The Travels of the Abbé Carré in India and the Near East, 1672-1674, Volume I

About this text

Introductory notes

The Travels of Abbe Carre was published in 1990.It was written by Bartholomew Square. It is a travelogue of the Frenchman set in India and the nearby area between 1672 to 1674.Square was born in 1636.He was a French clergyman who travelled on behalf of The East India Company. His date of death is not given. Selections have been made from Volume 1 and Volume 2 of The Travels of Abbe Carre .A detailed description of India at that time is given with an emphasis on the multiple forces at work in the sub-continent. Primary Reading Carre,Abbe, The Travels of Abbe Carre ,Volume One, Asian Educational Services. Suggested Reading Tavernier,Jean Baptiste,Travels in India,Volume 1, Oxford University Press. Tavernier,Jean Baptiste,Travels in India,Volume 2, Oxford University Press.

1672 TO 1674
From France through Syria, Iraq and
The Persian Gulf to Surat, Goa, and Bijapur,
With an account of his grave illness

New Delhi.
PUBLISHED BY Asian Educational Services
[Page 166]


Saturday, 19 November. I left Surat daybreak to go to Swally, where, finding that Captain Nicole Vidal’s ship was ready to start, I embarked in it, and we set sail about midday with a favourable wind, which brought us in sight of Daman in twenty-four hours; but, the wind having failed about twelve o’clock on the following day, we had difficulty in approaching the bar on account of strong currents.

Sunday, 20 November. Having got near the bar, we signalled by cannon-shot that we wanted pilots, who came at once to rake us up the river, at the mouth of which there is a strong fortress to the north. We saluted it in passing, and we also gave the town on the south side a salute of five guns, after having dropped anchor.

The harbour is simply the breadth of the river and about a musket-shot wide. It accommodates only a few ships, as it is so narrow, but it his one great advantage in being within a stone’s throw of the town. I landed with out captain, and we went to call on the Governor, Dom Emanuel Furdade de Mendouse [Furtado de Mendoza], a relation of the Viceroy at Goa. He received us somewhat haughtily, and in a very hectoring manner. I was surprised at M. Vidal being treated in this proud way, since the Governor makes use of him both to amass wealth in trade and for his secret pleasures, as I shall explain in another place [vol. III, ch. III]. I could not contain myself with this domineering fidalgo: so I left as soon as I could, giving as an excuse that I feared to inconvenience him, because he appeared to be indisposed, as Portuguese so often are. I went afterwards to M. Vidal’s house, where he made me lodge during my stay at Daman. The town of Daman is situated in latitude 20° N. [really 20° 25´ N.], and is three days’ journey by land from Surat. It lies on the seashore. The country is fertile and delightful, abounding [Page 167] in food, fruit, and all that is pleasant in life. It is a most agreeable place, and formerly was so coveted by the kings and princes of the East, as an epitome of the delights of India, that the Great Mughal twice sent armies of 200,000 men against it; but they could do nothing , as the place is well finished and fortified, and the most symmetrical one that the Portuguese possess in India. It is surrounded by strong walls with several fine ramparts, each protecting one another. All this is encompassed by a large moat which was formerly filled at high tide, but is now nearly blocked up on the land-side from the prevalent neglect and misery. All the streets are large, and there are four principal gates, with ram parts which correspond and defend one another. Its buildings are not high, but are well constructed of hewn stone. There are many fine churches, including a cathedral, which the Portuguese call the Church of Saÿe [Port. sé, a bishop’s see], and those of the Mother of God and of Pitya, which are served by secular priests. The Paulists, Dominicans, Cordeliers, and Augustinians have also each a magnificent house. They formerly flourished and worked marvels for the salvation and conversion of the infidelsand Hindus in this country; but now they all seem asleep and absorbed in very different occupations, far removed from their ministry and priesthood. There are so few priests now that there are not enough to serve the churches; and the two outside the town viz. Our Lord of Remedies, and Our Lady of Augusta — have no services from want of clergy.

There are three principal officers, who have complete power, [Page 168] govern everything in the town, and have considerable revenues. These are the Governor, the feytor [factor], and the ovidor [Port. ouvidor, lit. auditor]. The feytor represents the king, receives all the revenues of the town, and expends them on useful and necessary tilings. The ovidor administers justice, a very honourable position with the Portuguese. He has jurisdiction over any troubles, discords and brawls that may arise: also he has the power, on any death, to take over the heritages of orphans or absent heirs, to avoid their being dissipated by other people, who else might pet possession of them. These are the principal officers of all Portuguese towns in India, from which they formerly drew splendid revenues through customs and trade; but nowadays they have degenerated and are slack, cowardly, and effeminate, given over to sloth and pleasures, and leading odious and immoral lives on what they can extort from the lands and villages in their charge. They obtain large contributions, but most of this money belongs to the churches and convents. The town is inhabited by Christians, both Portuguese and half-castes. They will not allow Moors, or Hindus, or people of any other heathen religion, to live there. The latter dwell in the outskirts and neighbouring villages, so that in Daman one can hardly find two hundred men who bear arms. Most of the houses are filled with women, who make dainties and sweets, and with troops of slaves, who have hardly any food but rice and fish.

I heard that there were some of our deserters in this town, so I sent for one of them, who sought out and brought all the others to see me. They all said at first that they would be delighted to return to our service, provided I could get leave for them to resign from the Governor, who had engaged them, and who did not allow them to cross the river or go far outside the town. I was therefore obliged, much against my will and inclination, to pay a second visit to the Portuguese governor. My request that I might be allowed to send these Frenchmen to Surat so surprised him that at first he was quite unable to reply. Finally, not know [Page 169] knowing how to refuse it, he told me that he would send me an answer that evening, after he had spoken to the men. As soon as I left, he called them to his house and managed so well that they lost the desire they had previously shown to resume their duty. Afterwards they all came and gave me the same reply with ridiculous and arrogant proposals, viz, that they should receive, not only their back pay, but also a year’s advance, and other similar demands. I thus saw that these low wretches preferred to continue a miserable life among the Portuguese rather than return to the service of their king and country. I sent them away, and did not trouble myself about them any longer. I now thought of getting everything necessary for my journey. I engaged two Canarin [Kanarese] servants, and some coolies, that is, people who carry the palanquins and baggage of travellers.

[Page 180]

At midnight we arrived before Tana [Thānā], which is situated in a fertile and pleasant spot on its banks. We stopped for an hour at the entrance of the port to land some Portuguese, who had asked me for a passage. This town is inhabited by Portuguese native Christians, as well as Hindus who come from Bassein. It is defended only on the side of the port, where there are two [Page 181] little ramparts, one to the east and the other to the west of the entrance to the landing-place; but at present they are of no use, as their only arms are the thorns of the wild bushes that grow round these old walls. They told me that the Paulist Fathers derive a great revenue from this place. They have a magnificent palace there, in the country and fortresses on the coast; and they are both feared and mistrusted in these parts. I was invited to land and stay there the rest of the night; but, knowing what sort of repose the Portuguese generally take on arrival in their towns and aldeas, I thought I would rest better on board, while continuing my course. I therefore thanked my Portuguese passengers for their obliging offer, and set sail, so as not to lose the favourable weather we were having.

Monday, 28 November. I arrived at Bombay at dawn, and having landed, I had my baggage taken to the house of a Frenchman, who, I was told, kept an hotel in this place. I was astonished to recognize him as Simon de Mahy of Orleans, who, after serving many years in Madagascar with our Company, had come to India, and entered the English service here. He had just married a young Portuguese, and would have been doing fairly well, had he known how to manage his little fortune better [cs vol. III, ch.II].

Governor Aungier, President of the English [Company], had no sooner heard of my arrival in Bombay than he sent an officer to call on me. This obliged me to return his call the same hour, when, after mutual compliments, he reproached me very kindly for not having, as an old friend of his, taken up my abode in the Fort. He made me stay there two days, in order to talk to me about some affairs and hear from me the news from Europe. There were then in Bombay a Paulist Father and some Portuguese grandees from Goa. They had come to treat with the English President about some rents and claims which they said they possessed in the dependencies of Bombay, The President had [Page 182] arrangements about this, following orders he had received this year from his Britannic Majesty. For this purpose he hid been sent an extract from the agreement made with the king of Portugal as to the island of Bombay. He was ordered to fortify the place and to build a town; also to recover the yearly rents and revenues, which, were judged to be about 22,000 pardaos. On the news of the war with the Dutch, the President; then had some 2,000 men working in the Fort to heighten the bastion on the land-side, and to finish a ditch round the Fort which was to be filled with sea-water. At the end of the day, when the great heat was less, the English President ordered his palanquin, two carriages, and several fine Persian horses, and invited all his suite for a promenade.

[Page 195]

Thursday, 8 December. We continued our journey at daybreak until noon, when we rested for an hour to refresh ourselves at a small town called Gorigan, which is inhabited by both Moors and Hindus. All the rest of the day we followed the road between fertile mountain-slopes, where we met many of Shivaji’s troops. They were retreating in disorder from an expedition in which they had been worsted by the army of the Cydy [Sidi], He is a Moor, and a very powerful governor of a strong port on the seashore, a little above Dabul [Dabhol], who guards the interests of the Mughal, and gives Shivaji much trouble by the incursions he makes on his territory. We arrived that evening at Pange-tera, situated on a hill overhanging a large river. This, here divides into five equal branches, which form five separate rivers, each flowing in a different district. Hence the village draws its name of Pange-tera, which means in the local tongue pange [panch], five, tera, river, i.e. five river[s].

We were very surprised on arrival to find the place deserted. All the inhabitants had fled to the neighbouring mountains with their families and cattle, as everyone along this river was in terror of the Sidi’s people who had come up it to within three leagues off with many armed boats, filled with soldiers. They had sacked the villages and burnt two little ships and other craft, which Shivaji was building on this river. So, finding ourselves alone and lords of the village, we had a choice of houses to live in. The inhabitants, who had taken refuge in the neighbouring mountains, watched us from the heights for some time before letting [Page 196] us know where they were in hiding. Finally, seeing the big fire we had lit at the foot of a large tree for our cooking, four or five crept down to tell us we were in great danger if we stayed there. They expected to see their enemies land there at the next nigh tide, which comes up to the village, as the sea is only four or five leagues away. They told us we could go on to a little village called Mare, belonging to Shivaji, only two leagues on, where we would be in safety. However, I learnt from my people that it was not on our route, and that we would be obliged to cross the river where we were, so I resolved not to leave till next day. I made my people keep guard all night, and put everything ready for defence at the slightest sound. It was not necessary to tell them to keep good watch, as the stories the inhabitants told them of the Sidi’s people alarmed them so much that no one thought of sleeping all the night.

Friday, 9 December. At daybreak, seeing a little boat coming down the river, I sent my men to stop it, in order that it might take us across. After that we went through an agreeable and fertile lowland extending over about five leagues, at the end of which we came into a mountainous district. It is fertile and inhabited, with several villages hidden in a sort of forest of large fruit-trees. That evening we arrived at Mignere, a very wild and terrible place, being surrounded by high wooded mountains, where the sun’s rays could hardly penetrate even at noon. In this solitary glen we found three villages inhabited by a kind of Hindus, some of the most superstitious in India. These showed us a [place in the] bazar, where travellers generally stayed, as they thought their houses would be polluted and they themselves excommunicated, if anybody of another caste were to enter their dwellings.

[Page 199]

At noon we arrived at the foot of some mountains covered with woods. Here I saw a quantity of people, some quite naked and some half-clad, while others were asleep under the trees with their clothes, which are only very thin pieces of cloth, stretched along the branches to dry in the nun. Seeing a thick smoke come out between the trees at the end of a little ditch, I was surprised and could not imagine what it was. One of my servants, however, explained that the place was sacred and much revered by Hindus, who came from all parts to wash in a hot spring, which was supposed to cleanse them from all sins of the soul and infirmities of the body. I advanced nearer the place where I had seen the naked men. My people, being nearly all Hindus, did not wish to pass without bathing and thus benefiting by the indulgences gained from it. They stayed at least two hours, to perform their ceremonies. A very remarkable thing in this spot is the existence of two springs of water, only four feet apart, falling from the slope of a high rock, in such abundance that they form a stream; this runs along a channel between two slopes to a neighbouring plain, where it has its bed. The water of one of these springs is clear and so cold that you can hard by bear it; but that of the other, which has a large basin built of fine stones, is boiling and so hot that to bathe one is obliged to use the place where the two streams join, dins forming a natural and most pleasant bath. I bathed also to please my servants, who wished to persuade me that these waters were very beneficial.

At night we stayed at the town of Chinquecher [Sangamesh–war], which we found deserted by most of its inhabitants. There were only a few, besides soldiers who had rushed in from all sides to fortify themselves against the Sidi’s attacks. I settled myself in a large abandoned house; but shortly afterwards a troop, of horsemen, with some courtesans, arrived there and almost insulted me for taking this house. I refused to give it up, and seeing their arrogance and pride, I showed them my passport.

[Page 207]

At noon I arrived at the city of Goa, and lodged with the Carmelite Fathers, who have a magnificent house here in the best situation of the town. Its Superior, the Reverend Father Corneille, a Frenchman, received me with great honour, and to lose no time I immediately visited the French agent here, Senhor Antonio Martin, the richest and most powerful Portuguese merchant at Goa. He gave me fresh news of the state of affairs of our Viceroy at St. Thomé, which he had just received from Senhor Diogo Martin, his brother, who was at Golconda. He also instructed me in a most obliging manner as to the precautions I ought to take for my journey to St. Thomé.


[Page 224]

Tuesday, 3 January. We spent all the morning climbing a very high mountain, [the ascent of] which is two leagues in height [length]. It is covered with large trees and undergrowth, so dense that it is impossible to penetrate it. There is only a little narrow path, almost entirely precipitous, which is ascended with much difficulty. When we were in the middle of this mountain we stopped, terrified by a loud noise which came from all around us. Hearing sounds as if from wild beasts, my people equipped themselves for self-defence as best they could and begged me to take my arms. Almost at once we saw several raging tigers, which passed before, behind, and beside us, and a herd of about thirty wild boars, which were being pursued by six large dogs. They overtook and attacked a furious boar, which dragged some along with it and tossed others on the top of one another, amid these [Page 225] rocks. The dogs, however, never left their prey, which I managed to stop at eight paces from me by a musket-shot that broke both its shoulders. The two huntsmen, who had tried to follow their dogs as best they could through this dense jungle, now appeared on a height above us; but they could not get down, as the wood was so thick. They had heard the shot and realised their dogs were no longer giving tongue in the pursuit of their quarry. They then began to shout with all their force, and made the mountains ring with their yells, so much so that people who were on this path, above and below us, stopped for a long time in terror, not knowing whence came the awful cties of these two men. As they redoubled their clamour, my people were obliged to reply in the same way, so as to show them where we were. It was quite impossible for any of us to climb up to these huntsmen, who after immense difficulty managed to cut through the thorn and brushwood, and emerged a little above us. They were in such a state that, had we not been warned by their cries, we should have taken them for savages or Santauves, who live in this forest. They each wore a tiger-skin, and their faces were frightful, being jet black and hideous with long beards. Each had a hatchet and other sharp weapons in his hands. These two human monsters joined us and I spent some little time examining them from head to foot. They horrified me, as I could not imagine why Nature should have made men with such an appalling appearance.

At last they began to talk with my people, and offered them tary [Hind, tārī, toddy], a drink which they get from a tree and kept in their cave in this wood. They suggested that we should rest there. They then approached the spot where their dogs were still harrying the boar. They opened its body, gave the entrails to the dogs, and, after cutting the rest of it into pieces, gave me a quarter, which I presented to my servants. They wished to smoke the meat in the cave of these savages, but I would not allow this, as I feared a thousand mishaps that might arise in so dangerous a [Page 226] place. I presented the two men with some tobacco, which is the greatest treat I could give them; and leaving them to continue their hunt, we followed our path. This turned round and round the mountain, and at noon we arrived at the summit, worn out with the trouble we had had from daybreak in making this terrible climb. On the mountain-top we found some houses and a pagoda, built by a rich and pious Hindu for the repose of travellers after the difficulties of the road. I rested three hours in one of these houses, while my people took their meal. The frontier of Bijapur begins here. The road now was flat through dangerous jungles, full of wild beasts. We arrived that evening at Chandgala, the first town of that kingdom2. There we found a tollhouse, where I paid three rupees as transit-duty. We stayed, here all night very comfortably. This town is well situated in a pleasant valley with a fine river, which waters all the country-side. It brings a large revenue to the Governor, who has an old castle on the east side of the town. He and his officers are Moors, but all the rest of the inhabitants are Hindus, as also are the villagers in the neighbourhood, who cultivate the land and do all the trade. I had been astonished, since I left Bicholim, to find the roads crowded with troops of people, carrying such heavy burdens on their heads that I could not look on them without deep compassion. I asked my servants why these poor folk carried such heavy weights over the difficult mountain roads, which we, even without loads, could scarcely surmount. I was told that these people were of the same cooly caste as the carriers of my palanquin and my baggage; that they had no other occupation but that of carrying heavy burdens; and that they dwelt on the coast near Goa, and gained their living by taking dried fish, coco-nuts, arrack, and other comestibles, to sell in Bijapur. They were paid 2½écus a load, however great the weight. I marvelled how these poor creatures could earn enough to live on, and stand such heavy fatigue for the twenty-five to thirty days that each trip lasted. I might certainly have been told that it was scarcely enough for their food and upkeep in so long a journey and might well have [Page 227] believed it, had not my daily experience led me to know otherwise. These people did not spend their small wages, but kept them for their families on their return, I had eight of these coolies, six for my palanquin and two for my luggage. I gave each three rupees, which is 1½ écus, to take me to Bijapur, without being obliged to give them any food. I found that they provided themselves, before starting, with a little rice and dried fish, which cost them hardly anything in their own country. This lasted all the journey, with what they find in the villages, where they are given fruit and milk, and some millet, from which they make flour. This is soaked in cold water and made into flat cakes, which are baked over a fire on iron plates supported by three stones. In certain places they find caste-fellows, who kindly cook them some herbs in oil or butter, which they eat with these pancakes. Their greatest support, however, is tobacco, which they are always smoking, so that they devoured more smoke than anything else. Besides water, they drink toddy, conjee [kanji], and arrack. Toddy is a kind of wine, which they extract from palm-trees. It is the colour of milk, has a pleasant taste, rather like white wine, and is very refreshing. Conjee is only boiled water with a little rice in it, which is given them on arrival in any village. There is always a house which keeps this drink ready on the fire for passers-by who, in the heat and sweat they are in, would probably die if they drank cold water. Arrack is a spirit made out of toddy, which they distil, as we do Brandy. They mix with it a red root called canja; the infusion intoxicates them so much that they become like lunatics and out of their senses, when they drink it to excess, though it gives them strength and vigour, if taken in moderation and only as a refreshment.

Wednesday, 4 January. I started at dawn through a lovely country, watered by a large river, which winds amid plains of red earth, that ought to be very fertile, if properly cultivated. But the people here work only the low country and the valleys, which can be irrigated by the river or streams, along which they [Page 228] sow their rice, millet, sugar, vegetables, and other grains, for food.

After having marched all along in an exhausting heat, we stopped for half an hour about three o’clock at a little walled town called Necery. It is situated in a very open spot, and has some mounted troops, commanded by a cavalry general. They were just starting to quell a conspiracy and rebellion which had arisen in the kingdom on the news of the king’s death. After I had argued with several officers about a transit-duty of four rupees, which I had to pay, we continued our march till nightfall, when we reached Jabarre, a large walled village. My servants took me to lodge in the house of a decent woman, who received and sheltered us in a most obliging manner. She had three good-looking daughters, whom she made wait on us and bring us what we needed. This they did in a charming way. One brought us fowls, rice, eggs, butter, and the like, for our meal, at which they would not allow our servants to take a hand; another got us wood, fire, water, and all cooking utensils; while the third cleaned and arranged everything in a room where she laid my rugs, my cushions, and my bed, in the best and cleanest place. I was astonished at the courtesy and honesty I found in such a place, situated as it was in a district where the people were only herdsmen.

[Page 229]

I felt very far from well the last two days from the heat, and the difficulties and worries of the road. I was so upset that I got high fever, and began to lose hope of ever finishing my journey. But before it takes too great a hold on me I do not wish to omit anything from my journal. Not long ago this town of Hukeri had large dependencies, good revenues, and many honourable and advantageous privileges for its governors.A few years back, the last one, Rouston Jamin [Rustam Zaman], had governed with so much éclat that he was chosen by the King of Bijapur to command a powerful army. This was sent to prevent the incursions and ravages which Shivaji was making on the frontiers with some success. Though Shivaji lacked neither courage, nor resolution, on occasions where it was necessary, he did not hesitate to employ the ordinary ruses of war; thus he corrupted his enemies by bribes, or took them by surprise and cunning, so as to preserve his own camp, and spare the blood of his soldiers as much as possible.

Shivaji, having learnt that Rustam Zaman was marching with a large force against him allowed Rustam to come up to the frontier, in order to lure him into a disadvantageous place, where he could find no provisions, nor forage, for his army. When they were within a day’s journey of one another, Shivaji chose [for a special mission] one of his captains—a man who was very intimate with Rustam. He had been a senior officer of the King of Bijapur, but had been dismissed for some fault and had gone over to the service of Shivaji on this account. He was an intelligent [Page 230] man, who did not lack strong arguments and efficiency, when it became a question of attracting or persuading anyone to help in his plans. Shivaji told him what to do, and sent him to the enemy’s camp. He was taken to General Rustam, who received him very kindly, and they had a long private conference, in which this captain played his part so well that, after intimidating the other by insistence on the impossibility of doing anything against Shivaji, he persuaded the general with a present of 30,000 pagodas, sent by Shivaji, to withdraw his troops. But this thing could not be kept so secret that the King of Bijapur did not soon come to know of it; he summoned Rustam to the court on some affairs of state, and beheaded him. The king learnt that Rustam’s son was not mixed up in his father’s treachery, so gave him the governorship of Hukeri, but with little power. He also took away most of the revenues; and all the privileges which his father had enjoyed. Afterwards a larger force under another general was dispatched against Shivaji, of which I will speak later on.

Young Rustam was thus Governor in Hukeri when I passed through it. He lived like a private gentleman without going to the court, or to the wars. His principal occupation was the pursuit of pleasure and the most easy life he could lead. The whole town was en fête this day, particularly at the house of the Governor, all [Page 231] of whose officers were Mussulmans. They were celebrating, with much ceremony, their Romasan [Ramazān], or full moon, which is amongst them what we call mid-Lent. This Governor no sooner knew that a Frank was in the town than he sent four of his officers to invite me to the feast. I would certainly have given much to avoid this party, as I needed rest more than these Moorish ceremonies, which I knew well; but, though I felt very ill, I went to him with one of my servants. He was surrounded by the principal men of the town, whom he had also invited to this ceremony, which they celebrate in a most admirable way. They have the custom [of fasting] during their Lent, which lasts for a moon. I say a moon because the Muhammadans count the days only by moons, as we count ours by months; and it is an essential part of their religion that every new moon is the occasion of great ceremonies and kisses of peace and friendship among them. They also wash their bodies, make special prayers, and wish each other prosperity by the words ‘Bonbarech bachet, bombarek bachet’ which they recite, putting ttieir hands in one another’s, [Page 232] with several like antics, too many to recount. But to return to their fast; they neither eat nor drink, and refrain from many things from sunrise to the evening, when they can see the stars. This is undoubtedly a very difficult and austere thing for the devout and others who observe this fast; but in recompense they have all the night, which is generally passed in feasting and regaling themselves with every sort of licence and debauchery, as you will see by the following account.

[Page 266]

Wednesday, 11 January. I left Athni at daybreak and, finding the road filled with people who did not look as if they had either bought or sold anything at the fair the day before, I made my [Page 267] people march quickly, with their arms in their hands, on each side of my palanquin. I myself had four pistols and my sabre beside me. We crossed two rivers, almost dry because of the lack of rain, from which the country-side was suffering. The burning heat was so excessive that one hardly knew where to take shelter: there were no trees or houses in these immense plains, where one might seek shade from the sun’s fierce rays. I was obliged, in crossing several rivers, to plunge into the water for some hours, to revive myself, and found it delightful. My people, however, when they saw me repeat this refreshment and also drink a quantity of this cold water, warned me unceasingly that I was risking death or a severe illness. They themselves, though of the country, never dare to drink water in strange places without first boiling it, for they understand the peril they run in drinking this bad river-water, which is most unhealthy. I met four Europeans disguised in Indian dress, during the morning. Two said they were Dutch, going to Goa or Surat, having fled from Madras, where they had been in the English service for some years. I made searching inquiries as to the state of our affairs in St. Thomé and at Golconda; also of the roads. They told me that the Moors despaired of doing anything against St. Thomé, as the French had always beaten and driven them shamefully from their trenches, and had slain their generals; they were, therefore, abandoning the siege and gradually retiring At Golconda, however, they were raising new levies, which were to be sent as reinforcements to continue the siege. As for the roads, they were fairly open now, but it was feared they would shortly be crowded with troop from Golconda, marching against St. Thomé. The two other Europeans, having recognized me as French, would not tell me anything, which made me think they were deserters from our force at St. Thomé. I saw all four were of the same type, and were going together to search for better fortune, so I did not stay with them, but continued my march till about midday, when I reached Aygolque [Aigale], a little town in an open and arid spot, watered by a fine river1. It was so crowded with people that I went to stay in a garden on the bank of the river.

[Page 268]

I had hardly arrived, when I felt very ill with giddiness, which turned into a violent headache, then to sickness and a collapse that lasted for four hours and reduced me to extremity. I could not move, as I had lost my strength and was almost unconscious. All my servants tried to look after me as best they could. The Christians were especially unhappy at seeing me in this state, and not knowing what remedies to apply, they asked me to try the medicines of my Hindu servants, in the hope that I might thus get some relief. On account of the miserable and feeble condition I was in, I consented to let them do all they wished, so that, while some went to get certain herbs and simples of which they knew, the others began their operations by binding my head, the middle of my body, and my hands behind my back, with my turban and belt. They then placed me face downwards, and the most powerful of them, putting his feet on my back, pulled on the silk belts, with which I was bound in three places, with all his strength. He made all my limbs crack, so that I thought he would drag them off. After having given me this treatment five or six times running, he filled my eyes, ears, mouth, and nose, with a composition of water and pounded pepper, cardamoms, and other drugs, so strong that it drew a yellow liquid from all these parts of the head: in my astonishment I thought this must be a little of my brains that had melted on account of the intense heat I had suffered in crossing the burning plains.

That being finished, they all withdrew to a corner of the garden in which we were, and set about making a medicine. It was composed of cows’ urine, horses’ dung,’the juice of some herbs, and other drugs. After doing nearly half an hour’s quack ceremonies over this drink, they brought it to me, muttering some words which I did not understand, and in presenting it to me to drink, told me to shut my nose and my eyes, so that the smell and sight of their medicine might not disgust me. They wanted me to swallow it in one dose; but as I never drink anything without seeing what it is, I took this medicine in my hand to look at it. I then realized how right they were in wanting to stifle both sight and smell, which were quite sufficient to take away any wish to taste it. I looked at this thick green and yellow mixture, with the most awful odour in this world, ween one of my servants, seeing [Page 269] I was hesitating to swallow their remedy, took it out of my hands and, pouring some of it into a cup, drank it before me with as much avidity as I would a glass of Spanish wine. It did him no harm, and as I was so anxious to cure my illness, I drank some of the brew, and feeling a little better for it, I took, the rest in several doses. I implored my people to go into the town to look for a lodging of any kind whatever, and to take me there to rest. They assured me, however, that the place was dangerous, and that it was not safe for us to pass the night here, on account of the soldiers and even worse people. It was really better, they said, for me to resolve to endure the fatigue of the four hours’ journey that lay before us to a place where we could rest in safety. I was then placed in my palanquin, and travelled all the rest of the day in such pain and fatigue that twenty times I begged my people to stop, but they pretended not to hear me, having the sense not to leave me at night in the middle of this arid country, without even a tree under which we could take cover.

The night was well advanced, when at last we arrived at Telsingain [Telsang], a long town, situated on the ridge of a rocky hill without trees or verdure, with a little river at its base . I passed the night here with high fever and much anxiety, as I saw my people did not wish to tarry, giving me a thousand reasons, which obliged me, ill as I was, to consent to their wishes. Thursday, 12 January. An hour before dawn my retinue, seeing how weak I was, feared I would not be willing to leave this place. They represented to me all the inconveniences I would suffer if I became worse, and promised, if I thought I could support the fatigue of the journey, that they would, by marching quickly day and night, in two days reach Bijapur, where I would find remedies and relief for my illness. As I also hoped to find someone I knew in that town, I resolved to do as they wished. We then continued on our road and marched all day till nightfall, when we arrived at Ticotin [Tikota], a pretty town situated in the middle of the plain and with a well-wooded country to its west . At the entrance on the east side there is a large caravanserai in the form of a square [Page 270] where merchants and travellers can stay. The Governor of this place has his castle in the town, and enjoys large revenues and privileges, which render him important and powerful. I took a lodging in the caravanserai, where my people rested till midnight. I then pressed them to leave, as I feared that, if I waited till next day, I might not be able to continue the journey to Bijapur; also the freshness of the night was more favourable for me than the great heat of the day.

Friday, 13 January. We marched quickly the rest of the night and all the morning in the coolness, but as soon as the sun’s rays gained force I got a giddiness in the head, which lasted a full hour. Afterwards I had a great shivering fit all over the body. Even my rugs and wadded cotton quilts, and the great heat to which I was exposed, were not enough to warm me. There was not a single place where we could rest, so we were obliged to continue on the road, in spite of the stite I was in.

At four o’clock in the afternoon I arrived at the royal city of Bijapur. The caravanserais were so full of foreign merchants that I was obliged to seek a lodging elsewhere. My fever having grown worse the last three days without intermission, I sent my servants to all the caravanserais in the town to see if they could find any Armenians or Persians, who might possibly be able to help me in my illness. They returned and told me that though they had found several Armenians, the latter had so much merchandise that they did not wish to leave their business and come to a place so distant, as they were lodged with the other foreign merchants, a good league away from where I was at an extremity of the town. They said, however, they had heard of a Persian officer of the Bijapur court, who was living not far from me; so I sent them at once to tell him chat a Frenchman wished to see him, and to impress on him how ill I was.

This is a selection from the original text


cookery, food, fruit, grain, millet, rice, sugar, taste, travel, vegetables, water, wine

Source text

Title: The Travels of the Abbé Carré in India and the Near East, 1672-1674, Volume I

Author: Bartholemew Square

Editor(s): Lady Fawcett, Sir Charles Fawcett, Sir Richard Burn

Publisher: Asian Educational Services

Publication date: 1990

Original compiled 1672-1674

Place of publication: New Delhi

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Internet Archive: Original compiled 1672-1674

Digital edition

Original author(s): Bartholemew Square

Original editor(s): Lady Fawcett, Sir Charles Fawcett, Sir Richard Burn

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) tp, pages 166-69, 180-82, 195-6, 199, 207, 224-232, 266-270


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

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

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

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.