Kotaha in India Office Records

The never ending search for the history of Morni and Kotaha has now led to the, hand-written British records of the 19th century that have been meticulously preserved in the archives of the British Library at London. These bound volumes form a part of the India Office Records – the records of the British Rule in India including hand-written/published official records, photographs, maps etc. The Tramp shares with his readers some interesting titbits of history that lay buried in the ‘vaults’ of the British Library.

India Office Records

India Office Records

Decision of Government in the claim of the Chief of Kotaha to some villages formerly appropriated as an endowment to the Temple of Telokepore:

The right of the Kotaha Chief to resume these villages was acknowledged in 1821 by Captain Ross, and again by Captain Murray in 1823; and it seems to have been without any sufficient ground that Sir Edward Colebrooke, in 1827, reversed these decisions and replaced the Fakeers in possession. Your decision restoring the villages to the Chief, has our entire approbation.

Volume No. 32 of 1835 of the India Political Department dated 29th July, 1835

Denial of Police Powers to the Meer of Kotaha

… two Cis-Sutlej Chiefs, the Nawab of Koonjpura and the Mir of Kotaha who were favourably reported on by Lieut. Col. Mackeson, the severity of your original orders was, we think, very properly mitigated. The usual commutation for Contingents was remitted; compensation was granted for the custom and transit duties abolished by order of Government and the Nawab of Koonjpoora (if the instructions of the Chief Commissioner dated 31st January 1849 have been executed, on which point a reference has been made to the Board) was again entrusted with some powers of Police and Criminal Administration, subject to the control of the Deputy Commissioner. We wish for further information on this point. A report had been received from Major Edwards on 38 of the principal Jageers in the Punjab held by Sirdars who were not concerned in the insurrection of 1848/49. This report seems to have been prepared with great care and industry. The Governor General having regard to the fact that many of those named in this list are the representatives or members of the known families in the Punjab, and in consideration of the services which all in a greater or less degree, have rendered to the British Government in recent events, has acceded to the recommendation of the Board that certain portions of the Jageers shall descend in perpetuity to the heirs male of their bodies.

Volume No. 9 of 1851 of the India Political Department dated 5th March, 1851

Further correspondence on the case of Nawab of Koonjpoora and the Meer of Kotaha

The Board of Administration in their letter dated 6th September 1852 entirely acquit the Meer of Kotaha of having failed in his duty in the war of 1846, and you have in consequence made his exemption from commutation in service in perpetuity instead of limiting it, as at first intended, to his own life. You however still enforce the remaining part of the penalty imposed on him, the abrogation of his police powers. If it be correct (as stated by the Officiating Commissioner Cis Sutlej States in his letter of 2nd March 1850) that this chief holds Sunnud bearing the signature of Sir D. Ochterlony, which in express terms guarantees to him and his heirs, Police Jurisdiction within the limits of his property, the extinction of this jurisdiction could only be justified on his part, of which, as we understand the Board’s Letter, he now stands completely acquitted, and we therefore request an explanation of your having maintained this part of the order issued under a mistaken impression of his conduct.

Volume 39 of 1853 of the India Political Department dated 21st September, 1853

 Case of the Meer of Kotaha

We are of the opinion that the several arrangements made with regard to this Chief since 1846 must be considered as one scheme, under which he has, in common with other Chiefs, been for the public advantage deprived of his police jurisdiction and under which, in contradistinction to other Chiefs, he has, for his own advantage, and that of his family been assured that his estate will not be subjected to the deduction of 1/8th of the revenue (in this particular case about 1800 Rupees a year) usually levied by the British Government as commutation for service.

Volume 44 of 1854 of the India Political Department dated 4th October, 1854


Claim of Meer Ukbar Allee, the perpetual Jageerdar of Kotaha, to resume two villages named Bheinee and Khurruck, in that District

These villages being held by the family in possession under an attumgha grant from the father of Meer Ukbar Allee, which grant was recognized by Sir D. Ochterlony at the time of restoring Ukbar Allee to his ancestorial possession, we agree with the Lieutenant Governor that the title must be respected by the Jageerdar.

Volume No. 52 of 1838 of the India Political Department dated 19th September, 1838

 Complaint of Goormookh Sing that the Agent at Delhi had, contrary to the orders of Government directed his village of Bhainee to be made over to the Chief of Kotaha. It appeared on enquiry that no such order had been issued.

Volume No. 10 of 1840 of the India Political Department dated 12th March, 1840


The Tramp owes gratitude to ‘Othello’ for sacrificing his pub-time on tracing out and bringing back these nuggets of history to his obsessive friend.

Gold washers of Nahan

Lieutenant Proby Thomas Cautley, the famous ‘fossilwallah‘ of the Shiwalik Hills,  wrote a letter in April 1835  to the Secretary Bengal Asiatic Society (it was published in the 4th Volume of the Asiatic Journal the same year) in which he described the working of the gold washers in the beds of the rivers under Nahan. Cautley talks of a river that emerged from the fossil-rich clay and boulder Shiwalik hills, to the south of Nahan, that he calls the Gumti River. He describes the working of the gold washers who extracted gold particles that were washed up by the river from the hills by meticulously washing the sand of the river bed in troughs made from reeds. He talks of the need for modernising the gold extraction process to improve the yield and profitability. He also expresses the possibility of finding the actual source of the gold located somewhere in the hills from where it got washed down by the river waters.

The tributaries of the Gumti River meet at the Gumti village in the hills and together flow south to emerge on the plains with the Churan village located on the left bank and Ujjal Majri on the right. The river is thereafter referred to as ‘Ujjal-ki-Nadi’ that flows into the Begna River that itself joins the impetuous Markanda.

Cautley's Gumti - The River of Gold

Cautley’s Gumti – The River of Gold

Cautley’s letter with the accompanying sketches are reproduced for the readers:-


Note on the Gold Washings of the Gumti River

By Lieut. Cautley, Bengal Artillery.

Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Vol. 4), 1835.

In the 18th volume of the Asiatic Researches (Physical Class), the occurrence of gold in the line of mountains skirting the foot of the Himalayas has been brought to notice by Captain Herbert, and as in his specification of the points where it has been found, he has drawn our attention chiefly to the Ramgunga, and its tributaries east ward of the Ganges, and has not noticed the tract of mountains upon which the town of Nahun stands, and as in the system adopted by the natives in washing the sand as described in the paper alluded to, there is some difference from that of the Nahun washers, it will be perhaps interesting not only to bring forward this new locality, but also, to show the simple means adopted in procuring the mineral.

The late grand discoveries of organic remains in the hills under Nahun and the consequent desire of prosecuting the inquiry, as far as means would allow, have like many other searches led to the discovery of an object of a totally different nature from that in pursuit, nor may we be far wrong in agreeing with Captain Herbert that the ultimate discovery of gold in abundance in these regions will eventually either benefit some fortunate individual, or else come at once under the eye of the ruling power of the district.

I will, however, enter upon the subject of this note previous to discussing the probabilities of discovering the ore in situ.

The rivers from the beds of which the sand containing the ore is procured, derive their sources solely from this lower tract of mountains, and are not in any way connected with the Himalayas. There does not appear to be any river free from the ore, although many of them are considered by the washers as more abundant than others, and consequently more worthy of their labor, that to which, I shall particularly refer, is named the Gumti river, which leaves the mountains at the village of Churan; Gumti being the name of two villages on the right and left of the stream, about three miles in the interior, at which there is a main junction of tributaries, the river opens into the plains opposite to the town of Sidoura to the westward, and parallel to the Choura Pani and Markunda river, which carry off the greatest portion of the drainage from the hills directly under the town of Nahun.

The gold washers are by no means numerous, and are of the poorest class depending entirely on their trade for support. The Raja of Nahun levies a tax of a masha per annum on each trough, but although there is no restriction to the number of people employed as long as this toll is paid, there does not appear to be any desire or competition on the part of the natives to carry it on, by which we may draw a tolerably accurate conclusion on the returns of the trade, as it now exists.

The apparatus used by the washers consists simply of a trough, a sieve made of the Sirkunda grass, a flat piece of board with an iron edge for scraping up the sand, a plate or dish for carrying it away, and triturating the sand with mercury, and a ladle or spoon made of a gourd, for raising water with these, and a little mercury in the end of a hollow bambu, our gold washer starts on his pilgrimage. I have endeavoured in the accompanying sketch to give some idea of the process, and this will perhaps be clear enough without much explanation. The gold washer in the first instance, examines the soil by washing a small quantity in his hand, the smallest particle or particles of the metal are easily detected, the soil holding the greatest quantity appears to be that in the line upon which, the drainage of the river takes place, for these mountain streams occupy but a small space of their channel during the dry months, or even at any time, with the exception of those periods during the rainy months, when very heavy and successive falls of rain charge every channel with its full supply.

Gold-washers in the beds of the rivers under Nahun

Gold-washers in the beds of the rivers under Nahun

The situation proving favourable, the washer then establishes his trough,



the sand is placed on the sieve and water thrown over it with the spoon,



the coarser particles are thus separated and thrown away, the man still continues pouring water through the sieve over the sand in the trough until nothing remains there, but an almost impalpable blackish powder, in this powder the gold dust is perceptible. This powder is then collected and taken out of the trough, forming a mass capable of being held in both hands, this is triturated with a small quantity of mercury on the dish or basin B,

Basin B

Basin B

and the whole is again subjected to a careful washing with the hand on this dish, this latter washing removes everything but a small piece of mercury, and gold in amalgam. The gold washer then lights a piece of cow dung upon which he places the amalgam, and as far as I observed in their manufactories, his labor was repaid by the smallest piece of the precious metal imaginable. The rains are said to be the best and most profitable season, at this period two rupees per day may be the return of one trough under a gold washer and one assistant, the worst day’s produce about two annas, the gold is either sold to the bunias at the large towns in the neighbourhood, or given to zamindars for an equivalent.

There is a great loss of particles of the gold in the system of washing adopted here, many of which must pass off through the trough, there is also a total loss of mercury, the latter might be easily remedied, we should imagine, were the washers in the habit of giving the amalgam to their employer who might complete the processing in close retorts. It is evident that under the eye of an active and interested person, a trade might be carried on here of a description, by no means contemptible, a much greater quantity of the mineral might be procured, and that on the adoption of a trade in the article, an improvement of the apparatus might be effected, tending much to that point.

I have much pleasure in sending you three packets.

No. 1 containing the sand as found in the bed of the river,

2 the black powder the result of the first washing in the trough,

3 the gold ore and shall hope to see your note on the quality as well as the natural state in which the ore exists, it would appear from the account of the washers that lumps or larger particles than those sent are not found, although it is by no means an easy matter to get correct information on points of this sort.[1]

That the gold exists in any other shape than that of the present specimen, in these lower mountains, is very improbable. The particles may differ in size, and we may in all probability detect the stratum containing the gold dust, and so procure it before it has undergone further attrition in the river’s bed, but we must look to the Himalayas themselves for the auriferous strata, from the disintegration of which, the sands of these lower hills have been supplied with the mineral. Captain Herbert alludes to the occurrence of the ore having been traced up to a certain point in one of the tributaries of the Ramgunga, a fact corroborated by Mr. Ravenshaw the Civil Service in a note to the Society. My inquiries establish a similar limit in the Gumti river, this is a point, however, that would require very careful examination and that examination under the eye of an experienced person, who after all, in such a maze of mountains and rivers would perhaps have to depend upon chance for successful prosecution of his labors.

The occurrence of gold in alluvial soil is common to every quarter of the globe, although South America and Africa provides the greatest supply of commerce, and in all probability there is no extensive chain of primary mountain that does not charge its drainage with the mineral in question.

Its incorruptible nature, and it’s not being subject to the effects of oxidation from common causes, is a sufficient reason for the presence of this mineral, unaccompanied by others. With regard, however, to the Nahun and Ramgunga gold, we are perfectly decided on one point, viz. that the rivers bearing the dust have no connection whatever now with the great Himalayan chain, and therefore that if the mineral exists in abundance at any one point, it will be found in the hills from which these rivers derive their sources, and it is to be hoped, that we may even look forward to the ultimate discovery of gold, in comparatively as great abundance, as the present fossils, the existence of which, six months ago, would have been as much doubted as, the possibility of finding gold now may be.

Northern Duab, April 10th 1835.

[1] These have not yet reached us. The black powder is, however, doubtless similar to that which accompanies the gold dust in the rivers of Assam and Ava, for the most part magnetic oxide of iron. Platina may also be found in it, but rarely. The use of a strong magnet would perhaps prove advantageous before rubbing in the mercury for amalgamation.


When Ahmad Shah Durrani went hunting in Pinjore (1765)

One of the most powerful men to have visited Pinjore and to have hunted in the forests of the Pinjore dun and the Morni hills was Ahmad Shah Durrani (Abdali) who visited the valley during his seventh invasion of India in 1764-65. Abdali halted at the garden in Pinjore while marching towards Delhi with his conquering army. This battle-hardened soldier was so taken up with the beauty of the ‘bagh’ (garden) and the surrounding forests that he decided to take a break and spent two long months in the area lost in poetry and hunting. This was so out of character for this tireless campaigner that his stay at Pinjore finds a special mention in the accounts of his campaign by most historians. The imperial army eventually made its way along the foothills of the Shivaliks and reached Karnal after a leisurely march.

A fairly detailed eye-witness account of Abdali’s seventh invasion is available in ‘Jang Namah’ written in Persian by Nur Muhammad, a Qazi (judge) of Gunjaba in Baluchistan. Qazi Nur Muhammad accompanied Mir Nasir Khan the ruler of Kalat as he marched into Panjab in the winter of 1764 to join the army of Ahmad Shah Durrani on a military expedition to punish the increasingly assertive Sikhs. Emboldened by the conquest of Sirhind in 1763 the Sikhs under the Bhangis had crossed the Indus and had extended their dominions to Multan and the Deras by the middle of 1764. Nur Muhammad was promised the post of the Qazi in Shikarpore or the Deras on return from the expedition as a reward for his writing an account of the Khan’s military exploits in the holy war with the Sikhs.

Khans of Kalat

Khan of Kalat (Khan-e-Qalat) was the title of the ruler of the erstwhile State of Kalat (modern Balochistan in Pakistan). Kalat was originally a Hindu Princely State and its Raja sought the services of Mir Qambar, a Baloch chieftain to fight off tribal incursions from Multan, Shikarpur and Upper Sind. Mir Qambar repressed the incursion and finding the Raja weak he took over the rule of Kalat and assumed the Title of ‘Vali’. The Mirs gradually grew more powerful and were now addressed as the Khans of Kalat.

Kalat, Capital of Balochistan, Charles Masson Esq. 1842

Kalat, Capital of Balochistan, Charles Masson Esq. 1842

Miri, Citadel of Kalat; Charles Masson Esq. 1842

Miri, Citadel of Kalat; Charles Masson Esq. 1842

Mir Muhammad Nasir Khan I (also known as Mir Noori Nasir Khan) was probably the most powerful of the Khans of Kalat who ruled for 45 years from 1749 to 1794. After an initial unsuccessful revolt against Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1758 he later became his most powerful ally and his Baloch Army fought alongside the Afghans of Abdali against the Persians, the Marathas and the Sikhs. The boundaries of the Khanate of Kalat under Nasir Khan I extended far beyond those of modern Balochistan and reached as far as the town of Karachi.

Ghazi Amir Nasir Khan Ahmad Zilli Baloch, Milqab Ya Imam Noori, Nasir Khan Amir, Balochistan (1749- 1794)

Ghazi Amir Nasir Khan Ahmad Zilli Baloch, Milqab Ya Imam Noori, Nasir Khan Amir, Balochistan (1749- 1794)

The Jang Namah was completed by the Qazi on his return to Gunjaba in June 1765. The Jang Namah was lost in obscurity till a copy ended up in the District Gazetteer Office of Quetta from where copies were prepared by Sardar Karam Singh in 1906. He published a summary of the same in Phulwari in 1929 that was noticed by the famous Sikh Historian Ganda Singh who was working as a researcher and a lecturer in the Sikh History Research Department at Khalsa College Chandigarh. Professor Ganda Singh then published a summary of the Jang Namah along with the original Persian text in 1939.

The historical significance of the chronicle in Persian can be gauged from the fact that it is the only historical account available of events like the desecration of the holy sarovar (pool) at the Golden Temple and the valiant last stand at the gates of the Temple by Baba Gurbakhsh Singh and his band of thirty Sikhs who battled the army of Afghans and Baluchis despite the impossible odds until they were cut down to the last man.

The Tramp’s current interest in the Jang Namah, however, lies in events less momentous. It was the account of Abdali’s stay at Pinjaur including the killing of a tiger that attacked Mir Nasir Khan in the surrounding forests that caught The Tramp’s attention and it was decided to reproduce the same for the readers. Professor Ganda Singh’s English translation of the Persian text was restricted to a brief summary and it was decided to get the full text translated. The task was easier said than done as Qazi Nur Muhammad wrote his account mostly in verse (in the form of a nazm) and not many scholars are alive this day who can understand this 250 year old Persian account. But Delhi is not called the City of Djinns for nothing. Miraculously enough there was a scholar * in one of the lost lanes of Old Delhi (‘Dilli’ of the Mughals) who could follow the verses written by the Qazi. The Urdu translation is reproduced for the readers along with the original Persian text.

Urdu translation of Qazi Nur Muhammad's account (in Persian) of Ahmad Shah Durrani's two month stay at Pinjore and the encounter with a tiger in the surrounding forests

Urdu translation of Qazi Nur Muhammad’s account (in Persian) of Ahmad Shah Durrani’s two month stay at Pinjore and the encounter with a tiger in the surrounding forests

The Urdu translation has also been reproduced in the Devnagri script for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the Urdu script.

जंग नामा १७६४-१७६५ (1764-1765)ई०(अहमद शाह दुर्रानी)

यह जंग नामा का एक हिस्‍सा है जो कि बादशाह अहमद शाह दुर्रानी के दौरे हुकूमत सन् १७६४-१७६५ (1764-1765) ई० में काजी नूर मौहम्‍मद ने अपने खूबसूरत अलफाज में नज्‍म की शक्‍ल में उनके उस वक्‍त को ब्‍यान किया। जब बादशाह अहमद शाह दुर्रानी अपनी फौज और शिकारी कुत्‍तों के साथ एक जंगल की तरफ रवाना हुए। और वहां एक बाग में पड़ाव डाला। बादशाह के साथ अपनी अफवाज और तमाम साजों सामान मौजूद था और जब बाग में पड़ाव डाला गया तो गुलो गुंचे ने तसलीम के लिए अपने सरो को झुका लिया। ऐसा मालूम होता था के बादशाह सलामत के लिए हर गुलों गुंचा आदाब बजा लाया है। अपने ही कांटों से अपने को जख्‍मी कर रहे थे बीद के पेड़। फौज के खौफ से कांपते हुए नजर आ रहे थें। बनिफ-शा के फूलों ने मानो अपने गले में रस्‍सी का फंदा डाल लिया हो और नरगिस के फूलों ने दरहम लुटाये। जब बाग को अपनी आमद पर इस तरह खुश देखा तो बादशाह ने भी दरहम लुटाये। और अपने नाम के सिक्‍कों से फूलों की नजर उतारी और जो थकान वो गमो गुस्‍सा था वो फूलों की ताजगी देखकर काफूर हो गया ऐसा मालूम होता था के जैसे चारों तरफ बहार का मौसम आ गया हो। हवा के चलने से बाग में मदधम-मदधम खुशबू फैल गयी और सूखे हुए पत्‍ते गिरने लगे मानों सोने के सिक्‍के खाक पर फैला दिये हों। तूस की शाख ने दूसरी शाख में से अपना सर बाहर निकाला तो कुछ परिंदों को इससे रोजी मिली। गुलाब के फूलों पर सरू ने अपना साया किया। बहता हुआ पानी मानो ऐसे खड़ा रहा जैसे किसी खादिम को अपने हमराह बादशाह खिदमत के लिए खड़ा रहने का हुक्‍म दे। हवा के झोंकों से पानी लहराने लगा। बाग में ऐसा मालूम होता था जैसे अनार की मिठास रच बस गयी हो। परिंदे ऐसे चहचहाने लगे के गोया बच्‍चे इधर से उधर दौड़ रहे हैं। इस नज्‍म के पढ़ने से दिमाग में सुकून उतर आया इसके अलफाज जहन को सुकून और जबान को शीरी कर रहे थे।

शायर ने नज्‍म में वहां का खाका ऐसा ब्‍यान किया है के गुलों गुंचा इस माहौल को देखकर हैरान व परेशान हो गये। मानो उनके पास ब्‍यान करने को अलफाज न रहे हों। हजरत सुलेमान जो कि एक नबी थे और चरिंद परंद उनके ताबा थे। हुद-हुद ने मानो सर पर ताज रख लिया हो। इस खुशगवार नजारे से लुत्‍फ अंदोज होते हुए फाख्‍ता ने भी जैसे बोलना सीख लिया हो। और खुदा की तारीफ में सरबा सजूद हों और इसकी जबान खुदा की तारीफ करते हुए ना थकती हो। और इस बाग की खुशबु जिंदगी के लिए रहबर लग रही थी। बुलबुल ने नगमा गाना शुरू किया। और इसने अपनी आवाज से सबको मदमस्‍त कर दिया। चरिंदो परिंद हर एक खुश व खुर्रम नजर आ रहा था। हर कोई खुदा की इस नेमत का शुक्रिया अदा कर रहा था। इस मनाजिर और ऐसे खुशगवार जगह पर फौज और बादशाह हर कोई खुश वो खुर्रम नजर आ रहा था। इस बाग में ऐशो इशरत में दो दिन गुजारकर तीसरे दिन वहां से कूच करने का प्रोग्राम बनाया लेकिन बादशाह और उसकी फौज दो महीने तक आस-पास ही भटकती रही। और दो महीने में इन्‍होंने दो मील का सफर भी तय नहीं किया। कभी बाग के पड़ाव के दायीं तरफ तो कभी बायीं तरफ, कभी आगे और कभी पीछे इस तरह पड़ाव डालते रहे। इस दरम्‍यान एक दिन बादशाह ने अपने तमाम दरबारियों और फौजियों को देहली की तरफ कूच करने का हुक्‍म दिया। तमाम सवार बादशाह के हुक्‍म से देहली की तरफ कूच करने के लिए आमादा हो गये। लेकिन इनका इरादा इस रास्‍ते की दलील नहीं था। इस सफर की खुशी में कुछ दिन वहीं बसर हुए खुदा से दुआ की के या बाराल्‍लाह इसका मालिक आबादों शाद रहे। और कुछ जगहों पर बादशाह ने अपनी बादशाहत के नमूने छोड़े।

 बादशाह के गुलामों का शिकार करना और एक शेर को मारना

एक दिन खान जमाशाह सवार अपने घोड़े पर सवार होकर शिकार को निकले इनके खास साथी और वफादार लोग खान साहब के पीछे-पीछे इस तरह रवाना हुए जैसे गडरिये के पीछे चौपाये चलते हैं। यहां तक के सफर करते हुए एक बियेबान और भयानक जंगल मेंपहुँच गये। इस बियेबान जंगल में हर तरह के जंगली जानवर थे। जैसे नीलगाय, बारासिंगा,हिरन, शेर वगैरह। निडर और दिलेर सवार बे खौफो खतर इस तरह जंगल में घूम रहे थे। बादशाह खान जमाशाह सवार का पूरा अमला आगे पीछे शिकार की तलाश में इधर-उधर दौड़ रहा था। इसी दरम्‍यान एक शेर अपनी खचार से निकला और जिस सवारी पर शाह जमा सवार थे उसको अपने निशाने पर लिया। करीब था के शेर शाह साहब पर हमला कर दे। खान साहब के अमले में से एक नौकर जो बहुत दिलेर, वो निडर और बहादुर था इसने महसूस किया के शेर कहीं खान साहब को अपनी दरिंदगी का शिकार न बना ले और खान साहब को कोई जबरदस्‍त जानी नुकसान ना पहुंचे। वो बहादुर नौजवान जिसके एक हाथ में खंजर और दूसरे हाथ में बंदूक थी अपने घोड़े से उतरा और एक बहादुर नौजवान ने इंतहाई जाबाजी और बहादुरी का मजाहेरा करते हुए बहुत तेजी से इस शेर को अपने निशाने पर लिया। और बंदूक से वार किया। शेर खाकों खूँ में लुढ़क गया और खान साहब की जान इस नौकर की होशियारी, फुर्ती और बहादुरी से बच गयी। बादशाह ने दुआओं से नवाजते हुए कहा हजारों साल जिंदा रहें ऐसे लोग जो अपनी जान की परवाह न करते हुए दूसरों को बचा लें। ऐ बहादुर नौजवां तू बहादुर भी है बानसीब भी है। जो लोग बाअदब होते हैं वो बानसीब भी होते हैं। खुदा तुझे सलामत रखे और तेरा नसीब बुलंद हो। खुदा तेरा नसीब बुलंद व बाला करे और अपनी तरफ से इसको इनामों इकराम से नवाजा और बहुत सारी दुआएं दी। बाकी फौज ने भी आफरी – आफरी के नारे बुलंद किये और सब लोग इसकी बहादुरी पर नाज करते हुए खुदा से इसके लिए दुआ करने लगे।


Qazi Nur Muhammad's account (in Persian) of Ahmad Shah Durrani's two month stay at Pinjore and the encounter with a tiger in the surrounding forests

Qazi Nur Muhammad’s account (in Persian) of Ahmad Shah Durrani’s two month stay at Pinjore and the encounter with a tiger in the surrounding forests

* The Tramp owes deep gratitude to Maulana Anis Ahmed Azad Qasmi, Nazim & Sheikh-ul-Hadees, Jamia Arabia Syedul Madaris for the translation of the Persian verses to Urdu. Maulana Anis Ahmed is an eminent scholar proficient in Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages and has authored a number of books on religion, language and poetry.

When Jardine came for a tiger shoot to Pinjore

The Pinjore Dun was covered by a thick forest in the 19th century and was famous for its wildlife including tigers, elephants and even lions. Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Afghan invader had camped at Pinjore in 1765 for tiger hunting. The Pinjore jungles remained the hunting preserves (Shikargarhs) of the Patiala Maharajas since the middle of the 19th century.

A 19th century hunting lodge of the Patiala Rajas, the Burj, today lies in ruins atop a hill that overlooks the Ghaggar river and the Pinjore Dun.

Burj, the Hunting Lodge of Patiala Rajas

Burj, the Hunting Lodge of Patiala Rajas

A part of the surviving jungles were notified as the Bir Shikargarh Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Pinjore forests boasted of tigers as late as mid-20th century. In the November of 1933, the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh invited the touring English cricketers for a tiger-shoot in the Pinjore jungles. Prominent amongst them was the M.C.C. team Captain, Douglas Robert Jardine who deployed the infamous ‘Bodyline’ bowling for the first time in the 1932-33 Ashes Series. The team was on the first M.C.C. tour of India in the winter of 1933. Jardine had made the Maharaja play for the M.C.C. team in one of the matches despite opposition from the Viceroy.

Jardine was born in Bombay, British India in 1900 and had great affection for India. Jardine was accompanied by Charles Stowell Marriott, the famous ‘googly’ bowler of early 20th century on the tiger shoot.

English cricketers on tiger-shoot in Pinjore Jungles (West Australian, Perth, 11 January 1934)

English cricketers on tiger-shoot in Pinjore Jungles (West Australian, Perth, 11 January 1934)

DR Jardine on tiger-shoot as guest of Maharaja Patiala, (Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, Wednesday 24 January 1934)

DR Jardine on tiger-shoot as guest of Maharaja Patiala, (Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, Wednesday 24 January 1934)

Jardine in India, Referee, Sydney 4th January, 1934

Jardine in India, Referee, Sydney 4th January, 1934

When Morni hills nearly went to Himachal

The persistent Akali demand for the creation of a Punjabi Suba on linguistic lines resulted in the setting up of a 22 member Parliamentary Committee of both Houses of Parliament in 1965 for finding a satisfactory settlement of the demand for the Punjabi Suba. The Committee was presided over by Sardar Hukam Singh, the Speaker of Lok Sabha.

Himachal Pradesh had been created as the Chief Commissioner’s province in 1948 by the merger of 28 petty princely states. Himachal became a part C state in 1950 with a Lieutenant Governor and an elected Legislative Assembly. The Princely State of Bilaspur was merged into Himachal in 1954. Himachal Pradesh was made a Union Territory in 1956.

When the Hukam Singh Committee was formed the people of Himachal urged the integration of the hilly areas of districts of Kangra, Kullu, Shimla and Lahaul-Spiti as well as the Una tehsil of Hoshiarpur district; Pathankot tehsil of Gurdaspur district; Kalka tehsil, Nalagarh tehsil & Morni Hills of Naraingarh tehsil of Ambala district and Kalesar area of sub-tehsil (and former princely State) Kalsia, with Himachal Pradesh. It was contended that these areas were not only geographically contiguous to the hill state but also shared a common history, cultural and social affinities. The people of Punjab hill areas spoke ‘Pahari’ like their Himachali brethren and not Punjabi or Hindi like the people of the plains. The hill people claimed political and economic discrimination by the people of the plains.

Hukam Singh Committee recommended the linguistic re-organisation of the State of Punjab. It was also recommended that the hill areas of Punjab included in the Hindi region which were contiguous to Himachal Pradesh and had a cultural and linguistic affinity to the hill state should be merged with it for better administration and economic development of these areas.

The Central Government announced its decision to reorganize Punjab on linguistic lines and set up the Punjab Boundary Commission under the chairmanship of Justice J. C. Shah in April, 1966. The Commission was to demarcate the areas of Punjabi speaking Punjab and Hindi speaking Haryana and was also to recommend demarcation of the hilly areas of Punjab that were contiguous to the Union Territory Of Himachal Pradesh and had a cultural and linguistic affinity to it.

The Commission recommended the merger of hill districts of Shimla, Lahaul-Spiti, Kullu and Kangra with Himachal. Dalhousie area of Pathankot tehsil, most of Una tehsil and the Nalagarh tehsil of Ambala district were likewise recommended to be merged with Himachal.

Now it was to settle the claim over Morni. Himachal had made a strong bid the 93 square mile area of Morni Hills, that comprised 20% of the total area of the Naraingarh tehsil. Historically, Morni had been once a part of the Sirmaur State that was one of the 28 princely States that were merged in 1948 to form Himachal. Geographically, Morni was bounded on three sides by Himachal. The people of Morni shared linguistic, cultural, historical and traditional links with the Himachalis. Despite the strong case for merger with Himachal,the Boundary Commission recommended the continuation of Morni hills with Naraingarh tehsil of Haryana as it did not want to split the tehsil! Thus, Haryana got its only hill station by a virtual quirk of fate by which the Shah Commission chose to ignore the overwhelming grounds for Himachal’s claim over the hills in order to maintain the territorial integrity of the Naraingarh tehsil.

Curiously enough, the final report did not make even a mention of the Kalesar forest that had been claimed by Himachal!! The forest also came Haryana’s way by luck.

The recommendations of the Shah Commission were formalized by the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 that led to the creation of Haryana and the merger of hill areas with Union Territory of Himachal Pradesh.


  1. The Emergence of Himachal Pradesh: A Survey of Constitutional Developments, V. Verma (1995)

Fossil discovery in Morni Hills

Captain Proby Thomas Cautley, an engineer of the Bengal Artillery (and a palaeontologist) did pioneering research on the geology of India and discovered many fossil remains of extinct quadrupeds at the southern foot of the Himalayas. Dr. Hugh Falconer, Superintendent of the Botanic Garden at Saharunpore was his close research associate. The duo were conferred the Wollaston Medal in 1837, the highest scientific award for geology granted by the Geological Society of London. The rare fossils discovered and extracted by the geologists were gifted by them to the British Museum and to universities and scientific societies.

Cautley & Falconer

Captain Cautley was engaged in the task of supervising the digging of the Doab Canal (Eastern Yamuna Canal) from 1831 to 1843 and made some discoveries during this digging. He had no knowledge of fossil bones but was drawn to the subject until he became an expert and made some remarkable discoveries including fossils of hippopotamus, crocodiles, giant cranesand tortoises as well as the sabre-toothed tiger.
A letter written by Captain Cautley to the Secretary of the Bengal Asiatic Society was published in the 19th Volume of the Asiatic Journal in 1836 in which he described his work at Moginund and Khet Purali villages in the Morni foothills. The letter forms interesting reading and is reproduced below:

‘A trip to the Sewaliks, near the Pinjore valley, lately, has introduced us to the Anoplotherium, in a perfect line of six molars on one side, and four in the other side of upper jaw. I say Anoplotherium, for the real molars have the distinguishing mark in the insulated mamilla pointed out by Cuvier, as that which distinguishes the Anoplotherium from the Palaeotherium, although the position of the molar bone, part of which is distinguishable, appears to differ from that of the former animal, and gives it a greater resemblance to the Palaeotherium. This is a beautiful fossil, and dug out; but I must give you the history of the last week.I had to visit Dadupur, on canal matters, and found both Baker and Durand as eager as myself for a short excursion into the Sewaliks; and as all our parties were out, we determined on visiting those most westerly, who were working at a village called Moginund (a common name apparently), in the Ramgurh district, about fifty miles west of Dadupur. Our route took us through Sidaura, Naraingurh, Mir ka Gurhi, Ramgurh, to the village of Moginund, which lies in the nook of these little hills, open only on the west: here we remained three days, returning to Dadupur by regular marches, and visiting Khet Purali, another little village close under the hills on our way, as near this village is a stratum of a clay conglomerate, or marl, full of testaceous remains, chiefly bivalves (varieties of unio), reptiles and fish. The country on this route was open and well cultivated; rice in great abundance, and cultivation of all sorts up to the foot of the hills. These hills differ much in appearance from those between the Jamna and Ganges; the abruptly scarped precipices, and mural cliffs, with the huge strata of shingle, are here replaced by a comparatively low series of undulating hills, consisting of an eternal succession of sands and clays, with here and there beds of a coarse sandstone, or fine shingle conglomerate, accessible at all points excepting those where slips have taken place and free from jungle and high vegetation, excepting in hollows, and the lines of ravines skirting the tributaries to the main outlets of drainage. The hills were covered with fossils like all the others (how they could have escaped observation before, must remain a source of wonder); mastodons and hippopotamus’s remains looking one in the face at every step! Amongst the remains collected, were those of rat and porcupine, too perfect to admit of any doubt. The specimens of each consisting of the palate, with the two lines of molars! Although three days at this place, and superintending my digging parties, I must confess my inability to decide strictly whether we were looking in a stratum or in debris: this may appear strange to a person who has been unaccustomed to examine and decide on the position of strata, but will be understood and appreciated, I imagine, by anyone who has had his attention strictly brought to bear upon the point. Shrubs, inequalities of surface, ravines, et hoc genus omne, all and each of them battling every inch. I am, however, inclined to consider that we had both, and that we were working in both a soft sandstone stratum, and also in a superficial coating of debris. A great number of perfect bones, the whole series of a leg for instance, jaw bones and other remains, were fairly found and dug out from the rock; at other places huge masses of hard rock were found imbedded in the softer rock or soil, the said masses consisting in most cases of agglutinated bones: the shapes of these masses give an appearance of their having fallen formerly from some parent rock, and being now found as debris; but the circumstance of finding the connected joints of animals is altogether in favour of the excavation being in the stratum in which they were originally deposited. The question does not appear to me of much consequence, as the bones are not rounded by attrition, and are as sharp and perfect in their form and outline, as when belonging to the living animal, although frequently broken, and jammed together, as would be the case in a skeleton or a mass of bones being forced together in an upheavement of the country upon which or in which they were collected.I may remark that our excavation was not on the outcrop of the strata, but in the slope, and the working parties were successful in their operations at many points on the whole surface of that side of the mountain. This deposit appears to be altogether wanting in the mastodons, reptiles and hippopotami: the remains at present dug out consist of portions of anoplotherium or palaeotherium, rhinoceros, hog, horse, ruminants of the most gigantic dimensions, with those of the smaller classes, carnivora, hyaena, canis, tiger (or lion), and a smaller species of a feline animal, a very perfect cranium of which is in the possession of Lieuts. Durand and Baker. Many of the bones of these animals are coming out perfect, and some have been found, as I before mentioned, in connected joints! With reference to the Sivatherium, I regretted much my inability to obtain the dimensions of one of the most superb fossils, I suppose, that ever was found; it was unfortunately discovered and excavated by a party of work-people employed by a gentleman with whom I was unacquainted, and although I saw the fossil when in the rock, I was prevented from getting the measurements afterwards. This specimen consisted of the femur and tibia, with the tarsal, metatarsal, and phalanges of one of these gigantic ruminants that time and patience will and must introduce us to. In the bones of all the animals discovered, there are differences from those of their existing congeners,that will be pointed out hereafter; it may be sufficient here to advert to the fact. The teeth that are found at this spot are beautifully perfect, and, from the softness of the matrix or rock in which they are imbedded, easily cleared and exhibited. There is an evident grouping of animals throughout! The hippopotami, mastodons, &c. Which in some localities are in such abundance, are in others wanting; their place being occupied by carnivore, ruminants, &c. The testaceous remains as yet found have been accompanied by reptiles and fish. We have in fact an extended tract of country upheaved, and the different groups, as might be expected, in their natural habitats! It is hardly a month since I attempted, in a note on the Garial of these hills, to enumerate the probable proportions of animals that existed on this tract. During this short period, we have added another family, Rodentia to our catalogue, and another genus of the Pachyderma, besides the splendid additions to our former list in the further elucidation of those already found, in the discovery of more perfect specimens of bone, especially of the horse, rhinoceros, and the larger ruminants. You will join with me in an exclamation, whicj has been upon my lips, day after day, since the discovery of the first fragment of bone-‘What shall we have next?’”

The picture shows ‘Sivatherium’ a fossil skull of a large mammal described by Cautley and Falconer that the duo believed would have resembled a giant antelope.


Fibre glass model  (1:10) of Sivatherium giganteum at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

Fibre glass model
(1:10) of Sivatherium giganteum at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun



Fibre Glass Model and fossils of Hexaprotodon Sivalensis an extinct Hippopotamus at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

Fibre Glass Model and fossils of Hexaprotodon Sivalensis an extinct Hippopotamus at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

Fossilized teeth of Hexaprotodon Sivalensis an extinct Hippopotamus at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

Fossilized teeth of Hexaprotodon Sivalensis an extinct Hippopotamus at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

Fossilized teeth of Elephas planifrons, extinct elephant from Pinjor at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

Fossilized teeth of Elephas planifrons, extinct elephant from Pinjor at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

Fossilized Turtle from Raipur Rani, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology

Fossilized Turtle from Raipur Rani, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology

Incisor of Homo Erectus from Nada,Pinjor at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

Incisor of Homo Erectus from Nada,Pinjor at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun

The study of the fossils in the Sewaliks by the 19th century palaeontologists and geologists led to the now largely accepted hypothesis that an ancient sea occupied the valleys of the Indus and Ganges,washing the bases of the Himalaya on one side and the Vindhyas of the Deccan on the other and receiving the silt bearing rivers from both. In course of time the sea was filled up and the alluvial valleys were teeming with animals whose bones are now embedded in the Sewaliks. There were mastodons, elephants, species of hippopotami, rhinoceroses, giraffes, horses, pigs, camels, stags, antelopes, hyaenas, dogs, cats, monkeys, ostriches and huge cranes.There were also the Sivatherium, a bull the size of an elephant with four horns and the Colossachelys atlas a gigantic tortoise 22 feet long and 6 feet high.The northward movement of tectonic plates pushed up the narrow belt of plains at the foot of the Himalayas to form the 3500 feet high Sewaliks in which are now buried the fossils of the earlier fauna.

Thus what we now know as the Morni hills were once the bed of an ancient sea and then an alluvial valley that was thrust up to form the low hills.

Siwalik landscape in the age of the Sivatherium, artist's depiction at Wadia Institute of Geology, Dehradun

Siwalik landscape in the age of the Sivatherium, an artist’s depiction at Wadia Institute of Geology, Dehradun


  1. The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China and Australasia-Volume 19 (1836)
  2. Geology- Introductory, Descriptive and Practical Vol.2;  David Thomas Ansted (1844)
  3. A Memoir on the Indian Surveys; Clements R. Markham (1871)

Glimpses of History: Excavations at Morni-ka-tal

A number of Brahmanincal stone sculptures of the early medieval  and the Pratihara period were excavated at the ancient Thakur Dwara Temple at Morni-ka-tal in 1970s.The sculptures include the icons of Karttikeya, Surya, Siva, Uma-Mahesvara, Ganesa, Lakulisa, Vishnu, Nataraja, Trimurti, Siva-linga etc Six such sculptures have been housed in the section on medieval sculptures in the Government Museum and Art Gallery at Chandigarh.This section also has sculptures excavated in the neighbouring Pinjore and Naraingarh area.Going by the age of the sculptures there was a civilization by the banks of the Morni lake in the 10th Century A.D.

Shiva Kamantaka, Morni-ka-tal

Shiva Kamantaka- The form of Shiva in which he destroyed Kama the god of love and lust, for disturbing him while doing penance.

Mahishasura Mardini, Morni-ka-tal

Goddess Durga- the slayer of Mahishasura, the demon

Lakulisha, Morni-ka-tal

Lakulisha was the last incarnation of Shiva who brought the different sects of shavites together and was the propounder of the yoga system.



Glimpses of History: Masoompur Fort

The Meers of Kotaha ruled from their fortress at Garhi Kotaha with smaller forts at Mornee and Masoompur. The Masoompur fort is set on a small mud hillock and it overlooks the sharp ravines to its south that break into the plains beyond. The Masoompur village lies to the South-West. The fort was a post under the main fort and it dominated the route to Samlotha temple that lay on the hills beyond. The temple was a source of revenue for the Meers and large sums were collected during the annual fair. No written account is available of the destruction of the fort and it may have been demolished by the British, post 1857 alongwith the Kotaha fort.

The fort lies in a state of complete ruin. The outer wall is completely demolished and a part of a lone gateway is all that remains of it. A couple of cells with thick stone-brick masonry walls continue to defy the vagaries of nature. A secret passage covered with lantana dares you to explore it further. Its probably the opening to the dark tehkhana that lies below. The 5 KM metalled road from Kotaha Fort through Rehna village brings one to Masoompur and a dirt track leads to the hillock on which the fort is located. The white tower of the Samlotha Devi Temple and the dharamshala building is visible on the hill top to the North East.

Masoompur Fort

Masoompur Fort - Cells

Masoompur Fort- Secret Passage

Ravines to the south of Masoompur Fort

Samlotha Devi Temple from Masoompur Fort

Masoompur Village from the Fort


Shikar stories from Morni and around

The thick jungles that once clothed the Shivalik hill region west of Yamuna with its characteristic rugged, clay and boulder topography – a region with numerous seasonal soats (streams); dark narrow khols (rocky ravines); flat, wide duns (valleys); precipitous deep khuds and sharp mud escarpments – enjoyed a rich presence of wildlife till the end of the 19th century. The Morni hills, the Pinjore Dun, the Kiyarda Dun, the Nahan hills and the Kalesar forests were all known for the big game hunting opportunities they had to offer. Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Afghan raider is said to have camped at Pinjore in 1765 for tiger hunting.

The improvements in the firepower of sporting rifles and the easy availability of motor transport after the first World War brought in waves of thrill seeking big-game hunters to these once inaccessible forests and they all but wiped out most of the wild life of this area. The forests were simultaneously cleared for agriculture to cater to the needs of a booming population.

The diaries and books written by some of the shikaris of the yesteryears and the newspaper reports of that bygone era contain many interesting accounts of shikar and other encounters with the wild cats in this area.  Sher Jung – the poet, author, hunter, naturalist and freedom fighter – has written about his encounters in the wild in these parts – in his books- Tryst with Tigers (1967) and Ramblings in Tigerland (1970). The Tramp has made an endeavour to compile and reproduce these accounts about the forests in and around Morni for his readers, to give a feel of those times.

Col. Wilson’s Gural hunt in Morni

(Morni Hills, 1890s)

Lt. Col Alban Wilson of the 8th Gurkha Rifles describes a hunting trip to Morni in his ‘Sport and Service in Assam and elsewhere (1924),’ a popular account of his days in the British Indian Army.

Lt. Col. Alban Wilson

Alban Wilson was attending a signalling class at the ‘School of Army Signalling’ at Kasauli, sometime in early 1890s when he undertook this trip. He had a week off before the examination and he set off with a man from the 11th Hussars ‘for a lake at the foot of the hills, about thirty miles away, named Morni Tal, where there was said to be very decent sport with rod or gun.’ The duo rode till Pinjore where they spent a night at the gardens. ‘Next day we had a very rough march across the wide, stony beds of several small rivers, and camped on the bank of the farthest one. Early next morning we set off for the lake, which was another ten miles off, across a high ridge. By noon we had reached the crest, where there was a fine old castellated Sikh fort, whence we could see the lake, still four miles distant and some 2000 feet below us, shimmering in the sunlight and surrounded by jungle. A Sikh policeman came out of the post in the little village, and when he heard our kit had not come along, very kindly made us tea whilst we waited for it. He told us that there had been much fighting round about the castle in bygone days, and amongst other things, that it was full of ghosts. The baggage ponies did not turn up till nearly three o’clock, and were very tired, the delay having been caused by the loads having to be man-handled over some ticklish parts of the road. So as we saw that we should get in very late if we continued the journey, we decided to stay where we were and see what sport we could get near at hand. The fort was in very fair preservation, and two rooms had been kept in repair in one of the towers for the use of travellers, so we were able to make ourselves fairly comfortable. The Sikh informed us that there were a good many gural in the cliffs about a mile away, which we might get a shot at in the early morning. So while our kit was being unpacked we had a look around the place. A small orange grove had lately been started close by, and as we were going to it we realised that what the policeman had said about the fighting was true enough, for from the side of a small cutting made for the path, a mass of men’s ribs were sticking out, just as if a lot of old baskets had been buried in there. The only local man who could show the ground for gural was the old sweeper, who looked after the rooms we occupied. And when we appeared for that purpose next morning, clad in a red serge jumper and a pair of tartar trews, I thought our chance of bagging one of these little Indian chamois would be small. However, after we had gone about a mile, he suggested my companion should go down the hillside through the jungle to the lower part of the cliffs, while he and I kept on along the top. After some distance we came to what seemed to be the edge of a cliff, when, just as I was going to look over cautiously, I heard a sharp whistling sound, which was the gural’s alarm signal. A careful peep over in the direction of the noise revealed three alert little animals standing about sixty yards down amongst the rocks, looking out below them. Selecting the one which seemed to be the biggest, I pressed the trigger, but for some seconds the smoke obscured everything, though a rattling of stones made it seem probable one was hit. when the smoke cleared away no animal could be seen so I told the sweeper to go down and prospect. He looked over the edge, sat down at once and said in English, “Your highness, I no hill man, I fall down and get killed.” It wasn’t a nice place, almost a sheer drop, and covered with loose stones, but I put down the rifle and proceeded to climb down. The ground was very steep, but I got to the place where the gural had been standing without much difficulty, and there found a good patch of blood and hair on the stones. Twenty yards below this the little beast was lying dead under a rock. Tying his legs together and passing my head through them, I got him on my back, but climbing up again was not easy. The old sweeper was lying on the top with only his head showing, and kept calling out each time a stone slipped, “Mind yourself Sahib, mind yourself!” On reaching the top I made him take the gural, and went back to the castle. My friend came in soon afterwards, and said the shot had evidently scared everything in his neighbourhood, for he had seen nothing, and as it was such vile walking he gave it up. So we had breakfast and went out again afterwards, but had no more luck that day or the next.’ The duo returned to the riverside camp the following afternoon where they spent time fishing. The following day they hunted for peafowls as they made their way back to Pinjore and Kasauli.


Cattle-lifter of Kalesar

(Kalesar forest, 1888)

The ‘Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser’ a 19th century daily newspaper published from Grafton, New South Wales, Australia (now published under the name of ‘ The Daily Examiner’) carried a story from India in its edition of 16th October, 1888 about a panther (leopard) hunt at Kalesar. As per the news report the residents of Fiazpore, a village situated about a mile from the forest bungalow at Kalesar were harassed by the depredations of a notorious cattle-lifting panther. They approached the Forest Department to kill this large panther after it had killed yet another cow. Mr. E.A. Down of the Forest Department decided to sit over the ‘kill’ in wait for the panther but the vile cattle raider sensed his presence and stayed away from the ‘kill’ that day. He put in an appearance at half-past-six in the evening the following day but on finding Mr. Down still on the vigil he slunk into the surrounding forest. A cattle herd then crossed this spot and not being able to resist the temptation it offered, the panther sprang out of his cover and killed one of the cattle. Mr. Down fired a shot at the rogue to punish him for this brazen attack. The panther got badly injured but managed to get away from the spot. Mr. Down then organized a search for the injured animal with the help of a forest guard and the villagers to despatch him to the Happy Hunting Grounds! The injured panther, however, did not prove to be an easy kill. Here is the first person account of the deadly encounter by Mr. Down as reported in the newspaper- “One of the men suddenly pulled up short, pointing to the beast lying within a couple of yards of me. We all thought him dead. However, not being sure, I ordered the men back. Having got to a safe distance, as I thought I threw a stone into the bush, when I was promptly charged. I received the brute at close quarters, hitting him in the chest; he reared up on his hind legs and knocked me down, seizing me in the right thigh, lacerating the big muscle and tearing it from the bone. I also received six claw-wounds in the hands. The villagers had all fortunately cleared out; but the forest guard was less lucky; although he tried to get away. The panther dropped me and made for the retreating guard; he brushed past me: then I gave him the remaining barrel, catching him in the stomach and blowing a hole as big as my head on the opposite side. I had hoped to stop him with this; but he seized the guard who called to me for assistance. As soon as I could reload I went to the poor fellow, whom I found on the ground with the panther lying on him. It was quite dusk, and I had to get within about ten paces before I could see well enough to make sure of my shot. I saw the panther turn his head in my direction, and I fully expected another charge; but he funked me and turned to make off, when I hit him in the shoulder and killed him. I picked up the poor guard who was badly mauled. No bones were broken, so we managed to reach the village.”


A Shikar accident

(Nahan-Dagshai Hills, 1876)

Australian Town and Country Journal that was published at Sydney, New South Wales carried a news report in its edition dated 23rd September, 1876 of the unfortunate death of Lieutenant Thomas Boydell, the adjutant of the 39th Foot Regiment stationed at Dagshai, in a shikar accident. It was the June of 1876 when the Lieutenant, accompanied by a shikari went out on a hunt in the vicinity of Nahan (a march and a half beyond the town). They spotted a tiger on the bank of a nullah and emptied both the barrels of their rifles at the tiger. The tiger rolled into the nullah and although badly wounded, it survived the double assault. It now turned on his assailants with vengeance and charged Lt. Boydell. Boydell’s desperate attempt to reload his rifle got foiled as his rifle got jammed and would not shut. As destiny would have it, his spare rifle was with his shikari companion and was not loaded. He now raced up the bank and tried to stave off the tiger with the muzzle but the enraged tiger pulled him down and buried his terrible fangs into his shoulder. The tiger then left his unfortunate victim taking him to be dead. To his ill-luck, Boydell made a movement that was seen by the vengeful tiger and it attacked him a second time, biting viciously into his knee. The shikari had managed to reload in the meantime and finally despatched the tiger. But it was too late for Lt. Boydell who died of his injuries the next day at Dagshai.


The London Gazette, 25th August,1876

P.S. Sher Jung mentions the age-old adage about tigers in his book, Ramblings in Tigerland (1970) – ‘This animal (the tiger) is just a heavy bodied cat, noble and shy — nothing more and nothing less. Only when it is wounded it becomes the tiger of popular conception: a horror incarnate, a bloodthirsty killer.’



The Capricornian, a newspaper of late 19th century that was published at Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia carried a beautiful bear hunting account from the Sirmoor Hills in its Saturday edition of 11th December, 1897. The story by H.R.K. was originally published in ‘The Field’,  a magazine founded in England in 1853- as a  ‘Country Gentleman’s Newspaper’ for the men who loved hunting and shooting. The Capricornian carried the Saturday Story under the ‘Children’s Column’!!

In a Bear’s Den

(Sirmoor Hills, 1897)

– by H.R.K. in ‘The Field’

It was an Indian Midsummer — that oppressive week or ten days which precedes the burst of the monsoon and much-longed-for rain — the stillness of the air gathering clouds, and grumbling of distant thunder foretelling the coming storms. I was hunting the chamois which frequent the lower, though very precipitous, hills of the outer Himalayas ; my camp being pitched in a hot, shut –in spot, a sort of basin with high cliffs surrounding it— a very wild piece of country and full of game. The short June nights were anything but a blessing, for day break was before 4 a.m., and one had to be off after the chamois— in fact among their haunts —as soon as it was possible to see, which meant very early rising. On this particular occasion, after half-dressing by light of lantern, I had finished breakfast, and was about to complete my toilet— for, on the appearance of the hot porridge and coffee, I had sat down just as I was — when a shower of stones on the far side of a ravine which ran close in front of my tent.

My shikari— Besan Singh— was sitting close by, smoking his early-morning hubble-bubble; down went his pipe, and almost before I was out of my tent be exclaimed that there was a bear clambering along the opposite cliffs. Catching up my rifle, I quickly ran to the edge of a ravine, a deep and thickly wooded rift, with a mountain torrent roaring down its rocky bed. More stones came rattling down, and high upon the cliff-side we saw a bear slowly climbing along the very precipitous rocks, evidently returning from the night’s raid into one of the cultivated valleys, and now making for some cool shady sleeping-place in one of the secluded gullies higher up among the hills. It was scarcely daylight: five minutes earlier and I could not have seen to shoot; even as it was the light was so bad that I could only just make out the sights of my rifle. Waiting till the bear was exactly in front, though about 150 or 170 yards above up, I fired. Smack! A cloud of white dust came out of the face of the cliff, bear, with a scramble, quickened his pace. Bang again; a loud acknowledgement and he came rolling down, clutching and clawing at rocks and trees amid a perfect avalanche of stones. I fully thought he would crash down right into the bottom of the ravine; but, steep as the place was, he managed to stop himself and was off back towards a precipitous gorge, going as strong as if he had never been touched.

Meanwhile Besan had brought me more cartridges, and off we ran, I without coat or hat, down into the ravine, and as fast as we could climb, up the opposite slope. There was any amount of blood: so tracking was easy but led us along the cliffs into such precipitous places that it was difficult to realise that they were practicable to such an unwieldy animal as the object of our pursuit. The trail was so direct and unhesitating that the bear evidently had his point, and was making for some well-known refuge. And so it proved: for after half an hour’s really difficult climbing, we ran him to ground. A huge cleft in the cliff, as if caused by an earthquake, led to the mouth of the cave; a narrow passage about 3ft. wide, with a perpendicular wall of rock on either side, ending in a dark triangular hole.

With considerable difficulty we lowered ourselves into this passage, crept quietly along it, and cautiously peered into the cave. I may say very cautiously ; for, if the bear had come out, there was no room for it to pass except over us. The cave proved of great depth, going down at a steep slope for about forty yards, then appearing to open out into a large vault, with other recesses branching out of it. Far away down a small ray of light shot in through some crevice, and as soon as my eyes got accustomed to the gloom, it enabled me to make oat a large dark place which looked like either a continuation of the cave itself, or else a branch of it; but of the bear there were no signs except a splash of blood on the rock at the entrance, which it had brushed against while squeezing itself in.

Thinking there might possibly be an exit somewhere near where we saw the glimmer of daylight, I clambered out again and round on the outside till I found the crevice; but it was a mere crack in the rock not large enough for a cat to get through ; so, returning to Besan Singh, who I had left to watch at the main entrance, we threw down some stones. The only result was lo drive out a lot of large bats, which, after much squeaking and fluttering in the daylight, flew in again, and I could soon see them hanging on to the rocks.

Besan said that, when we threw the stones, he thought he saw something move far away down; one’s imagination is very apt to run riot on these occasions. However, putting my head in, I again peered down. Could that dark place at the bottom be the bear? It might have been anything, but looked uncommonly like a hole in the rock. However, a shot could do no harm; so I lay flat, took a steady aim and fired. The report was magnified tenfold, making a tremendous noise, and the smoke prevented us from seeing anything for some seconds; but, when it cleared off, there was the black thing still in the same place ; so I came to the conclusion that it must be part of the cave, and that the wounded bear was stowed away in some recess.

While thinking what to do, for I was very loath to lose the brute, Besan remarked: “We will get torches, and if you will come with me with the rifle, I will go down into the cave.” It was a rather startling proposition, and not quite ‘sound business’; however, as Besan had suggested it, I scarcely liked to back out. Moreover, after all our trouble I was keen on bringing the affair to a successful termination, so replied, – “All right; we will go back to camp now, get torches and ropes, and return in the afternoon.”

This settled, we securely blocked the mouth of the cave by wedging in some enormous boulders, then started back for camp ; and a really nasty climb we had too. One place which we had found bad enough to climb up was even more difficult to negotiate when it was a case of descending. The sun, too, had become very powerful, and I had to improvise a hat of fig leaves tied on with tendrils — a kind of Bacchanallan head dress – and by no means a bad protection.

About midday a tremendous storm came on — lightning such as one sees only in the tropics; but provided with rope, taken off my tent, and several torches made of dry resinous wood, we returned to the cave, taking with as five hillmen to help to haul up the bear, if we bagged it.

Besan Singh commenced operations by stripping to his loin cloth (dhoti), and arming himself with my big hunting knife, then lighting a torch, we crept into the cave, I loading the rifle. On first entering there was a drop of several feet, and then the floor sloped downward at a steep incline; so that Besan, with the flaming torch, was able to advance, lighting up the place, while I could with safety fire over his head.

Clambering slowly down the rough incline, holding the light well to the front, and now and then knocking it against the rocks and sending out showers of sparks, the dark, thing at the end was gradually approached. It was an exciting few minutes. A few yards more, and, leaning forward, Besan shouted: “Why, it is the bear; and he is dead!” Sure enough, there it lay stone dead, with a bullet hole right in the middle of its forehead — a very lucky shot ; for I could not at the time tell it was a bear I was aiming at when I fired down into the cave ; but it must have been sitting looking straight up at us, and Besan was right when he said he thought he saw the “dark thing” move. The wound I had given it in the early morning was a very slight one, through the fleshy part of one of its hind legs, the bone not being touched.

Two of the hill-men clambered down with the rope, which we made fast round the bear’s neck; then, they pushing from below and the rest of us hauling from above, we got it up to the mouth of the cave, which was so small that it was as much as we could do to get the beast out into the open.

The storm was still going on, peels of thunder echoing through the hills, and the rain coming down in torrents; so I made for home, leaving my men to bring the bear. A couple of hours later they arrived in camp: and, the weather having cleared, I laid out and measured the slain— a Himalayan black bear, length in a straight line 5 feet 6 inches, age about five years.

Before closing this, a word of tribute to the best and pluckiest shikari I ever shot with— a marvellous cragsman and of undisputed nerve, whether in an awkward fix among the precipices or in following up dangerous game.

Alas! When comparatively young, and at his best, he joined the great majority— losing his life by the accidental explosion of some cartridges which he was breaking open.

Years roll by, old age too soon creeps on, and the time will come when one can no longer handle the rifle and climb the steep hillside; but often shall I think of my happy days stalking among the Sirmoor Hills with Besan Singh of Sererar.


Monkey Business!

(Simla Hills, 1911)

‘The West Australian’ carried a rather comic account of a botched-up Shikar outing of two ‘Sahib-log,’ newly arrived from England – in its Saturday Edition of 29th April, 1911. The duo was holidaying in the Simla Hills when they decided to try their hand at Shikar. As these wannabe Shikaris blunder their way through the short hill excursion they discover that this wild sport is not quite as much fun as some of their compatriots had them believe with their overly dramatized accounts of their Shikar exploits in India! The story, was supposedly written by a ‘Shikari’ and was published with the title – ‘Our First Shikar.’

‘My friend Bert Dootles and I had just arrived from home to take up our newly-obtained appointments in the Indian police. We had set out from England two months before the date on which we were actually to take up our duties in order to spend some time in seeing the country before we began work. We were at present in Simla, the charming summer capital of the Viceroy, living, with an old friend of my father’s, Colonel Bagliffe.

One morning old Bagliffe suggested that we might enjoy shooting some deer on the neighbouring hills. We jumped at the idea, and immediately breakfast was over proceeded to get suitable guns. We had brought a veritable armoury with us, with the vague idea of shooting elephants and lions, and things of that sort. Colonel Bagliffe said he would send for a native shikari, whom he knew, who would act as guide. In about an hour’s time Dootles, myself, and Bassenthwaite, a young sub. who had travelled out with us, were well on our way. After a couple of hours’ walking over a good road we came to a halt, and the shikari, Sucheta, pointed to a place about a thousand yards down what appeared to be a blank precipice.

“Wh-what!” said Dootles, “is that where we’ve got to go? I say, I’m not an angel yet, you know.”

Sucheta missed the point of this remark, and said, “Plenty much deer round that corner, Sahib, plenty good shoot. Come.” And he led the way down a corkscrew path such as we had never travelled on in our lives before. I held on to the hillside like grim death, and kept my eyes fixed on the shikari in front. I felt giddy as soon as I attempted to look down the khud.

“I-I say, s-stop a minute, I–am awfully g-giddy,” gasped Dootles.

“Always thought so,” remarked Bassenthwaite, facetiously. We paused, however, on a little flat about two-thirds of the way down.

“My gracious!” remarked Dootles, “this old scarecrow must have discovered we are police officers and wants to put us out of harm’s way. Let me get at him.” And here he made a murderous lunge at the astonished, shikari, who would certainly ever afterwards have had a broken nose had not Bassenthwaite put up his gun in time and received the full force of the blow on its butt. I will not here record the edifying remarks which Dootles proceeded to make with regard to Bassenthwaite’s brains, etc. They were very rude. When Dootles’ wrath subsided somewhat, we resumed our journey and reached the place which had been indicated to us by the shikari, with nothing worse than a few scratches and stings from the brambles and nettles. We heaved a sigh of relief and Dootles said he thought he would apologise to Sucheta someday.

We were now at the bottom of the ravine and Suchet Singh otherwise Sucheta, informed us that he would proceed by a round route up the ravine and drive down anything he came across so that it would pass us. Dootles never could sit still when we were in school, and this failing he has ever since retained. A short time after the shikari left us he began to fidget.

“I’m sure that old image has cracked his neck, or has given us the slip,” said this cheerful companion. “I’m sure I’m right in thinking he wants to do for us. He must be one of those seditionists. What on earth possessed me to trust myself to – ow! That’s a bomb.”

“No it isn’t, you duffer; it’s only an innocent furcone thrown by those monkeys. Look out! Here’s another. They’ve evidently recognised you for – “

“By Christmas,” quoth Dootles. “I’ll stop their knavish tricks,” and he raised his gun.

“Stop!” yelled Bassenthwaite, diving at him; but he was too late – one of the simians had dropped to the ground dead.

“Now you’ve done it,” said Bassinthwaite grimly. He had been in India as a boy. “Don’t you know the monkey’s sacred? Follow me; we’ll have to run for it.”

Dootles and I were startled; we were unaware that the monkey was sacred. We followed Bassey as quickly as we could, hoping that we had not been seen. Unfortunately we had, and in a few minutes we heard a hue and cry rather too close to our heels to allow us to be comfortable. Dootles said it was disgraceful for police officers to be running away from a mob and was for turning back and fighting the lot. We told him he could stay if he liked, but that we were going on. The natives had turned out with their usual weapon – a six-foot bamboo pole with a brass head studded with nails. These weapons can do some damage; and we did not feel inclined to tackle thirty natives armed with them. Dootles said no more and followed us meekly.

“This way,” panted Bassenthwaite. “They have lost sight of us amongst the trees, and we might reach the main road sooner by this path.” We got a good way without being discovered, and were beginning to congratulate ourselves on our escape when our pursuers saw us and raced up the Hill. Now, anyone who has not tried to run up a hillside on the Himalaya Mountains on a hot day cannot imagine what a delightful experience, it is for a novice. Up we went, using hands and knees and feet-grabbing a bramble for support and letting go quickly, getting flicked in the face by nettles; going up two steps and slipping back three on the slippery pine needles, puffing, blowing, panting. We were almost done up and our pursuers were almost at our heels, when Dootles slipped off a ledge on to which he had clambered and plumped with a yell down on to the foremost native’s head, causing him to lose his balance, also with a yell, and the two rolling down scattered confusion amongst the pursuing host. Dootles pulled up with a thump against a pine tree, scrambled up and joined us. We, taking advantage of the confusion darted through a neighbouring hedge and pulled up panting in a friendly garden.

“Here, get out of my flower-beds, you idiots!” We heard a bellow. Glancing down hastily, I noticed I had my left foot on a pansy plant while my right had done sad havoc to some beautiful mignonette. I quickly got on to the path and tried to look innocent. Then I looked round for the owner of the voice, and found him explaining, more forcibly than politely, to my two chums what he thought of fellows who broke through a gentleman’s hedge and trampled upon his flowers. He also kindly offered to get us a lift to the neighbouring lunatic asylum.

In the midst of it all, however, Sucheta arrived with the crowd at his heels. This turned the old gentleman’s attention from us. After much haranguing and a liberal donation of rupees to the neighbouring temple (they never got there), we disposed of the natives. The Major (Major Charles Augustus Archibald Piffles, of the Bengal Lancers) accepted our apology and invited us to lunch, an invitation we gladly accepted, for the exercise had made us hungry.

During the meal Dootles suddenly asked, “What on earth makes the Hindus consider the monkey sacred? Is it the resemblance?”

“It’s this way,” said the Major. “Long ago, before the birth of Christ, a king of the Hindus had a son named Rama, who was a very brave and worthy prince, quite a Paladin. Once, while he was on his travels, he was attacked by the giant King of Lanka (Ceylon), who carried off his beautiful wife Sita. Rama set off in pursuit, and was often beset by terrible dangers, especially amongst the strange, dark people of the south of India. Rama was a prince of the north, an Aryan, but Hanuman, king of the monkeys, gave him his aid, and finally Sita was rescued, and Rama returned safely to his own country. For this reason, because Rama is a divinity of the Hindus the monkey is held to be a sacred animal.”


Pinjore’s missed date with The Prince of Wales


Bernard C. Ellison, a former curator of the Bombay Natural History Society, wrote a book on Prince Edward’s shikar adventures during his tour of India in 1921-22. Edward VIII, The Prince of Wales was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. He became the UK’s Monarch in 1936 after the death of his father but abdicated less than a year later for marrying an American lady who had divorced her husband. Ellison’s book ‘H.R.H. The Prince of Wales’s Sport in India (1925)’ describes Pinjore’s missed date with Prince Edward, during his three day stay at Patiala as a guest of Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala. This is what Ellison had to write about the aborted shoot planned by the Maharaja for the visiting British Royalty, “The Prince of Wales was at Patiala from the morning of February 22nd till the evening of the 24th (1922). Originally a shoot for his entertainment had been planned in the Pinjaur jungles, some fifty miles distant from the city of Patiala, situated on the State boundary between the lower Himalayan mountains and the Siwalik range. Much sport would undoubtedly have been enjoyed, as the country abounds in tiger, leopard, sambhur, chital, hog deer, goral, barking deer, black bear, blue bull, wild boar, hyena, kalij pheasants, jungle fowl, and grey and black partridges. In 1918 Lord Chelmsford, and in 1920 the Crown Prince of Rumania, had very successful shoots there. Owing to the limited time of the Prince’s visit, it was decided, however, to have the shoot arranged near Patiala, viz., a general shoot from elephants at Bunerhari, and pig-sticking in Sanaur and Bahadurgarh. Formerly around the city of Patiala there used to extend a thick scrub jungle, and it was impossible to cultivate the land owing to the number of wild animals of all descriptions ; so orders were given to exterminate them, and to burn down the jungles. Since then few places have been reserved for shikar purposes. The last tiger was shot in these parts in 1907, but leopards are still often killed. Just before the Prince’s visit, two were shot in the deer park behind the Moti Bagh Palace, having presumably been enticed down from the higher ridges of forests by the Chamba shepherds, who pass through Patiala territory with their flocks of sheep. The jungles are strictly reserved and looked after by the forest and shikar departments jointly”

Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala invited all his special guests to Pinjore for a shoot. A day long shikar adventure was followed by an idyllic evening in the terraced gardens of the Fort-Palace with the guests being treated to music, dance and best of cuisine.

One such celebrity visitor to Pinjore was Lord Chelmsford, the Viceroy of India who was accompanied by E S Montagu, the Secretary of State. The Viceroy was received by the Maharaja and his entourage at the Kalka Railway Station on Saturday the 19th of January, 1918. An extravagant shoot had been organized for the guests. The Maharaja’s lavish lifestyle did make an impression on Montagu who later wrote, ‘ In the evening Maharaja Bhupinder Singh left the … party… and motored back to his home, taking an hour and twenty minutes to go seventy miles. This is the man who drives his Rolls-Royce across country after blackbuck. When you come to think of it, there were 3500 beaters, horsemen etc., out to kill 100 farmyard chickens, and yet I cannot deny that the day was extra-ordinarily amusing …’

Two years later, on the 29th of April, 1920 – Carol the Crown Prince of Romania came for a shoot to Pinjaur while on a State Visit to Patiala. The Prince was taken for the shikar on elephant back with an army of beaters and horsemen. Photographs of the shoot survived the day and were bequeathed by Mrs. Irvine Bailey, the wife of Lt. Col. F.M. Bailey (the famous naturalist, explorer, adventurer – a British Intelligence Officer who was made famous by his travels in Tibet and Tashkent) on her death in 1988 to the India Office Library and are today held by the British Library in UK. The Tramp, shall get them for his readers someday!!

A decade or so later the Maharaja managed to get Jardine, the Captain of the English cricket team on a tour of India to Pinjore for a tiger shoot!


  1. The Magnificent Maharaja, K. Natwar Singh (1998)


Pig-sticking at Patiala

Visit of Edward the Eighth, Prince of Wales at Patiala (1922)

Edward the Eighth, The Prince of Wales

Edward the Eighth, The Prince of Wales

Edward the Eighth, the Prince of Wales arrived at Patiala on the 22nd of February, 1922 on a three-day game hunting holiday on the invitation of Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala. On the way to Patiala while motoring from Delhi, several members of the party travelling with the Prince were fired at by unknown assailants who disappeared before they could be identified or apprehended. None from the Prince’s party were injured.

Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala, 1922

Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala, 1922

The Crown Prince and the other important dignitaries invited for the shoot in his honour by the Maharaja,  stayed at the opulent Moti Bagh Palace at Patiala. The Prince reviewed the parade and played polo on the first day of the visit.

Motibagh Palace (Patiala) 1922

Motibagh Palace (Patiala) 1922

Prince of Wales and Maharaja Patiala leaving the parade ground after the review (1922)

Prince of Wales and Maharaja Patiala leaving the parade ground after the review (1922)

A veteran salutes the Prince of Wales, Patiala 1922

A veteran salutes the Prince of Wales, Patiala 1922

The following morning Edward drove with the Maharaja to the Sinaur Bir, a thick scrub jungle of babool and kikar reserved for shikar, for a session of pig-sticking – the hunting of wild boars on horseback with a spear.

Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupendar Singh driving Edward VIII, Prince of Wales in his Rolls-Royce during the 1922 Patiala Visit

Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh driving Edward VIII, Prince of Wales in his Rolls-Royce during the 1922 Patiala Visit

The horses were kept in readiness for the hunting party that was divided into four ‘heats’. The Prince was to ride the ‘Moti’ – one of the fastest ponies in Maharaja’s stables.

Prince of Wales on Maharaja's Champion Pig-sticking pony (Moti)

Prince of Wales on Maharaja’s Champion Pig-sticking pony (Moti)

Prince of Wales- Pig Sticking at Patiala 1922

Prince of Wales- Pig Sticking at Patiala 1922

The beat was arranged in three lines – the spectators (including the lady guests) on elephant-back in howdahs formed the first line. This gave them the opportunity to shoot the small-game and to see the sounders rush through the beat with the hunters giving chase in the open country. The infantrymen with blank cartridges formed the second line and the cavalry with spears formed the third line. Shikaris and watchmen were placed strategically on high trees as look outs for the boars. Any sighting was immediately signalled to the ‘sirdar’ of the nearest heat (each heat was accompanied by a sirdar who maintained a record of the bag of each sportsman to avoid mixing of trophies!!). The beat started on the Maharaja’s signal at 7:30 am. The beaters fired their blank ammunition and the sounders came charging out of the scrub with ear-splitting squeals.

Beaters at work - Prince of Wales Pig-sticking at Sinaur Bir, Patiala

Beaters at work – Prince of Wales Pig-sticking at Sinaur Bir, Patiala

The spirited boars charged and knocked down beaters and riders as they smashed their way through the thorny scrub. They slashed vengefully at their hateful pursuers with their vicious tusks injuring the horses and not sparing even the elephants. The jungle was beat six times that day with the ecstatic parties of hunters giving chase to their deadly, tusked game, unmindful of the bleeding from the vicious scratches by the thorny kikars. The Maharaja’s hospitality was at its best with refreshments being served out despite the general melee.  The Prince got two boars, including one with a single spear through the heart. The party returned to the Palace for lunch. The Prince had so enjoyed the day at pig-sticking that when plans were being made during the evening ball for the mixed shooting the following day at Bunerhari Bir – he decided to opt out and go for a repeat of pig-sticking at Sinaur-Bahadurgarh. He got another pig that day.

Prince of Wales - Pig Sticking at Patiala (1922)

Prince of Wales – Pig Sticking at Patiala (1922)

The bag being carried on camels - Patiala pig-sticking (1922)

The bag being carried on camels – Patiala pig-sticking (1922)

The Maharaja, the Prince of Wales and Captain Metcalfe with some of the bag (1922)

The Maharaja, the Prince of Wales and Captain Metcalfe with some of the bag (1922)

The hunting party at Bunerhari started off on elephants in howdahs from the Maharajahs hunting lodge. The Maharajah had his impressive collection of sporting rifles and guns laid out for his guests to choose from.

Maharaja Patiala's Sporting Guns and Rifles

Maharaja Patiala’s Sporting Guns and Rifles

The elephants in the hunting party included the large tusker that Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy of India rode when he was bombed in Delhi on December 23rd 1912. The elephant still bore the marks of the injury that it received from the bomb. The beaters sounded the bugle and flushed out the game to be pointed out by the shikaris for their excited guests who then let loose a fusillade to bring down their ‘trophies’.

Beaters and Shikaris at Bunerhari Bir, Patiala 1922

Beaters and Shikaris at Bunerhari Bir, Patiala 1922

The day’s bag included 254 head of game – big and small – leopards, nilgais, hog-deer, blackbuck, boars, porcupines, pea-fowls, partridges, sand-grouse, quails, curlews and pigeons.

The 'bag' being carried on camels

The ‘bag’ being carried on camels

Amongst the illustrious guests who were part of the hunting party was the twenty-two year old Lord Louis Mountbatten, the naval ADC to the Prince, who later became famous as the Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command in World War II and was made India’s last Viceroy in 1947.


  1. H.R.H. The Prince of Wales’s Sport in India (1925), Bernard C. Ellison
  2. Prince of Wales’ Eastern Book (1922)
  3. Western Mail, Perth, 27th April, 1922


The 1400 piece silver-gilt dinner set that was commissioned by the Maharaja for the visit of the Prince of Wales was auctioned for $ 3 million by Christies’ London in July 2013!


A Jolly Pigstick at Patiala

(By Victor Carndini of Melbourne, in the “Gymkhana” – 1897)

The Australasian, Melbourne, Saturday 12th June 1897

It may be interesting to those who are fond of this kingly sport, and who have not had the good fortune to visit Patiala as a guest of the Maharajah for the usual annual sporting week there, to hear a littleof how things are done when the item of pigsticking on the week’s programme is come to. Before going into details I think it would not be amiss to give some idea of the immense amount of trouble taken, in the first instance, to comfortably “put up” the 80 guests, which, I think, was about the number of ladies and gentlemen who availed themselves of the Maharajah’s invitation for the week’s fun. In addition to the usual state carriages, which are always available for attendance on guests at ordinary times, some additional conveyance had been hired from Umballa for the week, so that nearly every guest had a “gharry” to him or herself, and found plenty for it to do in visiting the Moti Bagh, seeing the city museum, Crown jewels, and driving out to the polo, races, etc. from day to day. On arrival at the railway station we were met by that best of * Mr. Wingrove, or his assistant Mr, Cook, and escorted to the camp in the palace-gardens and given each one of the huge double-roomed tents of which the camp was composed: and here our bearers soon made things shipshape and comfortable and I think after our next move of * for the Maharajah and members at the Rajinder Club, and regaling ourselves with an excellent tiffin, we felt firmly established, and prepared to make the best ot what promised to be a real good week. The * pig-sticking outing, one of the * that came off, is the one I am now sending you some particulars of, and it took place, the morning after our arrival. On going to the club, from whence we were to make a start at 7 a.m., we found about twenty gharries and four large four-in-hand brakes waiting to take us out to the nearest available point of cover. In a few minutes the signal of “All aboard” was given by His Highness, and, to the merry cracks of the * whips Gen. Pretum Singh. Col. Babington, and Major Kuper * excellent horn-blowing, away we went at a hand-canter through the city, then over some excellent crop country, to a spot some five miles out, where we were met by our esteemed friend, Mr. Scott. the manager of the state stables, and well known trainer of the Patiala Viceroy Cup winner.

Here a pleasant sight met our eye; namely, two double lines of saddle horses (being two to each rider) and six elephants. After the best “pigstickers” had been given to the most distinguished of the guests we were all soon satisfactorily accommodated with horse and spear. After we were mounted and told off in parties of four or five each, a move was made for cover. Although not an expert at the game, I was invited to make one of a party with His Highness, Gen. Symons, Col. Babington. ,and Capt. Apthorp, and all being well mounted, I think the boldest of piggies would have thought ours a very formidable-looking team indeed. A canter of … brought us to cover, and after the Maharajah had satisfactorily “placed his field” of parties, our party took up its position behind some shelter to wait events. We were not long kept in suspense. The * for beating the cover, which must have been a mile and a half across, was so thoroughly well managed by poor, old Colonel Hurnam Singh and his five hundred beaters, that regular families of pigs began , to make for the open.

I think our party was the first to get a run and singling out a regular scaly old daddy of a boar, the Maharajah made the * but unfortunately not for any distance * the fact that our esteemed friend Gen. Symons had come to grief. His horse seemed to me to almost turn a somersault, and apparently from * cause, too, as the General was a good rider, the horse a first-class pigsticker, and the country was fair enough, the worst of it only being ploughed land. It was * seen that the purler had resulted in a dislocated shoulder and some ugly flesh wounds of the face: but the General pluckily insisted on our keeping to our pigs; and an elephant (rather a shaky ambulance, I should think) ; soon whipped our disabled friend off back to camp.

Col. Babington and Capt. Apthorp, who had gone on, soon came up with the scaly old gentleman above referred to,and after an excellent run he fell to the Colonel’s spear. Having stayed back for some little time with the General, I had missed the balance of my party, and in endeavouring to find them I came across another gentleman who had got off the track too. We had not been talking for two minutes, when we espied a good, old black boar coming in our direction but some distance from cover, so we lost no time in showing ourselves; and, being on the quickest horse I soon came up with him, and got my first spear; found he was a sulky fighter, and of no pace to speak of, his defence being a series of sudden zig-zag dodges, during which I got in Nos. 2 and 3; and I think if I galloped over him once, I must have done so half-a-dozen times,and it was not till, with my friend, who had now joined me, we got both our spears home, that our bristly foe turned over.

Desperate charge by a Wild Boar, Pig-Sticking Scenes from 'Modern Pig-Sticking', Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

Desperate charge by a Wild Boar, Pig-Sticking Scenes from ‘Modern Pig-Sticking’, Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

The chase, Pig-Sticking Scenes from 'Modern Pig-Sticking', Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

The chase, Pig-Sticking Scenes from ‘Modern Pig-Sticking’, Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

At this stage a move was made for the temporary camp of our second mounts, and after seeing our saddles changed, and refreshing the inner man with some of the good things that had been thoughfully provided for the half-time spell, a fresh start was made. In the interval, however, the crowd of beaters had been reorganised, and a new beat started. Our party was again one of the first to get away, and a very short run brought a fair pacer to His Highness’s spear. This second beat, however, was not so successful as the first, and very little being done in the hour that followed, we took the hint from old “Sol,” who was now making himself felt, and retraced our tracks to the brakes and gharries.

* indicates missing text

Boar charges the horse- Pig-Sticking Scenes from 'Modern Pig-Sticking', Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

Boar charges the horse- Pig-Sticking Scenes from ‘Modern Pig-Sticking’, Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

Escaping the Inferno- Pig-Sticking Scenes from 'Modern Pig-Sticking', Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

Escaping the Inferno- Pig-Sticking Scenes from ‘Modern Pig-Sticking’, Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

Chasing into the river, Pig-Sticking Scenes from 'Modern Pig-Sticking', Maj AE Wardrop (1914)

Chasing into the river, Pig-Sticking Scenes from ‘Modern Pig-Sticking’, Maj AE Wardrop (1914)


The ‘Rolls-Royce’ Shikari


Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala who was famous for his opulent (decadent?) lifestyle in the British India of the early 20th century was believed to be the only man in the world who went for game hunting in a Rolls-Royce. The eccentric Maharaja had special roads laid out through his hunting reserves, the Birs, and would sit by the driver as he raced along these tracks in search of game.

A Saturday feature on the Maharaja’s luxury hunting vehicles from the Morning Bulletin, Rockampton, Queensland 30th May 1931 is reproduced for the readers:

Luxury Vehicles for Indian Maharaja

Maharaja's Coaches

Window glass which enables the occupants to see out, but prevents people from looking in, chromium plated table legs, bell pushes and fire extinguishers, an Egyptian silver wash-bowl, solid silver cutlery, the finest English china, silken damask curtains, a 225,000 candle power searchlight-these are some of the features of two remarkable coaches which have just been shipped to India by an English company for the Maharaja of Patiala. It is a matter for gratification that these two vehicles-embodying as they do all the skill and resources of present day automobile engineering, and Coach-building practices, have been made throughout by British labour. They are both mounted on swift, powerful chassis.

lt is doubtful if any two vehicles of such power and speed, and of such ornateness and luxury have ever before been sent out to the East. They are to be used by the Maharaja of Patiala, for shikar (hunting) expeditions, one being designed as a, travelling coach seating 27 persons, and the other as a dining saloon with accommodation for 16 at one sitting.

Outwardly the vehicles are the same – both finished in two shades of maroon, both having entrances and exits in the same places, and both bearing a searchlight on the roof. This searchlight is of 225,000 candle power, throws a beam 1000 yards long, and can be manipulated through a complete circle by a handle in the interior. Adding to the effectiveness of the exterior are chromium plated bumper bars, and the word “Patiala” affixed to the radiator.

In each case a Walman sliding roof is fitted, and Triplex “purdah” blue tinted safety glass used for the windows. This glass has the remarkable property of allowing a perfectly clear vision to the occupants of the vehicle, but at the same time, shields them from the gaze of passers-by. From the exterior it appears quits opaque.

For the interiors teak, polished and bees-waxed by hand, has been used in both eases. This matches in the travelling coach with blue moquette covered seats, and in the dining car, with a decorative scheme of blue and brown. Many of the interior fittings and appointments are common to both vehicles.

There is in each, for Instance, a rack for seven sporting guns fitted to the front bulkhead which also bears on the left hand side a blue flambeau light, a 6 1/2 in. diameter luminous clock, a mirror in the centre, and on the right band side a luminous speedometer of the same diameter, and another blue flambeau light. Projecting through the roof immediately above are the handles for working both the searchlight and the movable roof, and below the mirror, the searchlight switch. A little further down the centre panel is the handle controlling the heating which is by means of Thermorad exhaust heaters and flush aluminium radiator plates in the floor. Both floors are laid with blue coloured Paraflor rubber laid on Sponge rubber, which eliminates what very little vibration is apparent when running.

The luxuriousness of the interior is enhanced in each case by the chromium plated parcel racks, window fittings, handles, table legs, switches, cigar receptacles and light fittings, and an unusual charm given to its aspect by the silken damask curtains that are suspended on each side of the windows. These are surmounted by pelmets of the same material. To the supports between each window are affixed switches for both the white lights overhead, and the blue flambeau lights at each corner of the vehicle, a buzzer for signalling to the driver or calling the “bearer,” and an electric cigar lighter.

The travelling coach, which contains specially sprung seats covered in blue flowered moquette trimmed with leather, has two cabinets erected over the wheel arches, one for carrying cigarettes,

cigars and glasses, and the other for holding bottles of wine. The top drawer of this is lined with zinc for carrying ice. At the rear of these is a three divisioned table which can be quickly erected across the full width of the vehicles.

The dinning saloon, carried out in a decorative scheme of brown, is provided with five folding tables fitted with spring rimmed silver bottle containers. These tables occupy the front part of the vehicle, and immediately behind is a curtained toilet recess fitted with a wash-bowl of Egyptian silver, mirrors and convenient drawers. The water supply is obtained from an 18 gallon tank in the roof immediately above.

Beyond this comes a full width partition separating the kitchenette from the dining part of the coach. This is fitted with cabinets for the reception of all crockery and cutlery, and for the storing of foodstuffs. It also contains a zinc lined sink, a chromium plated tap fed from a 32-galion water tank in the roof and a large primus stove. An electrical indicator indicates at which of the four tables the “bearer” ¡s wanted.

The appointments of the dining saloon include 24 sets of solid silver cutlery, teapot, coffee-pot, sugar basin, cream jug, etc., engraved with the Maharajah’s crest, and a large number of  china pieces also bearing the crest. A silver cocktail shaker is included in the fitments of the travelling coach.

From the above it can be easily imagined that these two vehicles, not only in their concession to utility-but in their luxury and refinement are outstanding pieces of work. It is to be hoped they will draw attention in India to the unparalleled skill and craftsmanship of British motor engineers and coach-builders.


Australian Cricket Team’s loss to India at Lahore and duck-shooting at Patiala


Wendell Bill, the right-handed Australian batsman from Waverley, New South Wales chronicled the India Tour of the Australian cricket team in 1935-36. The accounts were published in the ‘The Sydney Mail’. Here is an account of the experiences of the Australian team in travelling to Patiala after the first ever loss to the Indian side at Lahore.

“After several days of sightseeing etc. (at Lahore) we commenced our match against the All Indian Eleven on a picturesque ground (Lawrence Gardens, Lahore), quite the equal of grounds at Bombay and Calcutta, only that the grass was not as soft or as green at these centers. During the match great amusement was caused when a spectator, a very interested one, too, rushed onto the arena with a handful of rupees and eventually succeeded in presenting them to the batsman, who was the Indian Captain Wazir Ali. This player had saved the total collapse of his side, so deserved the rupees; but the incident seemed to upset him, because shortly afterwards he was dismissed. At this match the spectators were allowed to have lunch on the playing arena, a queer idea, with the result that when play was resumed the entire ground excepting the wicket, which was roped off, was littered with orange peel, bread etc., giving the large kite-hawks that hovered around a great meal. Never before have I seen a game of cricket stopped by birds, but here, on several occasions the swoopings of these birds for scraps off the ground became so annoying for batsmen and fieldsmen alike that the umpires stopped the game until the birds were driven off. . . At the conclusion of the match- which by the way India won, thus inflicting the first defeat on our team in the country – an amazing scene was witnessed. The great crowd literally mobbed the ground and pavilion … All the Indian players were garlanded with beautiful flowers and carried shoulder-high to the pavilion, where from a quickly erected platform, all were forced to say a few words to the crowd… the Indian people are absolutely “cricket mad” and this was the first international match ever won by their team.

When finally we managed to escape from this scene of excitement we set forth to our hotel for lunch and a quick change, because a fleet of16-cylinder Rolls-Royce cars was waiting to take us to Patiala, the place we had long looked forward to visiting. From Lahore to Patiala is nearly 150 miles, but in such powerful and beautiful cars – the Maharajah has 244 of them- were we driven that 120 miles of the journey was accomplished in under 3 ½ hours- some going considering that many large caravans drawn by bullocks barred the center of the road on numerous occasions. Here we entered the State of Patiala, and, just by way of change, transferred to two luxurious parlour coaches. One was a dining bus and the other contained a cocktail and drink bar. Each coach sent by the Maharajah, was capable of seating 25 and contained every luxury possible, even a shower and a radiator. So we finished our journey very pleasantly indeed, arriving at Patiala to the accompaniment of musical honours provided by a band which had been brought out specially for the occasion. The next day being a free one from cricket, many of our team went out shooting ducks- not panthers and tigers-as had been hoped as time did not permit our indulging in this thrilling sport. The duck-shooting took place some thirty miles from the palace on the shores of a beautiful blue lake. Here ducks were to be found by the thousand, so no difficulty was experienced in bringing back something to show for the day’s outing.”

Wendell Bill ended up with a broken-jaw in the match played between Indian and Australian Teams at the Baradari Ground, Patiala that ended in a draw.


  1. The Sydney Mail, Wednesday, 26th February 1936.


Motorists attacked by a Tiger

(Nahan, 1938)

Western Argus, a newspaper published in Kalgoorie, Western Australia in its edition dated 11th January, 1938 reported a freak incident near Nahan involving an attack by a man-eating tiger. A European couple, Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Mills were driving to Dagshai from Dehradun for spending a weekend with their friends. On their way near Nahan they found a tiger blocking their path. Mr. Mills, reportedly sounded the hooter, which infuriated the tiger and it sprang on the car and mauled the couple. They were later found unconscious and were taken to a hospital where both succumbed to their injuries. A shikari party later tracked the tiger to the outskirts of Dehra Dun where it had been terrorizing the villagers and had claimed half-a-dozen victims. The vicious man-eater managed to fatally maul one of the bearers in the shikari party before it was finally accounted for.



Lions at Hissar (1811)

An article published in India Gazette dated ‘Hansi, 8th of March, 1811’ carried an account of lions being hunted near Hansi and Hissar. This arid, scrub country does not fall under the ‘Around Morni’ category but The Tramp cannot resist the temptation of reproducing the article for the readers as today the Asiatic Lions are surviving only at Gir.

“A few days ago five horsemen, stationed at a village about 14 coss from hence, hearing that a pig had been taken by a tyger, went on foot to the spot, where they found a lion and a lioness feeding on it, The female, on the patch of grass being set on fire, went off: but the lion advanced slowly towards the men with his mane and tail erect. Taking a sure aim with their match-locks, they fired a volley upon him with such effect as to be able to attack him with their swords, with which they dispatched him, one of the party being however wounded by him before he could be killed.The animal was sent to Hansi, and appeared to be a full-grown lion,in every respect like the African lion, except that the colour of the mane, which was very thick, was rather lighter.

A few days prior to the above, a lioness had been sent in from Hissar, having been killed by a party of horsemen, one of whom was severely wounded, as were also two horses.

From the above account it consequently must appear that lions are to be found in Asia as well as Africa, a fact that had not before been known to us.


  1. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Saturday 30th November,


  1. Some of the Shikar stories have been taken from the digitized newspapers available on the website of the National Library of Australia.

Morni Fort: The Golden Bastions

The Fort: The Morni Fort is a modest stone masonry structure built sometime in the 17th Century atop the Morni hill at a height of about 1200 metres. The fort is strategically located and dominates the road to Badiyal towards Sarahan in Himachal, the road to Trilokpur, the ridge road towards Thapli/ Mandana and the road to the Tals. The fort also overlooks the Morni town or Bhoj Jabial.

Morni fort- The Golden Bastions

Morni town from the fort

The fort has a gate  to the East. It has four towers. The accomodation inside the fort was modest and was augmented in 1814 when the Raja of Sirmur sought refuge in the fort following his ouster from Nahan by the Gurkha invaders. There was a well/reservoir in the centre of the fort (now filled up).The air circulates through the wends in the domes to keep the atmosphere cool during summer months.

The Southern Tower

Inside the main tower, Morni fort

Historical References:  The fort finds a mention in the correspondence of British officers at the time of the Gurkha Wars 1814-1816. The fort was captured by the Gurkhas and was held by the Gurkha commander Gouree Sah until its surrender in 1815. The  ‘Secret Letters’ that formed a part of the ‘Papers regarding the Administration of the Marquiz of Hastings in India’ that were tabled at a General Court of the ‘United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies’ on 3rd March 1824 included the following letters pertaining to the Morni Fort:

  • A secret letter by Mr. Rutherford dated 27 Dec 1814 described in detail the information gathered about the strength of the defences at Morni Fort that was under Gurkha occupation.

 Mr. Rutherford wrote, ‘ (the fort) is in good repair and occupied. Its gateway is to the east. Its walls are of stone, and rise about fifteen feet high to the east, north and west; but to the south it is raised to a considerable height, in order to form apartments for the accomodation of the Rajah of Sirmoor, who used to reside here and after his expulsion from Nahun defended himself in it for some time. It is provided with one gun. Water is brought from a spring about a coss off, and kept in a reservoir. there are two roads to it from the plains, which wind round to the right and left, and advance along the hills on a level with the fort.’

  • Captain Hearsey is dismissive of the fort as he desribes the vulnerability of the hill forts, including the Morni Fort in his letter dated 27th Dec 1814.

Capt. Hearsey writes ‘Mornee … and all the hill forts, are built on summits of the hills: they are built of slabs of stone without any cement, and are not above thity paces square, above twelve feet high and the stockade which surrounds them is easily destroyed. These forts, in general, have no springs or tanks of water within them, but the garrison is obliged to fetch it from some distance below. By cuttoing off this necessary article of life the Goorkas got possession of them. I presume, a shell from a four and a half inch howitzer would cause the immediate evacuation of them. They can easily be approached by infantry under cover within less than musket-shot. The garrison, which seldom exceeds one hundred and fifty men, are ill-supplied with stores or ammunition.’

  • A secret letter from Lord Moira dated 1st June 1815 describes the ‘Agreement entered into between Kajee Ummer Sing Thapa and Major-General Ochterlony, on 15th May 1815’.  As per the agreement, Morni Fort and all forts between Jamuna and Satluj, that were under Gurkha occupation were to be evacuated and be handed over to the British.

The secret agreement thus read, ‘Kajee Ummer Sing Thapa …agrees to send immediate orders for the evacuation and delivery, to persons properly authorized, of the forts of … Mornee…and all other forts… now held by the Nepaul troops between the Jumna and Sutleje rivers.’

Thus, clearly, Mornee fort could not be taken from the Gurkhas till June 1815 and it was given up as part of a larger agreement with the British.

Letters of Gouree Sah, the Gurkha Commander of Morni: During the Gurkha invasion of the Hill States, Morni was taken by Gouree Sah, a Sah Rajpoot of the royal family of Srinagar, Garhwal.  Gouree Sah seems to have been paid 2500 Rupees to take the Morni Fort. He was steadfastly loyal to the Gurkha commander Kajee Runjore Sing and a believer of the Gurkha Empire. The Gurkhas had over run Srinagar, Sirmur and other surrounding hill states. Pradhuman Sah, Raja of Srinagar, had died in battle. His son Sudarshan Sah had escaped to British territory. Lal Sah, nephew of Gouree Sah had sided with the British led by Col. Ochterlony. Kishna Oopurettee soubhadar was another Gurkha defector to Col. Ochterlony’s camp. Gouree Sah was holed up inside the Morni fort in 1815 when the British struggled to oust the Gurkhas from Jaitak Fort after seizing Nahan. The British tried influencing Gouree Sah to surrender the fort by asking Lal Sah and Kishna Ooperettee to write to him and persuade him to surrender. The British intercepted the letters from Runjore Sing to Gouree Sah and replaced them with letters aimed at demoralizing Gouree Sah. Gouree Sah’s steadfast loyalty and will to fight to the last is reflected in his replies to Lal Sah and Kishna and his letters to Runjore Sing that were intercepted by the British. Gouree Sah pleads with Runjore Sing not to lose heart and even suggests ‘tantra’ to decimate the British. He predicts the victory of the Gurkhas and advises Runjore Sing to pray to Bhim, the mighty Pandav.The letters of Gauree Sah have been reproduced in James Baillie Fraser’s account of the Gurkha War in the ‘Journal of a Tour through part of Snowy Range of the Himala Mountains’ (1820). See the seperate post on these letters.

Restoration: The fort was in a state of ruin when the Haryana Forest Department took over its possession in 1977 from the Mirs of Morni. The bastion in the south-west had collapsed. The premises were thereafter used by the Wildlife department for running the Pheasant Breeding Centre until 2006.The fort was thereafter extensively renovated and restored to its original look in 2009. Care was taken during the restoration to use the same materials for the masonry works like lime powder and fly ash as were used in the original construction. A couple of modern rooms were added inside the fort for tourists.The Pheasant Breeding Centre was relocated outside to the make-shift enclosures on the slopes of the hill.

Morni fort, before restoration

Morni fort, after restoration

Restored tower, Morni fort

Rooms for tourists, Morni fort

The Green Curtain: The fort is completely obscured from view from the roadside by the thick canopy of tall Eucalyptus trees that have been planted all along the hill top on all sides of the fort.

Morni fort, the green curtain

Black eucalyptus, Morni fort hill

Eucalyptus inside the fort, Morni


Shiv Temple: A brightly painted Shiv temple stands outside the Eastern Gate and breaks the gloom presented by the quiet, deserted fort and the shade of the Eucalyptus trees.

Shiv temple,Morni fort

The terraced temple,Morni fort

Pheasant Breeding Centre: A pheasant breeding centre is run by the Haryana Forest Department adjacent to the fort and seems a rather poor cousin of the state-of-the-art Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre being run by the department in partnership with the Bombay Natural History Society near Birshikargarh Wildlife Sanctuary.

Pheasant breeding centre, Morni