CHAPTER XV. JOURNEY FROM DELHI TO BOMBAY CONTINUED.
TRAVELLING ON INDIAN CAMELS - MY MEETING WITH THE BURDON FAMILY - THE DIFFERENT CLASSES OF WOMEN AMONG THE NATIVE POPULATION IN INDIA - UDJEIN - CAPTAIN HAMILTON - INTRODUCTION AT COURT - MANUFACTURE OF ICE - THE ROCK TEMPLES OF ADJUNTA - A TIGER HUNT - THE ROCK TEMPLES OF ELORA - THE FORTRESS OF DOWLUTABAD.
14TH February. The camels were ordered at 5 o'clock in the morning, but it was not until towards noon that they came, each with a driver. When they saw my portmanteau (twenty-five pounds in weight), they were quite puzzled to know what to do with it. It was useless my explaining to them how the luggage is carried in Egypt, and that I had been accustomed to carry very little with me on my own animal: they were used to a different plan, and would not depart from it.
Travelling on camels is always unpleasant and troublesome. The jolting motion of the animal produces in many people the same ill effects as the rocking of a ship on the sea; but in India it is almost unbearable, on account of the inconvenience of the arrangements. Here each animal has a driver, who sits in front and takes the best place; the traveller has only a little space left for him on the hinder part of the animal.
Dr. Rolland advised me at once to put up with the inconvenience as well as I could. He told me that I should fall in with Captain Burdon in the next day or two, and it would be easy to obtain a more convenient conveyance from him. I followed his advice, allowed my luggage to be carried, and patiently mounted my camel.
We passed through extensive plains, which were most remarkable for some considerable flax plantations, and came to a beautiful lake, near to which lay a very pretty palace. Towards evening, we reached the little village of Moasa, where we stayed for the night.
In those countries which are governed by native princes, there are neither roads nor arrangements for travelling; although in every village and town there are people appointed whose business it is to direct travellers on their way and carry their luggage, for which they are paid a small fee. Those travellers who have a guard from the king or aumil (governor), or a cheprasse with them, do not pay anything for this attendance; others give them a trifle for their services, according as the distance is greater or less.
When I reached Moasa, every one hastened to offer me their services - for I travelled with the king's people, and in this part of the country a European woman is a rarity. They brought me wood, milk, and eggs. My table was always rather frugally furnished: at the best I had rice boiled in milk or some eggs, but generally only rice, with water and salt. A leathern vessel for water, a little saucepan for boiling in, a handful of salt, and some rice and bread, were all that I took with me.
15th February. Late in the evening I reached Nurankura, a small place surrounded by low mountains. I found here some tents belonging to Captain Burdon, a maid, and a servant. Terribly fatigued, I entered one of the tents directly, in order to rest myself. Scarcely had I taken possession of the divan, than the maid came into the tent, and, without any observation, commenced kneading me about with her hands. I would have stopped her, but she explained to me that when a person was fatigued it was very refreshing. For a quarter of an hour she pressed my body from head to foot vigorously, and it certainly produced a good effect - I found myself much relieved and strengthened. This custom of pressing and kneading is very common in India, as well as in all Oriental countries, especially after the bath; and Europeans also willingly allow themselves to be operated upon.
The maid informed me, partly by signs, partly by words, that I had been expected since noon; that a palanquin stood ready for me, and that I could sleep as well in it as in the tent. I was rejoiced at this, and again started on my journey at 11 o'clock at night. The country was indeed, as I knew, infested with tigers, but as several torch-bearers accompanied us, and the tigers are sworn enemies of light, I could composedly continue my uninterrupted sleep. About 3 o'clock in the morning, I was set down again in a tent, which was prepared for my reception, and furnished with every convenience.
16th February. This morning I made the acquaintance of the amiable family of the Burdons. They have seven children, whom they educate chiefly themselves. They live very pleasantly and comfortably, although they are wholly thrown on their own resources for amusement, as there are, with the exception of Dr. Rolland, no Europeans in Kottah. It is only very rarely that they are visited by officers who may be passing through, and I was the first European female Mrs. Burdon had seen for four years.
I passed the most delightful day in this family circle. I was not a little astonished to find here all the conveniences of a well-regulated house; and I must take this opportunity of describing, in few words, the mode of travelling adopted by the English officers and officials in India.
In the first place, they have tents which are so large, that they contain two or three rooms; one which I saw was worth more than 800 rupees (80 pounds). They take with them corresponding furniture, from a footstool to the most elegant divan; in fact, nearly the whole of the house and cooking utensils. They have also a multitude of servants, every one of whom has his particular occupation, which he understands exceedingly well. The travellers, after passing the night in their beds, about 3 o'clock in the morning either lie or sit in easy palanquins, or mount on horseback, and after four or five hours' ride, dismount, and partake of a hot breakfast under tents. They have every household accommodation, carry on their ordinary occupations, take their meals at their usual hours, and are, in fact, entirely at home.