From Bombay to Tandur, 20 January 1893

Having used the morning to prepare the mail, I drove to Tellery again to complete my shopping, third time being a charm.

At noon there was a group photography to preserve a fixed memory of my visit at Government House of me, Lord and Lady Harris and all the staff of the house.

Then I inspected the stables of Lord Harris. In open boxes Australian carriage horses as well as English and Arabian riding horses and polo ponies are quartered. Acting as an equerry of the governor is his personal doctor who masters this task as outstandingly as the medicinal one. The horses are in fine condition, although some are broken down due to the sharp turns, namely on chivvies on hard ground. In all of India, one preferably uses Australian horses, tall and strong with their characteristic carp back, as carriage horses. The price of these horses fluctuates between 380 and 1550 fl. in Austrian currency. To ride and play polo one uses in British India mostly Arabians and some locally raised animals. Very funny are the 12 to 14 hands high ponies of which first-rate specimen can be had for the ridiculous price of 12 to 17 fl. in Austrian currency.

Now it was time to leave Bombay behind. I said good.bye to Lady Harris and drove with Lord Harris to the station where the special train of the vice king was awaiting me which the vice king has been put at my disposition for the duration of my journey across India. With heartfelt thanks I and the governor parted ways and soon the train rode towards our next destination, Tandur, where we were expected to hunt tigers.

Well acquainted with the English grasp of the relationship between comfort and luxury and expecting to see the special train of the highest magistrate of India equipped to the utmost Oriental opulence, I was truly astonished about the simplicity of the fittings and equipment of the wagons of this train which would leave many an Englishman to miss their familiar comfort, especially in matter of the bedding. Especially remarkable was the fact that the wagons and even the individual compartments were without direct passages, corridors or doors so that the „cell mates“ of the neighboring compartments could only communicate during the rare way stations.

From Bombay to Tandur which lies in a south-eastern direction of Bombay, we made use of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway to Wadi. It first crosses Bombay’s suburbs, then past Parel and the government salt mines across a large bridge over the estuary that separates Salsette island from the mainland and then turns towards the mountains.

The physiognomy of the area changes quickly. High mountains, rich in bizarre forms, assembled out of regular parallel layers that display themselves as long strips or lines, followed by valleys dedicated mostly to growing rice. Small palm tree groves, some tall palm trees alternate with thin Euphorbia hedges, but the vegetation is not as rich and majestic as in Ceylon. Higher up the mountain, the valley are narrower with dry yellow grass and some crooked trees, steep and abrupt ridge. In the valleys and canyons deep down below us one can see teak trees (Tectona grandis), wild bananas, Ficus religiosa und Ficus indica.

The railway is built similar to the one from Colombo to Kandy with steep ascents, crosses many tunnels and offers charming views on the fancy rock needles, the long, narrow and steep wall-like rocky ridges, the mostly bare tops of the Western Ghats. Ghats are called the stair-like steps  of the numerous parallel mountain ranges on the Indian West and East coast bordering the Dekhan high plateau. To the south the seemingly less wild than arduous Western Ghats at an average altitude of 1200 m and the lower and less important Eastern Ghats continue in mountain ranges of up to 2630 m that are covered in woods, called Nilgiri Hills (blue mountains). At Lanauli Station the railway reaches its highest point and continues almost at an even altitude across cultivated land. Late at night we passed  Poona, 119 km south-east of Bombay, the favorite summer retreat of the governor. The same location also has camps for all troops that maneuver there.

Links

  • Location: Poona, India
  • ANNO – on 20.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers, The Neue Freie Presse reminds its readers about the centenary of the execution of Louis XVI of France iby guillotine on 21st January 1793 which plunged Austria into two decades of war first against the French republic then Napoleon. Much space is devoted to the report about the fourth ball of the city of Vienna. The weather is still dreadful, even though some sport is taking place on the frozen Danube canal.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the comedy „Magnetische Kuren“, while the k.u.k Hof-Operntheater combines the opera „Freund Fritz“ (l’amico Fritz) by Pietro Mascagni with Carinthian songs „Am Wörthersee“.

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