Notes of an Indian Journey (1876)

"Notes of an Indian Journey", by Sir Montstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff (1829 - 1906), Macmillan, 1876.

Made available by the Internet Archive.
Source: Libraries of the University of California system Selected and edited with comments by R Sivaramakrishnan. Posted to IRFCA on: August 23, 2008.

"written chiefly in steam ships and railway carriages ......"

Right at the beginning is a map of India showing the places he visited in 1875 and, believe me, he seems to have gone to almost every place which the railway had reached then.

Nowhere in the manner of a railway enthusiast's tour report, this book does not have much about the railways themselves. But they were times when the British were consolidating their grip on India after the trauma of the Mutiny, the native rulers were on their side, the railways were expanding into new areas, and the visit by the member of parliament, who had formerly been the Under-Secretaryof State for India, was in order. It would reassure them that every thing was progressing smoothly in the country which was to become the jewel in the crown.

His itinerary is impressive even by today's standards:

  • p. 32 - by train from Bombay to Narell, thence on a pony, 7 miles up to Matheran.
  • pp. 30 - 31: Bombay to Ahmedabad on B. B. & C. I. Railway train.
  • pp. 36 - 38: back to Bombay stopping at Surat;
  • pp. 46 - 50 : on G.I.P. train via Tannah, Cullian, Nassick, Boshawul, Nagpore, Jubbulpore, then on E. I. R., via Satna to Allahabad.
  • p. 54: by overnight train via Cawnpore to Lucknow, the capital of Oudh.
  • pp. 59 - 63 : by Oudh and Rohilcund Railway train from Lucknow to Cawnpore, then by a "very slow" E. I. R. train to Agra.
  • p. 71: from Agra to Bhurtpore by the newly-opened railway, the first metre gauge one in his experience.
  • p. 77: to Futtehpore Sikri by road on horse- and camel-drawn carriages
  • pp. 81: from Agra on E. I. R. via Allygurh to Ghazeeabad, then on the Scinde. Lahore and Punjab line, via Meerut, Mozzuffurnugger and Saharunpore to Umballa. "Up very early to see the Himalayas; which, however, obstinately remained in the mist, and the only faint glimpse of them which I obtained was much later in the day,......" So, here we have a second writer of the later half of the 19th century stating that the Himalayas were visible those days from the distant plains.
  • p. 83: Pattiala by road, Rajpoora with a "still humbler railway station"
  • p. 88-89 : from Pattiala by road and pathways via Deyrah to Landour to view the Himalayas, with the mighty Kidernath dominating.
  • p. 94-95: back to Saharunpur via Deyrah to join the railway via Kurtarpure for Umritsur
  • p. 98: Lahore
  • p. 108: by the state railway, crossing the Ravee, to Wuzeerabad, 60 miles away. Then by post carriage, trolley and boat to view the bridge across the Chenab under construction for the m.g. railway to Peshawur.
  • pp. 110 et seq. : along the Grand Trunk Road via Rawul Pindee to Murree, Indus at Attock, Nowshera to Peshawur.
  • p. 120 et seq. : Khyber
  • p. 128: back to Nowshera, aside to Hassoon Abdool, then Rawul Pindee, Wuzeerabad.
  • pp. 130 - 132: Via Sealkote in the carriages sent by the Maharajah of Cashmere to Jammoo, his winter capital. Return to Lahore via Wuzeerabad.
  • p. 136: Lahore to Delhi via Umritsur, Jullundur, Loodhiana and Phillour.
  • p. 145 - 148: by special train with Sir John Stratchey to Jeypore via Rewarree and Ulwur by metre gauge at "over 40 miles an hour"!
  • p. 150: "slowly over forty miles of line, not yet ballasted, to Sambhar."
  • p. 153: returned past Jeypore to stop at Ulwur.
  • p. 155: arrived Delhi, where Stratchey left the group which continued via Toondla, Cawnpore, Berhampore, Allahabad, Mirzapore, Mogul Sarai to Benares.
  • p. 165: to Patna via Buxar and Arrah.
  • p. 166: to Luckeeserai, then by chord via Raneegunj and Burdwan to Calcutta.
  • p. 181: by ship to Madras
  • p. 194: To Tanjore via Erode.
  • p. 197: To Trichinopoly.
  • p. 200: to Coimbatore via Pothanoor then on to Metapolliam;
  • p. 201: by road to Coonoor up the Nelgerries, met an engineer who was making a plan for a railway up those hills.
  • p. 202-203: To Marcoorti peak, 8400 ft. (Dodda Beta), on horseback, visiting cinchona plantations, then Ootacamund, back to Coonoor.
  • p. 209-211:then by the new carriage-road, via Berliar to Metapolliam; then by railway via Salem to Arconum.
  • p. 213-214: by train via Cuddapah to Gooty where was held up for 12 hours, due to the "breaking" of some bridges by the floods of the last autumn. "From Gooty to Poona the country is hideous " [??!]. much of it through the Nizam's territories.
  • p. 221. "Drove" overnight to Satara, where his father had been served between 1818 and 1823 and wrote "History of the Mahrattas".
  • p. 232-233: "Drove" in a carriage hauled by ponies first then by men up to Mahabuleshwur, then to Waee, back to Poona.
  • p. 234. To Karli cave, then after watching for some time the ballasting of the line by the G. I. P. Railway, by the train from Poona, via Bhore Ghaut, to Parell in the plains of Bombay.

"Four most memorable and delightful months......"

These notes are followed by over 60 pages of his assessment of the situation in India. They were the times when the British establishment was generally very suspicious of the Russian intentions. But Sir Duff was no alarmist:

p. 294: "I do not think that Russia has hitherto done any one single thing in Central Asia that she had not a perfect good right to do, so far as we are concerned."

The original source material used on this page is believed to be out of copyright, and/or these extracts are believed to be fall within the scope of fair use under copyright law. Material selection and editing by R Sivaramakrishnan, 2008.