The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India, Volume II

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Introductory notes

Published by The Hakluyt Society in 1792, The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India,edited by Edward Grey-is a travelogue whose setting is in the Renaissance period. Pietro Della Valle was born in 1586. He was an Italian nobleman who embarked on a trip to the holy sites of the Middle East. While doing so he travelled to India around 1623-24. Della Velle passed away in 1652. Selections have been made from Volumes 1 and 2 of The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India. The Italian gives an account of various court proceedings in different parts of India that he got to experience from close quarters. He also had meetings with various other sections having influence in the sub continent. One gets to hear details about the climate, geography and lifestyles prevailing in India at that time. Primary Reading Grey,Edward, The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India,Volume 2,The Hakluyt Society Suggested Reading Foster, William, Early Travels In India 1583-1619,


Edited , with a life of the author, an Introduction and Notes, BY EDWARD GREY (late bengal civil service). VOL II LONDON: PRINTED FOR THE HAKLUYT SOCIETY, 4, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, W.C. M.DCCC.XCII.



[Page 193]

I took ship with our Portugal Ambassador, Sig. Gio. Fernandez Leiton, about Evening, October the fourteenth, and, departing from Goa, we remov'd to a Town call'd Pangi in the same Island, but lower, near the place [Page 194] where the River enters into the Sea, and whither the Viceroys used to retire themselves frequently to a House of Pleasure which they have there, besides many other like Houses of private persons upon the River likewise, and where also at the mouth of the Sea, or Bar, as they call it, which is a little lower, almost all Fleets that depart from Goa are wont to set Sail. We might have performed this journey by Land along the Sea-coast, passing along the other lands of Adil-Sciah till we came to those of Venk tapa Naieka.

[Page 196]

This day we departed not, because one of the Frigats of the Armado which was to accompany us was unprovided with Sea-men, for which we were fain to stay till the day following, and then were not very well provided. The cause whereof was that there was at this time a great Scarcity of Mariners in Goa, because the Governours of the maritime parts of the Continent subject to ldal-Sciah would not permit their Ships to come: as they were wont, to supply Mariners for the Portugal Armado; which seem'd an argument of some ill will of that King against the Portugals, of which, were there nothing else, their being weaker and more confus'd in their Government than ever, and all things in bad order, was a sufficient ground ; for remedy of which they took no other course, but daily loaded themselves with new, unusual and most heavy Impositions, to the manifest ruine of the State, taking no care to prevent the hourly exorbitant defraudations of the publick Incomes, which otherwise would be sufficient to maintain the charge without new Gabels : but if such thefts continue both the publick Incomes and the new Gabels, and as many as they can [Page 197] invent, will be all swallow'd up. Nevertheless the Portugals are heedless according to their custom, and out of fatal blindness, making no reckoning of these signs which shew the evil mind of their neighbour Adil-Sciah, think he knows nothing of these disorders, and that this with-holding of his Subjects is onely an impertinence of his Officers. What the event will be Time will shew.

[Page 201]

October the sixteenth. In the Morning we discem'd four Ships of Malabar Rovers' near the shore (they call them Paroes and they go with Oars, like Galeots or Foists). We gave them chase for above an hour, intending to fight them, but we could not overtake them; onely we lost much time and much of our way. Night came upon us near certain Rocks, or uninhabited little Islands, which they call Angediva, which signifies in the Language of the Country Five Islands, they being so many in number. We found fresh water in one of them; they are all green and have some Trees. We set sail from thence the same night, but had little or no wind and violent rain.

[Page 202]

Onor is a small place by the Sea-side, but a good Port of indifferent capacity, which is formed by two arms of Rivers, which (I know not whether both from one or several heads) running one Southward and the other Northward meet at the Fortress, and are discharg'd with one mouth into the Sea.

[Page 203]

Out of the Fort, in the country, is the Bazar or Market, but a small one, and of little consideration ; nothing being found therein but what is barely necessary for sustenance of the inhabitants.

[Page 205]

October the twentieth. In the Evening the Chaplain and I went in a Palanchino a mile out of Onor to see a fine running water, which issuing out of the earth in a low, or rather hollow place, as it were the bottom of a Gulph, falls into a Tanke or Cistern built round with stone; and, this being fill'd, it runs out with a stream, watering the neighbouring fields. The water is hot, to wit not cold ; and therefore the Country people come frequently to bathe themselves in it for pleasure. The Cistern is square, every side being five or six yards, and the water would reach to a man's neck; but by reason of the ruinousness of the walls in some places it is not very clean. Within it are small fishes, which use to bite such as come to swim there, yet without doing hurt, because they are small ; and the place being low is consequently shady and so affords a pleasant station at all times.


[Page 217]

But to return to the particulars of my journey; on October the one and thirtieth, after one a clock in the Afternoon, we departed from Onor with Sig. Gio. Fernandez in a Mancina, or Barge, and the rest of the Family in a less Boat. Vitula Sinay, who was to go with us, we left in readiness to set forth after us, I know not whether by water, or by Land.

[Page 220]

But, returning to my travel, l must not omit that the three Leagues of this journey was one of the most delightful passages that ever I made in my life ; for the country on either side is very beautiful, not consisting of Plains that afford onely an ordinary prospect, nor of tow ring mountains, but of an unequal surface, Hills and Valleys, all green and delightful to the eyes, cloth'd with thick and high Groves, and many times with fruit Trees as Indian Nuts, Foufel, Ambe, and such like, all water'd with innumerable Rivulets and Springs of fresh water ; the sides of the River all shady, beset with Flowers, Herbs and sundry Plants, which, like lvy, creeping about the Trees and Indian reeds of excessive height, (call'd by the Country-people Bambu, and very thick along the banks) make the wood more verdant; through the middle whereof the River strayes with sundry windings. In short, the River of Garsopa, for a natural thing without any artificial ornament of buildings, or the like, is the goodliest River that ever I beheld.

[Page 221]

At length we lodg'd, not within the compass of Garsopa, which was somewhat within land, but near it upon the River, in a place cover'd with a roof amongst certain Trees, where many are wont to lodge, and where the Pepper is weigh'd and contracted for when the Portugals come to fetch it: for this is the Country wherein greatest plenty of Pepper grows ; for which reason the Queen of Garsopa was wont to be call'd by the Portugals, Reyna da Pimenta, that is, Queen of Pepper. The River is call'd by the Portugals the River of Garsopa, but by the Indians in their own Language one branch is term'd Ambu nidi, and the other Sara nidi. From the River's mouth, where it falls into the Sea, to Garsopa, the way, if I mistake not, is directly East.

[Page 228]

Having seen this Curiosity, and our baggage being laden, we all set forth after the Ambassador, and Vitula Sinay set out together with us. We travell'd first Eastward, then South-ward, but many times I could not observe which way our course tended; we went upon the ridge of a Hill, and through uneven wayes, sometimes ascending and sometimes descending, but always in the middle of great thick Groves full of Grass and running water, no less delightful then the former Fields. A little more than half a League from the Fort we found a Meschita of the Moors, built upon the way, with a Lake, or [Page 229] Receptacle of water, but not very well contriv'd by the Captain of the said Fort, which his King had allow'd him to make as a great favour; for the Gentiles are not wont to suffer in their Countries Temples of other Religions. Here we found our Ambassador, who stay'd for us; and we tarry'd likewise here above an hour in expectation of our baggage, much of which was still behind.

[Page 232]

After dinner we departed from Tumbre, travelling through unequal wayes and lands like the former, but rather descending than otherwise ; we rested once a while under a Tree, to stay for the baggage, and then proceeding [Page 233] again, at almost six a clock after noon we came to the side of a River call'd Barenghi, which in that place runs from West to East and is not fordable, although narrow, but requires a boat to pass it. On the Southern bank on which we came were four Cottages, where we took up our station that Night, enjoying the cool, the shadow and the sight of a very goodly Wood which cloaths the River sides with green; but above all where we lodg'd, on either side the way, were such large and goodly Trees, such spacious places underneath for shade and the place so opacous by the thickness of the boughs on high, that indeed I never saw in my dayes a fairer natural Grove ; amongst other Trees there was abundance of Bambu, or very large Indian canes, twin'd about to the top with prety Herbs. The journey of this day was three Cos, or a League and half. This River, they say, is one of those which goes to Garsopa. Vitula Sinay we found not here, because he was gone before.

[Page 263]

The Ambassador return'd quickly from audience, but said not a word of anything. The King frequently sent him things to eat; particularly fruits out of season, brought to him from far distant places, amongst which [Page 264] we had Ziacche, (which I take to be the same with Zatte, which is a kind of gourd) a fruit very rare at this time; and also Indian Melons, which how good soever are worth nothing at any time, the Climate not being fit for such fruits.


[Page 293]

But, leaving him to his Voyage, I departed from lkkeri, and having pass'd the Town Badrapor, I left the [Page 294] road of Ahineli and by another way, more towards the left hand, went to dine under certain Trees near a small Village of four Houses, which they call Bamanen coppa. After dinner we continued our way and forded a River call'd Irihale, not without being wet, by reason of the small size of my Horse; and having travell'd near two Gaus (one Gau consists of two Cos, and is equivalent to two Portugal Leagues) we lodg'd at night in a competent Town the name whereof is Dermapora. In these Towns I endeavor'd to procure a servant, as well because I understood not the Language of the Country, (for though he that carry'd my Goods could speak Portugal yet he could not well serve me for an Interpreter, because, he being by Race a Pulia, which amongst them is accounted vile and unclean, they would not suffer him to come into their Houses nor touch their things; though they were not shie of me, albeit of a different Religion, because they look'd upon me as a Man of noble Race), as because I found much trouble' in reference to my diet: for, as these Indians are extremely fastidious in edibles, there is neither flesh nor fish to be had amongst them; one must be contented onely with Rice, Butter, or Milk, and other such inanimate things, wherewith, nevertheless, they make no ill-tasted dishes; but, which is worse, they will cook every thing themselves and will not let others either eat, or drink, in their vessels; wherefore, instead of dishes, they give us our victuals in great Palm leaves, which yet are smooth [Page 295] enough, and the Indians themselves eat more frequently in them than in any other vessels. Besides, one must entreat them three hours for this, and account it a great favor ; so that, in brief, to travel in these Countries requires a very large stock of patience. The truth is 'tis a most crafty invention of the Devil against the Charity so much preach'd by our Lord Jesus Christ to put it so in the heads of these people that they are polluted and become unclean, even by touching others of a different Religion; of which superstition they are so rigorous observers that they will sooner see a person, whom they account vile and unclean, (though a Gentile) dye, than go near him to relieve him.

[Page 296]

After dinner, my Horse being tired, I travelled not above half another Gau, and, having gone in all this day but two Gaus, went to lodge at a certain little village, which, they said, was called Nalcal. Certain Women, who dwelt there alone in absence of their Husbands, courteously gave us lodging in the uncovered Porches of their Houses and prepared supper for us. This Country is inhabited not onely with great Towns, but, like the Mazandran in Persia, with abundance of Houses, scattered here and there in several places amongst the woods. The people live for the most part by sowing of Rice; their way of Husbandry is to overflow the soil with water, which abounds in all places; but they pay, as they told me, very large Tribute to the King, so that they have nothing but the labour for themselves and live in great Poverty.

[Page 301]

This Port is in the mouth of two Rivers, one more Northern runs from the Lands of Banghel; the other more Southern from those of Olala, which stands beyond the River South-wards, or rather beyond the bay of salt-water, which is form'd round and large, like a great Haven, by the two Rivers before their entrance into the Sea, whose flowing fills the same with salt water. Mangalor stands between Olala and Banghel and in the middle of the bay right against the Mouth of the Harbor, into which the fort extends itself, being almost encompass'd with water on three sides. 'Tis but small, the worst built of any I have seen in India, and, as the Captain told me one day when I visited him, may rather be termed the House of a Gentleman than a Fort. The City is but little neither, contiguous to the Fort and encompass'd with weak walls; within which the Houses of the inhabitants are inclos'd, There are three Churches, namely the See, or Cathedral, of our Lady Del Rosario, within the Fort, La Misericordia, and San Fransesco without. Yet in Mangalor there are but three Ecclesiastical Persons in all; two Franciscan Fryers in San Francesco and one Vicar Priest, to whose charge, with very small revenues, belong all the other Churches. I went not ashore because it was night, but slept in the Ship.

[Page 326]

Entering in this manner and saluting the King as I pass'd I went to sit down at the upper end of the Chamber, (as 'tis above describ'd) where they had prepar'd a little [Page 327] square board of the bigness of an ordinary stool, which might serve for a single person, but rais'd no more than four fingers above the ground ; upon this I sat down, crossing my Legs one over the other ; and that little elevation help'd me to keep them out from under me, with such decency as I desir'd. Right before the seat, upon the bare floor, (the Indians not using any Tables) they had spread, instead of a dish, (as their custom is, especially with us Christians, with whom they will not defile their own vessels ; it not being lawful for them ever to eat again in those wherein we have eaten) a great Leaf of that Tree which the Arabians and Persians call Mouz, the Portugals in India Ficlli d' India, Indian Fig-trees; and upon the said Leaf they had lay'd a good quantity of Rice, boyl'd, after their manner, onely with water and salt ; but for sauce to it there stood on one side a little vessel made of Palm-leaves, full of very good butter melted. There lay also upon another Leaf one of those Indian Figgs, clean and pared ; and hard by it a quantity of a certain red herb, commonly eaten in India, and call'd by the Portugals Bredo, (which yet is the general appellation of all sort of herbs). In another place lay several fruits us'd by them, and, amongst the rest, slices of the Bambtt, or great Indian Cane; all of them preserv'd in no bad manner, which they call Acciao,' besides one sort pickled with Vinegar, as our Olives are. Bread there was none, because they use none, but the Rice is instead of it ; which was no great defect to me, because I am now accustom'd to do without it, and eat [Page 328] very little. The King very earnestly pray'd me to eat, excusing himself often that he gave me so small an entertainment on the sudden; for if he had known my coming beforehand he would have prepar'd many Carils and divers other more pleasing meats.

Caril is a name which in India they give to certain Broths made with Butter, the Pulp of Indian Nuts, (instead of which in our Countries Almond Milk may be us'd, being equally good and of the same virtue) and all sorts of Spices, particularly Cardamoms and Ginger, (which we use but little) besides herbs, fruits and a thousand other condiments. The Christians, who eat everything, add Flesh, or Fish, of all sorts, especially Hens, or Chickens, cut in small pieces, sometimes Eggs, which, without doubt, make it more savory: with all which things is made a kind of Broth, like our Guazetti, or Pottages, and it may be made in many several ways; this Broth, with all the abovesaid ingredients, is afterwards poured in good quantity upon the boyled Rice, whereby is made a well-tasted mixture, of much substance and light digestion, as also with very little pains; for it is quickly boyled, and serves both for meat and bread together. I found it very good for me, and used it often, as also the Pilao elsewhere spoken of, and made of Rice and butter boyled with it and flesh fryed therein, besides a thousand other preparations of several sorts which are so common to everybody in Asia; and I account it one of the best and wholesomest meats that can be eaten in the world, without so many Artificial Inventions as our gutlings of Europe (withall procuring to themselves a thousand infirmities of Gouts, Catarrhs and other Maladies, little [Page 329] known to the Orientals daily devise to the publick damage.

[Page 331]

In short the King frequently urg'd me to eat of the Rice, and I as often refused with several excuses; at last he was so importunate that I was fain to tell him l could not eat that meat in that manner because I had not my Instruments. The King told me I might eat after my own way and take what Instruments I would, which should be fetch'd from my House. I reply'd divers times that there was no need, and that my tasting of it was enough to testifie my obedience. However by all means he would have what was necessary fetch'd from my House. So I sent my Brachman and my Christian Servant with my key, and they, the King so enjoyning, went and return'd in a moment, for my House was directly over against the Palace. They brought me a spoon, a silver fork and a clean and fine napkin, very handsomely folded in small plaits ; this I spread upon my knees which it cover'd down to my feet, and so I began to eat Rice, pouring the butter upon it with a spoon, and the other things with the fork, after a very cleanly manner, without greasing my self, or touching any thing with my Hands, as 'tis my custom. The King and all the rest admir'd these exquisite, and to them unusual, modes; crying out with wonder Deuru, Deuru, that I was a Deuru, that is a great Man, a God, as they speak.

[Page 336]

As for the Ceremonies of eating, I must not omit to say that after he saw that I had done eating, not-withstanding his many instances to me to eat more, he was contented that I should make an end ; and because most of the meat remained untouch'd, and it was not lawful for them to touch it, or keep it in the House, they caused my Christian Servant to come in and carry it all away (that he might eat it) ; which he did in the napkin which I had us'd before; for to fling it away, in regard of the discourtesie it would be to me, they judged not convenient. At length, when I rose up from my seat and took leave of the King, they caused my said Servant to strew a little Cow-dung, (which they had got ready for the purpose) upon the place where I had sat, which, according to their Religion, was to be purified. In the mean time, as I was taking leave of the King, he caused to be presented to me, (for they were ready prepared in the Chamber) and delivered to my Servants to carry home, four Lagnl, (so they in India, especially the Portugals, call the Indian Nuts before they be ripe, when, instead of Pulp, they contain a sweet refreshing water which is drunk for delight; and if the Pulp (for of this water it is made) be begun to be congealed yet that little is very tender and is eaten with much delight and is accounted cooling ; whereas when it is hard and fully congealed, the Nut, remaining without water within and in the inner part somewhat empty, that matter of the Nut which is used more for sauce than to eat alone is, in my opinion, heating, and not of so good taste as before when it was more tender).


[Page 361]

The Inhabitants of the Kingdom of Calecut and the In-land parts, especially the better sort, are all Gentiles, of the Race Nairi for the most part, by profession Souldiers, sufficiently swashing and brave. But the Sea Coasts are full of Malabari, an adventitious people, though of long standing; for Marco Polo, who writ four [Page 362] hundred years since, makes mention of them ; they live confusedly with the Pagans, and speak the same Language, but yet are Mahommetans in Religion. From them all that Country for a long tract together is call'd Malabar, famous in India for the continual Robberies committed at Sea by the Malabar thieves ; whence in the Bazar of Calecut, besides the things above mention'd, we saw sold good store of the Portugals' commodities, as Swords, Arms, Books, Clothes of Goa, and the like Merchandize, taken from Portugal Vessels at Sea; which things, because they are stolen and in regard of the excommunication which lies upon us in that case, are not bought by our Christians. Having seen the Bazar and stay'd there till it was late we were minded to see the more inward and noble parts of the City and the outside of the King's Palace ; for to see the King at that hour we had no intention, nor did we come prepar'd for it, but were in the same garb which we wore in the Ship.

[Page 404]

On January the nine and twentieth I went, together with the Signori Baracci: my entertainers, and other friends, to see and spend a day at Guadalupe, which is a place of Recreation in the Island of Goa, distant from the City about two leagues, populous and full of Houses and Gardens of several Portugal Signori, who for pleasure go to dwell there some time of the year, as you at Rome do to Frascati which is the ancient Tusculanum. Guadalupe lies at the foot of a certain Precipice, in a plain upon a spacious Lake, which at one time of the year is quite dry'd up and sown with Rice, so that the prospect is always very lovely; because the Lake is either full of water, in which grow abundance of pretty flowers and aqua tick Plants; or else 'tis all green with Rice, which is. sown before the Lake is totally dry and grows up to [Page 405] maturity before the Water returns; so that it makes a very pretty Show, and the more because this Water, being collected in time of great rain, is fed also by a small but constantly running River; and, though so kept there for many months, yet causes not any bad affection of the Air; but through the goodness of the Climate the Air is always better here than anywhere else.


[Page 420]

On April the tenth three Galeons freighted with Victuals departed from Goa to Ruy Freira for the war of Ormuz, as two other Ships had done a few days before, besides the above-mentioned ten ; and order was given for three other Galeons to go from Mozambique with people sufficient to arm all the six ; because the former three of Goa carried no Soldiers, but only Sea-men. They carried also from Goa a Petard, wherewith they said they intended to attempt the little false Gate of Ormi'tz which stands towards the Sea, and several other preparations of War. On the twenty-ninth of the same month, being the day of S. Pietro Martire, who, they say, was the Founder of [Page 421] the lnquisition against Hereticks, the Inquisitors of Goa made a Festival before their House of the Inquisition which is in the Piazza of the Cathedral and was sometimes the Palace of Sabaio, Prince of Goa, when the Portugals took it, whence it is still call'd la Piazza de Sabaio. After solemn Mass had been sung in the Church of San Domini'co, as Vespers had been the day before, in presence of the Inquisitors, who, coming to fetch the Fryers in Procession, repair'd thereunto in Pontificalibus, in the evening, many carreers were run on horse-back by the Portugal Gentry, invited purposely by the Inquisitors; and a day or two after (for this Evening was not sufficient for so many things) there was in the same Piazza a Hunting, or Baiting, of Bulls after the Spanish fashion; but the Beasts, being tame and spiritless, afforded little sport ; so that I had not the curiosity to be present at it. This is a new Festival lately instituted by the present Inquisitors, who, I believe, will continue it yearly hereafter.

[Page 432]

On May the seven and twentieth a Ship of the Portugal Fleet that was coming from Mozambique arrived in the Port of Mormogon ; it entered not into the River of Goa, because the mouth of the River, by reason of the lateness of the season, was insecure and began to be stopped ; for every year all the mouths of the Rivers and Ports of this Coast are fill'd with sand during the time of Rain, wherein the West wind blows very tempestuously, and are open'd again in September when the Rain ends. The Port of Mormogon, as I have elsewhere said, is in the same Island of Goa, in the other mouth of the more Southern River, where sometimes old Goa stood, by which goods are convey'd by Boat from the Ships to the City, but by a longer way, going behind round the Island.

[Page 436]

On August the twenty-fourth, on which day the Feast of St. Bartholomew uses to be celebrated, certain Officers, deputed for that purpose, with other Principal Persons entrusted with the superintendency of the Fields and Agriculture, offered to the Cathedral Church, and afterwards also fo the Vice-roy, the first-fruits of the Fields, [Page 437] to wit of Rice newly eared, which is the most substantial of the fruits of the Territory of Goa. I was told likewise that they made a Statue of an Elephant with Rice-straw, which I know not whether they carry'd about with them, or set up in some Piazza. This custom is practis'd annually upon the said day, because at that time precisely the said fruit begins to ripen.

This is a selection from the original text


butter, fruit, religion, rice, travel, water

Source text

Title: The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India, Volume II

Editor(s): Edward Grey

Publisher: The Hakluyt Society

Publication date: 1792

Original compiled 1664

Original date(s) covered: 1623-1624

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Internet Archive: Original compiled 1664 Original date(s) covered: 1623-1624

Digital edition

Original editor(s): Edward Grey

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) Tp
  • 2 ) pages 193-194
  • 3 ) Pages 196-197
  • 4 ) Pages 201-201
  • 5 ) Pages 203, 205
  • 6 ) Pages 217, 220
  • 7 ) Pages 221, 228
  • 8 ) Pages 229, 232
  • 9 ) pages 233, 263, 264, 293-296, 301, 326-329, 331, 336, 361-362, 404-405, 420-21, 432, 436, 437


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

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Genre: India > non-fiction prose > travel narratives and reports

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