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Addyman, O.J. (1921) A Shikar Trip In Tehri. Yorkshire Ramblers' Club Journal Volume 4 Number 14: pp204-213. Leeds: YRC.

A Shikar Trip In Tehri.

From The Diary Of Oscar J. Addyman.

[Tehri is a native state N.W. of British Gahrwal. This shooting trip took place in 1913. Messrs. O. J. Addyman and F. G. Prichard, 2nd East Yorkshire Regt., left Faizabad, Oude, went by rail to Dehra Dun, then by tonga 30 miles to Chakrata. From Chakrata they marched to the Tonse, a tributary of the Jumna, up the Minis to the Sheenka Pass, crossed a ridge back to the Tonse, went up to Ringali on the watershed between the Tonse and Jumna, and along it back to Chakrata. Over the Sheenka Pass they would have reached the Sutlej basin.

Goural, or Ghooral, Himalayan Chamois; Sarao, wild sheep; Tar, wild goat ; Kakar, barking deer; nur and mardin, male and female; pootoos, flies.]

April 25. Chakrata (7,000 ft.)to Mundali (8,500 ft.) with coolies (19 m.). - Arrived Forest Bungalow comfortably tired at 4.30, and made ourselves very much at home. My first experience of the real Himalaya "fills me with wonder and admiration."

April 26. Mindali to Kathian (12 miles). - Started from Mundali to a juggar three miles off, looking for a goural, which we found. I shot at about 200 yards and missed, as I did not know my rifle. Moral - always try your rifle well before starting. Then we went down a steep spur and spotted a bear about 400 yards away. I fired three shots, and believe two took effect, but we did not find him, though we had two hours descent of an almost perpendicular khud thickly wooded. Then we climbed up again, and nearly died in the attempt. It was an awful trudge to Kathian, and I arrived 7.30 p.m., having had nothing to eat since 4.30 a.m., when I had an egg and a half plate Quaker oats. Prichard started 6 a.m. with coolies, and did the 6 mile trek here by 11. To-morrow I go with the kit, and Prichard to a juggar one mile from here.

April 27. Kathian (6,000 ft.) to Tuni (2,200 ft.) (12 miles). - I left Kathian at 7 a.m., and reached Tuni 11.30 a.m., after a long steep walk downhill. The Tonse here looks lovely and green, but very cold. The natives say that there are fish three to four feet long, but they don't catch them. Apparently there is no shikhar here. I killed a 6-ft. snake on arrival at the bungalow.

April 28. Tuni to Tuni Ghat (16 miles). - About a mile on we saw two jackals, one of which P. killed and the other was hit in the foot, but got off. We then marched on, and I took a photo. of the village and villagers of Onot. There was a most interesting enclosure filled with piles of stones built up in a rough representation of gods, also sticks with linen wound round them to make the heads and bodies of gods. The villagers would not enter the enclosure at all, and refused even to sit on the wall whilst I took the photo. Apparently these places are most sacred.

April 29. Tuni Ghat (2,000 ft.). - Last night we had a "bura khana," (1) mulligatawny soup, (2) brain cutlets, (3) mutton steaks, (4) arrowroot mould and figs, (5) kidneys on toast, and whisky. In consequence it was a hard task for the bearers to waken us up and get us on the move by 5 a.m. Just as we finished breakfast at 5.30, Budhri came to tell us he could see a goural on the hill behind the tent. Prichard went after it, and I walked a mile up the nullah and then struck diagonally up the hill, coming upon live goural on the move. I shot at one twice, and missed just above. The light was bad on my sights, and they wanted blacking badly. I saw three more goural, but did not get another shot. P. had several shots, but missed by inches. We'll soon get the knack, I hope. Our luck is dead out. The Rajah of Tehri's chuprassis have just been to tell us the Rajah died on the 13th, so we can't get permission to shoot there.

However, I have written to the Forest Officer for permission to occupy Tuni, Balcha, and Chagpur bungalows, so that we can shoot round about these districts, and send all the coolies but seven back to Chakrata, using local coolies for moving camp occasionally. We both went out, and I wounded a decent-looking goural two miles from camp, but could not get it, and returned.

April 30. Tum Ghat to Sandra (8 miles). - Started at 5.30 to look for wounded goural; found it not much the worse for a wounded leg. I shot it well this time, and am very pleased to see that my rifle kills well.

On the way to Sandra I saw eleven goural drinking 200 yards away on the other side of the river; shot at them, but apparently missed, as the one I shot at fell down 300 yards away in the grass, and about five minutes later went off like blazes quite sound. The pootoos are awful, and bite like mad. P. has just come in with a goural, horns 7¼ inches. The best so far.

May 3. Sandra to Naintwar (10 miles). - Left Sandra 7 a.m., arrived Naintwar 10 a.m., after having had a little trouble with three local coolies whom we used. On the way we saw a native fishing with a bamboo with a loop on the end and a horsehair cast, with a framework of horsehair nooses round a wasp grub tied on the cast. There was a small pebble fixed on the end to take the thing to the bottom. He caught a ¼ lb. snow trout almost every cast. We bought four or five for 4 annas, and they were a great treat.

There was a lot of trouble about buying flour, which was made worse by Nain Singh beating a gaon-wallah (villager) for asking too much for the stuff. It had its humorous side, I'll admit, as the people here are awful sharks and liars. Eventually I got to the bottom of the matter by the process of elimination, and bought the flour for a fairly honest price, though, of course, I had to pay a little more than I thought right to save trouble about the beating. We took the names of the gaon-wallahs, and Nain Singh threatened to report them to the Rajah, so I used this screw to make them come to terms.

May 4. Naintwar to Pao (14 miles). - We kept with the coolies all the way to Pao, where we were received in great style by the village, at large, camping on a small maidan under a plum tree just above the village, where we hope to be very comfortable. We had at very steep descent to the Tonse, and then an awful pull up of about 1½ miles, almost perpendicular, and a traverse of two miles to Pao. We had to change our three gaon coolies just before the descent to the Tonse, and two of the new ones are going on with us to-morrow. The snows have been in sight almost all day. We can see them now, and they look very close.

A gaon-wallah wants his brother's back doctored. He seems to have strained it, and the only thing we have is vaseline, but perhaps the moral effect will be good. Anyhow, I hope so. More sick men and women have arrived; in fact, everyone in the village has cultivated a fever at the sight of the quinine bottle. I caught one fellow trying to administer five grains to a two months old child. Now a woman has arrived who has a pain amidships, and she seems very pleased at the idea of a little neat rum.

May 5. Pao to Jokhol (7 miles). - I woke up about 5 a.m., and, looking out of the tent, saw an excited gaon-wallah talking to Budhri with much gesticulation. I asked what was the matter, and was told that a "balu" was on the other side of the stream below us, and on going out saw him on the hill side. P. was out of bed at once and in pyjamas we flew down the khud guided by the excited gaon-wallah and followed by all the youth of the gaon and a "buddha," who proved a staunch old daredevil.

Our first shots were at 350 yards, and P., I think, hit him with his first. This made the bear stagger and swerve downhill, well hit. But he pulled himself together and went on, falling over a 20 ft. precipice. We followed along the nullah, firing now and again as he moved. Finally P.'s cartridges gave out, and I had two of my seven left. One of these went home well, and the other hit the bears leg. But he got into a hole on the other bank, and three gaon-wallahs who had gone round by a bridge climbed down an impossible khud and dislodged him into the water, which was a continuous foam of rapids. The bear, however, swam down and across, to be finally despatched by the gaon-wallahs with lathis. These men made a fine little bridge in about ten minutes to reach the bear, and the "buddha" was the first to go into the wounded bear," and accomplished a risky job with much zeal. Of our fourteen shots seven were hits, six good ones, centre of group six inches too far back.

May 6. Jokhol to Leori (16 miles). - Left 6.30, arrived Leori 4.15 p.m., after a very stiff march both for ourselves and the coolies, but the latter came along wonderfully well. I think that if all Chakrata coolies are as good, they are to be highly recommended. The road is bad and very steep indeed, with some difficult bridges.

At the tiffin halt, at Kelhor, we took a photo. of the temple, which has wonderful beaten brass facings to the doors, horses and ladies riding sidesaddle, snakes, &c., beaten on them. Above the door were two pairs of burrell horns, one of which I was quite a big pair. The snow is quite close above us, so we are beginning to feel we are really there at last. As far as I can make out only one sahib has been here before, and that was about two years ago.

May 7. - We had to stay at Leori to get some shoes made for the seven Chakrata coolies who are going to the snows with us. Annoying but equally necessary. Nine Chakrata coolies returned to-day. The Lumbadar of Leori is a very good fellow, and he always says, "If it is your order I will see that it is obeyed," and he did so, too, even to getting 16 coolies at half a days notice to go over to Chitkul.

One man came here with slight snow blindness, and we gave him a drop or two of tincture of opium, which made him squirm, but even then he wanted more. Another fellow said I he had a bad tooth, so I took an 18 in. screwdriver, a hammer, and a pair of tweezers, and laid him on his back with mouth open and two coolies holding him down. He fled. Of course all he wanted was to see what medicine tasted like. We sent two coolies from the gaon to take a chit to the chuprassi at Chitkul.

May 8. Eight Miles above Leori. - At about 3 p.m. the two dâk coolies returned here, and said they could not get over the pass as there was too much snow. However, on being asked what time they attempted the pass, they said 2 to 3 p.m. yesterday. If that is correct, of course the snow would be too soft, but I think they never went to the pass at all, as it is 20 miles from Leori to Sheenka, and they only took four hours to get there from their own words.

May 9. Foot of Sheenka (14 miles). - We moved about 7 a.m. and had two miles of almost perpendicular hill to climb straight away. Needless to say we took it quietly, and by noon had done eight miles. The coolies were very done up, but soon recovered, and we went on about 1.30, after a great argument with the coolies, who said eight miles was the "parao," and that they would not do any more. I told them that in this month to get over the pass it was necessary to camp further under it than when the pass is properly open. Then they said they would go half parao further, but when we had done that they refused to stop, and so, well pleased with life, we "all went marching along," to camp at 4.15 in a heavy storm of sleety hail.

There was one coolie who was absolutely done up, and so in a fit of madness, when he was up to his thighs in snow, I took his load for a bit, but was relieved by another who returned to bring him in. One magnificent big fellow carried two loads for the last mile or so.

40° F. this morning, but fairly warm now. We are two miles from the foot of Sheenka. Plenty of snow everywhere, and the view up the last valley on the right was a marvellous sheet of snow, topped by glittering peaks and flanked by two dark rocky arêtes.

May 10. Sheenka Pass and back (20 miles). - Started 7 a.m. We covered the two miles to the foot of the pass in good time. There was only a little snow in the bottom, and after crossing a steep slope and going up a long stony ridge we came on to a glacier. The air was very thin here, and P. and I were absolutely done up, but kept on steadily with many halts. One coolie fell behind, but we knew he would catch us up while we waited on top.

Then the snow began to come down like mad, and we knew we were in a very nasty fix. At the same time we found that the pass was blocked on the other side, so at once started to retreat the way we had come. All the coolies and ourselves were very tired, and it seemed to me we should probably all be frozen to death. The morning's breakfast had consisted of one egg and one chupatti each, and we had nothing else.

Eventually we reached a sloping rock which formed a sort of cave, where we sat shivering with the bearers and one shikari till the tent coolies arrived. We then put the tent up, and broke up one packing case as there was no firewood for ten miles down. We had cocoa and two chupattis each, and went to bed in the same bed, as mine had not arrived. We were sure all the coolies would come eventually, as we had seen them all nearly down the pass. However, two were still missing when my bed arrived. We got into an awful stew, but could do nothing till morning.

Stone Shelter Camp by OJ Addyman.  © Yorkshire Ramblers' Club
Stone Shelter Camp by OJ Addyman

May 11. Stone Shelter to Pass and back (12 miles). - I woke up at 6.0, ate a chupatti, drank some cocoa, and then, with P., set off with Qalam Singh, Budhri, and two coolies to look for the missing men, hoping earnestly we might find them alive. After the four miles to the foot of the pass, P. and I were utterly done up, and could not go another inch, so we let the other four go on up the pass, intending to follow, but it occurred to us the camp was moving right back to our first parao above Leori, and that if the two coolies were dead or dying we could never get them so far back without food or covering. Therefore we set off back as hard as we could, arrived in camp at 3.30, and sent food and blankets back to meet the rescue party. Then we both collapsed from want of food and over-exertion, and came to life again to hear that six men were in sight. They proved to be the two coolies and the rescue party.

The coolies had spent the night on the last pitch of the pass, and it is wonderful to think that they lived. Prichard and I had made up our minds that the poor chaps were dead, though we refused to give up hope outwardly, but talked about what would happen, and what we could do, it they were lost, as all the money was in my box carried by one of them. We thought our military careers were finished, and that all we could do would be to return to Chakrata with the Chakrata coolies, and what they could carry, leaving the other baggage at Leori.

Now all's well, and I have shoved down one cup tea, two cups Bovril, and a chupatti, P. has eaten lots more. I have taken an oath that never again as long as I live will I go into the snows of the Himalaya, having, by the grace of God, escaped by such a narrow margin. If those two coolies had died up there I should never have forgiven myself for the ignorance which occasioned the situation, though we were informed that the top of Sheenka was five miles from our last camp when it proved to be at least nine.

Budhri is untiring absolutely, and has gone all the time marvellously. Qalam Singh has worked well too. Old Kim Singh led us all the way up the pass, and turned out next morning as fit as any one. He is a wonder, and a fine old man.

The two coolies became tired when nearly down, sat down, and went to sleep. The rescue party found them a short distance farther on, coming slowly and shivering like blazes. They had three blankets, luckily. One has slight snow blindness, the other is quite fit. Qalam Singh is also a little blind. One coolie is slightly frost-bitten, but is getting well quickly (12th). Our plans are, of course, all upset now, and we must rot about in the lower valleys till our leave is up, and content ourselves with humbler game.

May 15. To Pao (14 miles). - I think our old friends of the pyjama hunt are glad to see us again, as they want more quinine. As we passed through Jokhol to-day the whole village was collected round the temple, beating drums and waving a sort of silver incense burner to make the rain stop and preserve the crops. In spite of their energies we had the usual downpour about 4.30.

May 25. Loona Ghat. - This morning we had breakfast at 3.0, and started at 4.0 for a three or four miles climb to look for sambur. P. shot at a 9½ inch goural, as he says, but missed at 80 yards through excitement. I shot at one about 6 inch, and missed just above. No sambur to be seen at all. This evening, as we were sitting in camp after tea, very fed up, two goural were reported, and P. went out. I followed, just arriving in time to see P. shoot the first (a mardin), first shot, and miss a difficult shot at the other. As we waited another appeared (probably the second one again), and I fired, killing it at once. It proved to be a "nur," 7 inch head, but one horn unfortunately got broken a little.

May 26. Loona Ghat. - I woke up to hear Budhri telling me to come and shoot a jackal, which I did. Then the Chakrata coolies came, and we made the most of our meals and tobacco. Later the Tehri coolie arrived, having done 170 miles in 5½ days. We have not yet got the permit, but expect it in answer to a coolie going off to-day. The panther which we heard yesterday killed last night, and I am going up this afternoon to sit up for it. I hope it comes. We walked the four miles in the heat of the day, to find that the brute had killed and taken away only a very small calf; hence our energy was wasted.

May 29. To Ringali (7 miles). - The road led up a nullah first and then a very steep grassy slope to the Ringali road, which the heavily-laden coolies must have felt tremendously. We took eight hours to do seven miles, and the last coolie got in at 5.30, after starting at 7 or 7.30 a.m. The view from here is A1, but it is a pity the snows are not clearer. I think this bungalow is 7,320 ft.

May 30. Ringali - Very heavy hail fell, and at one time the stones were very large. I measured one or two, and the circumference was 3½ inches, or about the size of a pigeons egg. P. went out of the tent, but returned hurriedly with a pain in the middle of his back where he had been hit by a hailstone.

June 4. Isolation Camp. - I missed a panther this morning after a long and tiring trek up awful khuds after "tarh," which weren't there. I'm as mad as can be. I saw it moving under some grass and rocks about 80 yards away, and the next time I saw it it was going away at a fast trot. I shot at it on the move at about 200. We saw two or three goural running away, but not any "tarh." I heard one shot from P.'s direction . . . . Yes! P. has got his bear all right, though it's an old one and not very big. When I arrived at Alu it was being cured by the shikari, and P. was very proud.

June 11. Isolation Bivouac. - It was raining hard, and nothing but cloud when I woke at 4. We went off about 6.15 to the S. along some "lava" rocks, overlooking a very narrow but very steep nullah, thickly wooded and precipitous on the far side, and also very thick at the top. We saw two goural on the run, but luckily did not get a shot, as later we sat down to watch the opposite slope, and saw two dark objects moving about in an open glade 350 yards away. Eventually I fired, and the beast came down the hill like a runaway train. It turned out to be a "sarao," as Budhri had said, but unfortunately a mardin. When I saw it I was very fed up, as one horn had been broken some time ago and the other was broken in the fall, and could not be found. The bullet entered the off shoulder and came out in centre of chest. I was very lucky to hit the sarao at that range. The skin is in a very mouldy condition, which is annoying.

June 12. Ronahi Camp. - This morning it was pouring with rain. As I was not at all well, having been poisoned somehow, I put on some boots and socks and a mackintosh and walked in my pyjamas back to H.Q. P. lent me dry garments till mine arrived. I hope I shall soon be fit, as at present I can't think of shooting or walking or anything. It may be tea made in an aluminium bowl. Im glad to be under shelter of a tent again.

[On the 13th and 14th the writer was carried 30 miles to Kailarna, and on the 15th travelled in a bullock waggon to Chakrata Hospital, where apparently he lay very ill for some time as the diary ceases abruptly.]