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April 07 , 2011

An Account of The Kingdom of Nepal (Illustrated)


This Account, which is intended to describe the country as it stood previously to the war with the British, commencing in the end of the year 1814, is derived chiefly from the following sources.

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In the first place, during the years 1802 and 1803, I passed fourteen months in the country, mostly in the vicinity of Kathmandu, the capital; and I was accompanied by Ramajai Batacharji, an intelligent Brahman, from Calcutta, whom I employed to obtain information, so far as I prudently could, without alarming a jealous government, or giving offence to the Resident, under whose authority I was acting.

In the next place, assisted by the same person, I passed two years on the frontier, collecting information, both from the Company’s subjects, and from numerous refugees and travellers from the dominions of Gorkha.  The following are the persons to whose information I am chiefly indebted:

The account of Sikim is chiefly taken from a Lama, or priest p. 2of Buddha, who, with part of his flock, had fled into the district of Puraniya, to escape from the violence of the Gorkhalese, and who constructed a map of the country, which I have deposited in the Company’s library.  Besides the Lama, I consulted many of the natives of the Company’s territory, who had visited the lower parts of Sikim, and several of the Gorkhalese, and other people of Nepal; and Mr Smith, of Nathpur, favoured me with several particulars, collected by a Mr Pagan for the information of government.

Concerning the country between Sikim and Nepal Proper, my information is chiefly derived from the following persons:

1st, Agam Singha, hereditary chief of the Kirats, a tribe bordering immediately on Nepal, and last Chautariya, or prime minister, of the princes who governed that people.

2d, A Brahman, who was the Munsuf, or civil judge of Bahadurgunj, a territory in the district of Puraniya belonging to the Company.  His ancestors were hereditary Dewans to the princes who governed the territory between Nepal and Sikim, that is, the Brahman’s family managed the princes’ revenue.

3d, From Narayan Das, a scribe, (Kayastha,) whose ancestor Janardan accompanied Lohanga, founder of the late dynasty; and whose descendants enjoyed the hereditary office of Neb, or second minister to the successors of that chief, until their final expulsion from the mountains.

4th, A slave of the Raja of Gorkha, who entered into my service in order to bring plants from the Alpine regions; but, finding him very intelligent, and a great traveller, I employed him to construct a map, which I have deposited in the Company’s library.  In order to enable himself to execute this with more care, he refreshed his memory by several journeys in different directions.

5th, A Kirat from Hedang, near the Arun river, gave me p. 3another map, which has also been deposited in the Company’s library.  It contains only the eastern parts of the territory in question.

These two maps, together with that of the Lama, as might be expected, are very rude, and differ in several points; but they coincide in a great many more, so as to give considerable authority to their general structure; and, by a careful examination of the whole, many differences, apparently considerable, may be reconciled.  The general authority of the whole is confirmed by our maps, so far as they go, and by the intelligence which Colonel Crawford obtained in Nepal.

The account of Nepal Proper is chiefly derived from my own observations, assisted by those of Ramajai above mentioned and by some communications with which I was favoured by Colonel Crawford, now Surveyor-General in Bengal.  He favoured me, in particular, with several drawings of the snowy mountains; and, by orders of the Marquis Wellesley, then Governor-General, I was furnished with copies of Colonel Crawford’s valuable geographical surveys and maps of the country.

In one point respecting these maps, I consider myself bound to do justice to the researches of Colonel Crawford.  From a treatise on the sources of the Ganges, given by H. T. Colebrooke, Esq. in the 11th volume of the Asiatick Researches, page 429, etc. it might be possibly inferred, although this, perhaps, was not intended to be expressed, that Colonel Colebrooke and his kinsman were induced to reject the authority of D’Anville respecting the sources of the Ganges, merely from examining the authorities, upon which the course of the Ganges above Haridwar had been laid down in the geographical charts then in use.  Now, the fact is, that Colonel Colebrooke had other grounds for rejecting the authority of D’Anville, and especially one of the above-mentioned maps, which p. 4had been officially communicated to him by Colonel Crawford.  In this map the sources of the Ganges are laid down from the reports of pilgrims; nor has the survey, carried on by the suggestion of Colonel Colebrooke, added any thing material, so far as relates to the general outlines of these sources.  By this observation I by no means intend to depreciate the labours of Mr Webb, by whom the survey was conducted; nor the judgment and love of science evinced in the recommendation of Colonel Colebrooke to employ him.  So long as the matter rested entirely on the report of pilgrims, doubts would exist; and the survey has not only entirely removed these, but has given us many details of a country previously unknown.

Concerning the country between Nepal Proper and the river Kali, I follow chiefly the authority of the following persons: 1st, a Brahman, named Sadhu Ram Upadhyaya, whose family was in hereditary possession of the office of priest (Purohit) for the Raja of Palpa, one of the principal chiefs in this district; 2d and 3d, Prati Nidhi Tiwari, and Kanak Nidhi Tiwari, two brothers of the sacred order, the former very learned, and the latter a man of business.  Their family had been long Mantris, or advisers of the same chiefs, but came originally from Kumau; 4th, Samar Bahadur, uncle to the Raja of Palpa, now in exile.

Two maps of these parts, now in the Company’s library, were prepared by Sadhu Ram and Kanak Nidhi, with the assistance of Kamal Lochan, one of the natives attached to the survey of Bengal, on which I was engaged.  Although they differ in some points, they agree in so many more, especially in the eastern parts, that considerable reliance may be placed on their giving some tolerable idea of the country.

Finally, concerning the parts west of the river Kali, in the rainy season 1814 I proceeded up the Ganges, with a view of p. 5going to Haridwar, where I expected to procure intelligence; but, fortunately, I met at Futtehgur with a person well qualified for the purpose.  This was Hariballabh, a Brahman born in Kumau, but who has been long in the service of the Garhawal Rajas, and has travelled much in the adjacent parts.  A map of the western parts of the dominions of Gorkha, now also in the Company’s library, was composed by Hariballabh, with the assistance of Kamal Lochan.  The same person gave me another map explaining the country, which extends some way west from the Sutluj, and of which a short account will be found in the Appendix.

I regret, that, on the banks of the Karanali, there intervenes a space, with which none of my informants were well acquainted, its communications being entirely with the country belonging to the Nawab Vazir.

I shall have very frequent occasion to mention the account of Nepal by Colonel Kirkpatrick; and, although I often differ from him in opinion, and think it my duty to state these points fully, yet no one can be more sensible, knowing well the difficulties he encountered, of the merits of his work, which is, on the whole, perfectly conformable to his well-known thirst for information and judgment in the acquisition of knowledge.  I must here, however, in a general way, caution the reader to place little confidence in the names given in the printed work.  I have no doubt, that the numerous errors in the names are to be attributed to the printing of the work having been entrusted to some person entirely ignorant of the native language; and who, therefore, could not be led, by a knowledge of this, to read the names in the manuscript with accuracy.  But, besides this source of error, in some degree, perhaps, unavoidable, the printer seems to have been uncommonly careless in reading even those names that are known to Europeans.  Thus, (in p. 6page 131,) speaking of the birds of Nepal, he has as follows: “The two last belong to the genus of pheasants, the damphia being of the golden, and the monal of the argheer, or spotted sort.”  There can be no doubt, that Colonel Kirkpatrick wrote argus, and not argheer, which has no meaning.

The utmost negligence may be also observed in a matter of more importance; for, in the route from Kathmandu to Beni, the capital of Malebum, given in page 290, all the stages from Deoralli 1st, to Ragho Powa, both inclusive, are evidently transposed, as going through the territory of Lamjun and Kaski, after having entered Malebum at Kusmachoor, while both Lamjun and Kaski are between Kathmandu and Malebum.  I suspect, also, that the person entrusted with the printing has introduced some matter of his own about the Hindu religion, several passages on that subject being unlike the sentiments of a person of Colonel Kirkpatrick’s known sense and observation.

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