Siriska, 23 February 1893

Thick fog covered the whole valley when I stepped out of my tent. The rain had stopped but it was still dripping from the trees and everything swam in water. There was no chance of hunting a tiger as the fog in the morning prevented a potential confirmation of the tiger.

Towards 11 o’clock the fog finally began to sink, the top of the mountains became visible, the sky was smiling blue and the sun was glittering friendly so that the head shikari could organize a hunt with falcons and caracals which turned out not as well as intended. The falcons turned out to be clumsy and untrained as they didn’t want to catch many of the fling chicken. The caracals, meanwhile, ignored the hares and after a few leaps returned to their masters.

In the mean time, sambars and nilgais had been confirmed which the chief professional hunter asked me to hunt. To his great astonishment I offered the first ones to Wurmbrand, the latter ones to Kinsky who  had lain in bed with fever while we shot the frowned upon nilgais in Bhartpur. Kinsky bagged one nilgai after an extended hunt and wounded a second one while  Wurmbrand returned, unfortunately, without completing the task.

Together with the other gentlemen I undertook a large hunt of the whole valley in which we searched even the tiniest of ground elevation, all jungles and ridges and bagged in four hours 80 chicken and sand grouses. Prónay and I shot too a white-footed fox each (Vulpes leucopus); also a jackal became my prize under unusual circumstances. We heard loud barking and howling of jackals and saw while we were marching across a hill eight jackals in the valley which followed a rancid fay while creating a hell of concert, hunting and biting one another so that at any moment, some of them stumbled over the others. I called our line of drivers to halt and sneaked up on them as good as I could in a plain without cover. I only managed to come to within 400 paces.

Clam and Prónay noticed this, the latter one ran on foot in front of the jackals while Clam on a pony drove them towards me. The main pride changed direction unfortunately and escaped out of sight. Two jackals however appeared in plain flight followed by Clam 100 paces away from my position behind a boulder where I had taken cover with difficulty so that I managed to kill one jackal with a bullet.

We were still fully occupied with the hunt when a shikari reported that tigers had been sighted in the next mountains. Naturally all firing ceased in time. We galloped to the camp where our physician Dr. Bem experienced a tragic-comical event. He too had mounted a horse proudly. But this valiant deed ended soon thereafter with a touch of the earth. His horse had been mean enough to throw him into a thick hedge of cacti so that he returned to the tent covered in thorns. He sank down on the bed, a pitiful spectacle, lamenting a thorn had pierced his lung and a long illness which would put him into bed for a long time, Even death could catch him here far from home in the wilderness where no fair hand would close his breaking eye.

Deeply moved from those dark images and groaning the poor lay there. We were full of compassion but also smiling against our will as the sighs and laments escaped  the body in a true Bohemian-German accent. Finally one of the English colleagues extracted over twenty thorns out of the body of the brave rider who now, free and comforted, gasped with relief and did not want to have anything to do with illness and sickness but was in a good mood again soon. According to the principle that those that suffered the damage were bound to earn the mockery, his story was the main topic of the evening.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 23.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy „Der Unterstaatssekretär“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents once more „Die Rantzau“.

Siriska, 22 February 1893

Already during the evening yesterday the sky had become clouded and during the night it started raining heavily. The area around the tents was heavily soaked but the tents fortunately resisted fine. A bad prospect for the hunt as the tiger will hunt during such weather but will move whereas he will rest near its victim in warm sunny weather and can be tracked by the shikaris with near absolute certainty. In the morning the intensity of the rain lessened. I decided after a long council with the head shikari and on his advice, given that it was pointless to go after the tiger, to hunt sambar deer and later seek game as well as jackals.

Soon we left camp and moved towards the closest hills on horseback. There a shikari confirmed the presence of a sambar deer. All gentlemen remained behind. I alone with the shikari and Janaczek climbed a very steep ridge on whose ledge the shikari pointed out a supposedly strong sambar deer on the next ridge. Despite all efforts during quite some time, I was not able to see it as it stood Immovable watching us. Its brown yellow colors blended perfectly with the surrounding dry grass. Finally I saw the deer. The shikari wanted me to shoot at once but I believed the distance  — at 400 paces — too large for a safe shot. As it was impossible to get closer due to the valley between us, I gave in tot the shikari’s pressure and shot from this ridge to the other. To my great satisfaction, I scored a chest hit on the deer that fled and disappeared on the other side of the ridge. With great effort I climbed down the ledge over stones and through thorny thickets, up the other ridge and found blood marks at the location. Following the tracks I saw the wounded deer move through the thick greenery and shot once again but missed in the heat of the moment.

The gentlemen and the native hunters left behind in the valley had seen the wounded deer flee after the shot and now everyone was going after the wounded animal with shouts and in great turmoil. The chief professional hunter shouted with stentorian voice down from his elephant. The shikaris wanted to pursue it in the English method until I finally succeeded after much pleading and shouting to communicate to the people that all natives should be formed into a line by my personal hunter. After I and the gentlemen had taken up position in the ridge, the natives were to start walking at a signal. Truly, the wounded deer appeared after a few minutes and perished from three shots of mine and Wurmbrand’s. It was a very strong specimen, apparently a very rowdy fellow as he was scarred on the legs, on the back as well as completely cut ears. I lamented that the animal was not suitable for taxidermy. Its cuspids were beautiful.

During our hunt, the gentlemen in the valley had spent their time with children’s games such as „blind man’s buff“, „“duck, duck, goose“  etc. to the great pleasure of the chief professional hunter who couldn’t stop laughing and jumped around on his elephant. If it hadn’t been incompatible with his dignity, he would have gladly joined in.

Before a new hunt could be started, a shikari reported again that another sambar deer had been confirmed nearby. „Tisza“ then „ordered“ me and the gentlemen to take up position on the surrounding ridge top. I was gasping as I was climbing down the steep hill as fast as I could and, arrived at the bottom of a valley, had to shoot again out of an even more unfavorable position than the first time when I saw the deer. When I had fired and the mighty animal went down with much noise, followed by an avalanche of ibexes, the whole corps of shikaris approached me with loud congratulations and with funny expressions of joy.  With a satisfied smile, the chief professional hunter received me and commanded to resume the march with was made on the elephants.

On a steep stony path the caravan moved over a saddle into a long winding valley covered in high dry grass and thick thorns. During the descent over a particularly bad spot, a rocky ledge, the elephant’s sat down on their rear, then jumped down with the forelegs supported by the trunk and then drew along their rear end.

The shikaris of the advance party reported that there were unfortunately no sambar deer in the valley, so we decided to set up a hunt at an especially thick jungle ridge. This action met the fierce resistance of Harnarain who preferred to eat breakfast rather than hunt and wanted to deploy his trackers again to seek sambar deer. We could not overrule this and had to comply. After a long break when we couldn’t tolerate it any longer, we argued with the chief who finally granted us permission to undertake the hunt in the jungle.

We quickly spread out, Wurmbrand stayed at the edge of the jungle, Clam and I intended to climb to the top of the ridge to cover the upper escape route and have a good overview of the confusing jungle area. Prónay, Stockinger and Fairholme were tasked in following the trackers. The climbing of the hill was easier to say than to actually do. It was so steep and covered with smooth stone plates and rocks that we could only advance on all fours as quadrupeds. I took up position in a small gorge which I considered suitable for an escape route. After some time, the drive started but was so badly executed that not a single piece of game appeared as the drivers were evading all thicker parts of the jungle. The use of my small collection of Hindu strong language I had already learnt proved without effect as the chief displayed no more interest in  hunting that day and only appeared again with a calm demeanor and an impish smile after the fruitless drive of the hunt had ended. As long as we had enough daylight, we hunted in the plain and bagged numerous chicken and sand grouses. Wurmbrand had hunter’s luck and bagged a gazelle.

The gentlemen who did stay behind in camp, among them Kinsky, had hunted pigs and jackals in the afternoon and captured a young boar. Even Dr. von Lorenz did ride along, paying for this terrible flippancy with two unplanned contacts with Mother Earth.

The evening was devoted to writing letters as the post was to be sent off the day after. Unfortunately, it started raining violently again and continued to do so through the night. The weather is punishing us with all its caprices. Just now when we are to hunt a tiger, we have to live through a second deluge!

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 22.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays Schiller’s „Jungfrau von Orleans“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents Gounod’s „Margarethe (Faust)“.

Siriska, 21 February 1893

The first tiger hunt was on the program. Already at 9 o’clock in the morning, the „head shikari“, the chief professional hunter of Alwar, Harnarain, came to the camp to announce that the tiger had killed and we should be ready to depart towards 11 o’clock. He would personally join the advance party to prepare and instruct the trackers.

Thrown off an elephant once, this dignitary was limping which gave his appearance and comportment an involuntary comical aspect. Remarkable to us was the resemblance of his face with that of the former Hungarian prime minister. Thus we christened him „Tisza„. The head shikari is rather curt with everyone, even with the resident Colonel Fraser, leader of our hunting expedition, gives his orders, swears mightily on occasion but is an important man in hunting matters in the state of Alwar. Thus we as hunters have to be nice to him, especially for the sake of the tiger. I had myself introduced to him most festively. Besides being the chief professional hunter  he is also general inspector of the irrigation systems, forests and gardens. The forests will not bring much acclaim as nothing is happening in terms of reforestation and only thorns and crippled woods are growing wildly even though the area seems in many places ideal for forestry.

At 11 o’clock the large hunt was started with a big shout of „hallo“, a legion of shikaris with rifles and lances joined us who were up on the elephants. In front of a narrow very romantic gorge we made a stop to await the sign of the head shikari who had ridden ahead to the trackers. Here there were the remains of a buffalo calf killed by the tiger. Vultures were circling above the carrion or sat on the trees.

Finally, after a long wait we could see the chief professional hunter appear on his elephant on the opposite side of the valley. Now it was time to take up the hunting position. The ride of nearly three quarters of an hour through the bottom of the valley was very picturesque but tiring as we had to fight against the thorny branches of the trees that struck the haudas at every step so that our hands were bloody. It is astonishing how careful the elephants advance and how skillful they follow narrow and steep tracks which I might as well call „chamois tracks“ very safely. The hauda was shifting up and down but the elephant shows no concern but checks every step with its trunk and its foot and only takes a step on hard ground. If a stone or tree is in the way, it is cleared away with the trunk or pushed out of the way with a push of the body so that a tree breaks off due to the applied pressure of the giant.

We formed a large semi-circle in the bottom of a thickly covered side valley in which the tiger was said to be living. I was on the highest position and had climbed with my elephant up on the right ledge of the valley up to half its height to have a good view over the valley. There I stopped and waited for the things to come.

Some spots were left bare in the thick thorny bushes and I calculated where and how I would shoot if the tiger showed up. The drive started with the usual clamor as the drivers began to move down from the heights. The hunting area to be covered was rather small but out of fear the drivers advanced very slowly, in groups of 30 to 40 one after the other on the best paths without clearing the thickets in which they only threw stones, so that it took two hours. Like in Tandur! By the way, the caution of the drivers proved unnecessary as the tiger only proved his notoriety by its absence.

For the first time we saw here sambar deer or rusas (Cervus unicolor), namely a minor buck of second head,  an old animal with a calf and a hind; they looked similar to our big game but lack the beautiful figure by far and the proud and falls short of the noble posture of our king of the woods, especially as the sambar deer carries its head almost always at a downward angle and the antlers does not go beyond six points despite reaching a length of 1.25 m.

After the failed hunt we came to a small pond surrounded by palm trees and rode on the elephants back to the camp to get pellet guns and undertake a hunt into the nearby hills which netted us a large number of Indian  partridges.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 21.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays „Krisen“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents „Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor“.

Alwar to Siriska, 20 February 1893

For seven days we were to occupy a tent camp  40 km away from Alwar at Sariska — a territory known for its presence of tigers that has already been visited by the Duke of Connaught. The tent camp has been constructed by the government of Alwar to hunt tigers. In the morning it was beautiful and we woke up early to depart soon. But the time of departure was delayed for quite some time. First it was said that we should partly drive partly ride directly to the camp and hunt some chickens on the way until the baggage had time to arrive first at the destination. Soon, however, the message arrived that a tiger had been sighted close to the path so that the hunt could start immediately.

The consequence of these shifting plans was hopeless confusion, an awful turmoil as it seems to occur at nearly every hunting expedition in India. Here a hunter might not immediately find the necessary rifle. There ammunition was missing. Yonder, there were not enough wagons. A gentleman shouted in want of his baggage. Another one sought his photographic apparatus. Finally, we were all ready and the convoy to the camp was underway first in a carriage drawn by a four-horse team, while the hunters and the baggage followed in two-wheeled carts drawn by zebu oxen. The mounted lifeguard and a whole army of camels followed us in a trot, seemingly without any other purpose than to create clouds of dust.

The area we were crossing at speed offered new and welcome sights as we had spent so much time in plains. The narrow valley is enclosed by steep stony hills whose sparse vegetation — crippled trees and thorny impenetrable bushes — is remarkable. The landscape reminds me of Palestine and Syria. But the mountains in those countries are even more bare as those in Alwar. In many villages the whole population stood at the road and men and women sang in one voice some sort of choral which did not sound as unpleasant as the hitherto heard Indian singing.

We stopped at a charming spot, apparently to await news about the reported tiger, in reality to eat breakfast. The ruins of an old temple were visible in the shadow of huge trees, a dark-green harrier was a pleasure to see, steep ridges rise on the right and left. The stop was also a meeting place for all hunting elephants — 14 in numbers — which were beautifully equipped with their mahauts and haudas as well as all horses and baggage camels.

As  we were told to expect news about the tiger only in two hours‘ time, we undertook a hunt of our own into the fields nearby, extended to a small conical hill rising out of the valley and a steep rocky ridge. In the beginning all went well, when we came to the mountain ridge the climb became tough as rocky slates and blocks alternated with thorny bushes. Here too as in Darjeeling I hat to lament the lack of shoes with nailed soles. The number of peacocks was almost incredible. They walked around our feet and flew over our heads but we were unfortunately not allowed to shot one of these peacocks as these are considered holy birds, an idea we hunters did not think of as a unaccommodating idea of the Hindus.

Instead we bagged a number of the smaller long-eared hares as well as Indian partridges common quails, parrots of a species new to us  (Palaeornis cyanocephala), a charming honeysucker (Arachnechthra asiatica) and multiple beautifully colored southern green pigeons (Crocopus chlorigaster). Unfortunately I had with me a rifle I hadn’t used before so that I missed to hit, at a long distance, a  caracal (Felis caracal) which escaped at the edge of a rock and a giant crocodile that had sunned itself at the edge of a temple.Both animals had been splendid specimen and would have graced my collection of catches!

Soon the message arrived at the rest stop that the tiger’s location was uncertain and we should continue on to the camp. Some gentlemen rode, I however drove in an ancient coach with high arched springs. The four horse team was led by two old Hindus with white beards sitting on them and who wore a mixtum compositum of English and Indian uniforms. The valley became ever narrower, the area more romantic. We crossed many now dry river beds in which during the rainy season wild floods are roaring. Soon the kicks and swings from the antediluvian coach proved to be too strong. I then mounted an Arabian mare and covered the distance which still separated us from the camp at high speed.

If the camp at Tandur has already been spectacular, it was surpassed by far by the extent and the luxury of the camp at Siriska where we were catered for everything in a luxurious manner. In green surroundings, a true canvas city has arisen ranging wide and in meticulous order! 46 tents are for me alone and my entourage as well as the gentlemen and civil servants of the hunting party. Another 41 tents are intended for the servants and the cooks. A long path between the tents in whose midst stood my standard on an artificial hill, decorated with flowers, separates the snow-white tents of the gentlemen. The dining tent with a large salon next to it makes up the rear. Behind the dining tent rises another artificial hill, shaded by a large ficus tree and surrounded by facilities, greens, flower beds,  water fountains and basins with goldfish. The edge of the beds is covered with stripes of mosaics out of small colored stones that form bands with sayings and hunting scenes. I had besides my daytime tent also a salon with golden blankets and furniture at my disposition. Each of the gentlemen had his own tent with all desirable comforts — not forgetting to mention the bath cabins. If only the number of tigers whih we will bag is proportional to the splendor used here!

The camp extends itself in the middle of a large friendly valley basin surrounded by rocky hills. Next to the main camp are a number of other camps which each have a large number of animals and men and offer the observer many types and scenes. There is firstly the camp of the hunting elephants, their mahauts and guardians where after a day of work the large animals are fed and then cleaned for which they lay down, brushed and washed. Next to this camp is that of the drivers and camels as well as that of the mounted lifeguard and their horses. The latter ones are lashed together in four rows and are covered with warm blankets against the whims of the weather. The end is made up by the wagon park with numerous baggage wagons and the zebu oxen that draw them.

The number of the hunters, the drivers, the spear and baggage carriers, the elephant guides and guardians, the supervisors for the setup of the tents and all the people necessary for the various services and installations led to a notable total number of 1793 men. 25 elephants, 148 horses and 39 dogs were ready for the hunt. The train of the camp was 84 partly four- partly two-wheeled wagons and carts strong. In the camp are stood no fewer than 25 stalls in which artisans did their job and merchants offered goods of all kind. A troop commanded by a native officer of 40 cavalrymen is charged with the signal and postal services. A detachment of 72 infantrymen is in charge of security.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 20.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. No new cholera cases in Hungary.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays „Der Störefried“ instead of „Verbot und Befehl“ due to the indisposition of Ms Schratt a.k.a. Emperor Franz Joseph’s mistress, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents Donizetti’s opera „Die Regimentstochter“.

Alwar, 19 February 1893

At 7 o’clock in the morning I was awakened with the news that we would soon arrive in Alwar. I dressed quickly and observed the changed landscape through the window of my compartment — steep hills rising out of the plain everywhere. They are stony and only covered with little vegetation. Some have sharply marked forms and contours. In the fields beside the railway tracks are prancing around numerous holy peacocks.

The state of Alwar ruled by a prince dependant on the British is one of the states of Rajputana, that large territory in the Northwest of continental India between the Yamuna and Indus river which reaches to the Tharr desert, the „Indian Sahara“, on whose border important developments took place. Among the nineteen protectorates of Rajputana, divided into seven British agencies, I name as especially remarkable: Jodhpore, Marwar, Jaipur, Mewar, Bikanir, Dholpur, the already mentioned Bhartpur and Alwar. Ajmere is already part of British territory.

Alwar, located in an area lacking water at the foot of a 400 m high conical hill topped by Fort Alwar and covered by a pointy mountain range has been founded at the end of the last century by Pratap Singh — from the house of Naruka descended from Udaikaran of Jaipur (1367 to 1388) — a vassal  prince of the maharaja of Jaipur. Insubordinate and ambitious, Pratap Singh emigrated and fortified himself on the spot where now stands Alwar and founded the still existing state after the Grand Mughal of Delhi had granted him a charter. Alwar’s princes are part of the parvenus and can not claim, though of noble blood, famous ancestors like for instance the Maharaja of Jhodpur who can apparently trace his lineage back to the  fourth century or like the prince of Udaipur whose ancestors have verifiably ruled already in the eighth century.

The states of the Rajputana agency are as stated guided by the English. But this is exercised in a mild, considerate and friendly manner as the princes of Rajputana  (royal sons) in general look kindly upon England and namely because their territory filled with warriors acts as a buffer towards the wild Afghans.

The current ruling maharaja of Alwar, Jai Singh, the son and successor to Sawai Mangal Singh (died 1892), famous both as a rider and tiger hunter and as a competent ruler and soldier — the last quality has made him a colonel in the English army — is a  Rajputan from the „sun family“ of that Kachwaha tribe which has founded the throne in Gwalior and still prospers today in Doäb in the land between the rivers Ganges an Yamuna.

Jai Singh is said, even though he is only about twelve years old, to have behaved very dignified and highly energetically after the death of his father and the accession to the throne. There exists here the strange custom that the ruler has to shoot a hare at the accession to the throne in front of the assembled people; if he hits, this is considered good fortune. Should he miss, however, this would be a bad sign. At this oracle-like inauguration of his government, Jai Singh knew how to control himself despite the stress that overcomes such a young boy in such a case so that he succeeded in his prophetic master shot.

At Alwar station I was received by the youthful hero of that episode and also by the English agent in Alwar, Colonel Fraser, who supervised the government of the country during the minority of the prince together with a council of local dignitaries.  Members of the council were present too at my festive reception. Jai Singh is a handsome boy with an intelligent open face whose character can in my opinion best qualified as „nice“.

Outside the station a honor guard company of giant Rajputs with full black beards, a squadron of cavalry — the soldiers of both units in red coats and turbans  — and a music band had taken up position. The Rajputs were well selected representatives of the warrior-like beautiful men of the country who not so long ago performed martial fights in the manner of our medieval tournaments but have proved themselves as an excellent unit in the modern sense among the new Anglo-Indian direction. The army of Alwar numbers around 8000 men who are under the command of English officers. A whole row of splendidly ornamented government elephants with rich gear, colorful blankets and gilded haudas was also present. Next to them stood strange wagons from the maharaja’s stable, actually two wheeled carts with pointed roofs covered with colorful fixings and zebu oxen as teams.

Opposite of them, splendid horses were parading, on long leashes, with well coiffed manes and tails. Mostly stallions from the ranch nearby. Also a number of court shikaris some with ancient lances some with brand new English rifles had formed up to embellish the festivities. Furthermore there was a troop of camels that had, as I noticed for the first time, cannons or strong charges intended for trombones packed onto their humps. These cannons were later fired during our trip. A colorful vividly moving procession with true Indian pomp and circumstance!

The honorable archbishop of Agra had the kindness as it was Sunday to send me a Capuchin to read mass in a small Catholic chapel. The Catholic community of Alwar state counts all of eleven heads. The good Capuchin was a former subject of Our Majesty the Emperor — he had been born in the Venetian lands at the time of Austrian rule —  gave a simple warm speech after the church service  in which he praised our country and asked for the Lord’s protection for our monarch. I have to admit that it moved me to listen to a priest of my creed in the midst of deepest India, amidst millions of Hindus and Muslims, in a chapel of only a few square meters ch  and hear him pray for Our Majesty.

After the service we drove to the palace of Banni Bilas built by the third ruler of Alwar, Banni Singh, from the house of Naruka. The palace had been given to our disposition. This garden palace outside the city makes a good impression from outside and differs favorably from the otherwise tasteless palaces of the modern Indian era. In the middle of a well maintained park it combines different styles harmoniously  and is notable for the good arrangement of the numerous verandas and bays which make the building look graceful. In front of the main facade of the palace stands  a large marble basin in whose midst rises a kiosk-like marble balcony. The interior of the palace is naturally European in character and displays little taste. From the balcony of my room I had a nice view on the tops of the trees in the park and the stony mountains around the palace with their ruins and forts.

After many days of bad weather the sky had finally turned blue again and the sun was smiling down and warmed the frozen sons of the earth.  As the official program of the morning was complete I used the pause to write letters home. Towards noon I was presented a number of horses from the stable of the  maharaja, products of Indian breeding that is Marwari and Kattywari, the latter one nearly all foxes with tiger stripes on the legs and a dark eel strip on the back. The horses looked splendid, showed good posture, namely beautiful heads and had good but too small feet for their heavy bodies. A rider of the maharaja, a black Rajput, presented the horses and performed with each a small feat of high dressage: one piaffed, the other marched in lancades,  the third stood up on its rear legs, a fourth knelt down and other jokes of this kind.

In the afternoon I paid a visit to the maharaja in his palace called by the English „The Royal Palace“ or „The City Palace“.

Alwar too has, like all the cities seen in India, its peculiarities in its setup and way of construction. new or newly used motifs in decoration of the buildings, which gives the city a peculiar appearance. The variety of the impressions which the visitor receives from these different cities is an important attraction of the Indian city landscapes.I would like to compare it to the attraction of a changing variation of a theme. Especially notable is the palace built by Jeodan Singh (died 1874), the son of Banni Singh, which now serves for the widows of the former one. That palace has numerous small additions and porches with windows as well as delicate ornaments that look like carved ivory.

The youthful ruler received us amidst his dignitaries. In the usual manner we sat together for some time on richly ornamented gilded chairs opposite one another when the maharaja dedicated a copy of the monograph by Th. H. Hendley „Ulwar and its Art Treasures“ (London, W. Griggs 1888) to me, a splendid work which includes illustrations some in color of among others the most precious pieces of the weapon collection, the library and the treasury of Alwar.

On the suggestion of the resident, the maharaja showed me the weapon collection where an old custodian demonstrated the pieces in a comical way. He not only dressed up in them but performed opera-like fighting poses in them. We saw splendid swords with precious blades and gilded handles that had once cost 20.000 rupees as well as small hunting knives, daggers and chainmail shirts.

The largest treasure by far of the palace is the old manuscript collection of the library which have a gild foundation under the writing and include like our old bibles gorgeous miniature illustrations.  The latter ones are so delicately painted and so fresh in color that one finds only in the most outstanding of our medieval manuscripts. Yes, I might in some aspect place those higher as the perspective is realized much better, the understanding much deeper than the artworks produced at the same time at home. With special pleasure I looked at numerous pictures that illustrated legends of the gods or lives of earlier maharajas which showed feasts and precious hunts, battles and campaigns. The most valuable piece of the whole collection is a manuscript dating from 1848, a copy of „Gulistan“ („the rose garden“, one of two main works by the Persian poet Sadi from the 13th century), whose production cost more than 120.000 fl. in Austrian currency,  in part is artfulness is attributed to the skills of a German.

The special circumstance of European influence can confuse the native sense of beauty I could observe in the treasury where the custodians presented as their most outstanding piece a clock in Empire style similar to those built in Geneva. This one contained a singing hummingbird and stood on a silver table over which the imitating floods of water flowed over artificial fishes — an ugly  bauble.

Not much better is the situation of the paintings and ornaments of the palace rooms. While some walls are decorated with impressive portraits of the maharajas, one finds only European common pieces. In the first floor of the palace one is proudly presented a room that contains small mirrors an mosaics of painted ornaments.  Despite its small size, it took thirty years to complete the ornaments of the room.  The artistic work in another room has been going on for more than twelve years without a visible end in sight; even during the visit there were artists present who scraped and painted on their masterwork. Given the work-shyness of the Hindus one could not be surprised by the slow progress of the work. If the work is finally completed, it is praised not even by its maker as its effect is nothing more than handsome and can only be called somewhat exceptional.

What an agreeable contrast to those glittering artificial works is the view from the platform of the palace on its surroundings! Below us the pond of Pratap Singh with wide stairs leading to the water surface and ten kiosks standing on pillars rising out of the water which are connected by runways with the terraces at the edge. On the left side of the palace, the south side of the water basin, stands the delicate mausoleum of Bakhtawar Singh (died 1815); in the West is a Vishnu temple leaning on the castle hill as are the small sanctuaries on the Northern side which are shaded by trees; finally, the charming architectural impression is completed by the fortress walls and the glittering white towers of the castle hill. Steep hill sides with rocky parts and mighty blocks of stone in the background and above it the deep blue sky unite to create with all these buildings a new attractive scenery. Unfortunately we could not enjoy the view on the palace itself and the city as that platform would have offered a view into the women quarters too.

The maharaja accompanied me to the carriage in the horse breeding farm, a large courtyard-like building where multiple hundred stallions and mares, mostly in free range, are held. The animals are bound with rope on their rear legs which is a common custom in India and often leads to rope wounds on the legs and illnesses caused by this custom like hedgehog foot, mallenders etc. Among the horses there are numerous races present from Arab purebloods to the most common nag but for breeding purposes they use almost exclusively Arabs and Kattyvvari. The breeding mares are all bred locally, country stock.

During the visit to the horse breeding farm we were shown animal fights of all kinds, a favorite entertainment of the Rajputs.  Partridges, cocks, rams, which were especially selected strong and mean animals that fought with determination as well as back-bucks that fought one afte the other. Even quails were set up to fight and proved their mettle as the cocks incited by the display of a hen in a cage attacked each other hotly and hit each other with their beaks so that their feathers flew apart. The piece de resistance was however the fight between two buffalo bulls that attacked in blind fervor and tried to pierce one another with their strong curved horns. One of the combatants was soon wounded and bled strongly which made them even angrier. In the decisive moment, the two combatants were separated by the wardens so that the fight ended in a draw.  Very beautiful was the final to this bloody spectacle, the production of trained parrots that could truly do remarkable tricks; one of these smart birds performed like a rope artist while the other arranged glass pearls in a row on a thread. A third one loaded a small cannon and fired it on its own. I admired the courage of the small artilleryman who stood on the barrel in the smoke of the powder.

Similar to the pigsticking, a panther sticking was arranged where a panther caught shortly before in the surroundings of Alwar was to be chased an killed with lances. To this purpose we moved on horse to a large open moor at the limit of the city where the panther was waiting in a cage. It took a long time before he left this protective shell and sneaked outside to flee in small jumps. Soon all riders took up pursuit but after only a few seconds an English captain pierced it in the flank before it could run at full speed. Now the animal crouched like a cat and tried to jump at the circling riders. A skilled strike with the lance by Prónay wounded it so strongly that it perished amidst further strikes. The English gentlemen stood around the poor panther with satisfaction while I could find no pleasure in such a way of hunting. There will never be a running pursuit as the panther will always crouch and be an easy target for a lance. But the English have a predilection for the chase and every kind of animal from the large nilgai to the jackal is chased. Had the panther perished by a bullet of mine I would have felt satisfaction as a hunter while the lance sticking brought out only laments in me about the destruction of a beautiful skin of the animal.

To inspect the two and three year old horses we rode away from the hunting ground to the courts of foals of the ranch. At the signal of a trumpeter a herd of 250 to 300 animals stormed out at full pace out of a pen, jumped over a high clay wall and ran up to the bar where the animals are fed barley, carrots and clover in the morning and the evening. Despite the apparently sufficient food, and all products of the stallion inspected earlier, the animals looked bad and namely thin; some are also, due to the non-noble blood of their mothers, underdeveloped and disfigured.

After our dinner at our palace to which all Englishmen living in Alwar attended, the illumination of the park and the ignition of a firework concluded the day.

Links

  • Ort:  Alwar, India
  • ANNO – on 19.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays „Medea“ and „Der Hexenmeister“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents the opera „Mephistopheles“.

Delhi, 18 February 1893

I had asked to visit an Indian prison. A wish that was granted most willingly by offering me the opportunity to visit a prison in the south of Delhi. We passed the Delhi gate, one of ten gates which are set in the 8,8 km long ring wall around the city. After a short ride through the field of ruins of old Delhi we arrived in front of the prison occupied by around 500 prisoners.

By a double lock gate which is comparable to a double wall we entered the interior and saw something like a formal city quarter of small ground floor buildings intended for housing the prisoners who are separated from each other so that no communication can take place among them while they are under precise supervision from certain central locations.

Generally it is the practice of keeping prisoners isolated for some time to get to know them, I might say, to study their character. In the individual cell the prisoner has to work, namely he has to fulfil a daily quota of grinding corn in a primitive way with two millstones and their hands.  Is he behaving well, he enters into a group cell and work. In the opposite case or if it is clear that the prisoner has a negative influence on his fellow prisoners, he will have to spend all his time in individual cells. Especially hard criminals and those who have escaped before are shackled with heavy iron bars on their feet and kept almost like wild beast in open iron cages on whose end is found a cell with an open hard bed. In one of those cells sat an old man who has broken out already thrice. He devised means to cut the thick iron bars — using wool threads and a mixture of oil, sand and glass splinters which he managed to procure. He rubbed a part of the iron bar for so long until he had worn it out and he could escape. Probably one of the greatest exercises in perseverance! Twice he was successful but the third time he has been caught. Another prisoner had built a key out of discarded lead within three months. But the artful tool has been discovered at the latest moment. An especially wild impression made two Afghans one of which was accused of murder. The other had been sentenced to 37 years of hard labor for a similar crime.

The individual cells contain a bed made out of clay with a stray mat and two covers. The rest of the equipment is a cup and the already mentioned millstone.

One part is reserved for boys among which one can see true rascals. Another part is for habitual criminals who have entered this holy halls repeatedly. A third part, finally, is for women among whom are a number of truly ugly and depraved ones.

The prisoners‘ dress is uniform: It consists of a covering cloth worn over a piece of linen wrapped around the middle of the body. To eat they receive from our point of view a very small ration  of two flat unleavened breads in the morning plus one eighth of a liter Dal (a type of bean) with butter and condiments, at noon a handfull of roasted wheat and in the evening green vegetables with two breads. And still the prisoners are well and look good.

According to the opinion of the prison director the only fault of the prison is treating the prisoners better than their life would be outside. Laments such as those made by the director can be heard also at home where comparisons are often made between the nice life in prison even for hard criminals compared to the life existence of our soldiers in their barracks. I can not really find fault that the humane treatment of hard criminals has gone too far and has lessened the impact of punishment.

I inspected all workshops where the prisoners execute tasks together with the simplest of tools. They produce cartonnage and earthenware, rugs and mats made out of reeds which grows near all rivers. I ordered a great number for the corridors of Konopiste. Their own clothing has to be produced by the prisoners themselves too.

After my return to the city, valuable time was lost in my misleading visiting the city museum of the institute which is in a desolate condition and stood next to Chandni Chowk street. It is difficult to present an overview of all the dirt, the overwhelming desolation an mixture of the motley mammals, birds, cloths, household items and other ethnographic objects. At least one could learn to see what a museum should not look like.

On revient toujours …  also once again paid a visit to Tellery to do some shopping, namely rugs.

Then we watched cock fights organized by natives in out hotel. As cruel this entertainment may be, it isn’t without attraction: with astonishing bravery and combativeness, even rage, the two brave roosters hit one another with beaks and spurs until one of them succumbed.

In the evening the train took us to Alwar, Northwest of Agra, Southwest of Delhi, which lies on the Rajputana-Malwa Railway including Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway that runs by the way of Ahmedabad to Bombay.

Links

  • Location: Alwar, India
  • ANNO – on 18.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The newspapers are gearing up to Pope Leo XIII’s 50th anniversary of consecration as a bishop (and 15th anniversary as pope) on 19th February.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing a comedy „Verbot und Befehl“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing Jules Massenet’s „Manon“.

Delhi, 17 February 1893

As many artillery horse teams had been sent from a neighboring town for pulling our wagons I used this fast means of transport to explore the ruins of Delhi and especially the famous Qutb Minar (Tower of Qutab).

The whole surrounding area of Delhi is a city of ruin composed of the ruins of former palaces and other buildings. Hard to grasp is the number of destroyed mosques, temples and living quarters whose traces and foundations are distinctly visible amidst the trees and bushes. It is the ninth city that rose since the Aryan immigration, always out of the ruins of the precedent city as each of the many conquerors first destroyed what had been there and then created a new and more important city in splendor and expansion. Out of the ruins rise rather many still halfway preserved buildings from the time of the Mughals. Mostly mosques, forts, now and then beautiful grave monuments and parts of palaces. Everywhere dome constructions rule and many of the domes are covered with predominantly blue glaze tiles.

The most beautiful among the monuments is the grave of Emperor Humayun (died 1556), a large building which has a dome in the middle and in the corners eight-sided non-equilateral towers. Among the grave stones, the one of Humayun is notable for its simplicity, a white marble kenotaph without inscription. Close to the grave stands another well preserved beautiful mausoleum which according to legend Humayun had had built for his favorite barber.

As far as history is concerned, the place in front of the mausoleum of Humayun is interesting as the last titular Grand Mughal Bahadur had surrendered there to the English during the rebellion of 1857. The death penalty for Bahadur was transformed into lifelong imprisonment in consideration of the advanced age of the last of the Grand Mughals who died in 1862. The two sons of Bahadur who were captured as well were killed during their transfer to Delhi as the officer in charge of the escort decided to shoot them personally with his pistol given that these important prisoners were on the verge of being liberated by the huge crowds surrounding the wagons.

The whole drive of 17 km from Delhi to Qutab Minar is lined with ruins, as mentioned, so that we looked around the whole time and were attracted by new views all the time.

Already from a distance Qutab Minar is greeting us from a small hill. From afar it looks like a giant factory smoke stack. Up close it causes amazement due to its gigantic forms which have survived soundly through so many centuries. The tower in the form of a round pillar is 84 m, the diameter at the base is 14,3 m, at the top only 2,7 m which can be accessed by a stair of 378 steps. The tower is segmented into five parts marked by galleries; the three lower ones, made out of red sandstone are grooved shafts, the upper two are made out of white marble ornamented with simple grooves. The base of the tower seems to be ornamented with chiseled out koran sayings that cover the grooves up to the first gallery.

About the origin and the purpose behind the construction of Qutab Minar multiple opinions exist. According to one version the tower was intended to serve as a mazina (tower of the muezzin) of the nearby but now ruined mosque Kutab-elIslam (»Pole of Faith«). Others proclaim to know that the tower was built at the end of the 12th century by a prince named Rai Pithora, so that his daughter could watch the holy Yamuna river from the top. An explanation which would be a tribute to the fatherly love of the builder. Another tradition says that Qutab Minar was built by the Hindus and later altered by the Muslims. The presence of numerous ruins of Hindu temples around the tower gives credence to the latter hypothesis, even though one has to note that the tower started by king Kutab-ed-din-Aibak (died 1210) was completed by his favorite slave and inheritor to the crown Altamsch.

Near the already mentioned ruins of the Hindu temples one focuses on  a splendid richly decorated gate constructed by  Ala-ed-din (1295 to 1313), once the entrance to the Kutabel-Islam mosque. Remarkable about this gate is the combination of Hindu architecture with the Muslim style in such a manner that the reliefs dating from older Hindu or Jaina temples are inserted into arches and freezes of the Indian-Saracenic style. Here the sentiment for art has surpassed racial hatred!

A strange object is the famous but controversial „iron pillar“ which is almost 7 m tall and apparently a composition of iron, copper, gold and silver but according to Thompson’s view actually made out of wrought iron. The inscription placed at half the the height of the pillar in Sanskrit preserves the name of the victorious raja Dhawa for all eternity who is said to have erected this „arm of his glory“ in the  4th century. Probably the pillar had once borne a Vishnu statue. A second inscription with the name of Anang Pal, the founder of the Tomara dynasty has originated the common tradition that the „iron pillar“ has been created in 1052 by Anang Pal.

I mention too the small grave with splendid ornamentation of Altamsch and the mausoleum of Adam Khan, a high eight-sided building covered by a dome. This Adam Khan, a descendant of the Timurides and one of the most outstanding generals of Akbar is said to have murdered the father-in-law of the Emperor before his eyes and to have been thrown from the terrace of the palace as a punishment for the crime. In consideration of Adam Khan’s service at the conquest of Sarangpur Akbar is said to have motivated him to construct this monument for his cousin who might have been executed too hastily.

We profaned the building by eating breakfast within its walls. Then we marched through the stony and thorny area to hunt. We split into two parties. Prónay, Stockinger and I chose the hill around Qutab Minar, while the other gentlemen followed a local shikari who had a charming tame gazelle with him to attract game.  The advance in these ruins proved difficult because of the sharp stones, the walls and the copious sharp thorns but our perseverance paid off. I bagged several Indian grey partridges (Ortygornis pondiceriana), as well as four painted sand-grouses (Pterocles fasciatus). After a long march, actually a continuous steeple chase over walls and stones, I returned home with our formidable artillery horse teams  to devote my evening to my writing. To this purpose a warming fire was flickering in the chimney while jackals howled outside my window in a strange concert.

Links

  • Location: Dehli, India
  • ANNO – on 17.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria whose upcoming nuptials was noted yesterday, is sick in bed in Vienna and will be confined to the bed during the next days. The crisis in France fills another three columns of text.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing a combination of three small pieces, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the ballet „Excelsior“.

Delhi, 16 February 1893

After a night not spent in comfortable warmth we arrived early in the morning in Delhi while it was raining and cold. O, often praised and often rebuked heat of India, where are you?

Delhi, „the Rome of Asia“, is the oldest, largest and also the most sparkling city of the Punjab, of India even, and had been the pompous residence of the Grand Mughals. Since 1803 under British rule it is considered holy by the Hindus by the Yamuna river, to be venerated by Muslims for the spectacular Shah Jahan mosque. Modern Delhi, North-northwest of Agra, on the right bank of the Yamuna fills in the wide fertile and climatically favored plain towards the north which is surrounded by the Mewat hills on the one side and the river on the other. Since ancient times, this urban, strategically and commercially important place has been settled.

These settlements have switched their location during the centuries — soon filling this, soon that part of the plains — and have been abandoned time and again to decay so that modern Delhi , a city of around 200.000 inhabitants, represents but a small part of all that what constituted Delhi during the different periods. The circumference of the Delhi is no less than 155 km!

Even though Dehli is the junction of multiple railway lines, on a navigable river and close to well irrigated lands and even though it is today the most active and largest trading and industrial city of the whole Punjab, it has nevertheless been pushed down to the status of a provincial city by the British government probably due to political considerations from the fatal insurrection of 1857.

The downpour which came to greet us with many tears did not prevent us after a short rest in our quarters, the Metropolitan Hotel, to undertake a sightseeing tour of the city The city forms nearly a semi-circle where the part of the river forms the  diameter.

We first turned to the fort which contains the old palace of the Grand Mughals. It is situated in the eastern part of the city high above the Yamuna and is so similar ot the fort at Agra that it can be called a miniature copy of it. It is built out of red sandstone and enclosed by a 2,5 km long wall and a ditch and ornamented with beautiful gates. The highlight is naturally that part of the interior which contains the palace of Shah Jahan. While Akbar mostly took residence in Agra and Lahore, Jahan transferred his residence to Delhi, where he lived in the north of the city where also his ancestor Humayun had lived and founded a new Delhi which he called Shah-Jahanabad.

Like the fort of Agra, the one in Delhi also contains splendid palaces, halls, rooms and mosque. But their number is much smaller than in Fort Agra as the English destroyed, after the suppression of the great rebellion of 1857 which had started in Delhi with the murder of the local Europeans by Shah Bahadur, a large part of the buildings of the fort to build barracks and batteries in their stead.

Entering through the music hall (Nakar khana or Naubakhana) we first saw the two rooms intended for receptions The large reception hall Diwan-i-Am is open on three sides and carried by pillars made out of red sandstone. It is decorated everywhere especially the throne and the wall behind it and rises out of a niche are decorated with painting and delicious mosaics.

I can’t approve the renovation undertaken by the English government recently on many of the walls on this and other monuments  Even if the motif of this beginning is to be applauded, it seems to go too far. In my view the original old surface decorations, if painted if mosaics,  and may it already be much damaged should be left in the otherwise unchanged halls and has more style than the imitations with their fresh gold splendor and their loud color which replace the faded and crumbling but original ornamentation. But the question how far a renovation of damaged art may go is continually debated by the experts which are for the complete restoration of the original form and the subconsciously not less sensitive layman. I recall here the clean-up of the patina from the inner walls of St. Stephen’s cathedral. This restoration has awakened the desire of a large crowd for the return of the former almost mythical darkness which gave the cathedral a strange quiet beauty. Likewise I would consider it a sacrilege to add the missing arm to the statue of the Venus of Milo as has been planned.

The small reception hall, Diwan-i-Khas, in the fort of Delhi is a open pavilon completely made out of marble and decorated with golden ornaments and pietra-dura. On its east side once stood the famous golden peacock throne covered with precious gemstones (Tacht-i-taus), which Nadir Shah, the Persian conqueror of Delhi, has taken away as the proudest piece in his war booty in 1739. In the same area are the Grand Mughal’s private chambers and the female quarters filled with marble as well as the baths.

On the west side of Diwan-i-Khas stands a gracious building. the pearl mosque (Moti Mesjid), very artfully built out of gleaming white marble and ornamented with reliefs and delicate ornaments., despite its small dimensions. But its artistic creation and the wealth of its decoration makes it highly remarkable. The bronze gate of the mosque is a repoussé master work, a craft still very successful in India.

It would not have taken much guesswork by the company S. J. Tellery & Co. which has its main subsidiary and manufacture of art objects here that we would come and visit them. Above the gate of the company was a triumphal arch decorated with bands in Austrian and Hungarian colors as well as sentences which proclaimed in large golden letters“Hoch“ and „Eljen“. We found here mostly the same objects which we had already seen in Bombay and Calcutta, art objects and curiosities from all Indian regions but of such diversity and choice that the shopping urge was triggered to the utmost and turned into an insatiable craving.

I used the afternoon to visit the famous mosque Dschama Mesdschid in the southern part of Delhi. It is the largest and most beautiful Muslim place of prayer in India. Mighty open stairs on whose steps linger all kinds of merchants and agents lead to the grand gates which allow access to the foreyard of the mosque. This foreyard is a square of 99 m lengthwise and is enclosed on three sides by pillar pathways with corner kiosks which form from the outside seen the first floor of the high wall built out of red sandstone. The fourth side of the courtyard is the mosque itself on an area of 2243 m2. The gates mentioned above bear above the keel arch of the entrance galleries and pointed domes above which rise lean marble minarets with pointed peaks.

The mosque was built in 1658 in the same style as the one in Agra and here too are above the facade three domes with minarets  while the main part is built out of red sandstone. The domes and the peaks of the two high minarets are made out of marble. The sometimes inharmonious mixture of red and white lessens the total impression considerably; I particularly disliked that the white marble plates of the domes alternated with rows of black stones. A motif I hadn’t seen before I found on the minarets as the foot of each was formed by a marble flower calyx out of which rises the lean tower which is patterned along its whole length by vertical stripes that end at the top in a leafy crown.

In one corner of the pillar hall of the mosque we saw the actual sanctuary, a delicate marble shrine with the relics of the prophet. In artless containers that resembled those used by insect collectors to store their beetles are here preserved: a fire-red hair from the prophet’s beard, the worn slippers of Mohammed, lines from the Koran in the handwriting of the Imams Hussain and Hassan and — as we hunters would call this — the „track“ of Mohammed, i.e. his foot print in clay.

From the mosque we marched through the main street of Delhi, the long Chandni CHauk, where shop follows shop, shouts, noise of every kind, pitches and bargaining is heard everywhere so that the senses my be numbed.

The bazaar has like the whole city and like Agra an unmistakable Muslim appearance. The vivid streets of Delhi presents us with types and dresses which we could not find in Calcutta for example. The main contingent of the crowd in the bazaar are Muslims with colorful turbans and embroidered kaftans, veiled Muslim women with colorful pants and colorful cloths. In between these figures move Hindus and in noticeably large numbers Afghans. It was interesting to see this tall, strong figures, those energetic even sullen faces of the bearded Afghans. The confident demeanor, the strong posture of these highland sons made it believable that each man of this untamed, predatory and war-loving people has as little respect for his own life than that of other men and if fate demands it will step forward quietly to either murder or be executed.

At Tellery’s, where I returned after the end of the glittering bazaar, I visited the workshops in which the art objects were made by hand without assistance of any machine by very skilled native workers in a relatively short time. I would not have expected to see such effort and skill among the otherwise quite indolent Indians. It is however, a compatriot from Vienna who leads the enterprise with a strong grip. In the workshops for rugs eight to ten-year-old Hindu boys produce the most beautiful textiles, while in a separate room out of various wood types are carved wonderful works completely in free hand style. Metal workers produce gorgeous containers out of silver, copper and bronze.The clay modelers perform miracles without having gone to school. They form all types in India plus the scenes, processions and groups from the life of the different native populations in beautiful clay figurines. The individual figurines are truly artistically completed and of a highly naturalistic manner. Every fold in a cloth, every vein in the skin is fully life-like formed.

The evening saw us reunited in the Metropolitan Hotel, which left much to be desired, at a indigestible dinner in rooms which were rich in doors, windows and draft.

Links

  • Location: Dehli, India
  • ANNO – on 16.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria has found a bride during his visit of Europe’s courts: Princess Marie-Louise of Bourbon. Franz Ferdinand’s journey does not offer similar opportunities. The Austrian and Hungarian manufacturers have decided to raise their prices of candles and soaps. The excuse are pig fat production capacity problems in the United States.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Die Biedermänner“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing Rossini’s „Der Barbier von Sevilla“.

Agra to Bhartpur, 15 February 1893

The hunt and especially the hunting grounds of the day before had been so pleasant that we decided to undertake the same trip to Bhartpur again and depart to Delhi in the evening instead of the morning. At half past seven o’clock our special train was ready. I asked the railway director to stop at the pond where we had seen so numerous waterfowl the day before. The proposition proved difficult to execute due to the trains driving in the opposite direction. In the end the severe director allowed us a stop of five minutes.

When we reached the spot we jumped out of the carriages and fired into the swarms of the birds taking off. A black-necked stork and three ducks were the result of the first salvo. We were just been given the signal to depart again when the conductor ran back some distance on the railway tracks and returned with a splendid southern white pelican (Pelecanus roseus) which he had seen fall. It is probable that the salvo on the stork had hit the pelican flying behind it accidentally as nobody had directly aimed at it.

In full drive I shot from the platform of my compartment a black-necked stork in flight and a fishing „metal stork“ as we christened the  Asian openbill stork  due to its shimmering back plumage. The locomotive driver had seen the two birds fall and stopped the train so that we could retrieve the birds. Now the conductors had caught fire for the hunt. When we saw a herd of nilgais, the train stopped in an instant and Wurmbrand killed a cow which was transferred to the baggage wagon.

Having just started moving the train was stopped again just after a few hundred meters, the conductors came and pointed out a her of nilgai bulls that grazed in the thick jungle. The gentlemen quickly descended with their rifles while I watched as a spectator as I had already shot three nilgais the day before. Clam shot one bull, Wurmbrand wounded another which he retrieved after a long search. Prónay missed a bull in flight. Now the hunting drive was awakened in me who had wanted to remain a spectator. Clam amicably lent me his rifle and I pursued the herd running and with luck managed to kill a strong bull. So we had in a short time put three nilgai bulls and one cow on the roof.

The train, driven by the conductors with the hunting bug, soon advanced, soon drove back in the direction of the hunters so that we could quickly stow the bagged game and embark again. I have hunted on foot, on horse, in wagons an in boats but a hunt from railway carriage I have participated in for the first time and can only attest to its success — highly recommended.

We arrived one hour late in Bhartpur where the surprised maharaja received us again not without a sinister glance through the windows of my carriage where the birds have been hanged for drying. Fortunately, he did not suspect anything about the poached nilgais.

After breakfast with the charming Colonel Martelli I developed the battle plan and decided to undertake a large hunt with my gentlemen through the whole jungle where I had hunted the day before and seen numerous nilgais and jackals. The latter however were unfortunately not to be found as they had fled after yesterday’s shooting. Instead I shot just at the beginning three small Indian hares (Lepus ruficaudatus), plus with a ball, a gorgeous sarus crane with a purple red head.

Countless holy peacocks and pigeons, as well numerous nilgais and black-bucks were visible which did not stop within firing distance. As the game was much too jumpy, I asked Colonel Martelli to let us hunt in the jungle surrounding the ponds and which had only been passed by the driving elephants yesterday. To reach it faster we mounted the elephants and crossed one of the ponds. We could observe how securely the smart thick-skins walk even in deep water. They probe the ground cautiously while walking slowly before they set their mighty feet down. They were continuously playing with their trunks, taking in water, blowing it out and eating many water plants. I used this ride to practice shooting for the hunt in Nepal; due to the continually moving body of the elephant, at the beginning, an untrained shot is highly uncertain out of the hauda as I had already witnessed in Tandur. The first attempt missed a large number of ducks and cormorants. The next ball did no better as I missed a nilgai after we had just entered the jungle.  Only a black-necked stork, this gorgeous bird of the local swamps, I could bag. Everywhere the sound of the rifles rang out happily. When we met again on a small clearing, Saint Hubertus had favored Clam most with a charming Indian gazelle a so called Chinkara (Gazella bennetti) and two jackals.

As riding elephants and missing shots was not too my liking, I formed with my gentlemen on foot and stepped, not without damage to skin and clothes, into the thick thorny bushes where we had rich pickings. Prónay and I bagged each a nilgai bull; furthermore some jackals, partridges,  quails and hares. As usual in such thick bushes the line of shooters had become disorganized so that it took some time until we all met again at the rendez-vous to enter the carriage merrily about the successful hunt and drive to Bhartpur.

Out of one or two of the „accidental“ kills of nilgais the total rose to nine. I hope that the maharaja should he ever hear about our sacrilege that he will forgive us dedicated disciples of Diana and not punish others who are guiltless for these acts. At the farewell from Bhartpur, the maharaja  was very friendly, gave me his portrait as well as a fly whisk made out of an ivory strip and had again salutes fired to the pleasure of all. If he had already known about the nilgais, the separation would not have been as heartfelt!

When we returned to Agra, we engaged in all sorts of trading — a true bazaar had developed in our palace — we said good-bye to Kinsky who had to stay behind for the present due to his fever and drove towards 9 o’clock in the evening again to the Taj. As the weather had been playing jokes on us during the first visit and also today, the moon was not shining, I did not want to leave Agra without having seen this gorgeous building at least in artificial light. The latter one was made by Bengal candles. These were held by hundreds of natives which were posted on the roofs of the two lateral mosques in the garden and looked like Nero’s living torches. The effect of the lighting was almost magical. Voiceless I admired the quiet splendor and pomp of this gorgeous picture. In a blinding white light lay the jewel of oriental architecture in front of us, darkly rose the contours of the trees as well as the cedar groves around. All around there was a deep silence of the night. To me it was as if the breath of centuries past was touching my senses, that it demonstrated its greatness by such a master work. We entered one of the mosques and had the Bengal candles first be extinguished and then lighted again so that we saw the Taj through the gate of the mosque as if in a frame. The Bengal flames were shining mildly like moonshine above the proud building which seemed to be woven out of light and stood magically there — an enchanting view. Sunken in this pleasure we stood for a long, long time until flame after flame went out and the enchanting image disappeared into the dark night.

Shortly afterwards the journey continued on the lines of the East Indian Railway by the way of Tundia and Aligarh to Delhi.

Links

  • Location: Agra, India
  • ANNO – on 15.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. By telegram, it is announced that the ship Fasana that Franz Ferdinand had met in the Indian Ocean has safely reached Pola, the home base of the k.u.k fleet, completing its journey around the world in 17,5 months. A famine has hit parts of Russia.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays Lessing’s “Nathan der Weise“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing Wagner’s „Lohengrin“.

Agra to Bhartpur, 14 February 1893

For today, a hunt for water fowl was arranged by the English resident Colonel Martelli in the territory of the Maharaja of Bhartpur. I hoped to shoot one or two nilgais  „by mishap“ as their killing was taboo in the territory of the Maharajas due to their supposed similarity to the holy cows and could only be accepted, I was told, if it happened „accidentally“.

Even the railway trip of around one and a half hours from Agra west to Bhartpur offers  varied images that made the hunt more desirable and raised expectations about the day’s events. At a small pond we were passing by we could see pelicans, three types of storks among them the mighty black-necked stork (Xenorhynchus asiaticus), beautiful sarus cranes, geese. ducks and numerous other water fowl. Into the jungle fled a flock of nilgais, „blue bulls“ (Portax pictus), which I see here for the first time: They are large animals in the form between  elk, deer and cow. The head is small, with curved black horns, the neck is strong with a long beard, the shoulders and the croup like the elk’s; the legs are strong and sinewy;  the bulls are gray and on the extremities black; the cows and calves are fawn brown. Furthermore there were wild boars visible along the tracks.

In Bhartpur Station I was received by Maharaja Sri Bridshindra Seiwaj Jeswant Jangh Balladur, a small very gloomy and gruff looking ruler who shouted out every word wrathfully. He is said to be in no way a kind and good ruler and given his advanced age not very discriminating in the choice of his entertainments. He rules a nominally independent state, but as other princes under British dominion he has a resident at his side who helps carrying the burden of government. The prince of Bhartpur is a descendant of a Jat named Churaman, who fought against Aurengzeb and created the splendor of that dynasty which occupied Agra from Bhartpur in the years 1760 to1765. Since 1826, however, they had to give up independent politics and accept the British supremacy. The populous families of the Jats are, like many tribes in Rajput in the land between the two rivers Ganges and Yumana, Indo-Scythians, that is of Aryan-Central-Asiatic origin and are almost all devoted to Islam.

Escorted by a mounted lifeguard, we drove in a luxurious carriage through the city which is enclosed like a fortress by a very strong wall with towers and a water ditch. Bastions and mighty well fortified gates increase the power to resist of the fortress city.

The English managed to conquer Bhartpur only after hard fights and using all means of the European art of war. The siege of these fortifications of the Jat prince Ranjit Sindhia by the British forces under the conqueror of Hindustan, General Lake, during the years 1805 and 1806, ended with the capture of the fortress protected by its water works and defended very bravely only after Lake, who for a long time did not have the necessary siege train and equipment for a real siege, started full siege operations and concentrated the whole Bengal army there. In the year 1826 too, Bhartpur put up determined resistance against the British besieging forces until the commander of the English troops, Lord Combermere, succeeded after a six week siege to create a breach in a part of the bastions and take the fortress by storm.

The city had a population of around 60.000 inhabitants. In the streets stood a large packed crowd who acclaimed us with big shouts. Striking was a group of monkeys that ranged around on the roof of the houses. When we reached the palace of the resident, Colonel Martelli, the maharaja presented me to his two sons with a few words murmured into his sparse beard, one a somewhat spent youth of nineteen and the other a handsome intelligent looking boy of five years.

After the maharaja had retired, the parties split as Wurmbrand and I went hunting black-bucks and the forbidden nilgais, while the other gentlemen went after the waterfowl. In a large ceremonial carriage with a green silver-embroidered coach box blanket that are sometimes used at Corpus Christi processions or on special court feasts at home I drove through the jungle laughing mightily about the new mode of hunting wagon I was using. But as probably all that was moving in the whole area had fled on sight of my carriage I left it soon and advanced, seeking my chance, into the jungle. The development of pomp and circumstance, the use of ceremonial carriages and escorts to a hunt are probably well intended and are a testament to their good intentions but bare of any practical sense for the hunt as any game will shy away from travelling princes as quickly as from other mortals. The prince just wants to be relieved of the role of the celebrated guest to enjoy some hunting according to the rules of that art.

The first what I saw in the thin jungle were some hares and a fox. At the edge of a small swampy pond covered with a huge number of water fowl a herd of very timid black-bucks were grazing. I only managed to wound one strong bull at a large distance. On the opposite edge of the pond I suddenly saw a goat in full flight out of the jungle and following it a panther-like animal that I could not determine at such a large distance.

Continuing my approach I saw on the left in the jungle at a distance of 100 m the legs and the rear of a nilgai — I fired and the piece was hit well so we found a blood mark and in 200 m distance from the location of the shot we bagged the dying animal, a capital bull, my first nilgai. I celebrated together with Colonel Martelli. The old story that forbidden fruit taste all the better! Quickly we sent the bagged piece secretly to the station in order that the maharaja would not be informed of this and our bull reach Agra safely.

Then we went across a pond into a thicker jungle rich in game where I met multiple herds of black-bucks but managed to kill but one strong male in full flight. Everywhere in the dry grass jackals and peacocks were rushing around while thousands of pigeons flew over me. In the far distance I saw some single nilgais without being able to take a shot. A too audacious jackal perished from a bullet of mine.

Now came the main part of any hunting trip in India in which the different parties reunited for a luncheon. Used from my hunting trips at home to lay down on mother earth’s soil and eat something cold, I can not accustom myself to the English practice of a lavishly hospitable hunting breakfast. With my feeling of a hunter’s heart and the poetry of the jungle and the ranger life it is not possible to combine it with an opulent luxurious meal. To accept tiredness, hunger and thirst are also part of the steeling joys of hunting. In the midst of the jungle crossed by lianas, they have erected a dining tent of huge dimensions — surrounded by nilgais jackals, tigers, panthers and other beasts. Next to it is a kitchen tent for the preparation of warm dishes and finally another tent in which the hunters can prepare their dress and even switch into a tuxedo. The enforcement of formal dress in this jungle i did not comply with, under the threat of creating a scene. I excuse myself but I can’t do otherwise, the hunting dress is stronger than the tuxedo. in the dining tent a table has been set up as if for a wedding feast — silver fixtures, flower-filled vases, silver cutlery, printed menus. Ten courses are arranged and wines from all countries, namely champaign, flow freely. Thus a hunter’s frugal snack mixed with a drink out of a flask is turned into a  fête champetre, to a successful end of a country-side trip undertaken only with ladies. Thus we breakfasted during some hours only to return to the hunt heavy and dull. The announced hunt for waterfowl turned out to be quite interesting and original.

Three large ponds separated only by narrow low dams extended to create an important water and swamp area, truly swarming in game in the real sense of the word. The ponds are enclosed by thick water rich jungles which provide cover for nilgais, gazelles, jackals and all kinds of water fowl. Before the first shots were fired one could see cranes, all kinds of storks and egrets, geese, ducks, cormorants, coots, grebes,  snipes and water striders while in the air eagles, vultures and harriers of all kinds were circling. A sea eagle caught a fish from me out of the water.

We took up position behind umbrellas on one of the narrow dams. On a given sign, the drive through the can brake and the pond started towards us. As drivers, they used seven large elephants that waded willingly on their own into the deep water and scared up the game. After the first shots real clouds of waterfowl rose up into the air which were eagerly taken under fire by the line of shooters. Never before have I seen such masses of waterfowl in one and the same spot. Unfortunately the rare and timid creatures, especially the cranes, storks and herons, fled quickly so that I bagged only two snow-white  great egrets (Ardea alba, in winter plumage). For a long time I could observe with the eye the swarms of cranes and storks at an immense height. Without interruption flew single specimen as well as full flights of geese and ducks above our heads so that we soon had bagged over 100 pieces. If the flights returned to one of the three ponds, one of the elephants advanced at a slow place to scare the fowl up once more. Both Wurmbrand an I shot rare geese; but the incapable retrieving coolies could not find the shot animals. Furthermore I bagged many ducks, mostly maillards (Anas boscas), then gadwalls (Anas strepera), shovelers and northern pintails (Anas acuta), as well as cormorants and five bald coots.

The other gentlemen had also killed many ducks mostly of species common in Europe. Only Captain Fairholme shot a rare spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha).  The latter was very lucky in his hunting as seven otters came swimming towards him, only a few feet away, of which he shot one. To our question why he had not shot the others too he answered: „What should I have done with all the others?“ One cannot eat otters and the English kill in India strangely only carnivores as well as edible game while other animals normally are not hunted even though they might be interesting.

After two hours the hunt came to an end but we tried a combined tracking through the thorny bushes as a final attempt. I killed a fleeing exceptionally strong nilgai bull and wounded a black-buck  which we couldn’t, however, find due to the limited time for a search. During the return drive I shot a nilgai cow in the jungle from the dam.

The hora legalis for the return to Agra had been long past and the special train had been waiting for two hours when I arrived at the station together with the Maharaja who had joined me in the city. The somber ruler asked vividly about the results of the hunt but he was not informed about the frowned upon nilgais except one shot „due to a mistake“. A tiny hint of the resident that the nilgais were damaging the crops seemed to pass unnoticed by the prince. At the departure of the train, 21 salutes were fired and after one and a half hours, we were back in Agra where we found to our disappointment that Kinsky was still sick.

Links

  • Location: Agra, India
  • ANNO – on 14.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse is informing its readers about Franz Ferdinand’s stay in Bombay and the excursion to Tandur. Is this the report of the two reporters who did not get an interview?
Franz Ferdinand's stay in Bombay and Tandur, as reported in Die Neue Presse 14 February 1893, p.4.

Franz Ferdinand’s stay in Bombay and Tandur, as reported in Die Neue Presse 14 February 1893, p.4.

  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Bürgerlich und romantischl“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing once again „Die Rantzau“.