin beard had been dyed bright red. His eyes were sunken and, apparently to add to the ghastly and decidedly repulsive effect, his forehead and cheeks were plastered with a thick white paint. He seemed half stupefied, and had very little to say for himself. As can be seen by the illustration, he was scantily clothed, but he wore the Kamarjuri or fakir's chain about his loins, and he had a bead bracelet round his arm above the elbow. His waist was encircled with a belt of wooden beads, and a necklace of plaited hair ornamented his neck. He spent his days rolling himself in ashes and enduring self-imposed bodily privations, with a view to attain a state of sanctification.

Rumours had reached me of some curious superstitions prevalent among these mountain folk.

"Tell me," I said to Jagat Sing, "are there 'spirits of the mountain' in these ranges? And do the people really believe in them?"

"Yes, sir," replied the young fellow, "there certainly are a number of them, and they are often very troublesome, especially to certain people. They are seldom known, however, to kill any one."

"Then they are not quite so bad as some human beings," I replied.

"Well, sir, they are very bad. They seize sleeping people by the throat with claws like iron, sitting on the chests of their victims."

"Does not that sound more like an attack of indigestion?"

"No, sir. The ghosts of the mountains are the spirits of people that have not gone to heaven. They are to be found in swarms at night in the forest. The people are terrified of them. They haunt the mountain-tops and slopes, and they can assume the semblance of a cat, a mouse, or any other animal; in fact they are said to frequently change their appearance. Where no man can tread, among rocks and precipices, or in the thick jungle, the spirits seek their retreat, but often they abandon their haunts to seek for men. The person who becomes possessed generally remains in a semi-conscious condition and ejaculates mad cries and unintelligible words. There are men who profess to know charms to draw them out. Some remedies are for that purpose commonly used by the natives with more or less success. A grass called Bichna (nettles) has the faculty of frightening the spirits away when applied on the body of the sufferer, but the most effective remedy is to make pretence to beat with a red-hot iron the person possessed. The spirits seem to fear that more than anything else."

"Do the spirits ever speak?" I inquired, interested in the curious superstitions of these hill men.

"No, sir, not often, nor usually directly, but they do it through people who are possessed by them. It is they who tell many strange tales of the spirits. One curious point about them is that they only seize people who are afraid of them. If defied they vanish."

"Do the natives adopt any special method to protect themselves from these mountain demons?"

"Fire is the only sure protection. Any one sleeping near a fire is safe, and as long as there is a flame blazing the spirits keep away."

"Do you know any one who has seen them?"

"Yes. A chaprassi called Joga tells of having been compelled to travel at night through a forest: he heard a voice calling him by name. Terrified, he stopped, and for some moments his voice failed him. At last, trembling all over, he replied, and instantly a swarm of spirits appeared and challenged him to do them harm. Joga ran for his life and the demons vanished. Spirits have been known to throw stones at passers-by."

"Have you ever seen a spirit, Jagat Sing?"

"Only once. I was returning to the palace late in the evening when up the steep road I perceived a woman's figure. It was a beautiful moonlight night. I walked up, and as I passed, the face of the strange being appeared black, inhuman and ghastly. I staggered when I saw the weird apparition approach, my blood ran cold with fear. I struck a mighty blow with my stick, but behold! the cane whirled through the air and hit nothing. Instantly the ghost vanished."

"I wish, Jagat Sing, that you could show me some of these spirits; I would give anything to make a sketch of them."

"You cannot always see them when you want, sir, but they are always to be avoided. They are evil spirits and can do nothing but harm."

* * * * *

Leaving Askote (4600 feet) by the winding road through a dense forest, I crossed by a suspension bridge the Gori River at Gargia (2450 feet). The track was along the low and unpleasantly hot valley of the Kali River, a raging stream flowing with indescribable rapidity in the opposite direction to that in which I was travelling. It formed the boundary line between Nepal and Kumaon. Huts and patches of cultivation were to be seen on the Nepalese side, whereas on our side we came upon deserted and roofless winter dwellings of Shokas (usually but not correctly called Botiyas) and Tibetans, who migrate to these warmer regions to graze their sheep during the colder months of the year. The Shoka summer residences are at greater elevations, mostly along the highways to Tibet and nearer the Tibetan boundary. On arriving at the Kutzia Daramsalla, a messenger brought me the news that the Rajiwar, whom I had missed seeing at Askote, was now here for the purpose of making offerings to certain deities. He would call upon me at 3 P.M., so, having some time to spare, I went to bathe in the deliciously cold though, as I found, dangerously rapid stream. Swimming was out of the question, and even an immersion bath was attended with a certain amount of risk. The current caused me to lose my footing, and I soon found myself washed with great force against some rocks thirty or forty yards down stream. I came out of the water minus a few patches of skin on my knees and shins, and while drying myself in the sun, received a deputation of the Patan (head village man) and other natives, conveying with their most respectful salaams gifts of milk, kielas (bananas), kakri (gigantic cucumbers), and nuts. These hill fellows impressed me as being of a far superior standard to the Hindoos of the plains. They were lightly yet strongly built, and showed evidence of both character and dignity. With their fair complexion and luxuriant black hair and moustache they resembled Spaniards or Southern Italians. They lacked entirely the affected manner and falseness of speech and demeanour, so common among the natives who are constantly in contact with Europeans.

Below the Daramsalla, near the water-side, was a large Tibetan encampment of some twenty or thirty tents which had all originally been white, but were now black with smoke. In these were men, women, and children, with all their paraphernalia; and the first thing that attracted my eye in each tent was the quantity of shiny brass bowls strewn upon the ground, the entire energy of the tent-owners seemingly being spent in keeping these utensils clean and bright, to the utter neglect of their other property. Walls of sheep-loads were erected either inside the tent or directly outside, covered in the latter case with cloths in order to protect them from the rain.

Punctually at 3 P.M. the Rajiwar arrived, carried in a dandy, and followed by his brother, who sat in a mountain dandy. The Rajiwar's son and heir rode a splendid grey pony. I went to assist the old Rajiwar to alight, as for some years he had been paralysed. We shook hands heartily, and I led him into the Daramsalla (2875 feet), where in default of furniture we all sat on packing-cases. His refined, well-cut features, his attractive manner, and the soft, dignified voice in which he spoke clearly indicated a man of superior blood and uncommon ability. His modesty and simplicity were delightful.

"I hope that your health is good and that you have not suffered too much on your journey. I was grieved not to be in Askote to receive you. Are your dear parents alive? Have you any brothers and sisters? Are you married? I would much like to visit England. It must be a wonderful country, and so much do I admire it that I have given my nephews a British education, and one of them is now serving the Maharanee (Queen) Victoria as Political Peshkar."

I answered his questions as best I could with the aid of a Hindustani dictionary, expressive gestures, and quick sketches. He spoke of many of our latest inventions with marked interest and intelligence.

He seemed greatly struck with my scientific instruments, but he and his people were more particularly attracted by my rifles, revolvers, and other weapons, especially the 256 deg. Mannlicher, sighted to 1000 yards.

The Rajiwar pressed me to return with him to Askote, where he offered to give me tiger, bear, and leopard shooting. Tempting as the invitation was, I could not accept it, for my plans would lead me in the opposite direction. His visit lasted for more than three hours; and I was pleased to feel that we parted great friends.

On the road to Dharchula, along the low-lying valley, the heat was unbearable, although the sun was near the horizon. We came upon a waterfall falling from a great height over a series of umbrella-like stalactites covered with moss. The last rays of the sun shone on the dropping water, brilliant and sparkling as a shower of diamonds. Several small rainbows added to the beauty of the scene. I rested some time in this cool and beautiful retreat. There were birds singing and monkeys playing among the trees. Farther on, where the river bends, there are two large caves hollowed in the rock; the smoke-blackened ceilings prove that these are used as camping grounds by travelling Shokas and Hunyas (Tibetans). Large black-faced, white-bearded monkeys swarmed everywhere, frankly and gladly mischievous. They throw or roll stones down upon the passers-by, often causing accidents, the track being rather narrow and sheer above the river.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse