During the time of the British rule in India (1757-1947) and after, many Scots to include members of our own family saw India as the place for expats to go. Employment came in various guises; the East India Company or its regiments, the British Army in India, independent British interests such as the tea trade and of course working for the British civil authorities in the region. We are therefore pleased to offer you excerpts from a Lady’s diary regarding a trip through India to Ceylon, written by the hand of the wife of Col Nigel Mitchell Carruthers, of the Holmains line who was there at the time. We hope you enjoy the parts as they are published.
As the official home of the Clan and Family of Carruthers, we are fortunate enough to have access to information and documentation from within the family itself. This includes, amongst other pieces, a diary written in India by the grandmother of our European Clan Commissioner, Cécilia Mitchell-Carruthers, and the second wife of Colonel Nigel Laurie Carruthers, who served in the British Army in India and Ceylon.
Here is part 2
This information and any pictures remain copyrighted to our society.
The hotel itself was full but the manager had a small quarters free, quite independent which we soon had comfortable and ready for us to have good night rest in. After sorting our accommodation we dined at 9 pm and was lucky enough to find a fine bottle of ‘Pommard”.
On leaving the hotel for a drive, the only incident was a puncture and the time it took to repair it as the pump did not work well. We had to wait by the side of the road for a passing driver to lend us theirs.
Next morning, Tuesday 2nd of June, we had tea at 6 am and started out immediately after breakfast for a place called ‘Satara’ from where we had a few good runs up to ‘Poona’ where we refuelled with petrol and bought a few more things for the car and also had an aperitif at ‘Cornagha’. Coming back we had trouble to find our way out as the roads are so badly named, so again lost time there.
After the Ghats (a mountain range) and the tunnel which is at the top, we stopped to have a picnic lunch. The drive was taking us through beautiful countryside, through well cultivated fields and large trees. At ‘Satara’ we found the bungalow we would have been staying in full, so went to look at the ‘Deccan’ Hotel but were told it had recently shut. We then decided to go on to ‘Attit ‘ which was only 11 miles further on.
The bungalow was quite nice but almost empty of furniture, no cook or maid were available so we fended for ourselves, which was no real hardship. there was only one bed which we had to try and make the best of for the night. At 6 am we were on our way again heading for ‘Belgaum’ (situated in the state of Karntaka, in the north west part of the Ghats). We arrived at ‘Kholoppas’ at 11.30 am, and had lunch there, but the food was not great and as there was ‘cholera’ in the area, our drink with lunch was hot tea.
We arrived at ‘Belgaum’ at 3.30pm and found the dak bungelow (a British Government building) but no one was in. We had to wait hours before anyone arrived to include the cook. There was no water either, however it was lovely and cool with nice strong wind. We filled with petrol and got stores at the local market, then had a very bad lunch at the dak bungalow, and still no one was on duty. We left the next morning at 8.30 am on the 4th of June. We lunched on the road a refilled with petrol again at a pretty little village called ‘Hallyal’. The villagers surrounded the car and the children who were always smiling, were a lovely. At this point we started to have trouble with the radiator, but we managed to drive through the Ghats to Karwai. The jungle around it was very thick but made for a lovely scene.
We arrived at the Grand Hotel at 5 pm and found the place rather warm. We stopped seven days there mostly sitting and looking at the view and walking along the river into the fishing villages. On the last evening we tried to bathe in the river but the current was so string, so we just laid down in the sand. The place is very pretty and is still unspoilt, and the people were very nice and friendly. Because of the heat, they wore not much clothes, and their huts cleverly made from mud had tile roofs, which looked so charming among the tall coconut trees.
There is of course the toddy landing, where large ships landed with tiles, and coconuts were unloaded on the jetty. It was very picturesque with all the petite Indian women in colourful clothes with masses of bangles and necklaces and fresh flowers in their hair. the morning was the most picturesque time when all the boats had returned from fishing with baskets full of different types of fish being carried to the markets by the women.
We left ‘Karawai’ at 12.25 pm on Friday the 12th for ‘Hubli’, again up through the Ghats, which was a lovely drive and not too steep. The journey took 20 minutes.
‘Hubli’ is a large town with cotton mills where we stayed the night, the dak bungalow was small but clean, and was again lovely and cool. Next morning we left for ‘Tunbai’ and lunched on the road and arrived at our rest house at 5.15pm. We were then in Mysore state and passed through a gate toll where we had to pay for a state licence.
The rest house was very nice indeed and again there was a high wind. On Sunday the 14th we drove from ‘Tunbai’ to ‘Mysore’ a very good run and got to the Metropole Hotel at 2.30pm. Our room was large with 2 bathrooms with large baths. After lunch we drove to the zoo, a most wonderful place. I wanted to take my camera but it is forbidden to take photos. We saw some enormous giraffes, a baby hippopotamus and a black panther, All the animals were in good condition and the gardens full of flowers were lovely .
We went back to the hotel for tea and unpacked. After dark we went out in a taxi to see all the illuminations and flood lighting of the Maharajah’s Palace and the city. The fountains were so pretty with different coloured lights every 2 minutes. ‘Mysore’ is a lovely town with beautiful gardens with its own racecourse. It was the month of the birthday of the Maharajah and there was much celebrations.
To be continued
2 thoughts on “CLAN CARRUTHERS: Snippets from a Carruthers Diary in India – part 2. From India to Ceylon.”
Thank you for sharing this story. I have people in my family history who spend time in India in that time period.
There were many Scots in India at that time and in fact many of our own family. Thank you for your kind comments