Schlagwort-Archiv: train

Dakna Bagh, 8 March 1893

From Agra we took in a North-western direction to Aligarh the East Indian Railway, from Aligarh in North-eastern respectively Eastern direction the Oudh and Rohilkund Railway. At 6 o’clock in the morning we arrived in Bareilly and turned into the narrow gauge line of the Rohilkund Kumaon Railway which took us to the terminal stop at Pilibhit from where our grand expedition to Nepal would start. The morning was clear and sunny. Just after we had left the station at  Bareilly, the outlying mountains waved at us in a blueish haze. How happy I was to be able to greet mountains with green woods. Their sight lifted my spirits to the same elevated level as when I traveled towards Darjeeling. Soon emerged behind the outlying mountains the honorable peaks of the Himalaya mountains, gleaming white, full of ice and snow. A stark contrast — the yellow parched plain out of which rose the steep blueish gleaming outlying mountains and behind them, shining widely, the rising peaks of the Himalaya in majestic calm.

Already at 9 o’clock we arrived at Pilihhit where we were received by Mr. Macpherson, the collector of the district who supervised the arrangement for the transport to the camp. The closer we came to the Nepalese border, at first in carriages, the more luxurious became the vegetation until we drove through dense woods. A tree — shala tree (Shorea robusta), coveted for its wood — caught my attention due to its similarity to our oaks. Grass as tall as a human, as long as it had not been burned down, offered many excellent places to hide for the game as numerous clearings might suggest.

After each interval of about 10 km,  the horses were switched and after around 30 km the wagons were exchanged for elephants. The road went, having crossed a clear deep stream, soon across thick grass jungles and patches of woods, soon past single large trees under which meager withered cattle spent their poor existence. Numerous skeletons and vultures circling above indicates that a large number of them dies in the open jungle.

Arrived at the Sarda river which forms the border between Nepal and the British territory, we were received by the English resident in Nepal, Colonel H. Wylie, who was in charge of our expedition. Along the shore of the river stood an impressive number of 203 elephants that would serve us as riding and driving animals during the whole of our Nepalese hunting expedition.

Having crossed the river, I inaugurated my hunting expedition. On a sand bank in the river, three huge crocodiles were laying there which I tried to approach in vain as they disappeared into the water before I was close enough to shoot. Instead I bagged a beautiful ruddy shelduck.

It was as strange as spectacular to watch the 203 elephants cross the border river in a row. The river carries clear mountain water, is deep and rapid, similar to our Enns or Steyr. The water reached up to the back of the tallest elephants. the smaller ones had to swim. Here too the elephants proved their intelligence in sloping diagonally against the strong current. Without accident did the caravan arrive on the left shore and now we were in Nepal, the hunting el dorado where we would spend three weeks as a free hunter. In an area barley touched by civilization, in the midst of the wilderness where nature knows no bounds, where everything develops, grows, perishes without the regulating hand of man. Here we would hunt predators and observe animal life in the jungle. Full of the best of hopes we stepped on Nepalese ground. We had looked forward to the expedition during our whole trip and during much festive occasion our thoughts went longingly to the hunting camp and the tigers.

The first impression already was very favorable and promising. The majestic landscape so different from the mostly monotone Indian plain — in the background mountains, jungle everywhere — and a tent camp to my heart’s content were expecting us. There were no flower ornaments, no gardens with water fountains, no stone and mosaic decorations. Each of us had a small practical tent with a bed, a chair and a table, enough space to store the baggage, rifles and munitions. Around the tents camped large number of shikaris, the elephant and camel drivers and coolies who had to set up and pull down the camps. There, under mighty trees that offered shade, on a spot the people called „Dakna Bagh“ we set up camp and were hospitably received.

The state of Nepal is a strange and usually little known country that borders in the north on Tibet, the large neighbor of China, in the west and south on the Indian Northwest Provinces, in the east on Sikkim. Like Bhutan, from which it is separated by Sikkim, Nepal has retained its independence up to the present day from the Anglo-Indian Empire which rules over the whole Himalaya area with the exception of Nepal and Bhutan and thus controls the strategically important passes to Turkestan and Tibet. This fact has not been changed by Nepal’s recognition of an English suzerainty nor has the presence of a large number of Nepalese warriors, Ghurkas, among the sepoys in the Anglo-Indian army — 15 percent of the whole sepoy contingent of 110.000 men according to the last census. These Ghurkas or Khas, as these sturdy warlike highlanders of East Nepal, the district Ghurka, are called without distinction about the different races they are part of, only serve outside the borders of their homeland and, a small contingent of 1500 men apart which are regulated by the treaty of 1888, they only serve as volunteers under the English colors.

The English count the wiry, agile, fast marching and persevering Ghurkas among their best troops. The English soldiers especially the Highlanders get along splendidly with their Nepalese comrades. They are said to be especially gutsy and brave and attack with cold steel, their sharp curved knives, a way of fighting they prefer to than anything else.

The British resident in Nepal has, compared to the large power of British residents in the other Anglo-Indian states, little externally visible influence. He is, for example, restricted to keep within a range of 25 km around the capital of Nepal, Katmandu. He is not allowed to venture beyond this limit without special arrangement. The roads from and to India is assigned to the resident by the maharaja.  Anyhow Nepal by its location, formation and composition as well as the warlike nature of its inhabitants provides a very valuable fortress against any attacks to the Anglo-Indian Empire from the North-east, so that the British rulers of India do all in their diplomatic art to keep a good relationship with Nepal — which one day may still end with an occupation of this state.

The geographic location of Nepal is also very special. In the north, it borders on the large bare plateau between the Himalaya and the trans-Himalayan territory. It forms a 700 km long stretch that is but around 150 km wide. The northern border of it is protected by the main mountain range of the East Himalaya with Dhaulagiri as its western and Gaurisankar as its eastern end. The southern border of Nepal descends to the Ganges plain to the Tarai belt with its jungles and swamps.

Between the two borders, the actual place of Nepal seems to be a labyrinth of rocks, steep hillsides and deep gorges, in which only the outlying area of the Himalaya, the middle elevations of the mountains, the ridges and river valleys are inhabited and cultivated. In the numerous valleys that feed and fertilize the the rivers leading to the Ganges plains  they practice terrace cultivation and grow barley and also wheat. In the area that descends towards India, even rice is grown. Some areas, like the around 20 km long circular valley  in which lies Katmandu, the most important commercial place in the country, and Nayakot, the former winter residence of the princes of Nepal,  are known for their subtropical vegetation, gorgeous fruit gardens and rich woods at higher elevations. Iron and copper wares as well as paper from the fiber Daphne cannabina, resins and other forest products, furs, opium, wool, cloth, salt,  turquoise and gold powder, as well as small excellent horses and finally musk from the  once numerous musk deer (Moschus moschiferus) are besides agricultural products the main goods produced and exported out of Nepal. Trade links are strong both with Tibet, as well as with Northwest India even though it is burdened by all kinds of tariffs and taxes and the transport of goods over many of the passes is very difficult. In the year 1892, imports to Nepal were valued at 11,759.314 fl. in Austrian currency and exports out of this country amounted to  10,071.685 fl. in Austrian currency.

The geographic set-up of Nepal is in its details still little known as the maharaja who has an understandable aversion to cartographic surveys impedes the entry of Europeans and especially of scientists. Seldom only has a scientist managed to enter here an the largest part of the roads in the interior of Nepal have been explored only by disguised Pandits sent by the Anglo-Indian government. These natives are used to survey and explore areas closed to Europeans.

The Area of the state is estimated to be around 154.000 km2, the number of its inhabitants — census has to be replaced here by estimate — approximatively 3 millions.

The inhabitants of Nepal are a mixture of peoples in which the Tibetan element predominates but one finds much Aryan blood too. Especially the Ghurkas, or Khas claim even if this mostly wrong, to be true Hindus and to be members of the warrior caste of the Kshatriya. The type of the Nepalese is almost exclusively Mongolian.

Of Tibetan origin were the princes too who were part of the Newar people who was, residing at Kirtipur next to Katmandu, were dethroned by the Ghurkas in 1707. The current ruling Ghurka house of Sahi claims to be descendants of the Rajput princes of Udaipur — whether this correct is another matter.

The Newars who live in the middle of the country around the capital are even today the most pure national element of Nepal. The political aspirations and the customs in the south and th west of the country are mostly of Hindu, the one in the north and east of Tibetan origin.

From 1792 on, after an unsuccessful campaign of the Ghurkas against Tibet, it was nominally part of the Chinese Empire for a short time and since then a tributary of it and has sought a close relationship with England which, however, led to bellicose complications with it (1814), which ended with the cession of the territories of Kumaon and Garwhal, all in the west of the country. The East-Indian company was also permitted at that time to engage in transit trade through Nepal to Tibet.  Of Nepal’s history one must further mention the war they made on Tibet in 1855 and the enlargement of the Nepalese territory towards the Brahmaputra (1867).

In lieu of the current maharaja, still a minor, Adhiraj Bikram Jamshir Jang (born 1874), the first minister Bir Jamshir Jang Rana Bahadur assumes the responsibility of governing. The elevated rank of the minster in Nepal is said to be a dangerous and mostly short one as ministers die a violent death after they have been in office for some time. There are numerous small parties in Nepal and if the minister of one party has been inconvenient or his influence has become to strong according to some at the court, he is simply killed.

The maharaja has an army which consists according to newer sources of 17.000 regular soldiers equipped with Enfield rifles and 13.000 irregular troops. The income of the prince are around 11,550.000 fl. in Austrian currency.

The capital and residence city Katmandu, in its architecture almost completely of Tibetan origin, has 70.000 inhabitants and lies in the middle of the county, 144 km distant from the closest railway station.

The territory in which we were intended to hunt for two weeks is the above mentioned Tarai region, a small swampy plain between the border river of Nepal, Sarda, and the outlying mountains of the Himalaya and known for its wealth in forests. On the order of the maharaja, even the tigers are in some way spared. Not without difficulties is it possible to get a permission to hunt in this hunter’s paradise. Usually only every second or third year is a large hunting expedition mounted which travels across the region for a few weeks.  In the last hunting expedition participated the since deceased Duke of Clarence; earlier the Duke of Orleans and, in the year 1875, the Prince of Wales have hunted here. The British resident of Nepal, whose intervention grants from time to time permission for English sportsmen to hunt in the border regions, stays often during the winter months here to try his luck in hunting.

Unfortunately the best hunting grounds of the country is notorious for the fever that is common there and scarcely populated as the population is being decimated by illnesses of all kind. The government does its utmost to repopulate the land, divides up land without charge and promotes establishments in all kinds of ways but up to now without achieving notable results.

Hunting expeditions of a size such as this one require to supply many humans and numerous animals which is especially difficult. We had to provide for 1223 men and 415 animals, including 203 elephants! If one considers that every day an elephant needs around 75 kg of straw or grass as well as bread and grains and that that food itself has to be transported from afar, one can conclude about the necessary size of the apparatus that can provide the daily provisions of the camp. The demands for our kitchen can only be met from Pilibhit, that is at a distance of 41 km, as the hunting grounds only supply what game we catch.

The arrangement of the hunts is organized by the resident together with an unle of the maharaja called Kesar Singh, and his son Prem Jamshir. The last one had been sent by the maharaja for this purpose.

As there was still time es when we arrived at Dakna Bagh, I asked to hunt in the surroundings of the camp. The resident then immediately ordered 50 elephants prepared for a hunt. In the area were we were one can only hunt with elephants as the jungle is much too high an thick for a pedestrian to penetrate or even drive out animals.  On the order of „line“ all elephants assembled in a straight line in only a few moments, the animals standing pretty close together. The shooters in their haudas are placed at certain intervals. Despite some irregularities in the terrain and numerous obstacles the line advances at full speed almost as it is the case in a well organized rabbit hunt in Bohemia.

Negative is only the known difficulty of shooting securely out of the hauda. Usually the circumstances don’t permit to have the elephant come to a stop. Thus the shooter has to fire while the huge mass is in motion. Only if one shoots with a ball which would otherwise be too risky, one calls the mahaut with the word „Rok“ (Halt), even though, as we have already experienced before, the hauda keeps moving despite the elephant stopping his motion. Thanks to the practice in the earlier hunting camps I managed to fire after a few days even with balls from a walking elephant.

The hunter’s success is highly dependent on the mahaut and on his comprehension of the hunter’s intentions. With the help of my very limited vocabulary of Hindi — rok halt, deihne right, beine left, sidah straight on, bohut acha very good, chelao quick etc. — the shooter tries to make his desires understandable to the mahaut who translates the wishes if he agrees with them to the elephants with the help of different tools_ Shouts and admonitions, kicks with the legs behind the ears, hits with a stick or even pricks with a pointed Kaschwar. If the mahaut does not agree with the hunter, he often starts a long but to us incomprehensible speech which concluded in the mahaut’s will being followed. Any force to make the mahaut follow the hunter’s orders only creates all too quickly discontent and anger in the mahaut’s chest or has the man who knows about his own importance break out in loud laughter in which the other mahauts join in and use unmistakable gestures to show their contempt of the hunter. At the beginning the hunter is the object of much scrutiny by the mahaut. If the shooter shows himself competent in the use of the rifle and a good shot, he starts to trust him and do his best to help him shoot out of a good position.

The hunt undertaken yielded an Indian hog deer (Cervus porcinus), multiple vultures, falcons and francolins, as well as a jackal.

Enchanted by this splendid spectacle of the setting sun’s rays upon the dramatically illuminated mountains we returned to the camp when it became dark.

Links

  • Location: Dakna Bagh, Nepal
  • ANNO – on 08.03.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays “Die Eine weint, die Andere lacht“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing  the opera „Die Rantzau“.

 

Jaipur to Agra, 7 March 1893

The loading of the numerous baggage on to the train proved to be an interminable affair, so that our special train could only depart at 9 o’clock in the morning. From Jaipur we were on the way to Agra and then to the hunting camps in the territory of Nepal.

The success of the previous train hunts made me devote the whole day to this original sport and therefore I stood with Clam on the platform of my wagon when the train departed eastwards on the line of the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway by the way of Bandikui and Bhartpur towards Agra. Shooting at full speed on all game that became visible, I killed in this manner 208 pieces, among them vultures, falcons, partridges, sand grouses and a large number of wild pigeons.

Towards evening we once again reached the territory of the maharaja of Bhartpur, where there was an abundance of nilgais. As we had already bagged many nilgais despite the maharaja’s prohibition to hunt them, I could not resist the temptation to shoot some more of this giant antelopes even less so now as someone passing through the territory of  Bhartpur than when I used to be a guest of the maharaja. The conductor of the train who was known to us as a passionate hunter — a fact revealed by his unusual dress choice of a hunting dress for a train director — had a train attendant act as a look-out with a spyglass on the roof of a wagon. This arrangement excellently proved itself as suddenly, in the midst of the thickest jungle, the train stopped and the train attendant rushed down and alerted me to a herd of nilgais grazing about 500 m distant from us. I descended from the wagon and sneaked up on them and bagged a strong beautifully colored male who was immediately packaged up and put into the wagon. The train dashed on again only to stop a half an hour later. Wurmbrand wounded a male nilgai but we couldn’t find it. Shortly before it became dark I sneaked up on two males and was lucky to bag them both. Thus we left the territory of Bhartpur with a catch of three nilgais in the hope that this time too our poaching would remain a secret to the maharaja.

ln Agra we had to switch trains. We found the seaman again who we had left there due to his illness with fever. As he had not recovered much we expedited him directly to Calcutta. Here too we sacked John and a second Indian servant, both of which had distinguished themselves by their laggardness.

We also took leave of Dr. v. Lorenz,  who was to go from Agra to Calcutta and then to Vienna, and continued our journey.

Links

  • Location: Agra, India
  • ANNO – on 07.03.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays Schiller’s “Kabale und Liebe“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Orpheus und Eurydike“.

Siriska to Alwar, 27 February 1893

At half past 4 o’clock there was a big fire alarm in the camp as one of tents in the second row that had been abandoned the day before was ablaze and was consumed by the flames within minutes. Fortunately, there was no wind, so the fire did not spread.

The day was marvelous and made the separation from our beautiful camp at Sariska very difficult. We had spent such agreeable days in the camp that I will always remember my time spent there — namely my first two tigers. The official travel program strictly required me to depart. The maharaja of Jodhpur was expecting me the next morning and one has to treat Indian princes with care, especially if they are  in favor of the English government. So we said farewell to our hunting companions, the mahauts, shikaris and drivers and rode away in the fresh clear morning.

Halfway through the journey we met Mrs. Fraser, the resident’s wife,  to whom I let myself be introduced and with whom I rode for some distance thanking the lady for her amiable care during our stay in the camp. Mrs. Fraser who had participated repeatedly in tiger hunts originally had the intention to pitch her tent in our camp too as she deemed her presence useful to care for a sick person of the expedition or to arrange the flowers on the table. As I wanted to spare the lady the uncomfortable life in camp, I had asked General Protheroe already quite some time before the arrival to the camp to dissuade Mrs. Fraser from her idea. This turned into a prolonged diplomatic negotiation between the general and the resident which ended in the compromise of Mrs. Fraser pitching her own camp at some distance from ours. From there she bound and wove sweet little somethings for our hunting life — rewarding evil with kindness in noble female manner — adding sweets to the menu, decorating the tents with her own sketches, sending booklets for us to sign.

Our caravan from Sariska to Alwar was of considerable length. in front rode the mounted guard followed by us on horses then the servants, the scientists, partly on elephants partly in two-horse carriages then the camels and finally the huge baggage train with the kitchen, ammunition and the rifles on ox carts. In honor of the expedition leader it must be said that all went according to plan. When we arrived towards 11 o’clock in the morning at Alwar station, our baggage was quickly stowed while our chef Wutzier announced with satisfaction that a hot breakfast was ready in the dining wagon.

At the station the youthful maharaja Jai Singh paid his respects to see me off, presented me with his well done portrait, inspected my wagons and then had himself informed about the expedition where he displayed vivid satisfaction about the success of our tiger hunt.

The special train took us to Jodhpur where we were due to arrive the next morning. The Rajputana-Malwa part of the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway which we first used runs south to Bandikui. From this intersection of the line leading east to Bhartpur and Agra and in the other direction towards Jodhpur the railway continues west to Jaipur and Phulera, then South-west by the way of Ajmir to Marwar. Here it is connected to the narrow gauge Jodhpore Bikanir Railway which leads to Jodhpur in a northwestern direction.

We had entered the train in Alwar which we had already used on our trip from Agra to Bhartpur. The train was staffed with the same crew which had shown its interest in hunting during the trip to Bhartpur which was the cause that shortly after departure from Alwar towards Bandikui we made an abrupt halt in open space. The hunting friends reported that they had seen gazelles nearby. I now advanced a few hundred meters and bagged a female gazelle as well as a  fawn while Wurmbrand shot a strong male. After this exciting success we continued our cheerful railway hunt in which we made three further stops to hunt black-bucks, so that I bagged a strong male and Clam a female. We stood on the platform of our wagon and fired at full speed on sitting, fleeing or flying game whereas we had to aim and fire differently than the common way. This incredibly entertaining way of hunting resulted in a booty of 130 pieces among which were one jackal, one brown eagle, various falcons and harriers, partridges, doves and parrots. The locals looked surprised and even more so did the station keepers when they saw the moving train out of which rang out shots without interruption until the approaching darkness made us return from the platform to the coupes.

Links

  • Ort:  Alwar, India
  • ANNO – on 27.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a drama „Kriemhilde“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents the ballet „Tanzmärchen“.

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“.

Benares, 11 February 1893

In the morning I again walked through the streets along the temples and the river — the same images, the same effect.

Towards noon the Maharaja of Benares, Brabhn Narain Singh Bahadur, paid me a visit. As splendid the gentleman was decorated with precious stones, his overall appearance was less than princely: His state carriage and especially his body guard which sat on discarded horses and partly wore old English uniforms looked really miserable. He is a charming friendly old fellow and apparently a passionate hunter who is never separated from his  express rifle carried along by a servant event to all his visits and public events. In response to my question he answered that he had killed 60 tigers in his state. That a group picture was taken by a photographer in front of the palace hardly needs a mention.

The return visit I paid in another of his palace which was in a deserted and deplorable state. On that occasion the Maharaja wore even more beautiful diamonds. The palace only contained a gallery of Europe’s crowned heads, ugly lithographs, which constituted the main decoration of the reception hall where the Maharaja and I sat down for a few minutes on some sort of throne.  After we had exchanged our photographs, the prince gave me an ivory carving he considered of being of very high value. Finally we went to the station accompanied by the Maharaja.  Our train would take us on the East Indian Railway to Agra by the way of Allahabad and Kahnpur.

Links

  • Location: Benares, India
  • ANNO – on 11.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Wiener Salonblatt spares but one sentence for Franz Ferdinand’s Indian adventures in its issue of 12 February 1893, p. 3.
Wiener Salonblatt, 12 February 1893, issue 7, p.3: Franz Ferdinand in India

Wiener Salonblatt, 12 February 1893, issue 7, p.3: Franz Ferdinand in India

  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a drama “Eine vornehme Ehe“ by Octave Feuillet, while the k.u.k. Hof-Opermtheater offers Jules Massenet’s “Werther”.

Darjeeling to Benares, 9 February 1893

At half past 7 o’clock we were awakened in Manihari Ghat at the terminal of the narrow gauge railway, crossed the Ganges on a steamboat and continued our journey at Sakrigali Ghat station with the East Indian Railway on to Mughal Sarai, a familiar journey to us. The landscape we were rushing through can not be compared to the luxurious delta areas. It is nevertheless very fertile, densely populated and intensively cultivated. The shores of the Ganges, being part of alluvial sediments, copiously supplying trade plants, bread and garden fruits, carry with them, like all „bread baskets“ of the earth, a character of monotony. The monotony of the Ganges plain, its fertile plains and green fields is only broken up by numerous mango groves and small hills which are peculiarly only sparsely covered with vegetation but are filled with rocks one on top of the other without a rule.

Towards 8 o’clock in the evening we arrived in Mughal Sarai, continued our journey on the Oudh and Rohilkund Railway, passing casually over a 1200 m long iron bridge over the Ganges and arrived after 8 o’clock in station Benares Cantonment. We were received in the station — in absence of the Commissioner — by Mr. Brereton, a communal councilor, and went to our quarters, Nandeshwar Kothi palace owned by the Maharaja of Benares, escorted by mounted police. Like all modern Indian palaces, it is built very airy, decorated without taste  so that only a few old pictures of earlier Maharajas catch the attention. We sat around the open fire which comfortingly warmed us as India is said to never have experienced such a harsh winter which might be related to the exceptional cold in Europe of 1892/93. In a Raja double bed of enormous dimensions, surrounded by Raja ancestors looking down astonished at me, I soon entered into the sleep of the just.

Links

  • Location: Benares, India
  • ANNO – on 09.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Empress Elisabeth is still sightseeing in Barcelona. A visit to the monastery of Montserrat is on the agenda. Her ship was to set out to Marseille, France. Given the current outbreak of cholera there, her route might change. There was a heavy earthquake on Zakynthos with over 600 houses destroyed, an island Franz Ferdinand passed by on his route from Trieste.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Der Präsident”, while the k.u.k. Hof-Opermtheater shows Richard Wagner’s “Rheingold”.

Darjeeling, 6 February 1893

Thus on this audacious human-created vehicle we drove up the Himalaya, the highest mountain range on Earth! Created by elementary revolutions, in nearly unreachable peak striving towards heaven, the Himalaya, „the snow helmet“, rises over the colossal mountain wall which separates the Aryans from the Mongols, India from Inner Asia. Never has an enemy crossed it, timidly they passed it by. Stretching over 24 degrees of longitude, from the Hindu Kush to the gap of Brahmaputra, the Himalaya stands on its northern en on the bare plateau of Tibet and on its southern end on the Indian subcontinental plain. It separates the climates, plants, animals, peoples and cultures of Inner Asia and South Asia.

Through the present valley we approached his region. rise to his southern precursors which look down on blooming, green, luxurious wooden mountains fanned by delicious air. We look out towards the peaks of the central mountain range. Beyond the northern precursor range lies wild bare and jagged highland. Across the wood covered mountains that border this valley to the north the railway winds itself up to Darjeeling, up to the foot of the biggest glacier groups of the Earth, up to the region in which tower Dhaulagiri (8176 m), Kangchenjunga (8585 m) and that highest peak on Earth we call Mount Everest (8840 m) or Gaurisankar. Kangchenjunga — „the five white brothers“ — whose giant mountain range covered in eternal snow, criss-crossed by glaciers and rising out of thick woods we have come to see lies in Sikkim, a small protectorate wedged between Nepal and Bhutan. It is linked to the Ganges plain by the audacious mountain railway that ends in Darjeeling.

Driven by the hope to be able to admire the magic of this incredibly beautiful and majestic mountain world in its fullest splendor, I looked out of my window long before sunrise to observe the weather and draw my conclusions whether we would have a clear, fog free day or not. Even though the morning was clear and the sunrise promised to e beautiful, I discovered in the west small, lengthy cloud streaks which are interpreted in our own mountains at home to all experienced weather prophets as a bad sign as they indicated rain or fog most of the times. Unfortunately, these unmistakable signs proved true here too. When we reached the foot of the outer mountains we saw the peaks already covered in fog.

After 7 o’clock we departed from Siliguri. The mountain railway Siliguri—Darjeeling, which is 82 km long and reaches an altitude of 2180 m is probably the most interesting railway in the world. Not so much due to its construction and installations but because of its incredible panorama views it offers. The railway has a track gauge of only 61 cm. To offer a free full view, it has open carriages and can absolutely be called an audacious and unique work. Please consider this: a mountain railway which reaches such heights without a tunnel and has cost in total — according to the chief engineer — only 231.000 fl. in Austrian currency! The puzzle is partially solved by the fact that the railway ha only construct a special railway bed for 24 km, while it could use the existing mountain road bed which winds itself up in the sharpest turns; the railway ascends in such serpentines and bends that, in many spots, one can already see, some meters above, the tracks to be driven over in the minutes to come Where serpentines and bends would not be sufficient to ascend a steep height, this is solved by having the railway continue straight for a time only to turn at a sharp angle into the opposite direction with the machine pushing, to ascend the heights in a zigzag way.

But what are all this technical arts against the splendor and diversity of nature!  Born in green Styria and loving the mountains above all, it has always been my most ardent wish to get to know the king of all mountains, the Himalaya, and to see the tropical mountain world. Even though I have read and heard so much about the extraordinary beauty of the Himalaya, what I now saw surpassed all my expectations and put me into a state of indescribable rapture.  The light clear mountain air alone is extremely refreshing — no wonder that we all by and then started yodeling in the waggon as if we were in the mountains of Upper Austria. Even though the fog unfortunately covered all peaks with an impenetrable veil and also the visibility from afar was lessened, that what we could see close up was sufficient to make the journey unforgettable.

The attractions of the landscape all around are truly amazing: a mountain higher than 8000 m, covered up to an elevation of 3000 m with tropical vegetation, mighty mountain ranges, deeply cut valleys, overhanging rocks, cragged slopes, boundless abysses — all green or becoming blurred in tender purple colors. And what a plant cover girdles the south end of the Himalaya! The vegetation makes one think of that on Ceylon; but even higher and more beautiful as the giant trees on Ceylon the trunks here with their luxurious leaf crowns strive upwards;  even thicker and wilder are the plants entwined around the trunk and branches. The trees are up to the highest branch covered with ferns, orchids and other parasite plants, while thick lianas connect the trunks with each other. And even cragged slopes, the wildest abysses are covered with a green carpet of thickly placed trees. At each turn, at each serpentine a new image captures us. Especially the many abysses many thousand meters deep which one drives alongside at shoulder length add much diversity to the panorama.

Like the character of the county, so the people have changed — we are in Sikkim, at border to Tibet and China. Here in Sikkim live tribes which even though they mixed their blood with Indian blood and have been influenced by Indian culture,  they remain in type and language close to the Tibetans. The Lepcha people which live in Sikkim and also in Darjeeling, are unmistakably part, despite some Aryan elements, of the semi-culture peoples of the Mongolian race.  Inner Asian imprints are also typical for the inhabitants of the small, dispersed mountain villages. Of pure Mongolian type are the Tibetans who have immigrated here from the north as traders of workers. The type of the Lepchas is completely different from all the peoples already seen. At first glance one notices the features of the Mongolian race:  the yellow-brown color of the skin, the broad face, the small slanted eyes, the strong bulging jawbones, the small stature, the coarse hair, the sparse growth of beard. Both men and women are extremely ugly. The latter have the strange custom to grease their faces with ox blood in winter as a protection against the cold which gives them an especially hideous appearance. The most extreme look are created by widows who color their noses black as a sign of mourning.

The men’s dress consists of a long colored kaftan kept in place by a broad belt into which are pushed weapons, plus at the upper end loose and at the lower end narrowing pants and high colored boots cut from a single hide or Cracow shoes. On the head, the lepchas wear felt hats or caps strongly reminding of Chinese caps. The neck is embellished by silver gems, small turqouis amulets or coral bands. Some men wear instead of the Kaftan some sort of shirt and cover it with an open coat made out of thick loden. The women have wide clothes with folds as well as belts and seemed to love jewelry very much as even the poorest adorn themselves with chain-amulets and especially turqouis ear rings. Some wear on their head a straight standing circlet of turqouis and coral. The braids which adorns both genders as well as the fingers are decorated with rings.

During the drive we came past some small villages. Our wagons nearly touched the houses and this offered us the opportunity to glance at the activities of daily life of the Lepchas who still are at a still very primitive level of civilization. A chilling impression during these observations make the ugly dirt which is everywhere. Strange is the common method here to determine somebody’s age. The Lepchas calculate their age according to the number of worn clothes. Thus one gets the answer: „This one or that one is seven clothes old.“

From time to time there is a stop at a station to refill water for the locomotives. These moments are used by the natives to close in to the wagons and offer many beautiful weapons, especially sharply polished knives.

At the elevation of 1525 m is a subsidiary of a Jesuit college of St. Xaver in Calcutta. Then it goes up even more and finally we drive past some patches of snow, the marks of the last strong snowfall.

The higher we were the colder it was and the thicker became the fog so that the view around became more and more limited. One could not see anything of the mountain peaks and also the valleys now began to covered in fog. Thus I had time to look at things at a closer range, to look at the fauna. The mighty giant trees with their aerial roots enchanted me not less than the huge diversity of ferns of which there were many species from the mighty tree fern which grows here in large quantities to the small ferns that resemble female hair.  Up to now I had seen tree ferns only as crippled specimens in our green houses. Now I could see thousands of these splendid plants at an elevation of 2000 m.

„At higher elevations, the beauty of the landscape is impacted by the many tea plantations;  because everywhere, even at the steepest inclines and at the most cragged slopes has the cultivating hand of man seeking profit destroyed the majestic jungle.and replaced by rows of tea plants. Against the ancient trunks of many hundred years is raged barbarically; as wood is of so little value here that one uses a simple method to gain more space for cultivation: The woods are simply burned to the ground on thousands of hectares. The prose of economic life does not feel constrained by the poetry of the enchanting vegetation. It is understandable then that the destruction of the woods ordained to death is proceeding in the cheapest way possible at large scale. But the unplanned destruction may cause grave problems. The wood will revenge itself for the neglect. A hurtful feeling rises in a friend of woods when he sees pillars of smoke grow out of fires that destroy parts of ancient wild nature — only to gain ground for the cultivation of tea. How large the economic interest may be, it can not excuse that tea has been the driving force or excuse to organize countless soirées and afternoon teas.

At 10 o’clock in the morning, we reached Kurseong Station, where Hotel Clarendon was festively decorated, and arrived at 1 o’clock in Darjeeling, in Tibetan „sacred place“. Here we were received by the deputy commissioner Mr. Waller and major Ommaney as well as a large crowd of Europeans and natives.  Darjeeling, founded in 1835, is now the capital of the district of the same name  (3196 km2), which the English have split off from the protectorate of Sikkim, whose raja resides in Tamlung, for an annual rent of around 3750 fl. in Austrian currency.

Due to its high elevation and its gorgeous climate, Darjeeling is a favorite summer retreat in India. Its mild climate, which equals about that of Meran, is given testimony by the fact that in this blessed place tea is planted at up to 2000 m, fruits at an elevation of close to 3000 m and the cultivation of grains is possible at more than 3000 m. The small town consists beyond the small native quarter with a rich bazaar mostly of villas, hotels and public buildings, in particular Sanatoriums and hospitals which overflow in summer with Europeans, mainly from Calcutta. Situated on a flank of the Jalapahar, a ridge of the main Himalaya range, Darjeeling is looking towards the north on to the mountain of Kangchenjunga, while in other parts of the world the eye can see numerous mountain ridges, peaks and green valleys of the mighty mountain. From time to time, the sun made an appearance and peaked for a few moments at the houses of Darjeeling The mountains remained covered in impenetrable clouds.

We first made ourselves comfortable in the Woodlands Hotel and then began to take a walk to a bazaar which turned out to be a rich ethnographic treasure for me. Here were interesting weapons, knives which could cut rupees with a single strike, strange sun dials on a stick, numerous idol figures in bronze, original jewelry, finally a number of musical instruments and drums, among them some made out of human skulls,  as well as pipes from human hip bones. The drums consist of two inverted skulls pushed together whose lower parts have been cut and replaced with hide. A drumstick with a metallic button makes it vibrate to create sound. The skulls are said to be of adulterers who were condemned to death in Tibet and whose heads are then reused for musical purposes. A drastic expression of deterrence theory! At a German trader’s I found a valuable butterfly and bird skin collection which I acquired for my museum. Darjeeling yields the most  in all of India in terms of butterflies and beetles; the diversity and color range of the individual specimens is truly wonderful.

Our hope that we could see the mountains even for an instance was not realized; the fog proved to be merciless.

In the evening, after the dinner which we took freezing in an airy glass saloon of the hotel, we were surprised by Mr. Waller with a Tibetan dance which was performed in an open space even though it was raining heavily. This did not cool the fiery ardor of the dancing artists. The accompanying music resembled Indian music in its monotony, with plentiful use of kettledrums and cymbals. The dance was much more intense, even wild and more adapted to the character of a rebellious mountain tribe. Especially the ladies were in their movements very active and accompanied the dance with a howling song which sounded like a war cry. Men and women did not dance together but separated according to gender. The dance illustrated, among others, the fight against wild animals. Two men who wore grotesque masks similar to our clowns rushed as „wild animals“ at one of the dancers and began to wrestle with him, which then turned into an alternating dance of the wild animals and the dancer. Dragons, lions and giant birds were brought alive drastically by the artists.

Links

  • Location: Darjeeling, India
  • ANNO – on 06.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse offers a recap of Franz Ferdinand’s stay in India up to now and an outlook of his trip to Nepal in March.
Franz Ferdinand in India, Neue Freie Presse 6.2.1893, p. 3, part a

Franz Ferdinand in India, Neue Freie Presse 6.2.1893, p. 3, part a

Franz Ferdinand in India, Neue Freie Presse 6.2.1893, p. 3, part b

Franz Ferdinand in India, Neue Freie Presse 6.2.1893, p. 3, part b

  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy “Der Störefried”, while the k.u.k. Hof-Opermtheater is performing a ballet “Ein Tanzmärchen”.

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“.

Kandy to Kalawewa, 7 January 1893

In the morning at 6 o’clock we started on the hunting expedition into the interior of the island of an expected duration of five days, 108 km north from Kandy to the ponds and jungle of Kalawewa.

Up to Matale we took a special train to Mahaiyawa Station through smiling valleys an high mountain peaks covered in light mist while deeper down thaw was glittering on the leaves and flowers. The day was glorious and cool.

We reached Matale in a bit less than three quarters of an hour and mounted high wagons there, after the baggage, the guns, the photographic apparatus and Hodek’s sorcerer’s toolbox stuff were loaded.

The road led through the most beautiful palm and banana groves in which there were plenty of Sinhalese settlements whose inhabitants were lining the road with curious eyes. Colorful birds and majestic butterflies flew past among which was a Papilio iophon  of carmine red with white-black wings and a intensive black-yellow Ornithoptera darsius which caught my special attention given my particular professional interest to its color choice. The bearer of our colors we renamed into “Lepidopteron austriacum”. We also observed the white and orange colored Hebomoia glaucippe which followed our wagon for a long time, as well as the white black Hestia iasonia, multiple small lemon yellow Terias, also the glorious white black and light-blue speckled Papilio parinda and in the jungle swarms of Chilasa clytioides. The first parrots we saw were greeted by our wild cries.

After about 30 km the scenery and vegetation change. High tall deciduous trees mixed with impenetrable bushes and mighty Euphorbias replace palm trees. The wildlife also changes and becomes more numerous. We observed a cuckoo bird named Indian jungle crow, multiple heron species, noticeably many bee-eaters, striped squirrels and a mongoose.

Every 19 to 20 km government built small, one floor rest stop houses provide accommodation for the travelers, food and sometimes also horses along the excellent road cutting through the park-like landscape. We changed our horse teams regularly at these stops. These horse teams were sometimes 17 hands tall Australians, sometimes small Indian double ponies or military horses. Everything went according to plan and we drove extraordinarily quickly.

Towards 11 o’clock in the morning, we had travelled for 45 km to have a breakfast rest on the cone-shaped rock Dambulla after a visit to its famous Buddha temple. At the foot of the rock we were received by the most respected local nobleman escorted by his spear-armed lifeguard. As the ascent to the temple is rather long and steep, we were carried on small seats mounted on poles by teams of eight Sinhalese. The poor devils were sweating and breathing mightily but in the tropical heat my egoism has to surpass my compassion, so I staggered comfortably up to the entrance of the temple which is remarkable both due to its age and construction style.

Five important caves with very small entrances have been hacked by humans into the rock and serve as a temple for Buddha. His image and scenes from his life are depicted in countless variations. At the entrance to this temple caves one can see on the opposite side under a canopy a statue of Buddha which shows him as an example of tranquility partly standing as an instructing god partly sitting with his hands folded in his lap. The face of god which expresses nothing less than intelligence as well as his extremities are in all images covered in flashy yellow color while his dress is playfully colored. In a third posture, namely lying, Buddha is present five times in the temple caves of Dambulla. These statues are hewn out of the rock, each 20 m long and 3 m high and resemble more whales than an image of a god. Around these representations are pedestals with a number of sitting Buddhas of larger-than-life size partly made out of stone, partly made out of burned clay.

The walls and the ceiling of the caves are often covered in highly imaginative paintings which most of the times treat the life of Buddha and give the impression of a large hanging rug due to their thoughtful arrangement and disposition. Apart a few statues of Buddha we saw in the temples also those of the Indian king Räma, the legendary conqueror of Ceylon.

A mythical darkness reigns in these six-hundred-year-old rooms as only a few beautiful bronze lamps decorated with giant peacocks emit a bit of light while the scent of white flowers, temple flowers which amply grow outside the temple, are overpowering the senses.

A number of bonzes told us – naturally in Sinhalese language – apparently highly interesting things of which we understood nothing which ended with a very comprehensible demand for baksheesh.

The charming governor who cared so much about our well-being had had a tiny house built out of bamboo sticks and palm leaves on the height of the rock near a small pond. There we found a dining room with kitchen as well as a luxuriously equipped cabin for each of us to rest at noon. We blessed Sir Arthur E. Havelock in thought, as that comfortable place nor only allowed us ample refreshment and quiet rest but also an almost fairy-like panorama of that part of the island. Deep down below us was the wide green sea of palm and deciduous trees out of which one could detect a small lake or a Sinhalese settlement and, island-like, mountain peaks in blue hue. Also the famous and notorious Sigiri mountain on which the kings of yore had built important fortresses with stone galleries that could be viewed with a spyglass.

For long we could not force us to separate us from this enchanting panorama but as another 37 km were still to be covered we had to enter into the wagon again.

The heat had diminished and quickly we drove along the road. The only interruption was caused by two Sinhalese high priests who offered with many bows a long piece of writing which asked for a contribution for the restoration of a Buddha temple as one of the men in the party translated. Perhaps one head of the Buddha is now receiving an even more beautiful canary yellow coating thanks to my small contribution.

The sun was just setting when the thick tropical forest opened up in front of us.

A cry of amazement escaped from our lips after we had reached the top of the high dam in front of us which offered a completely new picture. On the one side the enormous water basin of Kalawewa, a pond in glittering blue in which hundreds of dead large trees pushed their branches to the sky – the golden red light of the sun rays relay turns this landscape into one of Dore’s fantastic landscapes. On the other side of the dam is the endless jungle with its closed canopy and the grotesque forms of the mountain peaks in the distance.

The dam on which we moved – built by king Dhatu Sena during the 5th century AD, incredibly without any technical assistance but only with the use of human labor – had a length of 9.6 km, a height of 20 m, a width of 7 m and dams the water of two rivers so that a pond is formed as a reservoir which covers a circumference of 64 km. The goal of this great land improvement work is the irrigation of numerous rice fields in the surrounding areas while a large bifurcating canal with locks supplies water to the 83 km distant Anuradhapura as well as over 100 village ponds on its way.

With time, the giant stone and earth dam had become loose and the dam broke and the whole surrounding area was flooded. Everywhere the fever, nourished by the miasma, ravaged the population so much that the survivors decided to emigrate. After the canal leading to Anuradhapura had been repaired some kilometers from that place by governor Sir William Gregory (1871-1877) did the British government order the whole canal repaired during the years from 1884 to 1887 and also to repair the dam which also restored the pond. The government intends to urge Sinhalese from the northern provinces to settle in this area offering the settlers free land, a measure only partially successful as people still fear the fever. The fear of the fever is grounded in reality as we could personally witness seeing many locals deeply marked by treacherous disease.

The accumulated water due to the restitution of the dam has made large tracts productive but flooded and killed the large trees at the edge which formerly had stood on firm ground.

We had reached our destination and found our home for the next days, the hunting camp, ready. Up on the dam crest, next to a small engineer house small bungalows out of bamboo and palm leaves had been built which made a comfortable and friendly impression. First were the small rooms for me and the men of my entourage, then a large dining room, the kitchens and, a bit lower down, a barn for about thirty horses.

For a long time we sat in front of our bungalows on this beautiful evening and enjoyed the myriads of fireflies swarming around the tree branches.

Links

  • Location: Kalawewa, Ceylon
  • ANNO – on 07.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Swiss government informs that it denies the rumors circulating in the press that it will replace its ambassador to Austria, Mr Aepli. Amidst the turmoils of the Panama scandals in France, it is unclear whether the former minister Charles Baïhaut has been arrested, as Le Figaro says, or not.
  • The Neue Freie Presse informs its readers about Franz Ferdinand’s journey with an update about his time in Aden and informs about his sightseeing trip to the city.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing Adolf von Wilbrandt’s  „Der Meister von Palmyra“; the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater again combines an opera and a ballet: Pietro Mascagni’s Die Rantzau and the ballet the „Four Seasons“.

Colombo — Kandy, 6 January 1893

There is an old tale that Ceylon had once been the location of paradise where Adam and Eve had lived prior to the fall of mankind. If that is true, our ancestors had enjoyed a truly heavenly place. Those who have seen Ceylon will understand the size of the damage caused by the frivolous game with the apple. This island, embellished by the incredible attractions and wonders of the tropical nature, inexhaustible in its delightful imagery, blessed with an exhaustive creative force, lost for all mankind for the sake of a single apple! The richness in vegetation taunts all possible description, not a single spot resembles another one. At every step, every drive, I might say, at every turn of the way the images changed. Now there are palm groves, then giant bushes covered in lianas and orchids, then cactus-like Euphorbias with magnolia-like totally straight branches that captivated us. In between are flowers of the most colorful kind such as the purple red Gloriosa superba and a sky-blue Ranunculacee. Scintillating butterflies fly from flower to flower. Striped squirrels (Sciurus palmarum) run up and down the trunks, the most colorful birds, parrots, bulbuls, kingfishers, herons and bee-eaters cross the sky.

For today, a trip to Kandy, the old capital of the kings of Ceylon and the favourite spot of the present governor, was planned. The city of 20.252 inhabitants is 119 km distant from Colombo. At 9 o’clock, I went on land and through the guard of honor to the railway station of the fort where another honor guard was waiting. Most lovely to look at was a tame antelope with gilded horns – black buck of the English – that was a mascot of the music band.

The governor and his entourage and we mounted the wagons oft he Kandy railway which are very suitably and airily built and operated for the climate. Sinhalese act as railguards while the conductors and civil servants are Europeans. In spite of the large costs of the enterprise it is highly profitable thanks to the tea exports and the native predilection for train trips.

The railway tracks led first through thick banana and palm groves which alternated with extended rice plantations. The rice harvest which occurs twice per year had been completed shortly prior to our arrival and so the heavily watered and terraced fields were most fresh and of young green color. Everywhere there were buffalos standing up to their head in the water, surrounded by cowboys who looked almost snow-white from the distance. At Rambukkana station, the railway starts to enter mountain territory and the panorama changes. Ever steeper and steeper the railway tracks snake upwards. Tunnels and overhanging stone galleries follow, everywhere there are sources, brooks, rivers which descend in the fastest path towards the plain and greatly enliven the scenery. The eye is feasting on the blue mountain peaks and the deep-cut jungle valleys – it is, I might say, a Semmering-Bahn transposed into a tropical world. A high black rock cone standing tall beside the track has gained sad notoriety as a Tarpeian rock during the time of the kings of Ceylon of the Mahawani family, as these rulers pushed inconvenient prisoners down into the abyss to their death. Close to Kadugannawa station is a monument to Captain Dawson paying tribute to his construction of the first stage of the railway.

In front of Kandy, the rice fields are displaced by tea and cacao plantations which offer a pleasant impression with their deep green leaves.

At the station at Kandy we were festively received. A honor guard of native volunteers presented arms while a newly organized mounted guard of native noblemen rode on excellent ponies in front of our government carriage and behind it. All Kandy was outside. Thousands of Sinhalese and many Europeans stood at the roadside or on the verandas to greet us and welcome us most friendly.

Kandy is very picturesque situated in a greenish smiling valley and distinguishes itself through its clean houses and mild climate.

Near the ruins of the old royal palace, gigantic, strongly anchored walls with imaginative crenelations, was installed a towerlike triumphal arch built out of bamboo and palm leaves. On the other side of it was the fairylike garden of Government House or Pavillon. Bamboo and rubber trees of unimaginable height, covered in blooming lianas, form an alley that leads to the Government House. It is built in tropical style with wide stairs and large airy halls and offers a very pleasant stay.

I first paid my compliments to Lady Havelock and was then presented by the governor to a numerous delegation of native noblemen, the old hereditary nobility of Ceylon, where the following protocol was observed: I stood in the middle of the large hall while the individual members of the delegation came up singly, bowed deeply, the vice governor declaiming their names which were particularly long.

The costumes of these dignified, long-bearded men are most imaginative: On the head they wear a four or six-pointed flat red hat on which is fixated an agraffe with a jewel. The upper body is covered by a small jacket wrought in gold. On the breast hang different amulets and badges on golden chains which are often heavily trimmed with diamonds. Among the jewelry, I especially noted a flying eagle decorated with rubies and emeralds which is said to have been owned by a minister of the last king. In broad belts are knives with richly ornamented blades. The strangest part of their attire, however, was the way they cover their lower extremities. Firstly these are covered with white narrow trousers that reach down to the ankles, around which are wrapped 54 m of muslin – a task which requires more than two hours. This somewhat strange costume turns their wearers into comically walking pears.

After the parade we rested. At the start of the cool evening we paid a visit to Buddha’s tooth, the largest sacred site of the Buddhists. With ear-shattering tam-tam noises and drum music we were received by temple guards and high priests at the foot of the temple and led inside by a number of small stairs. In the entrance hall, numerous priests, all with heads clean shaved and clad in yellow Sarongs, were smilingly bowing standing at attention. After a few rooms with images from the life of Buddha I was in a square dark Sanctuarium lit only by a few lamps in which the musty smell of decomposing cut flowers, present in great number, flowed towards me. The high priest mumbled a few prayers and then showed me the tooth which lies in a large golden rose. The god Buddha must have had giant dentures because the tooth measures 5 cm in length and 25 cm in width. It has a dark chestnut brown color and is said to be made out of ivory smuggled in by clever priests after the original tooth had been burned by the Portuguese. Many pilgrims and processions arrive here to this sanctuary annually. The tooth is encased in six or seven tower-like covers made out of massive gold and decorated with gemstones, true masterworks. The whole is kept in a barred cage that contains also another object of value, a 12 cm high statue of Buddha made out of a single pure emerald stone.

We saw here also a second relic with many especially crystalline Buddhas as well as the temple library which keeps old Sinhalese writings etched into palm leaves. Then we drove to the 6 km distant majestic botanical garden of Peradeniya which exceeds everyone’s wildest expectations by its variety of plants and trees as well as its tasteful composition into groups. The tropical climate that supports the gardener’s art is capable of achieving nearly fairy-like outcomes. Peradeniya is said to be the most beautiful botanical garden in the world. That it is unmatched I can firmly believe. The chief gardener tasked me with planting a tree to commemorate my visit, as did the Prince of Wales and the Tsesarevich. The tree planted by the first has already reached a sizeable height. The orchid collection of the park is housed indoors with straw mats replacing glass windows to safeguard the plants from the intense sun rays.

Lady Havelock which we encountered in that part of the garden with her daughter invited us to a cup of tea in the garden pavilion.

At 8 o’clock there was a grand parade dinner in Government House in Kandy which was attended by numerous dignitaries and multiple ladies. Giant Indians with long spears were set up in the staircase as a guard of honor. The table in black and yellow was richly decorated with flowers. For the delicious meal, musically accompanied by the band of the 6th regiment that played lovely melodies, I sat between Lady Havelock and the German wife of our consul general Schnell, who was born in Calcutta. At the end of the dinner the governor declared a toast to the queen’s health, to that of our emperor and to mine, accompanied to the people’s hymn.

After the conclusion of the dinner, a religious procession called the Perahera procession, which is performed but once a year and which is attended by all the nobles of the land from the most distant places with their attendants and their elephants to create the largest pomp possible, started in the large forum in front of the Buddha temple. The glittering procession of the dignitaries, the nobles and the men, the majestic elephants, the gaudy play of the colors, the glittering and sparkling gold and gems, the activities of the crowd, the performance of fantastic dances, the magic scenery – all covered in a clear light of torches, turned it into a Arabian Nights fairy tale. The procession moved with a deafening sound of the drums past the Buddha temple on whose dais all guests of the governor and the members of the English colony had taken their seats.

At the front of the parade marched a beautifully ornamented giant elephant that carried a representation of the golden hull of Buddha’s tooth on a rich silk blanket. The giant was escorted by two smaller elephants, then about a hundred Sinhalese with colors and torches came. Then, surrounded by dancers moving in grotesque jumps, followed the nobles of the land in their dress sparkling with diamonds. In the procession of at least 800 to 1000 m length were assembled forty elephants ornamented in the most diverse of trappings. All houses up to the roofs and the whole large forum were filled with the mass of the united country folk which set up a captivating strange background in their red and white Sarongs and the disquieting changing illumination. Twice the procession passed by us. Then we returned home to the governor’s pavilion, enriched by the interesting day’s events.

Huts in Colombo, Ceylon

Huts in Colombo, Ceylon

Links

  • Location: Kandy, Ceylon
  • ANNO – on 06.01.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Panama scandal in France is always a good topic to fill the pages, apart from the snow storm that is.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Krisen“ – a character study by Eduard von Bauernfeld; the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents a French opera „Der Prophet“.